D&D 5E When lore and PC options collide…

Which is more important?

  • Lore

  • PC options


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jasper

Rotten DM
When I play chess, I always insist on being Colonel Mustard.
I told you, you were too young to be a Colonel. I offered you Second Lt Mustard but that upset your apple cart! You hot dogged out my house. Beating your chest and went to Checkers for Burgers. And order the Kings meal but got mad there was not hot mustard. You torn out the parking lot into the White Castle van with your Crown Vic and en passant side swiped the cop.
And I was the unreasonable one.
 

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It doesn't need to be so binary.
Bob (yeah, that Bob... he managed to deactivate the gaming collar), decides he wants to be a plasmoid PC in a Dragonlance campaign.
Based on some of the contributions in the discussion here, one might think there are only two possible outcomes (dramatized for amusement - any similarity to a real game is entirely coincidental):

Outcome 1: DM says "Bob, we don't allow that in this very serious Dragonlance campaign." [points to banhammer list of PC races in his notes] "If you don't like it... well... there's the door"
Outcome 2: DM grovels "Of course Bob, anything you want. The kitchen sink it is!" [slowly crumples up banhammer list and cowers behind the DM screen]

In reality, there is (or at least, IMO, should be) a third way. The Middle Path, if you will.

Outcome 3: DM pauses. "Huh. Bob. I hadn't thought of including plasmoids as a playable race in this campaign. We might need to mull that over. What are your thoughts on how that character would even come to exist in this world? How do you think such a character would get on in the world? Would you consider X instead? What about reflavoring it a bit? Oh - how about this for part of an origin story? Etc." Discussion ensues where the DM and player (and, likely, some of the other players) decide together if that concept is feasible for the campaign in some way... and maybe it is and maybe it isn't... but the important part, IMO, is that this respectful session 0 conversation actually occurs between the two people that will be fully engaged and looking for enjoyment from this game that we all (well, most of us, I suppose) love to play.
 

Yeah.

A good DM doesn't volunteer, <snip>

That is what the players sign up for: we agree to play according to your game. <snip>
Good DMs don't volunteer? Citation needed. People are so quick to demand evidence in this thread. Show yours. I doubt you actually will, because you've decided I'm persona non grata, and overall I've tried to respect that even if I think it isn't particularly courteous, but this one merits a response.

I dunno about you, but when I join a game, I agree to play that SYSTEM, and in particular, a bare minimum of the baseline components thereof. Also: how can the DM be asked to run, and yet it is the players "agreeing" to play? The latter requires that it be the DM offering something that the players accept. The former requires that the DM be responding to a request made by the players, at which point surely it is the DM agreeing to do something the players wanted? You are undercutting your own argument not two paragraphs later!

It is a two way street, but it starts with the DM.
Max, I know that you love idiosyncratic definitions, but that is literally saying "it is a two way street, but it isn't."

Either the need to respect one another's preferences does, in fact, actually apply mutually, or it does not. Either the street goes both ways, of it only goes one way. You have just explicitly described a street that actually goes only one way: the DM must be respected flat out always, and the players get only what the DM deigns to give them, nothing more. That is, by any reasonable definition, NOT a two way street.

Seriously, though, it isn't a "chore", it is just a lot of work. I do it because my players ENJOY playing in my adventures when I DM.
Then why keep bringing it up as this incredible burden you must bear?

I just keep going back to why the player wants to play want they want.

To me, 95% of players can have fun with other ideas. Players tend to have muliple things they like. They typically can and are willing to switch race, subrace, class, subclass, stats, or theme. 95% of player can do this.

If your setting lore is such that a player can't or is unwilling to switch race, class, style, them, or their "subs", there is a good chance your lore is bad, in not interesting to a non-superfan of the theme, or has nor be well explained. Sometimes it will happen.

The 4e PHB had a "play an X if you want" after every race. So a player who wanted to be a banned race, the DM could look at these and find other ways to play that way.

Players not having enough PC opinions should be a relatively rare thing.

From my experience, when a player can't find a PC idea to play within a world, the player is either being an extreme hardliner on one idea or the DM's setting lore and lore derived mechanics don't match the base assumption of the D&D. And it's usually the latter.
I am...kind of confused as to where you stand here. Things like "95% of players can have fun with other ideas" seems to be a "screw what you hoped to play, play what I allow or GTFO" position. But your later statements seem to indicate a pretty thoroughly critical stance against inviolable restrictions. Is that correct?

My groups usually have four or five people, so for me it's more of a five-way street.

Edit to add: I don't want to break out the "deciding what toppings to order on our pizza on game day" analogy, but I will if I must.
It's still only two ways. Are player preferences worthy of respect? If the player is earnestly enthusiastic about something and would he crestfallen to lose it, is that enough to sometimes make you reconsider? If you have a an adult conversation, is it genuinely at least possible that you could change your mind, or accept some form of genuine compromise, rather than unilateral declarations and absolute dominance?

Because every one of these arguments are always massively aggrieved.

The poor DM, lashed tot he wheel, forced to do all the work for those wicked players. And the only glimmer of hope and joy they are allowed is just one simple, tiny little thing-- being the only person whose preferences matter and whose word is unarguable law, set above those sad plebs who are damn lucky they deign to do a fun creative activity that is such an awful burden apparently.

I wish the books would do more to to foster an entertainer mentality rather than a small god complex.
Absolutely. And for those who mocked me (and others) for using hyperbole, it was the pro-restriction folks who did it first.

✋

Yep. Elementary school through college.

Once in college, I also joined some games where all the others were friends and I was the new guy, but I also had games with friends in college (before the game).

After college, it has been a mix, about half "friends-first" and half "friends-after".
Then I hope you understand that not only is this unusual, it is in fact extremely special.

I have never played in a game where I was friends with every player to start with. I have never played in a game where I was friends with even half of the players to start with. The only games I have ever even participated in that was 100% friends-only are the DW games I've run (well, one abortive campaign that fell through and another that is ongoing.)

I'm not experiencing it, I'm reading it here. Constantly. On this thread.

Because D&D's approach to the storyteller position is seriously and dangerously cracked.
In fairness, it's not just D&D. White Wolf, at the very least, also has issues of this kind.

In what way?

I mean, I've been DMing this way since the beginning, and frankly every other DM I have ever played with DM's this way as well. I really don't see why you feel this is a problem?
You cannot possibly expect me to believe you've never heard of "viking hat" DMing.

The level of hyperbole about how terrible DMs are if they don't allow everything a player wants always hits such ridiculous heights.

Yes I think the DM makes the final decisions about a lot of things. The DM should listen to their players, no DM can run games that their players hate. Every game I have ever played (outside of one failed experiment) has been that way. We discuss some opportunities, the DM makes their pitch and we all have fun.

If you run a cooperative game, cool. Do what makes sense. But please stop the exaggerated "The DM is on a power trip" because they make some decisions about the campaign that someone somewhere could might not like.
The hyperbole was, as far as I can tell, exclusively in response to pro-restriction folks making their own hyperbole first. "[F]irst take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." You even engage in some of it yourself, talking of how the DM must "allow everything the player wants." Accusations of ridiculous hyperbole are not very effective if you engage in hyperbole of your own.

So. You have a discussion. Does this mean you are actually discussing in good faith? That you are open to compromise, to the possibility of changing your mind or reversing a past decision, despite "precedent" not necessarily supporting it (to appropriate Lanefan's term, quoted below)? Because your repeated insistence on "the setting is mine," "99%" of the world being under your control, etc., do not reflect that level of cooperation and diplomacy. Such statements very much come across as my-way-or-the-highway, never-darken-my-door-again DMing, where there is no discussion or conversation, there is the law handed down by the DM and that's it.

I must have missed that.
Here's another.
Even when I do I have gotten people demanding I do 250 words so it fit into reason 1. And still demand they have player agency and I must change. Because the DM is their play thing.
And my next quote, which I am also directly responding to, likewise includes an insult, "button pushers."

It would be funny if it weren’t so earnest. And the whole creativity tangent, yikes. I’ve introduced 5E button pushers to OSE and after a few hiccups they suddenly got it. It was like a literal light went on over their head. Limitations and restrictions breed creativity.
I responded to hyperbole about literally being the players' plaything (as quoted just previously.) This mocking criticism of "so earnest" hyperbole should really consider who's engaging in what and whether the pot is calling the kettle black here. More importantly, limitations CAN breed creativity, but I don't think anyone wants the Comics Code Authority to come back so that we can get more creative comic stories, do they? That "CAN" is incredibly important and when you leave it out, you turn a nuanced true statement into an objectively false one.

Context matters. I wouldn't have used that term, but the whole sentence?

If the campaign has been set ahead of time and the player shows up to the game to create a conflict, he's being a douche.

So yes, someone that goes out of their way to be disruptive, that person is the problem.
And Max explicitly treats it as all, or effectively all, players who fail to instantly bend to any DM restrictions as being ones with obvious malicious intent, exclusively pursuing something forbidden to be a disruptive little naughty word, with zero mention of not allowance for genuine, heartfelt enthusiasm that might lead them to say, "hey, I really love X, can I play one?"

THAT is the true insult here.

That's just wrong.

Max doesn’t need me to defend him, but here’s the quote:


No one was called a douche for wanting to play a PHB race/class.
See above.

I didnt insult anyone, but you are right, people are certainly acting as if cleaving to the lore of a setting is some act of violence against their person.
Only because the pro-restriction folks had already painted 99.99% of players as petulant jerks who make requests for banned things exclusively to screw with the DM and cause group disruption, and explicitly said that players treat DMs as their "plaything," cruelly and maliciously destroying the enormous amounts of hard work those DMs do.

Yep. Despite being told multiple times that I wasn't referring to anyone here AND telling him exactly what the comment was for, @GMforPowergamers is still willfully misrepresenting my words and intentions.

(y)

Thanks for stepping in. :)
See above, Max. The true insult wasn't calling people douches. It was the assertion that only a tiny vanishing proportion of people would ever do something like asking for an option because they just really, earnestly like it, and instead saying that the overwhelming majority is people with active malicious intent.

Three-word answer: consistency, fairness, precedent.

I will neither play in nor run a game/campaign that doesn't base itself on all three of those precepts.
And of course that third one means you never will make any changes or do anything differently, so you are invulnerable to criticism. Nicely done.

The setting is mine.
Man, good to know it's your world top to bottom, and your players just happen to interact with it!

I get that the number of characters is limited and I said as much in my post, but that doesn't answer my question. If I have to allow whatever the players want, how does that not put literally everything on the table as something to be allowed?

Sure, and during session -1 we come up with a campaign for me to run in a method that I've described here a number of times in other threads. That's not the same as everything being allowed, though.
It does not put "literally everything on the table" because your players aren't (and cannot be) playing literally everything. Like...this is so simple I genuinely cannot believe you don't see this; I am frustrated because I cannot see any charitable interpretation of what you've just said. So I guess let's walk through it.

You have a finite number of players. Let's say six, that is a little high but not too high. And, for argument's sake, we'll say that not only does each of them choose a unique race and class, but they really push the envelope here, none of them are "traditional" options. Hexblade, Totem Barbarian, Wildfire Druid, Clockwork Sorcerer, Eloquence Bard, and Battlesmith Artificer. And we'll say they went for so-called "exotic" races. Dragonborn, tiefling, loxodon, owlin, changeling, firbolg. Some PHB options there, but most are further afield.

Now let's say you happen to have a high lethality game. Over its course, the players each lose their starting character. And because we're taking this to its most maximal extent, not a single one of them chooses a class or race that has been played in this game before when playing their character (and, where possible, they avoid taking any "traditional"/"core four" options.) So whatever they end up pursuing, it adds another race and class per player. This is a pretty high turnover rate for 5e and an actively "push the boundaries" group....and you still never need to allow more than 12 races and 12 (sub)classes. Period.

There are, as of this writing, many times that number of races (something like 50, and that only if you lump all subraces together as one; if we split apart the various kinds of elves and tieflings etc. it's 166 according to my sources.) So...how are you "allowing everything"? 12 is not everything! And in a more typical 5e group (5 characters, with few to no permanent character deaths and a high likelihood of playing a race someone else has already played), you're looking at maybe 8, and that's counting the core four races that people are so hung up on.

If you want the setting to have any cohesion or sense of verisimilitude, yes it does.

Some DMs and players, clearly.

It doesn't matter to you. Clearly it matters to a lot of other people.

There's also 61 other races not including subraces. The player can pick something else. This would require less than 30 seconds work for the player. "No plasmoids, okay. How about a firbolg?" Or, if we're being honest, the DM limiting races is going to tell the players up front what's on the menu. It's only a problem if the player decided that no matter what they were going to play this one and only character before they even joined the game. Now it's a problem. And it's not on the DM.

No, just limited time to be creative. I'd much rather spend that time making a kick-ass game to play than arguing about why you can't play something that violates the lore I've decided on and that you've agreed to abide by. It's such a bizarre hill for a player to die on. Are players limited in creativity? Can't they come up with a different character idea? Do they only get one?

If we make the player think too much, their creativity tank will be empty and the next character won't be able to work because they won't be able to think of anything for the next PC to be because they're totally out of creativity juice.

Hint: it's a lot more effort and creativity to run the entire world of a setting than it is to run a single PC. Maybe the player can be "burdened" with a little extra work for a change.

Again, if making a single new character for a campaign causes you this much angst, I really do think that this is indicative of far, far larger issues down the road.
I would respond in depth, but folks have said they dislike that.

So all I will say is, you again emphasize how belabored and put upon the DM is, and go out of your way to crap upon even the suggestion of discussion and compromise. Your choices are meek submission or voting with your feet; how very Hobson. And folk wonder why these threads devolve into hyperbole!

Seriously, do people do this in other games? Demand to play Sidereal Exalted in Vampire the Masquerade, to play GURPS Supers character in GURPS Napoleonics game? This is so bizarre.

What if I write my own game from scratch? Am I then also required to include anything players might imagine? o_O
False equivalency, and you know it. Where are the folks mocking the hyperbole? Or is their mockery only reserved for people remotely critical of the "DM must protect themselves from wicked players" argument?
 


False equivalency, and you know it.

No, I genuinely don't get why you think it is a false equivalency. What's the difference? If I decide to run my setting using D&D, it seems I am, according to some, required to allow any PC option WotC has decided to print for that game. So if I decide to run the game using GURPS why doesn't the same apply? And how does this work with homebrew?


Also, IIRC you have your Arabian Nights style setting that you seem to be very proud of. Would you really include in it any sapient player species a player would request, regardless of how badly it clashes with the intended theme and tone?
 

Aldarc

Legend
It sounds like you don't know how to play the game properly. In order to suggest and eliminate a room, you need to be in that room. Preventing other players from reaching a room by dragging them around the board is the best way to make sure you win what would otherwise be a potluck game.

That would require making a card that was indistinguishable from the other cards.
Regardless of whether I know how to the play the game properly or know, you sure know how to address people improperly and I would suggest that you quit making it personal. If you can't, then there is no point dragging this conversation around the thread any further.
 

No. Trying to subvert the constraints is accepting them. It is literally following the constraints. When, in the example earlier in the thread, the monk used silver body piercings to make a silver weapon because they weren't allowed to start with a silver weapon they were completely 100% accepting the constraints as given. Malicious compliance is still compliance.
I agree. Often, it’s not even malicious. The GM’s role is to present challenge s to players, the players’ role is to overcome those challenges.

No clerics or divine magic doesn’t mean no druids or bards to many players, or no Thief Rogues with the Healer Feat.
 

Seriously, do people do this in other games? Demand to play Sidereal Exalted in Vampire the Masquerade, to play GURPS Supers character in GURPS Napoleonics game? This is so bizarre.

What if I write my own game from scratch? Am I then also required to include anything players might imagine? o_O
When I play chess, I always insist on being Colonel Mustard.
maybe if those things were in the base rules for that game this would matter...

try again this time remember... YOU NEED TO USE THE PHB TO PLAY D&D and THE HALF ORC IS IN THE PHB... superman isn't in PHB, Klingons wont be in the main book of star wars, wookies wont be in the main book for star trek, Exalted isn't vampire at all let alone the base book... and Colonel Mustard is not in the intructions to chess
 

I think a more analogous example would be when playing Clue(do) that you insist on being Captain Ketchup rather than one of the pre-established characters. Clue(do) won't break by creating a character called Captain Ketchup for the game as an investigator and possible suspect.
except for this analogy to work captain ketchup would have to be in the instructions...
 

maybe if those things were in the base rules for that game this would matter...

try again this time remember... YOU NEED TO USE THE PHB TO PLAY D&D and THE HALF ORC IS IN THE PHB... superman isn't in PHB, Klingons wont be in the main book of star wars, wookies wont be in the main book for star trek, Exalted isn't vampire at all let alone the base book... and Colonel Mustard is not in the intructions to chess

Oh, so the PHB is the magic book! So for example a weird world where everyone is some sort of animal person is right out, as you must allow your basic humans elves and dwarves. How boring. I certainly don't understand why you would want to creatively shackle your worldbuilding that way.
 

No, I genuinely don't get why you think it is a false equivalency. What's the difference? If I decide to run my setting using D&D, it seems I am, according to some, required to allow any PC option WotC has decided to print for that game.
has anyone said that? has anyone said 'every single book, every single class, every single race MUST be allowed'?

cause I missed that...

now I keep saying if you say no to a basic phb combo the player is both free to ask why and if your answer doesn't satisfy them not only can they leave but so too can your other players...

THB I would most likely not show up with a half orc (I don't play many half orcs and I know if we do DL there are not orcs I will most likely want to be a 'dark' elf wizard anyway) but if a new player who has no idea sits down with a half orc and you are rude or not able to communicate a reason WHY he can't just play his halforc... I am going to serieusly reconsider if I want to play with you. The ability to roll with crazy things players do and the ablity to roll with weird things players ask is like in my top 5 DM skills I require to play in a game...
So if I decide to run the game using GURPS why doesn't the same apply? And how does this work with homebrew?
well Gurps is VERY different, but off hand if you hand me a book and I make a character from that book THEN you tell me 'no not that' I am going to be at least a little miffed... if you don't have a reason (one I can get behind) then I will be alot miffed.

the better analogy is being told "Hey we want to play a 90's era Vampire the Masqurade, but Cameriala only... and a player shows up with a tremere and another a venture and another a brujha and the 4th with a toradoar and being told "this world doesn't have tremere in it" and when you ask why the answer is give "Cause mages are too smart and the tremere are dumb"
or worse yet (and this is an example red flag from one fo the story teller books) if they say "sorry eric you are too dumb to play a tremere"
Also, IIRC you have your Arabian Nights style setting that you seem to be very proud of. Would you really include in it any sapient player species a player would request, regardless of how badly it clashes with the intended theme and tone?
again, if you have a reason, that reason can be given and evaluated by the group as a whole...
 

Regardless of whether I know how to the play the game properly or know, you sure know how to address people improperly and I would suggest that you quit making it personal. If you can't, then there is no point dragging this conversation around the thread any further.
didn't there used to be rules about making things personal on this site?
 

I agree. Often, it’s not even malicious. The GM’s role is to present challenge s to players, the players’ role is to overcome those challenges.

No clerics or divine magic doesn’t mean no druids or bards to many players, or no Thief Rogues with the Healer Feat.
right so (IMO) being honest is better...

"Hey I don't want healing other then HD can you guys work with me"
is better then
"No clerics, divine magic doesn't work here"
 

No, I genuinely don't get why you think it is a false equivalency. What's the difference?
Exalted are not even defined within the rules of 5e. Asking to play a dragonborn, giff, or even a plasmoid is clearly not the same thing.

If I decide to run my setting using D&D, it seems I am, according to some, required to allow any PC option WotC has decided to print for that game.
And here you show you know it isn't the same, even as you engage in the hyperbole people keep mocking if and only if it comes from people challenging the ironclad inviolable restrictions argument.

No one--I mean this, genuinely zero people in this thread--are making the hyperbolic claim you've stated here. Numerous participants have explicitly rejected it.

So if I decide to run the game using GURPS why doesn't the same apply? And how does this work with homebrew?
I genuinely have no idea why you are referencing GURPS. I was criticizing your ludicrously hyperbolic claim that you "have to permit Sidereal Exalted in VtM." The GURPS thing isn't even remotely related, and I find it truly saddening that you see more than the tiniest, most strained and attenuated bit of comparison between that and "I would like to play a dragonborn, please."

Also, IIRC you have your Arabian Nights style setting that you seem to be very proud of. Would you really include in it any sapient player species a player would request, regardless of how badly it clashes with the intended theme and tone?
What counts as "badly clashing"? I've embraced owl-folk (long before owlin came to D&D; in-setting they are burrowing owls, which actually are a thing in some desert areas) purely because a player liked owls. I worked with a player to develop his dwarf barbarian's backstory, inventing the steppe herdsmen tribes to the east, with their animal totem iconography and terrifying battle prowess that they mostly use against one another. I permitted a tiefling character, despite wanting to keep devils and demons special, and this has borne excellent fruit.

So...what would be "grossly clashing"? Because I literally cannot think of a race which would be so utterly beyond the pale that I couldn't find a way to make it work, though the player and I would need to discuss specific implementation and possible tweaks. E.g. the plasmoid people keep talking about might be an arcane experiment or an ancient relic of a lost civilization; a minotaur would likely be a native of one of the more obscure islands among the Ten Thousand Isles of the Sapphire Sea, a gith might have crash-landed on their world, etc. I find such "stranger in a strange land" stories fun and exciting, and if the player is willing to deal with the likely consequences, awesome, that's even more tools for me to frame interesting scenes with. (I should note, I find "people will be racist to you" to be utterly deplorable as far as likely consequences are concerned, so I don't do that. "Likely consequences" would be more along the lines of attracting unwanted attention, difficulties with local customs, issues if anatomical mismatch, or being hounded by someone or something.)
 

Oh, so the PHB is the magic book!
no it is the book that you need the rules in to play the game... like the instructions to chess, clue, risk ect...
So for example a weird world where everyone is some sort of animal person is right out, as you must allow your basic humans elves and dwarves.
once again you are not listening... I am NOT against restrictions, I am against ones you can't answer "WHY" too.
How boring.
yeah my campagins must be so boring for the last 30ish years
I certainly don't understand why you would want to creatively shackle your worldbuilding that way.
lucky I don't and you are going out of your way to pretend I do.
 


What counts as "badly clashing"?
this could be it's own thread... it could be a dozen. I bet it would take less then 10 minutes for some of us to find a thematic way to include most of if not all of the races in ALL of D&D (yup every edition so Deva and Aasimar and new animal head guys) in any setting... Not that I am saying you should but how badly can ANYTHING realy clash if you try to make it work?
 

Not sure why you think this is persuasive. The fact that X is in the PHB, is no more important than X is not in setting Y. At the end of the day, when it comes to character options, the PHB is just another book.
becuse it is the counter to "I want to play colnel mustard in chess"

not only is there not a main rule for it... there are NOT any rules for it... and it doesn't make sense.

so again analogies of superman in athus, or wookies in star trek or klingons in star wars are not the same at all... they aren't even close.


edit: Exalted in Vampire is not possible the rules don't fit together you would have to homebrew... you would be closer with werewolf in vampire those are at least close (although still different game systems)
Nobody CAN show up to a star trek game with character made from the (equivalant) PHB of star trek and it be a wookie.
 

Aldarc

Legend
except for this analogy to work captain ketchup would have to be in the instructions...
Even if Captain Ketchup was not in the instructions, it wouldn't affect the game much in the same way of 3pp. D&D still plays as D&D with the 3pp or wider range of character options.
 


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