30 Habits of Highly Unsuccessful DMs

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So… on another thread I mentioned that I thought that DM’s who used modules/settings or who relied on DMPC’s really weren’t good DMs, or weren’t “real” DMs. Of course I got hammered with onetruewayist comments… so I thought what makes a DM good or bad, I’m sure each of you may have your own not so specific list but I decided to write up mine. I’d be interested to hear if there’s anything you think should be on the list but isn’t, or if you think any of these things can be fixed by a well designed well written system, if so which ones and how?  And now… without further ado..


30 Habits of Highly Unsuccessful DMs


1) Isn’t prepared
2) Can’t wing it.
3) Can’t sell it.
4) Cant act it.
5) Cant make it.
6) No Girls Allowed.
7) Table Management Fail.
8) Cant Cope
9) Cant Say No.
10) Loves the Meta-Game
11) You Want A War…
12) Where the Choo Choo Go?
13) Cannot bend Like a Reed in the Wind…
14) One Skill to Rule Them All
15) Cant You Smell That Smell…
16) Who is Your Daddy...?
17)  Your Soaking In It.
18)  Cant Hack It.
19)  Daddy YUP! YUP!
20)  Captain Homebrew!
21)  I WANT TO ROCK!
22)  Lawful Anal/Chaotic Stupid
23)  Die! Die! Die!
24)  The Never Ending Story
25)  DM’s Cant Cheat.
26)  All Players Cheat.
27) You No Can Haz it!
28) Cheetoist
29) 20-4 meh.
30) Obsessive much?


 1) Isn’t Prepared- the adventure is always left at home, or the encounter notes, or something that he desperately needs isn’t available which results in ending the game early or skipping encounters, etc.


2) Can’t wing it- he needs to have absolutely everything written down, and will spend three out of every eight minutes (yes I actually timed a DM like this once) looking up a rule or reading an entry absolutely killing any role playing, suspense, or action built up in-game.  Also typically means if the dialog isn’t written down, he cant RP for the antagonists. About the only thing worse than the cant wing it DM is the DM who thinks he can and cant… see no. 18


3) Can’t Sell It-In professional wrestling “selling it” is convincing the audience the punches are real, in D&D it’s describing the scene or the action, in a way with a touch of emotion to really let the players feel like they are in-the moment with their characters. A DM who cant do this lacks an essential skill.  


4) Can’t Act- Just has little or no ability to RP, every NPC sounds the same, uses the same speech patterns, uses a lot of modern slang, and the DM will often say something like “well he’s using a British accent but I cant pull it off” or “he sounds short” then speaks in a deep bass tone. Its typical that these DMs also have trait #1 and has to refer to notes or the AP to remember what the NPC needs to say.


5) Cant make it- If the game starts at 6 he doesn’t show till 7:00 if the players start showing up at 7:00 he starts showing up at 8:00, if he cancels a game night, he waits until everyone has changed their plans and is sitting at the table before sending the notice.  


6) No Girls Allowed. Happens more than ya’d think, DM cant stop himself from using rude, profane or dirty language/conversations, encourages others to do the same, or simply cant RP with a girl without blushing or quickly changing players. Some DM’s have the same problem with GLBT players (I admit I have a problem with the T, and yah it actually came up once.)


7) Table Management Fail- Just generally cant control player demands, some players get all the spotlight, others get none, slow players never get the nudge, side conversations are loud and endless, game is constantly interrupted by cell phones or other distractions. Often leads to the next habit.


8) Cant Cope- either carpet bags all his anger till it explodes with yelling, cussing and/or throwing dice, or he gets extremely quiet and just reads books or shuts off when the game gets to be too much to manage, when called on this passive aggressive behavior claims its all the player’s fault.


9) Cant Say No- A-typical Monty Hall behavior, dm kinda sucks to begin with then hands out a lot of overpowering magic items, giving incredible amounts of XP, allowing access to feats or advanced class abilities the character cant qualify for to win back the favor of the players. This is often combined with…


10) Loves the Meta Game- yup wash his car get a +5 sword, Give him Pizza get a magic item tailored just for your character, bring an attractive girl to the table and watch her become the favored character of the week, plays favorites, holds grudges and generally cant take criticism without repercussions… often leads to…


11) You Want a War- I’ll give you a war… DM sees the game as a contest between the DM and the Players, and generally the players always loose until he feels guilty and goes all Monty/meta. In his game you’ll have flashbacks of Cartman saying “Respect ma Athorita!”


12) Where the Choo Choo Go? It go wherever the hell the DM wants it to that’s where… Your on the railroad and you cant get off. This DM cant freestyle anything, any attempt to do anything not covered by an AP leads to NPC’s forcing you back into covered territory, loss of everything your character values, world destroying cataclysm,  etc. etc, in short if your in his game, neither you nor your characters have free will.


13) Cannot bend Like a Reed in the Wind… you cant solve the puzzle, oh well better spend two sessions going back to town, raiding a library, and getting back again, cant beat the unbeatable BBEG’s init? oh well guess you all die, make new characters. This DM gives you no hints, clues, help, or allowances if you cant tackle some aspect of his game. A little of this can be respected too much and your time is better spent on xbox.


14) One Skill to Rule Them All- DM has a way he likes characters to handle a problem… ONE WAY!, Either the diplomancer is god or everything is a nail to the fighter’s warhammer. DM rarely offers different ways to succeed at an encounter… this is often caboose of the Choo Choo.


15) Cant You Smell that Smell- Ya show up to the game at his place and he hasn’t washed, brushed, shaved, or put on a shirt. The house is filthy, covered in fast food wrappers, maybe the detritus of 100 other gaming sessions, the garbage was last taken out with the previous tenant… and oh.. A hardcore/thrash heavy metal drummer would envy the stink coming off him… Lets be honest, the hobby attracts a lot of anti-social anti-mainstream society types and while I applaud this occasionally there’s always that one guy (player or DM) who just cant take care of basic hygiene needs.


16) Who is Your Daddy… and what does he do… well apparently he’s the DM. This DM is better than you, he’s right, always. He voted for the right candidate in the last election, worships the right god (gods/goddess or is a devout atheist) he cheers for the right sports franchise, and if you disagree with any of his true convictions, you’ll reap the whirlwind buddy,  blue bolt, save or die, or just steals your chips and never ever apologizes and will often…


17) Your Soaking in It- “IT” being the preternatural glow of absolute perfection that the DMPC the DM shoved into your party seems to radiate whenever he passes gas. This DM really wants to be a player in a game with a DM as cool as him, one that knows why this absolutely bad ass guy he created needs and deserves to get all the best weapons rewards, xp etc. You can be sure 99% of the time, your adventures will likely be following this NPC around as he buys cities, fights gods etc. Face it if your in this game, your character is just one of the supporting cast to his ultimately cool main character. Probably the best thing you can do is find another game, failing that having your character become Gilligan to his Skipper and learn to endlessly repeat variant phrases of “that guy is SOOOO awesome!”


18) Cant Hack It- Just no system mastery, never knows the rules to the game he’s running, is easily played by a metagaming player, makes quick brash rulings that if you argue about just leads to bigger problems (ala no. 11) has a tendency to DM fiat and is even sometimes correct. Lots of times this is a secondary habit to no. 9, and this DM will occasionally have a lil buddy (husband, wife, friend etc) that has to be around to rules lawyer for him.


19) Daddy YUP! YUP!- when you arrive at this DM’s house you’ll quickly suspect he has a wholesale accounts with Playschool, Pet Depot, and the local goodwill. At this game the game is secondary to the responsibilities of the parent, the kids aren’t in school and the spouse is taking off. Every five minutes one of the droolers is at his knee arms lifted saying “Daddy YUP! YUP!” and demanding to be held, roll the dice, knock your expertly painted tailored minis of the table or better yet finding that the old led orc is missing an arm and it turns into a game of CLUE as to who ate it and needs to go to the ER etc,etc. meanwhile the 4yr old is chasing the screaming 3 yr old, and the three dogs and two cats are fighting over a milk bottle spilled on the couch that the DM just needs “a few minutes” to deal with. If you’re at this game, you’re now a walk on cast member of this guy’s own personal sit com, bout the best thing you can expect is that in-between “incidents” you might get to game a little bit, and there will probably be a barbeque and beer… BYOM! (no tofu allowed!)  


20) Here I come to save the day!- This system sucks and Captain homebrew is on his way.  Captain Homebrew really wishes he was a game designer rather than just a DM. Before you ever get to the game this guy has sent you gigs of his tweaker manifesto aka homebrew world/rules, and tells you that’s just a smidgeon of what you should read before your first session. He hates the magic system so he made his own, hated the standard ways of rolling characters so he’s got a stat/feat/class ability point buy system, hated the skills and combat system so he’s changed it to the resolution system of some game no one’s ever heard of complete with chips to spend, dice pools, and homemade combat cards. The bad news is if your playing in his game your really not playing the game he advertised as xyz edition with “some” homebrew rules, and you’ve got no idea what to expect. The good news is if you jump on board the crazytown express and agree with his mad ramblings and rants he’ll likely give you a character that has been min/maxed according to his twisted system that will absolutely pwon anything else at the table… (except for his NPC… no.17)


21) I WANT TO ROCK! This Dm requires the right music to set the stage for the game… get ready, its either going to be some Danish unholy black deathmetal bands, or darkwave trance. You’ll be lucky if his speakers only go to 11.


22) Lawful Anal/Chaotic Stupid- you don’t know how to play your character but this DM is gonna teach you. This DM generally demands that the game be serious to the extreme, has little sense of humor, and he has his own very ridged ideas on how races, alignments, background traits etc. MUST be played and failure to play to his sense of right and wrong will lead to the spinning of the great Gigaxian Wheel of Repercussions. Nobodies a winner, bring on the blue bolts and xp loss.


23) DIE! DIE! DIE! no he doesn’t use too many dice… he just wants your PCs to die. His game is lethal in the extreme. More like a game of Paranoia than a game of whatever it was you wanted to play, where if your character lived longer than half a session you should consider yourself lucky.


24) The Never Ending Story- This DM is the exact opposite of no.23, nothing in this game will likely ever kill you and all combat is usually avoided. The DM loves sticking japananime type plots into the game, choc full of mysteries you’ll never solve, twilightesque romanticized NPCs and of course non-stop conflict free story telling. And whatever you do… don’t ask them about their art, poetry, or spiritual views…


25) DM’s Can't Cheat- If ya get the feeling rolling a 1 is not much different than rolling a 20 on any knowledge or influence roll this is probably your DM. Secretly he may claim the rules tell him to roll behind his indestructible DM screen and to fudge the die rolls if it will help the game, but more often than not the truth is more likely that no die roll matters in the least as this guy wants to get to the end of his movie, and is often accompanied by the rationalization that…


26) All Players Cheat- This DM is of the opinion that all players are secretly min/maxing munchkin jerks plotting against him to ruin the game. He may require that all players use a dice tower or he spends as much time as necessary to triple check all figures on any check, stat, roll, etc.


27) You No Can Haz it!- this is the opposite of no.9, you spend three sessions and two party members die to eventually kill a BBEG or mega boss dragon and find the mountainous pile of treasure is made of coppers painted gold and the ancient magic sword is really an illusion or horribly cursed. This Dm tries to give you as little as possible and rewards no successes (possibly due to a strong belief in no. 26), often when you think he may have given you something worthwhile he will complain that it has overpowered you and soon something must come to steal it back or weaken you in some way in the great name of game/PC balance.  


28) Cheetoist- the DM is the opposite of no 22, he is a fun first game second DM, he is there to have fun and eat cheetos and if the seriousness of a game interferes with having fun or eating cheetos, something needs to change. This DM has tremendous difficulty addressing any adult or serious topics in the game, the characters and NPCs are typically over the top overdrawn stereotypes, and no effort is made to separate in-game or out of game dialog… unless its funny to do so. Bottom line, this is a goofgame, any desire for in-game seriousness will be punished with out-of-game public humiliation, so don’t try, eat a cheeto and do something stupid that everyone can laugh at and when it gets old (and it will) find a more serious game… or just buy more cheetos.


29) 20-4 Meh. Just a substandard DM in which every game he runs has 20 minutes of fun spread out into 4hrs of gaming. May have elements of all or none of these habits. Either way every week will be a pure meh experience and leave you wondering if there isn’t a better way you could be spending your free time and gas money maybe for years, actually I think this is the worst kind of DM to have.  


30) Obsessive Much?- this DM has little or no life, probably spends every waking moment thinking about his game, characters, a new system coming out etc. He’s dangerous in that he has deep seeded largely idealistic views about what a game should or should not contain and what actions any type of player/dm should and should not do. A true onetruewayist. Just expect endless bitching and criticism. And oh yeah… he probably wrote a list just like this one once upon a time…

"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
i think this list can be condensed down to two items.

1. Doesn't notice that the players have stopped having fun.
2. Doesn't work to solve problem one when they finally catch onto it.
 
so Trebor- in your mind a system can never elmiminate or reduce bad DMs?
"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
a system can in some ways but with house rules and taste of each dm being involved a system cannot do enough to controll it. the best way to controll a bad dm is for him to have no players that sends a message dming isnt for him
A good system can give a DM as many tools as it can to make his job easier, cleaner, faster. This alleviates several of these (An unprepared DM might not have 5 hours a week to prepare a 7-hour session of D&D but a game that only requires 2 hours prep can be done; a DM that has a hard time with complicated rules may have an easier time dealing with more streamlined ones; a well balanced game requires less DM interention to make sure everybody gets their time in the spotlight, etc) but some of these cannot be alleviated by game system.

It doesn't matter what game system your DM uses; none of them require him to bathe.

It's pretty amusing how many of these can apply to players (although they would get their own list, significantly longer).

Supporting an edition you like does not make you an edition warrior. Demanding that everybody else support your edition makes you an edition warrior.

Why do I like 13th Age? Because I like D&D: http://magbonch.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/first-impressions-13th-age/

AzoriusGuildmage- "I think that you simply spent so long playing it, especially in your formative years with the hobby, that you've long since rationalized or houseruled away its oddities, and set it in your mind as the standard for what is and isn't reasonable in an rpg."

No girls allowed?  What DM in their right mind would do that?

Pretty funny read tho. I'll admit I probably have at least 1 of those stereotypes.. 
Who takes that long to prepare?

A good DM wings it and sell it like it was prepared. You wouldn't even tell the difference.
It's like using canned soup and making them believe it's homemade.

As long you know how the story is going to end, does it matter how they get their? 
Not proving a fun experience for those involved.
An amusing read. I've run into many of these in my time. Funny thing is, while most of them were bad DM's, all the DM's I have played with (myself included) have exhibitied at least one or two of these habits. Even the best ones.

I think the thing is, as others mentioned, fun is the only thing that matters. And it's certainly possible to have fun even when the DM has a few bad habits. As long as they don't outweigh his or her better qualities and everyone is still having fun, that's all that matters. No one's perfect.

On a side note, regarding number 4 - I really prefer a DM who can't act and doesn't try to over one who can't act but thinks they can. I would rather hear "guys just imagine this dude talking with a high pitched nasal voice with a french accent" than the DM actually trying to talk like that.
i think this list can be condensed down to two items.

1. Doesn't notice that the players have stopped having fun.
2. Doesn't work to solve problem one when they finally catch onto it.
 


This is pretty much it.

There are groups that can enjoy several of the things you mentioned as being bad habits. Sure they may be bad habits on average, but if the group is having fun, who does it really hurt? 
My two copper.
I think every one of these is the DM's problem, not the system's. Usually trying to change the system to prevent these kinds of things only makes the game worse for everyone.
2, 11, 25, and 29 was present in the last game i played (even if it wasn't dnd, it still applies, it's still fantasy).

I don't know if it listed, but having meaningless die rolls (when evidently decisions where up to his mind) was just half of the problem. We had to roll for everything, roleplaying never lasted more than tree seconds when we were asked to roll something or he rolled something.

Even if that was annoying, there still was a little fun somewhere to rescue something from the game.

The thing that was awesomely tedious was to actually create the characters, even if it was a premade official printed adventure which (obviously) had a set of suggested pre-made characters. I won't mind if it was a at some house, but it was a convention... where time is scarce and i'm not going there to spend that precious commodity on something else than arriving and play.

Also, i asked some details on what was the mood and theme of the story in order to have a character that will have some motivations to it. The answer was that there will be a lot of investigation and drama, and little action and combat. I chose to play a physicist and at the beginning i thought i had been a great idea, because the background was about a tribal shaman who became a medical doctor of the empire and spent a lot of time in places requiring free clinics. My character was very caregiving and selfless and we ended up in some colony with no hospital or medical facilities searching for some clue about a strange creatures who had been preying on the weak... he had to save the community and tend them at the same time. DM didn't care... every NPC was hostile, nobody accept any help even they were dying of some strange disease. I'm pretty sure i was roleplaying fine as other players really liked my acting and style... but all was nonsensical, i guess this leads to 13.

A bad DM for me, is the one who doesn't allow me to roleplay my character or where roleplaying is non-important throughout the game.
I think every one of these is the DM's problem, not the system's. Usually trying to change the system to prevent these kinds of things only makes the game worse for everyone.



On many levels I'd agree.

"The turning of the tide always begins with one soldier's decision to head back into the fray"

Okay, I have to take slight issue with the "cheer for the right sports franchise" part. Because, honestly, one either cheers for a Pittsburgh team, or they're wrong. Cool

/levity

For those confused on how DDN's modular rules might work, this may provide some insight: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/11/the-world-of-darkness-shines-when-it-abandons-canon

@mikemearls: Uhhh... do you really not see all the 3e/4e that's basically the entire core system?

 

It is entirely unnecessary to denigrate someone else's approach to gaming in order to validate your own.

Okay, I have to take slight issue with the "cheer for the right sports franchise" part. Because, honestly, one either cheers for a Pittsburgh team, or they're wrong. 

/levity



Amen, go steelers!
Try radiance RPG. A complete D20 game that supports fantasy and steampunk. Download the FREE PDF here: http://www.radiancerpg.com
Okay, I have to take slight issue with the "cheer for the right sports franchise" part. Because, honestly, one either cheers for a Pittsburgh team, or they're wrong. 

/levity



Amen, go steelers!


We thought we were right, cheering for the Texans. But we were wrong... 
My two copper.
I have to plead guilty to #1, #3 (a bit) and #7

sometimes i'm just not prepared enough, and my NPCs suffer for it. bad dialogue, moments of hesitations, etc...

Sometimes it's "anecdote time!" at the table, and my ADD makes me join in instead of trying to bring it to an end Embarassed
Try radiance RPG. A complete D20 game that supports fantasy and steampunk. Download the FREE PDF here: http://www.radiancerpg.com
Okay, I have to take slight issue with the "cheer for the right sports franchise" part. Because, honestly, one either cheers for a Pittsburgh team, or they're wrong. 

/levity



Amen, go steelers!


We thought we were right, cheering for the Texans. But we were wrong... 


As long as you have JJ, you're allright in my book
Try radiance RPG. A complete D20 game that supports fantasy and steampunk. Download the FREE PDF here: http://www.radiancerpg.com

 couple of things to add:


1)  Treats alignments as a list of things a character can or cannot do.  Good characters can't use necromancy (i blame WoTC being afraid of scandal for that one), Lawful Good characters must bury dead bodies, Lawful good character must obey all local laws, etc.

2)  Failure to understand his role:  thinks its his game, as opposed to the players' game.  Thinks he's always right about how the game should work, etc.


"Trying to run gritty gothic horror with 4e is like trying to cut down a tree with a hammer, likewise trying to run heroic fantasy with 1e is like trying to hammer a nail with a chainsaw."

 
 

 This is what i get when i hit the Quote button:  http://community.wizards.com/%23

 

  


 couple of things to add:


1)  Treats alignments as a list of things a character can or cannot do.  Good characters can't use necromancy (i blame WoTC being afraid of scandal for that one), Lawful Good characters must bury dead bodies, Lawful good character must obey all local laws, etc.

2)  Failure to understand his role:  thinks its his game, as opposed to the players' game.  Thinks he's always right about how the game should work, etc.




Again, I can think of tables that wouldn't mind either one of those. Number 2 only really becomes a bad habit if, once again, the players are not having fun. As long as they are having fun, who does it harm if he likes the control?
My two copper.
Okay, I have to take slight issue with the "cheer for the right sports franchise" part. Because, honestly, one either cheers for a Pittsburgh team, or they're wrong. 

/levity


I Banish You to the Abyss, Demonspawn Yell

Go Bengals Tongue Out
"I'm the best around Nothin's gona eva bring me down"!
Ya... Johnny somebody get em a body bag!
I- kill I -kill I- kill!
Most of this boils down to 4 things.

1) Finding your group.
2) Knowing your group
3) Finding your game
4) Knowing your game

I taught a 10 year old to run 4e by choosing his group and teaching him the game. If you decide to let a 10yr old DM, you obviously don't care if demons come Demonican Factories and a 90% clones named Demon Doug or Kill'Kill.

G-Men Next year.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

Okay, I have to take slight issue with the "cheer for the right sports franchise" part. Because, honestly, one either cheers for a Pittsburgh team, or they're wrong. 

/levity



+1 Smile
I think a better name for this list is "DM decisions that could lead to trouble".
My two copper.
2) Can’t wing it- he needs to have absolutely everything written down, and will spend three out of every eight minutes (yes I actually timed a DM like this once) looking up a rule or reading an entry absolutely killing any role playing, suspense, or action built up in-game.  Also typically means if the dialog isn’t written down, he cant RP for the antagonists. About the only thing worse than the cant wing it DM is the DM who thinks he can and cant… see no. 18

With my groups wanderlust I'm winging it 90% of the time although I can't claim its gold all the time I think I do pretty well...but I do believe that a DM that DMs entirely from Modules can still run a great game (I use modules occasionally although I tend to make tweaks and often end up dropping it if the flow demands)


3) Can’t Sell It-In professional wrestling “selling it” is convincing the audience the punches are real, in D&D it’s describing the scene or the action, in a way with a touch of emotion to really let the players feel like they are in-the moment with their characters. A DM who cant do this lacks an essential skill.


I'm ok at this I can get it across but listening to DMs like Spoony, Mike from the 404s or even Chris Perkins himself shows I have alot to improve here but using humour and visual aids hellps


4) Can’t Act- Just has little or no ability to RP, every NPC sounds the same, uses the same speech patterns, uses a lot of modern slang, and the DM will often say something like “well he’s using a British accent but I cant pull it off” or “he sounds short” then speaks in a deep bass tone. Its typical that these DMs also have trait #1 and has to refer to notes or the AP to remember what the NPC needs to say.


there's a difference between "can't act" and "can't rp" imo...i cant act to save my life but have plenty of voices and personalites to use.



5) Cant make it- If the game starts at 6 he doesn’t show till 7:00 if the players start showing up at 7:00 he starts showing up at 8:00, if he cancels a game night, he waits until everyone has changed their plans and is sitting at the table before sending the notice.


to clarify do you mean showing up or actually truly ready to go...cause my group including myself and the other dm are very rarely late but it usually take 30 mins to an hour to get going (plug in laptops, hand out drinks, run through recap of what happened last week,etc)



6) No Girls Allowed. Happens more than ya’d think, DM cant stop himself from using rude, profane or dirty language/conversations, encourages others to do the same, or simply cant RP with a girl without blushing or quickly changing players. Some DM’s have the same problem with GLBT players (I admit I have a problem with the T, and yah it actually came up once.)



What DM is their right mind does this...I mean sometimes "no girlfriends or boyfriends allowed" rulke needs to made but thats a case by case basis thing. oh and whats GLBT


7) Table Management Fail- Just generally cant control player demands, some players get all the spotlight, others get none, slow players never get the nudge, side conversations are loud and endless, game is constantly interrupted by cell phones or other distractions. Often leads to the next habit.


I do have a bit of an issue controlling players between their turns during combat...how do you handle this there honestly is much for them to do...in 4e when I'm playing I like to play characters with some Reactions or inturupts so I can keep an eye out for it


8) Cant Cope- either carpet bags all his anger till it explodes with yelling, cussing and/or throwing dice, or he gets extremely quiet and just reads books or shuts off when the game gets to be too much to manage, when called on this passive aggressive behavior claims its all the player’s fault.


One huge mistake I made when I first started DMing (not long after 3.5 was released) was having a Co-DM...I'm good at winging stuff and keeping peoople entertained but I suck at making stories without having someone to bounce my ideas off of (also I suck at puzzles) so I asked a friend of my to co-DM...all that ends up doing is causing arguments which can kill a session or even a group it is a good idea to talk to a friend whos not one of your players about your idea but don't offer Co-DMship


Sidenote: My pet-peeve is people who youtube between their turns in combat so uh yeah that ticks me off


9) Cant Say No- A-typical Monty Hall behavior, dm kinda sucks to begin with then hands out a lot of overpowering magic items, giving incredible amounts of XP, allowing access to feats or advanced class abilities the character cant qualify for to win back the favor of the players. This is often combined with…


Yeah too much loot makes it not special but honestly it depends on the game...one fun thing to do if you have a player who loves to get things is instead of giving them a magic item every battle give them components to get an awesome magical thing made than thery can visit the local smithy, apothecary, shaper wixard,etc. to get it made



10) Loves the Meta Game- yup wash his car get a +5 sword, Give him Pizza get a magic item tailored just for your character, bring an attractive girl to the table and watch her become the favored character of the week, plays favorites, holds grudges and generally cant take criticism without repercussions… often leads to…



Ick I agree I'd hate this...sure sometimes your NPC can offer a reward fr say returning his pig "billy" but normally I avoid it



11) You Want a War- I’ll give you a war… DM sees the game as a contest between the DM and the Players, and generally the players always loose until he feels guilty and goes all Monty/meta. In his game you’ll have flashbacks of Cartman saying “Respect ma Athorita!”



Heh your refering to "rocks fall you  die" eh, often threatened (as a joke) never used


12) Where the Choo Choo Go? It go wherever the hell the DM wants it to that’s where… Your on the railroad and you cant get off. This DM cant freestyle anything, any attempt to do anything not covered by an AP leads to NPC’s forcing you back into covered territory, loss of everything your character values, world destroying cataclysm,  etc. etc, in short if your in his game, neither you nor your characters have free will.


Lol pretty much the same answer as #2 my group rarely follows adventure hooks...although i have been accused of "rail-roading" by a player once when I made something up for the random forest they wandered into. 



14) One Skill to Rule Them All- DM has a way he likes characters to handle a problem… ONE WAY!, Either the diplomancer is god or everything is a nail to the fighter’s warhammer. DM rarely offers different ways to succeed at an encounter… this is often caboose of the Choo Choo.



Honestly I don't see how a DM could do this the players are making the decisions your just there to narrate really...ie. stuick in a pit...sure you can give but its up to the players to decide how to get out...str check to lift ally to reach top, acrobatics to jump up the walls ninja gaiden style, etrc.



16) Who is Your Daddy… and what does he do… well apparently he’s the DM. This DM is better than you, he’s right, always. He voted for the right candidate in the last election, worships the right god (gods/goddess or is a devout atheist) he cheers for the right sports franchise, and if you disagree with any of his true convictions, you’ll reap the whirlwind buddy,  blue bolt, save or die, or just steals your chips and never ever apologizes and will often…



the only sports, religion or politcal discussions at my table should be in character :P seriously though im religion, political and sports neutral so I'm n/a on this one.




17) Your Soaking in It- “IT” being the preternatural glow of absolute perfection that the DMPC the DM shoved into your party seems to radiate whenever he passes gas. This DM really wants to be a player in a game with a DM as cool as him, one that knows why this absolutely bad ass guy he created needs and deserves to get all the best weapons rewards, xp etc. You can be sure 99% of the time, your adventures will likely be following this NPC around as he buys cities, fights gods etc. Face it if your in this game, your character is just one of the supporting cast to his ultimately cool main character. Probably the best thing you can do is find another game, failing that having your character become Gilligan to his Skipper and learn to endlessly repeat variant phrases of “that guy is SOOOO awesome!”



I use NPCs occasionally but their ussually guides, need to be defended or their to show of the BBEG before the party can handle it than leave as pretty much all my other responses here...it depends on the game



18) Cant Hack It- Just no system mastery, never knows the rules to the game he’s running, is easily played by a metagaming player, makes quick brash rulings that if you argue about just leads to bigger problems (ala no. 11) has a tendency to DM fiat and is even sometimes correct. Lots of times this is a secondary habit to no. 9, and this DM will occasionally have a lil buddy (husband, wife, friend etc) that has to be around to rules lawyer for him.



This is one of the few things I can wholeheartedly agree with you on, the DM doesn't need to be the best player in the room but he needs to at least know the system...on the other hand rules lawyers are a PITA because it all depends on the situation...sometimes a rule just doesnt work so the dm has to bend or break it



19) Daddy YUP! YUP!- when you arrive at this DM’s house you’ll quickly suspect he has a wholesale accounts with Playschool, Pet Depot, and the local goodwill. At this game the game is secondary to the responsibilities of the parent, the kids aren’t in school and the spouse is taking off. Every five minutes one of the droolers is at his knee arms lifted saying “Daddy YUP! YUP!” and demanding to be held, roll the dice, knock your expertly painted tailored minis of the table or better yet finding that the old led orc is missing an arm and it turns into a game of CLUE as to who ate it and needs to go to the ER etc,etc. meanwhile the 4yr old is chasing the screaming 3 yr old, and the three dogs and two cats are fighting over a milk bottle spilled on the couch that the DM just needs “a few minutes” to deal with. If you’re at this game, you’re now a walk on cast member of this guy’s own personal sit com, bout the best thing you can expect is that in-between “incidents” you might get to game a little bit, and there will probably be a barbeque and beer… BYOM! (no tofu allowed!) 



never expereinced this one but yeah it would suck



20) Here I come to save the day!- This system sucks and Captain homebrew is on his way.  Captain Homebrew really wishes he was a game designer rather than just a DM. Before you ever get to the game this guy has sent you gigs of his tweaker manifesto aka homebrew world/rules, and tells you that’s just a smidgeon of what you should read before your first session. He hates the magic system so he made his own, hated the standard ways of rolling characters so he’s got a stat/feat/class ability point buy system, hated the skills and combat system so he’s changed it to the resolution system of some game no one’s ever heard of complete with chips to spend, dice pools, and homemade combat cards. The bad news is if your playing in his game your really not playing the game he advertised as xyz edition with “some” homebrew rules, and you’ve got no idea what to expect. The good news is if you jump on board the crazytown express and agree with his mad ramblings and rants he’ll likely give you a character that has been min/maxed according to his twisted system that will absolutely pwon anything else at the table… (except for his NPC… no.17)



Short version House Rules Good, Comepletely new game Bad...agreed



21) I WANT TO ROCK! This Dm requires the right music to set the stage for the game… get ready, its either going to be some Danish unholy black deathmetal bands, or darkwave trance. You’ll be lucky if his speakers only go to 11.



cant agree sometimes have a bustliong street sounds =affects while playing merchant to you player can really set the mood



22) Lawful Anal/Chaotic Stupid- you don’t know how to play your character but this DM is gonna teach you. This DM generally demands that the game be serious to the extreme, has little sense of humor, and he has his own very ridged ideas on how races, alignments, background traits etc. MUST be played and failure to play to his sense of right and wrong will lead to the spinning of the great Gigaxian Wheel of Repercussions. Nobodies a winner, bring on the blue bolts and xp loss.



bleh boring often we like to say that DnD is just something to do while we hang out its definately not serious bizness time



23) DIE! DIE! DIE! no he doesn’t use too many dice… he just wants your PCs to die. His game is lethal in the extreme. More like a game of Paranoia than a game of whatever it was you wanted to play, where if your character lived longer than half a session you should consider yourself lucky.



your repeating stuff at this point...yes if everyone dies every session...whats the point of playing



24) The Never Ending Story- This DM is the exact opposite of no.23, nothing in this game will likely ever kill you and all combat is usually avoided. The DM loves sticking japananime type plots into the game, choc full of mysteries you’ll never solve, twilightesque romanticized NPCs and of course non-stop conflict free story telling. And whatever you do… don’t ask them about their art, poetry, or spiritual views…



i dont think your title suit your description..the title implies that it's about a campaign that never ends (which may or may not be a good or bad thing) that you go on to explain whats genres you dislike...honestly this is more reliant on your group so doesnt make you a good or bad DM (although stepheny meyers would make a TERIBBLE DM)



25) DM’s Can't Cheat- If ya get the feeling rolling a 1 is not much different than rolling a 20 on any knowledge or influence roll this is probably your DM. Secretly he may claim the rules tell him to roll behind his indestructible DM screen and to fudge the die rolls if it will help the game, but more often than not the truth is more likely that no die roll matters in the least as this guy wants to get to the end of his movie, and is often accompanied by the rationalization that…



I'm sorry but I disagree if your monsters are trouncing your players because the dice have been betraying them and loving you..making that 15 you rolled you know will hit to a 14 that wont can indeed improve the game...same goes for the opposite



26) All Players Cheat- This DM is of the opinion that all players are secretly min/maxing munchkin jerks plotting against him to ruin the game. He may require that all players use a dice tower or he spends as much time as necessary to triple check all figures on any check, stat, roll, etc.



Either they are or the DM has confidence issues...not really specific to being a bad DM\



27) You No Can Haz it!- this is the opposite of no.9, you spend three sessions and two party members die to eventually kill a BBEG or mega boss dragon and find the mountainous pile of treasure is made of coppers painted gold and the ancient magic sword is really an illusion or horribly cursed. This Dm tries to give you as little as possible and rewards no successes (possibly due to a strong belief in no. 26), often when you think he may have given you something worthwhile he will complain that it has overpowered you and soon something must come to steal it back or weaken you in some way in the great name of game/PC balance.




Balancing loot gain either way (too much or too little) is hard but leaning to far one way can kill a game.



28) Cheetoist- the DM is the opposite of no 22, he is a fun first game second DM, he is there to have fun and eat cheetos and if the seriousness of a game interferes with having fun or eating cheetos, something needs to change. This DM has tremendous difficulty addressing any adult or serious topics in the game, the characters and NPCs are typically over the top overdrawn stereotypes, and no effort is made to separate in-game or out of game dialog… unless its funny to do so. Bottom line, this is a goofgame, any desire for in-game seriousness will be punished with out-of-game public humiliation, so don’t try, eat a cheeto and do something stupid that everyone can laugh at and when it gets old (and it will) find a more serious game… or just buy more cheetos.



I love cheetos but never eat em during a game evrything and i mean EVERYTHING will be orange by the end of the session...seriosuly though i don't see whats wrong with having a little fun...I mean its also a direct contradiction to your ealier point of a game no being to serious...I don't think having a mix of the two is a bad thing...if anything being able to mix the right amount of both is something you need to do to be one of the great



29) 20-4 Meh. Just a substandard DM in which every game he runs has 20 minutes of fun spread out into 4hrs of gaming. May have elements of all or none of these habits. Either way every week will be a pure meh experience and leave you wondering if there isn’t a better way you could be spending your free time and gas money maybe for years, actually I think this is the worst kind of DM to have. 



Bad DM is Bad??? Well yeah



30) Obsessive Much?- this DM has little or no life, probably spends every waking moment thinking about his game, characters, a new system coming out etc. He’s dangerous in that he has deep seeded largely idealistic views about what a game should or should not contain and what actions any type of player/dm should and should not do. A true onetruewayist. Just expect endless bitching and criticism. And oh yeah… he probably wrote a list just like this one once upon a time…



Oi obsession is the root of all geekdom don't be going around tell people its a bad thing :P



Honestly alot of that could be boiled down to "Know your Players, Know the Game, Don't be a douche"



While were on the subject of "Bad DMs" how does everyone keep their players focused between their turns focused during combat when they have nothing to do?

While were on the subject of "Bad DMs" how does everyone keep their players focused between their turns focused during combat when they have nothing to do?


This is a tough one. Really and trully, it all depends on how many people are playing and how big the combat is. If players are waiting for 10-15 min min between turns, there really not a lot you can do. You can't blame them for their attention wandering. It's honestly ok so long as they aren't too distracting.

But if it's a smaller game, say 4 people or so, you can try giving out bonus xp or other rewards. 
My two copper.
If you are literally doing nothing while everyone else does stuff in combat, that's a player problem.  Chances are good you're doing nothing with the diplomacy monkey is doing things not in combat, as well.

Plan your next action, grab a soda, go pee, read up on the eighty bajillion feats spread out over three dozen books, or anything that's not just sitting in a chair.
Who takes that long to prepare?

A good DM wings it and sell it like it was prepared. You wouldn't even tell the difference.
It's like using canned soup and making them believe it's homemade.

As long you know how the story is going to end, does it matter how they get their? 



Sorry Crow, but I have to disagree. 

Preparedness enables creative and logical winging it.  Know your world's lore and history.  Know your world's ecosystems.  Know your NPC's and how to portray their characteristics.  Know the rules.  Know the present storyline, theme, plot, and mood.

Do all that, then when the players decide to scout out a different location or encounter new NPC's, you'll already be able to pepper in the logical information: PC's personality based on location, mood adjectives, and even utilize that side trip to further the plotline of the story.

Being prepared is number one.  When you do that, winging it becomes easy.     
While were on the subject of "Bad DMs" how does everyone keep their players focused between their turns focused during combat when they have nothing to do?


This is a tough one. Really and trully, it all depends on how many people are playing and how big the combat is. If players are waiting for 10-15 min min between turns, there really not a lot you can do. You can't blame them for their attention wandering. It's honestly ok so long as they aren't too distracting.

But if it's a smaller game, say 4 people or so, you can try giving out bonus xp or other rewards. 



That's a tough one to answer.  For me, it's always been dependent on number of players and system used.  I think Next helps keep players focused in combat (anecdotal) compared to 4e.  I love 4e, and have played it a lot.  But, put seven or eight people in a party and try to run 8th level combat and the job of keeping others interested just got ten times harder.  

One strong way outside of combat is to keep roleplaying clear and concise.  It sounds odd, but making sure the clumsy king keeps being clumsy helps.  The next time they meet the king, they'll all be waiting on him to do something clumsy.  These character traits not only help players keep NPC's clear, but allow players to use prediction, thus a sense of anticipation which requires focus.   

I Banish You to the Abyss, Demonspawn

Go Bengals



Yes, go Bengals. I mean, seriously, go. Somewhere. I'd like to say they're stinking up the AFC North, but that job is, and will always be, handled by the Bengals' state neighbor, the Cleveland Browns. Tongue Out

To all of you right-thinking people in this thread, Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go! *waves the Terrible Towel proudly*  (Although hey, we can cheer for the Pens now, and the Buccos in another month or two....)

For those confused on how DDN's modular rules might work, this may provide some insight: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/11/the-world-of-darkness-shines-when-it-abandons-canon

@mikemearls: Uhhh... do you really not see all the 3e/4e that's basically the entire core system?

 

It is entirely unnecessary to denigrate someone else's approach to gaming in order to validate your own.


I Banish You to the Abyss, Demonspawn

Go Bengals



Yes, go Bengals. I mean, seriously, go. Somewhere. I'd like to say they're stinking up the AFC North, but that job is, and will always be, handled by the Bengals' state neighbor, the Cleveland Browns. Tongue Out

To all of you right-thinking people in this thread, Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go! *waves the Terrible Towel proudly*  (Although hey, we can cheer for the Pens now, and the Buccos in another month or two....)




Let the Steel Curtain fall on all who oppose. 

I Banish You to the Abyss, Demonspawn

Go Bengals



Yes, go Bengals. I mean, seriously, go. Somewhere. I'd like to say they're stinking up the AFC North, but that job is, and will always be, handled by the Bengals' state neighbor, the Cleveland Browns. Tongue Out

To all of you right-thinking people in this thread, Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go! *waves the Terrible Towel proudly*  (Although hey, we can cheer for the Pens now, and the Buccos in another month or two....)




Let the Steel Curtain fall on all who oppose. 

Don't MAKE me derail this into a thread about how you're all just living a lie thinking anyone other than the Green Bay Packers is the greatest sports team in the history of all sports teams, ever, Amen.  (snap)

(except maybe whoever Mark Martin is driving for, but that's another discussion)   

But re: the topic at hand, I like this list.  Not necessarily because I agree with everything on it, cause I don't, but it makes me recognize some bad DM habits I have myself, and makes me think about how I can turn those into good habits.  Particularly I need to work more on "selling it" and "acting."  I've never been big on those things but I've become more comfortable with myself over the years and maybe it's time my DMing reflected that better. 

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

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

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

"Keep On The Shadowfell" would be hailed as a brilliant, revolutionary triumph in game design if it were followed by the words "A Pathfinder Adventure Path by Paizo."

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

Who takes that long to prepare?

A good DM wings it and sell it like it was prepared.



Sorry Crow, but I have to disagree. 



Yes and I disagree also. There are different types of preparing. I for example will just make long lists of NPCs (many of which originate in ideas presented to me from their charachter's backstory, and previous adventures). I spend a lot of time thinking of personal challenges for the chrachters, that fit their story and abilities. So that no matter what they do, I can seed those in the story as needed to keep charachters and players feeling important. 

According to a study done about gaming a few years back the two most important thing gamers want from any immersive type of game is 1. Suprise. 2. Sense of achievement. I look at those as my goals. If the players aren't feeling either then I am failing as a DM. BTW- Suprise doesn't mean BAD suprise. It means suspense, keeping things unpredictable enough that there is tension about decisions.

My mind is a deal-breaker.

31) Chaos Rules! This DM is the king of random, random die roles, random rule applications, and random vengeance. You can’t depend on anything with this guy, pretty much all role-playing, all resolutions break down into what you rolled on a d20, and your actual actions mean nothing. (For Baudelaire)


32) Hey did ya see… you showed up to play a game, but this guy is interested in talking about anything but the game. His views on movies, music, books, sci-fi, philosophy, some random thing that happened to him once, current events, etc are all more important than what your character just did. You get the feeling he’s not getting enough real life attention. Buy him a pet. (For chuck 80)


Failed Legend- GLBT is gay lesbian bisexual transgender… I was looking for a game and for months I had been checking the pin up board at the local game store, every week “Orange County GLBT Gamers Association meeting and game”  notice was always up and avoided, then it disappeared for a week and the next week I saw a new advert for a D&D game… I and another victim from the game store showed up... It was the GLBT association, and it was a trap. I could hang with one of the 6 people in the association, the other 5 were the strangest people I had ever met; with names like “shadow” and “raven” in particular the transgender guy “bunny” who talked about eating chicken bones everyday because they were good for the skin and nails etc. I just couldn’t cope here, me and the other innocent ended up running away after a couple of hours.


While were on the subject of "Bad DMs" how does everyone keep their players focused between their turns focused during combat when they have nothing to do?  


With an iron fist and making sure there is as little down time as possible, I run a small group (no more than 6 very dependable players) and I resolve each action/RP event as quickly as possible to get the rotation moving quick, don’t know what you want to do when your turn comes up, or you need to re-read your spell/ability? “look it up, I’ll get back to you” end of the round comes “k, know what your gonna do?” if the answer is no or need more time, this is where the iron fist comes in, “your character cant figure out what he should do, your skipping this round” I also have a no-cell phones, no laptops, no un whispered cross talk rule. Generally if you need to do these things you get up from the table to do them... one of my biggest pet peves is when something is going on the player’s character is involved but the player is too busy playing puzzle games or facehooking on his cell to be involved. I dunno, sometimes I think people assume it’s their right to pull out a cell and ignore everyone around them whenever they want regardless of what’s happening...   


Penandpaper2- agree pre-preparedness is paramount to winging it.


Zago- “According to a study done about gaming a few years back the two most important thing gamers want from any immersive type of game is 1. Surprise. 2. Sense of achievement. I look at those as my goals. If the players aren't feeling either then I am failing as a DM. BTW- Surprise doesn't mean BAD surprise. It means suspense, keeping things unpredictable enough that there is tension about decisions.”


Very good points, sometime we should do a thread on that, how to run a good game or something. Personally I agree with George Lucas that speed (chases, races, fleeing, making a deadline, etc) if you can keep the pacing very fast and involved is one of the best ways to keep the players glued to the edge of their seats, great for suspense.


Regarding fun- Well, this is the end goal of a game make it fun for the players, I agree with a lot of you on that. But I think if your too concerned about “fun” the game becomes more comedy than action adventure. I really don’t like a game that is too comedic, it definitely needs to be included especially when everything is way too serious (the BBEG is going to slaughter some valued innocent to teach the PC’s a lesson etc but their being delayed for some reason… might be time for a Halfling fart joke…) but comedy has to be balanced with seriousness or you never create that immersive feeling.

"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
if all you do is  wing it without even basic campaign notes of what you want to do an experienced player will call you on it. i know i would, its not hard to read an adventure or create a dungeon ect and takes only an hour or two a week at most to be well prepared so to just wing it is being a lazy dm.

21) I WANT TO ROCK! This Dm requires the right music to set the stage for the game… get ready, its either going to be some Danish unholy black deathmetal bands, or darkwave trance. You’ll be lucky if his speakers only go to 11.




That would be Norwegian, not Danish.
Just sayin'
Just mike- generally not, I might have some idea of what I'd like to do, but I dont come up with the actual campaign until I read the PC's back stories, then I create sub-plots run an adventure or two on them, then depending on where the player interest is strongest I make the main plot. this way the story always revolves around the characters and unveils as the characters progress the same way it does in any good movie or book. I think thats one of the things that got lost when APs, settings, etc became more important than freestyle DMing, now in any AP the campaign revolves around the BBEG rather than the PCs and that is a big fail in my book.

Sad clown- I was referring to a death metal band made up of fruity breakfast pastries.  
"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
No technology allowed at my table. No Phone, No Laptops. Everyone focuses on the game. I don't really have a problem with this though. Everyone wants to be there and actively participates. If you don't want to BE there, then don't show up. That is how my players and I feel.
You Learn Something New Every Day!
#31, too long : didn't read


no patience.

"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey

An interesting read. If i may;

1) Isn’t Prepared- the adventure is always left at home, or the encounter notes, or something that he desperately needs isn’t available which results in ending the game early or skipping encounters, etc.



I sometimes have this issue (Well, okay, once) but you are absolutely right. I mean if it's a one-off thing then fair enough; no one's perfect. But as a regular occurance... no, it isn't acceptable. 

2) Can’t wing it- he needs to have absolutely everything written down, and will spend three out of every eight minutes (yes I actually timed a DM like this once) looking up a rule or reading an entry absolutely killing any role playing, suspense, or action built up in-game.  Also typically means if the dialog isn’t written down, he cant RP for the antagonists. About the only thing worse than the cant wing it DM is the DM who thinks he can and cant… see no. 18


This isn't so much as a "bad" DM as much as it is an "inexperienced" DM issue. Some DMs may enjoy running like this and some players may be acceptable to it. But in my opinion I think it's a bad thing... but I wing it because I'm too lazy to read up on it =P

3) Can’t Sell It-In professional wrestling “selling it” is convincing the audience the punches are real, in D&D it’s describing the scene or the action, in a way with a touch of emotion to really let the players feel like they are in-the moment with their characters. A DM who cant do this lacks an essential skill.

 
Now I'm not sure how to go about this, because some players just want to hack n slash and not care about the "aesthetics" of combat. I love describing the carnage, like "Your arrow flies straight and true, and with a satisfying *thip* it pierces the Orc in the pectoral, he clutches for a moment and screams in pain". 

4) Can’t Act- Just has little or no ability to RP, every NPC sounds the same, uses the same speech patterns, uses a lot of modern slang, and the DM will often say something like “well he’s using a British accent but I cant pull it off” or “he sounds short” then speaks in a deep bass tone. Its typical that these DMs also have trait #1 and has to refer to notes or the AP to remember what the NPC needs to say.


Doesn't make a blind bit of difference to me as a player. As long as the DM can make it like I'm talking to a person and not a computer, then I'm okay with it. As for me DMing, I like to fancy myself as being able to do voices (all of them nazel because of my condition though =<)

5) Cant make it- If the game starts at 6 he doesn’t show till 7:00 if the players start showing up at 7:00 he starts showing up at 8:00, if he cancels a game night, he waits until everyone has changed their plans and is sitting at the table before sending the notice.

 
Now I'm not sure how a DM kinda botches this because, to my understanding, a DM will DM in their own home, and if it is at a convention or store, I tend to turn up an hour or so early to set up. But I do feel sorry for those who do have to experience late or otherwise tardy DMs.

6) No Girls Allowed. Happens more than ya’d think, DM cant stop himself from using rude, profane or dirty language/conversations, encourages others to do the same, or simply cant RP with a girl without blushing or quickly changing players. Some DM’s have the same problem with GLBT players (I admit I have a problem with the T, and yah it actually came up once.)


A DM who can't handle themselves around girls (or the opposite gender if your DM is a girl) shouldn't be DMing. That's my harsh point of view but I won't lie to you about it. As for GLBT players, I don't mind... so long as they behave themselves and don't say anything that may offend or otherwise make the players feel uncomfortable, both in and out of character.

7) Table Management Fail- Just generally cant control player demands, some players get all the spotlight, others get none, slow players never get the nudge, side conversations are loud and endless, game is constantly interrupted by cell phones or other distractions. Often leads to the next habit.


I think the only thing that happens at my games is when all the players just start talking OoC for a bit too long, but they quickly shush when I call for it. 

8) Cant Cope- either carpet bags all his anger till it explodes with yelling, cussing and/or throwing dice, or he gets extremely quiet and just reads books or shuts off when the game gets to be too much to manage, when called on this passive aggressive behavior claims its all the player’s fault.


I don't understand how DMs can be angry at this kinda stuff. They should just vent it by reducing XP, and other in-game nerfs. As long as the players are having fun, I'm having fun.

9) Cant Say No- A-typical Monty Hall behavior, dm kinda sucks to begin with then hands out a lot of overpowering magic items, giving incredible amounts of XP, allowing access to feats or advanced class abilities the character cant qualify for to win back the favor of the players. This is often combined with…


Yeah, I have this problem occasionally, but only because the game had been DM'd be a previous DM who handed out welfare magic items near enough every two sessions, so they expect me to. And I do, only so the pace doesn't feel slowed. 

10) Loves the Meta Game- yup wash his car get a +5 sword, Give him Pizza get a magic item tailored just for your character, bring an attractive girl to the table and watch her become the favored character of the week, plays favorites, holds grudges and generally cant take criticism without repercussions… often leads to…


I think any DM who does this needs a slap in the face. With a Glove of Ogre's Strength if necessary. 

11) You Want a War- I’ll give you a war… DM sees the game as a contest between the DM and the Players, and generally the players always loose until he feels guilty and goes all Monty/meta. In his game you’ll have flashbacks of Cartman saying “Respect ma Athorita!”


I do this when the players get cocky. Which was, I believe, twice, with two different groups. They thought that my encounters were too easy, would often crack jokes about it, etc. So I'd drop a dragon and some minions. And I play dragons harsh.

12) Where the Choo Choo Go? It go wherever the hell the DM wants it to that’s where… Your on the railroad and you cant get off. This DM cant freestyle anything, any attempt to do anything not covered by an AP leads to NPC’s forcing you back into covered territory, loss of everything your character values, world destroying cataclysm,  etc. etc, in short if your in his game, neither you nor your characters have free will.


I play nearly exclusively adventure books because I'm still starting out, but I like to throw in a few things like side-quests. But most of the time the players don't want to deviate from the AP, so I sometimes have to throw in sideplots on my own initiative. 

13) Cannot bend Like a Reed in the Wind… you cant solve the puzzle, oh well better spend two sessions going back to town, raiding a library, and getting back again, cant beat the unbeatable BBEG’s init? oh well guess you all die, make new characters. This DM gives you no hints, clues, help, or allowances if you cant tackle some aspect of his game. A little of this can be respected too much and your time is better spent on xbox.


I've not had any puzzles in my games yet but I'm working on doing a "chess event" like in WoW's Kharazan raid. But yes I think it's bad that a DM won't give hints to players, especially if it's very vague. 

14) One Skill to Rule Them All- DM has a way he likes characters to handle a problem… ONE WAY!, Either the diplomancer is god or everything is a nail to the fighter’s warhammer. DM rarely offers different ways to succeed at an encounter… this is often caboose of the Choo Choo.


I'm not sure I get this but maybe it's because I'm doing it and not realizing it. I usually offer a diplomatic solution at first, even if the AP states otherwise, but if they choose to fight the first group of a stronghold then, well, the whole stronghold is against them. 

15) Cant You Smell that Smell- Ya show up to the game at his place and he hasn’t washed, brushed, shaved, or put on a shirt. The house is filthy, covered in fast food wrappers, maybe the detritus of 100 other gaming sessions, the garbage was last taken out with the previous tenant… and oh.. A hardcore/thrash heavy metal drummer would envy the stink coming off him… Lets be honest, the hobby attracts a lot of anti-social anti-mainstream society types and while I applaud this occasionally there’s always that one guy (player or DM) who just cant take care of basic hygiene needs.


That's why Fabreeze exists! =D but yeah it's a bit... ew.

16) Who is Your Daddy… and what does he do… well apparently he’s the DM. This DM is better than you, he’s right, always. He voted for the right candidate in the last election, worships the right god (gods/goddess or is a devout atheist) he cheers for the right sports franchise, and if you disagree with any of his true convictions, you’ll reap the whirlwind buddy,  blue bolt, save or die, or just steals your chips and never ever apologizes and will often…


That's sounds very... depressing.

17) Your Soaking in It- “IT” being the preternatural glow of absolute perfection that the DMPC the DM shoved into your party seems to radiate whenever he passes gas. This DM really wants to be a player in a game with a DM as cool as him, one that knows why this absolutely bad ass guy he created needs and deserves to get all the best weapons rewards, xp etc. You can be sure 99% of the time, your adventures will likely be following this NPC around as he buys cities, fights gods etc. Face it if your in this game, your character is just one of the supporting cast to his ultimately cool main character. Probably the best thing you can do is find another game, failing that having your character become Gilligan to his Skipper and learn to endlessly repeat variant phrases of “that guy is SOOOO awesome!”


I only had to do this once, once only, because my first group hand't a clue as to what they were doing. They had no initiative (one was a rogue, irony), didn't know how to roleplay, how to play their class, where to go even handing them a map and reading out where they needed to go, etc. So I joined in as a guide and as a player for about two sessions. 

18) Cant Hack It- Just no system mastery, never knows the rules to the game he’s running, is easily played by a metagaming player, makes quick brash rulings that if you argue about just leads to bigger problems (ala no. 11) has a tendency to DM fiat and is even sometimes correct. Lots of times this is a secondary habit to no. 9, and this DM will occasionally have a lil buddy (husband, wife, friend etc) that has to be around to rules lawyer for him.


I agree with all of that besides the "quick brash rulings", because if there is no ruling and it's just the players and the DM arguing, then either they have to say yes (and fall under point #9) or they say no (and fall under this point). At the end of the day the DM has to keep the ball rolling even if it means having to flat out rule something to not halt the game. Most groups I've worked with are okay with this but some are just... stubborn. Even over nothing, they will get all huffy over it.

19) Daddy YUP! YUP!- when you arrive at this DM’s house you’ll quickly suspect he has a wholesale accounts with Playschool, Pet Depot, and the local goodwill. At this game the game is secondary to the responsibilities of the parent, the kids aren’t in school and the spouse is taking off. Every five minutes one of the droolers is at his knee arms lifted saying “Daddy YUP! YUP!” and demanding to be held, roll the dice, knock your expertly painted tailored minis of the table or better yet finding that the old led orc is missing an arm and it turns into a game of CLUE as to who ate it and needs to go to the ER etc,etc. meanwhile the 4yr old is chasing the screaming 3 yr old, and the three dogs and two cats are fighting over a milk bottle spilled on the couch that the DM just needs “a few minutes” to deal with. If you’re at this game, you’re now a walk on cast member of this guy’s own personal sit com, bout the best thing you can expect is that in-between “incidents” you might get to game a little bit, and there will probably be a barbeque and beer… BYOM! (no tofu allowed!)

 
This is a bit unfair, bro, and a bit distasteful for my liking. Basically you're saying that you gotta put your D&D game over your own family, and that's not right. At all. It can be annoying to have these issues, but that doesn't make a DM bad, by any stretch of the means. That's just outside circumstances affecting your D&D game. 

20) Here I come to save the day!- This system sucks and Captain homebrew is on his way.  Captain Homebrew really wishes he was a game designer rather than just a DM. Before you ever get to the game this guy has sent you gigs of his tweaker manifesto aka homebrew world/rules, and tells you that’s just a smidgeon of what you should read before your first session. He hates the magic system so he made his own, hated the standard ways of rolling characters so he’s got a stat/feat/class ability point buy system, hated the skills and combat system so he’s changed it to the resolution system of some game no one’s ever heard of complete with chips to spend, dice pools, and homemade combat cards. The bad news is if your playing in his game your really not playing the game he advertised as xyz edition with “some” homebrew rules, and you’ve got no idea what to expect. The good news is if you jump on board the crazytown express and agree with his mad ramblings and rants he’ll likely give you a character that has been min/maxed according to his twisted system that will absolutely pwon anything else at the table… (except for his NPC… no.17)


Not sure what to say about this, really. Not had a homebrewed game but, again, that's not a bad DM decision, that's just the DM wanting to experiment. The DM only becomes bad when his player base openly dislike it, but he runs with it anyway. 

21) I WANT TO ROCK! This Dm requires the right music to set the stage for the game… get ready, its either going to be some Danish unholy black deathmetal bands, or darkwave trance. You’ll be lucky if his speakers only go to 11.


First point doesn't make the DM bad. Second point does. I usually have a faint track of some nise medieval music from WoW or whatever in the background to set the mood, like if they enter a bar or inn I usually have the Taverns of Azeroth tracks in the background quite faint, so you can hear it but you easily talk over it without raised voices. 

22) Lawful Anal/Chaotic Stupid- you don’t know how to play your character but this DM is gonna teach you. This DM generally demands that the game be serious to the extreme, has little sense of humor, and he has his own very ridged ideas on how races, alignments, background traits etc. MUST be played and failure to play to his sense of right and wrong will lead to the spinning of the great Gigaxian Wheel of Repercussions. Nobodies a winner, bring on the blue bolts and xp loss.


So a DM who plays by the Alignment rules, which are in the game itself... is a bad DM? Now I don't dictate how players play their character i.e. "you can't do that because of your alignment", I say "You can do that... but you'll begin to deviate from your alignment". If they do it too much, I tell them that they have become a new alignment, but I won't penalize them except for certain circumctances (If they're a Paladin or if they worship a specific deity and lose their favor by switching alignments).

23) DIE! DIE! DIE! no he doesn’t use too many dice… he just wants your PCs to die. His game is lethal in the extreme. More like a game of Paranoia than a game of whatever it was you wanted to play, where if your character lived longer than half a session you should consider yourself lucky.


This is a pretty bad DM decision unless he wants it purposefully to be some sort of survival horror D&D game set in Ravenloft or something.

24) The Never Ending Story- This DM is the exact opposite of no.23, nothing in this game will likely ever kill you and all combat is usually avoided. The DM loves sticking japananime type plots into the game, choc full of mysteries you’ll never solve, twilightesque romanticized NPCs and of course non-stop conflict free story telling. And whatever you do… don’t ask them about their art, poetry, or spiritual views…


I don't have this issue as a player or DM but I'd feel pretty sorry for those who did experience this. Does this actually happen or is this hyperbole?

25) DM’s Can't Cheat- If ya get the feeling rolling a 1 is not much different than rolling a 20 on any knowledge or influence roll this is probably your DM. Secretly he may claim the rules tell him to roll behind his indestructible DM screen and to fudge the die rolls if it will help the game, but more often than not the truth is more likely that no die roll matters in the least as this guy wants to get to the end of his movie, and is often accompanied by the rationalization that…


I tend to fudge rolls in the player's favor if they're having trouble with an encounter that is either a test run for scaled up or down enemies (I converted Thunderspite Labyrinth from a lv 3-7 campaign to a lv 9-12 campaign and so I had to fudge some stuff and then retune it later), a stupid miniscule encounter like against small rat swarms (or I just let them take huge punishment as intended and laugh about how they got KOd by a rat), and some other examples which I cba to list. 

26) All Players Cheat- This DM is of the opinion that all players are secretly min/maxing munchkin jerks plotting against him to ruin the game. He may require that all players use a dice tower or he spends as much time as necessary to triple check all figures on any check, stat, roll, etc.


Now I'm fairly aware that some of my players cheat because, when I was a player, we'd meet up outside of the game to hang out and he'd be like "Yeah you know that attack against the Chieftan that I said I hit? I didn't, I just said I did." So it's a bit half and half but it's easy to cheat at D&D. So easy. 

27) You No Can Haz it!- this is the opposite of no.9, you spend three sessions and two party members die to eventually kill a BBEG or mega boss dragon and find the mountainous pile of treasure is made of coppers painted gold and the ancient magic sword is really an illusion or horribly cursed. This Dm tries to give you as little as possible and rewards no successes (possibly due to a strong belief in no. 26), often when you think he may have given you something worthwhile he will complain that it has overpowered you and soon something must come to steal it back or weaken you in some way in the great name of game/PC balance.

 
This will probably fall under me when I start running DDN, because i'll make magical weapons and armors rare. But, again, this is just a campaign preference but it would be good if, beforehand, the DM told their players about some of the quirks so players don't start wondering when their first magic item will drop.

28) Cheetoist- the DM is the opposite of no 22, he is a fun first game second DM, he is there to have fun and eat cheetos and if the seriousness of a game interferes with having fun or eating cheetos, something needs to change. This DM has tremendous difficulty addressing any adult or serious topics in the game, the characters and NPCs are typically over the top overdrawn stereotypes, and no effort is made to separate in-game or out of game dialog… unless its funny to do so. Bottom line, this is a goofgame, any desire for in-game seriousness will be punished with out-of-game public humiliation, so don’t try, eat a cheeto and do something stupid that everyone can laugh at and when it gets old (and it will) find a more serious game… or just buy more cheetos.


This is a pretty bad DMing role because... well, D&D is a serious game. Or at least I like to fancy it, at its core, a serious game. 

29) 20-4 Meh. Just a substandard DM in which every game he runs has 20 minutes of fun spread out into 4hrs of gaming. May have elements of all or none of these habits. Either way every week will be a pure meh experience and leave you wondering if there isn’t a better way you could be spending your free time and gas money maybe for years, actually I think this is the worst kind of DM to have.

 
I don't understand this point. Is this a case of the DM only lets you have fun for 20 mins and not during gaming? I tend to play a game as 30 mins of fun while we talk about last sessions, and game for 7 hours while still having some light fun.

30) Obsessive Much?- this DM has little or no life, probably spends every waking moment thinking about his game, characters, a new system coming out etc. He’s dangerous in that he has deep seeded largely idealistic views about what a game should or should not contain and what actions any type of player/dm should and should not do. A true onetruewayist. Just expect endless bitching and criticism. And oh yeah… he probably wrote a list just like this one once upon a time…



Hehe, I like this point. It's a good joke point but I hope this isn't a serious point. I do this all the time. Always.