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D&D General The mentality of being a DM


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Entertainer and party host.

I am there to show the players a good time. No tactic or technique - including bald-faced lying to them about what my notes say and what the dice-behind-the-screen show - is off the table as long as it accomplishes that goal.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I'm the empathic referee, not just of the rules, but also keeping a pulse on the pacing and mood of the group, listening not just to the loudest voice but inviting participation of all, feeling that invisible edge when they've grown as players and are ready for a greater challenge, and helping tame the worst impulses of self-sabotage a particular group has and instead encourage their better angels.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
I AM A GOD!

I created everything! All of this! On a whim. I am the Alpha and the Omega. The vital force of existence. I am that which gives meaning to the poorly-acted caricatures you stat up. Your characters exist solely to give ME amusement, and if they fail in this, I can end them.
WRONG SIR. WRONG.
It is
I AM GAWD. I am d4 you step on in the night. I am the d20 which will crit your BEEP. I am your death and your hit points. Your PCs are just paper in the bin.
 

BrassDragon

Explorer
My job as a DM is to offer my players interesting, agonizing or exciting choices. They can pour all their creativity into picking the option that's right for them and I'll channel mine into rolling seamlessly with whatever they come up with or what the dice dictate.
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
There are two types of manipulation being discussed here.

I would be furious if I found out that my DM had been 'dumbing down' encounters or manipulating dice rolls to go easy on me or my group. I've explained this to my DM, explicitly asked them not to do that, to let dice fall where they will and if we die, we die.
Yes this would be examples of what I am talking about. Changing the world on the fly to fit what the DM perceives will make the players happier, or in some dark instances less happy. Sandboxes enable groups to control the difficulty dial which is how I prefer it.

However, if my DM isn't tailoring what happens in the adventure to the choices and decisions we at the table are making that is also infuriating. "But we went out of our way to save the dragon from the princess even though it wasn't on the list of tasks. Surely that would help the king of dragons be more amicable to our asking his help to save the pirates from the evil maurading villagers!"
This is a strawman. No one says the DM does not roleplay the NPCs and that sometimes that means you have to make an improv decision. Now you do base that on the background you've created.

I suppose if I had written down that the King of the Dragons hated all humans and would never ally with them because they'd killed his cousin then sure I would take that into consideration. I do believe in reaction rolls. So I'd probably dice for it with a bonus for the good deeds and a penalty for how the dragon king feels.
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
I'm presuming you speak for the entire group you play with here lol because otherwise this might be a little bold. "Yeah, kill us all!" "Um... maybe don't kill my PC..." "I SAID KILL US ALL!!!".

But basically you're discussing on-the-fly modifications for the sake of the DM's desired outcome vs. pre-planned tailoring or adapting to PC choices which might be outside what he'd assumed would happen. I've met DMs who basically said the latter - i.e. "He says no because I wrote down that he would say no yesterday", and it's like, that latter is kind of sad.
Well your example is a bit trite and trivial and thus seems like a strawman.

In my campaigns, a sandbox with a world that changes and moves even without the PCs, the NPCs have their own motivations. I would agree that most of the time I have to figure out a modifier and roll a reaction roll because it's uncertain. There are times though when the modifier would be so high that practically it is certain. So I roleplay the setting and the players interact with that setting. The joy they get is knowing I am fair and unbiased. I play the NPCs straight.
 

Well your example is a bit trite and trivial and thus seems like a strawman.
What does this mean?
This is a strawman. No one says the DM does not roleplay the NPCs and that sometimes that means you have to make an improv decision. Now you do base that on the background you've created.
It's not a strawman, I've literally seen this kind of thing happen at a gaming table, multiple times. It's actually quite insulting that you're claiming stuff that happened didn't happen. Just delete my life because it's inconvenient to your argument I guess? I've seen DMs refuse to do stuff because they'd already decided how an NPC was going to react, or the AP they had said how he was going to react. Or they've stuck to reaction rolls or the like even when it didn't make a damn lick of sense in the actual scenario.
I created everything! All of this! On a whim. I am the Alpha and the Omega. The vital force of existence. I am that which gives meaning to the poorly-acted caricatures you stat up. Your characters exist solely to give ME amusement, and if they fail in this, I can end them.
Pretty sure you DM'd for me a bit when I was 14-16 lol.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I AM A GOD!

I created everything! All of this! On a whim. I am the Alpha and the Omega. The vital force of existence. I am that which gives meaning to the poorly-acted caricatures you stat up. Your characters exist solely to give ME amusement, and if they fail in this, I can end them.


Pretty sure you DM'd for me a bit when I was 14-16 lol.
I'm pretty sure I was that DM when I was 14-16. :D
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
What does this mean?

It's not a strawman, I've literally seen this kind of thing happen at a gaming table, multiple times. It's actually quite insulting that you're claiming stuff that happened didn't happen. Just delete my life because it's inconvenient to your argument I guess? I've seen DMs refuse to do stuff because they'd already decided how an NPC was going to react, or the AP they had said how he was going to react. Or they've stuck to reaction rolls or the like even when it didn't make a damn lick of sense in the actual scenario.

Pretty sure you DM'd for me a bit when I was 14-16 lol.
I was not denying that it happened. I am saying that your painting an entire approach with this very narrow brush is a strawman. Most of us don't just have "no" written down on a piece of paper. Obviously you can find some group of gamers doing practically anything. So yeah, a DM with a world that lacks depth entirely who just writes down absolutes on paper is a bad DM. That though is not really what we are talking about.

What we are talking about is fudging the world to suit a desired outcome. And again I'm not talking about having a group of monsters run away at the days end. I'm talking about basically not playing the world straight for the players. To me this violates the basic social contract between the DM and the players in any game based upon skilled play.
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I've been running games for 28 years. Personally, I view myself as a "Warden of Fun." If you have taken on the responsibility of running a game, you have made yourself responsible for others having a good time.
...
So, how do you view the job of a DM?

I think my view is similar to yours - I think of myself as a "service oriented" GM. My job is to provide a setting in which folks can have a good time. Exactly what this means can vary widely, depending on the group (and the what the people need can change, day to day) and the chosen game. So sometimes it means sandbox, sometimes it means not making players work to find an interesting thread to follow. Sometimes it means a focus on tactical play, sometimes it means setting the dice aside and narrating what is dramatically appropriate, and so on.

That focus means I generally set aside whether the act of running the game is itself enjoyable for me, or caring if things turn out in a way I thought would be particularly cool, or even if the players want to play a game in exactly how I'd prefer to run it. In the end, if the players are happy, then I'm satisfied.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Yes this would be examples of what I am talking about. Changing the world on the fly to fit what the DM perceives will make the players happier, or in some dark instances less happy. Sandboxes enable groups to control the difficulty dial which is how I prefer it.
Does this mean that we are agreed that the DM must provide some way to match the players and their preferred style and difficulty, such as through a sandbox where they pick to go or working directly with the DM?

To put another way - with DM that is not offering a sandbox, should they be completely impartial to player wishes including, for instance, combats that are consistantly too easy because that the DM's vision?
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
Does this mean that we are agreed that the DM must provide some way to match the players and their preferred style and difficulty, such as through a sandbox where they pick to go or working directly with the DM?

To put another way - with DM that is not offering a sandbox, should they be completely impartial to player wishes including, for instance, combats that are consistantly too easy because that the DM's vision?
Well without a sandbox, and assuming you are still doing skilled play, then the DM is choosing the module and he will choose one he thinks is appropriate for his group. I don't play that way and don't really like it though of course I'd do a one shot. So answer is I think, yes.

If you are bothering to design a detailed campaign world then I think that style of play is a waste of that effort. Just do an adventure path and use Golarion as your world from Pathfinder or some such equivalent. Many people play this style. I admit when I was really young I played this way. I never changed the modules though in those cases. I just assumed if my group was 4th level and the module said 4th level things would be okay. They mostly were.

I think you are missing out on a lot though with that style of play.
 

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