D&D 5E Restrictive DMs and player enjoyment

Thomas Shey

Legend
You are welcome to do so, at your own table and in your own games. I hope that was your intention, and not trying to get the whole game changed for everyone to fix your issue.

Even if I was, so what? You talk about wanting things changed the way you'd prefer all the time. Are you privileged? You talk about you want, I talk about what I want.
 

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Oofta

Legend
I feel like we are talking about two distinct types of DM prescriptiveness here.

1. DMs prescribing what content, house rules, etc. will be part of their campaign. I think most of us probably agree that DM's should have wide latitude here, and it is then up to players to decide if this seems like an appealing campaign to join.

There's still likely some flexibility in what the DM is going to allow, but I'm personally still perfectly okay with it. The world and concepts have to work for the DM first and foremost.

2. DMs prescribing player choice within the campaign, i.e. by heavily railroading the narrative or refusing to accept player choices that diverge from the DM's preferred outcome. I think most of us would have a problem with the latter. Though the reality is that the DM still retains quite a bit of control by being able to determine what plot elements are available, obvious, etc.

I personally prefer to run a fairly "sandbox" style campaign where I present a variety of plot hooks, as well as using some randomly generated encounters and characters, and am entertained by seeing what the players choose to pursue. So I can never really plan that far ahead, and have to be willing to drop plots entirely if the players just aren't interested. I don't mind - whatever they come up with instead is always fun, and those plot points and encounters can always be recycled elsewhere.

On the other hand, I am about to run the new Lost Mine of Phandelver campaign for some beginners - I don't normally run entire campaigns out of the box, so I hope they are okay with sticking to that general story arc! Though at least the first part is still fairly sandbox-y.

I prefer more of a sandbox style of game myself. When a DM is running a module, I just accept that at certain points it's going to be a bit linear. As long as they let me know ahead of time what I'm getting into and it's not a complete railroad, I'm okay with it.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Don’t be thinking that way. Disruptive players who won’t change when confronted aren’t worth the sympathy.
Thing is, your 'disruptive player' is probably my 'keeps the game moving' player.
Disruptive players deserve to be policed, including being booted. Not all character concepts are appropriate for all groups and that‘s OK.
In an anything-goes game all character concepts are appropriate; and in an anything-doesn't-go game you're very quickly into the realm of over-restriction.
 

I guess a little Restrictive?

We are playing on the continent of Wildemount in our current campaign. For chargen, players chose a hometown and then picked one of the common races/lineages there -OR- rolled for race/lineage. If they got "Other", they could pick any race that exists in all of Exandria. Still, there are two reasonably diverse adventuring groups: two humans, a tabaxi, a forest gnome, a sea elf, and a blue dragonborn in one group; a wood elf, two humans, a mountain dwarf, a duergar, and a tortle (the only one who rolled "Other") in the second group.

We also imposed a restriction on Named spells (e.g. Tasha's Hideous Laughter, etc). In other words, spellcasters can't just choose them upon level-up. However, there will be opportunities to discover named spells through adventuring or via patrons.

Magic items requiring attunement are also restricted based on the Tier of the PC. For example, Tier One PCs can only attune to common or uncommon items although they do have a 25% chance of attuning to rare items once per level. Etc.

FWIW, I DM for one party (on the Menagerie Coast) and am a player in the other party (in the Greying Wildlands) in the campaign. We all agreed upon these restrictions.

At the end of the day, though, I agree with @iserith in that a DM who is consistent with their rulings is key to optimizing the play experience.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Thing is, your 'disruptive player' is probably my 'keeps the game moving' player.

In an anything-goes game all character concepts are appropriate; and in an anything-doesn't-go game you're very quickly into the realm of over-restriction.
Kind of unfortunate if it’s causing trouble for the other players though.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Maybe I'm weird, but I prefer a restrictive DM. Left to our own devices and a giant smorgasbord of options, we will still end up with the same characters we just finished playing. Kevin will roll up another edgelord Sneak with daggers and a rapier; Bob will create another beefcake Warrior in a steel tuxedo; Debbie would make another witchy goth Priest with a DaRk SeCrEt, and I'll roll up another blaster Mage with a book fetish. We can't seem to help ourselves.

So we need a DM who can gently nudge us out of that rut, usually with carefully-tailored restrictions and gifts. "In this campaign, the gods are dead and book magic has been lost to time. The only spellcasters are sorcerers and druids...but don't worry, if you want you can choose your spells from the bard, cleric, or warlock list if you'd prefer."

That's the good stuff.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Maybe I'm weird, but I prefer a restrictive DM. Left to our own devices and a giant smorgasbord of options, we will still end up with the same characters we just finished playing. Kevin will roll up another edgelord Sneak with daggers and a rapier; Bob will create another beefcake Warrior in a steel tuxedo; Debbie would make another witchy goth Priest with a DaRk SeCrEt, and I'll roll up another blaster Mage with a book fetish. We can't seem to help ourselves.

So we need a DM who can gently nudge us out of that rut, usually with carefully-tailored restrictions and gifts. "In this campaign, the gods are dead and book magic has been lost to time. The only spellcasters are sorcerers and druids...but don't worry, if you want you can choose your spells from the bard, cleric, or warlock list if you'd prefer."

That's the good stuff.

If you get value out of it, there's nothing wrong with that (over and above campaign-appropriate issues). I think its a bit much when other people decide someone else shouldn't be playing the same character again, though.
 

Clint_L

Hero
Maybe I'm weird, but I prefer a restrictive DM. Left to our own devices and a giant smorgasbord of options, we will still end up with the same characters we just finished playing. Kevin will roll up another edgelord Sneak with daggers and a rapier; Bob will create another beefcake Warrior in a steel tuxedo; Debbie would make another witchy goth Priest with a DaRk SeCrEt, and I'll roll up another blaster Mage with a book fetish. We can't seem to help ourselves.
I'm the opposite - I always want to try a different character concept, even if my idea is terrible. But I also try to be the last to pick my character so I can just fill in any obvious hole in party composition, and go from there, or ask the DM what they would prefer me to run. I'm pretty much down for anything. In 5e. In past editions, there were some classes I did not want to touch.
 


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