I am opposed to 'DM Empowerment'...

And I'm normally the DM. Having just finished typing everything below, I feel the need to say it is somewhat of a rant, but as such, it is heart felt.

I've been seeing some posts concerning 'player entitlement' and 'we need to reempower the DM' recently and it makes me ill. These posts usually reek with an elitist attitude, a promotion of favoritism (do things the way I like and you'll get bennies, play the game the way its written and I'll punish you).

I started playing with the basic box sometime around 1982. My friends and I moved on to 1st Edition and when I joined the army and went to Germany that's what I played D&D wise until 2nd came out (I also played TSR's Marvel Superheroes (basic and advanced), Top Secret and Top Secret S.I., Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, D.C. Heroes, James Bond from Avalon Hill, and Cyberpunk 2020, various Palladium Games, Rolemaster, Chivalry and Sorcery, and Aftermath came after I returned to the states, White Wolf and other games after Desert Storm). The groups I played with generally tried to make the game work out of the box so to speak (somethings were dropped as too time consuming, weapon vs. armor type chart for example) so instead of complex plans involveing spiked open doors and 10' poles, we actually tried to get by with a thief using his find/remove traps, Open Locks, etc. (perhaps backed by certain magic items, these are some hazy memories at this point).

The biggest source of arguements for us was always a DM(GM/ST/Narrator) saying "because I said so." Yes, that is printed in the books but I honestly believe that was one of the biggest errors that was ever made in the history of our hobby.

I forsee one arguement already, "somebody has to be in charge". Well, yes, but to paraphrase an important historical document, "governments are instituted among nations deriving their powers from the consent of the governed". There is already a movement amongst gamers for more player driven narrative in many games (I think John Wick's Houses of the Blooded is an excellent example, I'd love the game if it were not for John's primary premise, that your character will ultimately always fail, its about Tragedy and I guess I just don't get it, just like I don't get behind the personal horror aspect of White Wolf's games).

I actually like that Dnd finally succeeded in becoming a truly cooperative game between all the players (ultimately, the DM is just another player, no more, no less) and for it to backslide into encouraging petty tyranny and arbitrary 'because I said so' causes me to be concerned with the new edition.

I am hoping that there will be sufficient outcry during the playtest against this approach that it will be reconsidered once open playtest starts but what I fear will happen is people who oppose this form of gaming will just drop out of the playtest, WoTC will recieve the type of feedback that they hope to, and then we will end up with the New Coke of RPGs (I worked for a short time in Market Data Research, one of the horror stories told to us as new employees to emphasize the importance of following the testing protocols was that the firm that Coke retained to test the New Coke formula failed to do so and the result was that Coca-Cola expected New Coke to be a hit, not the bomb it was).

My ultimate point is the myth of the ultimate power of the DM needs to be taken out behind the chemical shed by a detail of five men and shot.

Thank you for reading.
IMAGE(http://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa279/LolaBonne/bighug.jpg)

Well said, well said, 100 percent agreement.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
And I'm normally the DM. Having just finished typing everything below, I feel the need to say it is somewhat of a rant, but as such, it is heart felt.

I've been seeing some posts concerning 'player entitlement' and 'we need to reempower the DM' recently and it makes me ill. These posts usually reek with an elitist attitude, a promotion of favoritism (do things the way I like and you'll get bennies, play the game the way its written and I'll punish you).

I started playing with the basic box sometime around 1982. My friends and I moved on to 1st Edition and when I joined the army and went to Germany that's what I played D&D wise until 2nd came out (I also played TSR's Marvel Superheroes (basic and advanced), Top Secret and Top Secret S.I., Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, D.C. Heroes, James Bond from Avalon Hill, and Cyberpunk 2020, various Palladium Games, Rolemaster, Chivalry and Sorcery, and Aftermath came after I returned to the states, White Wolf and other games after Desert Storm). The groups I played with generally tried to make the game work out of the box so to speak (somethings were dropped as too time consuming, weapon vs. armor type chart for example) so instead of complex plans involveing spiked open doors and 10' poles, we actually tried to get by with a thief using his find/remove traps, Open Locks, etc. (perhaps backed by certain magic items, these are some hazy memories at this point).

The biggest source of arguements for us was always a DM(GM/ST/Narrator) saying "because I said so." Yes, that is printed in the books but I honestly believe that was one of the biggest errors that was ever made in the history of our hobby.

I forsee one arguement already, "somebody has to be in charge". Well, yes, but to paraphrase an important historical document, "governments are instituted among nations deriving their powers from the consent of the governed". There is already a movement amongst gamers for more player driven narrative in many games (I think John Wick's Houses of the Blooded is an excellent example, I'd love the game if it were not for John's primary premise, that your character will ultimately always fail, its about Tragedy and I guess I just don't get it, just like I don't get behind the personal horror aspect of White Wolf's games).

I actually like that Dnd finally succeeded in becoming a truly cooperative game between all the players (ultimately, the DM is just another player, no more, no less) and for it to backslide into encouraging petty tyranny and arbitrary 'because I said so' causes me to be concerned with the new edition.

I am hoping that there will be sufficient outcry during the playtest against this approach that it will be reconsidered once open playtest starts but what I fear will happen is people who oppose this form of gaming will just drop out of the playtest, WoTC will recieve the type of feedback that they hope to, and then we will end up with the New Coke of RPGs (I worked for a short time in Market Data Research, one of the horror stories told to us as new employees to emphasize the importance of following the testing protocols was that the firm that Coke retained to test the New Coke formula failed to do so and the result was that Coca-Cola expected New Coke to be a hit, not the bomb it was).

My ultimate point is the myth of the ultimate power of the DM needs to be taken out behind the chemical shed by a detail of five men and shot.

Thank you for reading.



+1  Finally someone with some sanity.  Let's NOT return to the bad old days of the TIN GOD (tm) DM.


-Polaris
I agree. With the caveat that I haven't yet seen any evidence that the designers view the "player entitlement / DM empowerment" issue in the way the elitist grognards do.
"There's an old saying that all it takes for evil to triumph is that good people do nothing. I've always had a problem with that. If you do nothing to oppose evil, then how are you 'good'? To turn aside and allow evil to flourish is to collaborate with it. You ask for mercy. You claim you have done nothing. That 'nothing' is why you deserve no mercy." - Lorian Karthfaerr, drow paladin of Avandra Robin Laws says I'm a Storyteller:
Show
You're more inclined toward the role playing side of the equation and less interested in numbers or experience points. You're quick to compromise if you can help move the story forward, and get bored when the game slows down for a long planning session. You want to play out a story that moves like it's orchestrated by a skilled novelist or film director. Storyteller 92% Tactician 83% Method Actor 75% Butt-Kicker 67% Power Gamer 67% Specialist 58% Casual Gamer 8%
I agree. With the caveat that I haven't yet seen any evidence that the designers view the "player entitlement / DM empowerment" issue in the way the elitist grognards do.



I have albeit indirectly.  If I am to take the information we have been given at face value, then it seems pretty much ANY major decision in DnD 5e involves a game of "mommy may I" with the DM.  That's very much the elitist "DM empowerment issue" you refer to or what I call the TIN GOD complex.

-Polaris


edited to soften the tone  
I can see where you're coming from. but I disagree.

The best gmnes I've ever had, have been with a competent GM calling the shots, GM empowerment is only a bad idea if your GM is a tool. And if you have that kind of GM, vote with your feet and find another game. I have done so on a few occasions. I've experienced DM's who huffily sit and say 'because i said so' and it makes me grind my teeth to be honest. But not every dm is like that.

Also something else to bear in mind - if the GM veto's a decision, you are playing in his vision of the setting, and (s)he needs to be empowered to protect the integrity of the setting and story that is being told. I agree that some GM's take it too far - but only a minority i think (but it's that minority that sticks in the mind i guess). If you are trying to do something that doesn't fit with how they have structured the story, and they cannot fit in what you want to do - you demanding to do it is akin to playing in an orchestra and trying to play a different piece to everyone else.

from what i have heard and read, 5e isn't about going to hte gm with your begging bowl. It's about dm/player interaction and giving both DM and Player to freedom and the tools to play co-operativly and creatively. TBH ever since the rules avalanche of 3e - I've found that missing in D&D a little because everything is written in stone. and it takes DM's and players of a certain mindset to break the constraints a little.

the way it's going - will allow for more creative play, more creative interaction between player and DM. more freedom to build the game the way you want it to be built. (that is assuming the WOTC manage to do what they set out to do) what people have seen so far - and this must be stressed - is the absolute basic early beta ruleset. I have no doubt that there will be a rules avalanche for 5e - but if wizards get it right - the choice as to whether you use it or not - is entirely yours.

so if you want a game where more of what you can and can't do is defined in rules - taking the pressure off the DM - you'll have it. But don't think that this is all about giving those idiots who take delight in screwing with their players more power - i truly don't think it is. What we've seen to me is a return to what i think RP is all about - collaborative storytelling.
 
so in short - i know where your concerns come from, you've been playing a long while by the looks of the games you've mentioned (longer than me - but even my first RPG was 1st edition WFRP) so you are speaking from long experience, but for me RP isn't about one or the other being empowered over the rest - it's about the player and the gm telling a story, and i think this edition is trying to redress the balance a little - because at the end of the day, both the players and the gm need to be empowered - or the players feel like puppets and the gm feels like an accountant just ticking numbers.

i'd rather have those chats with my players and GM's - let them try and come up with the weird stuff they do (but then my group is made up of people i have known for 15 years or so. A group that consistent tends to get used to each other's mindset and actions. Guess i'm lucky in that respect at least. I have a group of GM's I trust, and if they tell me i can't do something (which is rare) i take that and try something else instead. So i guess that's why i'm not so opposed to this, I've only really had 2 bad GM's in my life - one of whom empowered and overpowered the players too much. The other who wrote his adventures like screenplays - amazing stories, but too rigidly formed - he was very controlling with what we could and couldn't do - but it was justified because his story was so intricately crafted (still annoying though lol).
I think the game works best when the players and the DM work together to make the game fun. I sometimes have to make a judgement call that doesn't sit well with one player or another. Sometimes it takes too long to find a particuler rule I'm looking for, or I remenber one wrong, but I make a note to find answer if it exists or we as a group will discuss the issue and come to a consensus. 

I have spent enough time facing unyielding idiots sitting behind their DM screens to know what to avoid. I don't want to alienate the people who I play with. They rely on me to provide a game that is fun and that they will want to play in the future. If I want to play I need them as much as they need me. 

With that said there are aspects of the game where the DM has the right to make his own rules. Home brew campaign settings and other flavor oriented aspects of the game should be determined and communicated to the group. I started DMing in the early eighties and my game world reflects the rules used in the earlier versions of the game. The people I play with have played in my games for a very long time so they are as comfortable with my style as I am. New players have the option of hanging out with us or finding another place to play. 

*edit* the following is in response to barefootwanderer, I haven't read Tlantl's post yet.

See, two of the best GMs I ever had (well they would have been) were exactly as you describe the last of your 2 bad GMs, and I really believe that they would have been great if they hadn't had "rule 0" to hide behind and could have been brought to compromise with their players.

Marc Macyoung on his website nononsenseselfdefense.com has an essay concerning assertiveness vs. aggression. In it, he mentions how (I'm paraphrasing here) 'when the angry monkey is in charge, you can see how everyone else is being a jerk, but not yourself'. Marc is explaining, in part, why many people who really think they are defending themselves end up in trouble with the law for engaging in a participatory fight.

People don't normally like to think of themselves as bad people or jerks, the human capacity for rationalization is amazing.

*edited out an example I didn't feel quite right about*

YMMV.

I am wordy tonight.

I actually like that Dnd finally succeeded in becoming a truly cooperative game between all the players (ultimately, the DM is just another player, no more, no less)



I totally disagree. The DM simply cannot be just another player, as he's always either more or less: at the fine grain, with "DM's fiat" style, he is entitled to adjudicate the outcome of actions. Without, he's just the player playing the losing side in a set of the encounter (not very fun).
At the coarse grain, with "DM's fiat", he's entitled to keep the coherence of the setting. Without, he simply cannot, because the rules are above him -- so if a player want to play an out-of-place character (e.g., Wizard in a world without magic), there's nothing to prevent him from doing so.

Finally, just like you said, governments (and DMs) are instituted by consent of the governed (players). So, if the players are unsatisfied with a DM's style, they're free to replace him.

G.

When I get to the point of finding such a DM, who can call the shots and call them in a way that it's actually fun: Yay!


So far I have had the following experiences: Rogues die and die often and there is nothing done about it. The only way to not have this happen is prodding everything with 10 foot poles (and even then there was ways to circumvent it). - And why Rogues? Because someone with some skill for sneaking and finding and disabling traps has to scout ahead. (pre-4e at least)


I have also seen tons of situations which were designed totally to the favor of one player / class, and the others could mostly sit around and wait and see. (see the lengthy diplomatic discussions, which can easily take hours and hours, but usually only evolve around the use of social skills - either by rolls or by being played out. OR the combat situations which thanks to crit-immune monsters and lack of alternative equipment, left other players out of the equation)


I have seen tons of even more situations, where one character, with the snap of a finger, would get in control of the situation via a rules construct (usually a spell), and the rest could just watch in awe. ... Which frankly gets a bit boring after a while.


All of that a good DM calling the shots could maybe have prevented - not always, but from becoming a regular memory. But I have played earlier versions of D&D and before that AD&D 2nd edition under various DMs, and I have always seen these same symptoms. And from trying to DM at least AD&D 2nd and D&D 3.5 I ave the feeling that mostly comes from a game, that simply doesn't really support the DM in how to handle such situations. Sure there are sentences in the DM section that give very, very general advice in how the game should be fun. But apparently that is far from enough. You need examples to go by and more than one, please, so you have a good guideline for rulings. And you need strategy advice, because a situation that is okay on level 3 might, if dealt with in the same way, no longer be okay in level 15.


And honestly, I have doubts as to seeing that happen, because of all the RPGs I have seen and played or DMd, this would be the first time, I'd see something like that.


The other alternative are, indeed, good, solid rules, that simply make it less likely to be in need of a ruling.

I have a difficulty understanding how 4E removed some DM empowerement in D&D. Only thing i can see is that the Ruleset has expanded with each Editions roll out, providing more ''guidelines'' on how to adjucate situations or actions in the game. I put the emphase on guidelines, because that's what Rules are and has always been, and will ever be.  Then there's people who prefer to abide to them more closely than others. This every table regiment it, and its not to the Rulebook to do so. Even if a Rulebook would say: ''This is the Rules and you may not do otherwise'' there's people who'd still do things different way than By The Book. Who set Houserules is the DM and has always been. But Players should have a say in it too IMO and a concensus should be reached normally. Apart from that, every DMG always had the DM being the final arbiter of what goes on or not in a campaign.

If these disaccords become frequent and require decision swallowing, then it end up driving people away, either having DMs stop running games or Players stop playing. Like in anything, people need to mediate and be ready to reach concensus. 

DMG page 189 resumes well the DM empowerment and its limit.


Creating House Rules:  As Dungeon Master, you wear several hats: storyteller, rules arbiter, actor, adventure designer, and writer. Some DMs like to add a sixth hat to that stack: rules designer. House rules are variants on the basic rules designed specifically for a particular DM’s campaign. They add fun to your D&D game by making it unique, reflecting specific traits of your world…...
....Think carefully about the reason for changing or adding a rule. Are you reacting to a persistent problem in your campaign
, or to one specific incident? Isolated problems might be better handled in other ways. More important, do the other players agree to the need for a change? You have the authority to do whatever you want with the game, but your efforts won’t help if you have no group.




 

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

IM not sure how much I agree with the op but one part rings true with me, the line about the bennies.    I played with my alternate group once a game a savage worlds and it was just a ass kissing fest to try to get on the DMs good side so they could get extra bennies.

It started off bad with the DM appearantly giving away bennies for player bringing in bottlecaps (this was a fallout game) for props.   but appearantly the DM only told like 2 people about this little incentive.

and from there it only got worse, one player had a suprise character change and convinced the DM to let him be some kind of super mutant while the rest of us were playing scientist wimps.

overall not a fun time, would have been a bit more fun had the dm not set such stringent rules on character creation and suprisingly lifted the rules for one "special" player, and not have had special incentives that only a few people knew about., 

Play whatever the **** you want. Never Point a loaded party at a plot you are not willing to shoot. Arcane Rhetoric. My Blog.

The myth of the "Good DM" is something that need to die too. Of course, this marvelous person that can always adjudicate with precision and with 100% of the consent of the group, it's an awesome person. Maybe he even exist, somewhere!

Still, this does not take in account the fact that a lot of people don't even want this "power". How many people don't want to even go near the role of DM? "It's too complex", "It's too difficult", "I can't do it!", "It's boring!" are often heard responses to the question "Do you want to be the DM tonight? I want to play sometimes!".

The system must make the work of the DM easier, the system must take his own responsability. It's not acceptable today that a game use the excuse "Yeah, it does not work, but if you find a good GM he will make it work". Well of course it will work! This amazing person will probably even make FATAL playable, but you can't live with this mantra. As a DM myself, I won't touch a game that asks me to work to make it barely playable.
I have no use for the rush of power that this position entitles me. Those who play for it (and I know they exist) are sad, sad people.


DMG page 189 resumes well the DM empowerment and its limit.



Creating House Rules:  As Dungeon Master, you wear several hats: storyteller, rules arbiter, actor, adventure designer, and writer. Some DMs like to add a sixth hat to that stack: rules designer. House rules are variants on the basic rules designed specifically for a particular DM’s campaign. They add fun to your D&D game by making it unique, reflecting specific traits of your world…...
....Think carefully about the reason for changing or adding a rule. Are you reacting to a persistent problem in your campaign
, or to one specific incident? Isolated problems might be better handled in other ways. More important, do the other players agree to the need for a change? You have the authority to do whatever you want with the game,but your efforts won’t help if you have no group.




Yep, but this snippet simply says that you can change the rules of the game if everyone is ok with it, presumably even before the game begins. That's different than "Make up some rules, we are too lazy to come up with them. And you can also change existing rules without saying it to anyone, go crazy!", basically the Rule 0 of White Wolf games.
I have a difficulty understanding how 4E removed some DM empowerement in D&D.



I tend to agree with you.  I believe in the DM's word being final, and I don't see where I have suffered much disempowerment.  They way I run WotC-style D&D is not much different from how I run TSR-style D&D.

As with most things in life, Spiderman will teach us the right way to behave, "With great power comes great responsibility."  Having the final authority on matters does not mean acting as an ass-munch DM who litters the corridors of his dungeons with corpses of thieves who failed to properly play mother-may-I. 

To the contrary, the DM should act in a fair and reasonable manner thereby gaining the players's trust.  For me, it is a simpler process to be fair and reasonable in a looser ruleset with fewer rules precisely because I will never be able to memorize all the rules and making up a ruling on the spot is simply faster than looking up a rule.
+1 to the OP.
Are you interested in an online 4E game on Sunday? Contact me with a PM!
Show
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept.
Ideas for 5E
I think that this "empowerment" of the DM have been misinterpreted by the original poster and from others in here. 
What i see is not to extend the power of DM over the players, but something else. What i understand is that this empowerment means that in 5e is intented to give more the freedom to the DM in order to be fully creative. I think, from my personal experience, that the 4e had too many borders. The context was limited in comparison with the previous editions.
I have the feeling that this element they want to change.

Of course with fewer borders the possibility of mistakes is greater. But heck... if we have fewer borders, then it is possible the imagination to flourish. To create rules, atmosphere and all the things that 4e unintentionally humpered. In my humble opinion of course. 
I agree that on the fly Houserules is not something i like personally. I favor a more developped Ruleset personally and i believe they should be followed consistently most of the time and that Houserules should be implemented before a Game/day/combat/round/turn starts. I am not a fan of Rule change midway through an action by a sudden call or action denial. But if the DM gives a resoneable reason why a certain action work or doesn't work in a specific circumstance i will be okay with it. If i  disagree i will say so and if he decide to keep enforcing this i will live it with, because it's the DM, and as a Rule Mediator, he is the final arbiter.

But there will always be case that the Rules don't cover. In these cases the DM has to adjucate and determine how something should go or play out.

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

I have a difficulty understanding how 4E removed some DM empowerement in D&D. Only thing i can see is that the Ruleset has expanded with each Editions roll out, providing more ''guidelines'' on how to adjucate situations or actions in the game.



"Empowerment" probably isn't the right word, but the idea is very solid. 4E cleaned up the rules that needed cleaning up and balanced the characters while staying out of the way where extensive rules aren't needed. Now DMs don't have to finagle combat encounters to give characters a chance to "do their thing" but instead just make intersting encounters with a minimum of fuss. RP is still really open, but that's a good thing IMO.
Empowerment, isn't about power over the players, it's about power over the setting to make it more fun.  

If the DM is saying "no" or "because I said so" a lot, that's not an empowerment problem it's a DM tyranny problem.  Empowerment is what let's you say "yes you can try that" because it's not already locked up in some rule.  I found myself having to constantly houserule to say "yes" in 4e, because some action was already specifically defined by a rule or locked up in some character option that the player's hadn't taken.



Well, I'll be damned. This is just plain strange. I can say the exact same about 3.X, and one of the major selling points of 4E is exactly being able to do whatever I please with my homebrew settings and not having rules in my way.

Now, before you gut me, I don't think you're lying or anything, I'm just really... shocked, I suppose, that the 4E system gave you that experience. I had it with 3.X a lot, and with 4E I certainly don't. I'll be damned if I can understand why we have so different perceptions of reality, since we are both being honest and we have the same exact problem with different editions.

Oh, and since this is the Internet, this is not sarcasm. I really want to understand this, I think it would be something key to the development of D&D Next.
Are you interested in an online 4E game on Sunday? Contact me with a PM!
Show
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept.
Ideas for 5E
Could not disagree more. This is an area that just needs a nice simple vote and when you get outvoted you will be free to migrate to another game.

We already do have a shared narrative. The dm makes the world and tells you how it intereacts with you, the players tell the dm how they try and intereact with his world. Anything that gets in the way of this will ruin it for everyone.

If you have a bad dm what you need to do is find another. As both a player and a dm I can say that I actually enjoy playing more then dming.

I also completely dislike having them devolve into a bad tactical wargame. I play GOOD tactical wargames, wuite often actually, and the two camps should have nothing to do with each other.
You are Red/Blue!
You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what I create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.
This is an area that just needs a nice simple vote and when you get outvoted you will be free to migrate to another game.



You know, you are not the head developer of D&D Next. You are one dude on the Internet. Your opinion is as valid as ours.

If D&D Next is trying to get people back together there shouldn't be anything like "a nice simple vote where somebody gets outvoted". Frist, because it alienates part of the player base, and that's not good for business. Second, because it's contrary to the stated goal of D&D Next, and preaching while not following is not going to be good for business. And thirdly, because I'd hate to see you leave the game when you lose. :P Seriously, I want you to have a better game than what you are playing now, just as I want myself to have a better game than what I am playing now. 
Are you interested in an online 4E game on Sunday? Contact me with a PM!
Show
Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept.
Ideas for 5E
I hate hearing the "any good DM" or "find a better DM" phrases tossed around. D&D is supposed to be a game among friends. I don't want to tell my friends "screw you I'm going somewhere else" because they were too inexperienced to make the "right" calls all the time. Now of course there is some balance here. Rule 0 is always in effect and a truly terrible DM can take any system, no matter how good, and ruin it. Likewise a really awesome DM and group can take a bad system and still have fun. However, a lot of new DMs just default to whatever is written in the books. When it comes down to them making calls, some always err on the side of players and some take the opposite stance. Either one, when taken too far, is detrimental to the game.

That is why I don't like having the rules rely heavily on a "mother may I" effect. Some DMs will allow players to get away with far too much and others not enough. However, a system that provides a better way to adjudicate actions without relying too heavily on the DM to just make everything up can alleviate both sides of that. I think both 3e and 4e were pretty consistent in achieving that (I prefer the 4e skill system but that is for other reasons beyond this isolated aspect, although I do like the flat listed DCs that 3e had since a new 4e DM will probably just look at the book and pick the appropriate DC by level even if it was the same obstacle the party had faced 5 levels ago).
Owner and Proprietor of the House of Trolls. God of ownership and possession.
I'm absolutely fine with the 'ultimate DM call' stance, but I think that should be a safe-net, for the sake of ensuring greater enjoyment of the game to everyone involved. 
I see a problem if instead this is the default position of the system, as I think the system should be able to handle itself smoothly most of the time, with DM intervention required sporadically.
On a personal note, as a DM I prefer to invest my efforts into telling the story, roleplaying NPCs, proposing and running interesting encounters and challenges, rather than making calls on most interactions and outcomes - after all I've paid  good money for that already.

I hate hearing the "any good DM" or "find a better DM" phrases tossed around. D&D is supposed to be a game among friends. I don't want to tell my friends "screw you I'm going somewhere else" because they were too inexperienced to make the "right" calls all the time. Now of course there is some balance here. Rule 0 is always in effect and a truly terrible DM can take any system, no matter how good, and ruin it. Likewise a really awesome DM and group can take a bad system and still have fun. However, a lot of new DMs just default to whatever is written in the books. When it comes down to them making calls, some always err on the side of players and some take the opposite stance. Either one, when taken too far, is detrimental to the game.

That is why I don't like having the rules rely heavily on a "mother may I" effect. Some DMs will allow players to get away with far too much and others not enough. However, a system that provides a better way to adjudicate actions without relying too heavily on the DM to just make everything up can alleviate both sides of that. I think both 3e and 4e were pretty consistent in achieving that (I prefer the 4e skill system but that is for other reasons beyond this isolated aspect, although I do like the flat listed DCs that 3e had since a new 4e DM will probably just look at the book and pick the appropriate DC by level even if it was the same obstacle the party had faced 5 levels ago).


I have the suspicion that that's what they are going for with DDN.  The core will be set up with minimal rules for what players can do so that DM fiat can rule the game like it did in the old days.  Then modules will add rules for what players can do, so DM's don't have to make it up on the spot and keep a notebook of past rules decisions (because each decision then becomes a precedent) like a laywer keeping track of case law.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

The DM has always and always will be the final say so in games. Player's will never have the decision to rule because player's are biased to be perfectly honest. How many types of sports allow the player's to make the calls?

By you agreeing to be a part of the DM's campaign you have essentially given that DM your trust that he will rule as fair as possible. DM's have nothing to lose like player's do so a player would likely rule in his or her favour as much as possible.

One question: Why should player's have more authority over the DM?
The DM has always and always will be the final say so in games. Player's will never have the decision to rule because player's are biased to be perfectly honest. How many types of sports allow the player's to make the calls?

By you agreeing to be a part of the DM's campaign you have essentially given that DM your trust that he will rule as fair as possible. DM's have nothing to lose like player's do so a player would likely rule in his or her favour as much as possible.

One question: Why should player's have more authority over the DM?


They shouldn't have more authority than the DM.  They should be equal partners.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

The DM has always and always will be the final say so in games. Player's will never have the decision to rule because player's are biased to be perfectly honest. How many types of sports allow the player's to make the calls?

By you agreeing to be a part of the DM's campaign you have essentially given that DM your trust that he will rule as fair as possible. DM's have nothing to lose like player's do so a player would likely rule in his or her favour as much as possible.

One question: Why should player's have more authority over the DM?


Did you actually read any of the posts here or did you just decide to respond to the thread title?
Owner and Proprietor of the House of Trolls. God of ownership and possession.
The DM has always and always will be the final say so in games. Player's will never have the decision to rule because player's are biased to be perfectly honest. How many types of sports allow the player's to make the calls?

By you agreeing to be a part of the DM's campaign you have essentially given that DM your trust that he will rule as fair as possible. DM's have nothing to lose like player's do so a player would likely rule in his or her favour as much as possible.

One question: Why should player's have more authority over the DM?


They shouldn't have more authority than the DM.  They should be equal partners.



They can't be equal. You have to have one side that has more authority than the other because you would have endless arguments.

a good GM is like a good computer: not everyone has one and having that good computer be the baseline is simply making the game less accessible to people who want to run and play it.

RPGs should be playable with an "OK" gm.

they should be playable with a brand new, first timer.

every time i see someone post about removing some decision making from the players or system, i see that same person force more and more decision making on the GM.

the more time i spend as a GM have to do to make the game run, the less time i spend actually running the game. 

now i'm not saying that there shouldn't be someone making some of the decisions. no system can cover all the bases and there will always be some corner cases. how these are resolved could vary from group to group. the ones i've liked the most though are the ones that imparted some of that decision making onto the group. 

rather then simply feeling like you were puppets in the GM's play, you were taking an active part in the decisions that shaped the game world itself.
a good GM is like a good computer: not everyone has one and having that good computer be the baseline is simply making the game less accessible to people who want to run and play it.

RPGs should be playable with an "OK" gm.

they should be playable with a brand new, first timer.

every time i see someone post about removing some decision making from the players or system, i see that same person force more and more decision making on the GM.

the more time i spend as a GM have to do to make the game run, the less time i spend actually running the game. 

now i'm not saying that there shouldn't be someone making some of the decisions. no system can cover all the bases and there will always be some corner cases. how these are resolved could vary from group to group. the ones i've liked the most though are the ones that imparted some of that decision making onto the group. 

rather then simply feeling like you were puppets in the GM's play, you were taking an active part in the decisions that shaped the game world itself.



Also, the "Good DM" is always a group based concept.

Like said by MechaPilot, every decision is a precedent, so if a "Good DM" play with another group for wathever reason, the new group may very well hate him and consider him the scourge of the game, while the other group adore him instead.

Solid rules should be the baseline, because if you go for the "Make up everything at the moment!" approach, the you don't have groups, but tribes.

Also, wasting time adjudicating and discussing with the group every two step it's boring and stupid. Nobody can say it's not true (I hope, because if you like arguing for hours with your friends instead of playing, something is wrong).
Apology in advance: I'm going to use the generic 'he' in here.

Postulate 1: The job of the DM is, in part, to arbitrate the game
> Corrolary: The DM needs tools for determining conflict resolution -- this means that there should be a solid framework for how a conflict is to be resilved
>> Corrolary to Corrolary: The system for arbitrating disputes should be agreeable to all parties.
> Corrolary: Like any arbiter, the DM must be respected as authority -- that is, if the DM speaks the final word, recourse ultimatley does not exist1

Postualte 2: The job of the DM is, in part, to craft all that is not the Player Characters and that which is solely theirs
> Corrolary: Things that are not Player Characters may effect Player Characters.2
> Corrolary: The player Characters may effect things that do not belong to them

Postulate 3: The job of the DM is, in part, to create an environment of fun for all who play the game.
> Corrolary: The power of any given DM derives from a mandate from his players; If they aren't having fun, the DM will find his power challenged and ultimatley removed
> Corrolary: As the DM is *also* playing the game, albeit in a different role, his game should be allowed to support his or her own fun as well as that of the players


1 I'm not saying you *can't* argue a call, or shouldn't be able to.  Many bad calls can result from a misread or misunderstanding, and will be swiftly corrected ("But my sword is +3..." "Oh, I forgot that.  Yeah, you hit.").  However, the DM should have the power to say the words "And that's final" to create a ruling on touchy or unclear subjects that will be abided by.  See also first corrolary to Postulate Three though...

2 The DM should be able to set up rules at character creation.  If the players aren't happy with it, then is the time to argue with them, and all parties ought to agree to the final ruleings before playing the game.  Se also the second corrolary to Postulate 3.

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."
On Worldbuilding - On Crafting Aliens - Pillars of Art and Flavor - Simulationism, Narritivism, and Gamism - Shub-Niggurath in D&D
THE COALITION WAR GAME -Phyrexian Chief Praetor
Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920

By you agreeing to be a part of the DM's campaign you have essentially given that DM your trust that he will rule as fair as possible. DM's have nothing to lose like player's do so a player would likely rule in his or her favour as much as possible.



DMs have something greater than anything a PC could ever acquire: a table surrounded by players. It's pretty hard to DM a game when you have no players.


They can't be equal. You have to have one side that has more authority than the other because you would have endless arguments.

 

Problems occur when a DM has too much empowerment and starts ruling unfairly. Other problems occur when players have too much of it as well. Therefore, I think it is in the game's best interest to have both DMs and players be equal, although maybe in different measures. DMs get to use Rule 0 and make certain calls as long as it doesn't disrupt the game, and the players can refer to rules to protect them from tyrannical DMs, but they shouldn't prevent the DM from fleshing out his or her world.

I think that this "empowerment" of the DM have been misinterpreted by the original poster and from others in here. 
What i see is not to extend the power of DM over the players, but something else. What i understand is that this empowerment means that in 5e is intented to give more the freedom to the DM in order to be fully creative. I think, from my personal experience, that the 4e had too many borders. The context was limited in comparison with the previous editions.
I have the feeling that this element they want to change.

Of course with fewer borders the possibility of mistakes is greater. But heck... if we have fewer borders, then it is possible the imagination to flourish. To create rules, atmosphere and all the things that 4e unintentionally humpered. In my humble opinion of course. 


I don't necessarily agree that 4e had a lot of 'borders', but I'd argue that having some borders is good.  Like training wheels on a bike.  They'll help the new DMs to learn the ropes, and when they're comfortable, they can always take the training wheels off.
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.
By you agreeing to be a part of the DM's campaign you have essentially given that DM your trust that he will rule as fair as possible. DM's have nothing to lose like player's do so a player would likely rule in his or her favour as much as possible.



DMs have something greater than anything a PC could ever acquire: a table surrounded by players. It's pretty hard to DM a game when you have no players.


They can't be equal. You have to have one side that has more authority than the other because you would have endless arguments.

 

Problems occur when a DM has too much empowerment and starts ruling unfairly. Other problems occur when players have too much of it as well. Therefore, I think it is in the game's best interest to have both DMs and players be equal, although maybe in different measures. DMs get to use Rule 0 and make certain calls as long as it doesn't disrupt the game, and the players can refer to rules to protect them from tyrannical DMs, but they shouldn't prevent the DM from fleshing out his or her world.




I wasn't even talking about players but players need a DM just as much as a DM needs players. I was talking about the fact that DM's have nothing in the game to lose. The DM can give himself 50 +5 swords all day long but it means nothing like it would for a player to recieve those swords.

Why do football matches have a referee? Sometimes they rule unfairly but that's just how it is. Some DM's do rule unfairly, either get over it or go and curl up in a corner and cry. 9 times out of 10 D&D is played with friends so I don't really see the problem. Rules can be abused by anyone who takes the time to actually try and do it and the same goes for players. I know players who try and abuse the hell out of the system every chance they get.
I was talking about the fact that DM's have nothing in the game to lose. The DM can give himself 50 +5 swords all day long but it means nothing like it would for a player to recieve those swords.



Oh, if only that were true.  There are many DMs who still see the game as DM vs. Players instead of Players vs. World with the DM as referee.

Why do football matches have a referee?


Football matches also have rules about what penalties a referee can impose on the teams, and under what circumstances.  There are unfair rulings, but in football half your team doesn't die because the ref made a bad call.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

Football is a competitive sport where two opposing teams attempt to score the most points. D&D is a cooperative story-telling game where players go through adventures.


Football has referees (which are not part of the players) to make sure that neither team cheats or abuses the rules, because the objective is to win the game by scoring more points; cheating and abuse give an unfair edge to one team, taking the fun out of the game. D&D has a referee (who is technically part of the players) to make sure that a coherent and interesting story is being played through; you can't really "win" at D&D. When cheating and abuse occur, then one side feels that the story is no longer interesting, taking the fun out of the game.


When the abuse reaches a point where players quit or DMs give up, everybody loses (somewhat relating to the first point I made in my earlier post). Due to the nature of the game, the DM needs some empowerment, and so do the players. If any side has too much of it, the game being played suffers.


Should I be in a situation where the DM keeps making unfair calls, I'll walk away, not curl up and cry. It happens. It sucks. But I believe that giving players and DMs some form of equality when it comes to empowerment might help prevent this from happening.


Football is a competitive sport where two opposing teams attempt to score the most points. D&D is a cooperative story-telling game where players go through adventures.



In other words, they are nothing alike.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
I have no idea what people mean by "DM Empowerment", nor have any idea of what makes 4e have less of that, as compared to, say, 3e.

Anyone mind filling me in?
Feedback Disclaimer
Yes, I am expressing my opinions (even complaints - le gasp!) about the current iteration of the play-test that we actually have in front of us. No, I'm not going to wait for you to tell me when it's okay to start expressing my concerns (unless you are WotC). (And no, my comments on this forum are not of the same tone or quality as my actual survey feedback.)
A Psion for Next (Playable Draft) A Barbarian for Next (Brainstorming Still)


If D&D Next is trying to get people back together there shouldn't be anything like "a nice simple vote where somebody gets outvoted". Frist, because it alienates part of the player base, and that's not good for business. Second, because it's contrary to the stated goal of D&D Next, and preaching while not following is not going to be good for business. And thirdly, because I'd hate to see you leave the game when you lose. :P Seriously, I want you to have a better game than what you are playing now, just as I want myself to have a better game than what I am playing now. 



The stated goal is making a version that all dnd fans can like. Removing the dm from such a game will ruin it for far more then half. The dm is the strength of the genre not the weakness. Trying to remove something that really is core instead of messing around with things that many think are core but are actually not, can quickly produce something that no one wants to play.

I am actually fine with them producing a game I would not play. I have several games I already do and nothing they do can take those away from me. They can certainly go to far with this inclusiveness goal. One size fits all rarely fits anyone well.

Someone trying to remove a central feature of the whole genre might as well just be playing a well balanced game of another genre. I completely understand that many people who play DND do so because they have no access to tactical wargames or have never been introduced to them. I however do not want a genre switch for dnd, it would then lose everything it has going for it.
You are Red/Blue!
You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what I create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

The stated goal is making a version that all dnd fans can like. Removing the dm from such a game will ruin it for far more then half. The dm is the strength of the genre not the weakness. Trying to remove something that really is core instead of messing around with things that many think are core but are actually not, can quickly produce something that no one wants to play.



But that's not what the post is about. The DM is not supposed to be removed from the game and he is still necessarily going to act as ultimate referee. The point however is having a system which is mostly self sufficient and doesn't need constant maintenance or on-the-fly ruling from the DM. 
Of course it is absolutely fine if the game supports a 'DM-Fiat' playstyle, but the plea is for it to also provide a solid system for those who prefer a more structured approach.
I have no idea what people mean by "DM Empowerment", nor have any idea of what makes 4e have less of that, as compared to, say, 3e.

Anyone mind filling me in?



The only thing that I can think of is that in 4e a DM is less of a necessity because of the way the game is balanced and structured.  Before the D&D boardgames came out, I made a D&D variant based on Warhammer Quest with random room and monster generation.  No DM required to play.  I also think this idea is foreshadowed in the DMG where they discuss building encounter decks.

So I guess DM empowerment is codifying the DM's right to step into the game and "break" the rules?  Maybe it's about having more grey areas so that players can't rules lawyer every situation?

Or maybe it's specifically about giving the players less control over the board in combat so that they can't turn encounters into cakewalks?