D&D 5E Restrictive DMs and player enjoyment

Warpiglet-7

Cry havoc! And let slip the pigs of war!
I just “clocked out” and started designing a character. And then started thinking that my idea would not fly at all tables. Some DMs would say “no.”

That would be a drag and made me question: do players prefer a restrictive or permissive DM?

Curious if any players prefer a tight fisted DM vs a more open one.

Feel free to explain your definition of restrictive vs. permissive DM.
 

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toucanbuzz

No rule is inviolate
I think it's better to be on a team. As a lifelong DM, I put the campaign theme out there and as a team, my players agree that's the type of campaign they want in on. This might mean voluntarily restricting one's options to better immerse, such as wanting to invoke a baroque horror theme in Strahd by removing, for that campaign, exotic races like tortles or dragonfolk, and focusing on roleplaying fear and despair.

This involves trust. My gamers have over time come to trust that my proposals that deviate from the core rules are for a good cause.

So it might be better to start with "is my idea designed to make other people's enjoyment of the campaign or adventure better?"
 


billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him) 🇺🇦🇵🇸🏳️‍⚧️
Depends. If the DM pitches a game with a lot of restrictions and it sounds fun, restrictive is fine. If the DM pitches a less restrictive game idea, and it sounds fun, less restrictive is fine.
In other words, it really does depend on the game being pitched.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Permissive.

I am no longer amused by books standard stuff. I'm down to get weird and I'm not going to care too much for angsting over why I can't just play some of Tolkein's leftovers, or passive aggression toward my character from the guy playing the entire world.
 

prabe

Tension, apprension, and dissension have begun
Supporter
When I make a character these days, the only GM whose approval I care at all about is mine. But I'm making these characters as fun, or to check something, or as pre-gens, or whatever. I rarely sit down to make a character with no knowledge of the GM and/or campaign they're for.

EDIT: As far as how restrictive--or not--I prefer GMs ... that doesn't really matter much to me so long as they're clear about what they're restricting and why. Well, some of those whats and whys will serve as a warning, I suppose ...
 


EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
I just “clocked out” and started designing a character. And then started thinking that my idea would not fly at all tables. Some DMs would say “no.”

That would be a drag and made me question: do players prefer a restrictive or permissive DM?

Curious if any players prefer a tight fisted DM vs a more open one.

Feel free to explain your definition of restrictive vs. permissive DM.
I prefer a GM that is largely open-minded and adaptive. That doesn't mean being vacant, as some like to cast it. Instead, it requires the DM to be willing to say, fully earnest, "Sell me on it." The GM must be willing to accommodate to a point, exactly the same as the player. We achieve our best results when we reach true consensus, where everyone is excited to see the game play out.

I have found that every GM that makes a point of being "restrictive" is, as you say, tight-fisted, and rather intransigent, which often has the result of deadening player creativity over time. Players are taught not to do what is creative, but to follow only tried and true methods. Creativity will be met with unwavering opposition or insanely high difficulty (meaning, effectively unwavering opposition with a fig-leaf excuse of "permitting" things) nine times out of ten, so why bother with creative solutions? They're wasted effort with only denial or failure as the result most of the time. Do only what you know will work.

I've played in games where a player has a character that has to be "forced" into the setting by DM fiat, and it's not a lot of fun for anyone except that player. As a DM, I tend to shut that down whenever it arises. If that makes me "restrictive," then so be it.
I find the problem is that an unfortunate number of DMs think "a dragonborn, like, at all" is something that must be "forced" into the setting, to say nothing of much more creative stuff.

Of course, I'm also of the opinion that a GM that has allowed only one character to feel special has let their players down. I make sure all of my players feel that their characters have something special about them. It doesn't have to make them the center of attention. For example, one of my players is quite shy, roleplay-wise, so his personal stuff is more...well, personal, while still hopefully drawing him further into fun adventures.

With GM support, every character concept can sing. Just drill down to what the player really wants, what makes them excited to play, and then find ways to make that happen. If they're truly sincere about those desires, enthusiastic without being abusive, exploitative, or coercive, it will work.
 

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