Where is the enjoyment for the DM?

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There are no rules written in stone for one DM style. Everything you read are just suggestions based on individual DM experience and preference. Treat it like a market. Take what you like and works for your group and ignore what you dont. The style and method that creates the most enjoyable experience for you and your players is the right one for you and your players.

Collaboration and good communication is a must though, between you and your players to meet each other half way.  It doesnt mean you're ideas not important..just means your players ideas should be important to you who dm their game. Goal is to have a enjoyable game for eveyone involved and to acheive that collaboration and good communication seem a must.  Right?
When I was refering to 'messing' with the characters, what I meant was more along the lines of "You throw back the hood of the dead guy who just attacked you and see that its actually 'uncle Joe' who raised Torg the fighter as a small boy and who he thought had died years ago" !!
........
Re: Magic item selection made by players:
The examples given on the previous pages of the thread only say one thing. 'I want something that increases my pluses.' Not something that is important to the character, and who that characters is and wants to be.
I think that if the characters are just selling magic items or throwing them in a ditch, then the DM is flooding the world with items and the players are just looking to fill their item slots with the item with the most pluses.
If the players are willing to throw away the sword +1 that was given to them by the God-King Talos and inscribed with their clan name after the character saved the God-King's lands from the evil gargoyles for a +2 sword that they found in the mud : then the player is just looking for some better pluses.  
..........
On failure and death: If I am playing in a game where death( and some failure) are avoided because someone may not like it or what it does to the story, then my character would quickly start looking at the world as if it was The Trueman Show. The DM won't kill me? It would make me extremely reckless. And I would colaborate with the DM and tell him I am not engaged by coming back as a ghost or waking up as a slave. So, just don't kill me regardless of what I do. 
(Sorry, just an exagerated outlook to make a point. No hostility intended)
 
Yeah, sorry. I strayed out of open discussion into confrontation.

There is definitely room for discussion on this subject, but it needs to involve honest conclusions based on honest questions.

So, I really am interested to know what your idea is of enjoyable DMing. How much work goes into achieving that enjoyment? Does the enjoyment of the players scale in proportion to or in inverse proportion to the DM's enjoyment?



Having the players uncover the world I have created and the connecting threads that make the world, well, connected. 
Having the players outsmart me, as it were. To see them use their smarts to work out problems, often in smarter ways than I had invisioned.
To surprise them. With encounters, with magic items, with the connecting threads of the world jumping out and revealing themselves.
For the players 'Aha!' moments when they put together the seperate pieces of the world into a whole that is much great that the sum of the parts.
And sometimes just to hear the players yell "TROOOOLLLLL" and crap themselves. 

When I was refering to 'messing' with the characters, what I meant was more along the lines of "You throw back the hood of the dead guy who just attacked you and see that its actually 'uncle Joe' who raised Torg the fighter as a small boy and who he thought had died years ago" !!

You ever have trouble getting players to come up with backstories that describe anything other than an orphaned loner? This is why. Because if a player leaves a meaty NPC on the table like that they can bet that the DM is going to kill them, or turn them on the players, and plenty of players don't like giving things that the DM can torture them with or twist to their own ends. Some do, especially if the DM is upfront about it, and not only will they supply the NPCs, but they'll even suggest ways the NPCs could betray them or cause other interesting problems.

Re: Magic item selection made by players:
The examples given on the previous pages of the thread only say one thing. 'I want something that increases my pluses.' Not something that is important to the character, and who that characters is and wants to be.

So, ask them to choose things that are important to the characters. It can still be a +1 sword but it will have some sort of meaning.

I think that if the characters are just selling magic items or throwing them in a ditch, then the DM is flooding the world with items and the players are just looking to fill their item slots with the item with the most pluses.

And if that's what the players prefer, then either try to convince them otherwise or give them what they want. It's a waste of your time and theirs to give them things they have no interest in, in hopes that they'll develop an interest in them. Some players like random items, or DM chosen items. The point is to work with the players, because one size does not fit all.

If the players are willing to throw away the sword +1 that was given to them by the God-King Talos and inscribed with their clan name after the character saved the God-King's lands from the evil gargoyles for a +2 sword that they found in the mud : then the player is just looking for some better pluses.

Maybe they don't give a shake about the God-King Talos, or their clan, or the gargoyles. Why should they? Why are you assuming they will? But there probably is something they care about, so why not give them something related to that? Or why not give the special sword the plusses the players want? Or why don't you make sure that failure is interesting so that there's not necessarily an imperative to optimize.

On failure and death: If I am playing in a game where death( and some failure) are avoided because someone may not like it or what it does to the story, then my character would quickly start looking at the world as if it was The Trueman Show. The DM won't kill me? It would make me extremely reckless. And I would colaborate with the DM and tell him I am not engaged by coming back as a ghost or waking up as a slave. So, just don't kill me regardless of what I do.
(Sorry, just an exagerated outlook to make a point. No hostility intended)

Again, pure uncharitable assumption. Try asking questions, or we'll assume you don't really want to understand.

If you want your character to die, or have a random risk of dying (perhaps sometimes but not others) talk to the DM about it. If you don't, talk to the DM about it, and help set up other ways the character can be challenged. Are you assuming that the only way to be challenged is by death? Because that's not the case.

So, I really am interested to know what your idea is of enjoyable DMing. How much work goes into achieving that enjoyment? Does the enjoyment of the players scale in proportion to or in inverse proportion to the DM's enjoyment?

Having the players uncover the world I have created and the connecting threads that make the world, well, connected.

Great. Do that. Many of us have found that players don't engage with something they haven't helped create, and that creating is anyway easier when more people are involved.

Having the players outsmart me, as it were. To see them use their smarts to work out problems, often in smarter ways than I had invisioned.

Collaboration does not preclude that.

To surprise them. With encounters, with magic items, with the connecting threads of the world jumping out and revealing themselves.

Collaboration does not preclude that. If you don't see why don't assume. Ask.

For the players 'Aha!' moments when they put together the seperate pieces of the world into a whole that is much great that the sum of the parts.

Collaboration not only does not preclude this but makes it much easier to achieve.

And sometimes just to hear the players yell "TROOOOLLLLL" and crap themselves.

Collaboration not only does not preculde this, but makes it easier to achieve.

If you don't see why, please ask.

Edit: The bottom line is that some of us do things this way and we've never enjoyed the game more. We tried to do things the way you describe, for years, and we never got the experience we craved. Plenty of others have had the same problems. If you don't, if you really don't have the problems we've seen across the hobby, then there's no reason to try anything else. There's also no reason to disparage what we do.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Do also take it as red that those with the loudest mouths are not necessarily a good cross-section of the player-base.
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When I was refering to 'messing' with the characters, what I meant was more along the lines of "You throw back the hood of the dead guy who just attacked you and see that its actually 'uncle Joe' who raised Torg the fighter as a small boy and who he thought had died years ago" !!

Oh, so you mean plot twist, not actual messing with character sheets.

Re: Magic item selection made by players:
The examples given on the previous pages of the thread only say one thing. 'I want something that increases my pluses.' Not something that is important to the character, and who that characters is and wants to be.
I think that if the characters are just selling magic items or throwing them in a ditch, then the DM is flooding the world with items and the players are just looking to fill their item slots with the item with the most pluses.
If the players are willing to throw away the sword +1 that was given to them by the God-King Talos and inscribed with their clan name after the character saved the God-King's lands from the evil gargoyles for a +2 sword that they found in the mud : then the player is just looking for some better pluses.

The problem isn't the "something that increases my plusses" or the desire to be mechanically better per se.  The problem is the fear of failure/death.

Here's a personal anecdote on the subject: in the computer RPG Baldur's Gate 2, my favorite magic item in the game — indeed, my favorite magic item from any computer game, to this day — is Lilarcor.  However, because I eventually needed to use +5 weapons (he's just a +3 weapon), Lilarcor had to be placed in the Bag of Holding.  I needed to hit and damage my enemies more frequently because all that comic relief isn't going to make my enemies stop killing me.

There are two ways of handling the issue:


  • remove the +

  • make the + not matter


    • slow down the scaling of opponents so that the magical items stay relevant

    • allow the magic items to scale up as time goes on

    • remove magic items from the math completely, which means that same-level enemies can be handled even with mundane items, but you absolutely perform better with magic items



Story alone does not give players incentive to choose a magic item.
On failure and death: If I am playing in a game where death( and some failure) are avoided because someone may not like it or what it does to the story, then my character would quickly start looking at the world as if it was The Trueman Show. The DM won't kill me? It would make me extremely reckless. And I would colaborate with the DM and tell him I am not engaged by coming back as a ghost or waking up as a slave. So, just don't kill me regardless of what I do. 
(Sorry, just an exagerated outlook to make a point. No hostility intended)
 

I actually enjoy running my 13th Age game with extremely reckless players — currently the most reckless players of the group have had their PCs killed, though one is currently taking a vacation inside a spirit jar after being killed by his own randomly conjured mountain, while another is currently setting himself up as a BBEG in the story after being knocked unconscious, killed twice and raised once as a wraith — although I think it's been pointed out several times here that it's not death or failure per se that's the problem, but the effects and implications of death or failure.

In D&D, death is classically addressed in just one of two ways:


  • permanent (your only choice is to introduce a new character)

  • inconvenient (you have to wait before you get back into the adventure)


Failure on the other hand, has always been handled in D&D by simply saying "you fail to accomplish what you want to accomplish".  THAT is the unacceptable form of death and failure.

What I consider as the better way of handling "killed" would be the following:


  • Death as temporary setback. The "death" condition simply means you're out of the fight, and not actually "dead" dead.  This works best with light skirmishes where the enemy doesn't actually want to kill the PCs (such as encountering "random" thieves).  "Ghost form" would likely be the permanent death version of this, though this would be better done alongside the next method of dealing with death.

  • Death as an alternate path. The "death" condition may or may not be permanent, but regardless the story moves forward because of that "death".  This works best in capture scenarios like slavers or spiders capturing prey (where death is not permanent), but sometimes it works even better with permanent death (e.g. spirit world adventuring).


Failure?  Try "making life harder for the PCs and players" instead of "wasting time accomplishing nothing in the game".

Now if the player wants to play a new character, he should talk with the DM about it, so that the current character's "retirement" is done in style, be it perma-death with no chance to be raised, or walking off into the sunset never to be seen again.  But forcing a character to retire because of a random event in the game?  From a wargame standpoint that works, but for a collaborative storytelling game it's not cool. 
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I really hope none of my posts were considered aggressive. I however, do feel there is something that speaks loudly, about the fact that some DM's like myself who "have fun every game" and knows the players "have fun every game".

I am not trying to argue with anyone or "force my game" into your game; I am trying to say that I am doing something that works, and I am willing to look at the history of my gaming to figure out where I went right. Maybe it won't work for everyone. This gets back to acculturation.

I was taught how to RPG in an age where RPG competition (online games, DnD tourneys) were nonexistant. So, when I see players who "grew up on that" there is a disconnect on what the game means to me, and what it means to them. They have a specific pleasure in the game, which is different than my specific pleasure in the game.

I think my secret was training myself, and training my players. Think about a TV show, like professional wrestling or mixed martial arts. When you watch your first UFC event, you are probably excited with bloody, gory elbows from the top. Likewise, you might be bored to death with grappling on the cage and ground. The UFC has to "Teach you" how to watch the show. They have to teach you through commentary and interviews what is happening in different positions, to help you understand what you are seeing, so when you watch UFC, you are able to watch it without expecting every fight to be a bloody, gory hardcore deathmatch. They want to teach you to value the "sport" element over the "fight" element. In WWE, they can't avoid that its FAKE. They have to teach you to watch WWE in the same way you would watch an Action Movie, more than the Super Bowl. If you see someone fall from a gingerly punch from a guy half your size, the WWE needs to teach you why that is ok, so you can watch it without being like "But it isn't real..."

You have to teach your "genre" to the player, and teach the player how to "play your game" which might be different than other games that person has played, the ideas you have out of D&D might be different than the ideas the player has. There might be reasons why the player wants things you don't know. Maybe they don't care about your Orc Warlord or Elf Princess. However, maybe they have a personal shortcoming they try to project into their character to be good at. (I am poor, worthless and uninfluental in real life, but in the game, I am rich, powerful and meaningful). They might have fun with a specified activity in the game (opening chests, hacking monsters, scoring a critical hit, or sneak attack).

The more you know the MIND of your player, the more you know their psyche, their thoughts and motives in the game, the more you can teach them "Here is how you get rich in my game. You don't find treasure in chests in some guarded cave. Instead, people in the game give you things when you help them." Or. "In this game, there is less battle and combat, however the battles which occur are very dangerous. To replace the "other" battles you are used to, I have designed other types of challenges. You could kill the Kobold and steal its arquebus. Or, you can save the kobold and it will take you to the chief and ask you to be given one, maybe one better than the kobold is carrying."

You need to understand yourself as a speaker, storyteller and author, then you need to understand your players as an audience and your campaign as the material.

Ethos: Handling material within ethical boundries. Appeal to Ethics. (Author).
Pathos: Handling the emotional content of material. Appeal to Emotion (Audience).
Logos: Handling the logical and rational element of material. Appeal to Logic. (Material).

Likewise, the "Rhetorical Situation" encompasses everything, from the posters on the wall in your room, the voice you address the players in, the mood they arrive in, the mood you need them in before the game, the material of the game, the setting, the culture of your city, the music you play during the game, even before the game, the food you eat during or before the game, even the way you dress and your mannerisms.

If you can control the situation the game occurs in, and teach players "This isn't Final Fantasy 6, This is Xenogears. This isn't WWE, this is UFC. This isn't a sitcom, its a soap opera. This isn't World of Warcraft, this is Skyrim." Once they "know the game" you need to tell them the roles of heroes in the world. "This is why you are playing, your a character of X, and in this world, the characters are in Situation Y, with Goal Z."

Once the player understands that, even the "worst player ever" will shape up and engage the world how you want them to, because they know it will get them the best experience for the night. These "worst player ever" types have become "my favorite player" types for doing things normal players would never do. "I want to use my flask of oil to make a molotov cocktail." - "I want to ask the Kobold where he got his arquebus". - "I want to tell the king that I don't want his treasure. However, I would like something else..."

I also let the player train me! I make sure that I know the type of gameplay they want, and that my game is able to provide that. I might even give them a few "one shots" with junk characters to "show them the difference" before a real campaign group. I make sure the players are safe and comfortable telling me "that battle sucked, it just wasn't fun..." or "You forget I am a ranger? I need some dragons, bro..."


I suppose my fun is from finding those lines, drawing them in the sand to create a sane framework where rules are secondary to fun. "I want to jump over the 15 foot pit."  hmm.  "Actually, you can make a balance check to scale the wall above the pit with less risk..."

Within; Without.

I really hope none of my posts were considered aggressive. I however, do feel there is something that speaks loudly, about the fact that some DM's like myself who "have fun every game" and knows the players "have fun every game".

I don't take that as a fact. Every DM has things they'd like to improve. Some change their approach, others rationalize why their approach was correct all along.

I am not trying to argue with anyone or "force my game" into your game; I am trying to say that I am doing something that works, and I am willing to look at the history of my gaming to figure out where I went right.

Are you willing to look at what went wrong?

But as I've said, I advise people who are having problems. If you're not having problems, I don't have any advice for you.

I was taught how to RPG in an age where RPG competition (online games, DnD tourneys) were nonexistant.

There was no such age. D&D arose out of wargaming, and there have always been people who played it competitively.

So, when I see players who "grew up on that" there is a disconnect on what the game means to me, and what it means to them. They have a specific pleasure in the game, which is different than my specific pleasure in the game.

I didn't grow up on it, and that "disconnect" originated from the game itself. For many people, the computer games are the culmination of what they thought D&D was always about: cool combat.

I think my secret was training myself, and training my players. Think about a TV show, like professional wrestling or mixed martial arts. When you watch your first UFC event, you are probably excited with bloody, gory elbows from the top. Likewise, you might be bored to death with grappling on the cage and ground. The UFC has to "Teach you" how to watch the show.

Sure, but you have to want to be "taught" in the first place.

You have to teach your "genre" to the player, and teach the player how to "play your game" which might be different than other games that person has played, the ideas you have out of D&D might be different than the ideas the player has.

No. Because it's not a one way street. You are not a video game designer, or an author, or a writer, simply delivering your vision to the players. You are at the table with those people and can and should be using their feedback. Heck, even UFC has undoubtedly taken feedback from viewers who wanted something different from what they were seeing.

The more you know the MIND of your player, the more you know their psyche, their thoughts and motives in the game, the more you can teach them "Here is how you get rich in my game. You don't find treasure in chests in some guarded cave. Instead, people in the game give you things when you help them." Or. "In this game, there is less battle and combat, however the battles which occur are very dangerous. To replace the "other" battles you are used to, I have designed other types of challenges. You could kill the Kobold and steal its arquebus. Or, you can save the kobold and it will take you to the chief and ask you to be given one, maybe one better than the kobold is carrying."

No. You can explain the kind of game you want, but you should be open to the kinds of games the players want.

You need to understand yourself as a speaker, storyteller and author, then you need to understand your players as an audience and your campaign as the material.

No. You are not an author and they are not an audience. They are your fellow players, and to try to treat them otherwise is a waste of a creative resource that can make your game instantly better (as in more enjoyable to the players) instead of over time and countless explanations and "teachings."

Ethos: Handling material within ethical boundries. Appeal to Ethics. (Author).
Pathos: Handling the emotional content of material. Appeal to Emotion (Audience).
Logos: Handling the logical and rational element of material. Appeal to Logic. (Material).

Fine. Pointless, but fine.

Once the player understands that, even the "worst player ever" will shape up and engage the world how you want them to, because they know it will get them the best experience for the night.

Yes, if you get the players' buy-in. You can do anything if you get the players' buy-in. It's just easier to get their buy-in if you communicate and compromise instead of controlling.

These "worst player ever" types have become "my favorite player" types for doing things normal players would never do. "I want to use my flask of oil to make a molotov cocktail." - "I want to ask the Kobold where he got his arquebus". - "I want to tell the king that I don't want his treasure. However, I would like something else..."

Every player who has ever played D&D has tried to make their flask of oil into a molotov cocktail. It was never clever.

But this is right, and I see the same thing. When I stop trying to contol the players and lock them down to my vision, they are much more willing to try cool things, and they're "my favorite players" because they are engaged in what's going on, which is because they're helping to come up with it, rather than just taking in what I'm feeding them.

I also let the player train me! I make sure that I know the type of gameplay they want, and that my game is able to provide that. I might even give them a few "one shots" with junk characters to "show them the difference" before a real campaign group. I make sure the players are safe and comfortable telling me "that battle sucked, it just wasn't fun..." or "You forget I am a ranger? I need some dragons, bro..."

Well, that's good. But the training isn't necessary. Just talk to them like they're friends, instead of studying them like they're a focus group.

I suppose my fun is from finding those lines, drawing them in the sand to create a sane framework where rules are secondary to fun. "I want to jump over the 15 foot pit."  hmm.  "Actually, you can make a balance check to scale the wall above the pit with less risk..."

Just let him jump over the pit. What's it to you? That's not an insane request. It's heroic action.

But you have what works for you. I don't believe for a moment that you don't have problems, but so do I. There's no problem with the method of gaming that you are complaining about in your original post, because it leads (more directly) to the same thing you have.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I have never seen or heard of anyone who enjoys being as controlling a DM as you describe yourself, so I think that you are going to have many years of disappointment at DM styles not living up to your exacting standards, even though many of those styles have almost the exact same outcomes.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

When I was refering to 'messing' with the characters, what I meant was more along the lines of "You throw back the hood of the dead guy who just attacked you and see that its actually 'uncle Joe' who raised Torg the fighter as a small boy and who he thought had died years ago" !!



What's wrong with that? Isn't it one of those vaunted Big Reveals that DMs seem to love so much?

........
Re: Magic item selection made by players:
The examples given on the previous pages of the thread only say one thing. 'I want something that increases my pluses.' Not something that is important to the character, and who that characters is and wants to be.
I think that if the characters are just selling magic items or throwing them in a ditch, then the DM is flooding the world with items and the players are just looking to fill their item slots with the item with the most pluses.
If the players are willing to throw away the sword +1 that was given to them by the God-King Talos and inscribed with their clan name after the character saved the God-King's lands from the evil gargoyles for a +2 sword that they found in the mud : then the player is just looking for some better pluses.  



Why should the DM care about what items the players engage with? That's such a small part of the game, unless you've specifically made a game with a central theme of acquiring magical items. (Which, if you did, I hope you got your players' buy-in on that idea.) If they love an item they asked for or one they didn't ask for makes no difference for me. I'd simply rather give them the ones they asked for since I know they'll at least use them.

It sounds more like you're really more interested in the players liking the things and ideas you dole out as DM. That's always nice, sure, but there's no guarantee your idea is good or sound. Or that a player who shows no interest in it is only "interested in pluses." Maybe your idea just wasn't very engaging. Or you miscalculated and the PC can't use swords because he uses axes so that +1 sword isn't very useful even if it is cool.

..........
On failure and death: If I am playing in a game where death( and some failure) are avoided because someone may not like it or what it does to the story, then my character would quickly start looking at the world as if it was The Trueman Show. The DM won't kill me? It would make me extremely reckless. And I would colaborate with the DM and tell him I am not engaged by coming back as a ghost or waking up as a slave. So, just don't kill me regardless of what I do. 
(Sorry, just an exagerated outlook to make a point. No hostility intended) 



DM's don't kill characters - outcomes do. And anyway, if you want your character to die, why would the DM stop you?

Centauri:

That is where you are mistaken. I am far from controlling, and I do let them jump over pits; at times, I suggest scaling the wall. why? why not? I play the devils advocate when players are "stumped" and throw up a few red herrings and pay attention to their discourse; I will illustrate the story and they will dictate. This is similar to a classroom model where the teacher provokes the students to "teach themselves" with in class conversations opposed to quizzes and reading the book in class.

I stand by my theories, and feel you are contextualizing my usage of them wrongly. I should have better described what I meant. When I "design" my game, I use the audience-centered approach, as described in my post. Then, when I play the game, I let the plot unravel naturally from the discourse which emerges.

The roles change from the drawing board, to the table. they have to.

Once at the table, much of what you said holds true; players think of funny, cool or dramatic things and I find a way to make it happen. They tell me before and after games what they liked or didn't like, how they feel about their characters and various NPC's, and anything which they want done differently. Then, I go back to the drawing board and insert those things where I can because in my game, the rules are secondary to the fun.

I have no difficulties in my gaming; So any belief of such is incorrect. My players always enjoy themselves, and so do I. Much of what I am advising comes from the drawing board, the table is a whole different place, which has its own rules. If you think I was making reference to these actions as though we were in the game; no. However, before and after the game; yes. I am far from controlling, however I am strict and concise. I can see where you might think that without me explaining all the details.

As you said in one of your other posts, there is no "holy grail". Each group will want a different cup of tea. My group wants an epic saga storyline, where battles are minimal. My players don't enjoy competition and prefer to "enjoy their character" and "enjoy the world" they helped create over the course of time. More of a "chill" group of philosopher types who don't care for "making it a sport" (as one player told me long ago).


Frankly, you are the best kind of DM because you understand introspection and asking if any problems (A) Are you (B) Can be fixed by "you" and not them and most importantly, you understand not blaming the player. I have read some of your posts, and people would be well to listen to your advice.

Ethos, Pathos, Logos and using it to understand the dialectic of thesis, antithesis and synthesis, and the Acts of the Mind; can help create concision and precision.

This is important because it gets back to introspection, presentation of material, how you engage the players or respond to a similar request from two different players, and almost everything else where it "looks like the player did bad" when in reality, I did something that provoked their reactions and their gameplay was invoked by their interpretations.

The only advice I can "ask for" from "you" is that over the course of a long time, I have everything a game world could want; except for one thing I still struggle with. I am terrible at art, and have no ability to draw out my stuff. I hand drawn my map and used GIMP to brush it up, but it still looks "high school" and I want it just a little more professionalized. I don't want perfection, I just want to be able to draw up some simple "screenshot" pictures I can plop onto my city sheets I am making.

So, if you know anything about art, you might be able to help me

Within; Without.

That is where you are mistaken. I am far from controlling, and I do let them jump over pits; at times, I suggest scaling the wall. why? why not?

Because it's not what the player wanted to do.

I play the devils advocate when players are "stumped" and throw up a few red herrings and pay attention to their discourse; I will illustrate the story and they will dictate. This is similar to a classroom model where the teacher provokes the students to "teach themselves" with in class conversations opposed to quizzes and reading the book in class.

I will dictate and they will dictate. I'm not there to teach and they're not there to learn, though we're all there to see which of the equally interesting outcomes come about through discussion and randomness.

I stand by my theories, and feel you are contextualizing my usage of them wrongly. I should have better described what I meant. When I "design" my game, I use the audience-centered approach, as described in my post. Then, when I play the game, I let the plot unravel naturally from the discourse which emerges.

Your use of an "audience-centered" approach was not clear to me from what you wrote and I still don't think the players are an "audience." That's not a useful way to think of them.

I have no difficulties in my gaming; So any belief of such is incorrect. My players always enjoy themselves, and so do I.

The players liking it is not the same as not having difficulties. As you say, they tell you what they like and don't like.

As you said in one of your other posts, there is no "holy grail". Each group will want a different cup of tea. My group wants an epic saga storyline, where battles are minimal. My players don't enjoy competition and prefer to "enjoy their character" and "enjoy the world" they helped create over the course of time. More of a "chill" group of philosopher types who don't care for "making it a sport" (as one player told me long ago).

So, you didn't have to "train" them to want that?

Frankly, you are the best kind of DM because you understand introspection and asking if any problems (A) Are you (B) Can be fixed by "you" and not them and most importantly, you understand not blaming the player. I have read some of your posts, and people would be well to listen to your advice.

That's kind of you to say. Thank you.

The only advice I can "ask for" from "you" is that over the course of a long time, I have everything a game world could want; except for one thing I still struggle with. I am terrible at art, and have no ability to draw out my stuff. I hand drawn my map and used GIMP to brush it up, but it still looks "high school" and I want it just a little more professionalized. I don't want perfection, I just want to be able to draw up some simple "screenshot" pictures I can plop onto my city sheets I am making.

So, if you know anything about art, you might be able to help me

No, and that's part of the reason I turn to players to describe what they see, because their own imagination will be more vivid and accurate to their description than anything I might draw. Faster too.

I'm glad we seem to agree. In light of that, I don't understand your initial post, but perhaps that's not important now.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I never considered asking the players to describe what they see. I will have to try that. As for "training players", studies of network tv shows have shown some shows which are "new" or "different" from the normal in the genre, "coach" the audience on how to watch the show, I imported that to the game.

I learned that I needed the players to know what "type of world I have" and what "type of game I run" and in that sense, use conditioning methods to show them. Otherwise, they might pick up Final Fantasy and play it like halo. Nothing wrong with that type of game, of course. However, while "training" a player (naturally throughout the games enculturation of the player learning the table habits and group), they also train me on how to make a game which appeals to them.

I think of the players as an audience only at the drawing board. Once we arrive at the table, I see them as comrades and friends. In this sense, I go into my design targeting them and not myself. I think a lot of DM's are guilty (including me at one time) of designing "my game for me" and using the other players as "participants in my world". I have learned to make it about them. Then it comes back to me in different ways.

That said, you and i seem to speak from different experiences and I don't feel you or I are more or less valid than the other because of subjectivity. I just haven't found any miracle that works for every player, however once I stopped blaming players and looked inside myself, and played some in other peoples games to get a connection to the player experience, I changed everything. Some DM's are DM for so long they forget what the other side of the table is like. I was one of them.

Within; Without.

Centauri:
 You are grabbing my examples and using them as concrete stories. They are just examples to make a point. 
Of course I get better backgrounds than "I'm an orphan" , Of course there is more to the story than 'a magic sword appears in your hand and here is the back story about some gargoyles you supposedly fought to earn it'

I'm not drawing a fixed line in the sand saying 'I don't seek input from players'
I'm just trying to understand where the enjoyment for a DM comes from if that DM is handing so much over to the players.
What input do you actually seek from players?
Is it "I want to fight giants and get some (offensive/defensive item) plus (large number)"?
How far from your original storyline do you drift?
If you are willing to drift completely away from the original ideas of your world, at what point do you just become the guy who runs the monsters? 
Another thought about death and failure.
There seems to be a determination that the story and the characters must go forward at all costs, even if death is 'pushed and pulled' a bit.
Now we have to keep in mind that we have all participated in campaigns that lasted for 2 sessions, or 0 sessions, or faded off because of work schedules or girlfriends or whatever.
That being said, what is so horrible about the idea of death and or failure ending a campaign?
Sometimes you pack it up and say "Tony? Didn't you want to start a Viking based campaign? Lets do that in a few weeks"
Its not like there is money on the line. Its not like campaigns don't end even when we want them to go on.

So, the characters bunch up and charge straight into the dragons cave, and 2 rounds later nothing is left but the sweet smell of BBQed dwarf. (as actually happened to finish off a previous campaign years ago) We can create new characters and outfit them with a bunch of stuff that has no meaning to them, and the characters have little connection with what has happened and they can tackle the dragon or head off into new directions, OR we can have a few laughs about some spectacular fights, finish the chips and head home.

 
I often struggle with the idea of PCs never actually dying. If there is no threat, what is the point? I've had some players who would actually get very upset at the notion that their character could actually die. But does this mean it should never happen? That seems lame.

The conclusion I've come to is that if D&D is like a book or movie or TV show, well, the main characters don't die much and if they do, it is a BIG deal. And I think that is how it should be.

We used to have a "stupid" rule. If you do something stupid, yeah, you may die. And the DM makes this clear. If the PC wants to try to jump a 15 foot wide lava stream, well, that's stupid. If you make your jump, well then fine. If not, you DIE. The trick there though is that different people have different takes on what "stupid" actually is.

Also, here are some things that make being a DM worth it:

- When I set up a scenario and the heroes take it in a totally different and better direction than I ever thought of.
- When the session is over and everyone enthusiastically talks about how awesome it was
- When a big plot point is revealed and everyone is blown away.
- When a big fight is going on and everybody is totally into it.
- When the heroes become attached to one of your NPCs and actually go visit them just to interact and check up on them - when they actually care about them. I have one NPC right now and the players love it when I do her voice, so they go out of their way to ask her questions.     
  
      
I'm not drawing a fixed line in the sand saying 'I don't seek input from players'
I'm just trying to understand where the enjoyment for a DM comes from if that DM is handing so much over to the players.
What input do you actually seek from players?



Anything really. Everything. In games that we play, the player's ability to affect the game aren't limited to his or her character's fictional or mechanical ability to do those things. Want to see or do something in the game? Done! (Provided what you want to see or do doesn't contradict existing fiction or cross any lines.)

Is it "I want to fight giants and get some (offensive/defensive item) plus (large number)"?



It could be. Or it could be more. The DM can elicit additional elements by framed questioning to get the information he needs to build a scenario with the players.

How far from your original storyline do you drift?



I don't use storylines (aka plot).

If you are willing to drift completely away from the original ideas of your world, at what point do you just become the guy who runs the monsters? 



Nobody's suggesting drifting away from "the original ideas of your world," though here I'm interpreting your meaning to be "established details." If there are no airships in the world as established, the players cannot then say they find an airship.

Meanwhile, the DM does a lot more than run the monsters and I'm sure you know that. Collaboration isn't abdication.

Another thought about death and failure.
There seems to be a determination that the story and the characters must go forward at all costs, even if death is 'pushed and pulled' a bit.



There seems to be a preference, sure. Not a determination. And even given the preference, some of us believe that characters should go forward if the players want them to and, if they don't, they don't. The DM or game rules shouldn't decide that for them.

That being said, what is so horrible about the idea of death and or failure ending a campaign?



Nothing, if that's what the players and DMs want. The rules shouldn't necessarily force them into that situation though, in my view.
@thadian - I really like the gist of your reply on the previous page. We talk a lot about "player buy-in" and I think your message about teaching players how you like to play the game is a part of the buy-in. Players and DMs are always going to be teaching each other how they want to play, and running a fun game is going to be about understanding each other. It's a social game that sits on the foundation of everyone getting something out of it. This is why lots of people enjoy the collaboration as opposed to the DM controlling everything. If the players feel ownership, they'll enjoy it more - but that doesn't mean the DM will enjoy less.
Players and DMs are always going to be teaching each other how they want to play, and running a fun game is going to be about understanding each other. It's a social game that sits on the foundation of everyone getting something out of it. This is why lots of people enjoy the collaboration as opposed to the DM controlling everything. If the players feel ownership, they'll enjoy it more - but that doesn't mean the DM will enjoy less.



+1!
No time to respond now, but thanks FamousErik for asking some honest questions. I'll supply honest answers when I can.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

For what its worth, I'm one of the most "Killer" dms I know, and easily and by far in my group (By PC body count and by difficulty of combats). As a player I would never play in a DND game where my PC didn't have a risk of failure or death.


I also have a long running rule in any system that I won't kill your PC if you don't want him to die.


You drop to -11 HP, and I'll simply ask "What do you want to do". If it was an epic climactic important interesting death, most players are willing to say "I think that killed him" and be satisfied. If that death was "Kobold #14 got a lucky crit and it drops you to -11 what do you want to do" the response is usually, "I'm seriously wounded, and won't accept any healing this fiight, but he can't die from that." Or sometimes its even "No hes dead. F that PC, serves him right for doing that bad."


"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"

For what its worth, I'm one of the most "Killer" dms I know, and easily and by far in my group (By PC body count and by difficulty of combats). As a player I would never play in a DND game where my PC didn't have a risk of failure or death.

I also have a long running rule in any system that I won't kill your PC if you don't want him to die.


You drop to -11 HP, and I'll simply ask "What do you want to do". If it was an epic climactic important interesting death, most players are willing to say "I think that killed him" and be satisfied. If that death was "Kobold #14 got a lucky crit and it drops you to -11 what do you want to do" the response is usually, "I'm seriously wounded, and won't accept any healing this fiight, but he can't die from that." Or sometimes its even "No hes dead. F that PC, serves him right for doing that bad."



Cool. I too like to leave such decisions to the only person to whom it really matters - the player of that character. I'm also regularly described as having very challenging adventures and certainly more PCs die in games I'm DMing than games I play in.
@thadian - I really like the gist of your reply on the previous page. We talk a lot about "player buy-in" and I think your message about teaching players how you like to play the game is a part of the buy-in. Players and DMs are always going to be teaching each other how they want to play, and running a fun game is going to be about understanding each other. It's a social game that sits on the foundation of everyone getting something out of it. This is why lots of people enjoy the collaboration as opposed to the DM controlling everything. If the players feel ownership, they'll enjoy it more - but that doesn't mean the DM will enjoy less.



This is why I am so pleasantly surprised that much of the advice here starts with "Did you ask your player..."

I feel everyone in the world has some kind of complex or control issue, and every now and then, some people bring that into the game as their projection. I believe anyone can be taught what part of the self to project, the "you" who needs to show up on friday night. I suppose I can liken it to going to a church; for those who do, they might be more likely to appear as the "self who talks to grandma" opposed to the "self who drinks with homies".

Training a player, is actually the player training you on how to appeal to that person. It is that player having some small ownership in the game, and those 1-shots I talk about? those give the player information about different parts of the world so when they are ready to join my group they will already have a favorite region and know a lot about what a character from that region knows.

I am still dazzled by the concept of telling the players "You enter Karnak the Metalopolis. What do you see?" I mean, seriously. wow. I have described every location in the game to my players multiple times, however I have not really asked them "How do you envision City X to look?" "What could make you pity a person you hate?"  Some of these questions serve 2 purposes.

(1) Asking out of game teaches you something about the person behind the player and instills in them that you care about one of their deeper beliefs about something. (2) It teaches you what kind of allies and enemies the person behind the character already has a disposition for or against.

As for "Player Buy-in", I am only now getting accustomed with the terms you use around these parts. I only made an account because I am lost on how to do my city page in a nice, attractive way. I seem unable to hit the magic solution at this point, so I think I will talk to my players and ask them what they want, and show them a few potential design possibilities.

Edit:  When a character dies I often ask the player how they wish to proceed, and notify them different options to have new life. 3 of them involve keeping the new character with various penalties. One penalty is Deal with the Djinn, who will accept 1 experience level to resurrect you on the spot. (part of your soul).  One penalty is to give the character a trauma, some perma-weaknesses. "You get -4 on all checks versus undead forever".  A third option is that you can be resurrected by the Spirits, who will charge you 2 levels of hit dice (roll them out to determine Max HP Loss).

I also normally structure situations in which there are 3-5 NPC's "nearby" and offer the player to "Adopt an NPC" as their PC. I usually also keep spare characters of similar level range handy, especially making character sheets for NPC's the players seem to like. That also becomes an adoption option. I have a lot of instruments to "not let death ruin the game" however, I give the player what they can handle. Most players I know just want a good "life to death" story, usually with an honorable death. Death can contribute positive things to the game. I allow a gamebreak for cooldown after "big battles", especially where people die. Usually, if given 2 minutes to think, the player will pick to adopt a new character. The only cases where anyone took the deal of the djinn or spirits were players who were really attatched to their characters.

Within; Without.

@ OP
If your players don't want to play the game you want to run and you don't want to run the game they want to play, don't be the DM.

I am running a 4e game right now and I have particular views of how magic items should work, how common they should be, and how often they should come into play with any real relevance. I have a major questline that is the basis of the campaign and, even when we end up wandering off for a random quest or two, we always come back to it after a bit. I like some of the standard rules, I truly dislike some of the others. The ones I like and that make sense stand. The ones I dislike, usually because I don't see the sense and (and this part is essential, in my opinion) my players also dislike, we discard and houserule. I have a sandbox world set up for my players to play in. It is detailed, expansive, and took quite a bit of effort to sting together and make it all make sense, but where they go and when they go there is up to them. Granted, the storyline allows for a lot of freeform play, but that because that is the type of game we all want to be a part of, not because of the rules for our edition.

We play a fairly loose game. If it is all in good fun and won't hurt or hinder another PC, go for it! If it is just friggin cool and it doesn't really effect the mechanics of the game, lets see you rock! You want a challenge? Good! I want to give you one, I handcrafted this NPC to be a pain in your butts and he won't die easy!

I try to keep an open door policy with my players, they know my general schedule and know that if they have any questions or concerns they can shoot me a text and I'll get back to them as soon as I am able. I am just as interested in having a good time as they are, but by DMing and hosting the game I have willingly given a little more of my time to making it work than the average player. The bottom line is that we are getting together to have fun. I don't invite people into my house so they can enjoy themselves while I am slogging along trying to facilitate their good time at my own expense. If it wasn't fun for me I wouldn't want to put in the same amount of effort as the other players, much less put in a greater share. 

Have fun with it! If it isn't fun, you aren't doing it right and should maybe give it a shot from the other side of the table.
I never considered asking the players to describe what they see. I will have to try that. As for "training players", studies of network tv shows have shown some shows which are "new" or "different" from the normal in the genre, "coach" the audience on how to watch the show, I imported that to the game.

Ok, but they do get in-person feedback, too, and a DM has much more access to the others involved. Why not talk to them directly?

I learned that I needed the players to know what "type of world I have" and what "type of game I run" and in that sense, use conditioning methods to show them.

What I don't quite see is why you even have a "type of world" or "type of game." I mean, I don't want to run a really dark horror game, or a game in which I'm playing NPCs being seduced by my male friends, but I don't sit down with an inviolate idea in my head. I used to, but I don't see the use anymore. It just forced me to block people and have to "train" them, and get frustrated when they didn't "get it."

Otherwise, they might pick up Final Fantasy and play it like halo. Nothing wrong with that type of game, of course. However, while "training" a player (naturally throughout the games enculturation of the player learning the table habits and group), they also train me on how to make a game which appeals to them.

Great, but why not just talk to them directly?

I think of the players as an audience only at the drawing board. Once we arrive at the table, I see them as comrades and friends. In this sense, I go into my design targeting them and not myself. I think a lot of DM's are guilty (including me at one time) of designing "my game for me" and using the other players as "participants in my world". I have learned to make it about them. Then it comes back to me in different ways.

Ok, that's just hard to reconcile with things you say like "I needed the players to know what 'type of world' I have." If you're making the world for them, presumably it's based on what they've said they want, so presumably there's not much "training" (I call it "getting buy-in" involved).

That said, you and i seem to speak from different experiences and I don't feel you or I are more or less valid than the other because of subjectivity. I just haven't found any miracle that works for every player, however once I stopped blaming players and looked inside myself, and played some in other peoples games to get a connection to the player experience, I changed everything. Some DM's are DM for so long they forget what the other side of the table is like. I was one of them.

Same here. DMs that have issues in their games are not always in the wrong, but they only have control over so much. And if there's an issue with every group you're in, such as the existance of a rules lawyer, then it makes some statistical sense for the DM to wonder if they themselves are causing some issues.

Centauri:
 You are grabbing my examples and using them as concrete stories. They are just examples to make a point.

They're what I have to base my questions around.

I'm just trying to understand where the enjoyment for a DM comes from if that DM is handing so much over to the players.
What input do you actually seek from players?

The enemies they'd like to fight, the win/loss conditions for the encounter, the location of the encounter, challenges they're interested in overcoming, things they'd like their characters to acquire, details about cities. Anything, really.

Is it "I want to fight giants and get some (offensive/defensive item) plus (large number)"?

They might specify who they want to fight, yes. I ask them for item wishlists, but they tend not to be too concerned about items. One player recently asked to have his character acquire a giant wolf mount, and I accommodated that, with his input. Another latches on to what I'd consider throw-away details, such as the weapons of the enemies, and asks to incorporate those into her character.

How far from your original storyline do you drift?

As far as have to in order not to block my players' ideas.

I recently outlined what I personally wanted to see for the next few sessions, and asked explicitly for input as to whether or not the players thought it would be fun. Some they liked, some they wanted to cut short, some they disliked. Other times, they offer their own suggestions, such as one player who wanted a side quest in the Feywild that primarily involved his character.

If you are willing to drift completely away from the original ideas of your world, at what point do you just become the guy who runs the monsters?

At no point, because if I drift entirely away from my original idea of the world that means I've drifted into some other idea, and I'm adding on to that. That idea will probably also change as the players and I come up with stuff. I don't get attached to anything, because getting attached means having to block ideas in order to preserve that thing.

Another thought about death and failure.
There seems to be a determination that the story and the characters must go forward at all costs, even if death is 'pushed and pulled' a bit.

You misunderstand. The "determination" is that the game must continue to be interesting, no matter what. If death and failure can be made interesting, then there's no need to avoid them. It's tricky to make death interesting, even if the character's "spirit" survives, because death tends to be a threshold that separates parties and puts at least one person out of the game for stretches of times. That's rather boring, compared to playing the game.

Failure can very easily be made interesting, but not all failure is interesting.

Now we have to keep in mind that we have all participated in campaigns that lasted for 2 sessions, or 0 sessions, or faded off because of work schedules or girlfriends or whatever.
That being said, what is so horrible about the idea of death and or failure ending a campaign?
Sometimes you pack it up and say "Tony? Didn't you want to start a Viking based campaign? Lets do that in a few weeks"
Its not like there is money on the line. Its not like campaigns don't end even when we want them to go on.

We're not talking about death or failure ending a campaign. We're talking about death kicking a player out of the game partway through the evening, or failure resulting in a deadend that gives the players nothing interesting to do. At worst, death kicks out one player, and results in a boring return to town or something for the others. Why would we ever stand for that kind of waste of time?

So, the characters bunch up and charge straight into the dragons cave, and 2 rounds later nothing is left but the sweet smell of BBQed dwarf. (as actually happened to finish off a previous campaign years ago) We can create new characters and outfit them with a bunch of stuff that has no meaning to them, and the characters have little connection with what has happened and they can tackle the dragon or head off into new directions, OR we can have a few laughs about some spectacular fights, finish the chips and head home.

That's absolutely fine, if that's the expectation. That's only one kind of death/failure scenario, though.

I often struggle with the idea of PCs never actually dying. If there is no threat, what is the point?

"Never actually dying" doesn't mean "not threatened." Death is not the only way to fail. The entire Fellowship of the Ring might have survived, yet still failed.

I've had some players who would actually get very upset at the notion that their character could actually die. But does this mean it should never happen? That seems lame.

No, that's not what it means. We're talking about boring failure. Death doesn't have to be boring. Some death is epic. Most death isn't.

The conclusion I've come to is that if D&D is like a book or movie or TV show, well, the main characters don't die much and if they do, it is a BIG deal. And I think that is how it should be.

Exactly.

We used to have a "stupid" rule. If you do something stupid, yeah, you may die. And the DM makes this clear. If the PC wants to try to jump a 15 foot wide lava stream, well, that's stupid. If you make your jump, well then fine. If not, you DIE. The trick there though is that different people have different takes on what "stupid" actually is.

Why is death the only way to fail that maneuver? Why not being off balance for a round, or losing a piece of equipment, or having a failed roll means judging the distance as too far and backing off? Why put in an obstacle like that, that has death as its only failure mode?

Also, here are some things that make being a DM worth it:

- When I set up a scenario and the heroes take it in a totally different and better direction than I ever thought of.

Yes. The collaborative mode makes this even easier.
- When the session is over and everyone enthusiastically talks about how awesome it was

Yes. Collaboration helps with this.
- When a big plot point is revealed and everyone is blown away.

I was never happy with my players' reactions to big reveals, until I started getting more collaborative and they became more engaged.

- When a big fight is going on and everybody is totally into it.

Yes, which I see more of now that the players help me come up with encounters that they will be totally into.

- When the heroes become attached to one of your NPCs and actually go visit them just to interact and check up on them - when they actually care about them. I have one NPC right now and the players love it when I do her voice, so they go out of their way to ask her questions.

Yes. Another thing player collaboration helps with.   

Training a player, is actually the player training you on how to appeal to that person. It is that player having some small ownership in the game, and those 1-shots I talk about? those give the player information about different parts of the world so when they are ready to join my group they will already have a favorite region and know a lot about what a character from that region knows.

All fine and good. It's just that there's no reason why players can't have large ownership in the game, and give the DM and fellow players information about different parts of the world, so that when they're ready to join the group they're already engaged in the world.

I am still dazzled by the concept of telling the players "You enter Karnak the Metalopolis. What do you see?" I mean, seriously. wow. I have described every location in the game to my players multiple times, however I have not really asked them "How do you envision City X to look?" "What could make you pity a person you hate?"

This is the real power of collaboration. In fact, my full-bore collaborative effort began when the players were about to enter a new city and I realized that I was going to be endlessly explaining its layout and other details. So I gave them a few basic parameters and asked them what they thought it would look like. It turned out to be massively better than what was in the module, and to this day each of my players could describe it to you in detail.

  Some of these questions serve 2 purposes.

(1) Asking out of game teaches you something about the person behind the player and instills in them that you care about one of their deeper beliefs about something. (2) It teaches you what kind of allies and enemies the person behind the character already has a disposition for or against.

Exactly. It tells you the kinds of interesting (and not all positive) situations the player wants the character to get into.

As for "Player Buy-in", I am only now getting accustomed with the terms you use around these parts. I only made an account because I am lost on how to do my city page in a nice, attractive way. I seem unable to hit the magic solution at this point, so I think I will talk to my players and ask them what they want, and show them a few potential design possibilities.

"Player buy-in" has always been a thing, but it's too heavily assumed. DMs assume that just because the players have sat down at their table, they are obligated to be interested in anything the DM gives them. They assume that just because death and failure are possibilities, the players will be okay with any death and any failure. That assumption was never reliable, despite the efforts of many to show that they are open to any consequences and therefore others should be too.

Edit:  When a character dies I often ask the player how they wish to proceed, and notify them different options to have new life. 3 of them involve keeping the new character with various penalties. One penalty is Deal with the Djinn, who will accept 1 experience level to resurrect you on the spot. (part of your soul).  One penalty is to give the character a trauma, some perma-weaknesses. "You get -4 on all checks versus undead forever".  A third option is that you can be resurrected by the Spirits, who will charge you 2 levels of hit dice (roll them out to determine Max HP Loss).

And the only thing that differentiates that from full collaboration is the DM asking for player suggestions for penalties the DM hadn't considered.

I also normally structure situations in which there are 3-5 NPC's "nearby" and offer the player to "Adopt an NPC" as their PC. I usually also keep spare characters of similar level range handy, especially making character sheets for NPC's the players seem to like. That also becomes an adoption option. I have a lot of instruments to "not let death ruin the game" however, I give the player what they can handle. Most players I know just want a good "life to death" story, usually with an honorable death. Death can contribute positive things to the game. I allow a gamebreak for cooldown after "big battles", especially where people die. Usually, if given 2 minutes to think, the player will pick to adopt a new character. The only cases where anyone took the deal of the djinn or spirits were players who were really attatched to their characters.

That's great. You have "trapdoors" for lost characters. I highly encourage this. Death doesn't have to be avoided, only death that's boring for the players has to be avoided.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.



I learned that I needed the players to know what "type of world I have" and what "type of game I run" and in that sense, use conditioning methods to show them.

What I don't quite see is why you even have a "type of world" or "type of game." I mean, I don't want to run a really dark horror game, or a game in which I'm playing NPCs being seduced by my male friends, but I don't sit down with an inviolate idea in my head. I used to, but I don't see the use anymore. It just forced me to block people and have to "train" them, and get frustrated when they didn't "get it."


I think this leads back to my origin thought.
What if the players want a dark horror story with the NPC's being suduced by the male players? Its clearly something you won't enjoy.
Do you block the idea?
What if half the players want that and the others want a ....um, 'disneyesque' experience?

 
I think this leads back to my origin thought.
What if the players want a dark horror story with the NPC's being suduced by the male players? Its clearly something you won't enjoy.
Do you block the idea?
What if half the players want that and the others want a ....um, 'disneyesque' experience? 



Blocking occurs in the context of game play, not before and not after.

What you're talking about is discussed during Session Zero when the group works toward consensus on what type of game to play.
I learned that I needed the players to know what "type of world I have" and what "type of game I run" and in that sense, use conditioning methods to show them.

What I don't quite see is why you even have a "type of world" or "type of game." I mean, I don't want to run a really dark horror game, or a game in which I'm playing NPCs being seduced by my male friends, but I don't sit down with an inviolate idea in my head. I used to, but I don't see the use anymore. It just forced me to block people and have to "train" them, and get frustrated when they didn't "get it."

I think this leads back to my origin thought.
What if the players want a dark horror story with the NPC's being suduced by the male players?
Its clearly something you won't enjoy.
Do you block the idea?

No. I would tell them upfront that I'm not interested in that type of game or situation, and find some kind of compromise with them. This might involve us going our separate ways.

Blocking the idea would be using the rules and DM fiat to shut down their ideas.

Player: "I want to seduce the NPC."

DM: "No." (This would just lead to arguments about why the player should be able to, and excuses about why they aren't.)
DM: "Ok, roll." but makes the roll impossibly high. (A bandaid solution, and dishonest.)
DM: "Yes," but causes there to be some horrific consequence. (Dishonest, and likely not to teach the intended lesson.)
DM: "Time out. I'm not comfortable with that, but if you all want that in the game, and you all can help me work out a way to do it that doesn't make me uncomfortable, I'm all for it." (Honest, and willing to compromise.)

Same with a horror scenario, or whatever the players want that the DM's not comfortable with, and vice versa.

What if half the players want that and the others want a ....um, 'disneyesque' experience?

Same thing. Pause the game (or, ideally, talk about expectations before the game begins) and reach a compromise, and perhaps part ways.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I attempt to be inclusive of every idea, and if a player wants to seduce an NPC, that is something I work out before the game; maybe their character has an NPC like a wife or girlfriend figure. If one player wants a dark fantasy element and the others don't, I will attempt to shift gears and as Centauri notes above, fish for a solution which at minimal, doesn't make anyone uncomfortable.

Therefore a player who wants to **** an npc/pc, use charm/thrall for sex scenes or hostel type of scenery, I will tell that player that while these elements can be incorporated into the background of the character they will not be enacted at the table. I would also very seriously consider not gaming with such a person no matter how badly the other players wanted them present.


As for why I needed to train Players about my world is because I had designed a world, and run a few years of games from it, and as some players left the group, other players came in and needed to be caught up to speed. My way was an efficient means to integrate and enculturate them into our table habits, ettiquite, rules and world without disturbing the ongoing game. The world was successful, and alive and there was no reason to disturb or perturb that balance. However, my group is slowing down and soon I will be looking for another.

One option is to meet with them a few times to explain my world. I have nice world, and regional maps, about 40 homebrew classes and 30 or so races (some are just tweaked versions of existing content).Every element of the classes, skills, and templates was designed asking "In this region, what are the roles of the heroes and what abilities reflect that?" Each region has about 8 common classes and 8 races affiliated with it. I often start by handing a player "The Book" which guides the player through character creation. The process is designed that the player will state the type of character they want, then I will present all options which lead in that way. If for some reason the player wants something else, I ask what they like about classes I have and further define what they want, and whip something up.

The other option is to create a new world, which starts by asking and affirming what kind of world, what kind of cultures and people, heroes and villians the players want; Then, I meet them each separately for a one-shot game, gather feedback and prepare a group session out of that. One session for character creation and world finalization, a second for the "first game". That was how I created this world I have now, anyway and now I realize I have been taking it for granted instead of granite.

Within; Without.

Centari.
Ultimately, you may find yourself DMing a game is which you are not enjoying the content. Even a compromised consensus can product a game world you don't like.
Eg. "we still want as much dark horror content as you are able to put in" 

Is that fair to you? Is the fulltime super enjoyment of the players worth having a DM who isn't having fun? The Dm is playing as well.
Do we really have to treat the players with such kid gloves? As if their delicate egos can't handle not getting everything they want all the time?

(I know this is not a fair analogy but...)
Do we do the same thing when playing other games?
Do we fudge the rolls while playing monopoly so that no one gets kicked out of the game early? Or have the players choose what community chest card they get because they don't like the result?



Centari.
Ultimately, you may find yourself DMing a game is which you are not enjoying the content. Even a compromised consensus can product a game world you don't like.
Eg. "we still want as much dark horror content as you are able to put in" 

Is that fair to you? Is the fulltime super enjoyment of the players worth having a DM who isn't having fun? The Dm is playing as well.
Do we really have to treat the players with such kid gloves? As if their delicate egos can't handle not getting everything they want all the time?

(I know this is not a fair analogy but...)
Do we do the same thing when playing other games?
Do we fudge the rolls while playing monopoly so that no one gets kicked out of the game early? Or have the players choose what community chest card they get because they don't like the result?

No, and it's a good thing that nobody's been saying any of that.

Now if they had, that wouldv'e been a very good rebuttal, but inventing an argument, rebutting it, and pretending that Centauri made the argument you rebutted does not count as rebutting what he actually said.

Founder - but not owner - of Just Say Yes!

Member of LGBT Gamers

Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
Why there should be the option to use alignment systems:
Show
If some people are heavily benefiting from the inclusion of alignment, then it would behoove those that AREN'T to listen up and pay attention to how those benefits are being created and enjoyed, no? -YagamiFire
But equally important would be for those who do enjoy those benefits to entertain the possibility that other people do not value those benefits equally or, possibly, do not see them as benefits in the first place. -wrecan (RIP)
That makes sense. However, it is not fair to continually attack those that benefit for being, somehow, deviant for deriving enjoyment from something that you cannot. Instead, alignment is continually attacked...it is demonized...and those that use it are lumped in with it.

 

I think there is more merit in a situation where someone says "This doesn't work! It's broken!" and the reply is "Actually it works fine for me. Have you considered your approach might be causing it?"

 

than a situation where someone says "I use this system and the way I use it works really well!" and the back and forth is "No! It is a broken bad system!" -YagamiFire

I continue to hate splitting up people's posts into separate quotes. Takes up so much space. Anyways.

I completely understand what the OP is getting at in regards to advice on the forum, and how that translates to fun for the DM. From my experience, 4th Edition has brought limelight on different DMing styles that were very uncommon in the past.

I used to view DMing where the DM creates a world, and the players run it into the ground with shenanigans or just awesome roleplaying and adventures. In a lot of ways, I still see it that way. When I play in a game, I want my DM to set me up in world so that I can make decisions that affect my character in life and death. I want to add my own personal twist or spin to an element to make it my own. So, that is essentially how I would approach DMing. I create a world, and let the players put their own spin on it.

 The common collaborative approach often mentioned I think is just one way to go about it as some have already said. I really don't see myself taking all of their advice and using it, but it certainly has a place in the game where you feel it's warranted.

Basically, what I'm getting at, is whatever your style is, there is going to be a group of players near you who greatly enjoy it. All you have to do is find them. If your players want to run a horror game and you don't tell them you're not interested and find some other players who find what you think is fun also fun.
Centari.
Ultimately, you may find yourself DMing a game is which you are not enjoying the content. Even a compromised consensus can product a game world you don't like.
Eg. "we still want as much dark horror content as you are able to put in"

A collaborative environment means that I, as well as the other players, have copious amounts of freedom to create what we enjoy about a particular setting or game.

I don't understand your example.

Is that fair to you? Is the fulltime super enjoyment of the players worth having a DM who isn't having fun? The Dm is playing as well.

Of course they are. And if they're not having fun, they have as much right as any other player to pause the game and ask for changes.

Too often what happens is that a DM, afraid of their fun being degraded, will clamp down on ideas or actions that might take the game in a different direction. That has a strong tendency to make the players feel as if their thoughts don't matter, that they are just playing for the DM's enjoyment. If a DM finds themselves doing that, then they're better off taking a break from the game and getting everyone on the same page again.

Do we really have to treat the players with such kid gloves? As if their delicate egos can't handle not getting everything they want all the time?

The use of hyperbole in those questions tell me that they are assumptions, not questions. I'll answer any honest questions you have, though.

(I know this is not a fair analogy but...)
Do we do the same thing when playing other games?
Do we fudge the rolls while playing monopoly so that no one gets kicked out of the game early? Or have the players choose what community chest card they get because they don't like the result?

Once you understand why that's not a fair analogy, you'll have some answers to all the questions your assumptions won't let you ask.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Centari.
Ultimately, you may find yourself DMing a game is which you are not enjoying the content. Even a compromised consensus can product a game world you don't like.



No, you don't and won't. You're not obligated to play a game you don't like. As Centauri has stated, sometimes that means you don't play with that group. It's just that simple.

Is that fair to you? Is the fulltime super enjoyment of the players worth having a DM who isn't having fun? The Dm is playing as well.



Why would a DM run a game in which he's not having fun? You seem to believe it's all one way or the other. Collaboration is not like that.

Do we really have to treat the players with such kid gloves? As if their delicate egos can't handle not getting everything they want all the time?



They should certainly get what they want out of their entertainment time. DMs should, too. It's easy if you collaborate. It's not worth one second of my time to sit down to play something I don't like.

(I know this is not a fair analogy



You're right.

Do we do the same thing when playing other games?



Other games are irrelevant to the discussion.

Do we fudge the rolls while playing monopoly so that no one gets kicked out of the game early? Or have the players choose what community chest card they get because they don't like the result?



Monopoly is a competition between players. D&D is not.

I wonder exactly what you fear about including player ideas in the game.
Centari.
Ultimately, you may find yourself DMing a game is which you are not enjoying the content. Even a compromised consensus can product a game world you don't like.
Eg. "we still want as much dark horror content as you are able to put in" 

Is that fair to you? Is the fulltime super enjoyment of the players worth having a DM who isn't having fun? The Dm is playing as well.

If the players are not willing to compromise and want what they want, you as the DM always have the ability to state, "I'm sorry, but I am uncomfortable DMing that sort of campaign.  maybe I am not the DM for this group." and then you stand up and walk away.  As has been said before on these forums no game is better than a bad game.

Do we really have to treat the players with such kid gloves? As if their delicate egos can't handle not getting everything they want all the time?

No we do not, but there is such a thing as compromise and consensus.  But if the players are in an "entitled" mood then the DM has the right to not DM.

(I know this is not a fair analogy but...)
Do we do the same thing when playing other games?
Do we fudge the rolls while playing monopoly so that no one gets kicked out of the game early? Or have the players choose what community chest card they get because they don't like the result?

Actually, ironically, when I was kid, when kids and adults played board games together, yes the adults would bend/break the rules to keep the kids in the game as long as possible.

 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

Are you really "entitled to your opinion"?
RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
What does it mean for a player to be "entitled?"

Entitled to get the most fun out of his or her choice of entertainment? Because I definitely think they're entitled to that, just like the DM is. 
What does it mean for a player to be "entitled?"

Entitled to get the most fun out of his or her choice of entertainment? Because I definitely think they're entitled to that, just like the DM is. 



In this case, "entitled" means getting what they want regardless of its effects and/or at the expense of others, namely the DM.

 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

Are you really "entitled to your opinion"?
RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
I think this leads back to my origin thought.
What if the players want a dark horror story with the NPC's being suduced by the male players? Its clearly something you won't enjoy.
Do you block the idea?
What if half the players want that and the others want a ....um, 'disneyesque' experience? 



Blocking occurs in the context of game play, not before and not after.

What you're talking about is discussed during Session Zero when the group works toward consensus on what type of game to play.



Not everyone uses "Session Zero".

To assume this is standard practice is folly.

Blocking can occur before and after this "session zero" as well. Sometimes, what you want and what the players want change after said discussion. For once, could you please offer up something other than "this is a non-existent problem"? 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
What does it mean for a player to be "entitled?"

Entitled to get the most fun out of his or her choice of entertainment? Because I definitely think they're entitled to that, just like the DM is. 



In this case, "entitled" means getting what they want regardless of its effects and/or at the expense of others, namely the DM.



This is by and far, the largest issue and most common meaning behind player entitlement.

I like to deal with this by being a real bastard and killing all the PCs with lightning.

I mean. I like to deal with this by giving a bunch of things no one wants.

I mean. I like to deal with this by telling my players to suck it up.

I mean. I like to deal with this by modding my content to better suit my players...WITHOUT talking to them beforehand. I'm there to create a game, not ask permission. Er, yeah. That one, I mean this time.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/