That one moment when your character could have been awesome (The Seriously Seriously Moment)

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I tend to DM ... A LOT. We have quite a few players and several that occasionally try to start worlds, but don't stick to it... or else the players aren't willing to stick around long enough for the DM to get the hang of it. I would like for at least one of the DMs to get 'better' (whatever that means). It would give me a nice occasional break. Because I like to play, too.

I have noticed one particular theme that bothers me when they DM. At least for me it is the reason I would rather sit behind the screen than waste a good character idea on a grand dissappointing finale, as always seems to happen.

IT GOES A LITTLE SOMETHING LIKE THIS...

A character has a major enemy or obstacle. He plays some pretty well-thought-out encounters on his way to the enemy or obstacle. He begins to define himself by the pursuit of this enemy or overcoming this obstacle. He encounters the enemy or obstacle. He begins to execute his attack or method to overcome his enemy or obstacle. He encounters a major snag in the plan. He comes up with a brilliant way to overcome this final obstacle to reaching his goal... one that is particularly suited to the character... One that will make an epic story that both player and DM can tell their grand-children, or try a kickstarter project to make this THE ULTIMATE EPIC MOVIE EXPERIENCE.

Then the DM has to make a decision. The decision has not one choice, but three.

..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />The 1st choice would be to simply call success, if it's a fantastic plan, fitting to the character, and to the situation and shows that the player was paying attention to the details of the DM's world and used his character for the betterment of that world's story for the advancement of his character's personal story and for the entertainment of everyone involved. This choice never happens.

The 2nd choice is to try to find a way that acknowledges the merits of the plan by allowing for either perfect success (in which the plan works) or partial success (in which the plan works, but in a much less dramatic way) or at the very least can fail in a manner that doesn't destroy the character by killing him (or worse) destroys the character concept entirely.

And then there's the third option... I call it the Seriously? Seriously? option... the one that leaves you scratching your head that the DM is actually going to make the decision he is obviously going to make. This 3rd choice is to either simply call failure because even though it should work, heck probably would work and would make for an interesting story, it's "not in the rules". Or to give you a false hope chance of success. This of course will result in the player getting his butt handed to him by a superior opponent, probably killed. In all likelihood killed unless he manages to hack and slash his way out of it. Even if he survives the combat, he's no longer interested in the character and wants him to die so he can make a new character (but the DM is new and doesn't want to appear too "harsh" for fear of driving off players (ironically) and seems pretty set on forcing life upon the character. He will fudge rolls or use DM fiat to make this happen.. even if you tied the anchor around your own neck before jumping into the river... you will live.).

I know this might not be the most coherent thread ever written, but I was wondering...

Is there some way to explain to a DM that when he makes a ruling, that when possible he should think about what would make for the best story?




A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
Is there some way to explain to a DM that when he makes a ruling, that when possible he should think about what would make for the best story?


I'm kind of lost. Perhaps you could give us some detail to help flesh what exactly is going on so we help address the issue. As it is, all I know is that something happened, and someone made a less than optimum decision which has left a player feeling underwhelmed?

It's all about the DM's attitude. 

If he strictly adheres to the rules and/or to the story he has already formed in his own head, then your character doesn't have a snowflake's chance in hell of doing that awesome thing that surprised the DM. (this used to be me)

If, on the other hand, he is there to see what the players can come up with to solve a difficult situation, then cool stuff like this should work a lot more often. (this is what I now strive to be)

Unfortunately for you, an attitude adjustment like this is hard to accomplish for yourself, let alone trying to do it with someone else. You should make your DMs aware of these differences. The best and most succint advice I got towards this end was something like this: "the DM is not there to make the story play out as he thought of it beforehand. Like the players, the DM is there to see what happens next."
as an add on to svendj's point, I would add that it's a heck of a lot more fun for the DM to not force the players into what he/she has planned.  Instead try to adhere to the "the DM is there to see what the players can come up with to solve a difficult situation" instead of "strictly adheres to the rules and/or to the story he has already formed in his/her own head".

It's more fun for the players as well since they would probably feel they have more creative feedom at the table.
"Non nobis Domine Sed nomini tuo da gloriam" "I wish for death not because I want to die, but because I seek the war eternal"

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

Is there some way to explain to a DM that when he makes a ruling, that when possible he should think about what would make for the best story?



LMAO
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
This is called "Saying 'Yes, and....'"

The concept of "Yes, and..." is extraordinarily powerful, but it is not easy to explain or to learn, and it requires copious amounts of trust. Even if the rules recommend saying "Yes, and..." (which the 4th Edition rules, somewhat remarkably, do), most DMs, especially new ones, are going to think it means "Never say no" and dismiss it out of hand, or twist it to be "Yes, but..." (which is your option 3).

So, you probably won't get far just by asking the DM to use a "Yes, and..." approach. You have to build a foundation for it, and that foundation is composed of trust. The DM has to trust you, and that comes from showing that you trust them, probably repeatedly and over a long period of time. You can build that by using "Yes, and..." yourself.

The tricky part is the "and." Don't just go along with others' ideas, grab them and run with them, even to the detriment of your character. This shows that you can be trusted to embrace and improve on their ideas, which can begin to put them in the frame of mind of doing the same with yours.

If you're lucky, you'll get to the point at which you can say to the DM, "Ooh, how about this," and propose your idea for the story, and the DM will say "Yes, and...," picking up on your suggestion and running with it, even to the detriment of what he wanted to do, and even if they're not entirely prepared to implement your ideas.

That won't necessarily ever happen, but it definitely won't as long as you have your story and the DM has theirs. And it really has nothing to do with how good any of the stories are. It has to do with trust, acceptance, adding-on: in short, "Yes, and...."

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I'm kind of lost. Perhaps you could give us some detail to help flesh what exactly is going on so we help address the issue. As it is, all I know is that something happened, and someone made a less than optimum decision which has left a player feeling underwhelmed?


The DM begins with an hour-long diatribe about how is playing an oriental adventures campaign in which he wants to "highly encourage role-playing the esoteric aspects of the various philosophies of the fighting styles over the hack-and-slash elements". I prefer role-playing to simple hack-and-slash, so I was quite excited as I made my character... Subotai, a farmer whose extended family lived on the outskirts of the Mongolian horsemen of Kublai Khan who moved away from their homeland as the Mongolians became a horse culture to retain their traditional agrarian lifestyle. His father showed him some defensive stances that also included a flurry of kicks that "gained their power from the strength of the land".

I was playing a 1st level monk character that I portrayed as a generally peaceful-minded peasant that only used violence as a last resort. In the opening scene I was in the garden of my family home picking herbs while my family was in the house about to eat. Some powerful thugs came up and killed my family while I hid in the wheat field. After these people left, I took my few belongings... a sickle, a sack of grain and some ginseng and went to the nearest town to start a new life, not knowing what else to do.

While there, I find an old potter with a broken leg and find out that local extortionists from a martial arts dojo called The Fighting School had beaten him up to the point he couldn't make a living because he couldn't make it to the river to get fresh clay for his pots. So I fetch him some clay and tend to his needs in exchange for him making for me a pot of his finest work since he had stopped doing his best work when the thugs kept stealing it and breaking his things.

Then I decide to go to the Buddhist temple to pray for my family, but I don't have any incense to burn for my family's memory, so I go to the herbalist and give him some ginseng in exchange for incense and to repay the potter's debts for his healing ability. He refuses the extra payment for the potter because he is doing it out of charity. Seeing he is a good fellow, I ask about this Fighting School. He tells me of other people who have suffered by these thugs. I decide to go help them all as a way to overcome my grief for my own family.

But first, I go to the Temple with my incense only to discover the place was in disarray. The priests had left, the valuables stolen and the buddha statue broken. So I roleplay a bit that I gather up the pieces of the statue and try to put it together, but cannot. Then I look for broken prayer beads and such on the floor and using the frayed ends of my peasant robes, make a makeshift set of prayer beads. Using a grain sack as a prayer mat, I pray before the broken buddha. The DM says... you have a brief moment of peace, what do you do next?

So I, suddenly inspired, say... I have achieved enlightenment. I have discovered a new path to achievement that I will call The Broken Buddha Style. It is not a fighting style, but a new approach to living. I will make whole all of the things that the evil men of this world have destroyed (which was pretty much what I was doing anyway, but it was definitely more interesting now).

I begin with the potter. I go to him and explain that he must make his best effort when he makes me his pot. No less than his best will do. He tells me that the best clay is on the far end of town, but he won't go there for fear of the thugs. So I go there. On the way I encounter several of the people in town that were beaten up by the thugs and befriend them. Long story short.... I essentially give away almost everything I have but each friend gives me some paltry gift which I use to help someone else. I never gain wealth, but through clever use of whatever I do have, I manage to get by, but every person I meet ends up better off. This makes me happy, so it is good for my character as well.

When I finally make my way to the river I see one of the fighting school monks doing exercises for his hands, carrying jars full of riverwater from the river to the hilltop. I begin speaking to him and discover he is one of the people who was beaten up by the fighting school and that has joined the school to try to discover a weakness in the fighting school techniques. He says he has his own fighting style that he created as well and tells me proudly how superior the style is to all others. So I begin to question him... why is he studying the Fighting School style if his Drunken Monkey style is superior? I tell him he should give his best effort to his own style and not waste time on an inferior school. He says he is learning the weaknesses of the Fighting School style. I tell him if his fighting style requires him to study another style, then it is an inferior style. This angers him and he challenges me. But I am just a peasant, I proclaim. Not a fighter (I'm only 1st level monk, remember). And I apologize for offending him, but tell him if his style cannot defeat the other, then it must be inferior, but I know of a different style that is superior to all others. He then challenges me again to prove it. I again proclaim that it would not prove anything, because I am not a fighter, so I am quite able to do the things proscribed in my "Secret Style" and tell him that secrecy is truly the central point of my style. I tell him if he will show me what he can do and how he trains I will share a few lessons, though.

So he shows me three bags, filled with sand, dried beans, metal shavings. He begins punching and kicking the middle bag. I ask what he is doing. He says that the master tells him that he is to mash the beans to powder. I tell him that the method he uses is inferior to my fighting style, give me a copper kettle and I will demonstrate. Then I use my sickle to cut the bag of beans and tell him to then crush them by squeezing his hands together (good for grapple, I tell him). He does so and quickly grinds the beans to dust. I fill the bowl with water and make some soup. I bring the soup to the temple and begin giving it out as charity and then I go to get my wheat ground into flour. There, I tell him I will grind ALL the wheat to flour if I can take a pound of flour with me when I go. So I grind ALL the wheat, but take only the Absolute Best flour. This I take to The Noodle Man who local lore says makes the best noodles and no one will mess with him because his noodles are symbolic of life and broken noodles mean ill luck. So I give the noodle man enough of the best flour to make really good noodles and to befriend him as well. He is very cold to me, however.

I continue taking care of the potter, the temple, the herbalist, the miller, and keep tricking the Fighting School/Drunken Monkey monk into doing various tasks under the pretense of training, but in reality only serving my objective to help heal the town. The tasks are making the guy stronger, though, it seems. My Broken Buddha Secret Technique is obviously working.

After a time, however... I encounter the thugs again bothering the potter. Instead of fighting in his shop, I basically hike up my peasant skirt and moon the men and then run away. As I hoped they would, they leave the potter alone and then follow me. This makes them angry.

I find out that these two men are not actually part of Fighting School any more because my friend the herbalist had beaten them. I meet up with them again... this time bullying my friend the Fighting School/Drunk Monkey monk. I try the same thing as with the potter, but it doesn't work. I run to the Herbalist and tell him I will pay him for his help. I give him the potter's Absolute Best Pot (unintentionally hilarious, but I digress). So the potter and I run back to help our friend, who is pretty badly beaten by the time we get there. On the way I ask which enemy is tougher. He tells me which one and I tell him to attack that one. I ALSO attack that one, calling this the Broken Beads Become One Again technique. The herbalist is not a master of this technique apparently and instead changes his tactics at the last second and attacks the weaker one, leaving me to face off with the tougher opponent. I fight him defensively to buy enough time for the other two guys to beat up the one. In the mean-time, the weaker one manages to finally drop the Fighting School Drunk Monkey monk. The herbalist and I swap opponents and we both finish off the two thugs.

After their defeat, the herbalist brings our friend conscious enough to tell us he was supposed to bring some food to the fighting school and he will be punished severely if he doesn't go especially after being beaten by these two thugs. I decide to bring the food to the Fighting School in his stead.

Before I do so, however. I kick the two thugs mercilessly, strip them of all their belongings and give the articles back to the people they had stolen them from... even including their clothing. I keep the cloaks the men were wearing, however. The herbalist takes Fighting Monkey back to continue caring for him and I continue one of my many errands, one of which involved making biscuits for the potter. I take the food for the fighting school and my biscuits as well.

When I arrive, a guard won't let me in until I tell him that I am on an errand for the Master of the Fighting School. Even then, he demands a biscuit to pass. I tell him the biscuits do not belong to him. As we argue about it I look up and see the Master training his Fighting School Monks. I recognize him as the man who killed my family. I call his name... THREE TIMES, to make sure he heard me. The first time the students became quiet. The second time he began looking to see who it was. I was below him and continued looking down so he might not see my face since I look so much like my father and brothers he might recognize the family resemblance. On the third time, when I was certain he had heard me I called him by name and said "I know you have a powerful Fighting School, but you can not defeat my master. Tomorrow he will come here and prove this to you... if you will accept his challenge". He ordered his men to attack me, so I quickly said "I am no fighter. You would shame your school by beating up a poor messenger. Also... if you kill me, I will not return and thus my master will think you admit your inferiority by not accepting his challenge." But he then said "Don't kill him and don't break his legs, but take his belongings and beat him for his insolence." So I replied.... "If it takes all of your students to defeat one poor peasant, surely you must already admit defeat to my master who will punish YOU for mistreating his messenger. Should it take all of your students or only the best students to do this? Shouldn't even the least of your students be able to defeat a poor peasant? What about the guard? Is he trained in your School? Can he defeat me?" The Master said, "Yes. Of course. Any of my students can defeat a mere peasant." To which, I replied, "Then let us see a demonstration." I then put the top of the pot that held my biscuits on my head like a hat and took my defensive stance, looking at the guard. "Can you hit my hat?" I taunted. Instead of hitting the hat, he attacked me and missed. Instead of attacking him. I taunted him again, "The hat. Are you so clumsy? You missed the hat." This time he attacked me and nearly dropped me. I manage to keep the hat on my head. Wiping my bloody nose, I compose myself and say "You missed again. Master of Fighting School! This one... is he worthy of your school or is your school so inferior? My master will be here tomorrow. Be ready to accept defeat unless you admit now that my Master is superior? Your student could not even take a hat from a peasant. Perhaps he needs a larger target. I then placed the biscuits on my head, taking my defensive stance. The guard attacked and missed, but I failed to keep the biscuits on my head. The pot fell and broke, leaving biscuits in the mud. I was perturbed, but I say to the guard... "Come with me. I have brought shame to your Master by defeating you and he is known to kill those who fail him." The man refused to come, so I (not wanting the guard to suffer) say to Master of Fighting School "Very well. Your student has defeated me, but you will find my Master is Undefeatable. Do you admit his superiority or shall I fetch him?" The Master replied, "Fetch your Master" Tomorrow I will defeat him. If he does not show, I will find you and kill you for your insolence."

Not really having a plan at this point, I go back to the temple and try to come up with a plan. Seeing the still-broken statue of the buddha... it dawns on me.

I begin by going to the miller to get flour. You can make glue using flour. I get the flour and go to the woodworker and have him mix the glue. Then I go to the potter and have him form a mold of the repaired buddha, which I take to the brick-maker to make a buddha-of-brick. Going back to the potter, I have him put a painted lacker on the buddha and help him stay up all night decorating the statue. I then take the fine cloaks of the two thugs we had beaten and wrap the statue. Before it is time to go, I put the flour on my face and use the mud and various other items to disguise myself to look more like my father so that the Master of Fighting would surely remember my father and thus know who I am, for he had yet to see my face; my mongolian features would be different than the local people to begin with.

The Master said "Are you the fool who challenged me? Where is he?" I said, "He is ready when you are, but first, let us see where the fight will take place". The Master opened a cellar door and said, "Down here". I was reluctanct to go into a dark cellar alone, so I said.. would you prefer to do this in public or in private. My Master does not wish to shame you, only defeat you." He said "HA! I will defeat him, but it his his shame he wants to avoid". Then he went into the cellar and I followed, placing the statue on the east end of the room, laying my flour-sack at the buddha's feet and resting the buddha statue on the fine cloaks.

Then I knelt and prayed, burned the last of my incense in prayer, fidgeted with my prayer beads a while and finally stood up and backed away, saying with a flourish "THIS is my Master."

AT THIS POINT...

I was hoping for an interesting turn of events, be it a change of heart from the Master of the Fighting School or the Master kicking me up and down the street (but keeping the beautiful statue, and thus not destroying it... meaning in essence that my character died, but was not defeated). I had done all I knew to do to be "role-playing the esoteric aspects of the various philosophies of the fighting styles over the hack-and-slash elements" and felt I had done it well. It was now up to the DM to make a decision that would determine whether or not that effort was rewarded or punished.

What happened: The Master began attacking the buddha statue and ripped its brick throat out with awesome hack-and-slash ability doing roughly 25 damage 4 times. Then his men rushed in, grabbed my character and drug me into the courtyard. I say to the DM "Really? Really? Seriously? Seriously? Are you serious? Seriously?" So I do the only option available to me as I see it. I flurry attack for 3 points of damage to each of them. He rules that it isn't enough to escape their clutches. Then the Master attacks with a flurry of stunning fists, draws a flaming sword while I am stunned and then cuts off both my arms and throws me in a ditch. I wake up in the ditch still alive and think.. oh well, if I continue to play, maybe I can be an interesting one-armed hack-and-slasher who comes back for revenge once I master the "Buddha Remains Broken with Empty Arms" technique (or something). So I ask what is around me when I awaken. He describes another guy without arms. Exasperated (because now I can't even be a UNIQUE pathetic character), I go jump in the river to die.

Failing that because of a bad (?) roll, I listen as the OTHER no armed-guy tells me "You give up too easily. What did you learn this day?" So I say, frustratedly "That hack and slash beats role-playing in this world". And I go to the potters house.

At the potter's house, the potter says "WHAT HAPPENED"? I reply "I learned my lesson. That's what." And I proceed to kick the living crap out of the potter and steal all his pots. I go to everyone I helped, and beat the crap out of them all, taking all my stuff, plus their stuff and bring it to the Master of the Fighting School and beg him to kill me.

He does.
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If I play with this DM, my next character will be a half-orc barbarian with a great axe. Who says "Unnghghhgngh!!!" and attacks. That is, now that I understood what the DM means by "highly encourage role-playing the esoteric aspects of the various philosophies of the fighting styles over the hack-and-slash elements".
--- --- ---

Another DM (who has improved somewhat since this incident, I must say) did this...

My part of the campaign consisted of following the party of explorers to various towns as I try to find where my father went so I can put an arrow through his heart. My father was a notorious coward and a drunk who beat my mother mercilessly. One day he became blind drunk after losing an archery contest (because he was drunk, I assume) and came in the hosue accusing my mother of cheating on him, even though she was terrified to even leave the house. He shot her with an arrow and followed her through the house as she bled across the floor. My character witnessed this horrible event but was too young to save her. The drunken father ran away from the town and when I became old enough I took up a bow and went to find him. He was always one step behind. Every town we came to, he had left shortly before.

When I finally found him, I was pretty awesome... about a level 10 ranger. But I couldn't hit him except on a natural 20. He couldn't miss me except on a 1... and he had more attacks per round to boot. The old shaky-handed drunk had apparently cleaned up his act and became an expert marksman in his old age. At least he had the presence of mind to kill his son after all the years, telling me it wasn't regret that made him change his ways.

No interesting role-playing of son... son forgive me... no realistic aspects of me finally finding him and either taking pity or going the other way and giving the old drunk his just reward, only to regret it after some thought and thus dealing with my own issues.

No... instead... he put enough arrows in me in one round to drop a terrasque. One of the party threw a net on him and after healing me gave me a better chance to hit my father. So I became utterly frustrated and said "FINE, FINE! I KILL HIM!" And then roll a 1 on the dice... missing the man. Cursing loudly I say alright I attack again. COME ON DUDE! THIS IS REDICULOUS" and the DM tells me... "You're out of arrows". Which I realize was correct. So was my father. So I say to the wizard... fireball him. This of course burns the net allowing the old drunk to escape.... on MY animal companion horse.

---

Another DM had us playing vampire hunters. Most of civilization served our enemy, willingly or out of fear.

I was playing a half-elven fighter/thief/magic-user. Our paladin (an NPC) was captured and the blackguard captain was in the town so he could try to make the paladin fall.

While the other characters made a distraction, I managed to make my way into the blackguard's house, hoping to rob him and maybe thwart his plans. Realizing I might even kill him if I play my cards right... I manage to sneak past a host of his guards hiding in everything from decorative vases to the chimney. I manage to peace-bond his sword in the sheath as it sits on it's rack while he is writing a letter after waiting patiently as he removes his arms and armor. I manage to get in a position to read the letter and discover new information. Then, as he puts his feet up on the desk to relax, I make my move. Using the chair for extra leverage against his superior strength I manage to kill him. Knowing that he has evil priests, I fear them raising him from the dead so I cut off his head and throw it in the fireplace to try to keep that from happening easily. As I try to flee via the window, the hellish horse nearly kills me. So I have to sneak through the house AGAIN... this time while the guards are ACTIVELY looking for who killed their leader. Somehow (lucky rolls but observed by the DM) I manage to elude them. I then sneak through the town and find the Jail to try and free the paladin. Most of the guards are gone as they rush off to the blackguard's tower, but I managed to kill the one guard remaining and free the paladin. I also elude a couple of guards by telling the paladin to return to his cell and hiding the guard's body. They come in check and leave. When we finally get out of the prison... instead of coming with me, the paladin decides to take a stand in the city of vampires at night. I tell him.. "well.. this may be the end of us both and we are needed more elsewhere, paladin you are the hope and light of our people and the only healer we know (no priests in his world except for the very few in our settlement). Please paladin, come with me." He doesn't. So we end up facing off with a pack of enemies. We manage to kill one of the vampires (despite our rather low level.. we were level 3 at the time). I again tell the paladin that if they manage to turn him into the undead our cause is only weakened. So he finally gets us out of there, as we fight our way to the rest of the party who helps us with a glorious escape just as the sun rises (not DM being all cool... this was actually our plan.. which meant we were also on a time limit as we did all our cool stuff).

The next morning after riding as far and fast as we could, ghost-rider on a hell-horse hunts us (me particularly) down on his ethereal horse from hell. I try to flee and he teleports. I try to attack and he is ethereal. I try to cast a spell and it reflects back at me. I'm a 3rd level dude (no XP until we make it home) with primitive technology weapons. He is death on a stick. I die. Although I am brought back to town and they raise me from the dead, they can't restore the level I lost on the adventure.

-- -- --

Oh well. It could have been awesome.



A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
Am I alone in thinking that the DM acted pretty appropriately as far as how the Schoolmaster would have reacted?  An unknown, underaged "troublemaker" shows up, insults the school and everyone in it, issuing a challenge on behalf of his master.  The master turns out to be a brick statue obviously built so recently, the mortar is still wet.

He probably went overboard on the arm-chopping thing, but any response other than disdain/contempt from the Schoolmaster sounds like it would be out of character.  Based on his earlier actions, destroying the statue and then just killing you himself (or trying to, anyway) sound more his style.  The story leading up to that point looks like an interesting solo campaign, but it looks like you underestimated the ruthlessness of your opponent.
Am I alone in thinking that the DM acted pretty appropriately as far as how the Schoolmaster would have reacted?  An unknown, underaged "troublemaker" shows up, insults the school and everyone in it, issuing a challenge on behalf of his master.  The master turns out to be a brick statue obviously built so recently, the mortar is still wet.

He probably went overboard on the arm-chopping thing, but any response other than disdain/contempt from the Schoolmaster sounds like it would be out of character.  Based on his earlier actions, destroying the statue and then just killing you himself (or trying to, anyway) sound more his style.  The story leading up to that point looks like an interesting solo campaign, but it looks like you underestimated the ruthlessness of your opponent.



Yes, but it is the DM that decides the personality of the NPC and what actions he takes. This plus the fact that the DM began the campaign with an hour-long diatribe about playing an oriental adventures campaign in which he wants to "highly encourage role-playing the esoteric aspects of the various philosophies of the fighting styles over the hack-and-slash elements" gives me the opinion that the DM was more than out of line.  He baiscally made an NPC whose philosophy was hack-n-slash, and punished the character for coming up with a solution that not only fit very well with his character concept and the campaign concept but was executed in a creative, thoughtful and meaningful way.  I think a more likely outcome would be for the rival master to have broke his hand trying to destroy the statue, and possibly have his students beat the monk and toss him out while stating that if he is ever seen again he will receive more than a beating - literally disarming him and leaving him for dead is the solution of an idiot who could not come up with a meaningful answer to the monks challenge.  The DM dropped the ball on this one, no question.

Sir Joseph, I did really enjoy the story that you told, and actually read the whole novel that you posted because it was very intriguing.  Sounds like a fun campaign, atleast up until the end.  I liked how you took on each task and gained the resources to help in the next task as you went, and all along the way you fixed what the bullies had destroyed and did so while finding and following your monk's non-violent philosophy.  Keep up the good gaming!
"The great epochs of our life come when we gain the courage to rechristen our evil as what is best in us." - Friedrich Nietzsche
Am I alone in thinking that the DM acted pretty appropriately as far as how the Schoolmaster would have reacted?  An unknown, underaged "troublemaker" shows up, insults the school and everyone in it, issuing a challenge on behalf of his master.  The master turns out to be a brick statue obviously built so recently, the mortar is still wet.

He probably went overboard on the arm-chopping thing, but any response other than disdain/contempt from the Schoolmaster sounds like it would be out of character.  Based on his earlier actions, destroying the statue and then just killing you himself (or trying to, anyway) sound more his style.  The story leading up to that point looks like an interesting solo campaign, but it looks like you underestimated the ruthlessness of your opponent.

No, I'm sure many would agree. That was the point of my initial post.

An NPC should never be so powerful that the Dungeon Master can't beat him.

Human nature is complex. We only know enough about the Fighting Master's character to know that he has done some brutal things. He may not have always been so brutal. A lowly monk named Subotai might have reminded him of that. He might have taken a vow of non- violence as atonement. Then... a REAL brutal dude could have walked in and the only one who could stop him would be this FIGHTING SCHOOL MASTER. But being non-violent, he would instead teach Subotai the FIGHTING SCHOOL WAYS (as they were originally meant to be). Only one of a gazillion alternate cool endings more interesting than a 20th level monk waylaying on a wounded 1st level character.

I come from a family of brickmakers. Clay bricks dry pretty actually. At any rate, I assumed the brick was dry and what-not.

Actually, I would have been fine if he had smashed my character to smithereens rather than take his contempt for me out on the statue. That would have been more in line with his character, I think. Smashing my skull in with the statue would have been more dramatic and would make for a great opening story for a cheesy kung-fu movie to introduce the bad guy that the main character (whose only reason for existence as far as can be told is to kill some bad guy). This would be the "Top 40" ending, which might appeal to the masses. It would be one of those movies where the intro trailer is awesome, but the movie sucks. Better than nothing, I suppose. At least my character served a purpose.

The death of the character is actually not what I thought gave the story such a frivolous and meaningless end. If he had ruthlessly killed me for my insolence, dragged me into the yard and cut off my arms as an added level of brutality, I could have counted it a philosophical victory at least, because in his ruthlessness, he may have (at least for the moment) forgotten about the statue. This would have been beautifully poetic... a fine accomplishment for a first level character to have achieved a small victory against a physically superior opponent and a nice (albeit very noir) ending. Artistic, even.

DIRECTOR: At this point, I want a nice slow motion of the Fighting Master beating Subotai violently with the statue as the screen fades to black. Next scene fades from black to an extreme close-up of the statue, complete with cracks which are filled with Subotai's life blood. Fade out and up over the dojo, past a cherry tree in full blossom, toward the clouds and fade to white. Finis. Scene 2... Our Hero walks into town with snakeskin boots and with a go-go dancer in one arm and an alligator suitcase with money hanging out the sides in the other. He throws his cigar on the street causing a trail of gasoline to blow up his beat-up old truck in the background. Fade to title... Kick Foo 2, Revenge of The Avenger with a Vengeance.

Anyway... as it stands, we don't really know anything else about the bad guy except that he is brutal (which we already knew from the initial scene). And all we learned about Subotai is that he should have been a half-orc barbarian with a great axe, because that's the epitome of 'role-playing the esoteric aspects of the various philosophies of the fighting styles over the hack-and-slash elements'.

Unggh the Orc, Master of the Style of Power Attack for Everything: Basically, my philosophy is to power attack for everything and hope it dies. If that doesn't work, I attack it again until it does. Then I look for the next NPC.

DM: No matter what?

Unggh the Orc, Master of the Style of Power Attack for Everything: No matter what.



Maybe Malph said it best.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
It's all about the DM's attitude. 

If he strictly adheres to the rules and/or to the story he has already formed in his own head, then your character doesn't have a snowflake's chance in hell of doing that awesome thing that surprised the DM. (this used to be me)

If, on the other hand, he is there to see what the players can come up with to solve a difficult situation, then cool stuff like this should work a lot more often. (this is what I now strive to be)

Unfortunately for you, an attitude adjustment like this is hard to accomplish for yourself, let alone trying to do it with someone else. You should make your DMs aware of these differences. The best and most succint advice I got towards this end was something like this: "the DM is not there to make the story play out as he thought of it beforehand. Like the players, the DM is there to see what happens next."

I actually think he wants to be more adaptive. I tend to push the envelope in ways I wish the players would. Anybody that's DMed for a while has figured out all the basic tricks that players use and how to overcome them. But when a player thinks outside the box...when it comes down to the wizard throwing his last ray of disintegration... and I have to pick between half-orc barbarian with a great axe number 19 and the interesting character... sorry orc, you die.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
well you started out interesting and then when the DM didn't go your way, you pulled a trantrum.  Too bad.

The evil martial arts master who killed off your ENTIRE familly wasn't expected to kill you after you did all that taunting ?  After you ridiculed his students and his dojo ?  After you claimed that a deity was your master that he had to defeat ?  Really ?  Seriously ?  I mean really, seriously ??

And btw, it sounds like the DM took the story from the movie the man with the iron fists.  Maybe if you hadn't given up as soon as the DM didn't go your way you could have made a come back with metal arms of ultimate power.  Oh well !
"Non nobis Domine Sed nomini tuo da gloriam" "I wish for death not because I want to die, but because I seek the war eternal"

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

well you started out interesting and then when the DM didn't go your way, you pulled a trantrum.  Too bad.

The evil martial arts master who killed off your ENTIRE familly wasn't expected to kill you after you did all that taunting ?  After you ridiculed his students and his dojo ?  After you claimed that a deity was your master that he had to defeat ?  Really ?  Seriously ?  I mean really, seriously ??

And btw, it sounds like the DM took the story from the movie the man with the iron fists.  Maybe if you hadn't given up as soon as the DM didn't go your way you could have made a come back with metal arms of ultimate power.  Oh well !

You obviously didn't read the post.

I addressed the fact that he might have killed me and how that might have been a better ending than what actually happened because... wait... already covered that in the post.

Yes. Seriously. Seriously. Really, seriously. He asked for esoteric. If the DM had told me he wanted hack and slash solutions.... wait... already covered that in the post.

I wasn't really interested in being a cyborg, even a cyborg with metal arms of ultimate power, especially if... wait... already covered that in the post.

I was aware of the Iron Fists references; you are correct there. As a matter of fact... wait for it, wait for it... already covered that in the post.

I think you are misinterpreting my reason for complaint. It isn't that the character died or that he suffered from a malady. Those are blasé complaints and of little concern. It is that  ... oh man... read the post.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
Am I alone in thinking that the DM acted pretty appropriately as far as how the Schoolmaster would have reacted?  An unknown, underaged "troublemaker" shows up, insults the school and everyone in it, issuing a challenge on behalf of his master.  The master turns out to be a brick statue obviously built so recently, the mortar is still wet.

He probably went overboard on the arm-chopping thing, but any response other than disdain/contempt from the Schoolmaster sounds like it would be out of character.  Based on his earlier actions, destroying the statue and then just killing you himself (or trying to, anyway) sound more his style.  The story leading up to that point looks like an interesting solo campaign, but it looks like you underestimated the ruthlessness of your opponent.



Yes, but it is the DM that decides the personality of the NPC and what actions he takes. This plus the fact that the DM began the campaign with an hour-long diatribe about playing an oriental adventures campaign in which he wants to "highly encourage role-playing the esoteric aspects of the various philosophies of the fighting styles over the hack-and-slash elements" gives me the opinion that the DM was more than out of line.  He baiscally made an NPC whose philosophy was hack-n-slash, and punished the character for coming up with a solution that not only fit very well with his character concept and the campaign concept but was executed in a creative, thoughtful and meaningful way.  I think a more likely outcome would be for the rival master to have broke his hand trying to destroy the statue, and possibly have his students beat the monk and toss him out while stating that if he is ever seen again he will receive more than a beating - literally disarming him and leaving him for dead is the solution of an idiot who could not come up with a meaningful answer to the monks challenge.  The DM dropped the ball on this one, no question.

Sir Joseph, I did really enjoy the story that you told, and actually read the whole novel that you posted because it was very intriguing.  Sounds like a fun campaign, atleast up until the end.  I liked how you took on each task and gained the resources to help in the next task as you went, and all along the way you fixed what the bullies had destroyed and did so while finding and following your monk's non-violent philosophy.  Keep up the good gaming!

Thanks, Baphogoat. I wish I hadn't acted in such a juvenile way at the end, however. It was an over-reaction to mounting frustration as this keeps happening to not only my characters, but I have seen the same thing happen to other players as well.

For example, a friend of mine was playing a paladin who wasn't particularly gung-ho except when it comes to slaying obviously evil monsters which he did with a vengeance. He was quite chivalrous although not as diplomatic as some of his counterparts. He encounters an ogre riding a strong, massive warhorse (he was about the level to get his special mount, so he figured this was it). The ogre mage was armed better than usual in full plate and the horse was stout enough to hold him. Under the light of a full moon at the edge of the Sea of Shadows they tilted.. the giant wielding a long lance of cold iron, the paladin lightly armored and wielding only a spear. On the third pass, the paladin gets a critical hit and manages to defeat this Lord of Shadow even as the Ogre Mage Knight killed the light horse the paladin was riding. The paladin claims the ogre's horse as his own, naming him Ch'addoqq, meaning Shadow Tide in the Olde Tongue in memory of where the battle was fought. Cool so far?

Further down the beach, the DM describes the oncoming storm. The paladin is given a choice, take the high road or the lower road which is slightly muddy but passable. The Paladin takes the low road (I don't think this was a symbolic gesture; at any rate, the paladin detected no evil). Lightning strikes, nearly killing the paladin and 'blowing the horses tail off'. Unfortunately there wasn't even an evil sorcerer behind all that, so it wasn't a build up to a great moment of self-righteous indignation, just a big meaningless humiliation without a point (which is what I was trying to find a way to avoid in my original post).

A little miffed, the paladin and the party go a bit further and hear the whinny of horses and cries of help. Hurrying along the beach we see a colossal lobster with a horse in its claws and a man crying out "My horse! My horse! My livelihood!". So I, playing a rogue... tell the man how awesome the paladin is and tell him not to worry so I can get him to safety (and perhaps fetch some butter?).

Meanwhile, the paladin, fresh armed with an actual lance now and mounted on Ch'addoqq, sans tail, tries to save the white horse from the claws of the big sea vermin (and perhaps secure dinner afterwords). Did you know lobsters do not have brains? A fiendish lobster might have been a better choice. Or something else. Anything else. At all.

Anyway... the paladin kills the big cockroach-of-the-sea but the horse dies from the fall immediately after the death blow. I get it. Long fall. Horse must die. Apparently this helpless critter was supposed to be the paladin's special mount (which is pretty symbolic of the DM being defeated by his own rulings), so the DM describes how the horse is wounded, but still alive (a'la' fiat).

Preferring Ch'addoqq, the paladin puts the horse down, all the while trying not to let the DM know that he knew that this was supposed to be his special mount. Not aware of what the player was doing and thinking himself pretty clever, he then had the farmer give him a beautiful white paladinny-like horse. TAH-DAHHHH! The special mount! My friend thinks that this horse must be awesome to top Chaddoqq, even if the story of how he got the special horse was more lame than how he got Ch'addoqq, so he accepts the horse, complete with the DM-given name Saviour. The horse was fairly typical special mount... BUT WITH LESS HP than Ch'addoqq (who had maximum hp)! He kept Ch'addoqq as a backup to the faster light horse that Saviour was. He also pleaded with the DM to let him have Ch'addoqq as his mount, but the DM had done made the call on that one. Remembering why he didn't really want to play a paladin in the first place, he travels on.

It must be noted that all the while the Paladin is riding Ch'addoqq, the horse is fighting him, having been trained as a one-horse rider. The DM rules that this can be changed if we spend a week in the next town training it to accept the Paladin as a rider. So we decide to role-play it out. Turns out... the Paladin is no ranger and is having difficulty taming Ch'addoqq properly. So the NPC wizard decides to help... by casting a spell on Ch'addoqq, shrinking the once vicious beast to the size of a small dog, pretty much emasculating the horse, the rider and killing all cool factor from that point forward. The midnight battle by the rising tides of the Sea of Shadow seemed but a memory now. But the horse was tamed. Happy?

Eventually we reached our destination, a town at civilization's edge where the defeated armies of the good guys were being driven away by an alliance of evil bad guys of some sort. The player of the paladin felt pretty dejected by now even though the wizard gave him magic stuff that helped him considerably combat-wise. Hack and slashers will never understand this, I suppose, but I felt his pain. Still trying to role-play my character who thankfully was under the radar thanks to a paladin in the party, I decided to do the rallying speech... it was actually pretty good.. something about this is the last bastion of hope for good men everywhere and blah, blah, blah. I specifically mention the Paladin's awesome deeds and Ch'addoqq and how heroic he is and blah, blah blah. I fail to mention Saviour until the DM asks, curiously... what about Saviour. I add, "And the Paladin has a spare horse as well. Saviour, I believe.." Somehow, despite the ending of the speech, we go to reclaim the last town that was lost with a small army at our lead.

Sensing that Ch'addoqq is still preferred to Saviour, the DM manages to have Ch'addoqq killed by Bandit Number 2 On The List. This leaves the Paladin utterly dejected as we head into the battle. The DM has no idea why. The Paladin goes through the battle lying about his dice rolls in hope that a failed saving throw would be enough for him to die so he will have an excuse to make a new character with lower expectations... or at least some sort of straight-up hack and slasher.

I'm glad you get it.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
It's all about the DM's attitude. 

If he strictly adheres to the rules and/or to the story he has already formed in his own head, then your character doesn't have a snowflake's chance in hell of doing that awesome thing that surprised the DM. (this used to be me)

If, on the other hand, he is there to see what the players can come up with to solve a difficult situation, then cool stuff like this should work a lot more often. (this is what I now strive to be)

Unfortunately for you, an attitude adjustment like this is hard to accomplish for yourself, let alone trying to do it with someone else. You should make your DMs aware of these differences. The best and most succint advice I got towards this end was something like this: "the DM is not there to make the story play out as he thought of it beforehand. Like the players, the DM is there to see what happens next."

When I DM, I like to be surprised by the cleverness of the players. I try to reward it with success. I do this by looking at interpretable rules and tilting my decisions of what happens in favor of characters who do more interesting things and have a better story (call it the Favor of the Gods Circumstantial Bonus if you need to put a number on it).

I'm not saying cool characters can't die... all I'm saying that the DM should rule in such a way that even if the character DOES die... the players can all remember how cool that character was and the cool story behind his every important deed.

That's much more rewarding than... "and thanks to the by-the-book DM's interpretation of the rules as written, the wizard's efforts to stop the randomly encountered charging orc with a wall of cold iron only managed to get his own familiar killed. As the wizard stands there stunned, Orc Number 2 On The List says, "Unnngggh" and Power Attacks for Everything.

The End
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
wait so you tell me I didn't read the post and then right after you say yourself "I wish I hadn't acted in such a juvenile way at the end." 

Anyway that aside I did read your post and at first it sounded interesting but then seemed to devolve into an angry rant against the DM who didn't do what you expected.  Instead of killing off your character when you placed yourself in a bad situation, he allowed you to survive and continue roleplaying.  Instead you had a tantrum.  You went back to the town and killed off NPC's for no other reason than the fact that you were having, guess what ?  A tantrum.  You then proceeded to try to kill off your character yourself, because again you were having a...  TANTRUM !  Even the DM tried to bring you back by roleplaying another person in your situation, but again you ignored it and continued to try to kill yourself to which the DM wisely just agreed to let you die. 

Wow, that was so much fun for the DM !  I bet he must have enjoyed watching you act like that, killing the innocent, sabotaging the campaign for no reason other than your un-called for anger !

So again, I read your post.  It's an angry rant on your part over a tantrum you experienced.  The DM was not at fault.  But you know what, it actually does still fit in this thread, because the DM should have been the one to go "really, no seriously, really ?"  at you.

lol silly. Wink
"Non nobis Domine Sed nomini tuo da gloriam" "I wish for death not because I want to die, but because I seek the war eternal"

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

Would I be out of line in asking if you two would PM instead?

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

 

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

 

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

it's fine, no point in continuing if he's just going to accuse me of not reading his post lol.
 
"Non nobis Domine Sed nomini tuo da gloriam" "I wish for death not because I want to die, but because I seek the war eternal"

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

I've written before about how miscommunicated expectations between players and DMs can cause all sorts of issues. I made a character who was a grappler, and my DM kept giving me opponents who couldn't be grappled, they'd phase or ooze or teleport out of my guy's grasp almost instantly. It basically stole the fun and nerfed my character.

Someone once wrote a character sheet is a player's love letter to the DM, and I believe that. If someone wants to do something and they want to do it well, let them. Encourage them. Have fun with it.
[A] character sheet is a player's love letter to the DM



I'm putting that in my signiture, is that OK? That was really good.

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

 

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

 

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

Sure, just don't quote me. It was a game designer, I wish I could remember which one

Edit - I'm finding online it was from something Fred Hicks, the man behind Evil Hat, wrote in a column.
I've written before about how miscommunicated expectations between players and DMs can cause all sorts of issues. I made a character who was a grappler, and my DM kept giving me opponents who couldn't be grappled, they'd phase or ooze or teleport out of my guy's grasp almost instantly. It basically stole the fun and nerfed my character.

Was he doing this deliberately, or did it just work out that way with his adventure? Grappling is a hard one because few creatures are designed with it in mind, and so are either powerless against it or immune to it.

Someone once wrote a character sheet is a player's love letter to the DM, and I believe that. If someone wants to do something and they want to do it well, let them. Encourage them. Have fun with it.

By the same token, isn't an adventure a love letter to the players? If the DM wants something to happen in the game, let it. Encourage the DM. Have fun with it.

But I don't believe it has to be or should be one or the other. Everyone at the table can play to the offers that everyone else is providing. It is hardest when another person is giving an offer that seems incompatible with what we want to achieve, but it is rarely a useful or productive approach to completely disregard that offer in favor of our own wants. Whenever possible, we should accept the offer, and add on to it. Ideally, what we're adding is the original thing we wanted, but if not it's at least something we wanted, and we've now made the other person's offer partially our own.

Adventures and characters that are set forth with a complete arc interfere with our ability to accept other offers. Try to plan out as little as possible, even if you have what you think is a really awesome idea. The history of D&D is littered with really awesome ideas that just didn't get traction with the people who listened to them.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Centauri, it was deliberate, but he and I talked about it afterwards, and a lot of it was a misunderstanding of the kind of game we were playing. It was like if I had designed a race horse because I wanted to go fast and as soon as the gate opens the GM dropped a ton of rocks in my lane so I couldn't possibly go fast. He admitted that is what he'd done, because he was still looking at it as an "us versus him" scenario, trying to take away my advantage. Honestly, I'm not interested in games like that anymore.

On the flip side, as a GM I try to give the players challenges but also give them a chance to showcase their character abilities. It really has been a huge philisophical shift for my group, but they've responded really well and are enjoying the hell out of the game. And they often meet me halfway, which is a huge burden off my shoulders as the GM. If they say "why would my character want to go and retrieve some jewel for this guy?" I say "You tell me." And they do.
Centauri, it was deliberate, but he and I talked about it afterwards, and a lot of it was a misunderstanding of the kind of game we were playing. It was like if I had designed a race horse because I wanted to go fast and as soon as the gate opens the GM dropped a ton of rocks in my lane so I couldn't possibly go fast. He admitted that is what he'd done, because he was still looking at it as an "us versus him" scenario, trying to take away my advantage. Honestly, I'm not interested in games like that anymore.

Same here. I've only recently let them go, though.

On the flip side, as a GM I try to give the players challenges but also give them a chance to showcase their character abilities. It really has been a huge philisophical shift for my group, but they've responded really well and are enjoying the hell out of the game. And they often meet me halfway, which is a huge burden off my shoulders as the GM. If they say "why would my character want to go and retrieve some jewel for this guy?" I say "You tell me." And they do.

Excellent. I've been trying this too. It has really been eye-opening for me. Just the arguments and rolled eyes I've avoided by listening to the players' assumptions instead of cajoling them to going along with mine has made everything so much more enjoyable. And at the same time, they do tend to go along with much more of what I suggest, because they know it's much more of their own free will.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Wow that was a lot to read.  In short I find myself agreeing with Noct.  This is basically what I can infer from all the angry ramblings:

You wanted that to be an epicly awesome '80s movie moment.  You wanted the story to be completely about your triumph over hostility and anger by going to a zen state.  You are also trying to gain enlightenment and get back at the guy who murdered your family at the very start of the game.  You want your hero's journey to take you from level 1 to level 2.  You want to dictate the story and if it doesn't go your way, take your ball and go home.

The DM wanted this to be a believable NPC, one he had built and prepared to follow a specific set of rules he thought would make an epically awesome 2012 movie (Man with the Iron Fists was mentioned and I think that makes perfect sense... as a note I've only seen the trailer).  He wanted to story to be about your triumph over hostility and anger by going into a zen state.  He wanted to take you on an epic adventure to gain enlightenment until you were ready to face your past and deal with the NPC who murdered your family at the very start of the game.  He wanted your heroes journey to have all of the elements spread out from beginning to end (including the little-talked about epic-beat-down-you-must-one-day-overcome) over the course of the next 10 levels.  He wanted to develop a story with you, where you can work off of eachother and make decisions that seem to make some sense if placed within the game world and made precautions against you biting off more than you can chew.

TLDR (Which, honestly after the posts you put here you can get over): You went in expecting to non-combat an obvious combat encounter and got owned for it.  Then your DM softballed it for you at least 2 times so you wouldn't have to reroll and could keep and interesting story.
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I was frustrated because the DM said "Let's play ball". Then he stuck a fork in the ball". Then he tried to air it back up.

He had a pre-fabricated plan that I threw a monkey wrench in. When he described the scene at the buddhist temple in which I "found a moment of perfect harmony and enlightenment". I took him at his word and based on his instruction that he was wanting players to 'play on the esoteric, philosophic elements', I truly thought he wanted me to find a way to defeat this very powerful enemy that didn't involve crossing my fingers and hoping for some critical hits. Particularly because he asked me to play specifically because he was bored with other players focusing on hack n slash.

If the DM had said.. the goal is to be realistic, I'd have played the character very differently. I'd have left town and went far, far away from this guy who can break solid bricks with his bare hands. Or if it was just going to be a simple hack n slash, I'd have fought minions, working my way up in high metagame style.

As far as it being an "obvious" combat encounter... I threw out ways for it not to devolve so, but the DM decided to go a different route; having the conversation in private (nope... he forces you to go down in the cellar surrounded by all his men), getting help from the bell-maker to make the buddha out of brass (nope... he was 'out of town'), to enlist aid from the noodle-maker, because the fighting monk feared him for superstitious reasons (nope... the noodleman is 'neutral'), enlisting the aid of the herbalist, the highest level fighter in the city (nope... they straight-up beat him down gangsta-style and finally killed him less than 2 minutes after I issued the challenge), and more.

The advice I'm getting here is that I should have just played with more of a hack and slash mentality. I COMPLETELY understand the default path is something like this. Here's the bad guy the DM made up. If you interact with him, he attacks. It's the default option that so many players and DMs alike seem to try to escape but can't find their way out of. The DM tells me he doesn't want that, but that's what he has encouraged.

I was hoping for some different advice from more of a story-telling perspective. There seems to be some myopia when it comes to the concept that character death can be a story event as well. I submit that a creative DM can take many situations and give realistic reasons for them to become either story-telling events or role-playing opportunities or both.

Back to the original reason of my post... is there any advice someone might give a DM to encourage the DM to actively try to rule in favor of interesting outcomes?

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A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
I think you are misinterpreting the advice you are getting, and it appears you misread the in-game cues the DM was sending you as well.  There's a difference between focusing on roleplaying (shorthand for 'play on the esoteric, philosophic elements'), and relying exclusively on roleplay to get you through every encounter.

There had been combat encounters leading up to the final confrontation, so you knew they were a possibility.  The BBEG had already killed your entire family, so you knew viciousness was part of his makeup.  You insulted him and his school, and when you tried to recruit the people you'd been helping the whole time, they declined or left town.

Realizing that you might be walking into a fight, when you specifically challenged him to a fight, doesn't require a hack and slash mentality.  

I personally would have had him beat you unconscious while taking the statue with him -
1. Your character wasn't enough of a threat to be worth the cleaning bill to get blood off.
2. He can taunt you with the statue later when you actually have the support of the townsfolk, and the ability to stop him.
3. The campaign can continue, and you have even more reasons to prepare for a later (non-combat) confrontation.

He would not have suffered a sea-change in his personality, because finding out that your character worshipped the Buddha wouldn't have changed his own views at all.

For generalized DMing advice, there is a forum for that, have your DM read it. 
I was hoping for some different advice from more of a story-telling perspective. There seems to be some myopia when it comes to the concept that character death can be a story event as well.

Of course itcan be. It just so rarely seems to be.

I submit that a creative DM can take many situations and give realistic reasons for them to become either story-telling events or role-playing opportunities or both.

That's what more and more people are saying: "realistic" doesn't mean that there's only one, boring way for things to fall out. I'll reiterate that "not fighting" isn't the same as "role-playing," though.

Back to the original reason of my post... is there any advice someone might give a DM to encourage the DM to actively try to rule in favor of interesting outcomes?

No. If the DM learns about trusting the players enough to say "Yes, and..." then they can try utilizing that approach, but being given that advice by a player is likely to strike a DM as self-serving behavior. All the player can do is be trustworthy, and demonstrate "Yes, and..." on their own, to show the DM that the player is more interested in an interesting story for all, than just for him or herself.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

I was frustrated because the DM said "Let's play ball". Then he stuck a fork in the ball". Then he tried to air it back up.



Actually he said "Let's play football" and then you showed up without any pads on and broke your spine.


He had a pre-fabricated plan that I threw a monkey wrench in. When he described the scene at the buddhist temple in which I "found a moment of perfect harmony and enlightenment".



Which sounds like the beginning of an epic journey, not a rough tool to use it against this powerful enemy.  Or good fluff, either one.


I took him at his word and based on his instruction that he was wanting players to 'play on the esoteric, philosophic elements', I truly thought he wanted me to find a way to defeat this very powerful enemy that didn't involve crossing my fingers and hoping for some critical hits. Particularly because he asked me to play specifically because he was bored with other players focusing on hack n slash.



If something is clearly out of your league fighting wise.... Don't challenge them to a fight and get angry if your butt gets handed to you.  If you are going to win him over with peace, expect to get beaten down and trodden on before you overcome.  The DM gave you opportunities for this (like the whole river scene).  It isn't "hack and slash" or non isoteric to ask you to not go with the fighting option in a situation where the fighting option will get you killed or maimed.  Think of most of the 80s movies you have seen, as this seems very '80s movies-esque.  You win either by not fighting at all on their terms (and making it to where their method of fighting doesn't work) or you beat them at their own game.  If he is a very straightforward ruthless combat guy, then you either need to be better than him at combat (go level up and later turn it into a montage) or you need to do something that makes his method not work.  

You did neither of those.  You went after a BBEG on his terms, at an obvious disadvantage, far too early in the story.  What happened is what should happen in these types of stories (AKA a huge set-back).  If you were going for realism, or even following along with what the character did alraedy in the story he should have killed you.  He already killed your family, no reason he shouldn't have killed you other than the fact that the DM wanted you to live.

If the DM had said.. the goal is to be realistic, I'd have played the character very differently. I'd have left town and went far, far away from this guy who can break solid bricks with his bare hands. Or if it was just going to be a simple hack n slash, I'd have fought minions, working my way up in high metagame style.


"I'm playing a game where I want philisophical and isoteric characters" =/= "I am playing a game where you will always win against anything the first time you come against it if you feel it would be cool"

The point isn't the playstyle.  In a "hack and slash" game the outcome would have been the same.  In a purely plot-driven game the result would be the same.  This is either you fighting something over your head and getting squished (hack and slash) or it is you going through the first part of confronting the BBEG and living to build it into your persona (non hack and slash).


As far as it being an "obvious" combat encounter... I threw out ways for it not to devolve so, but the DM decided to go a different route; having the conversation in private (nope... he forces you to go down in the cellar surrounded by all his men), getting help from the bell-maker to make the buddha out of brass (nope... he was 'out of town'), to enlist aid from the noodle-maker, because the fighting monk feared him for superstitious reasons (nope... the noodleman is 'neutral'), enlisting the aid of the herbalist, the highest level fighter in the city (nope... they straight-up beat him down gangsta-style and finally killed him less than 2 minutes after I issued the challenge), and more.



Those are horribly unsutble ways of saying "You really shouldn't do this".  Maybe the DM could have said "hey, this is a terrible plan" but instead he let you live through something that should have killed you.  You are saying that all these things are reasons that the encounter wasn't obviously going to be combat oriented.  I would say all of those things were reasons the encounter was going to be combat oriented.  Any RPG player, or anyone who has watched any number of movies would go "well, this is seeming worse and worse for our hero... either he is going to change course quickly or there are 2 hours left of this 2hour and 30 min movie.".


The advice I'm getting here is that I should have just played with more of a hack and slash mentality. I COMPLETELY understand the default path is something like this.



Incorrect.  The advice you are getting here is "Don't be a moron when you roleplay and expect the DM to compensate for it."  If you walk into a situation where there is no hope of winning and don't win you should expect that outcome and build from there.  You know, like having a villian that leaves you alive, allows you to come back and continue on your heroes journey.  Like what the DM actually did.


Here's the bad guy the DM made up. If you interact with him, he attacks. It's the default option that so many players and DMs alike seem to try to escape but can't find their way out of. The DM tells me he doesn't want that, but that's what he has encouraged.



Yes, if you challenge someone who fights for a living to a fight he will fight you.  That isn't even semi-complicated.  That doesn't mean that NPC can't be in any number of different settings/styles of play / editions / games/ movies / genres.  It just means that if you are going to fight him on his terms (you did) you need to be better (you weren't) or have something up your sleeve that would actually effect the NPC (you didn't).  Yes your enlightenment is very cool and wonderful and important to you.  But the NPC has no reason at all to care about your enlightenment.


I was hoping for some different advice from more of a story-telling perspective. There seems to be some myopia when it comes to the concept that character death can be a story event as well. I submit that a creative DM can take many situations and give realistic reasons for them to become either story-telling events or role-playing opportunities or both.



No, what you wanted was for people on here to agree with you and argue in your favor against your DM.  You wanted affirmation that your path was the right path.  You wanted to be told that the DM was a jerk and he needs to change.  You didn't get that response.  So you continue posting trying to fish for that answer.  Good luck.


Back to the original reason of my post... is there any advice someone might give a DM to encourage the DM to actively try to rule in favor of interesting outcomes?



He did rule in favor of an interesting outcome.  What you are asking for is for someone on here to tell your DM to rule in your favor.  To be fair some DMs on here will say that (Honestly speak to Centauri as the way he runs his games would appeal tou you).  Some DMs, like myself, will say that the story in the long run would have been in your favor in so much that it would have helped you make a more interesting and in-depth character.  

From what I have seen this seems to be your character's main reason for being an adventurer and if the DM allows you to overcome it at level 1... why are you going to keep going?  Where is the fire in your heart that burns to go farther, see more, do more, be better if you have already overcome all the obstacles in your backstory?
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
Matyr has already stated many of the points I wanted to make in a very eloquent manner.  *high fives Matyr*

I want to add for my part that you missed, what I believe, is a key factor of your entire problem.  The DM tossed a wrench in YOUR plans, not the other way around.

To elaborate on this, it's very clear to me that during the entire campaign, you were the person making elaborate plans.  The DM merely presented you with a problem, which comprised of several smaller problems, but could be explained by the root:  There's an evil martial arts school which has taken control of a town, terrorizing the civilians and doing whatever they wish.  This is not a plan.  It's a or the initial situation of the campaign.

From there the DM let you loose to do basically whatever you wanted.  He went along with YOUR plans as you acted upon them.  But you placed yourself in a position that was clearly avoidable and had obvious possible results.  As has been said numerous times now, you challenged the BBEG (at level 1) to a physical contest after ridiculing his school, him and his students. 

He's a murdering psychopath who has mastered the art of killing.

I mean, what the heck did you expect ?  Tea time discussing philosophy ?


Anyway, that asside it's your reaction that I find the most silly.  You tantrum and end the campaign when you didn't have to.  Then you come on these boards looking for someone to tell you that you're right for having a tantrum and ruining the campaign for the DM ?  That he's wrong and you're right ?  Good grief.
"Non nobis Domine Sed nomini tuo da gloriam" "I wish for death not because I want to die, but because I seek the war eternal"

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You couldn't have written a better place for a Code of Conduct violation warning.  I do wish we knew who wrote the deleted post though.
It was me, and I really dont know why it was removed.
"The great epochs of our life come when we gain the courage to rechristen our evil as what is best in us." - Friedrich Nietzsche
Matyr has already stated many of the points I wanted to make in a very eloquent manner.  *high fives Matyr*

I want to add for my part that you missed, what I believe, is a key factor of your entire problem.  The DM tossed a wrench in YOUR plans, not the other way around.

To elaborate on this, it's very clear to me that during the entire campaign, you were the person making elaborate plans.  The DM merely presented you with a problem, which comprised of several smaller problems, but could be explained by the root:  There's an evil martial arts school which has taken control of a town, terrorizing the civilians and doing whatever they wish.  This is not a plan.  It's a or the initial situation of the campaign.

From there the DM let you loose to do basically whatever you wanted.  He went along with YOUR plans as you acted upon them.  But you placed yourself in a position that was clearly avoidable and had obvious possible results.  As has been said numerous times now, you challenged the BBEG (at level 1) to a physical contest after ridiculing his school, him and his students. 

He's a murdering psychopath who has mastered the art of killing.

I mean, what the heck did you expect ?  Tea time discussing philosophy ?


Anyway, that asside it's your reaction that I find the most silly.  You tantrum and end the campaign when you didn't have to.  Then you come on these boards looking for someone to tell you that you're right for having a tantrum and ruining the campaign for the DM ?  That he's wrong and you're right ?  Good grief.

Good grief, indeed. I've already acknowledged that I could have handled my frustration with the situation better. You're badgering the witness on that point.

You've missed the point entire. You seem to imply that it would have been better if the DM had led the character along by the nose with an adamantite chain attached to his big red train and that I had waited for him to drop the scooby snacks and followed his obvious trail. The DM has pretty much told me he doesn't want to go that route. I can't blame him.

And for the umpteenth time... the murderous psychopath killing a low-level character is not what I have a problem with (except for the fact that he was supposed to be a high-level monk, which implies a certain amount of discipline that he did not have). Off the top of my head, I'm thinking of dozens of ways he could have killed the character but in a manner that provided a more interesting story.

I leave you with this story...

Arresting the Stone Buddha

A merchant bearing fifty rolls of cotton goods on his shoulders stopped to rest from the heat of the day beneath a shelter where a large stone Buddha was standing. There he fell asleep, and when he awoke his goods had disappeared. He immediately reported the matter to the police.

A judge named O-oka opened court to investigate. "That stone Buddha must have stolen the goods," concluded the judge. "He is supposed to care for the welfare of the people, but he has failed to perform his holy duty. Arrest him."

The police arrested the stone Buddha and carried it into the court. A noisy crowd followed the statue, curious to learn what kind of sentence the judge was about to impose.

When O-oka appeared on the bench he rebuked the boisterous audience. "What right have you people to appear before the court laughing and joking in this manner? You are in contempt of court and subject to a fine and imprisonment."

The people hastened to apologize. "I shall have to impose a fine on you," said the judge, "but I will remit it provided each one of you brings one roll of cotton goods to the court within three days. Anyone failing to do this will be arrested."

One of the rolls of cloth which the people brought was quickly recognized by the merchant as his own, and thus the thief was easily discovered. The merchant recovered his goods, and the cotton rolls were returned to the people.

-----
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
I was hoping for some different advice from more of a story-telling perspective. There seems to be some myopia when it comes to the concept that character death can be a story event as well.

Of course itcan be. It just so rarely seems to be.

I submit that a creative DM can take many situations and give realistic reasons for them to become either story-telling events or role-playing opportunities or both.

That's what more and more people are saying: "realistic" doesn't mean that there's only one, boring way for things to fall out. I'll reiterate that "not fighting" isn't the same as "role-playing," though.

Back to the original reason of my post... is there any advice someone might give a DM to encourage the DM to actively try to rule in favor of interesting outcomes?

No. If the DM learns about trusting the players enough to say "Yes, and..." then they can try utilizing that approach, but being given that advice by a player is likely to strike a DM as self-serving behavior. All the player can do is be trustworthy, and demonstrate "Yes, and..." on their own, to show the DM that the player is more interested in an interesting story for all, than just for him or herself.

Centauri, thanks for your post. I must say that the DM and myself have played together for quite a while. He knows where I'm coming from on this and we are in agreement. Which makes some of the nastier posts on here particularly amusing to me, but not very helpful.

Maybe what I'm advocating is too subtle to easily explain.

The Thief Who Became a Disciple

One evening as Shichiri Kojun was reciting sutras a thief with a sharp sword entered, demanding either money or his life.

Shichiri told him: "Do not disturb me. You can find the money in that drawer." Then he resumed his recitation.

A little while afterwards he stopped and called: "Don't take it all. I need some to pay taxes with tomorrow."

The intruder gathered up most of the money and started to leave. "Thank a person when you receive a gift," Shichiri added. The man thanked him and made off.

A few days afterwards the fellow was caught and confessed, among others, the offence against Shichiri. When Shichiri was called as a witness he said: "This man is no thief, at least as far as I am concerned. I gave him money and he thanked me for it."

After he had finished his prison term, the man went to Shichiri and became his disciple.

---

Shichiri should have used improved disarm, stunning fist, then quivering palm on the low-level thief. And the player playing the level 1 thief would have no right to complain, now would he?

Tongue Out





A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
Centauri, the DM in this situation was actually asking me for advice on how to make this happen.

How to make what happen?

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Centauri, the DM in this situation was actually asking me for advice on how to make this happen.

How to make what happen?


How to encourage people to roleplay their characters in ways that are more 'esoteric, philosophical' rather than 'hack and slash or meta-gaming for survivability'.

I think the concept is too foreign to fathom.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
Centauri, the DM in this situation was actually asking me for advice on how to make this happen.

How to make what happen?


How to encourage people to roleplay their characters in ways that are more 'esoteric, philosophical' rather than 'hack and slash or meta-gaming for survivability'.

I think the concept is too foreign to fathom.



Given your two earlier examples I think a better explanation is that what you consider a good story and what others at the table (and possibly here on the forums) consider an incomprehensible mess are the same thing.  If you think either of those two stories directly relate to your freak-out then I don't really know what to tell you.  Well, other than "grats on finding a group that puts up with you."
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
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Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
Centauri, the DM in this situation was actually asking me for advice on how to make this happen.

How to make what happen?

How to encourage people to roleplay their characters in ways that are more 'esoteric, philosophical' rather than 'hack and slash or meta-gaming for survivability'.

I think the concept is too foreign to fathom.

I've provided the answer at least twice in this thread: not only must the DM not punish attempts at new ways of roleplaying, they must accept and build off of those attempts. But a DM who isn't disposed to do that must be shown its value by players who accept and build off the direction the DM is taking.

The use of the word "survivability" is interesting and important. Players who fear for the survival of their characters will not take risks, and DMs who threaten the survival of those players' characters will discourage risk taking, at least in terms of character-portrayal risks. What's a Player to Do? Roleplay without regard to the fate of the character, basically. Be prepared to lose the character, or lose the cool story you had in mind for the character, for the sake of the roleplaying, and for the sake of what the DM has in mind. Accept and add on to the DM's approach, in positive ways, without spite.

I encourage DMs to do the same thing for their players, but this is What's a Player to Do? and the answer is to lead by example, and build trust thereby.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Centauri, the DM in this situation was actually asking me for advice on how to make this happen.

How to make what happen?


How to encourage people to roleplay their characters in ways that are more 'esoteric, philosophical' rather than 'hack and slash or meta-gaming for survivability'.

I think the concept is too foreign to fathom.



Given your two earlier examples I think a better explanation is that what you consider a good story and what others at the table (and possibly here on the forums) consider an incomprehensible mess are the same thing.  If you think either of those two stories directly relate to your freak-out then I don't really know what to tell you.  Well, other than "grats on finding a group that puts up with you."

Thank you. That was very insightful. Sorry you are unable to comprehend. And good luck finding a group to put up with you as well.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.