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General OVERLY CRITICAL: Sucking the joy out of the game.

I think in today’s world we’ve kind of been conditioned to be too critical of the things we enjoy. We invest ourselves in them so much that we create a standard that’s impossible to achieve. And then we criticize the thing we enjoyed for not meeting our impossible expectations.

Look at how many “fans” of something actually seem to hate the thing. It’s very easy to get caught up in all that.

My expectation for the RPGs I play is to have fun. I try to keep that in mind and not expect more than that. I also try and let the game be what it is. If the GM is running a political/espionage type game, then I’d rather lean into that and try and enjoy it rather than lament the lack of combat. Let things be what they are instead of criticizing them for not being what you wanted them to be.

Because it’s a creative hobby, the temptation to hold it to a higher standard can be strong...but I try to ignore that in favor of simply enjoying the game.

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The after game high is generally not the place to have constructive criticism. It can really nuke the afterglow and should be avoided.

Striking up a conversation on ways to improve should happen later in the week, possibly over email or a beer. It helps if your DM has occasional "what works, what doesn't work" conversations with you.


Rotten DM
Spirit of Gygax grant me the serenity
To accept that I am not the perfect DM;
Courage to listen to feedback on things I can change;
And wisdom to not kill off Bob's PC when he criticizes me.
Here have a plastic silver piece. :)


A new DM asking' if you had fun' after a session is not asking to be nitpicked, but looking for confirmation. I think you realize you are a drag in doing your criticism - I will confirm that you are.

I try to be as supportive as possible when I do play, which is very rarely - I almost always run.

A veteran DM asking that question is going to get a very different answer than a newbie.


I have two buddies who also DM, and we all play in each others' campaigns. We usually play on weekends. It has become standard practice that during the following weekdays, we call each other during our commutes home and discuss the recent session(s).

Nobody has stated this openly, but we each make the effort to couch any criticisms with compliments. That "sandwich method", where you have to give a compliment, a criticism, then another compliment, is always a healthy exercise. We go over what really worked for the session, note how each other has improved as a player/DM, and what little nitpicks we have. Often we find that the same problems come up less and less the more we discuss them.

The fact that it's always a one on one discussion helps. It means the person is not embarrassed by having his mistakes pointed out to the whole group. It gives them an opportunity to spend time explaining their thought process. And the delay between the end of the session and the actual feedback conversation means we can all go look up any rules and whatnot before we bring them up.

But ultimately, we all operate with the assumption that the DM is going to run the game how they want to, so long as the goal is for the players to have fun. And that works great for all of us.


Fauchard describes himself as a joyless fun-suck, but also describes the game as his favorite pastime. I think it is because the game is better in the telling due to the real emotions we're feeling while we play it.

I think it might be a good move to take some time during the game to recount past deeds.
I could get behind a periodic "reminiscing about past deeds" encounter. Hell, that could be a fun way to do session recaps.

I worry sometimes that I'm ruining the game for myself. That by being overly-critical of each and every session, I wind up talking all the fun out of my favorite pastime. It's especially bad when a nervous new GM friend asks, "Did you guys have fun?" Cue the nitpicks, followed by the gut punch of watching my buddy's face fall.

Am I the only one that has this problem? Do any of you guys find yourselves turning into joyless, overly analytical fun-sucks, or do you only acquire that template after you spending too much time on forums? Is there any cure?
Not sure exactly what you are being critical about...

If you find yourself complaining all the time about rule X being "wrong", rule Y "should be like this instead", then the short answer is YES, you do have a problem, but it's the same problem as thousands of other gamers. For some reasons, roleplay games are unique in this aspect, that A LOT of people feel entitled since day 1 to criticize the rules, as if they knew better how the game should have been. But the simple reality is that any game is just a game, and the best to enjoy it is to accept it and go along with it, at least until you've played it quite long enough... Later on, you can change the rules into something else, but the primary reason to do so should be because you want to try something different, rather than pretending to "fix" it. Now the interesting question is: why the same people do not try to change chess or poker? If you don't like chess, you just don't play chess, right? So if you don't like D&D 5e, why don't you just try another RPG? Perhaps it's the idea that the game itself tells you that you can change it, that immediately attracts people who are more interested in designing games rather than playing them. In fact, I suspect that many who post thousands of house rules in a forum never actually play the game, their interest is in exercising game design. That's not a bad thing, but maybe they should focus on that, and realize that they're not really that interested in playing.

Differently, if you are all the time criticizing what your DM is doing, how (s)he is handling in-game situations as well as OoC dynamics, it's more complicated. Does it happen with a single DM or with many/all of them? Are you also over-critical of what other people do in other social contexts (e.g. work) or only gaming? You are entitled to have an "ideal way of DMing" in mind of course, but considering that you are yourself telling that you are "ruining the game", then you need to do something about it... Ask yourself, is it really what your DM does, or is it your judgement of what (s)he does that spoils your fun? If you find the answer to be the first, I am afraid you should just quit playing with that DM, but if it's the second, then you need to find a way to change the way you think about the game while playing.


I think one of the fastest ways to lose that critical attitude would be to DM. Unless you just happen to be a super amazing DM or are super egotistical (and statistically it’s more likely for you to be egotistical than an amazing DM), once you see the level of work and energy and heart that you have to put into it to try to be successful, and then nitpick yourself, you realize that being the perfect DM is pretty much impossible. Everyone does the best they can to achieve the most fun they can create. Respect that, and if you still can’t help yourself from sucking the fun out of it for everyone (because it’s probably not just your fun you’re ruining) then you should step away from gaming and find a hobby that is fun for you.


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I'd say: As a player... if you're not having fun, talk to the GM. Establish with the GM what's missing, or what's going wrong, before just walking out. There's a ton of reasons why your fun may not be present that are fixable, and some reasons that are not. Make sure you know which you are dealing with.
I completely agree.

And if you are having fun, talk to the DM anyway. "Man, I never saw coming that there were really two werewolves and one was trying to stop the other. Great twist!" or "Holy spit, I though I was going to die that entire combat but we pulled it off. That was really tense, I had a great time."


A very OK person
Let’s adjust our perspectives for a minute. Just as a thought exercise.

Assume: You spent N hours prepping and probably 2N hours playing D&D this week for a total of 3N hours.

Question 1: In your opinion, did you receive a fair (or roughly equal) amount of fun for your investment of time? More fun? Less fun?

Question 2: (let’s say) A movie costs something like $10/hour (snacks and whatever included). Would you have paid $10/hour to play your most recent game of D&D (include the value of time spent with friends/other players)?

Question 3: You earn X dollars an hour working. You spent 3N hours prepping and playing D&D when you could’ve worked and earned 3NX dollars. Would you rather have worked and earned 3NX dollars or played D&D during that same time slot?

Plainly these questions are not even close to the only considerations or preferences we might have as players. For a lot of us, this is a passion/hobby for which we’d happily burn reasonable amounts of time and cash. But what it comes down to, in terms of perspective, is that if you can say “I’m glad I spent my time and money doing this” then there’s joy here for you.

Finally, the more you do something, the better you get at it. And the better you get at something, the more flaws and errors your can see. And when you make adjustments to make fewer errors, you get better and notice all new errors, and so on and so on. I think, so long as you’re a good sport about it all and approach the hobby with joy, you’re in the right place.


Demon's Advocate
Let me tell you, the first time I DM'ed I hit EVERY landmine as a terrible DM. I didn't read the table, I barely knew any rules, when someone tried doing something fun the first thing I said was "no." I didn't do it because I wanted to be bad or annoy players or even that I was angry, I just didn't know how to DM right. I decided to do it the same night I got the rulebook (the starter set one, not the PHB). You should've seen my ridiculous house rules.

I turned some of my friends off of D&D and I still feel bad that I left such a negative impression. Now, I'm...Well, okay in my opinion. I don't think I'm perfect nor am I THE DM but I do have some people who say I'm good. And I believe them enough to keep my head up and keep learning. It's been just over a year and I've grown alot and I hope I can grow some more. I'm actually running two concurrent campaigns with two different parties on the same timeline now, and yes it can be a bit overwhelming but it leads to this avenger-style team-up that increases the excitement.

Thing is: you need to talk with your DM. I'm embarrassed by the number of dropouts my game had but 95% of them say they don't have time or just left and never said anything. And that's fine, I missed the mark a few times but I can't improve without knowing what went wrong.

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