D&D 5E Restrictive DMs and player enjoyment


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the Jester

Legend
I guess I would say that I prefer a DM with a strong sense of what their setting is and what fits it. If that is a permissive, orcs and elves and phraints and demislaadi, oh my, game, that's fine; if it's a humans only and no magic game, that's fine. I want the world to feel as real and immersive as possible, and restrictions or the lack thereof ought to promote that.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
While I know you mean well, I honestly couldn't disagree more with this as a blanket statement. The GM doesn't always "have to" automatically change the campaign focus to suit the players.
I disagree.

The way I see it, one of the roles/duties of a GM is to be reactive, willing and able to catch whatever the players throw and roll with it.

I mean, there's things PCs could decide to do that would bore the crap out of me as DM (getting into business and capital ventures rather than adventuring is one such); but if that's what they decide they want to do it's on me-as-DM to accept that and run with it.

Flip side: there's types/themes of campaigns I'd love to run (pirates/marine being one) but if the players ain't interested, so be it - I don't get to run that.
In a situation like you describe, there should be a dialogue about that, out of game, between players and the GM to find a compromise everyone is happy with. Player agency is not always paramount. The GM isn't obliged to run a campaign or style that they don't want to run.
By taking on the role, a DM has IMO also taken on the obligation to follow the players' lead to a fairly great extent; though as the DM controls the setting there's ways of mitigating some of it. That said, a DM always has the nuclear option: shut the game down.

Also, the way I see it the more arbitrary restrictions on character actions a DM puts in place the more she's setting herself up for trouble if-when one or more players chafe at said restrictions.
 

cbwjm

Seb-wejem
So long as I have some direction on what's in or out, that's all I really need. If I'm given no direction or just told to make a character and turn up with a loxodon rogue only to be told they don't exist in the setting, then I'd be mildly annoyed and that should have been told to me up front to help with character design.

Basically, I like to at least know the following
  • Allowed races
  • Allowed classes
  • Multiclassing Y/N
  • Feats or ASIs only
Might be other things that are good to know, but if I have this lot, it should be all I need to get started.
 

My issue is that DMs can have a hard time articulating why they have those restrictions in place.

How can I better assist DMs in becoming better able to explain why they are restricting something.
 

I like permissive "open" DMs.

I'm a Total Character type player. I don't make characters to play in a game like "Ok, here is Bok, human fighter that likes to fight". I could make that character and have played that character a time or two...but when given the chance to make a character to play it's way down at the bottom of my list.

So I often like a mix of "weird, strange and bizarre " things just to make a character. Though too, I'm also not a fan of setting that are "just like Earth of the past". Unless we are gaming a pure historical type game in all ways.

And I'm a permissive "open" DM. One of the big draws for my game is "I let players player whatever character they want".

Though it does help that it's rare for me to run a restrictive campaign or setting. I run an open setting and/or campgain where anything goes. I don't run a "elf" setting and/or campaign where all players "must" be elves. My setting is always the same "ultra high fantasy" or something like that. I will run an elf based campaign or adventure in that setting, but the players can be whatever characters they want. For an elf based campaign some players...maybe all the players...might choose to have elf characters to "fit in", but it does not matter to me.

My setting/campaign/adventure(s) have plenty of protection vs any player trying to sneak in something to ruin the game. so I'm not worried there.

Of course, I'm also the DM that will take action in the game against any disruptive player with a made to be disruptive character.
 

eayres33

Explorer
I mean restrictive is kinda a subjective term. It could mean limiting things to a specific setting, it could mean limiting it to "official" books or to some it means having to follow the rules as written.

I'm generally fine with restrictions as long as they are clearly laid out before hand. That way I know what I'm getting into.

I'm running on game in the Critical Role setting and that world is a high magic kitchen sink so I don't really have any restrictions.

I'm going to be starting a Grim Hollow and have a main focus be the anti magic inquisition. So for that game players will be restricted to the classes in the setting, and we will be reskinning the AIME classes to have the game seem more grounded in a world against magic.
 

ad_hoc

(they/them)
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.

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.
 

ad_hoc

(they/them)
I disagree.

The way I see it, one of the roles/duties of a GM is to be reactive, willing and able to catch whatever the players throw and roll with it.

I mean, there's things PCs could decide to do that would bore the crap out of me as DM (getting into business and capital ventures rather than adventuring is one such); but if that's what they decide they want to do it's on me-as-DM to accept that and run with it.

Flip side: there's types/themes of campaigns I'd love to run (pirates/marine being one) but if the players ain't interested, so be it - I don't get to run that.

By taking on the role, a DM has IMO also taken on the obligation to follow the players' lead to a fairly great extent; though as the DM controls the setting there's ways of mitigating some of it. That said, a DM always has the nuclear option: shut the game down.

Also, the way I see it the more arbitrary restrictions on character actions a DM puts in place the more she's setting herself up for trouble if-when one or more players chafe at said restrictions.

You're choosing to take on that burden.

When I DM I'm there to have fun too. They don't pay me.

I don't want to play certain sorts of things and I don't have to.
 



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