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D&D General "It's not fun when..."

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
This is the "The DM is Satan" trope, and it's one of my least favorite in all of tabletop role-playing gaming. Of all the abused player syndromes that I encounter when bring experienced players in, this is the most common one. When you have "The DM is Satan", the world is subtly or overtly skewed to evil such that all acts of goodness, mercy, kindness, trust, compassion, and so forth harvest only sorrows. Those NPC's that aren't entirely wicked are stupid and incompetent to the point of there being no real difference. The world the PC's operate in is perverse and twisted, so that not only are NPCs merely strangely hostile, but they will even ignore their own best interests in an effort to backstab the PCs and enact the pettiest sorts of revenge on them. This will continue no matter how many times the PC's save the day and prove themselves heroes. PC's never accrue any benefits from a positive reputation.

The result of this sort of experience is the players are taught that the only way to succeed is to be utterly ruthless and evil themselves - never truth anyone, never leave an enemy alive, never be honest, never be charitable. Murder hoboing becomes the functional strategy for dealing with the game universe because only evil is rewarded by the GM as clever, whereas every act of goodness is actively punished.
Indeed. I say a lot: think about your incentives. A lot of DMs teach their players to be murderhobos without even realizing it.

It's why I have gone to great lengths to support my players' merciful, constructive, positive actions. The world can get better, if you actually try. It may not get better uniformly, or quickly, or in ways that are particularly powerful. But it can get better.
 

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pukunui

Legend
I do think it would be better if more spells always had some effect. To me it's less the "I wasted my best spell slot" and more the "I waited 15 minutes to get to my turn, and it consisted of one failed roll that I didn't even see" factor that makes save or suck spells unfun.
Agreed. Last time I played 3.5e, I chose to play a psion in a Dark Sun game. Since psionics doesn't generally have obvious casting components, and since my DM is notorious for having hot dice, my character would regularly get teased for "just standing there looking constipated". 😒

In fact, I made a decision a while back to avoid save DC-heavy characters, since I much prefer my PCs' effectiveness to be dependent on my own dice rolls rather than the DM's.

(In case anyone is wondering, my DM rolls in the open, so it's not like he's cheating or anything. He just has really good luck.)
 

Oofta

Legend
According to the Living Greyhawk Wikipedia page, New Mexico was part of the County of Urnst region, while Arizona was part of Nyrond, both of which were in the "Nyrond and Her Environs" meta-region. BDKR1 covers the Bandit Kingdoms, which was assigned to Oklahoma and Texas, and was part of the "Iuz's Border States" meta-region.
Yep, we were Nyrond. Totally different attitude from the admins, I don't think I would have stuck with LG if we had been in New Mexico.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Agreed. Last time I played 3.5e, I chose to play a psion in a Dark Sun game. Since psionics doesn't generally have obvious casting components, and since my DM is notorious for having hot dice, my character would regularly get teased for "just standing there looking constipated". 😒
Just out of curiosity, was your character making a Concentration check to suppress their powers' displays, or did everyone just forget about them?
 


EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
I think "The DM is Satan" is a step up from the conventional "every NPC is inexplicably hostile/a wanker", but they're definitely closely related.

I've seen both separately is why I say that. I've played with a DM where every NPC was a wanker, but the world generally seemed okay, and when this was actually pointed out to him he got pretty embarrassed, and it stopped happening, except when he occasionally sort of forgot what he was doing, but we could get things back on track by just saying stuff like "Why is this guy so hostile? Did we do something wrong?". I feel like he was very much the product of "abused player syndrome" as you say.

But I also played with a "Satan"-class DM for a while in my teens who just ran things exactly as you said. The funniest thing was the dude was obsessed with Paladins and how great they were, and had a DMPC Paladin who would come and bully the PCs at times, but he couldn't accept anyone doing anything "Good" having good results. Even his DMPC never did anything actually good, just murdered bad people/monsters.
This is a fair point to make. I guess what I'd say is, there's a spectrum involved here, with roughly five messy stops along the way:

Teddy Bear/Softball DM: Everything is always sunshine and rainbows. Relatively rare in practice.
Good Buddy/Hopepunk DM: Stuff can get dark, but good is always possible if you work for it. (That's where I'm at, or try to be.)
Your Neutralness/Referee DM: The world...is. Maybe you can change it. Stuff happens, people live, people die. (The next two think they're here.)
Diogenes/Cynical DM: The world, or at least the people in it, suck. Maybe you can make it better. Probably not, but maybe.
Satan/Nihilistic DM: The world sucks. Your character, as part of that world, sucks. Defy this maxim at your peril.

A lot of people take any constructive effort at anything beyond Your Neutralness as being the most extreme, saccharine version of Teddy Bear. It is (as noted below) an aspect of the cynicism of our time, which I at least partially blame on the oppressive censorship/homogenization of media in the period from the mid 30s to the late 60s.

Larian, the videogame developers have a problem which verges on "The DM is Satan", as illustrated by DOS1/2 (particularly 2), and BG3 initially suffered from this, before huge pushback from players forced the devs to reconsider their approach. They're not the only videogame devs who have gone down this path too (though it is thankfully somewhat rare).
Can't say I'm surprised, though I'm glad Larian has (hopefully) listened to the feedback. I definitely got a feeling of "you can't do anything good in this world, just maybe possibly deflect bad things a little bit" from DOS2. They did at least give the Red Prince some good "wow, the way my people treat others is HOT GARBAGE, isn't it?" stuff, so hopefully they'll take that limited awareness and expand on it into something good.

Sadly, we live in an era still shaped by the negative reaction to the Hays Code and other restrictive, repressive, "only goody-two-shoes vs Saturday morning cartoon villains" requirements. Someone unabashedly good is either a fraud, a crazy person, or a martyr. It's very frustrating.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Player, "HEY YES TWO NAT 20S Tiamat is going down. That beeep."
Player," WHAT Tiamat hit me with TWO NAT 20s the DM is a BEEP."
Monk, "YEs Key and fail save. He prone and stunned. In your face." Does victory dance.
Monk, "I move 40! why does cost me 20 to stand up from prone. It should only be 15 like when I was 1st level." {Actual quote} Gives DM sad puppy eyes.
Player "YES The monster is (charmed, stunned, banished)! This is a great game."
Player, "WAH! My pc is (charmed, stunned, banished)! This game sucks!"
Players always love it when the fight goes their way, but a minor setback is cause to rewrite the rules more in their favor.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Players always love it when the fight goes their way, but a minor setback is cause to rewrite the rules more in their favor.
I've seen ardent rules lawyers turn into diehard simulationists when it comes to things like why an NPC getting a 37 on a Pick Pockets check isn't sufficient to steal their wizard's spellbook. "But it's inside my pack along with those other tomes we recovered! How would he even know which book to grab?!"
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Agreed. Probably the bigger point is that there shouldn't be spells that end challenging encounters with one casting if a save is failed.
I disagree, in that I like the idea of every now and then (but by no means always!) being able to hose the BBEG without taking a scratch; in full realization that if my attempt fails nothing will happen and I'm probably screwed.

Flip side, I have to accept that sometimes the same might happen to my PC: I could get one-shotted by a lucky enemy.

It's all about one's tolerance for swinginess in combat. It's also about one's tolerance for planning. Sometimes a good plan can make a combat either much easier or a one-shot kill where without said planning it would have probably been a drawn-out and risky slugfest. I don't want to take that away.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Indeed. I say a lot: think about your incentives. A lot of DMs teach their players to be murderhobos without even realizing it.

It's why I have gone to great lengths to support my players' merciful, constructive, positive actions. The world can get better, if you actually try. It may not get better uniformly, or quickly, or in ways that are particularly powerful. But it can get better.
My players don't need any help from me to be murderhobos thankyouverymuch!
 

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