Am I burned out? (really really long - and possibly a gripe session)

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Greetings gentlefolk,

First a bit of history:

I'm currently involved in two gaming groups, one that meets fridays, one on saturdays.  I have been playing with the friday group since 1995, with a three year hiatus during which I was out of state.  The saturday group dates back to 2001 or so with the similar three year hiatus. 

Fridays we play 4E and sometimes other systems.  I occasionally run.
Saturdays we play on alternate weekends other game systems which I'm not sure I am allowed to mention on these forums, but they consist of lengthy "paths" of adventures.  I say on alternate weekends, because we have two DMs, each of which alternates a different game.

Now to the issues at hand.  Any names used are changed.

The friday game is driving me absolutely nuts.  The DM writes brilliant stories, and railroads us through them so badly that during a session a few weeks ago, I made the comment "Sure, Gary, since you won't let me do anything else, I'll jump on your little plot train and ride it where you want."  It went over Gary's head.  Gary also doesn't want to RP at face to face sessions, instead choosing to deluge us with lengthy emails in which he makes decisions for us, and basically writes out a half completed choose your own adventure book.

The group's main players are myself, Darryl, Bill, and Gary.  Sometimes we are joined by John, Trey, and my wife Carrie.

A little about the players, from my perspective.  Please keep in mind that away from the gaming table, I like everyone, and can sit and talk with them in lengthy discussions about average, ordinary stuff, and they're generally good guys.

Gary: Primary DM.  No creativity beyond writing stories.  If it's not in his story arc, he simply cannot deal with it.  He refuses to accept character backstories, instead taking bits and pieces of what his players have written and weaving them into a completely new tale of his own devising.  He refuses to include anything about romance, or allow players to play characters of the opposite sex becuase it's "a little disturbing and might cause issues", except for my wife's story arcs which of course have unwanted suitors and lots of catty social enemies.  Gary is in his late 40s.  He seems to have trouble grasping the rules of 4E, and consistently makes challenges too hard, and then when we're in danger of a TPK suddenly everything dies or goes away for some reason.  The current campaign has been running since the introduction of 4E, and our characters are 11th-13th level and underequipped.

Bill: Bill is one of my best friends.  He has an odd work schedule, and thus tends to find a dark corner and go to sleep.  I can deal with that.  What gets me is that even when he's awake, Bill only pays attention to the game when it's "his turn", and at all other times he's either (loudly) discussing other topics, or playings apps on his phone.  He has told me that he's really just there to socialize, and I get that.  Still it can be a little galling when all he does is make sure his characters have similar initiative (he plays 2 characters as does Darryl) and they basically mutually support one another.  Especially since he's playing the cleric.  When I'm running, he does put a little effort into RP, and character story.

Darryl:  Darryl knows how to build the perfect character, and that is the only way to build a character of that class, and his characters can kill yours easily.  Just ask him, he'll tell you.  Of course, his "melee" ranger spends 90% of his time standing back and using Twin Strike with a bow.  He chooses melee based encounter powers, and claims treasure that other more melee characters could use, but only attacks in melee when he has no other choice.  He spends a lot of time in game taunting other characters.  This seems to be regardless of what system or game we're playing.  He's generally always a "CN" fighter type that loves to bully others, and sometimes he doesn't bother even giving characters a name.  He likes dark anti-hero based games, and no matter what wee're actually doing, plays his character accordingly.  On some fridays he runs a superhero game, in which our characters are little more than street toughs with a few extra abilities and nothing we ever do EVER works, and our powers are always countered by the more powerful villains, because that's "more realistic".  I am usually "sick" those nights.

John: John used to be a regular of the game, but has not been since sometime while I was out of state.  Generally he just shows up for a session once or twice a year and tries to RP, thus making the game more fun, then disappears. 

Trey: Also used to be a regular, but doesn't like 4E so he basically show up, sits at his laptop and doesn't say anything except to sometimes answer a question, then leaves early.

Carrie:  My wife.  Carrie is fairly new to gaming, having started just before we got married in 2005.  She is wildly creative, and loves coming up with stories and character histories.  She's a little frustrating to me because she takes forever to make a decision in game, but we've all been there.  Carrie has also tried to start no less than 3 games as Storyteller/DM, all of which have been derailed by Gary.

;'/ Me: I tend to prefer heavy RP, and deep, rich character backstories.  I'm fine with hack and slash, but I don't find it fulfilling in the long run.  I tend to go for epic campaigns in which the characters eventually come to change the world in some way.  I have a tendency to be a grump, I will admit, and a preference for interpretations of the rules that favor high action/adventure/the PCs.  I have run several games with the group, but in my latest attempt, Gary completely destroyed the atmosphere within 2 sessions, and I just had no desire to run any longer.  I may take up a solo game with Bill, since he was having fun and keeps asking about his character.

I keep looking for other groups in the are, but I never follow up.  I don't want to hurt Gary's feelings (he can be sensitive), and I'm worried that perhaps the game I am looking for doesn't really exist.  Gary still includes people in our group emails that dropped out of the game before I got married.  He lets us use his house, and provides snacks and soda of his own volition (although to be fair, when I host I do the same, but I have hosted maybe 50 times where he has generally hosted every friday since before I joined the group).  When I was getting married and moving to Kansas, he told me I should not get married and stay, and I am more than half sure he wasn't joking, even though he laughed at the end.  I just feel bad simply quitting.  Plus, it just might be a habit for me after all these years.

Now, if you're still with me, and still care to read on:

The Saturday game

I don't really have a problem with any of the players in the Saturday game (except maybe Bill, who is also in on that game, becuase he has the same habits of sleeping/not paying attention/talking over people about inappropriate topics).  My problem here is much shorter.  It's the whole concept of a campaign that is entirely scripted out.  Becaue we'r running these "path" vignettes, and the DMs want to get from point A to point B, there seems to be little to no RP, and half of that consists of

"I want to convince the shopkeeper to  do what I want"
"Ok, roll diplomacy.  Ok that's good enough."

Now that I think about it, I do have a little gripe (oh noes!):

DM 1 - Very little RP, very linear.  Is much more interested in "cool new systems", and adding steampunk to D&D than in actually RPing.

DM 2 - Tries to RP, but without a module can't run.  Constantly complaining that pictures in the module don't match the description in the module.

DM 1 is also a bit of a min/maxxing rules lawyer (ok so alot of us have that flaw deep down), but what gets me is that in every game, his characters have to be good at everything, and he seems to delight in taking other player's thunder from them, to the extent that he uses the Leadership feat and cohorts to add to his own abilities so that he can literally do everything that anyone else can, and he uses esoteric rules from whatever source he can find to make sure of his superiority.  Then he gets slightly annoyed if there's something he can't do.  He also has a habit of bringing in powerful DMNPCs.

I get to the point in these games where I'm basically just pulling out my laptop, surfing the web, and rolling dice when it's time.

Again, I really like these guys as people, and sometimes the games are a little fun, but it's never what I'm looking for.  Am I being too harsh?  Am I being delusional?  Do I just need a break from tabletop RPGs; maybe just spend my fridays/saturdays playing MMOs or something (because that's basically what I'm doing now).

I've heard of games in which people spend the majority of the time RPing, and hardly ever have to roll dice.  I've heard of intricate stories and epic adventures being had.  Heck, when I was in Kansas, the group I was with was AMAZING.  Perhps they opened my eyes so that when I returned here, it would never be quite the same, I don't know.  If you're still reading this, and if you have any idea, I appreciate it.  If you think I'm being an idiot, or just ranting and it's my own fault, I can see that too, and I won't be upset if you tell me so.  I really want ot know what people think about this situation.

Thanks for your patience, and any advice.
There's little to no trust in these groups. The players don't seem to trust the DM, and the DMs don't seem to trust the players or themselves. Everyone has their own way to want to play, and everyone else seems to be an inconvenience.

I highly recommend that you find some play-by-post games, or run your own. Even if the games are mechanics heavy, they tend to be fertile ground for description and character development, because there's more time to compose what you want. Don't expect anyone to bow to your masterpiece, but have fun writing it.

Online games circumvent schedule problems, because people post when they can, and are politely dropped if they can't keep up. It's slower, yes, but I've probably had more fun in pbp games than in face-to-face games, particularly because I'm not limited just to my circle of friends.

Trust can still be an issue in online games, but do your best to trust the others and you will foster their trust for you. Best of luck.

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

A lot of your issues aren't going to be resolved. You do need to look at whether you want to stay in the game when you simply aren't having any fun. I mean, it is your downtime too, so if it's not working, you are the element you control.

One possibility is doing some one-on-one games with you and your wife. You can modify adventure games to run shorter adventures or check out any number of very cool indie games that might suit your playstyles. That might also help your wife be a little more confident in her decision making. She might not feel as on-the-spot if it is just the two of you. Or better yet, see if any of her friends would want to play in a smaller game.

I think there are very diplomatic and nice ways to voice your concerns to the other players, but there are sooo many concerns and issues even if you get a few of them worked out, I doubt you will be satisfied with the games. You may just need a change.

Good luck.
Half of your group sounds like half of my group. Especially the one-upper who has to be 'best' at everything. I've got one of those. I think they come standard with every game.

There may be a little burn out here, but I think there's hope. If you are playing and one of your group tends to not really pay attention much, just assume he's a bit character in the story. Focus your role-playing between your character and the most interesting character in the group. That way it doesn't matter much if your characters are being mercilessly railroaded on an adventure that neither of you are interested in. If the enemy you're fighting runs away for no reason (DM fiat to save the day from TPK), it's reasonable for you to roleplay your character's reaction to what just happened. You should still be talking about it three sessions later... after all, the strange reaction of the NPC is what saved your lives. Make it a life-changing event as you struggle to determine what might have happened. I'm thinking of the scene in Pulp Fiction where Samuel Jackson and John Travolta get unloaded on at point blank and the shot 'miraculously' misses them. Samuel Jackson's character sees this event as some sort of sign. John Travolta's character sees it in a less divine light. Their disscussion was one of the more interesting events, story-wise. It changed the course of their character's story's forever.

Patience with Carry... if she's taking for-e-ver to make decisions, it means she cares about the character. I've watched TV shows and movies where I could give a rat's bum if a nuke killed every single character and the rest of the movie was just static. And those writers get paid the big bucks. Just think... she cares about the character, she cares about the character.

Sometimes you have to change your own game a bit to get the other players engaged enough to change theirs. Try making a character that is a stereotype of the characters of the players you are most frustrated with. Then beat them at their own game. If he plays the ranger who stands in the back shooting his bow... stand behind him with a crossbow, with far shot. If one player always plays two characters who are extremely co-dependent... make twins, conjoined twins if the DM will let you.

And one of your party keeps taking the good stuff, even stuff he doesn't need. This happened to one of my characters:
Our high-level party, consisting of several fighters and a wizard (my character) had just found a fat horde of treasure. The only magic thing in the massive horde I could use was a headband of intellect +2. One of the fighters took it as his first pick (over +5 platemail, over Daern's instant Fortress, you get the idea. Instant mortal enemy. Needless to say, when the time finally came when the fighter needed the wizard's help, all I could say was "I'd love to help you my old ally, but that spell is beyond my understanding". I came to understand this was a habit with his characters... if I was a priest he would have taken the phylactery of undead turning. So in the next campaign I decided to try his tactic, in reverse. I played a bard who called himself a priest of the luck god and when it came to picking my treasure... I rolled 'randomly' and then tried to incorporate whatever I picked into every encounter.
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 seem to be very player/group oriented problem, i won't blame you if you get burned out on it...I have seen and been on very RP oriented 4e games, i have played on a campaing where we had 3 sessions without any single encounter and only RP, exploration and character interaction.

Blame the playa, not the game... I will say you should all talk about it and have a dialogue about it, what do everybody want or like on the game... alot of people would say just leave the group and find another one...i won't say this, because i am sure finding groups of people willing to play tabletop RPGs is very very very hard now on days on face to face sessions.
This seem to be very player/group oriented problem, i won't blame you if you get burned out on it...I have seen and been on very RP oriented 4e games, i have played on a campaing where we had 3 sessions without any single encounter and only RP, exploration and character interaction.

Combat is not the opposite of roleplaying, it must be said.

Blame the playa, not the game... I will say you should all talk about it and have a dialogue about it, what do everybody want or like on the game... alot of people would say just leave the group and find another one...i won't say this, because i am sure finding groups of people willing to play tabletop RPGs is very very very hard now on days on face to face sessions.

Not as hard as it might have once been before the Internet. Get on MeetUp.com and find or make a local D&D group. I did this 10 years ago and my current group sprang from the friends I met through there.

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

This seem to be very player/group oriented problem, i won't blame you if you get burned out on it...I have seen and been on very RP oriented 4e games, i have played on a campaing where we had 3 sessions without any single encounter and only RP, exploration and character interaction.

Combat is not the opposite of roleplaying, it must be said.



I know that, it just something that 90% of people doesn't seem to understand, thought (or i have spent way too much on D&DN forum). So i try to speak their lenguage.  I have DM'd encounters with drama and plot twists during it,  cinema add drama during action scenes, tabletop rpgs can too =D
This seem to be very player/group oriented problem, i won't blame you if you get burned out on it...I have seen and been on very RP oriented 4e games, i have played on a campaing where we had 3 sessions without any single encounter and only RP, exploration and character interaction.

Combat is not the opposite of roleplaying, it must be said.

I know that, it just something that 90% of people doesn't seem to understand, thought (or i have spent way too much on D&DN forum).

Oh, man. I feel for you.

So i try to speak their lenguage.  I have DM'd encounters with drama and plot twists during it,  cinema add drama during action scenes, tabletop rpgs can too =D

Right on. Yeah, I sometimes think I should just go along with "roleplaying" means "talking" conceit, but I keep fighting that fight. Didn't mean to catch you in the crossfire.

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

Always remember: no gaming > bad gaming.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
Always remember: no gaming > bad gaming.



There is wisdom to be found here.
The biggest problem I see here is everyone has different reasons of why they wish to play.

As a DM of my group about once a year I have one day where the group gets together to discuss the games or games we play and our issues with each other.

This allows an outlet for players to discuss what they find most enjoyable so that everyone knows what each players looks forward to.  It also allows the DM to understand what they can do to make the game better for everyone.

This works well for my group but I can't say it will for yours.  Like all hobbies people do it for different reasons.  Some like RP, others like Combat.  There is no incorrect reason to play, but when we do play we should all try to take everyone into consideration.

If talking doesn't work or you are not comforatable with it, seek out another group that would better fit you gaming desires.

Also considering running yourself, it really can't hurt and perhaps you can see what your DMs actually do when they are on the other side of the table.
Hello again,

Thank you for all of your responses, they are much appreciated.  I'm sorry it's taken so long to get back here, real life is being a pill, but I have a few minutes, and I'll try to respond a bit.  I apologize, but I don't have the time currently to address your responses individually.  I will try to respond later with more individualized posts.

Communications seems to be the key, and there just isn't any of it going on.  I don't want ot hurt anyone's feelings, cause I'm a big mushy softy, and so I do the whole suffer in silence thing.  Well, I've talked to Bill, and because of his wacky work schedule, we're going to be able to set up a game that I can run for just him and my wife without interfering with the friday/saturday games.  If that works out, then we'll either continue that exclusively for the time being, or at least have examples we can take to the other groups of how we like things to be, and how it can work.

Thanks again, and again, I'll try to get back to your individual responses soon!
Personally I think that life's too short to be a part of something you don't enjoy. D&D is one of those things which is player dependent and if they aren't meshing well, then the game is sure to suffer. I don't believe that all players make good DM's and not all good DM's make good players. I guess that everyone has their own playing style, however I do think that surfing the internet while playing is jsut plain rude. In my opinion a good DM is someone who is flexible, open to role playing and does not go into every encounter rail roading what the players actually want to accomplish with their characters. 

In the last campaign I played in, it was very RP orientated. There was little combat, but the DM did it in such a way where we had a pretty solid suspension of disbelief. The DM was good at RP and he even included music, handouts and came dressed up in a wizard's costume once. The main problem that arose from this campaign was that there were two separate groups, (because of the sheer number of players) and they didn't communicate very well. Ergo, by the end of it my table felt like they had absolutely nothing to do with the story arc. We mainly just built a crime syndicate. 
    I felt very relieved when this campaign was over. Granted I did come into the campaign at level 8 so I'm not sure what it was like before. 

The current campaign I am playing in is very combat orientated. The story is rather disjointed and the only thing I am sure that we're doing is searching for a Captain's treasure...it's a pirate campaign. 

I think the best thing we can do as players is to learn from other's mistakes and try not to replicate them. Personally if I was not enjoying playing with my group anymore, I would try and communicate my problems with them first. Perhaps they aren't actually aware of the frustration they are giving you? You can always try and do this in a politically correct way.