D&D 5E Restrictive DMs and player enjoyment

Irlo

Hero
When gaming with my current groups, I prefer a less-restrictive DM -- open to re-skinning and making modifications to class features and spells -- in large part because I know the DMs and the players and I would not foresee players pushing boundaries that would be a bridge too far for me. I should add that with my current groups, I would also accept more restrictions without question, because they're good groups and I can have fun either way.

If I were to join an unfamiliar group, I would prefer a more restrictive DM so that I would know what I was getting into. I probably wouldn't sign on for an anything-goes D&D game with strangers or casual acqaintances without making it clear that I was in it only for a trial period.

I tend to prefer more grounded games. Several years ago I joined an online game that was advertised as limited to more traditional D&D races, but when my human wizard walked into the tavern he found a kobold, a changling, a minotaur, and something that I don't even know what it was. I tried to be a good sport and had some fun for a while playing a human confronted by all these oddities outside his comfort zone, but eventually I dropped the game. Just wasn't my thing.
 

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I don't understand how your post argues with what I said. The GM in your scenario created a restrictive setting and got player buy in. That's what I said.
Would you say that the GM in that case is restrictive? Sure, one of his scenarios was, but that doesn’t mean the GM was particularly restrictive.

So really, my only issue is, going back to the OP, is it accurate to characterise a GM who suggests one campaign with restrictive characteristics as a restrictive GM.
 
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Incenjucar

Legend
As a Planescape and Dark Sun fan, it's no surprise that I prefer more open games. Last campaign I ran started with an army of undead in planejammers who sold the PCs to an angel pirate with a dracolich ship after throwing a fussy dwarf to vampire mermaids.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I am a restrictive DM. I am lot less restrictive than I used to be, but I don't see that ever going totally away.

I did allow a player in one of my current campaigns play a tabaxi (despite the fact that they weren't on the list of approved lineages), but I let her know that wherever she goes in the world as established people are going to find her curious, ask a lot of questions, gape, whisper about her or coo to the "mysterious cat lady," and so forth. So far that is how it has gone. But I also added campaign plot element with a tabaxi adventurer the locals in one town know about because a decade ago she helped save the town (there is even a mural of her in action painted over the hearth at the local tavern) - so now that evil arises again they look to this new tabaxi to help, much to the character's (but not the player's) chagrin.
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
I'm not usually restrictive, in my games, but sometimes. I've published a feudal Japanese Horror setting. When running games in that setting, I as a DM prefer that the players choose Asian based character classes to fit the setting - some might consider that a restriction. I give some leeway, if someone can justify a specific non-Asian class to somehow still fit, I may allow it. For most games, however, I don't place any restrictions. It depends on the setting.
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Supporter
It sometimes feels like restrictions are speed limits, they're made to be broken.

.... (I mean it was fine and worked well, but it feels like folks will always push beyond whatever limit was set).

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Xamnam

Loves Your Favorite Game
Would you say that the GM in that case is restrictive? Sure, one of his scenarios was, but that doesn’t mean the GM was particularly restrictive.

So really, my only issue is, going back to the OP, is it accurate to characterise a GM who suggests one campaign with restrictive characteristics as a restrictive GM.
I think this is where I land as well. If there is a focused, dialed in campaign theme, with expectations and unique barriers, while the GM is being restrictive, I don't think giving them the general description of restrictive GM would be accurate. I think I would only use that term if I consistently chafed against the boundaries they set and it felt like they were not in express service of a particular goal of the setting/adventure. I would actually go even farther, even someone who always runs very particularly narrow campaigns, as long as I understood that from the beginning, and saw what they were going for, I don't think I'd call them restrictive, even if they might not be the DM for me. Focused, particular, specific, sure. Clear vision is only ever going to be helpful, even if it is just in realizing that it's not a good fit.
 
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Thomas Shey

Legend
I think this is where I land as well. If there is a focused, dialed in campaign theme, with expectations and unique barriers, while the GM is being restrictive, I don't think giving them the general description of restrictive GM would be accurate. I think I would only use that term if I consistently chafed against the boundaries they set and it felt like they were not in express service of a particular goal of the setting/adventure. I would actually go even farther, even someone who always runs very particularly narrow campaigns, as long as I understood that from the beginning, and saw what they were going for, I don't think I'd call them restrictive, even if they might not be the DM for me. Focused, particular, specific, sure. Clear vision is only ever going to be helpful, even if it is just in realizing that it's not a good fit.

I occasionally used to see people, and this is a long time back, mind, who were of the opinion that as long as it was within the context of what the rules allowed, any other constraint on character choice made something not a proper RPG. A couple of them outright said when asked that if you were running a modern period game of police investigation, if the players were expected to A) Play police, and B) Be essentially NPCed if they went rogue and where drummed out of the force, you weren't running a proper RPG.

As one might expect, I mostly stopped talking to them. It was like nothing outside of free-roaming D&D adventurers existed in their RPG worldview.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
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?
Depends on where those restrictions and permissions fall.

Restrictions on what I can roll up in terms of species, classes, etc. (e.g. "All PCs in this campaign are Dwarves")? Fine.

Restrictions on what I have that character (or we collectively have the party) do once it's in play (e.g. "No evil characters")? Not fine at all.

Most important, though (and @iserith hits this in post #2) is consistency, such that we-as-players can come to know what to expect.
 

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