D&D 5E Restrictive DMs and player enjoyment

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
My table has a no evil characters rule.

It isn't about limiting what people can do, it is about deciding what kind of vibe and theme we want to be playing. And everyone agrees to play within that space.
Which just means they're agreeing to be limited in what they can do.
We had a player recently who played a character who shot first and asked questions later.

I had a discussion with him at the table about how it takes away the ability of other players to engage in the game the way they want to.
Yeah, that's just the sort of thing I mean by the type of restrictions that are bad. You're flat-out telling that player how they're allowed to play not just this character but any future character in that campaign.
The alternative is for the party to dump the character who is getting them into dangerous fights and ruining their chances to get info or allies.
Much better. In-game problems require in-game solutions.
But then if they do that the ostracized player will have a bad time.
Only if either a) the player of the ostracized character takes it personally or b) the other players at the table ostracize the player along with the character.

If a) is the case then that player needs a chat about separating character from player, and to not take it all so seriously. If b) is the case you've got a real problem on your hands, as groupthink is being allowed to squash individuality both in and out of character.
 

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Oofta

Legend
My table has a no evil characters rule.

It isn't about limiting what people can do, it is about deciding what kind of vibe and theme we want to be playing. And everyone agrees to play within that space.

We had a player recently who played a character who shot first and asked questions later.

I had a discussion with him at the table about how it takes away the ability of other players to engage in the game the way they want to.

The alternative is for the party to dump the character who is getting them into dangerous fights and ruining their chances to get info or allies.

But then if they do that the ostracized player will have a bad time.

So we have group norms to discuss this stuff out of the game rather than use in game resolutions.

I would just add that when I was in games that allowed evil PCs there were some players who would take the opportunity to be evil and run with it. To the point that it made other people at the table uncomfortable. If the entire group is okay with it, that's fine. I just won't be at that table.
 

For me, it depends partly on the type of restriction (as well as the reasoning).

I’m pretty cool with race or background limits; it’s not like I don’t have a ton of choices. The limits might suggest a style of game I’m not interested in, but intat case it’s the style not the limit.

Class restrictions area bit different; aside from artificer and monk I think all of them should be available in any DnD game I would want to play (barring a one-shot with a particular premise). Some subclasses might be out for balance, but only a couple.

I don’t think it’s wrong to ban multiclassing or feats, but I’m unlikely to be interested in such a game. I’ve played all the vanilla options already.
 

I never had to specifically say, but enough table discussion says no monsters as PCs. There may be a way for a player to work with me and allow a goblin or even an orc- maybe, but a snakeguy or hippoguy- no. If the whole table wanted to play a one-off with a slew of Mos Eisley then fine I can make something and have fun but not for a campaign. We tend to stick with PHB for races. I do not think my backwater peasants have caught up with the more cosmopolitan Wizards.
I tend to agree. And since I am almost always run Greyhawk in 3.5e with a lot of AD&D and other non current D&D or just not D&D modules (Harn, Pathfinde, etc.) I don’t include Dragonborn among the normal races. I have allowed a Lizardman PC, a Centaur PC guest star for a player who could only make one game, and Kobold and Minotaur NPC‘s adopted by parties - the Minotaur is a semi-PC now. However, the world isn’t always friendly to monster PC/NPC characters, and the gear often doesn’t fit.

But if somebody else is running their campaign, and likes Mos Eisley cantina, their call. I have no problem with a Tiefling, Githyanki, and Vampire in BG3, for example. And it seems to fit for FR with 5e rules.
 

having a character that is actually connected in some way to the situation at hand is actually selfishly a benefit

Playing into the tropes of the campaign will only help in the long run, rather than constantly trying to run counter to it.
Totally. I have no problem with character concepts that connect into the campaign world. For example, one PC is the daughter of a bishop, who is close friends with the local ruler from being educated together. A role playing character concept that creates new story possibilities is WAY more interesting to me as DM than a Build or powergaming concept.
 


ad_hoc

(they/them)
Which just means they're agreeing to be limited in what they can do.

Yeah, that's just the sort of thing I mean by the type of restrictions that are bad. You're flat-out telling that player how they're allowed to play not just this character but any future character in that campaign.

Much better. In-game problems require in-game solutions.

Only if either a) the player of the ostracized character takes it personally or b) the other players at the table ostracize the player along with the character.

If a) is the case then that player needs a chat about separating character from player, and to not take it all so seriously. If b) is the case you've got a real problem on your hands, as groupthink is being allowed to squash individuality both in and out of character.

Group think squashing creativity?

The characters whole thing was that he fired upon anything he saw before the other characters got a chance to interact with it.

He was squashing everyone else's creativity by not allowing them to play their characters.

In the narrative of the game those characters would all boot him from the party because he will get them killed. They only don't do it because it is a game so he must be included.

Reigning in a problem player is not squashing creativity.
 

Oofta

Legend
I figure that if you know it's more work but still volunteer to do it, you have no business expecting deference from the others.
Why the hostile "deference"? It's just a simple fact that the DM does more. In addition, a player only really cares about whether they are personally enjoying the game they aren't really concerned with the rest of the group. Hopefully they're not being a jerk, but beyond that players are by their nature self centered. Throw in that if a player picks a build that really doesn't work for them, they can almost always switch out.

The DM? They have to think of everyone at the table, not just their personal enjoyment. They're trying to balance what's fun, challenging, engaging. They're thinking about the game far, far more than the players. They have to come up with the setting, the challenges, the NPCs, how much treasure to reward, on and on. The world has to make sense to the DM. More than that, figuring out that world, upcoming encounters and challenges, all that planning has to be fun and rewarding for the DM.

So yes, the DM has more say in a campaign than players as far as I'm concerned.
 

Warpiglet-7

Cry havoc! And let slip the pigs of war!
I am in a very liberal play space most of the time—-people generally send characters to the DM before the game. We usually don’t have many restrictions.

(I am no longer into evil characters really but we had whole “evil campaigns” in the past which we speak of fondly).

This really came up for me as I DM more. For some Years I have worked on my “world” and I got closer to using it I had to ask myself:

“Who is this for?”

The answer is “us” but I realized a lot of what I would be happy to excise would be for “me.” I chose the middle path, I think.

I don’t have cities full creature cantinas…but I assume there is weird stuff and maybe a weird city “somewhere.” As a result, you can take what race you want but you might be from a far away place.

For religion which is essentially monotheistic, the various gods are seen as archons or patron saints that fall under the true god and serve him. “But I want to only follow Thor!” I got you, maybe.

I have unconverted lands and areas controlled by babrbarian warlords. They may follow the old faiths alone. People in the converted areas might think u backward a bit but whatever. You’re still playing what u want.

In the end I get to write and think more about “my world” while the player can take what they want. So far, so good. But I had to build in reasons and players should not expect a temple of Lathander or Thor though they may worship him as far wanderer.

I have a system where I don’t feel beholden to published lore.

But like a lot of people are saying it’s about buy in and expectations and the particular group.

I am about to DM my kids…we got a kenku, a sentient orange and a goblin. I am running with it. And while I don’t want sentient fruit over running my cities, this particular produce is from a very remote village of produce people.

I am not against restriction myself but unless it is super tied to a special flavor of campaign (all dwarves) it usually seems like it for the DM. The DM should get extra votes in my opinion…
 

Irlo

Hero
In addition, a player only really cares about whether they are personally enjoying the game they aren't really concerned with the rest of the group. Hopefully they're not being a jerk, but beyond that players are by their nature self centered.
That's not my experience at all, thank goodness. I wouldn't have been playing D&D all these years either as a DM or as a player if that were true.

Engaging in an RPG with people who aren't enjoying it (or who don't care if I'm enjoying it) would be the worst way to spend four hours on a Saturday afternoon.
 


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