Story Designing and GM Authority Help

Zelda Themelin

First Post
That is very detailed wish. I think some "indie rpg:s" have "ruined" them and they now wish to bring player control and themes to D&D.

I can feel your pain if you think their theme is un-fun. Then try to find out what you like/don't like. And discuss. Especially if you feel you don't have ideas/rule-ability to run this.

If it is control issue just let it rest. Sometimes it's ok for players to choose. At least you get them invested into game. Fun might catch up to you if you just go for it.

Personally I feel their demands have bit too much details. Do you have enough ideas for this, maybe you could steal theirs. Why they want exactly this?

And it's unlikely they keep coming with ideas all the time sometimes you get to suggest still I believe. But maybe you could suggest someone else tried gm;ing.

Their complain "never getting there" is a valid one. Many groups it seems never make it very high levels. They just keep creating new lowbies. It seems to be true with most gaming systems. And dm plots don't always serve player's goals for character either. Some old roleplayers are fine with this. Some, like me, get bored.

So around 10 years now we have done player chooses theme and sells it to dm or dm sells his theme to players.

Like once I wanted play young man, barbarian, who had total amnesia. Dm wanted system to be 3.0 and world Scarred Lands.

Once I wanted to play character that was immortal with some creepy backgroud I left up to dm. He run us Shackled City adventure set In Scarred Lands, Termana.

Once I wanted to be captain of spaceship when dm wanted scifi game.

Never been a problem but too many details can bind an imagination especially if you wanted something else. And you don't get to choose anything. Get back your right to do suggestions too, you are one of them after all. Point that out to them.

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If you think you can make the game that they want and enjoy running it, then do that. If you think for some reason that you cannot do so, then tell your players that. You should, of course, give one of them the opportunity to run that game. And you can get a chance to sit on the other side of the DM screen.

Open and honest communication is probably what you need, here.


I agree that player input is awesome! When the players are that interested in the game, it makes for a great game.

However, there does need to be some negotiation with anything you're not comfortable with. Personally, I have no problem with the premise, but I'll never play 3.x/PF at higher than L15 again. Rather give myself a lobotomy. So that's something I'd need to negociate with them. You might need to talk to them about something else that your not comfortable with running, but as has been said, take what they given you and run with it.


I think there's definitely an issue here, one the OP isn't comfortable with or he wouldn't be asking.

the players have dictated a lot of starting conditions
the locale
the PC level
PC equipment
PC starting situation
campaign theme

This is stuff that has been in the GMs decision domain for centuries. What normally keeps a GM in check is supply and demand. If he's not supplying what players want, there is not demand for his services.

The players appear to have presumed that they are in authority and can make the GM run whatever they tell him. Thats a dangerous precipice. One the OP may be feeling.

Furthermore, what happens next. If the OP runs it, are the players going to insist on what opponents they face, the nature of all the NPCs? are they going to choose what plot twists happen next?

If the OP is interested in the starting point proposed by the players, and they players need to understand this is a proposal, not an order to the GM. then the GM still must insist on the authority to choose the details of the starting point (wealth, gear limits, NPC contacts and the nature of the guild), and furthermore, that he has authority ofer any and all game content in the world.

the GM can't do his job if the players are doing it for him.

Have everyone create a character that they like and you do the same. Announce that is the most awesome idea ever and inform the group that the job of DM will rotate each session so everyone can both play and run.

Tell them if they have a problem with that then no game. :angel:

IME the most demanding players are those who never want to run anything. If they want to dictate the details of the game then they can share in the prep and let you get in some playing time.

Good luck.:)

Why not? Players have great ideas, and when you use them, their investment in the game jumps up dramatically. This cranks up the awesome, and encourages other players to throw in great ideas.


I think this varies from player to player. Some players love it when the GM uses their suggestions or lets them contribute to the setting in some way. For other players I've found this sort of thing disrupts their suspension of disbelief (it makes the setting less impartial and real and more a collective creative effort). I've actually had players tell me they don't like it when I use plot suggestions or fullfill wishlists in campaigns, but I've also had other players request these you need to know your group on this issue.

The Shaman

First Post
For other players I've found this sort of thing disrupts their suspension of disbelief (it makes the setting less impartial and real and more a collective creative effort).
Players don't tell DMs what to do. End of story.

Signed, The Management​

Okay, a slightly more serious answer. Of course there is some negotiation that takes place between players and the referee.

But the example described by the original poster goes to Bizarro-World lengths. It takes the idea of collaborative campaign building and turns it into a distorted version of charater optimization.

For my part, I create the campaign I want to run. I'm happy to negotiate with the players some - some - of the starting conditions as they relate to their characters.

But no one tells me, "This is the game you're going to run." I wear the Viking hat (WARNING: Linked page contains profanity).

Thanks for all your advice

I choose the good guy aproach and tried to think positive about the campaign and the game despite all the things I would dislike in an evil, power hungry setting like this.

Personally I am more of a "If you can play someone better than you are in reality why would you want to play someone who is worse?" type of roleplayer so its hard for me to understand why the dark side is so seductive but I understood the players wishes and mingled with the setting, as much as I could, to my liking.

The reply was very very astonishing. It seems that the players were thinking very hard about the concept they have given me and agreed with my ominous thoughts about the story and design flaws in their idea that lead them to a conclusion where they agreed on a self-discovery adventure, which I really like.

Unfortunatly the issue about them giving me demands on what they want to see still looms over the game. If the problem escalates, I will try to make them GM instead.

Once again thank you very much

One more thing. How do you manage to keep up with all those mechanic challenges. I am now struggling to learn optimizing my encounters and it is a hell of a task to create a challenging battle (for a high level PCs) or a skill challenge.
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