The tale of a really bad DM

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Since it's almost Halloween, this is just a horror story for all you D&D fans :-) The story of a terrible DM.
The guy in question is not going to DM anymore (he just told us he prefers playing) so there's no real problem, except I'm not sure if we should tell him how we feel about his DMing. He's a cool guy and a good friend but he just turned out to be the worst DM I've ever had.
So, if you're in the mood for a story, here goes:

As I said, this is a nice guy but he does have a tendency towards attention-seeking and spotlightmania. When I was DMing for our group, he was always the one who wanted to do crazy stuff, which is fine as long as he doesn't overshadow the other players. Anyway, when my mini-campaign was over, he told the group he wanted to DM for us in a world of his own creation. That sounded fine, so we agreed.

It started out pretty okay. We arrived in a splendorous city (basically Minas Tirith) where a tournament was going on. The idea behind this tournament was to find four "chosen ones" to defeat the dark lord. Of course, we were all participants in this tournament and of course, we won it. It was a very easy fight but I suppose we needed to win for the plot to work out. It was just a bit disappointing that he used completely featureless terrain and incredibly easy enemies.

We were at level... 2 or 3 when we were already proclaimed to be the great heroes who were to save the world. Several high-level PCs met with us in a Council of Elrond-type scene, including... The DM's own character from my previous campaign. It turns out this character was the son of the dark lord, and he had helped defeat him many years ago. While he and the wizards and warriors who summoned us all seemed to be much more powerful than us, we were still tasked to find a number of incredibly important items for a magic ritual that would stop the dark lord.
We pretty much found everything we needed in a single session. I vividly recall the moment when we had gotten hold of an item and were on our way back when the DM described that suddenly, behind us, a GIANT ARMY of skeletons was gaining on us and we had to run... Luckily, before us stood... the DM's powerful wizard NPC who summoned a WALL OF FIRE à la Moses and the Red Sea, and destroyed the entire army for us in one go. Yeah, that made us feel really special and... useful.

And this is where it got really bad... In one of the next sessions, it turned out that the white city was about to be besieged so... Someone had to protect it by raising its magical defenses. To do this, we had to travel to four towers spread around the city, and raise the magical barriers from each one. It didn't bother me that this reminded me an awful lot of a certain scene from a certain movie/book, but it bothered me enormously that the DM just TOLD us that we had to do this and that we HAD to spread out. There were four players so each PC was given one tower to defend...

It then turned out that each player, individually, was given the exact same situation: arriving at the tower and finding an evil lieutenant of the dark lord on the tower, who then proceded to laugh at us evilly. That's IT. FOUR TIMES. Throughout, you could tell he was grasping for straws in trying to come up with things to happen, while never relinquishing any control over the story to the players.

This is where the session ended. After this, we talked to the guy and gently told him he needed to prepare his sessions more and needed to allow the players to be a bit more free. One of the other players and myself are a bit more experienced as DMs whereas he was completely new at it. In a lengthy phone conversation with him he admitted he felt he could use some guidance and so I told him about the importance of letting the story grow and not trying to be super-epic right away, of player freedom, of having interesting tactical encounters... My other friend also talked to him privately and assured me he was going to really prepare this time.

Some time passed before he continued his campaign but not too long ago he told us that he was going to finish the story in one final epic session. He told me my tips had really helped him and this time it was going to be great and there were going to be important choices that would completely change the outcome of the story! So I got excited, convinced that we were really going to roleplay and have fun this time.

Alas... That last session turned out to be the worst RPG I have ever experienced. It was absolutely terrible. Beforehand, he had told us all it was time to level up, so we all leveled our characters to 4, printed new character sheets and power cards, ready to rumble... And then he took out the wet-erase map and started drawing out those four towers again and I felt queezy. Oh, no... Not the four towers again. Even worse, this time, they were all on the same map, even though they were supposed to be many miles apart, with no indication where one "area" ended and another began. Also, those mighty defense towers were about three squares wide.

The fight that followed was absolutely dreadful. Each of us was pitted against 2 skeleton minions. Nothing very exciting or hard... But guess what... Whenever we killed one (which was almost automatic because they were so easy to kill) Another skeleton appeared and took its place IMMEDIATELY, in the same square, the same turn! It was literally a case of picking up the miniature and then hearing from the DM "put it back, a new one takes its place".
At that point, I was suffering and just waiting for it to be over. This fight took about... 3 turns... There was nothing to do, everything was incredibly unclear, and then...
Then some dragons appeared out of nowhere with elflike beings riding them. They approached us and asked us if we wanted to hop on. I'm not sure but I think this was supposed to be the big choice that would change the outcome of the story because it was the first moment I recall when we were actually allowed to say anything as our characters. Some choice... Standing in a battlefield surrounded by endlessly regenerating skeletons or joining a strange helpful dragon rider. So we got on the dragon and... The dragon riders were apparently beings of an ancient and powerful race because they then proceded to summon a FIRE GOD who destroyed ALL the bad guys in one go. They then summoned a giant tornado and asked us to jump in. No longer caring what happened to our characters, we all jumped into the tornado and passed out.

We awoke in what was basically Lothlorién, where all of the DM's pet NPCs joined us and a lengthy exposition followed, explaining who the riders were but I didn't care much anymore.
We were told by the DM's mighty wizard that we were incredible, awesome heroes for some reason, even though I can't recall doing ANYTHING even slightly heroic.
We were then told that the dark one was not fully defeated yet and we had to collect a number of superpowerful magic items around the world. We then were given the incredible choice of... which item to look for first! This was the next game-changing big choice, and also the last one, because as soon as we had decided, the game ended.

"Well, that's it" he said. "I'm ending on a cliffhanger so we may someday continue but for now, I'm sick of DMing" and then he immediately changed the subject. He never asked us what we thought of the campaign or anything, which I think means he knows it was bad.

Now, I really like this guy, but I was seriously p'd off that he had told us it was going to be different and he had learned from our tips and he just continued in the same direction as before, just... even WORSE. There was no interaction, there was no roleplaying, there was no gaming because I highly suspect his skeletons didn't even HAVE any stats... In fact, there was nothing to constitute an RPG, it was just a guy telling a story. A story full of holes, at that. Now, he's good at the delivery of it all, I'll give him that. But that's not an RPG, it's just a bad live audiobook. And he had specifically asked us to level up... So we had done that, printed our new charsheets, cut out the power cards and inserted them into card sleeves... The whole thing. And all for what? Not one skill or power was needed during this adventure. It was so dreadful we didn't even know what to say to him... We just avoided the subject and now there' this uncomfortable feeling... We're all hoping he's not going to ask us what we thought of his campaign...

Here ends my tale of doom and terror

That's what happens when the DM didn't read the DMG...
He does own that book, though. And I agree, it's a great book, very helpful.
I don't know what it was... Laziness or stubbornness but he told us he was going to follow our advice and then didn't do it. And we were all quietly bored and annoyed as a result.
Well, consider yourselves lucky that at least he was the kind of bad DM that wanted you to win and be awesome (even if it was boring) instead of the kind of bad DM that wanted to prove how cool he was by killing your characters in ways that there was nothing you could do about it, then telling you that you suck, then flipping the table when you don't bow down before his incredible story-telling skills.

Sounds like everything worked out okay though.  He's done DMing for a while and you can move on to something else.  Could have been much worse!

Also, kudos for handling the situation well.

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

"Your ability to summon a horde of celestial superbeings at will is making my ... BMX skills look a bit redundant."

"People treat their lack of imagination as if it's the measure of what's silly. Which is silly." - Noon

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”

Well, consider yourselves lucky that at least he was the kind of bad DM that wanted you to win and be awesome (even if it was boring) instead of the kind of bad DM that wanted to prove how cool he was by killing your characters in ways that there was nothing you could do about it, then telling you that you suck, then flipping the table when you don't bow down before his incredible story-telling skills.

Sounds like everything worked out okay though.  He's done DMing for a while and you can move on to something else.  Could have been much worse!

Also, kudos for handling the situation well.

Yeah, he's a good guy, fortunately.
And I've never encountered anyone like you're describing but I have heard stories...

Anyway, thanks
Reminds me of www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=6..." title="www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=6...">this epic tale.



You've got some busted code in there - looks like you left out the "http://" at the front of the URL and the forum mangled it.

But DM Of The Rings?  Awesome.
Confused about Stealth? Think "invisibility" means "take the mini off the board to make people guess?" You need to check out The Rules Of Hidden Club.
Damage types and resistances: A working house rule.
He does own that book, though. And I agree, it's a great book, very helpful.
I don't know what it was... Laziness or stubbornness but he told us he was going to follow our advice and then didn't do it. And we were all quietly bored and annoyed as a result.


Owning the book is completely different from reading and understanding it.
Salla, on minions: I typically use them as encounter filler. 'I didn't quite fill out the XP budget, not enough room left for a decent near-level monster ... sprinkle in a few minions'. Kind of like monster styrofoam packing peanuts.
Oh cool, terrible DM contest? I'm down.

My terrible DM gave the Paladin Holy Adversary's Armor (cloth armor with a daily power requiring Oath of Emnity, thus tailor made for an Avenger). When it was pointed out to him that paladins wear plate, he claimed to have forgotten that.

How much do you have to forget about heroic fantasy to not remember that paladins wear plate?

....more than you ever knew to begin with, apparently.

He was constantly calling for us to make "reflex saves" and the like (in a 4e game). The armor I mentioned above was one of four items the party of 6 got over the course of 3 levels ("I want magic items in my game to be rare and special" ...it's not your game, we're rotating, it's everybody's game, and we discussed house rules like item rarity before we started playing and you didn't say anything). I think we got enough gold to cover one of the levels we'd played.

Our 3+ hour sessions rarely saw more than one combat encounter while he was DMing, despite getting 2 full combats per session under all other DMs. This was mainly because, due to some real world stuff, our group ended up without a striker. Oh, and this DM LOVED to use brutes, so we saw them in every encounter. Despite not having a striker to dish out tons of damage.

Let's see.....oh, and roughly every other encounter was an ambush. Even if we were in a tavern or something and talking to the people we were about to fight, full well knowing we were about to fight them, somehow they'd still manage to get a surprise round. And even if they didn't their lowest initiative roll was always higher than our highest, so he'd do all his monsters turns, then we'd do all our player turns.

...except for the players who got skipped that round because he could never figure out how to track initiative without screwing up.

Speaking of combat,  he always telegraphed his boss fights. He'd do some big dramatic "cut scene" where the bad guy "mocks" us (except while this guy is very boisterous and friendly, he's nowhere near as charismatic or witty as he thinks he us, so the speeches were always dumb and pun-filled). Then all the bad guys would go, with the BBEG wading directly into combat. Cue the whole party focus-firing on BBEG, with APs and dailies, resulting in the BBEG not seeing round two of combat (I mean, when the PACIFIST cleric is dishing out damage to you...you're the BBEG).

It wasn't like his turns took forever because there were lots of monsters, either, because when he'd throw hard encounters at us (level +3 or more) he'd do so by using fewer, higher level monsters, sometimes as high as 5 levels above us ("oh, but it's a brute, so it has lower defenses!" ...and twice as much HP!) No, his turn took forever because he had to, in great detail, describe just exactly what each monster was attempting to do, then shake the dice cup for several seconds, then spend another several seconds trying to add in an attack bonus. Then assuming a hit, shake the dice cup several more seconds, then spend another several adding up damage dealt.

But none of these things are the worst (okay the armor issue was a very close second). The worst thing he did was not take advice/criticism. When I pointed out that the initiative tracking issue could be easily solved by just using a few index cards with names and initiative rolls on them, he went out and spent +$20 on this thing, a cool, neat little marker board with little magnets and all sorts of cool little indicators to track initiative! ...which he utterly failed to properly track initiative with, constantly skipping somebody.

I pointed out that, without a striker, brutes are a bad monster to use, especially one above our level, because they are huge bags of hit points. He winds up putting an Elite Brute at level +5 as a boss fight. Naturally, it turned into a very boring tank-and-spank.

Yeah, no, he's never DMing for us again. I certainly won't play under him ever again.

...sorry about the rant, felt good to get all of that off my chest.

"Not only are you wrong, but I even created an Excel spreadsheet to show you how wrong you are." --James Wyatt, May 2006

Dilige, et quod vis fac

reminds me of Cannonballs & Elemental Farts: the session. the bad... BAD... session. i think the only upside to that wasted afternoon was that i got to to see the most epic "ragequit" D&D ever.

the guy who GMed this game was... bad. he had a sense of humor that was... unique and wasn't one to hold back on it.

the warning signs started when, after the party's rogue decided to go exploring behind the "do not enter" signs into the ship's power room, he described the airships as "airships powered by fire elemental farts", which he couldn't say without giggling like a schoolgirl at the word "titmouse". 

and it only got worse when he was describing airship to airship combat as "cannonballs... BOUNCING off each other" (i still remember him actually inserting the dramatic pause before and the heavy emphasis on the word bouncing) expecting us to be amazed and repeated this several times, while we (the players) were making little to no impact on in-game events.

and that was probably the worst of all: we stood and watched on deck as stuff happened around us, unable to affect the situation since as level 1 mooks we coudn't really say "**** this noise" and rappel down from the ships. 

things kept going from bad to worse as he kept added his own unique brand of humor to what was supposed to be a climactic "2 airships fight above a city" and when none of the players were responding to it, he added more.

when the enemy airship finally went down (and he was describing this happening pretty close to the city's center) the enemy airship somehow managed to glide past the city limits and crash, all while having the structual stability of a broken, flying titanic. and to top it off, no collateral damage at all from all the missed cannonballs to city below. 

at this point another player had had enough of the game. he got up, gave a cold & incredulous look (as though he could not fathom the events that just happened) at the GM, ripped is character sheet in twain, flung both parts at the GM then up and left. me and the other guy just sat there holding back our laughter, thanked the gm for the unique session and left.
3rd ed SRD, character sheets, errata & free modules 4th ed test drive - modules, starter rules, premade characters and character builder & character sheet, errata Free maps and portraits, dice, printable graph paper, campaign managing website, image manipulation program + token maker & zone markers

"All right, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back. GET MAD! I DON'T WANT YOUR **** LEMONS! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THESE?! DEMAND TO SEE LIFE'S MANAGER! Make life RUE the day it thought it could give CAVE JOHNSON LEMONS! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?! I'M THE MAN WHO'S GONNA BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN! WITH THE LEMONS! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that's gonna BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN!" -Cave Johnson, Portal 2
Yeah oxybe I've seen that story a few times now. Always entertaining. I imagine that guy as being a nine year old in the body of a full grown man.

"Not only are you wrong, but I even created an Excel spreadsheet to show you how wrong you are." --James Wyatt, May 2006

Dilige, et quod vis fac

he's not actually that bad when he's part of the group. i've played a few sessions before and after with him, and even though he's got a few oddities, they're much more subdued when he's part of the crowd rather then sitting at it's head.
3rd ed SRD, character sheets, errata & free modules 4th ed test drive - modules, starter rules, premade characters and character builder & character sheet, errata Free maps and portraits, dice, printable graph paper, campaign managing website, image manipulation program + token maker & zone markers

"All right, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back. GET MAD! I DON'T WANT YOUR **** LEMONS! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THESE?! DEMAND TO SEE LIFE'S MANAGER! Make life RUE the day it thought it could give CAVE JOHNSON LEMONS! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?! I'M THE MAN WHO'S GONNA BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN! WITH THE LEMONS! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that's gonna BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN!" -Cave Johnson, Portal 2

We were at level... 2 or 3 when we were already proclaimed to be the great heroes who were to save the world. Several high-level PCs met with us in a Council of Elrond-type scene, including... The DM's own character from my previous campaign.



That is a warning sign right there.  The one really bad DM I have ever had brought back his old PCs from an earlier campaign.  And they were the characters the story revolved around once they appeared.

DMs should only bring their old PCs into their stories if they have them die for a major plot point in the first session, preferably in the first 30 minutes or so.  Having them appear as comic relief might be ok.
i was thinking about it and another one comes to mind:

the GM had many traits of the bad GM, which we dropped subtle hints to hopefully encourage change like "we're not fond of the two Deus Ex Homos that follows us" to "why should our characters care about this? is there actually any impact that we should worry about?"

-we started at level 7... but no gear other then a single "cursed" dagger. it was cursed to never leave our side and supposedly taboo. we found them convenient.

-oh and the casters started with their spellbooks/divine focus. yeah, let that sink in for a bit and compare the melee guys VS casters at this point. fighter has a heavy stick. wizard has "polymorph", "flight" & "invisibility". 

-the plot featured heavy amounts of Pixelbitching: it was an "open world", but nothing really happened until we went to the right place and did the right thing. this often required us to wander aimlessly until an NPC dropped a "GO HERE!" on us since we couldn't think like the GM

-speaking of NPCs, there were 2 Deus Ex Homo in it. for those who don't speak latin, it means God's man: the DMPC. well, one was technically a woman, but still, this pair of DMPCs, and i honestly can't remember their actual purpose, simply followed us, sat out combat and lived to bail us out in the most freeform-ly brutal fashion. guy was a big fan of the Devil May Cry / God of War / Bayonetta type of games where you had these extremely flashy and/or gory murders by sword.

-our characters were actually a team with some backstory as to why they would work together, and we did... unfortunately the plot wasn't anything we actually cared about. he kept throwing bigger and bigger and flashier plot hooks at us when we were pretty much interested in something that wasn't just "BIG HORRIBLE THING ESCAPED FROM X, HELP PCs" and we were "Why? We're trying to uncover what is actually cursed about this dagger other then it's stuck at our side/we want to return to our commanding officers and family to let them know we're ok/etc..."

after a few sessions of our requests being ignored and our fighter got killed by "thing with DR that unoptimized fighter & barb can't murder without magic weapon" my wizard handed a rope to the barbarian, cast levitate on him, said "HOLD ON TIGHT" and proceeded to polymorph into a gold dragon. 

we then went sky surfing at full gold dragon run speed.

in 3.5 that was 200 feet of movement at x4 for running. which meant i covered 800ft in 6 seconds, a speed of 133 f/s. this translates to about 145 KMpH.

when we found an awesome mountain and we camped there.
3rd ed SRD, character sheets, errata & free modules 4th ed test drive - modules, starter rules, premade characters and character builder & character sheet, errata Free maps and portraits, dice, printable graph paper, campaign managing website, image manipulation program + token maker & zone markers

"All right, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back. GET MAD! I DON'T WANT YOUR **** LEMONS! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THESE?! DEMAND TO SEE LIFE'S MANAGER! Make life RUE the day it thought it could give CAVE JOHNSON LEMONS! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?! I'M THE MAN WHO'S GONNA BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN! WITH THE LEMONS! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that's gonna BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN!" -Cave Johnson, Portal 2
he's not actually that bad when he's part of the group. i've played a few sessions before and after with him, and even though he's got a few oddities, they're much more subdued when he's part of the crowd rather then sitting at it's head.



Same here. He's still somewhat annoying, mostly because of bad puns, constant pop culture jokes, and constantly poor power choice (also because he doesn't really understand how his character works), but he's at least easier to deal with.


We were at level... 2 or 3 when we were already proclaimed to be the great heroes who were to save the world. Several high-level PCs met with us in a Council of Elrond-type scene, including... The DM's own character from my previous campaign.



That is a warning sign right there.  The one really bad DM I have ever had brought back his old PCs from an earlier campaign.  And they were the characters the story revolved around once they appeared.

DMs should only bring their old PCs into their stories if they have them die for a major plot point in the first session, preferably in the first 30 minutes or so.  Having them appear as comic relief might be ok.



I've done this. Well, sort of. I used an old PC of mine from AD&D as an NPC in a 4e game. I just hadn't touched the character in a decade, and thought it'd be fun to see what he looked like in 4th edition. When we stopped playing the 2nd ed game, he was only level 7 or so, so it wasn't some returned god or anything. He was just a contact they used, and he gave them some information, and did a small favor for him (hurray minor quest!).

"Not only are you wrong, but I even created an Excel spreadsheet to show you how wrong you are." --James Wyatt, May 2006

Dilige, et quod vis fac

... The story of a terrible DM.  The guy in question is not going to DM anymore (he just told us he prefers playing) so there's no real problem, except I'm not sure if we should tell him how we feel about his DMing. He's a cool guy and a good friend but he just turned out to be the worst DM I've ever had....

"Well, that's it" he said. "I'm ending on a cliffhanger so we may someday continue but for now, I'm sick of DMing" and then he immediately changed the subject. He never asked us what we thought of the campaign or anything, which I think means he knows it was bad....

We just avoided the subject and now there' this uncomfortable feeling... We're all hoping he's not going to ask us what we thought of his campaign...



If he's done being a DM and doesn't want to talk about it anymore, it sounds like he was at least perceptive enough to notice that you guys weren't having any fun, and he's embarrassed by the experience, and cut short whatever else he had in mind.

I don't see any reason to kick the guy while he's down - don't tell him what you think about his DMing unless he asks.  If he ever recovers enough to ask, give him honest but constructive feedback, and help him out with learning from the experience as best as you can.




I could complain about some of my previous DMs, but, to be fair, I was the star of a couple of my own DM horror stories, in a Freddy or Jason kind of role...


  • The first game I ever tried DMing was very free-form with absolutely no direction to it at all, in combination with rather timid players who didn't want to do the wrong thing, so to fill the uncomfortable silence of the players quietly waiting for some leadership, I would just fill in the blanks for them, turning the game into a DM Filibuster of me making the party decisions for them... it was not a pretty sight.  I've since come to appreciate more linear adventures combined with clear but meaningful choices.  As a result, I've been guilty of blatant railroading, and a weirdly pointless, boring, and DM-centered game.

  • I went through a phase of trying different game systems out to find one that suited me and my group best... a different system every week for a few weeks in a row.  I didn't see the signs of player frustration until it was too late, and I've settled down a bit since then.  (That experience is part of my motivation for not moving from 3.5 Edition to 4th Edition - my group went through enough system changes last year.)

  • My memory for rules is terrible.  Fortunately, my players' memory for rules is almost as bad, and their patience for "I don't know the rule, I don't feel like looking it up, we'll do _____ and I'll look it up later - any objections?"  On the other hand, my memory for things like names is dreadful as well, so my players constantly remind me of or correct me on PC names, and even my NPCs' names.

  • I've used a DMPC - the players have never complained about it, and I've gimped the guy enough that he was more of an NPC sidekick than anything else, to my credit.  Still, a DMPC can never be a good sign



I doubt that's the end of my career of DM mistakes, but I suppose every DM has had their bad moments.
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
oh god... i could fill up a DMG 3 with "this is what not to do" based on my experiences starting out.

from entire pre-planned campaigns, the directionless "sandbox", heavily guarded railroads, pixelbitching quests (the "you can't advance the plot until you do A, B & C"), horrific "high power" houserules (and it's low-power variants too!), DMPC after DMPC after DMPC, to, well... you name it and i've probably done it.

several times.

i've got 14-15 years of gaming under my belt and i'm honestly afraid to think how many of those were spent being a horrendously bad DM.
3rd ed SRD, character sheets, errata & free modules 4th ed test drive - modules, starter rules, premade characters and character builder & character sheet, errata Free maps and portraits, dice, printable graph paper, campaign managing website, image manipulation program + token maker & zone markers

"All right, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back. GET MAD! I DON'T WANT YOUR **** LEMONS! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THESE?! DEMAND TO SEE LIFE'S MANAGER! Make life RUE the day it thought it could give CAVE JOHNSON LEMONS! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?! I'M THE MAN WHO'S GONNA BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN! WITH THE LEMONS! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that's gonna BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN!" -Cave Johnson, Portal 2
Hey guys! Thanks for the great replies!
I really appreciate oxybe's honesty And I'll admit, I've  been a horrible GM myself... In fact I still make lots and lots of mistakes, all the time. I'm still not very good at  keeping the louder players a bit quiet. I'm afraid I don't exude much authority.
My own worst GMing I remember quite well: it was the first time we ever played Star Wars (the D6 version). I had bought and quickly read the book, let the players create their characters at home and just start off with a session with no preparation at all... We started the game on Tatooine and I just let the players roleplay and see what happened. What happened was, of course, nothing. I didn't have a firm grasp on the rules and was very insecure throughout the session. As a result, I furiously avoided dice-rolling, especially combat, leaving a very boring session filled with talking. I was "lucky" that one of my players was very outspoken and flat-out told me this sucked. I have to say, it wasn't fun to hear then but looking back now, it did humble me!

PS: please forgive me for the nerdiness I am about to commit, but just a note: "Deus ex homo" is not correct Latin (at least not classical Latin, I'm not as familiar with Medieval Latin). Anyway, "Deus ex homine" would be "God out of man" and "Homo Dei" would be God's man.
I'm sorry -- I'm not usually like this, really. This is just the one topic I happen to be well-trained in.

Anyway, awesome replies and really fun to read your stories... Any others?
closeenough.jpg

and yeah, it pretty much required a player to tell me that "this sucks" to wake me up to my bad habits. i had retooled the 2nd ed system (where i started) to be "high powered". this meant a rather full reworking of the combat mechanics so we threw a lot of dice around and multiplied by X (i believe the X value was based off your strength score mod + enchantment bonus, so rather then dealing 1d10+2, it was 2d10), as well as trying to homebrew AC as damage reducer AND a damage mitigator. (IE: roll ThAC0, deal damage, reduce by AC value)

this led to REALLY slow battles as everyone and their dog was doing a rather large amount of damage, but i had actually overbalanced the armor & HP... effectively making the tiered armor capable of nullifying damage from a similarly tiered weapon (i was young and playing a lot of final fantasy at the time. you had several versions of "basic" weapons, each capable of dealing more and more damage each with a "wooden sword > iron sword > cold steel sword > adamantium sword > phlebotium sword > Ultima Sword > Infinity+1 Sword" style progression. same with each "basic" armor types).

a fighter with gloves of ogre strenght (18/00) and a +3 Ultima Sword was dealing what... 6d10x9(+6 from the strenght and +3 from the sword)? this meant 54d10 damage... which, since we didn't have 54d10 dice lying around, meant we sometimes rolled 1d10 & multiplied by 54, "for simplicity's sake".

the main problem is that i kept HP scaling upwards, but no one made any headway in the damage department. so when you're dealing a potential 200 or so damage, blocked by a potential defense of similar value, it took a long time to chew away at the enemies who i was statting HP as though the full damage went through, rather then taking into consideration the defenses. and i'm talking about enemies with HP values of 1000 while the PCs are agonizingly and slowly chipping away at it. 

so slow that i simply skipped the fights a few rounds in, unable to recognize that the reason we were slogging was that, at the time, i had no idea how to make houserules that actually worked. 12 year old me did not have a head for houserules, but did enjoy throwing dice.

my "plots" (to use a nice term) were also more haphazardly placed then traps in a gygaxian dungeon. i don't know if i was simply channeling barrier peaks (which is weird since i never played or heard of that module until MUCH later) or what, but i was all over the place with no real cohesion or pacing. i had my players go everywhere from ghost ships to moon bases to alternate realities. 

it's both embarassing and interesting to see what my ideas were years ago. i still find the odd "module" i wrote years ago and shake my head at how linear they were or how bad the houserules i was tinkering with were. since then i've long since changed.

i'm hoping for the best :D
3rd ed SRD, character sheets, errata & free modules 4th ed test drive - modules, starter rules, premade characters and character builder & character sheet, errata Free maps and portraits, dice, printable graph paper, campaign managing website, image manipulation program + token maker & zone markers

"All right, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back. GET MAD! I DON'T WANT YOUR **** LEMONS! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THESE?! DEMAND TO SEE LIFE'S MANAGER! Make life RUE the day it thought it could give CAVE JOHNSON LEMONS! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?! I'M THE MAN WHO'S GONNA BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN! WITH THE LEMONS! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that's gonna BURN YOUR HOUSE DOWN!" -Cave Johnson, Portal 2
A couple of you guys mentioned how DMPCs were a bad idea, and I just wanted to throw this out there:
In my old group, there were only 4 of us, so the DM made a PC to roll with us.  He didn't help in any of the decisions, he was just like a normal PC...only he happened to be controlled by the DM.

I plan on doing this (if needed) in my upcoming campaign.  I don't really see the issue with it, or is there something I'm missing? 
You can't reason someone out of a position that they didn't reason themselves into.
A couple of you guys mentioned how DMPCs were a bad idea, and I just wanted to throw this out there:
In my old group, there were only 4 of us, so the DM made a PC to roll with us.  He didn't help in any of the decisions, he was just like a normal PC...only he happened to be controlled by the DM.

I plan on doing this (if needed) in my upcoming campaign.  I don't really see the issue with it, or is there something I'm missing? 

It sounds like your DM did it *mostly* right... assuming 4E. (For prior editions, possibly entirely right.)

The two big issues with PCs run by a DM are:
a) there's a strong tendency for the DM's PC to become the star of the show, with the other PCs as sidekicks. This is BAD.
b) a PC is mechanically pretty complex, and is supposed to have character as well. This soaks up a lot of time and attention, and the DM -without- a PC to run is the busiest guy at the table.

In DMG2 (if I remember correctly - maybe DMG1) there are guidelines on building "companion characters". They don't really have character sheets - they have monster stat blocks. That's a big help on the mechanics.

As for characterization, companion characters are supposed to be shallow, stay in the RP background and supporting roles, and be disposable. Even if the party needs companion characters from level 1 through level 30, any individual companion character can show up, hang around for a few levels, and then disappear somehow (killed?) just before (or just after) a new one enters the scene.


"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
A couple of you guys mentioned how DMPCs were a bad idea, and I just wanted to throw this out there:
In my old group, there were only 4 of us, so the DM made a PC to roll with us.  He didn't help in any of the decisions, he was just like a normal PC...only he happened to be controlled by the DM.

I plan on doing this (if needed) in my upcoming campaign.  I don't really see the issue with it, or is there something I'm missing? 



If you enjoyed the way the additional DM-controlled PC build worked in the old group, then you may have a good example that will work in your group.

Plenty of issues can occur, if you get personally attached to the character, or treat it as anything other than a supporting actor to the players' lead parts.

A couple of you guys mentioned how DMPCs were a bad idea, and I just wanted to throw this out there:
In my old group, there were only 4 of us, so the DM made a PC to roll with us.  He didn't help in any of the decisions, he was just like a normal PC...only he happened to be controlled by the DM.

I plan on doing this (if needed) in my upcoming campaign.  I don't really see the issue with it, or is there something I'm missing? 



A DMPC is like a government:  power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  If you respect the liberty and independence of your PCs at all, the DMPC must be relegated to a servile role, kept there under pain of death, and, no matter how much they beg, no matter how much they plead, never feed DMPCs after midnight. 

You should bind your DMPC down under a constitution that limits his authority to a few specific powers that the DMPC is permitted to use only under carefully outlined circumstances at the service and under the supervision of the other PCs ("this DMPC is only here to carry heavy stuff and heal PCs since they don't have a Cleric in the party.  The DMPC takes orders from the PCs, and he follows them to the best of his ability.  And that's it - that's all he does.")  Any powers, rights, or responsibilities not listed in that "constitutions" should be left in the hands of the PCs instead.   The DMPC is the servant of the real PCs, and may be further limited at their vote, and even dissolved, by force if necessary, should the other PCs feel that the DMPC has become corrupt, tyrannical, and has exceeded the limits set for it.

A weak, ineffective DMPC can be tolerated as a sad and contemptible thing, but a powerful DMPC, limited only by the imagination of its DM, is a nightmarish horror to be feared, rebelled against, and subdued by real PCs, should the DM fail to do restrain the DMPC himself.


For my DMPCs:


  • I think of them as "Robin" to the PCs' "Batmen":  sidekicks and minor supporting characters.

  • I deliberately create them as weaker beings than the PCs (using lower stats and, for 3.5E D&D, those weak NPC classes). 

  • They have no interesting storylines or plot arcs, unless those storylines are subordinate to the PCs storylines (for example, the PCs must must travel to the Forbidden Zone to defeat the Big Bad Evil Guy's lieutenant, the DMPC joins the party because he needs to deliver a potion of healing to his sick mom, who happens to live in the Forbidden Zone; after the potion is delivered and the NPC defeated, the DMPC will part ways with the group.)

  • My DMPCs have "term limits" (for example, the DMPC will only be in the party for three levels before parting ways, to be replaced by another DMPC who will likewise be scheduled to leave at a specific place or time, hopefully before he wears out his welcome).

  • I expressly tell the players that the DMPC character is weaker and less experienced than they are, and is not all-seeing and all-knowing.  He will try to tell the truth as best as he can, but sometimes he makes mistakes, and they should take his advice with a grain of salt.  He is their assistant, and will not lead the group, but rather should be given instructions by them.

  • My DMPCs do not speak unless spoken to, are polite to their superiors (particularly the PCs), should be seen and not heard (and should only be seen carrying the real PCs' baggage, scrubbing their floors, and wearing the "kick me" sign written in Orcish when ordered to by PCs.)

  • Cool equipment goes to PCs.  They may share their leftovers with the DMPCs, if they like.

  • My DMPCs are members of the party only at the invitation of the PCs, and can be sent home by them at any time.

  • If my PCs wish, die rolls that can result in their deaths can be pushed off on the DMPC instead; in any event, the DMPC is disposible.  ("Alas, the poor DMPC, we knew him well, even though we can never remember his real name.  He heroically took a bullet for me, and for that we will remember him for at least another adventure or two.  Oh, well, we'll pay someone in town to bury him for us, so we can get moving to something more interesting than this memorial service.  Maybe we can have a moment of silence for him some time or something, if we think of it again.")




I've learned to do this after watching other DMs make their mistakes with DMPCs, reading horror stories from players complaining about DMPCs, and thanks to my own misguided experiences with using DMPCs.
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
A couple of you guys mentioned how DMPCs were a bad idea, and I just wanted to throw this out there:
In my old group, there were only 4 of us, so the DM made a PC to roll with us.  He didn't help in any of the decisions, he was just like a normal PC...only he happened to be controlled by the DM.

I plan on doing this (if needed) in my upcoming campaign.  I don't really see the issue with it, or is there something I'm missing? 


The best used DMPCs, like the one you described, can be controlled by a rotated or randomly selected player, and so shouldn't be a DMPC at all. That is why there is no such thing as a good DMPC, just varying levels of bad.
A couple of you guys mentioned how DMPCs were a bad idea, and I just wanted to throw this out there:
In my old group, there were only 4 of us, so the DM made a PC to roll with us.  He didn't help in any of the decisions, he was just like a normal PC...only he happened to be controlled by the DM.

I plan on doing this (if needed) in my upcoming campaign.  I don't really see the issue with it, or is there something I'm missing? 


The best used DMPCs, like the one you described, can be controlled by a rotated or randomly selected player, and so shouldn't be a DMPC at all. That is why there is no such thing as a good DMPC, just varying levels of bad.



Those aren't "DMPCs".


Confused about Stealth? Think "invisibility" means "take the mini off the board to make people guess?" You need to check out The Rules Of Hidden Club.
Damage types and resistances: A working house rule.
Those aren't "DMPCs".



Exactly - the only good DMPC, is one that has been killed with fire to the point where it is no longer a DMPC.

[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri

 Well, this one isn't so much of a horror story as a... complete tragedy.

A tale of a bad decision, rather than a bad DM. Stupid, unnecessary and completely out of line.

 Imagine a DM running a really good campaign - as in, from what you saw in your brief time in it, it may have been one of the best you've played in. Imagine that they invite you to join the campaign and actually request that you resurrect one of your iconic characters based on the previous-edition war stories you told them.
The only minor downside to the whole thing is that you've been warned that the DM is a compulsive match-maker in real life and has a tendency to drag romance into her campaign, even when the characters aren't looking for it. (But you're not worried about it since you're playing a lunatic halfling rogue who'd probably be chasing skirts and flirting anyway, and it's not like the woman is trying to hook you up in real life, which is something that you depise with a mad passion.)

 Imagine that you join the campaign and play several very enjoyable sessions. Everything's going great.
Now imagine that, just as you're really hitting your stride and getting into the flow of the group, the DM brings her friend into the campaign and asks you to sit next to her and help her learn the game since she's a complete rookie. (Not a problem - you're a great teacher and always happy to grow another gamer from a seedling.)
 Now imagine that the DM's friend has a serious borderline personality. Her entire character concept is "an elf girl with pretty hair" - a fact which she continually checks and rechecks while cringing like a puppy about to be kicked as though the DM might change her mind and tell her "no, your hair isn't pretty." She needs to check with the DM for permission to have her character do anything other than breathe. (This is not the sort of person you have a great deal of patience with or respect for.)
Imagine that the friend, once she discovers that you're not going to physically beat her for asking a question, goes from shrinking down into the far corner of her chair to being attached to your arm to halfway climbing into your lap over the course of a four-hour session. (This is not behavior you find particularly attractive and are mildly irritated by it.)

Now imagine that, having been forewarned and prepared for it, you clearly see the DM trying to set up a romantic save-the-girl/get-the-girl plot hook between your two characters (You also now recognize the presence of the DM's friend at the game as a blatant attempt to hook the two of you up outside the game as well...) and deftly side-step it through clever roleplaying.  Not taking the hint, half an hour later the DM tries another scenario. Your character simply walks away, leaving the girl's character to her peril and yet the character somehow miraculously escapes. And later on the DM tries yet a third time - your character is hiding on a roof observing the target of a future robbery and the "elf girl with pretty hair" just happens to be beset by thugs in the alley you're standing above.
So you get tired of the cat-and-mouse and your thief jumps down, takes out his frustration by beating six-and-a-half kinds of hell out of the bad guys, and then runs off and hides. Your stealth skills are maxed out in the way only a 3.5 halfling rogue can manage. And yet the elf girl with pretty hair somehow magically tracks you down, showing up in your character's room at the inn.
At the point where the DM's friend asks her, "Can my character kiss him? You said I could kiss him..." you finally can't take any more of it. You spend the remaining half hour of the session peeling the girl off your arm and actively refraining from throttling the DM for not only blatantly trying to hook you up with her psychologicaly damaged friend but for selling out a great campaign in order to railroad a character into unwanted romance.

You leave the campaign at the end of that night's session, angered, shocked and truly saddened that such a great DM would purposely sell out such a great campaign, telling her right to her face that you consider it akin to building a cathedral only to throw rocks through the stained glass windows.

 What a freakin tragedy.

Show

I am the Magic Man.

(Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.)

 

I am the Lawnmower Man.

(I AM GOD HERE!)

 

I am the Skull God.

(Koo Koo Ka Choo)

 

There are reasons they call me Mad...


 Well, this one isn't so much of a horror story as a... complete tragedy.

A tale of a bad decision, rather than a bad DM. Stupid, unnecessary and completely out of line.

 Imagine a DM running a really good campaign - as in, from what you saw in your brief time in it, it may have been one of the best you've played in. Imagine that they invite you to join the campaign and actually request that you resurrect one of your iconic characters based on the previous-edition war stories you told them.
The only minor downside to the whole thing is that you've been warned that the DM is a compulsive match-maker in real life and has a tendency to drag romance into her campaign, even when the characters aren't looking for it. (But you're not worried about it since you're playing a lunatic halfling rogue who'd probably be chasing skirts and flirting anyway, and it's not like the woman is trying to hook you up in real life, which is something that you depise with a mad passion.)

 Imagine that you join the campaign and play several very enjoyable sessions. Everything's going great.
Now imagine that, just as you're really hitting your stride and getting into the flow of the group, the DM brings her friend into the campaign and asks you to sit next to her and help her learn the game since she's a complete rookie. (Not a problem - you're a great teacher and always happy to grow another gamer from a seedling.)
 Now imagine that the DM's friend has a serious borderline personality. Her entire character concept is "an elf girl with pretty hair" - a fact which she continually checks and rechecks while cringing like a puppy about to be kicked as though the DM might change her mind and tell her "no, your hair isn't pretty." She needs to check with the DM for permission to have her character do anything other than breathe. (This is not the sort of person you have a great deal of patience with or respect for.)
Imagine that the friend, once she discovers that you're not going to physically beat her for asking a question, goes from shrinking down into the far corner of her chair to being attached to your arm to halfway climbing into your lap over the course of a four-hour session. (This is not behavior you find particularly attractive and are mildly irritated by it.)

Now imagine that, having been forewarned and prepared for it, you clearly see the DM trying to set up a romantic save-the-girl/get-the-girl plot hook between your two characters (You also now recognize the presence of the DM's friend at the game as a blatant attempt to hook the two of you up outside the game as well...) and deftly side-step it through clever roleplaying.  Not taking the hint, half an hour later the DM tries another scenario. Your character simply walks away, leaving the girl's character to her peril and yet the character somehow miraculously escapes. And later on the DM tries yet a third time - your character is hiding on a roof observing the target of a future robbery and the "elf girl with pretty hair" just happens to be beset by thugs in the alley you're standing above.
So you get tired of the cat-and-mouse and your thief jumps down, takes out his frustration by beating six-and-a-half kinds of hell out of the bad guys, and then runs off and hides. Your stealth skills are maxed out in the way only a 3.5 halfling rogue can manage. And yet the elf girl with pretty hair somehow magically tracks you down, showing up in your character's room at the inn.
At the point where the DM's friend asks her, "Can my character kiss him? You said I could kiss him..." you finally can't take any more of it. You spend the remaining half hour of the session peeling the girl off your arm and actively refraining from throttling the DM for not only blatantly trying to hook you up with her psychologicaly damaged friend but for selling out a great campaign in order to railroad a character into unwanted romance.

You leave the campaign at the end of that night's session, angered, shocked and truly saddened that such a great DM would purposely sell out such a great campaign, telling her right to her face that you consider it akin to building a cathedral only to throw rocks through the stained glass windows.

 What a freakin tragedy.

So ... was she hot?

(Thank you, I'll be here all week.  Tip your waitresses.)

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

"Your ability to summon a horde of celestial superbeings at will is making my ... BMX skills look a bit redundant."

"People treat their lack of imagination as if it's the measure of what's silly. Which is silly." - Noon

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”


 Well, this one isn't so much of a horror story as a... complete tragedy.

A tale of a bad decision, rather than a bad DM. Stupid, unnecessary and completely out of line.

 



That was a good story.  But seriously, that sucks.  Did the DM try to pull anything like that again? did her friend even come back to play after that?  And where were the other PCs at this time?

Legitimately curious. :P

You can't reason someone out of a position that they didn't reason themselves into.

 Well, this one isn't so much of a horror story as a... complete tragedy.

A tale of a bad decision, rather than a bad DM. Stupid, unnecessary and completely out of line.
Show

 Imagine a DM running a really good campaign - as in, from what you saw in your brief time in it, it may have been one of the best you've played in. Imagine that they invite you to join the campaign and actually request that you resurrect one of your iconic characters based on the previous-edition war stories you told them.
The only minor downside to the whole thing is that you've been warned that the DM is a compulsive match-maker in real life and has a tendency to drag romance into her campaign, even when the characters aren't looking for it. (But you're not worried about it since you're playing a lunatic halfling rogue who'd probably be chasing skirts and flirting anyway, and it's not like the woman is trying to hook you up in real life, which is something that you depise with a mad passion.)

 Imagine that you join the campaign and play several very enjoyable sessions. Everything's going great.
Now imagine that, just as you're really hitting your stride and getting into the flow of the group, the DM brings her friend into the campaign and asks you to sit next to her and help her learn the game since she's a complete rookie. (Not a problem - you're a great teacher and always happy to grow another gamer from a seedling.)
 Now imagine that the DM's friend has a serious borderline personality. Her entire character concept is "an elf girl with pretty hair" - a fact which she continually checks and rechecks while cringing like a puppy about to be kicked as though the DM might change her mind and tell her "no, your hair isn't pretty." She needs to check with the DM for permission to have her character do anything other than breathe. (This is not the sort of person you have a great deal of patience with or respect for.)
Imagine that the friend, once she discovers that you're not going to physically beat her for asking a question, goes from shrinking down into the far corner of her chair to being attached to your arm to halfway climbing into your lap over the course of a four-hour session. (This is not behavior you find particularly attractive and are mildly irritated by it.)

Now imagine that, having been forewarned and prepared for it, you clearly see the DM trying to set up a romantic save-the-girl/get-the-girl plot hook between your two characters (You also now recognize the presence of the DM's friend at the game as a blatant attempt to hook the two of you up outside the game as well...) and deftly side-step it through clever roleplaying.  Not taking the hint, half an hour later the DM tries another scenario. Your character simply walks away, leaving the girl's character to her peril and yet the character somehow miraculously escapes. And later on the DM tries yet a third time - your character is hiding on a roof observing the target of a future robbery and the "elf girl with pretty hair" just happens to be beset by thugs in the alley you're standing above.
So you get tired of the cat-and-mouse and your thief jumps down, takes out his frustration by beating six-and-a-half kinds of hell out of the bad guys, and then runs off and hides. Your stealth skills are maxed out in the way only a 3.5 halfling rogue can manage. And yet the elf girl with pretty hair somehow magically tracks you down, showing up in your character's room at the inn.
At the point where the DM's friend asks her, "Can my character kiss him? You said I could kiss him..." you finally can't take any more of it. You spend the remaining half hour of the session peeling the girl off your arm and actively refraining from throttling the DM for not only blatantly trying to hook you up with her psychologicaly damaged friend but for selling out a great campaign in order to railroad a character into unwanted romance.

You leave the campaign at the end of that night's session, angered, shocked and truly saddened that such a great DM would purposely sell out such a great campaign, telling her right to her face that you consider it akin to building a cathedral only to throw rocks through the stained glass windows.

 What a freakin tragedy.





Oh, wow - that's heartbreaking and creepy at the same time, and I feel embarrassed for everyone involved just reading about it from a safe distance.  It's bad enough that it's so misguided, but, to me, it's somehow worse that the DM obviously had meant well, but was in way over her head in trying to "help" her friend by doing all the wrong things, without realizing it.
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri



 What a freakin tragedy.

So ... was she hot?

(Thank you, I'll be here all week.  Tip your waitresses.)




That's what I was thinking....
So many PCs, so little time...
Yeah, that makes me sad too, just reading it...



OMG hahahahahahhahaha  

That was hilarious! Mad Jack, thanks for sharing, you really gave me a good laugh in a kinda sad moment.

 Well, this one isn't so much of a horror story as a... complete tragedy.

A tale of a bad decision, rather than a bad DM. Stupid, unnecessary and completely out of line.

 Imagine a DM running a really good campaign - as in, from what you saw in your brief time in it, it may have been one of the best you've played in. Imagine that they invite you to join the campaign and actually request that you resurrect one of your iconic characters based on the previous-edition war stories you told them.
The only minor downside to the whole thing is that you've been warned that the DM is a compulsive match-maker in real life and has a tendency to drag romance into her campaign, even when the characters aren't looking for it. (But you're not worried about it since you're playing a lunatic halfling rogue who'd probably be chasing skirts and flirting anyway, and it's not like the woman is trying to hook you up in real life, which is something that you depise with a mad passion.)

 Imagine that you join the campaign and play several very enjoyable sessions. Everything's going great.
Now imagine that, just as you're really hitting your stride and getting into the flow of the group, the DM brings her friend into the campaign and asks you to sit next to her and help her learn the game since she's a complete rookie. (Not a problem - you're a great teacher and always happy to grow another gamer from a seedling.)
 Now imagine that the DM's friend has a serious borderline personality. Her entire character concept is "an elf girl with pretty hair" - a fact which she continually checks and rechecks while cringing like a puppy about to be kicked as though the DM might change her mind and tell her "no, your hair isn't pretty." She needs to check with the DM for permission to have her character do anything other than breathe. (This is not the sort of person you have a great deal of patience with or respect for.)
Imagine that the friend, once she discovers that you're not going to physically beat her for asking a question, goes from shrinking down into the far corner of her chair to being attached to your arm to halfway climbing into your lap over the course of a four-hour session. (This is not behavior you find particularly attractive and are mildly irritated by it.)

Now imagine that, having been forewarned and prepared for it, you clearly see the DM trying to set up a romantic save-the-girl/get-the-girl plot hook between your two characters (You also now recognize the presence of the DM's friend at the game as a blatant attempt to hook the two of you up outside the game as well...) and deftly side-step it through clever roleplaying.  Not taking the hint, half an hour later the DM tries another scenario. Your character simply walks away, leaving the girl's character to her peril and yet the character somehow miraculously escapes. And later on the DM tries yet a third time - your character is hiding on a roof observing the target of a future robbery and the "elf girl with pretty hair" just happens to be beset by thugs in the alley you're standing above.
So you get tired of the cat-and-mouse and your thief jumps down, takes out his frustration by beating six-and-a-half kinds of hell out of the bad guys, and then runs off and hides. Your stealth skills are maxed out in the way only a 3.5 halfling rogue can manage. And yet the elf girl with pretty hair somehow magically tracks you down, showing up in your character's room at the inn.
At the point where the DM's friend asks her, "Can my character kiss him? You said I could kiss him..." you finally can't take any more of it. You spend the remaining half hour of the session peeling the girl off your arm and actively refraining from throttling the DM for not only blatantly trying to hook you up with her psychologicaly damaged friend but for selling out a great campaign in order to railroad a character into unwanted romance.

You leave the campaign at the end of that night's session, angered, shocked and truly saddened that such a great DM would purposely sell out such a great campaign, telling her right to her face that you consider it akin to building a cathedral only to throw rocks through the stained glass windows.

 What a freakin tragedy.




screen shot or it never happened...lol

I think most single DnDers would love to have this happen..

So what if everytime you get in a argument she cuts you...at least you have good insurance
DMing is hard, either you have the knack for it or not.  I used to spend a ton of preparation time for adventures and things would still surprise me.  I always worried I didnt have enough material for a nights gaming (we used to play for like 6 hours) but if you can encourage players to roleplay they will help fill out a fair bit of time. 
I've got the sort of personality that's inclined towards over-preparation, and I found that the more I prepared, the more frequently I would get surprised, and the harder the surprises would disrupt my planning, and the more I would end up hating my poor players for making my life miserable Laughing

Oddly, the more I improvise, the less I get taken by surprise.  Nevertheless, I've still got to convince myself before every game session that it's better to leave room for improvisation than to try to prepare everything, even after the number of times that improvisation has made the game extremely fun for me and my players.
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
I've got the sort of personality that's inclined towards over-preparation, and I found that the more I prepared, the more frequently I would get surprised, and the harder the surprises would disrupt my planning, and the more I would end up hating my poor players for making my life miserable

Oddly, the more I improvise, the less I get taken by surprise.  Nevertheless, I've still got to convince myself before every game session that it's better to leave room for improvisation than to try to prepare everything, even after the number of times that improvisation has made the game extremely fun for me and my players.



If you can drive that personality to prepare stuff in general in your game world, like lists of unassigned NPC names, a couple of "random" encounters in your back pocket to give yourself better pacing, notes on NPC personality to help you improvise, then you can get a lot of milage out of that.



I think most single DnDers would love to have this happen..

So what if everytime you get in a argument she cuts you...at least you have good insurance


Well, I've long suspected the reason I'm so drawn to the defender role is because of the whole white knight syndrome and being a glutton for punishment, so... :33
(Then again, pointless drama Bull[Debutantes avert your eyes] is pretty much an express lane to "I'm out.")

I dunno, I've been rather blessed with my DMs, the worst I've had was getting screwed on forgetting to buy ammo while in town (I mean, yeah it's technically part of the game, but I'm not a seasoned adventure who needs to remember to purchase mundane items on a regular basis in order to not die IRL, so I think it's fair to assume I'd have taken care of those sorts of things), and another one who actually was a pretty good DM overall, but one session consisted of us having increasingly more creative methods of scaling a sheer cliff face shot down for a few hours until we gleaned that we needed to go find the wizard who possessed the only climbing kit allowed to scale the cliff.

Zammm = Batman.

It's my sig in a box
58280208 wrote:
Everything is better when you read it in Bane's voice.
192334281 wrote:
Your human antics and desire to continue living have moved me. Just kidding. You cannot move me physically or emotionally. Wall humor.
57092228 wrote:
Copy effects work like a photocopy machine: you get a copy of the 'naked' card, NOT of what's on it.
56995928 wrote:
Funny story: InQuest Magazine (I think it was InQuest) had an oversized Chaos Orb which I totally rooked someone into allowing into a (non-sanctioned) game. I had a proxy card that was a Mountain with "Chaos Orb" written on it. When I played it, my opponent cried foul: Him: "WTF? a Proxy? no-one said anything about Proxies. Do you even own an actual Chaos Orb?" Me: "Yes, but I thought it would be better to use a Proxy." Him: "No way. If you're going to put a Chaos Orb in your deck you have to use your actual Chaos Orb." Me: "*Sigh*. Okay." I pulled out this huge Chaos Orb and placed it on the table. He tried to cry foul again but everyone else said he insisted I use my actual Chaos Orb and that was my actual Chaos Orb. I used it, flipped it and wiped most of his board. Unsurprisingly, that only worked once and only because everyone present thought it was hilarious.
My DM on Battleminds:
no, see i can kill defenders, but 8 consecutive crits on a battlemind, eh walk it off.
144543765 wrote:
195392035 wrote:
Hi guys! So, I'm a sort of returning player to Magic. I say sort of because as a child I had two main TCG's I liked. Yu-Gi-Oh, and Pokemon. Some of my friends branched off in to Magic, and I bought two pre-made decks just to kind of fit in. Like I said, Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon were what I really knew how to play. I have a extensive knowledge of deck building in those two TCG's. However, as far as Magic is concerned, I only ever used those two pre made decks. I know how the game is played, and I know general things, but now I want to get in the game for real. I want to begin playing it as a regular. My question is, are all cards ever released from the time of the inception of this game until present day fair game in a deck? Or are there special rules? Are some cards forbidden or restricted? Thanks guys, and I will gladly accept ANY help lol.
I have the same problem with women.
117639611 wrote:
198869283 wrote:
Oh I have a standing rule. If someone plays a Planeswalker I concede the game. I refuse to play with or against people who play Planeswalkers. They really did ruin the game.
A turn two Tibalt win?! Wicked... Betcha don't see that everyday.

The Pony Co. 

Is this my new ego sig? Yes it is, other Barry
57461258 wrote:
And that's why you should never, ever call RP Jesus on being a troll, because then everyone else playing along gets outed, too, and the thread goes back to being boring.
57461258 wrote:
See, this is why RPJesus should be in charge of the storyline. The novel line would never have been cancelled if he had been running the show. Specifically the Slobad and Geth's Head talkshow he just described.
57461258 wrote:
Not only was that an obligatory joke, it was an on-topic post that still managed to be off-topic due to thread derailment. RP Jesus does it again folks.
92481331 wrote:
I think I'm gonna' start praying to Jesus... That's right, RPJesus, I'm gonna' be praying to you, right now. O' Jesus Please continue to make my time here on the forums fun and cause me to chuckle. Amen.
92481331 wrote:
56957928 wrote:
It was wonderful. Us Johnnies had a field day. That Timmy with the Grizzly bears would actually have to think about swinging into your Mogg Fanatic, giving you time to set up your silly combo. Nowadays it's all DERPSWING! with thier blue jeans and their MP3 players and their EM EM OH AR PEE JEES and their "Dewmocracy" and their children's card games and their Jersey Shores and their Tattooed Tenaged Vampire Hunters from Beverly Hills
Seriously, that was amazing. I laughed my *ss off. Made my day, and I just woke up.
[quote=ArtVenn You're still one of my favorite people... just sayin'.[/quote]
56756068 wrote:
56786788 wrote:
.....would it be a bit blasphemous if I said, "PRAYSE RPJAYSUS!" like an Evangelical preacher?
Perhaps, but who doesn't like to blaspheme every now and again? Especially when Mr. RPJesus is completely right.
56756068 wrote:
I don't say this often, but ... LOL
57526128 wrote:
You... You... Evil something... I actualy made the damn char once I saw the poster... Now you made me see it again and I gained resolve to put it into my campaign. Shell be high standing oficial of Cyrix order. Uterly mad and only slightly evil. And it'll be bad. Evil even. And ill blame you and Lizard for it :P.
57042968 wrote:
111809331 wrote:
I'm trying to work out if you're being sarcastic here. ...
Am going to stop you right there... it's RPJesus... he's always sarcastic
58335208 wrote:
56957928 wrote:
112114441 wrote:
we can only hope it gets the jace treatment...it could have at least been legendary
So that even the decks that don't run it run it to deal with it? Isn't that like the definition of format warping?
I lol'd.
56287226 wrote:
98088088 wrote:
Uktabi Orangutan What the heck's going on with those monkeys?
The most common answer is that they are what RPJesus would call "[Debutantes avert your eyes]ing."
56965458 wrote:
Show
57461258 wrote:
116498949 wrote:
I’ve removed content from this thread because off-topic discussions are a violation of the Code of Conduct. You can review the Code here: www.wizards.com/Company/About.aspx?x=wz_... Please keep your posts polite, on-topic, and refrain from making personal attacks. You are welcome to disagree with one another but please do so respectfully and constructively. If you wish to report a post for Code of Conduct violation, click on the “Report Post” button above the post and this will submit your report to the moderators on duty.
...Am I the only one that thinks this is reaching the point of downright Kafkaesque insanity?
I condone the use of the word Kafkaesque. However, I'm presentely ambivalent. I mean, that can't be serious, right? We're April 1st, right? They didn't mod RPJesus for off-topic discussion when the WHOLE THREAD IS OFF-TOPIC, right? Right.
57545908 wrote:
56957928 wrote:
Save or die. If you disagree with this, you're wrong (Not because of any points or arguements that have been made, but I just rolled a d20 for you and got a 1, so you lose).
58397368 wrote:
58222628 wrote:
This just won the argument, AFAIC.
That's just awesome.
57471038 wrote:
57718868 wrote:
HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THE BEAR PRODUCING WORDS OF WILDING?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!
That's what RPJesus tends to do. That's why I don't think he's a real person, but some Magic Card Archive Server sort of machine, that is programmed to react to other posters' comments with obscure cards that do in fact exist, but somehow missed by even the most experienced Magic players. And then come up with strange combos with said cards. All of that is impossible for a normal human to do given the amount of time he does it and how often he does it. He/It got me with Light of Sanction, which prompted me to go to RQ&A to try and find if it was even possible to do combat damage to a creature I control (in light that Mark of Asylum exists).
71235715 wrote:
+10
100176878 wrote:
56957928 wrote:
57078538 wrote:
heaven or hell.
Round 1. Lets rock.
GG quotes! RPJesus just made this thread win!
56906968 wrote:
56957928 wrote:
143359585 wrote:
Blue players get all the overpowerered cards like JTMS. I think it's time that wizards gave something to people who remember what magic is really about: creatures.
Initially yes, Wizards was married to blue. However, about a decade ago they had a nasty divorce, and a few years after that they began courting the attention of Green. Then in Worldwake they had a nasty affair with their ex, but as of Innistrad, things seem to have gotten back on track, and Wizards has even proposed.
You are my favorite. Yes you. And moments like this make it so. Thank you RPJesus for just being you.
On what flavor text fits me:
57307308 wrote:
Surely RPJesus gets Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius?
56874518 wrote:
First: I STILL can't take you seriously with that avatar. And I can take RPJesus seriously, so that's saying something.
121689989 wrote:
I'd offer you a cookie for making me laugh but it has an Upkeep Cost that has been known to cause people to quit eating.
56267956 wrote:
I <3 you loads
57400888 wrote:
56957928 wrote:
"AINT NO LAWS IN THE SKY MOTHER****." - Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran
10/10. Amazing.
I don't mean to sound like a spoilsport, but what if the DMs mentioned here actually read this stuff.  To the person who had the LotR-Tournament/Dark Lord Campaign, why don't you guys talk to him?  Help him out, maybe one of you co-DM with him.