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D&D 5E Is my brother a problem player? Or am I just a bad DM?


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jgsugden

Legend
Why continue the game? Because people invest in their PCs, and the wirst fate of a D&D game is a fade away, with no heroic climax or heroic death. It is the fate of most PCs, but it suuuuuucks to have a campaign just end in the middle.

That being said, I always give the players what they want (at the surface). They're there to have fun, and if you deny them what they want, it limits their fun.

But, that doesn't mean we want to give it to them clean.

D&D is an RPG, a role playing game. Characters play a role in a story. The more you invest in the story, the more return you'll get in your investment.

Talk to the players. Find out what their PCs want. That is your tool set to make things cook. Often, stories will jump out at you from these feedback sessions.

If it doesn't there are some tried and true tools to make use of the information. One of those is my old friend Asmodeus. In my setting, he always deceives, but never lies. He gives you what you want, but takes more in the end. He holds all the cards, and has a huge buy in to play his games. Most importantly, he does not see himself as a villain. He sees himself as a wronged party demanding what was due to him. He was tasked with running the Hells, and it was hellish. When the Blood War began, he was forced into an unending war with demons. He is underfunded in the souls necessary to win that war, and treated as a monster because he does what is necessary to keep fighting it. That is his view, at least. Your PCs are at a level where they matter - and that can draw the eyes of a being like him. And if they want things they do not have, but they have more power already that they seek to add, Asmodeus could see a ... bargain. And a nice bargain that gives them what they want, gives Asmodeus more back, and leaves the PCs with new enemies that Asmodeus wants defeated (but did not mention in the bargain)...

If not that, allowing them to glimpse what they want, but need to quest for it, is also a tried and true path. Not having the power in their hand, but having it be clearly ahead of them, can do wonders. I love dropping a whiff of a Holy Avenger to the paladin of the group far before they have a chance to wield it. The Staff of the Magi? The wizard will know exactly where it is, and how awesome it is ... and then there will be the day it falls at his feet after a long journey.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
This is just your side of the story, so it's difficult to diagnose. That said, reading the OP gave flashbacks of when I tried taking over a game and it went really, really poorly.

I won't get into the details, but let's just say that the previous DM ended his last quest (knowing I was taking over after) so that the party got a 1.5 million gold reward. Which I'll say, just breaks any future missions, ever. When I tried to change the economy (inflation!) a couple players vociferously complained. When they started calling me rude names because of it I stepped down as DM, but it had become too late... the others eventually kicked me out they were so upset about the whole thing.

I now have an entirely different group of players I DM, and have since learned by comparison that this previous group was extremely toxic so that everyone had a share of the blame. That said, my advice is that what you're currently doing is not working. So here is my advice;

1. Check in on each of the player's individually. If everyone is having a problem with the game, but only a couple are speaking out, you have a very bad situation and this campaign is probably beyond saving. If it is only your brother who is upset, that's a different story.

2. If it is just your brother who has the problem, ask him directly, "What is it you enjoy about D&D?" If it's being powerful, give him something so he's powerful. If it's being useful, give him stuff so he's useful. Ignore balance, you can always make your enemies tougher.

3. If everyone in your game has a problem, this campaign is not worth fixing. It's not even originally your vision, so why save it? So I would do whatever you personally prefer; step down as DM, and say that you don't think your style of DMing is the best for this group, or say that this campaign is too difficult to run, and that you'd like to start something entirely new.

That's my advice! I think you need to do some info-gathering before you can make the best decision.
 

aco175

Legend
Have him DM and then you get to be a pain towards him. This may make him aware of how he is hurting the game. Although it did not work for me when I was 12 and my brother was 14, I think he just punched me.

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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Like others have said, I think it's time for a reboot. Talk with your group. Would they rather start over from scratch or just do a total redo of their characters?

In either case, I would reign in the magic items. I personally use the attached chart I got a while back as a guideline (although I lower gold at higher levels unless there's a reason to have that much). I also personally prefer point buy for ability scores, but that's something the group needs to decide.

Next, you need to set up some ground rules such as being polite, role of the DM so on and so forth. There comes a certain point where you simply have to explain that you're DMing as best you can. While feedback is encouraged, at a certain point you simply have to draw a line of acceptable behavior, no matter what the relationship is with the player.

Good luck!
 

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Seriously OP, its the last DM that was the problem.

Where you screwed up was agreeing to DM this same party without laying down some ground rules first.

If I was you?

Me (as You): Ok guys, I agree to DM those same PCs from the last campaign in place of your last DM. But I have conditions. Those conditions are:​
1) You'll need to rebuild them, in front of me, using the point buy for stats, and average HP. Feats and all Player options are available.​
2) You'll all get 1 (Very rare or less) and 1 (Uncommon or less) magic item of your choice, and I get to veto anything I dont like for something different.​
3) Artificer, you can have 1 extra Rare item or lower (that you built in your downtime)​
4) Wizard, you can select 3 spells per level, at every odd level after 1st for your spellbook (taking into account scrolls found on the journey).​
5) Barbarian and Paladin you can both also have 2 potions of your choice from the DMG of Rare or less rarity.​
Also, and on a positive note, Tashas options are available for your characters, (including custom lineages, and new feats and archetypes) and (while keeping to the general theme of the PCs) feel free to deviate from your precise build last time (taking a few levels in an appropriate class, a different arcehtype, or a new feat etc) during this rebuild.​
They're my conditions. Accept them, or I am not DMing those PCs. That's my final position.​

The above starts everyone off on a level keel, lets you familiarize yourself with the PCs (watching them get built, and having an input into their construction), undoes a ton of the past DMs 'monty haul/ overly permissive' mistakes, and establishes you as the DM and person of authority who has control over his game (unlike the last DM, who seems to have been a pushover).

You've also softened the blow by letting them rebuild with access to new options, which is pretty cool and sweetens the deal.

The last DM did not have control over his game. Dont make the same mistake. If they dont like it, they dont play those PCs.
 
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I've been gaming with my twin brother since the very beginning. I get it. We've gotten snippy with each other during gaming, many a time. When we were in bands together, it was always rough on the other musicians because while we could intuit each other's ideas like nothing else, when we clashed it got...really raw, and they'd be stuck in between.

In the long term, I couldn't imagine not being a twin, but when I was younger, I tell people it was like always having a best friend and a worst enemy at the same time.

I don't want to just kick someone out since they annoyed me, and he's my twin, so I can't really do that without an immense backlash. The dragonborn at the end of last session said that he was looking forward to the fight as well.

I'm just really stuck.

This seems the best solution. I've taken over campaigns from previous DMs and there's always baggage. In your case, it sounds like there's way too much to fit in your overhead compartment. Explain that you're really struggling with the burden of continuing the old campaign and that you're going to end this one (Give them some sort of closure, but do it quickly and well, kindly. You're working with characters they've been playing for a while now and are invested in.) and start a new one from scratch. Establish your ground rules like what books are allowed, what character generation methods are, house rules, etc.

If your brother continues to be an issue, tell him, out of game. If he gets mad, explain to him how it's hurting you and the game. In the fights my brother and I had back in the day, I certainly wish I had been more open, rather than angry.

Maybe it’s time to start over from scratch with a new campaign, a clean slate, so that everyone gets a fresh start, you’re not dealing with hold-over weirdness from the previous DM, and nobody can complain about previous favoritism.
 

ccs

41st lv DM
I'm confused. If your brother is so concerned about being powerfull, why did he turn his Artificier into a (essentially) magical horse.
How did he think that was a good idea?

He called out for help. And nothing immediately happened.
Ok.
So this session have something reply.
Ideas:
●Some entity removes the KiRinn from play & your brother gets to help run the bad guys with instructions to TPK the party. The more pcs die the better. The KiRinn? He was removed & spared this tpk because the entity has plans for him.
Plans wich are a tale to be told via a future game....
●Some entity answers, offers various aid/power ups but wants a steep price in return.
If the party accepts? They have a considerably easy time completing this adventure & the campaign wraps up victorious.
If they decline play it out & w/l/draw the campaign ends.
●Some entity responds by turning the KiRin back to his original form. "There, your usefull again".

Discuss with your group what type of campaign they want next, after this one. And whether they want you to run it.
Tell them this game is ending & when.
 

I'm confused. If your brother is so concerned about being powerfull, why did he turn his Artificier into a (essentially) magical horse.

Because its a magical horse with 18th level Cleric spellcasting and 9th level spells, 120 fly speed, an AC of 20, Perception of +9, Telepathy 120', 150HP, innate spellcasting, magic resistance, and magic weapon attacks, that just happens to be CR12 (and thus just allowable with True Polymorph for a 12th level PC).

The player in question has cheesed it big time, with a cheesy spell, turning himself into a creature that no sane DM would ever allow. He's literally trawled through the splatbooks looking for the most powerful creature of that CR to turn himself into.

He didnt pick it by co-incidence or for roleplay reasons. It's for raw power.

As DM, I'd ask why his PC wanted to do it, what motivates him to take on such a radical change in character, and when he gave me a satisfactory in character answer (justifying it as best he can) I'd act like I was convinced, and allow it... only letting him know after it was permanent that he doesnt have access to the creatures spellcasting feature, or its ability to cast spells.

And then, as he sits there silently, with it dawning on him he just painted himself into a corner justifying his in character reasons of now permanently being a useless magical horse, that he cant back out of, ask him as deadpan as I can muster...

'Why the long face?'
 


Mate they're lucky im not DMing.

I would have made them redo their PCs with point buy as 13th level PCs with drastically reduced magic items- 1 rare, 1 very rare and (1 uncommon, or 5 potions of healing) each.

Theyre all packing legendary items (multiple ones) and god knows what else the prior DM let them do.

And the Ki riin thing would never have happened. He can be a ki rin but I don't allow the shellcasting trait with polymorph so it would be pointless.
This would be a good option as well. Maybe let the players vote on if they want to do a semi-reset like this or start completely from scratch.
 

This would be a good option as well. Maybe let the players vote on if they want to do a semi-reset like this or start completely from scratch.

Vote?

It's 'accept this is the way it's going to be, or I am not DMing.' Then pick up the TV remote, turn on Family Guy and let them decide what to do next - agree to your terms, or watch TV with you.

You have to be firm at times with your players. Its a fair request by a prospective new DM taking over a campaign.

I wouldnt complain as a player, and as a DM I would be wary of a player that argued against it, likely not entertaining such arguments for very long.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Vote?

It's 'accept this is the way it's going to be, or I am not DMing.' Then pick up the TV remote, turn on Family Guy and let them decide what to do next - agree to your terms, or watch TV with you.

You have to be firm at times with your players. Its a fair request by a prospective new DM taking over a campaign.

I wouldnt complain as a player, and as a DM I would be wary of a player that argued against it, likely not entertaining such arguments for very long.
I think @The Green Hermit was thinking of letting them decide between starting over or soft-resetting. I can see players preferring a clean slate to radically changing the characters they've been playing.
 

Vote?

It's 'accept this is the way it's going to be, or I am not DMing.' Then pick up the TV remote, turn on Family Guy and let them decide what to do next - agree to your terms, or watch TV with you.

You have to be firm at times with your players. Its a fair request by a prospective new DM taking over a campaign.

I wouldnt complain as a player, and as a DM I would be wary of a player that argued against it, likely not entertaining such arguments for very long.
If both options are acceptable to the DM, then yes, let them vote. Player buy-in is important.
 


Zardnaar

Legend
I would say something like.
." Hey guys I can't run this so I'm quitting as DM. I'm willing to run a new game level 1(or 3 etc)".
If be firm that you're leaving the DM seat. You don't need to provide a reason and be firm so they don't pressure you into staying.

Then one of them has the choice of DMing themselves, most if them won't want to. Or they can start again.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I think it would be a bad mistake to try and salvage this campaign in any way. A 13th-level campaign is insane even if you strip away all magic items; just the native abilities of the PCs, particularly the spellcasters, results in high-octane craziness. Running such a game requires the DM to make a ton of judgment calls, and that in turn requires a lot of trust between players and DM. That trust clearly does not exist here.

I'm on the fence about whether it's worth even trying to salvage this playgroup. But if OP is determined to try, they should absolutely start fresh at a much lower level. 3rd would be my recommendation.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
I think it would be a bad mistake to try and salvage this campaign in any way. A 13th-level campaign is insane even if you strip away all magic items; just the native abilities of the PCs, particularly the spellcasters, results in high-octane craziness. Running such a game requires the DM to make a ton of judgment calls, and that in turn requires a lot of trust between players and DM. That trust clearly does not exist here.

I'm on the fence about whether it's worth even trying to salvage this playgroup. But if OP is determined to try, they should absolutely start fresh at a much lower level. 3rd would be my recommendation.
I agree that high-level play requires a lot of trust between the players and the DM. I'm running a campaign where the PCs are 14th-level, and I'm having a blast with it (and so are the players) but I wouldn't want to start there, and it absolutely wouldn't work without mutual trust (and unresolved story lines).
 


To answer the title question: If you are accurately characterizing his behavior clearly the Ki-Rin/Artificer player (I'm not 100% clear if that is your brother) is a problem player. I mean we have "shouting" at you for "half an hour", having a "tantrum" over a clearly broken magical item, and complaining about his power level when he is 13th level and hybridized with a magical creature, which is more power than most 5e D&D characters will ever see. He also seems to have spent a round in an obviously critical fight complaining melodramatically rather than doing anything productive, which I wouldn't care about as a DM but which I would being pretty irked by as a fellow player.

This doesn't mean that you can't play with him, that he can never get better, or that he doesn't have redeeming qualities as a player. It also doesn't mean nothing is your fault here. But if you are characterizing things reasonably accurately then sure, we have a "problem player", whatever that is.

The Artfificer moaned that with his passive he would have been able to see them(didn't actually say if I had rolled stealth), but I thought that since these devils had the sole purpose of getting the jump on someone, they would know how to hide from people. Is that my fault for making a wrong call? Naturally I'm biased on it., and would love to hear your opinions.

The proper "spirit of 5e" approach is generally to roll stealth. Rolling with advantage and/or proficiency they don't otherwise have might be appropriate if this stealth mission is their whole deal as you seem to say, but best practice is still generally to roll and maybe they fail miserably. That said, just deciding on a fixed DC to detect enemies on a specific location is also acceptable. Regardless of what you did or didn't do, I wouldn't put up with a player whining about their passive perception not being respected unless they had made specific investments in it like the Alert feat or getting expertise in perception.

How do I solve the definitely deadly encounter they are in.

Unless you feel like you railroaded them into it, it's not your responsibility to save the party. Sometimes D&D characters lose fights. It may be time to end this campaign which clearly has a variety of issues. An unplanned TPK is never going to be the satisfying way to do that, but it is sometimes the one necessary to emphasize that D&D takes place in a world of danger and consequences.

If you want to make it go on I recommend just having the enemy capture them. If you want to do this you may want to have more enemy minions arrive to induce them to just surrender or to ensure that they all get taken down before one or more can fail too many saving throws.
 

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