D&D 5E The Neutral Referee, Monty Haul, and the Killer DM: History of the GM and Application to 5e

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
Have you actually seen players bullying a DM (such that the DM has to bend to what they want)?

I really haven't. I've certainly seen DMs bullying players (well I used to see it, before getting a great, fun, steady group - a long time ago). But I haven't seen players bullying a DM into doing much of anything.
I see it fairly regularly. Not only that I can even link up a video describing a bunch of ways it is often done
 

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Mort

Legend
Supporter
I think you're a little hung up on the word pressure, but I honestly don't know of a better word to use.

Ok. Whatever term you settle on to and sure "pressure" works in this context, can you honestly say that, in D&D (as opposed to more collaborative RPGs) the DM doesn't have access to significantly more pressure than any player and likely more then all the players combined (from there perspective of controlling the terms of the game)?
 

MGibster

Legend
Ok. Whatever term you settle on to and sure "pressure" works in this context, can you honestly say that, in D&D (as opposed to more collaborative RPGs) the DM doesn't have access to significantly more pressure than any player and likely more then all the players combined (from there perspective of controlling the terms of the game)?
Why does that matter? This discussion is about DMs not players.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
When something is shown to be a good idea, why not tout it?

And "yes and..." In gaming Is a better target than just saying no all the time, even though you don't always hit it.

I've found DMs who at least TRY to say yes provide a better gaming experience than those who answer with a no the great majority of the time.
I say yes or no depending on the situation. Defaulting to yes, and is not what I want.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
I see it fairly regularly. Not only that I can even link up a video describing a bunch of ways it is often done

Interesting video. I can honestly say I haven't seen the described behavior for a LONG time, but then I try very hard to not have with jerks - and that's what the described players are.

Also interesting, even the YouTuber mentions the behavior is rare and he mentions that DM bullies are worse (and spends some time on them too).
 



Hussar

Legend
I think, and I'm just speaking for myself here, that the problem I have with the basic premise of a neutral DM is that it ignores the fact that D&D (and RPG's in general) are made up of a number of different games at different times. When the DM is creating an adventure, it's almost impossible to be actually neutral. Unless that adventure is 100% randomly generated, the DM will ALWAYS have a thumb on the scale. Has to. And, is advised to PUT a thumb on the scale during scenario creation - sure, randomly roll your treasure, but, if it is too much or too little, roll again goes the advice in the 1e DMG.

Sure, you can create a "living, breathing world", but, at the end of the day, you're still building a campaign so that "living, breathing world" is filled with adventure stuff for adventurers, which, unsurprisingly, will be based around the levels of the characters (the top level of the dungeon has the weakest monsters and monsters get stronger the deeper you go, in a low level adventure, the encounters will be spaced further apart to make sure that encounters don't bleed together, on and on and on).

During creation, there's no such thing as a Neutral DM. Doesn't exist. The DM is there to create stuff for the players to play in and that will obviously impact what is being created. You don't bomb Red Dragons in 1st level adventures. Killing PC's is easy. Challenging them just enough to make them worried, without killing PC's too often or to randomly? That's a skill.

Now, during play? That's where the Neutral Arbiter lives. You don't want the DM going too far in either direction (either for or against the PC's) because that's no fun for the people sitting at the table. Again, sure, I can smoke PC's pretty easily, regardless of system, just by leveraging my power and authority over the game as DM. It's really not that hard. Or, I can make encounters entirely cakewalks just by playing dumb and doing dumb things with the baddies. Oh, you want us all to group up tighter so that fireball gets all of us? Great, let's go.

But, I do think that the conversation has to recognize that there are different games going on here. The role of the DM during creation and the role of the DM during play are not necessarily the same, nor are they necessarily going to fall under the same categories.
 

Plaguescarred

D&D Playtester for WoTC since 2012
I try to be a neutral referee as much as i can, relying on rules as written as much as possible to avoid personally ruling when i can, and make call when necessary as neutral as i can, both for PCs ans NPCs alike.

For me the fun of playing a RPG like D&D both as player or DM doesn't come from the success i have the levels, treasures, or kill rate etc... Nor do i have absence of fun when dealing with failures and death. For me the roleplaying experience of exploring a world together and face challenges that we may overcome or not is where the fun is, everything we do contributes to the story one way or another and the fun is to craft these.

Of course as a player finding cool magic items please me and i dislike loosing some but i dont mind if we avance at low rate and rarely find treasures as we level up. As DM i do try to be impartial but when making final judgement for any situation i may tilt in players favor rather than against especially if it advance the story or avoid it come to an end like a TPK. But most time a decision can be made using dice i try to rely on them rather than choose myself even as simple as which PC a Monster attack for exemple.
 

Part of the problem is that a lot of thief skills are easily taken up by casters and fighters. A locked door has at least four ways of being opened. The thief can only do one. Fighter can kick it open. Wizard can use knock. The smart player can describe taking it off the hinges if the hinges happen to be facing the group. And a lot of early DMs simply didn't run the thief skills as written, so their utility is way less than it should be. Plus they suck in fights, generally. So if you can get away with not having a thief, a lot of parties will.
And the thief character seemed to attract a certain type of player - one who liked skimming treasure "off the top", and sometimes even outright stealing from the other characters.
 

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