D&D General What is the worst piece of DM advice people give that you see commonly spread?

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One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
"You shouldn't allow the PCs to die because that would ruin their story"
eh, this is one of those things i think needs to be determined at an individual table/campaign level, but if you have agreed that death should be on the table then yes this is true (true that it is bad advice that is)

my own piece of bad advice i have come across is this: that you should be 'yes and'-ing all of your players ideas and suggestions, be that on a character/play level or a campaign/worldbuilding level, Sometimes 'no but' or just straight 'no' is the apropriate answer.
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Mod Squad
Staff member
Yeah. Any advice that a GM has failed if not every player enjoyed every moment of every game. Conversely the best advice I've seen was Noism's advice to players: "You are responsible for your own orgasm".

It is a shared and cooperative activity. Responsibility for fun should be *shared and cooperative".

If one can't count on others for help in making fun, there's not a whole lot of reason to play with them.


Cry havoc! And let slip the pigs of war!
Any absolute advice is generally going to be poor.

“You are the DM! Who cares what the player says!

“You are being robbed if the DM sets limits! All options all the time!”

Always roll in front of the players!

Never roll in fron of t he players!

Plan every contingency!

Improvise only!

In contrast to the bad advice:

(The game is dynamic, but it is a game with rules. Some participants have more responsibility in one area or another, but should all strive for a good time…which might not always mean the ending we want).

There is a continuum for many things in game and not all points on the line are a fit for all groups. This goes for resource management, improvisation, closeness you hew to the rules as written…find a compatible group and go crazy with fun but not all groups are the same…

James Gasik

Falling Dawizard
When people come to me for DM advice (I don't know why they do, they never listen, lol), and ask me about whether it's ok to kill the PC's, I simply ask them this:

"You've spent a week and a half prepping the night's session. It's going to be 5 encounters leading up to the final battle of the adventure. You've set it up so that the Cleric can finally confront her nemesis and recover the stolen holy relic.

On the second encounter of the evening the Cleric takes a critical hit and dies. The party is low on hit points, with the Wizard turned to stone, and only the Cleric could cast Greater Restoration. They decide to flee.

What do you do?"

How they answer this question is of great importance, as there are multiple lessons to be learned.

Is it wrong to set up narrative beats for specific characters?
Is it wrong to plan for a set number of encounters each session?
Is it wrong to potentially kill or remove characters from a session?
Is it wrong to treat characters as anything other than player avatars, easily replaced?

The answers are not the same for every DM, or every player, but it shows how if you commit to certain expectations of play, then you have to be prepared for the consequences of play. If the game falls apart because an important character dies (whether they are important narratively, mechanically, or in this scenario, both), then you need to either have a backup plan in place already that doesn't strain the narrative, or you might not want to kill characters mid-session.

I've played (and run) games where a key party member dies and the the session (and the resulting campaign) loses momentum and dies.

I've played in games where deus ex machina saves a character at a key moment and is either hailed as an amazing plot beat (or players groan because it's cheesy).

I've played in games where death and tragedy lead to further adventures.

Which you and your group prefer is something you need to consider at all times. It may be that you don't like players being entangled in the narrative (they should be random bozos and NPC's do all the heavy lifting in the story) or that you want them totally invested in every aspect of the game. Either way, how you handle death and other horrible fates has to reflect this. Keeping death on the table when it doesn't suit your style of gaming (which is what I used to do) can lead to sorrow and regret.


Allow anyone into your game and make them fit in (no matter what).

The truth is, not everyone is a fit for every table. There are MANY factors here, but the point is trying to fit players that are just not a fit for the group (or when a DM is just not a fit for the players) just tends to give everyone a lackluster (or worse) experience.


Mod Squad
Staff member
Is it wrong to set up narrative beats for specific characters?
Is it wrong to plan for a set number of encounters each session?
Is it wrong to potentially kill or remove characters from a session?
Is it wrong to treat characters as anything other than player avatars, easily replaced?

We can add to that - Is it wrong to phrase such questions in terms of "wrong"? Right and wrong are questions of correctness, for which we'd require some known orthodoxy to reference for answers. Assumed, implied, unspoken orthodoxies make the answers confusing.

Similar, and probably more generally useful, questions might be:

Does setting up narrative beats for specific characters usually work out okay?
Are there pitfalls to setting up a number of encounters for each session, and how can they be managed?
What problems typically arise if you kill or remove characters from a session?
What are the benefits and detriments to treating characters as anything other than easily-replaced player avatars?

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