Rat Bastard DM Requirements

TarionzCousin

Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
What does it take to be a Rat Bastard DM? Are you one?

How many TPK's have you caused?

How many dice have been thrown at you?

How many character sheets have you ripped up?

How, exactly, have you caused mental anguish to your players?

Have you ever fudged a die roll to kill a character. For example, you rolled a 3 but told everyone it was a "natural 20."

What else?
 

Nifft

Penguin Herder
Are you one?
Hope so.

How, exactly, have you caused mental anguish to your players?
By making my players take actions they KNEW would cause them grief, because they were immersed deeply enough in their characters that they acted against their better (meta-game) judgment.

IMHO it's all about balancing a fun game, verisimilitude regarding consequences, and painful choices which root the guilt for the PC's suffering firmly in the hands of their players.

Cheers, -- N
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
What does it take to be a Rat Bastard DM? Are you one?
Oh, probably...depends who you ask. :)
How many TPK's have you caused?
None.
How many dice have been thrown at you?
Several. One drew blood.
How many character sheets have you ripped up?
None, mostly because I insist they be kept for posterity.
How, exactly, have you caused mental anguish to your players?
How haven't I?

I run 1e. My games have all the nasty that later versions have done their best to remove: level drains, save-or-die, equipment breakage including magic gear, and so forth. I've also added wild magic surges, where if an item breaks or a spell goes wrong or gets interrupted random things may happen; and most of those random things are not exactly pleasant. I make casters roll to aim their spells, and they can fumble (ever fumbled with a Fireball? It ain't pretty - particularly when it goes off *inside* your fireproof cloak, as once happened). And I very rarely run adventures that the party can expect to waltz through without casualties...though they try anyway...and this can sometimes lead to a lot of character turnover in a very short time.
Have you ever fudged a die roll to kill a character. For example, you rolled a 3 but told everyone it was a "natural 20."?
Nearest I ever came to this was I once had a player who I was 99% sure was fudging combat rolls, so I fought fire with fire - if you're always gonna hit, I'm always gonna hit; only my hits hurt more. A death or two later, the player got the hint and the fudging (both ways) stopped.

Lan-"but every week they come back for more"-efan
 
TPKs? Ripped up character sheets? Fudged die rolls to kill characters?

A rat bastard DM craves not these things.

A rat bastard DM's strength flows from the game. Beware the Dark Side! Cheap character deaths, taking satisfaction in TPKs - the Dark Side are they...

(Quite literally, for the DM, there is no 'try'. If you want to kill characters, then characters are dead. Death is EASY for a DM to organise. Level 1 PCs leave tavern, a Great Wyrm red dragon flies overhead on its once-a-century rampage, and bingo, the PCs are dead. You win, right? Nah, big difference between a killer DM and a Rat Bastard DM. A killer DM just kills characters, which is easy, especially if you're willing to fudge die rolls to that end. A rat bastard DM merely makes the characters lives miserable, especially if s/he can orchestrate things so that it's at least in part the consequences of the PCs own decisions that make them miserable, and in doing so makes the *players* love it.)

(A Rat Bastard DM's) duty is heavy, but (PC) death is lighter than a feather...
 

Kafen

Villager
Q. What does it take to be a Rat Bastard DM? Are you one?
A. I'm not sure. My players accuse me of being one.

Q. How many TPK's have you caused?
A. Three... My fave was the very first game of my 'evil' campaign. The party died on a boat because my monsters scored 14 crits in three rounds with each creature having 8 attacks per round.

Q. How many dice have been thrown at you?
A. Two

Q. How many character sheets have you ripped up?
A. None, my group uses excel sheets.

Q. How, exactly, have you caused mental anguish to your players?
A. I give like no treasure and give out gold coins that have to be melted down to use as it is illegal to use non Imperial coins. So, players have to melt down gold in order to spend it when looting gold. Players love that sort of thing. Then, I tricked one of the dumb PCs -his character was an idiot, but the player is clever- into giving away ALL the party treasure as payment via an NPC.

Q. Have you ever fudged a die roll to kill a character. For example, you rolled a 3 but told everyone it was a "natural 20."
A. Ooooooh yeah, There was this one guy... He angered everyone with arrogance and I slaughtered him because it was the only way to shut the guy up about his uber sweet cleric. Yap yap yap...

Q. What else?
A. My best friends call me a @@@@@@@ as a GM because I raise the HD on monsters just enough to increase the toughness of the CR without giving them extra xp, give out increasingly low amounts of treasure, and allow only two items out of the MIC because the book is broken as a mirror in a crackhouse.
 
Q. What does it take to be a Rat Bastard DM?
A. The Rat Bastard DM's Club is a secret organization (sect? cult?) whose origins are shrouded in mystery and flumphs. Nobody knows who they are, or where they come from. The best our sages have been able to discern is that to become a RBDM, you must chase penguins and parlay with swashbuckling felines.

Q. Are you one?
A. I've been called one before (and I've been called worse, too.) But as far as belonging to the RBDM club, nope.

Q. How many TPK's have you caused?
A. Just one that I can remember. But I turned it into a story arc, and everyone was happy.

Q. How many dice have been thrown at you?
A. Just 2d6. The funny thing is, we were playing Monopoly at the time. One of the guys at the table got really frustrated that I wouldn't trade my last railroad for his crappy pale-blue slums, and threw his dice at me in defiance. He was already winning anyway...

Q. How many character sheets have you ripped up?
A. I have never destroyed a character sheet that was not my own.

Q. How, exactly, have you caused mental anguish to your players?
A. I once led the PCs on a spider-themed adventure into a spider-infested forest, where they did battle with dozens of aberrant monsters that I had modified with my Half-Spider template. The final showdown was a battle with a half-dragon monstrous spider, whose breath weapon was a swarm of twitching, biting black widow spiders. I described everything in great detal and high Gygaxian prose, right down to the squeaking, popping noises the black widow spiders made when squished underfoot during the battle.

Two of the three players were actual, card-carrying arachnophobes. Not just squeamish, not just the "spiders creep me out" sort. No, these guys had real issues.

Hey, they asked for it. It was Halloween, and they told me to "come up with something extra-scary" to mark the occasion. I merely complied with their wishes.

Q. Have you ever fudged a die roll to kill a character. For example, you rolled a 3 but told everyone it was a "natural 20."
A. I have never fudged a roll in combat. In fact, I make all of my combat rolls outside the screen, in full view of the players. That said, I will fudge any other roll that needs to be rolled behind the screen, such as for Search checks and whatnot. I'm not doing it to be a dick; I am just trying to drive the story forward. If the party really needs to find that secret door to avoid spending the next six hours roaming the halls and fighting random encounters, I'm on it.

Q. What else?
A. I kicked one of my players out of the gaming group because I found out she was cheating on my best friend.
 
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TarionzCousin

Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
A rat bastard DM merely makes the characters lives miserable, especially if s/he can orchestrate things so that it's at least in part the consequences of the PCs own decisions that make them miserable, and in doing so makes the *players* love it.)
I think you would have loved gaming with Eric Wujcik. Read the Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game book and you'll see why I said that.

Q. How, exactly, have you caused mental anguish to your players?
A. (Extra spidery goodness vs. Arachnophobes)
Now that is awesome. :cool:
 

Iron Sky

Adventurer
The first 2nd Edition D&D game I ran and the d6 Star Wars game I ran back in the day are probably my strongest qualifications.

In the 2nd Edition Game, I selected monsters half-the-time literally by flipping the book open to a page and throwing whatever was there against the party. Made for some interesting combats since no-one (not even me) knew what was living in that cave they decided to explore.

The guy who always played wizards in my game went through 13 of them(he got so he could make them in 5 minutes or so). One of his wizards died and was resurrected by an artifact 8 times before he threw it into the ocean so it couldn't bring him back again when he died next - does it qualify you as a RBDM if a player has ditched an artifact so it won't bring them back to life?

The party also liked to hunt dragons, even though no fewer than 2 PCs died every time they hunted one. Like when they went after a Red Dragon and the guy with the custom Thief/Wizard class he'd designed (that he was very proud of) cast invisibility, silence, and spider climb and went ahead to scout out the dragon's cave.

I didn't even tell the player what happened, just rolled damage and described to the rest of the party the massive detonation of flame and body parts, melted tools, and smoldering spellbook-pages flying out of the cave. They didn't even blink, just shouted "it used it's breath weapon!" in unison and charged in... only to find the Red Dragon just waking up after being alerted by the flame trap the scout had set off. Two more PCs died in the first round.

In my d6 Star Wars game, we played off-and-on for 3 years and at the end of that, the group was still scrambling for work, always just barely on the edge of being broke since anytime they got a huge payout, their ship cost so much to repair that they spent it all fixing it up - or they'd get screwed by their irreputable employers and then blow more time, credits, and ammo getting revenge.

The ship had real character too, originally a stock YT-1300, by the end it was simultaneously bad-ass and beat-to-hell from all the parts that had been blown off and replaced with replacement parts of various quality (from a Turbolaser stolen off an Imperial Corvette to a hull-patch made of plywood, scrap metal, and emergency hull-sealant), and all debris fields, anomalies, corrosive atmospheres, and fire-fights it had been through.

They also happened to simultaneously have some of the largest bounties in the Empire on their heads from several Hutts, the Empire, and the Rebellion at the same time...

Huh, which makes me think of the Alternity game back in the day where one of the PCs, Ty Scrawj, got beat to hell at a crummy stardock bar, came back with his auto-flechette shotgun, climbed up on the bar to reap bloody vengeance, and accidentally hit the clip release after trash-talking everyone in the place.

He got knocked off the bar by taking a sledgehammer to the chest and after the other PCs found, rescued, and escaped with him, the only doctor they could find to patch him up was a junky chop-shop doc who demanded drugs in payment, then took them right before he operated on Ty. Amazingly, Ty lived, though for some reason he set off metal detectors after that - which caused more shenanigans later.

Edit: Oh, as a final note, one player was at the 2nd Edition game, his first time roleplaying ever and his first day in town after moving across the country (he was one of my player's cousins), when they took on a black dragon. The party spread out, wise (by then) to breath weapons. The player had to leave, right after he took his turn and the wizard hid behind his PC, hoping it would ablate the dragon's acid a bit. Instead, the dragon melted both of them to a puddle. One of the players grabbed the new player's character sheet, tore it up, and lit it on fire with a lighter.

Next game when the player came back, I handed him the charred scraps of his character sheet. "What happened?" he said. "You got puddled," was my reply. His nickname was Puddle to everyone (including people at highschool who had no idea we roleplayed) from then on out. I haven't seen him in years, so as far as I know, it still may be - though I bet almost no-one knows why...
 
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Wolf1066

Villager
Huh, which makes me think of the Alternity game back in the day where one of the PCs, Ty Scrawj, got beat to hell at a crummy stardock bar, came back with his auto-flechette shotgun, climbed up on the bar to reap bloody vengeance, and accidentally hit the clip release after trash-talking everyone in the place.
Circumstances that would prompt pretty much any coroner to give a verdict of "Suicide"...
 

Filcher

Villager
A killer DM just kills characters, which is easy, especially if you're willing to fudge die rolls to that end. A rat bastard DM merely makes the characters lives miserable, especially if s/he can orchestrate things so that it's at least in part the consequences of the PCs own decisions that make them miserable, and in doing so makes the *players* love it.
H.M. has the right of it. To arrange a situation where the PCs elect to plunge to their dire fate (be it doom or otherwise), leaving the players howling in agony and begging for more ... THAT earns the title of RBDM.

Everything else is trivial.
 

Wolf1066

Villager
This works even better if you let them speculate about the consequences. Rip off their ideas...but delay the nastiness long enough to think they avoided it.
Ripping off their ideas is really good - because you get to find out what they're really scared of/worried about and then ensure their worst nightmares come true.

You know they've twigged to your tactic when they start saying "Hmmm, if we're not careful, we might wind up fabulously rich and well-connected - sure as Hell hope that doesn't happen..."
 

Hand of Evil

Adventurer
Rat Bastards are not bad DMs, they engage the players and enjoy the hunt to the end, when the player looks at them and says you bastard!

  • Know your players - what goes on in their heads can be used in the game. Still remember when a character found out his mother was the villian.
  • Know your game - do not cheapen the game by cheating, use the rules and work inside them.
  • Know your world - building a good world/campaign myth is a good way to create bastard moments.
  • Let your players know you are a bastard - it is no fun, otherwise.
 

GlassJaw

Explorer
Killing characters and TPK's are not the calling cards of a Rat Bastard DM. Those things are easy.

Being a RBDM is about posing difficult choices to the players - choices with consequences.

A RBDM torments and surprises the players and they like it. When a player says "that is so evil!" with a huge smile on his face, the RBDM has done his job.
 

kaomera

Villager
A RBDM torments and surprises the players and they like it. When a player says "that is so evil!" with a huge smile on his face, the RBDM has done his job.
This. I've seen more failed attempts at true ratbastardry over the years (and this includes me looking in the mirror) than actual RBDM moments, and I think that one of the big traps is the idea that you want players returning to the table despite your ratbastardry... No, you want them returning because of it...
 

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