A potentially interesting question: What is "gotcha" DMing to you?

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The question is "What is 'gotcha' DMing defined as to you"? I think this is an interesting topic because I think it is an excellent measuring stick by which to gauge the difference between what is "fair" and what is "not"...especially because I generally believe that to be just about 100% up to presentation.

I don't wish to "taint" the responses or bait anything by immediately vomiting my own answer into the OP, so I'll let the community begin in the interest of discussion.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

To define it as broadly as possible, any DM style that enforces one "correct" outcome to an encounter (and consequently shuts off play if the outcome is incorrect). 

This sort of thing was rampant in pre-3e modules (and is still lingering around to some extent). Tomb of Horrors-style play is the most obvious example, where if you didn't take very specific (and often counter-intuitive and non-obvious) actions, your entire party was toast. Randomly-guessed solutions have thankfully gone the way of Sierra games for the most part, but every once in a while you find an atavistic DM who thinks that sort of thing is hilarious.

I do not personally find a linear narrative to automatically lend itself to "gotcha" DMing, though I do feel that wedding yourself to a pre-written plotline does increase the temptation to shoehorn the players into "correct" and "incorrect" actions. The antidote to avoiding this sort of thing is to openly encourage and reward creative initiative from your players and have enough flexibility in your playstyle to broaden the possible range of "winning" scenarios.       
DMG page 26-27:





"Gotcha" Abilities: Pay attention to monster abilities that change the basic rules and tactics of combat, and give players the cues they need to recognize them. Describe the ability as it might appear in the game world, and then describe it in game terms to make it clear.


For example, if the characters are fighting a pit fiend, whose aura of fire deals fire damage to creatures within 5 squares, you might tell the players (before their characters come in range), “The heat emanating from the devil is intense even at this distance. You know that getting within five squares of it is going to burn you.”





I see it as generally punishing the players for not reading thr DM's mind and giving the right arbitrary answer to something(even if that answer was Not to Play).

My example was this one DM I played with where during a fight, our level 21 party defeated his encounter of about 15-ish level 21-25 standards and 4 level 26 solos, along with a level 27 solo(it was a veeery close fight though). He responded with Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies and tells us we lost.
To define it as broadly as possible, any DM style that enforces one "correct" outcome to an encounter (and consequently shuts off play if the outcome is incorrect). 

This sort of thing was rampant in pre-3e modules (and is still lingering around to some extent). Tomb of Horrors-style play is the most obvious example, where if you didn't take very specific (and often counter-intuitive and non-obvious) actions, your entire party was toast. Randomly-guessed solutions have thankfully gone the way of Sierra games for the most part, but every once in a while you find an atavistic DM who thinks that sort of thing is hilarious.

I do not personally find a linear narrative to automatically lend itself to "gotcha" DMing, though I do feel that wedding yourself to a pre-written plotline does increase the temptation to shoehorn the players into "correct" and "incorrect" actions. The antidote to avoiding this sort of thing is to openly encourage and reward creative initiative from your players and have enough flexibility in your playstyle to broaden the possible range of "winning" scenarios.       



Interesting.

Would you consider it "fair" if the answer to a solution is maintained as one answer to a given solution but that other solutions may exist if the players can think "around" it?

For instance, if there is a heavy locked door and the players do not have the key for it. Would it be "gotcha" DMing for them to have missed the key that unlocked it? That is to say, there was the key elsewhere to be had (or they have not reached it yet) thus it cannot be conventionally unlocked. At the moment, the PCs lack the physical means to batter the door down or what-have-you (that is not to say it is impossible, just that by the standards of the material or whatever, they literally can't just brute-force through the door) and they lack the magic to by-pass it (such as to teleport or whatever).

How would "gotcha' DMing apply to this door? Would it only apply if the PCs DID think of a thoughtful way around it but the DM over-ruled it? Or is the presentation of the situation as written already "gotcha"?

Thank you for being part of the discussion!

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

DMG page 26-27:





"Gotcha" Abilities: Pay attention to monster abilities that change the basic rules and tactics of combat, and give players the cues they need to recognize them. Describe the ability as it might appear in the game world, and then describe it in game terms to make it clear.


For example, if the characters are fighting a pit fiend, whose aura of fire deals fire damage to creatures within 5 squares, you might tell the players (before their characters come in range), “The heat emanating from the devil is intense even at this distance. You know that getting within five squares of it is going to burn you.”








Ah, now this is very neat. Good stuff. Something should be reasonably presented to the players so that they can make a decision on it. Would you find it acceptable to prevent a "gotcha" situation if the sentence was presented thusly: "The heat emanating from the devil is intense even at this distance. It's sure to get dangerously hot if you approach closer." ?

Personally, I do not necessarily see a need to describe it in game terms...in fact, I try to avoid that if I can.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I see it as generally punishing the players for not reading thr DM's mind and giving the right arbitrary answer to something(even if that answer was Not to Play).

My example was this one DM I played with where during a fight, our level 21 party defeated his encounter of about 15-ish level 21-25 standards and 4 level 26 solos, along with a level 27 solo(it was a veeery close fight though). He responded with Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies and tells us we lost.



Haha, that sounds less like a "gotcha" and more like a temper tantrum. Perhaps the game ran wrong and that particular DM was in desperate need of a diaper change, because I can only imagine how infantile he would have to be to act like that. Unfortunate for you folks around the table indeed. A DM with an agenda is definitely likely to throw "gotcha" moments I would think.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.



For instance, if there is a heavy locked door and the players do not have the key for it. Would it be "gotcha" DMing for them to have missed the key that unlocked it? That is to say, there was the key elsewhere to be had (or they have not reached it yet) thus it cannot be conventionally unlocked. At the moment, the PCs lack the physical means to batter the door down or what-have-you (that is not to say it is impossible, just that by the standards of the material or whatever, they literally can't just brute-force through the door) and they lack the magic to by-pass it (such as to teleport or whatever).




This is why I tend to dislike choke-points in design. You're already presenting the party with a binary condition (either the door is locked and a barrier or unlocked and insignificant - the moment the door is open it ceases to be relevant) that lends itself to a very limited natural set of solutions. By adding some special lock condition (which automatically prevents a thief character or brute-force character from working their possible solution) you are now pre-supposing that the characters must satisfy this condition before continuing on the adventure. 

Now, if opening the door is the adventure goal in itself (and the players are sufficiently interested) then that is a marginally acceptable condition, so long as it is at least telegraphed as such in advance ("You must find the Jewel of the Autarchs in the City of the Damned if you wish to cross the planar gate"). You run the real danger that the players won't care a lick about what is on the other side of the door, but at least you will make the solution (finding the key) predicated on their choice. If however the door is just another obstacle in the dungeon, and the party has to backtrack to find which non-obvious side-room or NPC is holding the magic key, I would consider that an annoying "gotcha" tactic since it would essentially reverse the entire momentum of the established adventure in order to satisfy the condition you designed.
  

I would define it as using your powers as DM to guarantee a "win" against the players in such a way that they could not reasonably have anticipated what wsa going to happen or prevented it. There are situations where this is okay to do, especially if you're doing it through the intermediary of a clever villain. But it's almost certainly not okay if you're doing it because you can't stand to see them succeed, or because you think it's funny to set up a no-win scenario.


For instance, if there is a heavy locked door and the players do not have the key for it. Would it be "gotcha" DMing for them to have missed the key that unlocked it? That is to say, there was the key elsewhere to be had (or they have not reached it yet) thus it cannot be conventionally unlocked. At the moment, the PCs lack the physical means to batter the door down or what-have-you (that is not to say it is impossible, just that by the standards of the material or whatever, they literally can't just brute-force through the door) and they lack the magic to by-pass it (such as to teleport or whatever).




This is why I tend to dislike choke-points in design. You're already presenting the party with a binary condition (either the door is locked and a barrier or unlocked and insignificant - the moment the door is open it ceases to be relevant) that lends itself to a very limited natural set of solutions. By adding some special lock condition (which automatically prevents a thief character or brute-force character from working their possible solution) you are now pre-supposing that the characters must satisfy this condition before continuing on the adventure. 

Now, if opening the door is the adventure goal in itself (and the players are sufficiently interested) then that is a marginally acceptable condition, so long as it is at least telegraphed as such in advance ("You must find the Jewel of the Autarchs in the City of the Damned if you wish to cross the planar gate"). You run the real danger that the players won't care a lick about what is on the other side of the door, but at least you will make the solution (finding the key) predicated on their choice. If however the door is just another obstacle in the dungeon, and the party has to backtrack to find which non-obvious side-room or NPC is holding the magic key, I would consider that an annoying "gotcha" tactic since it would essentially reverse the entire momentum of the established adventure in order to satisfy the condition you designed.
  




First of all, seriously thank you for the opportunity at this exchange...I think it will prove very insightful.

If you were being presented with an organic world where you are the driving force behind your own actions, would that "choke-point" become less of an issue for you know that in real life such choke-points not only exist but are logical?

Along with that question though, please presume that there's no over-arching NEED for you to get through the door (indeed to do anything) beyond your characters (and therefore probably your own) desire to see what is on the other side. Your ability to adventure and continue to do as you wish will not be artificially impeded until the door is opened. Also presume that the door does not react arbitrarily to your attempts against it and that there are hard-coded things at work (IE the door is X hard to damage and is Y hard to pick...and those two variables are static).

NOTE: If you need more information about the particulars of this hypothetical, by all means, ask...neither of us can occupy the others mind or (unfortunately) game table, so there is bound to be disconnect, assumptions and everything in between as we discuss. I will not be offended if I am told I have not given enough info or am not being clear.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I would define it as using your powers as DM to guarantee a "win" against the players in such a way that they could not reasonably have anticipated what wsa going to happen or prevented it. There are situations where this is okay to do, especially if you're doing it through the intermediary of a clever villain. But it's almost certainly not okay if you're doing it because you can't stand to see them succeed, or because you think it's funny to set up a no-win scenario.



Would you say it is fair that a guaranteed "no win" situation can seem virtually identical from an "extremely difficult to win" situation? If so then, do you think the determining factor in a players response the given situation is knowing to trust that their DM is not invested in creating "no win" situations but that the world itself might present "extremely difficult to win" situations?

To clarify, if it is 100% true that the DM is not interested in whether the PCs succeed or not against a given task, would this preclude a "gotcha" situation as you have described?

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

The underlying issue with the door scenario is that it belies a simulationist v. narrativist approach to gaming. Sure, locked doors are perfectly logical, and minimizing the ways that the lock can be bypassed is also perfectly logical. But the players do not exist inside a simulation of perfect versimilitude (unless you are an exceptionally talented and nigh-obsessive designer) and thus fall victim to the narrative law of conservation of detail (a creator only describes something if it is to be important in the story, a more broadly defined Chekov's Gun sort of rule). 

By presenting such a barrier with such resolute defenses, the DM is implying that the barrier is somehow important (otherwise the door would be unlocked or conventionally locked). Therefore it is completely reasonable for players to think that the door is important, and furthermore for their characters to think that it is important (considering that dungeoneering is mostly dignified grave-robbery, a locked door is more likely to hold something valuable). Thus the DM has created a cognitive trap that compels the players to remove the barrier via the one approved solution he has crafted. That, to me, is a "gotcha". If there is in fact nothing at all behind the door, it is not only a "gotcha" but flat-out poor storytelling.     
The underlying issue with the door scenario is that it belies a simulationist v. narrativist approach to gaming. Sure, locked doors are perfectly logical, and minimizing the ways that the lock can be bypassed is also perfectly logical. But the players do not exist inside a simulation of perfect versimilitude (unless you are an exceptionally talented and nigh-obsessive designer) and thus fall victim to the narrative law of conservation of detail (a creator only describes something if it is to be important in the story, a more broadly defined Chekov's Gun sort of rule). 

By presenting such a barrier with such resolute defenses, the DM is implying that the barrier is somehow important (otherwise the door would be unlocked or conventionally locked). Therefore it is completely reasonable for players to think that the door is important, and furthermore for their characters to think that it is important (considering that dungeoneering is mostly dignified grave-robbery, a locked door is more likely to hold something valuable). Thus the DM has created a cognitive trap that compels the players to remove the barrier via the one approved solution he has crafted. That, to me, is a "gotcha". If there is in fact nothing at all behind the door, it is not only a "gotcha" but flat-out poor storytelling.     



I think you are infering more than is meant by the example though I whole-heartedly agree with your use of Chekov's gun especially in that I believe the DM's presentation is paramount in preventing "Gotcha" scenarios and is, in fact, often the only thing that makes or breaks such a situation.

I will re-emphasize that "resolute defenses" are not what is intended here if you are impyling that these defenses are -arbitrarily- insurmountable. What I am saying is, the door was made with whatever XYZ qualities...AS IT STANDS, there might not be an immediate way for those things to be by-passed by the PCs at face value. These qualities are made independent of the PCs abilities and are, for sake of this example, crafted in a vacuum...the door exists to be a door, not a barrier to the PCs...merely a barrier to entry of the room. The door exists apart form the current state of the PCs just as the doors of a vault were not made to keep "YagamiFire" from entering. Instead, that vault door was made to keep people out in a general sense.

Now, this also assumes that XYZ qualities are static and beyond the influence of the DM, especially after the door is placed into the game world. So, if the players run into the door and cannot by-pass it with the conventional key and exhaust their brute-force methods (this phrase is inclusive of thieves guile, etc) and decide to abandon the door...is this a "gotcha"? We'll assign this question as question BLAH (relevant shortly ahead)

Furthermore, what if, three hours (or whenever) later, immediately after a battle, for instance, one of the PCs say "OMG! Duh! If I cast A on character B he should be able to use C long enough to get through that door that stymied us!".

If the PCs then return, enact their plan (which the DM had no consideration of originally) and successfully hack through the door (or whatever the clever brute-force method they apply is) to get through...is this still a "gotcha"? If no, and the answer to BLAH was yes, does this mean, somehow, retro-actively, BLAH is made from "gotcha" into "not gotcha" while having nothing to do with the DM or the door itself?

EDIT: I will also further clarify that I do not put stock into "Narrativist" and "Simulationist" divisions as I have said in another thread that I would describe my job as DM as "Narrating a simulation" with a 100% straight-face...it is what I believe. Therefore, if players run into a door they can't get through or around they are expected to know that,  just like in real life, they are more than welcome to walk away...they are also more than welcome to continue to think a way around the situation (NOTE: not around ME...around the situation)  or to leave then return or whatever they so choose.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I agree with most of the posters so far, but there is one thing I think also falls into the categorey of "gotcha". 


It's that moment 4 rounds later that the DM/palyer forgot a rule and it wasn't enforced.  This rule must be one that could/would have changed a player's actions if it had been used.  The DM then forces the player to retroactively account for said rule, rather than just having them do follow it from that point forward.  
I agree with most of the posters so far, but there is one thing I think also falls into the categorey of "gotcha". 


It's that moment 4 rounds later that the DM/palyer forgot a rule and it wasn't enforced.  This rule must be one that could/would have changed a player's actions if it had been used.  The DM then forces the player to retroactively account for said rule, rather than just having them do follow it from that point forward.  



Yes this is a bad practice in general, even if I am not sure if it falls into a "gotcha" category...but it is definitely worth of being mentioned as bad. A retcon of events is a jarring disruption of the game's "reality" and should always be avoided, I would say. It is the equivalent of asking a player to undo a turn of moves in chess because you realized that you made a mistake. Not kosher at all.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I draw a very real distinction between simulationism and narrativism (while accepting that it is logically impossible to have a game that is entirely one or the other, the differences between the two approaches are significant enough to have their practitioners arrive at very different conclusions).

I feel that simulationism naturally breaks down the further you work towards its logical extensions, since at the end of the day it's not Thorbad the Nevergood who installs the Door of Perpetual Frustration - it's the DM. The DM is the one who (arbitrarily) decides that Thorbad has access to these resources, the wherewithal to install it, and the intellect to put it somewhere of maximal value. This is all fine and "logical" on its face, but the DM is still the one putting it deliberately into the design.

To tangentially answer the question, if the players must follow the DM's pre-designed solution to any barrier, it is (to me) a "gotcha". If the players have the ability to work their own solution, it can't (by my definition) be a gotcha tactic. That doesn't mean that it is necessarily a fun endeavor or worthwhile design, but at least it includes player choice. A more clear-cut example of a "gotcha" is something that completely negates player choice ("Thorbad pulls the lever behind his throne and you fall through a trap door." "But I cast levitation!" "Too bad, you're standing in an anti-magic zone.")
I draw a very real distinction between simulationism and narrativism (while accepting that it is logically impossible to have a game that is entirely one or the other, the differences between the two approaches are significant enough to have their practitioners arrive at very different conclusions).

I feel that simulationism naturally breaks down the further you work towards its logical extensions, since at the end of the day it's not Thorbad the Nevergood who installs the Door of Perpetual Frustration - it's the DM. The DM is the one who (arbitrarily) decides that Thorbad has access to these resources, the wherewithal to install it, and the intellect to put it somewhere of maximal value. This is all fine and "logical" on its face, but the DM is still the one putting it deliberately into the design.

To tangentially answer the question, if the players must follow the DM's pre-designed solution to any barrier, it is (to me) a "gotcha". If the players have the ability to work their own solution, it can't (by my definition) be a gotcha tactic. That doesn't mean that it is necessarily a fun endeavor or worthwhile design, but at least it includes player choice. A more clear-cut example of a "gotcha" is something that completely negates player choice ("Thorbad pulls the lever behind his throne and you fall through a trap door." "But I cast levitation!" "Too bad, you're standing in an anti-magic zone.")



I do not think I believe that the distinction is necessarily that hard-coded. Again, I consider myself to "narrate a simulation"...which category do I necessarily fall into?

If the door was randomly generated and could have just as easily been unlocked if circumstances had been different? If, indeed, there was even a roll for it to have been left unlocked (as doors can often be if they are tied to a key) but it wound up being locked due to the luck of the dice, is that not beyond the DM's control? While yes, they could have decided that it just wasn't there or used a different chart, or what have you, does it impact the "gotcha!"-ness of the situation?

Also, at what point does the "Gotcha!"-ness depend solely on the players understanding of the meta-situation? That is to say, in the example we have crafted, it WAS within the players capability to get past the door...potentially in any number of ways...however, if they do not arrive at those methods, would the situation not seem as if it is a "gotcha!" despite them later coming to an answer that they could have used earlier had it occured to them? Couldn't a "gotcha!" then actually not be one, but only be perceived as one due to a lack of trust at the table?

Taking that to its logical terminal point, does this not mean that if my players FACTUALLY KNOW that I am not invested for or against them and am, instead, presenting the world as it is, would the door situation not be reduced to a balancing between player ingenuity and desire to invest both real and game time (time being a very real resource, after all)? Knowing that I will not arbitrarily over-rule them, nor arbitrarily say they by-pass something when logically they would not, does this not put the situation entirely into the hands of the players to "have at" as they will and as they desire?

ASIDE: I agree your example regarding the trap-door is very much a "Gotcha!" situation...a poor, inept one at that from what is assuredly an infuriating DM who doesn't much deserve his position at the table, but a "Gotcha!" all the same.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

The traditional gotch-ya DM move is pretty basic. You put the PCs in a room with a door. The door can even have a sign on it, labeling it as the exist. The first one to open it gets a no save death effect. The correct answer was to take the air vents. 

You line up an obvious situation where there is no reason for danger, and then suprise the players with an unavoidable [bad thing].  

Variants include the "Guess what I'm thinking DM". Exemplified by putting the players in a room with 3 unmarked doors. Opening one leads to instant death. The second leads to a hard encounter, and the third leads to safety.  The only safe way out is to read the DMs mind. Something many players are not good at doing. 

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

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

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The traditional gotch-ya DM move is pretty basic. You put the PCs in a room with a door. The door can even have a sign on it, labeling it as the exist. The first one to open it gets a no save death effect. The correct answer was to take the air vents. 

You line up an obvious situation where there is no reason for danger, and then suprise the players with an unavoidable [bad thing].  

Variants include the "Guess what I'm thinking DM". Exemplified by putting the players in a room with 3 unmarked doors. Opening one leads to instant death. The second leads to a hard encounter, and the third leads to safety.  The only safe way out is to read the DMs mind. Something many players are not good at doing. 




Would you say that in a situation where a reasonable amount of description was given to the players that would lead them to be cautious over their choices could render (for instance) the 3 unmarked door situation into a non "gotcha" situation? What I mean is, if the PCs could reasonably figure out which of the 3 doors lead to safety, would it be a "gotcha" situation?

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I agree with most of the posters so far, but there is one thing I think also falls into the categorey of "gotcha". 


It's that moment 4 rounds later that the DM/palyer forgot a rule and it wasn't enforced.  This rule must be one that could/would have changed a player's actions if it had been used.  The DM then forces the player to retroactively account for said rule, rather than just having them do follow it from that point forward.  



I partially agree with this, but at the same time, I don't view it as necessarily bad. Just forgetfulness on part of the DM and players. I've discovered this happens from time to time, but it's something that's very hard to stop. So instead of trying to eliminate it completely, I just roll with it. I rarely let retcons into the game, unless it's important. Otherwise, I just force the session to continue as has happened thus far.

As for "gotcha" in it's entirety, I think it's okay in limited amounts. Even if it were to halt the progress of the adventure. That said, the "gotcha" in it's definition shouldn't be restricted to a single solution on part of the DM, IMO. As with the door that can only be opened a certain way, I personally think this is fair game and lends itself to encouraging the PCs to do more exploring or pace themselves and face the challenge when they're ready. That said, should they come up with a creative solution to bypass the door, always give it a chance to work instead of shutting it down.

I understand why "gotcha" moments are frowned upon because they can stifle creativity but, IMO, they're more about making the players think about what they're doing and why they're doing it. I feel that if players don't slow down sometimes and think, even if it is for a single solution, that they can become too caught up in small meaningless problems towards the larger goals. I also feel "gotcha" moments can be utilized in positive ways, but at the moment specific examples elude me. Anyway, I'm very tired. I'm going to bed. I'll check back later.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
Perception actually plays a relatively small role in the "gotcha" situation (other than Krusk's all too common example of the sadly obtuse DM who doesn't realize how opaque his scenario is). Gotcha is about choice, specifically the lack of it.

Setting aside my bias against simulationism (in D&D at least; as a writer I extract an incredible amount of enjoyment from world-building and storycraft, but that generally translates into frustration at the playing table), "gotcha" is generally poor form for two reasons. For one, it creates an unnecessarily hostile relationship between the DM and the players. If the DM is always trying to "outsmart" the players when he has an enormous amount of game-mechanic advantages against them, he only invites them to try the same. A "gotcha", as Lunar points out, is typically used to funnel the possible range of PC actions into a few predictable outcomes, usually for the sake of planning and pacing. If you take a step back from the table you can see that the "gotcha" is really just a poor design choice (think of all those times in a video game when you hit a barrier that forces you to backtrack through a level, and think of how much "fun" you had). If you need to slow down the PCs, add in a skill challenge or a roleplaying scenario, or re-design your adventure area.

The best solution that I know of to fighting poor design choice is embracing the "Yes, and..." mentality to DMing. A good session will have its ups and downs, but it should be evenly paced and engaging from start to finish. Letting your players use their imaginations will help that. 
To clarify, if it is 100% true that the DM is not interested in whether the PCs succeed or not against a given task, would this preclude a "gotcha" situation as you have described?



If the players know that's how the DM thinks, then yes. In your case, I'm assuming your players know that you make heavy use of random tables, so that it's easily possible for situations to get rolled up that wouldn't occur in someone else's game or would have different meaning if they did.

In the door scenario, I don't think it's necessarily a bad setup. Actually, I might do something like that -- create an obstacle, think of the obvious ways to circumvent it and build in things to block those solutions. The key detail in my approach that I think makes it reasonable is that I only block those solutions that I think of beforehand. If the PC's come up with a clever approach (or even an obvious one) that I didn't think of, then it will work, or have a chance at working with some skill checks. I do not retcon barriers to their ideas on the fly, because I could do that all day just to make it impossible or to try to force them into the One True Solution, both of which would be bad DMing in my opinion, whether or not classified as "gotcha."
To me the door example is not gotcha DMing. It can be railroading if done to force the PCs down a particular path or it could simply be bad DMing because the story get stuck*. To me Gotcha DMing tends to involve a situation in which the players observe one thing, base their action on it and than get punished for doing the logical thing.

Obviously, from a story perspective the occassional 'gotcha' is fine, especially if the players afterwards realize they would have seen it comming had they been paying attention. For example, some of my friends still talk with awe when their PCs were fooled by a villain into doing something and blindly believing that the item he gave them indeed would teleport them out. They never double checked the story, and hence were really surprised when the item did not teleport them at all. It was a gotcha, but the players trusted their DM that if they had done the necessary footwork they would have learned about the plot and looking backwards they realized there had been clues enough.

On the other hand, some Gotchas are just bad. For example, the few times I had new players purposely express that they gather their dropped weapons after a fight, I always tell tham that you really do not have to tell me that. I am not going to grin behind my DM screen because you as a player forgot to grab your families ancestral weapon.

* Mind you, I have used these kind of situations in my campaigns just because my players sometimes really like to discuss problem solving or to impress the fact that just because to keep the adventure going I am usually not bothering with the mundane does not mean there is no mundane (e.g. we are always ambushed on a shop <> only when I detail the ship somehting will happen, the dozens of time nothing happens I don't bother with the ship). If the players get blindsided by the situation though, in other words they litterally are spending more then 15 minutes on what is just window dressing, I flat out say it is window dressing and they shouldn't worry too much.
Kerapalli sums up my views perfectly. Though the door example isn't a gotcha in my book. It's just poor design that needs to be left in the 70s. Pacing and momentum is important. I take the view that every session should be played as if it was the game's last. A door hiding the rest of the adventure with one solution goes against that notion. Is it logical to come across a door that is beyond the PCs' abilities to open? I guess so. Is it fun? Probably not. It's like I told a DM the other day, after 20 years of gaming if I have to spend even a second of session time describing how I approach, position myself, search, unlock a door, and say who goes into the room first, just assume I set off the trap directly into my face, then let's just get on with it. Those niggling transactions can simply go.

I view "gotcha DMing" much the same as the ideas of "metagaming" and "railroading," which is to say, these are three concepts with no single definition across a sampling of gamers, but rather buzz words that say, "whatever it is you're doing, I don't like it."

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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Perception actually plays a relatively small role in the "gotcha" situation (other than Krusk's all too common example of the sadly obtuse DM who doesn't realize how opaque his scenario is). Gotcha is about choice, specifically the lack of it.

Setting aside my bias against simulationism (in D&D at least; as a writer I extract an incredible amount of enjoyment from world-building and storycraft, but that generally translates into frustration at the playing table), "gotcha" is generally poor form for two reasons. For one, it creates an unnecessarily hostile relationship between the DM and the players. If the DM is always trying to "outsmart" the players when he has an enormous amount of game-mechanic advantages against them, he only invites them to try the same. A "gotcha", as Lunar points out, is typically used to funnel the possible range of PC actions into a few predictable outcomes, usually for the sake of planning and pacing. If you take a step back from the table you can see that the "gotcha" is really just a poor design choice (think of all those times in a video game when you hit a barrier that forces you to backtrack through a level, and think of how much "fun" you had). If you need to slow down the PCs, add in a skill challenge or a roleplaying scenario, or re-design your adventure area.

The best solution that I know of to fighting poor design choice is embracing the "Yes, and..." mentality to DMing. A good session will have its ups and downs, but it should be evenly paced and engaging from start to finish. Letting your players use their imaginations will help that. 



However, isn't this all dependent on player expectations of the game, its world and the methodology of the game? The concept of a "funnel" or "if you need to slow down" etc all presumes an agenda by the DM. If it is known there is no agenda at play, at what point is the "gotcha" completely nullified? The very word itself implies an agenda because it's trying to "get" something over on the PCs.

It really seems to me like there is a HUGE victim mentality being invoked either for or on the part of the PCs.

Kerapalli sums up my views perfectly. Though the door example isn't a gotcha in my book. It's just poor design that needs to be left in the 70s. Pacing and momentum is important. I take the view that every session should be played as if it was the game's last. A door hiding the rest of the adventure with one solution goes against that notion. Is it logical to come across a door that is beyond the PCs' abilities to open? I guess so. Is it fun? Probably not. It's like I told a DM the other day, after 20 years of gaming if I have to spend even a second of session time describing how I approach, position myself, search, unlock a door, and say who goes into the room first, just assume I set off the trap directly into my face, then let's just get on with it. Those niggling transactions can simply go.

I view "gotcha DMing" much the same as the ideas of "metagaming" and "railroading," which is to say, these are three concepts with no single definition across a sampling of gamers, but rather buzz words that say, "whatever it is you're doing, I don't like it."



The assumptions here are vast. So I will try to clarify again.

You mention pacing and momentum but how is that entirely the purview of the DM? In a PC-driven game, isn't it necessarily the efforts of the PCs that drive the pace (and therefore the momentum and pacing) of the game? Also you mention "hiding the rest of the adventure" but I question if you have read the thread as it is explicitly stated several times that A) there is no "ADVENTURE" as there is no story or such at work... B) also nowhere in any part of the explaination does it say there is anything particular behind the door. These are all assumptions being read into it...actually, even more than that, these are all things being RE-INTRODUCED to the situation even after it's explained that it isn't the case.

Essentially, again, I have to invoke that this seems like a pretty major persecution complex when someone says "Okay first of all, these people are definitely not there to hurt you...what do you do?" "I draw my sword since they want to hurt me" "Uh...." - that is pretty much what I am getting from this.

I'd also heavily disagre with the ideas that phrases, especially meta-gaming, are meaningless. They aren't. Do people use them incorrectly? Sure, but it's like saying that "literally" doesn't mean anything because a bunch of morons use phrases like "The weather is so bad here it's literally hell on earth"...well yeah, people can mis-use words. That is, however, not the words fault...and the word or phrase should not be thrown out. People should just strive to use it correctly. Cutting words out of conversations though seems to me a poor attempt to control said conversation.

As far as the "20 year" remark though with approaching doors and such...it really seems to me like you've either grown board with some of the core concepts of D&D (though these concepts are by no means hard-coded into the game) or that, very likely, you have gamed with some very bad DMs. I would ask you this, since you brought up a trapped door...if you don't want to deal with that or "spend a second on it"...what if the rogue in the group does and he is seated next to you?

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

The assumptions here are vast. So I will try to clarify again.

You mention pacing and momentum but how is that entirely the purview of the DM? In a PC-driven game, isn't it necessarily the efforts of the PCs that drive the pace (and therefore the momentum and pacing) of the game?



Pacing and momentum are driven by the players of the game in my view, among whose number I count the DM since we're all playing a game together. If the momentum is not being sustained by the PCs, then the DM should step in and inject some tension or action, based upon established fiction. How and when the DM arrives at that decision and how he determines what action to inject will be a matter of style.

Also you mention "hiding the rest of the adventure" but I question if you have read the thread as it is explicitly stated several times that A) there is no "ADVENTURE" as there is no story or such at work... B) also nowhere in any part of the explaination does it say there is anything particular behind the door. These are all assumptions being read into it...actually, even more than that, these are all things being RE-INTRODUCED to the situation even after it's explained that it isn't the case.



You don't need to have a story to have an adventure. Presumably, the door is in a location and the PCs are exploring said location. That's an adventure. A door with nothing behind it shouldn't even be in the location. 

Essentially, again, I have to invoke that this seems like a pretty major persecution complex when someone says "Okay first of all, these people are definitely not there to hurt you...what do you do?" "I draw my sword since they want to hurt me" "Uh...." - that is pretty much what I am getting from this.



I'm not sure what this is in reference to.

I'd also heavily disagre with the ideas that phrases, especially meta-gaming, are meaningless. They aren't. Do people use them incorrectly? Sure, but it's like saying that "literally" doesn't mean anything because a bunch of morons use phrases like "The weather is so bad here it's literally hell on earth"...well yeah, people can mis-use words. That is, however, not the words fault...and the word or phrase should not be thrown out. People should just strive to use it correctly. Cutting words out of conversations though seems to me a poor attempt to control said conversation.



What are the correct, universally agreed-upon definitions of these terms then? (Links will do.) And if you have such definitions, why are we discussing the definition of "gotcha" here? Or rather, why did you ask, "what is 'gotcha' DMing to you" if there's already a definition?

As far as the "20 year" remark though with approaching doors and such...it really seems to me like you've either grown board with some of the core concepts of D&D (though these concepts are by no means hard-coded into the game) or that, very likely, you have gamed with some very bad DMs. I would ask you this, since you brought up a trapped door...if you don't want to deal with that or "spend a second on it"...what if the rogue in the group does and he is seated next to you?



Yes, I'm bored of searching doors for traps and determining marching order. Luckily, 4e does away with some of the door searching (in theory). That doesn't stop old DMs from clinging to legacy design/approaches though, even if they are good DMs otherwise.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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Pacing and momentum are driven by the players of the game in my view, among whose number I count the DM since we're all playing a game together. If the momentum is not being sustained by the PCs, then the DM should step in and inject some tension or action, based upon established fiction. How and when the DM arrives at that decision and how he determines what action to inject will be a matter of style.

"If you guys think you've used up your options, there's plenty more dungeon and plenty more world out there. The door's bolted to the wall...it's not going anywhere. It's been here a couple hundred years so its probably not going anywhere any time soon."

Does that count as interjecting properly?
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />Then it's a pointless and useless example. Why are we even discussing it? Also, you don't need to have a story to have an adventure. Presumably, the door is in a location and the PCs are exploring said location. That's an adventure. A door with nothing behind it shouldn't even be in the location. It's a complete waste of time.

You are drawing incorrect conclusions. There is NOTHING IN PARTICULAR behind the door...not NOTHING. Again, as originally outlined, I am not making any assumptions about what is behind the door. The door itself is the matter of discussion. Again: The door does not necessarily have anything behind it...and it DEFINITELY does not have anything behind it that is key to something that, without it, will end the PCs ability to continue to have fun and adventure in the world. Could the door have something interesting behind it that opens up more options? Sure. Could it have treasure? Sure. Could it have a different part of the location they are exploring? Sure. However, turning around and walking away with, in no way, eliminate "fun" from the game if you quantify "fun" as "things we can do". In this case, "getting past this door right now" might as well be "jump up and high-five the moon"...neither is mechanically or feasibly possible, but it's lack of current possibility does not preclude the PCs from taking further actions. There is no pre-defined "narrative" going on...there are no expectations thrust upon the PCs except those they might wish to create. I expect NOTHING of them.

..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />I'm not sure what this is in reference to.

It is in reference to the fact that I have, multiple times now, clarified the intent of the DM in this situation (No agenda, no expectations, no punitive measures, etc etc) but intent of a different kind is continuously being placed into the DM in peoples replies. Again, it is the equivalent of a person telling you "There is absolutely no reason these people you are meeting will want to hurt you" and your reply is "Then I draw my sword since they want to hurt me"...it is a complete disconnect between what one person is saying to another. 

What are the correct, universally agreed-upon definitions of these terms then? (Links will do.) And if you have such definitions, why are we discussing the definition of "gotcha" here? Or rather, why did you ask, "what is 'gotcha' DMing to you" if there's already a definition?

Meta-game is the derived from the actual consequences of engaging in a game against another person in that game. That is to say, when you make decisions based on the decisions your opponent or competitor would be making based on the game's rules, strategies or environment, that is meta-gaming.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

"If you guys think you've used up your options, there's plenty more dungeon and plenty more world out there. The door's bolted to the wall...it's not going anywhere. It's been here a couple hundred years so its probably not going anywhere any time soon."

Does that count as interjecting properly?



That'd be up to the group's individual tastes.



Meta-game is the derived from the actual consequences of engaging in a game against another person in that game. That is to say, when you make decisions based on the decisions your opponent or competitor would be making based on the game's rules, strategies or environment, that is meta-gaming.

 

I disagree with your definition. Where's the "official" definition? Also, what is the official definition of "gotcha?" Links will do, or page references to published materials. Please note that I play 4e, so if the definition comes from any other edition, it's not applicable.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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 Please commit to a stance. To you, is this an agreeable interjection?

Could you come up with another example?

The players, through their own research and tenacity (since I personally have a group of motivated, intelligent players indeed) have discovered there could very well be a treasure nearby but the locals believe it to be guarded by a dragon. They have figured that the dragon could be a wyvern or some lesser beast since the descriptions seem vague or folkloric at best. They do eventually find the place in question and, indeed, there is a dragon of great size and dangerousness. The group, at this point, says to themselves “Well this thing could be an absolute bear to face. Let us wait until we have amassed greater power because undertaking such a task”… the group agrees and goes on their merry way to do something else that strikes their fancy. NOTE: The dragon was in place in the area long before the PCs started investigating…that is to say, the DM had awareness of the dragon before it could have been reasonably made aware to the players. It is not a quantum-dragon…it was “always” there. In this example, were the PCs presented with a “gotcha”? Does it depend on whether or not they engaged the dragon and lived or died? As always, assume the players sitting around the table fully understand that the DM has no vested interest in the success or failure of the PCs and allows them to do as they will and make their choices as they desire so they factually know this treasure/dragon is not load-bearing…no grand narrative rests on its scaly shoulders.


I disagree with your definition. Where's the "official" definition? Also, what is the official definition of "gotcha?" Links will do, or page references to published materials. Please note that I play 4e, so if the definition comes from any other edition, it's not applicable.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metagaming: “In simple terms, it is the use of out-of-game information or resources to affect one's in-game decisions.” Does it cover a breadth of situations and dynamics? Yes. But that is the case with any word just as if I say “Sandwich”…is it a Rueben? Is it a Hoagey? Is it from Subway? It is a cheesemelt? Those are all sandwiches. All those things are metagaming, some apply more than others and some are more appropriate than others, but that is the origin and usage of the word. Misuse may very…but misuse of words is LITERALLY one of the most common mistakes in communication. In that case you, unfortunately, can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater…it’s not the words fault.

Here’s another freebie. 1. railroadingpresent participle of rail·road (Verb)

Verb: 1. Press (someone) into doing something by rushing or coercing them: "she hesitated, unwilling to be railroaded into a decision".

Sorry to be to terse on this but I hate when people discuss the WORDS of a conversation rather than, y’know, the conversation. I do not enjoy debating what “is” is. The rogue can have his spotlight, sure. I would blame this transaction on the DM for setting it up so poorly, not the rogue for doing the thing he does. 

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

To the OP:

I'd define it as various DM actions that basically "trick" the players. For example, having a dragon be a minion while his weak human undereling is a solo, or telling the ranger that because he did not specifically say he was resting during the extended rest, he gains no benefits from it.
"The real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development." -Albert Einstein Resident Left Hand of Stalin and Banana Stand Grandstander Half of the Ambiguously Gay Duo House of Trolls, looking for a partner Wondering what happened to the Star Wars forums?
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141722973 wrote:
And it wasn't ****. It was subjectively concensual sex.
57036828 wrote:
Marketing and design are two different things. For instance the snuggy was designed for people in wheel chairs and marketed to people that are too incompetent to operate a blanket.
75239035 wrote:
I personally don't want him decapitated.
141722973 wrote:
And do not call me a Yank. I am a Québecois, basically your better.
And the greatest post moderation of all time...
58115148 wrote:
I gave that (Content Removed) a to-scale Lego replica. (Content Removed) love to-scale Lego replicas. (ORC_Cerberus: Edited - Vulgarity is against the Code of Conduct)
Ah yes. I would agree those are good examples of bad things, Corran. Those fit the bill especially in that they seem quite arbitrary and adversarial

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Bryta, they are fairly extreme. A better response to your OP would be "these examples, and such behavior with less significant consequences."
"The real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development." -Albert Einstein Resident Left Hand of Stalin and Banana Stand Grandstander Half of the Ambiguously Gay Duo House of Trolls, looking for a partner Wondering what happened to the Star Wars forums?
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141722973 wrote:
And it wasn't ****. It was subjectively concensual sex.
57036828 wrote:
Marketing and design are two different things. For instance the snuggy was designed for people in wheel chairs and marketed to people that are too incompetent to operate a blanket.
75239035 wrote:
I personally don't want him decapitated.
141722973 wrote:
And do not call me a Yank. I am a Québecois, basically your better.
And the greatest post moderation of all time...
58115148 wrote:
I gave that (Content Removed) a to-scale Lego replica. (Content Removed) love to-scale Lego replicas. (ORC_Cerberus: Edited - Vulgarity is against the Code of Conduct)


Would you say that in a situation where a reasonable amount of description was given to the players that would lead them to be cautious over their choices could render (for instance) the 3 unmarked door situation into a non "gotcha" situation? What I mean is, if the PCs could reasonably figure out which of the 3 doors lead to safety, would it be a "gotcha" situation?


If the PCs have a reasonable chance of discovering which door is the safe one it is not gotcha. Heck, if the PCs have an unreasonable chance, it isn't really gotcha. 

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

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

"Your advice is the worst"                                                  "I'd recommend no one listed to Krusk's opinions about what games to play"

Krusk, i think that is a good and important distinction. So you'd say then that the gotcha hinges on presentation? If so I think I'd agree.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

I've removed content from this thread. Trolling/baiting is a violation of the Code of Conduct

You can review the Code of Conduct here: company.wizards.com/conduct

Please remember to keep your posts polite, on topic and refrain from personal attacks. You are free to disagree with one another as long as it is done in a respectful manner.
Though this is tedious at this point....here are the steps I went through...

I attempted to log in with my current email address and log in name...it told me my email was, in fact, incorrect. Realizing that when I set up this account ages ago that I used an older email address that i now use only for spam, I relogged in with the older address...that worked and it had me set up my missing board preferences. I did not register or sign up...nor do I know the vagaries of how that reflects join dates and such in wizard land.

So again...whoever you might think I am, rest assured, again, I've never posted here previous to what it says my board start date is.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

. So again...whoever you might think I am, rest assured, again, I've never posted here previous to what it says my board start date is.



So, I'm pretty sure I'm going insane.......or need glasses............
"The real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development." -Albert Einstein Resident Left Hand of Stalin and Banana Stand Grandstander Half of the Ambiguously Gay Duo House of Trolls, looking for a partner Wondering what happened to the Star Wars forums?
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Star Wars Minis has a home here http://www.bloomilk.com/ and Star Wars Saga Edition RPG has a home here http://thesagacontinues.createaforum.com/index.php
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141722973 wrote:
And it wasn't ****. It was subjectively concensual sex.
57036828 wrote:
Marketing and design are two different things. For instance the snuggy was designed for people in wheel chairs and marketed to people that are too incompetent to operate a blanket.
75239035 wrote:
I personally don't want him decapitated.
141722973 wrote:
And do not call me a Yank. I am a Québecois, basically your better.
And the greatest post moderation of all time...
58115148 wrote:
I gave that (Content Removed) a to-scale Lego replica. (Content Removed) love to-scale Lego replicas. (ORC_Cerberus: Edited - Vulgarity is against the Code of Conduct)
If your players' responses to seeing a door is to stand at least 40' back, hurl magical effects and explosives at it until its destroyed and than blast the room on the other side until its nothing but a wall of flames, you may have engaged in "Gotcha!" DMing too much.

In general, "Gotcha!" DMing is when YOU PERSONALLY have lead your players to believe that something is the case, only to turn around and tell them its not the case.  If you think of your campaign as a story, and the players, then the DM is the narrator.  And "Gotcha!" DMing is when you have become an unreliable narrator.  This is often not related to specific events, but HOW YOU PORTRAY THEM.

A Door in the Lost Treasure Store of King Argammon the Mad is cursed - Fine!

The players are in the treasure store of a king you've named "the Mad."  They should be expecting unexpected traps and trickery, and should research it.  Dangerous, unexpected traps and nasty encounters add to the scenario and the situation, and your players will generally not feel betrayed.  Keys are to make sure that (if they do any research) they discover King Argammon was notoriously paranoid, hired Wizards to safeguard everything, and was hostile and distrustful of thieves.   At that point virtually any puzzle or trap is fine, because the players expect things to be dangerous.  The curse should be either curable or there should be a way to avoid it, naturally.

A Door inside the Merchant's Guid that is commonly used and not obviously marked curses anyone who is not wearing a very specific symbol - GOTCHA!

The players would seriously have no reason to expect this outcome to their actions.  Even if they expected the door was warded, the specific symbol would be hard to realize.  You'd have to ensure that the players hear about the curse, learn the need to find the symbol, and make sure that they are aware of what's happening - otherwise it's basically "walk through a random door, eat curse."

The Jewel that the players need is the prize of a very rich and very jealous nobleman who hordes his possessions.  If they steal it, they will incur his wrath and he will hire assassins and other adventurers to retrieve it - Fair!

The players know of the danger, and are aware that their actions have consequences.  Maybe they can even negotiate with him to avoid those consequences!  If they can't it borders on Gotcha DMing, but at least the players know whats coming and can deal with it.  

The Jewel that the players picked up has a useful magical power, but was once part of a Dragon's horde, and now they're being stalked by an angry red dragon that will attack them - Gotcha!

If a DM did this to me I'd just be like "... really?"  It's so goddamn bad.



It's all in Player Choice and Player Expectation.  If there's a negative consequence it should be a reasonable consequence of the Player's Choice and the players should have some expectation that the choice would have that outcome.   If the choice and the expectation does not exist, the DM has betrayed the players and has become an unreliable narrator. 
If your players' responses to seeing a door is to stand at least 40' back, hurl magical effects and explosives at it until its destroyed and than blast the room on the other side until its nothing but a wall of flames, you may have engaged in "Gotcha!" DMing too much.

In general, "Gotcha!" DMing is when YOU PERSONALLY have lead your players to believe that something is the case, only to turn around and tell them its not the case.  If you think of your campaign as a story, and the players, then the DM is the narrator.  And "Gotcha!" DMing is when you have become an unreliable narrator.  This is often not related to specific events, but HOW YOU PORTRAY THEM.

A Door in the Lost Treasure Store of King Argammon the Mad is cursed - Fine!

The players are in the treasure store of a king you've named "the Mad."  They should be expecting unexpected traps and trickery, and should research it.  Dangerous, unexpected traps and nasty encounters add to the scenario and the situation, and your players will generally not feel betrayed.  Keys are to make sure that (if they do any research) they discover King Argammon was notoriously paranoid, hired Wizards to safeguard everything, and was hostile and distrustful of thieves.   At that point virtually any puzzle or trap is fine, because the players expect things to be dangerous.  The curse should be either curable or there should be a way to avoid it, naturally.

A Door inside the Merchant's Guid that is commonly used and not obviously marked curses anyone who is not wearing a very specific symbol - GOTCHA!

The players would seriously have no reason to expect this outcome to their actions.  Even if they expected the door was warded, the specific symbol would be hard to realize.  You'd have to ensure that the players hear about the curse, learn the need to find the symbol, and make sure that they are aware of what's happening - otherwise it's basically "walk through a random door, eat curse."

The Jewel that the players need is the prize of a very rich and very jealous nobleman who hordes his possessions.  If they steal it, they will incur his wrath and he will hire assassins and other adventurers to retrieve it - Fair!

The players know of the danger, and are aware that their actions have consequences.  Maybe they can even negotiate with him to avoid those consequences!  If they can't it borders on Gotcha DMing, but at least the players know whats coming and can deal with it.  

The Jewel that the players picked up has a useful magical power, but was once part of a Dragon's horde, and now they're being stalked by an angry red dragon that will attack them - Gotcha!

If a DM did this to me I'd just be like "... really?"  It's so goddamn bad.



It's all in Player Choice and Player Expectation.  If there's a negative consequence it should be a reasonable consequence of the Player's Choice and the players should have some expectation that the choice would have that outcome.   If the choice and the expectation does not exist, the DM has betrayed the players and has become an unreliable narrator. 



Thank you for getting the thread back on its rails with your excellent post.

I declare the thread ended as the answer has been found!
"The great epochs of our life come when we gain the courage to rechristen our evil as what is best in us." - Friedrich Nietzsche
GreyIce that is some seriously good explaining right there.

So you would say, perhaps, that there is nothing more important than context provided?

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

Back on my point of using choke points or "gotcha" moments as pacing.

I see nothing wrong with pacing the group by forcing them to backtrack or sit down and think for a moment.

But, in that same light, I've always encouraged exploration. For me, if I meet a door I can't bypass in a game, I enjoy that. Because I like exploring an area to it's fullest. If the door is there, I know I'm free to run around in the area and see all there is to see. Make sure I miss nothing. If I'm role playing, the "door" (used as a general term to stop progress), could stop me to set up camp for the night and get some great roleplaying opportunities out of the me or the group. It might even be a chance for us to use all them fancy numbers on our sheets in various ways.

Now, I could see where that might be considered me putting in "safety protocols" to ensure that whatever I make as DM gets used, but that's not the case.

One time I can see where a "gotcha" might be good:

The players come to a locked door that pretty much halt's all adventure progress. The only way to open it is to turn the sand timer in the door and wait for it to empty itself. The timer is indestructible by physical means or magic. And can not be tampered with. The timer runs for 3 hours.

During this time, the party can only sit and wait, despite the fact they have been lead to believe there are other ways to open it.

So, once they come to the conclusion that they have to wait it out, they will likely turn to other thoughts. Like their resources. On the other side of the door, they know there's a sleeping dracolich. And it's been a long dungeon to trek through. They need rest. They need supplies.

This gives them a chance to make a bigger decision.

And as DM, I was able to give them this and turn the old negative "gotcha" into a good one by signaling to the party that they need to slow down before they kill themselves by pushing themselves too hard.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
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