D&D 5E Restrictive DMs and player enjoyment

HaroldTheHobbit

Adventurer
I may be a relic, but for me it's simple. Me and my table agree in consensus what system and type of campaign to play. I as GM present a bit more detailed campaign concept including relevant frames for characters. You as player make a character that fits the campaign frames. If you have a free floating character concept I try to help you mold it to the campaign frames, but if it can't fit, you play something else and save your character concept for another campaign.

Basically, I see it as a core player competence to be able to come up with a fun and interesting character within specific campaign frames, just as players will have lots of expectations on me as a GM. It's part of the give and take in a good roleplaying game where both GM and players must contribute with time and creativity.
 

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Oofta

Legend
Everyone should be doing that, not just the DM. Players thinking only of themselves and their own character is one of the main reasons for bad and mediocre RPG experiences.

Should be? Maybe. Actually do so and have much of a chance or way to do so? Less so. Which does not mean that a player is totally self centered, hopefully we're having fun chatting and discussing options, making other people laugh, role playing. All of that is, of course, the part of a good group.

On the other hand if I'm DMing, I do much the same. In addition I can set up situations where the player is directly challenged or rewarded. I can shine the spotlight on the PC via introduction of any number of elements from an obstacle they are particularly capable of overcoming to introducing an NPC that has a special connection to them.

I've also sat at the table with plenty of players that were (whether they recognized it or not) pretty much self centered and were really only concerned with what they did. That's not ideal, but it's reality.
 

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 have talked to many players about this. Like, a lot. Pretty much everyone I know that plays D&D.

In my experience, it is split 50/50. The ones that prefer no restrictions seem to follow one or more of these ideas:
  • I want to min/max and create the strongest character I can.
  • I want to play in a very high fantasy world where anything and everything can exist.
  • I like to play in a lot of different settings.
  • I don't care - I am here to be social and play a game.
The ones that prefer tight restrictions seem to follow one or more of these ideas:
  • I want to min/max, but I also want our group to not have vast power differences.
  • I want to play in a more consistent fantasy world.
  • I like to deep dive into settings.
  • I don't care - I am here to be social and play a game.
Please note, I have played in both. I have DM'ed both. I know my preference yet have found both fun.
 

Warpiglet-7

Cry havoc! And let slip the pigs of war!
I have talked to many players about this. Like, a lot. Pretty much everyone I know that plays D&D.

In my experience, it is split 50/50. The ones that prefer no restrictions seem to follow one or more of these ideas:
  • I want to min/max and create the strongest character I can.
  • I want to play in a very high fantasy world where anything and everything can exist.
  • I like to play in a lot of different settings.
  • I don't care - I am here to be social and play a game.
The ones that prefer tight restrictions seem to follow one or more of these ideas:
  • I want to min/max, but I also want our group to not have vast power differences.
  • I want to play in a more consistent fantasy world.
  • I like to deep dive into settings.
  • I don't care - I am here to be social and play a game.
Please note, I have played in both. I have DM'ed both. I know my preference yet have found both fun.

In truth, I just want to play. There are exceptions like recently where i had an idea I want to try…it would be a drag to not get the chance.

I don’t really go for moar power though so usually don’t get slapped down. I might get side eye about some lore issue.

I usually see multiclass characters as a “new class” vs sequential stacking. Not so much “I was a priest and now I am not.”

I can surely see both sides: I have just found for my group that allowing people to make what they want works best even if it is unusual for my world.
 


Warpiglet-7

Cry havoc! And let slip the pigs of war!
@Warpiglet-7

Maybe I missed it, but did you ever share the idea you alluded to in the OP? If not, would you be willing to?
Haha I did not

For the current character, I was thinking Zariel tiefling who was an apostate from the cult of Zariel. Either way I planned to have him be a warlock with a good patron—-a djinni.

I was thinking some combination of cleric and warlock but maybe only a level or two of the former.

(Only gods can have clerics, and some don’t think you could be a cleric and warlock, etc etc etc).

I like the mental fortitude of a cleric (wis and chr saves) and the association of a dark priest turned liberator. There is much more to it than that, but the cleric warlock aspect and cleric of a devil were what I imagined could be sticking points.
 

SteveC

Doing the best imitation of myself
The DM tells me about the campaign, I'll make a character to suit it. In the game, I'll work with them to move the game forward. Is that a plot thread? Let's GO! If the DM creates a game that I'm not interested in, I just drop out and that's about it.

I think the DM should definitely create a game they want to run and that can include a lot of restrictions. I can normally work with that. If it's too much for me I'll talk about it but ultimately I have so little free time that I avoid stuff that just won't be fun.

For me, not fun is typically a "grim and gritty" game where it's still expected we'll have regular combat encounters. And a game where we will spend most of the session hiding from too dangerous encounters. And one where we play "find the fun" for most of the session due to not having clear expectations of how to find interesting stuff to do. I'm shuddering just thinking about these things because I've seen them all in one campaign!
 


I prefer campaign worlds to feel cohesive and thematically unified, and given the insane amount of stuff D&D has, some curating is needed to achieve that. It is perfectly fine, not everything needs to be available in every campaign.
Yup. There’s an infinite number of possible campaign settings. The “anything and everything goes” campaign is a very small subset of what’s possible.
 

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