Where is the enjoyment for the DM?

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If you handed me a character to play without my say-so, I likely wouldn't play. 



I'm 100% with you on this. I like making my own characters with their own quirks, there own level of optimization. Making characters is still a fun exercise for me as a player. So, when you remove that, you are essentially telling me I'm going to have to get over the terrible first impression I have on the game.

He would reject that.  I tried things like that.  Other players suggested cool things as well.  All were rejected.  It wasn't about compelling, it was about him wanting easy gear.  The tax was a whole 7% no interest on a business that was giving him free money with no input required on the player's part (monthly paychecks), and I was ready to accept his ideas and allow him to increase his cash flow for any input and effort put into the business he made. 

I could explain how the machinery was broken (The business was a mine and smelting mill) and the fact the rock crusher was busted by the players trying to lure a creature into it... I, the DM, didn't just say, "OK, your crusher is suddenly broken!"...  I just don't feel like writing a detailed essay about the exact goings on.



Out of curiosity, did you ever flat-out ask him what sorts of challenges would be interesting to him as far as the business goes? It'd be okay for him to say "nothing," of course.

Just as there can be tyrant DMs there are players who are simply out to win.  They care nothing for cooperation or the group and they simply want to win.  "Winning" in this case is defined by being better than everyone else, having easy mode as often as possible, and ensuring that any challenges aren't really challenges due to have as many things stacked in their favor as possible; even to the point of harming the game, group, the DM and/or another player.  Some find mechanical exploits; others use collaboration as a way.  Many players aren't so bad that they warrant being kicked out but it can create problems that is not the DM's fault at all.



It's not about being "bad." It's about being a good fit for that particular game. I have plenty of friends who play D&D that I don't play with. We're not as good a fit as other players and DMs in our circle. I would quantify a player like you describe as not a fit for our group or for a particular game that group is playing. If my friends wanted to play in The_Jagged's game for example and I don't think that'd be a fit, then I wouldn't join the group. If I played in the game and wasn't living up to The_Jagged's expectations, I'd respect him for telling me so and giving me an out.

My questions would be: How much more engagement does he need?  Why should I put up with those shenanigans?  When is it time to call the player for his actions?  I am not talking about booting him (that is a last resort), and I am not advocating in game punishments.



Engagement isn't a responsibility any one person need shoulder. It's on that player who wants to be engaged, too. What you've described aren't shenanigans to me. So he wants some extra loot? What's that to me? Nothing.

How come I (the DM) have to put up with BS that diminishes my fun?  



You don't.

Are the players' fun more important than mine?



No, it's not. It's equal.

Why is it always assumed that a DM's fun comes at the expense of the players'?



I don't know of anyone who assumes that.

How come the spirit of cooperation, so celebrated on these boards, is rarely extended to the DM?



I'm not sure what this means exactly. Perhaps it's because advice dispensed on these sub-forum are to DMs and not to players. Cooperation, in my view, goes all around the table.

If it is declared that I should sacrifice my fun in favor of the players always, why should I even bother to DM given how much work it is?



Nobody's declaring that.

DMing's not much work at all. At least it isn't for me.

***
I don't think labeling DMs as "always in the wrong" is any of the posters' intent here; however, the way some of the advice is being dispensed sure leaves that impression.***


DMs, like players, are frequently in the wrong when it comes to responding to specific questions on these forums. This forum deals with DMs. The other forum deals with players. Perhaps you're perceiving the finger being pointed at the DM more frequently because this forum is for advice for DMs and since DMs can only control themselves, the advice is through that lens.

I agree with Chaosfang and Iserith that if the rules of collaboration aren't set from the beginning, or if the DM (or players) change the rules midstream then no one can be held accountable as a "cheater." That said, given the extensive experience of the posters here it should be easy to see how collaborative play can be abused (like any other form of play), for it happens all the time in LARPs and such.



It really can't be abused if you've had your Session Zero and worked out what and how it means to collaborate. People need to be held to their agreements. If you agreed, for example, that any upside like extra income must be balanced out with interesting complications, then the player can't then balk when you suggest a complication arises. Now, the nature of the complication in a collaborative group is up for negotiation, but that there will be complications is not negotiable if players are rightfully held to the things they agree to before play.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

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In the case of the player with the business he was the type that suggested nothing and only wanted the money to roll in.  He was a munchkin using collaboration for reasons of power gain and nothing else.

Makes sense, and that's to be expected.

I totally agree with you about punishing the players for having backgrounds and what not.  I tend not to do that.  In the case of the above mentioned business, I didn't have anything "go wrong" with it for the longest time.  Instead, I populated it with interesting folks and it became a springboard for some cool adventures.

Excellent.

My "mistake" was mentioning that the city wanted taxes payed.  These taxes were not unreasonable.  I asked him what would be fair, and he said no taxes at all.  OK.  A piece of machinery got broken and it was expensive.  I asked how he wanted this resolved and he said it "should just be fixed."  This went on and on.

This does not surprise me. In a non-collaborative game, if you'd just imposed the tax you thought was reasonable, I have little doubt that the player either would have argued until you relented or worked out an in-game way to get around the taxes, thereby negating them anyway.

The business wasn't the only thing this player pulled such shenanigans with.  In short he was not just blocking me, but the group and the game as well.

The middleground between the DM imposing a consequence and the player being asked to choose a consequence, is the DM imposing a consequence that the player has input on. Then, instead of having to argue their way out from under the restriction, the player is invited to mitigate it. If you say, "The city has imposed a tax. What does that mean for your business," that might open up some dialog. He can't simply negate the tax, but has to give you some fiction as to why, which you in turn will accept and add on to. The "and..." lets players and DMs adjust each other's moves to be more palatable, but doesn't let them negate the move without establishing something. Yes, he can pay zero tax, due to a deal he strikes to give the city council something else in exchange; what is that? Yes, the machine is just fixed, by a mysterious workman who arrives without any tools and asks for an unusual favor in return; what was it?

As to catching the other players up to the munchkin's level; my question is why bother?  Better to tell a cheater "No" than to coddle a guy who is out to break the game.

I don't see how he's cheating, or how he's breaking the game. You can always create challenges for a party. The only issue I see is the old one of creating a challenge that will be equally challenging for characters of all power levels, and even that's not a huge problem.

The huge problem I anticipate is with telling a player "No." I rarely see anything good come from that.

My question is:  How long does someone put up with this kind of behavior in the name of being fair or collaboration?  Is it OK for a player to block a DM?  If so, why?

I'm less worried about players blocking DMs, than about someone (DM or players) blocking players. A DM who is blocked can take an entirely different tack. A player who is blocked is still stuck with their character and the character's limited ability to affect the world.

But no, ideally, no one is blocking anyone else. But ideally, no one is forced to deal with circumstances that they don't find interesting. "Yes, and..." is meant to allow everyone to adjust the situation in ways interesting to them. Really just adding one's own ideas tends to be interesting, in and of itself.

I fully support and enjoy collaboration and I love some of the suggestions you and Iserith have provided.  That said, I reserve the right to assert myself as DM and run the world just as a player has the right to assert himself and play his character.

I just don't see the percentage in it. A world is not equivalent to a character. It's less easy to completely block a world from doing interesting things.

In response to the queries above:  How does one cheat in a collaborative game?  Simple:  The player was all take and no give.

"Now if the taxes were unreasonable because of a shady tax collector working for the PCs' rivals or the machinery was broken because the factory was rife with gremlins, that's more compelling."

He would reject that.  I tried things like that.  Other players suggested cool things as well.  All were rejected.  It wasn't about compelling, it was about him wanting easy gear.  The tax was a whole 7% no interest on a business that was giving him free money with no input required on the player's part (monthly paychecks), and I was ready to accept his ideas and allow him to increase his cash flow for any input and effort put into the business he made.

Okay, in this case, don't make suggestions. State facts, and allow the player to mitigate them with "and...." He's paying the tax. That's a fact. He is welcome to mitigate that with an "and..." but it can't be a complete negation.

Just as there can be tyrant DMs there are players who are simply out to win.  They care nothing for cooperation or the group and they simply want to win.  "Winning" in this case is defined by being better than everyone else, having easy mode as often as possible, and ensuring that any challenges aren't really challenges due to have as many things stacked in their favor as possible; even to the point of harming the game, group, the DM and/or another player.  Some find mechanical exploits; others use collaboration as a way.  Many players aren't so bad that they warrant being kicked out but it can create problems that is not the DM's fault at all.

No, often it's the fault of the game too, and the way it defines "winning." This player uses control to make sure nothing bad ever happens, because there's no upside to anything bad ever happening. Other games provide direct incentives for declaring that interesting things happen to their characters, and for making things harder on themselves. That allows players to play optimally, and "simply want to win," but in doing so they make the game interesting for the other players, even if they themselves only care about the numbers.

D&D sort of does this with experience points, in that characters can't go up levels unless they confront and solve problems, but D&D makes it adversarial and encourages players to get their characters out of trouble in the easiest way possible. By the book, players get the same XP and treasure regardless of how interesting the scene is and how hard it is for them.

This situation makes me think that it's time to redefine "winning," in the game. The player has won. He's rich, he's powerful, he's equipped. That game is done. There's nothing else interesting to do along those lines. Everything he can make easy, he has made easy. So, the question to him would be "What can't the character make easy? What are the non-trivial questions left to be asked?" If there are none, then it would be time to question what the player really - really - wants to accomplish.

My questions would be: How much more engagement does he need?

Ask him.

Why should I put up with those shenanigans?

You shouldn't. But blocking them will just spark more.

When is it time to call the player for his actions?

Never. But do talk to him about them.

I am not talking about booting him (that is a last resort), and I am not advocating in game punishments.

Ok.

How come I (the DM) have to put up with BS that diminishes my fun?

Because you won't part ways with him. Why does your fun rely so heavily on how this player behaves? Or, put another way, why is it so vulnerable to how he behaves?

Are the players' fun more important than mine?

More fragile.

Why is it always assumed that a DM's fun comes at the expense of the players'?

It's not, unless the DM's fun runs counter to that of the players.

How come the spirit of cooperation, so celebrated on these boards, is rarely extended to the DM?

These are all rather rhetorical questions, this one most of all, but I'd say that the tradition of DM-as-adversary is difficult to overcome. DMs have to bend over backwards for a while to show that they're on the same team as the players, rather than out to get them.

If it is declared that I should sacrifice my fun in favor of the players always, why should I even bother to DM given how much work it is?

You get to decide how much work it is.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

The huge problem I anticipate is with telling a player "No."



And that is why you fail. 
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
The huge problem I anticipate is with telling a player "No."

And that is why you fail. 

I anticipate it because I've seen it time and again in my games, in watching others' games, and in stories on this board. I really don't see how anyone would believe that blocking is a good choice. It might preserve their game world, but it just chews up any trust they might have at the table.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

And that is why you fail. 



Could you explain how saying "No" makes you succeed?

To frame my question better, I'm not talking about saying "No" to a player breaking an agreement (such as rules to be followed) or contradicting established fiction. In my view, that's the only time saying "No" is acceptable. It should note that saying "No" in that instance is not blocking. Saying "No" in other instances most likely is. Whether or not you value a game without blocking is a different issue.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

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This is why player characters are so often orphans: to prevent the DM from having any hooks that can be used to make the PC's life harder, or induce them to do certain things.

I have to disagree. I think most players enjoy when something personal about that character comes into play.
I think they may like it less when it is presented as a cliche.
"Oh no! My sister has been killed/abducted/gone missing."

There's "comes into play" and then there's "makes the PC's life harder, or induces them to do certain things."

What a player isn't going to like about the cliche you present, is that the player doesn't really have a plausible choice, and it's due to an opening they gave the DM. It doesn't matter if they wanted to engage in some other mission, or go someplace else, or anything: they have to avenge/rescue/find their sister or their backstory about the sister is going to look sort of meaningless.

Players hate to be at fault. They don't seem to mind coming to the rescue of other people who have gotten themselves into trouble, or taking the money offered for services rendered. But if something bad happens as a result of something the character did, or the player established, you're going to get some pushback. Not from everyone, but it's best to be prepared for it.

As well, when a character has family, it certainly can turn into an issue of 'adventure vs. family'
"Hey, we found the clues as to the whereabouts of the legendary magic shield the paladin was looking for. Are you coming with us?"
"Uh, no. I really should get home to my wife and kids"

Great - as long as the player is the one coming up with that. I can't believe anyone is going to be happy to be told that the others are heading off on an adventure and that they have family obligations they must fulfill. I'd expect that player's next character to be an orphaned loner.

That'll teach me to be imprecise with my text. Replace "rich detail" with "something". That deflating sensation when you ask for something and you get "ummmm" or "I dunno" or "whatever". A dour poignancy one only deals with during collaboration, in my experience.

It's that sort of reaction in non-collaborative games that drove me to want to collaborate.

DM: "So, that's the situation. What do you guys do next?"
Player 1: "Ummmm... what do you guys want to do?"
Player 2: "I dunno. Why are we involved in this again?"
Player 3: "Whatever."

The Clueless, Uninvolved Group is a trope of the game. D&D-based humor is chock full of it, and I'm tired of it. Collaboration might not solve it in every case, but the traditional approach had nothing to offer to a DM besides "Well, just come up with a more engaging story." And following that advice to its logical conclusion means encouraging the players to help create that story. I doubt that not a single player at the table will have ideas (whereas it's very common to see a whole table that doesn't really have any idea why they're running around a particular dungeon), and when those are accepted and added on to (rather than blocked, or twisted) I don't see how that can help but encourage others to come up with and offer their ideas.

Regarding the neediness, (and hopefully TC will forgive the OTness) I still don't really get the expectation that a gamer for these kinds of games be totally self-sufficient. Isn't everyone there partially to play a part in everyone else's good time? If there was a player who wasn't adding anything for you, what else but inertia would keep him there? To my mind, tabletop gaming mandates two(+) to tango.

I thought that was my point. Working together on all aspects, not one person doing everything and the other merely being led around.

I'm not saying anything about self-sufficiency, though it's a risk to put one's enjoyment entirely in the hands of others.

Is it so much to ask to see them out of their plate armor, for a change?

Yes, if that scene offers nothing compelling or entertaining. But this is independent of the issue of collaboration. If someone wants a different kind of situation, they can make offers that help bring it about. If the others are interested in that, they'll build off of it.

For all our collaboration, there wasn't much sharing.

Focus can be a problem, and it's one I'm working on myself. In future I plan to ask players how their declarations are intertwined with those another player recently made. When there's a single quest, that's an easy focal point. Outside of that it's trickier unless the puppeteers make a concerted effort.

Alas, the awkward romantic subplot went largely ignored.

Good.

Like a college professor who doesn't care whether you pass his class or not, to say nothing of whether you like the experience.

I don't see how a DM can not care whether the players enjoy a game session or not, and expect to see those players again.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

And that is why you fail. 



Could you explain how saying "No" makes you succeed?

To frame my question better, I'm not talking about saying "No" to a player breaking an agreement (such as rules to be followed) or contradicting established fiction. In my view, that's the only time saying "No" is acceptable. It should note that saying "No" in that instance is not blocking. Saying "No" in other instances most likely is. Whether or not you value a game without blocking is a different issue.



Utilitarianism - you need to make rulings on what is best for the table at large, not one person. If one person wants to cheat the system (e.g. by creating a company that gives him more gold than everyone else and than the game says is suitable for that level) then I would have absolutely no qualms about saying no. I would say that just saying "no" is actually more acceptable then saying "yes and" and giving in to one player at the expense of the group. I value a balanced game mechanically and don't want to give unfair advantages to those who are clever and creative, especially if it would mechanically break the game at that level to bring everyone up to his power level, rather than restraining him from his power trip and reminding him of the social contract he agreed to when he sat down to play with a group of individuals who are not there to massage his ego but are there to have fun creating a world on equal terms. This could even be true (though to a lesser extent) if the person in question is acting within the rules of the game but making it less fun for everyone else (e.g. by excessive over- or under-optimisation. 
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Utilitarianism - you need to make rulings on what is best for the table at large, not one person. If one person wants to cheat the system (e.g. by creating a company that gives him more gold than everyone else and than the game says is suitable for that level) then I would have absolutely no qualms about saying no.

I don't have any particular confidence that the game has any idea what is suitable for anyone. If the game doesn't have rules to prevent unlimited weath from being an "I Win" button, that's a problem for the game, since effectively unlimited wealth is a common fantasy trope. Some games don't even make it possible for players to buy anything higher than their level, which acts as a pretty good disincentive for wanting to bother with accumulating unlimited wealth.

But to bother raising that point, even if it's a valid one, is just blocking. What's not blocking is to talk to the player and try to understand with him how to make the game fun for him and everyone else. Session 0 doesn't have to happen at the beginning, that just tends to be the ideal time for it.

I would say that just saying "no" is actually more acceptable then saying "yes and" and giving in to one player at the expense of the group.

What I don't get in examples like this, is what the other players are doing in the meantime. If they have a problem with the power balance, they can obviously do just what the other guy did and reach the same power level, in whatever way they deem palatable. If they don't want to, then that's their choice. They have no real grounds for wanting someone else not to make a choice that they chose not to make.

I value a balanced game mechanically and don't want to give unfair advantages to those who are clever and creative, especially if it would mechanically break the game at that level to bring everyone up to his power level, rather than restraining him from his power trip and reminding him of the social contract he agreed to when he sat down to play with a group of individuals who are not there to massage his ego but are there to have fun creating a world on equal terms.

If they're collaborating, then they are on equal terms, with equal opportunity. There are other avenues to power, even rapid acquisition of power, so there's no reason they must not be on par with this character, if that matters to them. And at the same time, they can actually be engaged, and actually have interesting situations come up, if that's what they want. Meanwhile, they've effectively made the other player's "cheating" a non-issue, without actually blocking it.

Tell me, fardiz: are where are your players on the spectrum? Are they clever and creative or are they entirely by the book, never trying anything that would give them even a momentary advantage over the game or the other players, unless specifically granted that by the rules?

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Utilitarianism - you need to make rulings on what is best for the table at large, not one person. If one person wants to cheat the system (e.g. by creating a company that gives him more gold than everyone else and than the game says is suitable for that level) then I would have absolutely no qualms about saying no.



I'd say "no," too - provided we agreed explicitly on the ruleset in your example which requires a certain wealth by level. That's not blocking. It's reminding a player they agreed to a certain thing and that agreements must be kept. Note that this doesn't mean the group couldn't reassess the agreement if a given idea sounds like fun to explore.

As an aside, in our games, I could care less about how much wealth the PCs have. I don't create challenges that wealth can beat, generally speaking. You want a billion gold? Great. You have Tony Stark wealth now. Iron Man still had tough challenges. What are some that we can all enjoy together and how does your wealth bring that about both in terms of making it easier and harder?

I would say that just saying "no" is actually more acceptable then saying "yes and" and giving in to one player at the expense of the group. I value a balanced game mechanically and don't want to give unfair advantages to those who are clever and creative, especially if it would mechanically break the game at that level to bring everyone up to his power level, rather than restraining him from his power trip and reminding him of the social contract he agreed to when he sat down to play with a group of individuals who are not there to massage his ego but are there to have fun creating a world on equal terms.



It's perfectly acceptable to remind a player of their social contract if they seem to be breaking it. This is done outside of the context of the game, of course.

This could even be true (though to a lesser extent) if the person in question is acting within the rules of the game but making it less fun for everyone else (e.g. by excessive over- or under-optimisation. 



Hence why I recommend level of optimization be something discussed and agreed to prior to play.

This is what I tend to see: DM sits down to play some D&D with his players. Something goes awry. DM reports the problem on the forum. First question asked - Did you have a Session Zero, or at least an informal discussion about what's cool and what's not at the table? Most common answer: "No." Well then no wonder you have a problem.

I'll say again: It's okay to say "No" if a player is breaking agreements. It's not okay to say "No" if you didn't have an agreement or if you suddenly don't like the agreement because it might undo some idea you came up with, unless you want to be seen as blocking. Get their agreement - their buy-in. Then if you need to say "No" because a player is violating that agreement, nobody can assert you're being arbitrary or blocking in any way.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

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It's not blocking for one to talk to a player specifically about expectations and preferences, though it edges in that direction when one has the agenda of ending a certain course of action by the player, rather than finding a way to make it work.

When I usually think of blocking, it's a DM bending their creativity toward making something fail or be a bad idea, rather than toward making it work and be a smart idea. Or, worse, hazarding no creativity at all, and just playing the game as conservatively as possible.

There are corner cases, but saying "No" has plenty of them too, with much worse ramifications for one's game. I honestly don't see how saying "No" ever encourages players. It's an incentive to behave differently, but it's a rather negative incentive, and the behavior it leads to might very likely be the overly conservative and boring play that DMs complain about on this board.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I want to thank Iserith and Centauri with some very helpful and detailed replies.  This has given me some food for thought.

I find I am somewhere between Iserith and Centauri and that of Fardiz and Lunar Savage in how I see things.

I don't see "No" as a complete bad.  "No" without good reason, or because the DM can't think of another way, spite, or a simple desire to keep the illusion of control and thus blocking the player are bad reasons.  I have seen good reasons to say "No."  Then again, the vast majority of my "No's" are not hard "No's."

I do have a trouble shooting query about Session Zero:

It is my experience that a person (be it player or DM) will sometimes say one thing and mean/want another. 

Likewise, a player or DM might not have enough information to have a meaningful session zero to begin with. 

Then there are the players who have absolutely no desire or patience for a Session Zero.  Their mantra is often, "Let's get playing already!" 

Then there are those folks who can't even come up with a name for their character until game three (if they are lucky) and a background of any kind is out of the question. 

Then there is "Captain Change-a-Lot"-- that player who can't keep the same character for more than a month-- oddly enough the reason for the change isn't because he feels inadequate somehow (which is easily fixed), but more due to the movie he just saw and suddely wants a character like "that guy" and then 3 weeks later he wants to make a new character because of a video game he just got and some character in it is oh so cool, and on and on.

Lastly, the famous, "What do you want to do?"   "I don't know, what do you want to do?"

So my question is in the above instances how do you even get the session to happen, have meaning and have it "stick" throughout the campaign?
@Centauri: You're right about focusing on trying to make a player's idea work rather than shutting it down. But what I think a lot of people on the forums assume is that anything goes to the detriment of the game and that players acting in bad faith run rampant like some post-apocalyptic wasteland. It's a defensive reaction it seems. "I don't want that kind of game, so I better say 'No.'" Of course, that's not really what happens. We're speaking experientially; they're speaking hypothetically (with some exceptions).

Blocking, at least in the RPG sense as extrapolated from improv, is about not accepting things as agreed to. That's a lot of stuff when you think about it. At the top of the list are the ruleset, the tone/themes/style of the game to be played, and established fiction. You can't agree to play 4e and then try to play by 3.X rules. You can't agree to play Dark Sun (with all that entails) and then show up with a singing, dancing warforged cleric loaded down with magic items. You can't say there's a ladder when the DM (or another player) declared specifically that there are none. Some of these are silly examples, but ultimately they demonstrate that saying, "Yes, and..." doesn't mean you don't say "No." It just means you can only say "No" when blocking is already occurring.

Now, of course, there's the issue of the DM not liking an idea and then claiming the player is blocking because he can't figure out a way to make what the player wants work within the scope of the established agreements. That's just as bad as saying "No," for no reason. This is why I just ask the player, "Cool. How do you see that working with what we've already established?" Perhaps that rules from 3.X would really work in the game we're playing. Maybe the warforged is from another Age. Maybe there's a ladder, but it was hidden or is just out of easy reach. But all of these things are out-of-game discussions anyway where blocking doesn't occur, and it's on the group to decide if these additions are okay.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

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I want to thank Iserith and Centauri with some very helpful and detailed replies.  This has given me some food for thought.

Thanks, me too. I always get pushed to think harder about my approaches to things. That has led me to change on a number of occassions. My point of view remains fluid.

I find I am somewhere between Iserith and Centauri and that of Fardiz and Lunar Savage in how I see things.

I don't see "No" as a complete bad.  "No" without good reason, or because the DM can't think of another way, spite, or a simple desire to keep the illusion of control and thus blocking the player are bad reasons.  I have seen good reasons to say "No."  Then again, the vast majority of my "No's" are not hard "No's."

I speak in terms of the ideal, and of the worst case scenario. I don't avoid saying "No" as much as I'd like, and "Yes, and..." doesn't automatically mean the game will be fun. It just appears to have a better chance than other methods I've pursued over the years.

It is my experience that a person (be it player or DM) will sometimes say one thing and mean/want another.

Sure. So, clarify as you go. Keep the dialog open.

Likewise, a player or DM might not have enough information to have a meaningful session zero to begin with.

Well, it's a time to ask questions and get clarity. And also to realize how little information people have.

Then there are the players who have absolutely no desire or patience for a Session Zero.  Their mantra is often, "Let's get playing already!"

I definitely get that. I talk a lot about not wasting time, about getting right to the fun stuff, so I find myself held back from starting new things. It's a bit chicken-and-the-egg. I want to play the new game, but everyone might hate the experience if we're not on the same page, but how can we devote time to a Session 0 before we know if it's a game we even want to play more than once?

Then there are those folks who can't even come up with a name for their character until game three (if they are lucky) and a background of any kind is out of the question.

Depends on the reason for that inability. If they're non-creative, that's one thing. If they're worried about taking risks and failing, that's another.

Then there is "Captain Change-a-Lot"-- that player who can't keep the same character for more than a month-- oddly enough the reason for the change isn't because he feels inadequate somehow (which is easily fixed), but more due to the movie he just saw and wants a character be like "that guy" and then 3 weeks later he wants to make a new character because of a video game he just got and some character in it is oh so cool, and on and on.

That's a "problem" with or without Session 0. I recommend not seeing it as a problem, though.

Lastly, the famous, "What do you want to do?"   "I don't know, what do you want to do?"

Right, so don't ask "What do you want to do?" say "I want to do this, what does it make you think of?" A key concept of improv theater (whence "Yes, and..." comes) is "Don't ask questions that don't include new information." In fact, those who haven't mastered improv (I haven't) are better not asking questions at all. And it usually shouldn't be necessary to directly prompt players for their course of action. Collaborate on the setting and scene and clear character motivation and action should come out of that.

So my question is in the above instances how do you even get the session to happen, have meaning and have it "stick" throughout the campaign?

It doesn't necessarily need to "stick." It can evolve. It's just a starting point.

I recommend getting the players together for some other activity, such as dinner, or some other light gaming, and discussing the other game over that.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I wish this site had a irc function. In debates such as these, posts get very long which make it difficult to have a meaningful discussion.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
I want to thank Iserith and Centauri with some very helpful and detailed replies.  This has given me some food for thought.



I'd like to thank you as well for your honest questions.

I don't see "No" as a complete bad.  "No" without good reason, or because the DM can't think of another way, spite, or a simple desire to keep the illusion of control and thus blocking the player are bad reasons.  I have seen good reasons to say "No."  Then again, the vast majority of my "No's" are not hard "No's."



To me, it's either the DM (or another player) says "No" to preserve an agreement. Or that person is blocking.

It is my experience that a person (be it player or DM) will sometimes say one thing and mean/want another.

Likewise, a player or DM might not have enough information to have a meaningful session zero to begin with.



You do the best you can with what you have to work with, then you keep that conversation going throughout the game, so to speak, making adjustments as needed. It might not even be a discussion so much about what one wants but rather what one expects. That can be an easier conversation to have especially with inexperienced players.

Then there are the players who have absolutely no desire or patience for a Session Zero.  Their mantra is often, "Let's get playing already!"



In an experienced group, Session Zero can often be really short. I haven't even played all that much with Centauri in the past, for example, but if he shoots me an email saying, "Thinking a one-shot, pulp action, set in NYC, with a crazy inventor villain, usual tropes" I pretty much know what to expect and he'll know I can deliver if I buy-in. In a longer campaign or with a group who doesn't know each other that well, it's really worth whatever time you put into it. And, of course, assess and adjust as you play.

Then there are those folks who can't even come up with a name for their character until game three (if they are lucky) and a background of any kind is out of the question.



I don't know about the name part, but I don't ask for backgrounds anyway. I prefer they don't come to the table with one in mind, in fact. Backstories are often the exact opposite of narrative collaboration. The joke back when we played 3.X was that you don't give a character a name for the first few levels because it was probably going to die.

Then there is "Captain Change-a-Lot"-- that player who can't keep the same character for more than a month-- oddly enough the reason for the change isn't because he feels inadequate somehow (which is easily fixed), but more due to the movie he just saw and suddely wants a character like "that guy" and then 3 weeks later he wants to make a new character because of a video game he just got and some character in it is oh so cool, and on and on.



This doesn't bother me much either. I don't craft stories or plots around the characters, so they can come into and out of the narrative whenever they like. My only request is that whoever their "new" guy is, the other characters already have some history and bonds with him. This is all stuff that "Yes, and..." is really good at dealing with.

Lastly, the famous, "What do you want to do?"   "I don't know, what do you want to do?"



This hasn't happened to me, but I guess if it did, I'd suggest we do some improvisational exercises like brainstorming tropes or fantasy elements in a certain category and have fun with it until inspiration strikes.

So my question is in the above instances how do you even get the session to happen, have meaning and have it "stick" throughout the campaign?



It's just habit now, for me. I want to make sure we're all on the same page before play. I always bring some ideas to the table, but am prepared to throw those ideas away in favor of something cooler. As Centauri points out, Session Zero isn't the Ten Commandments, so it's good to take a look at what came out of that as you go along to make sure it's still working for the group. Adjust as necessary. Having said that, these are things to do outside of the game, not during, so that in play people are sticking by their previous agreements.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  Structure First, Story Last  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
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- The part I have bolded is the part where you do sometimes make 'wild assumptions'; you have previously implied non-collaborative DMs have a narcissistic need for control, for instance. Perhaps that was in the heat of a debate. We all get carried away. 



I don't recall saying that non-collaborative DMs have a narcissistic need for control. I searched for the word "narcissistic" just now and got nothing. Do I believe that some traditional DMs maintain their approach out of a need for maintaining illusory control? Yes, I do. Some, not all. Do I believe that's you? No. Or, at least, I don't know. If I've said that of "all" traditional DMs, then I withdraw it here and now with apologies. It's not something I believe to be true, so if it was said it was in error.

I was specific here when I used the word 'implied'. I'm sure you are correct that some traditional DMs do have such tendencies. I'm even willing to assert that some are drawn to being DM because of either narcissism or because being a DM is the only situation where they feel they have control. I was getting the vibe from some of your previous comments (which may have been throw-away one-liners) that you felt that the only value in a 'traditional' DM style was this need to maintain (illusory?) control.

I may have read too much into casual statements as well; me stupid me human.

Rather than me making any further errors as far as this goes... could you elaborate on your use of the word illusory?

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.
Rather than me making any further errors as far as this goes... could you elaborate on your use of the word illusory?



Sure. What I mean by this is that a DM's "power" is given to him. He's not born with it or entitled to it in any way, no matter how many hours he spends writing plots and designing encounters. What control he has is what is allowed to him by the players. Not even the rules can stop the players from getting up and leaving. So ultimately, does the DM really have control? Or is it just an illusion? (Or, in my view, an agreement.)

To quote Lord Varys, "Power resides where men believe it resides. It's a trick. A shadow on the wall."

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  Structure First, Story Last  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
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Blocking, at least in the RPG sense as extrapolated from improv, is about not accepting things as agreed to.

That's part of it. If my name is established as Bob in one sentence and then someone else calls me Joe, the first declaration has been blocked, because the "rule" is that you accept whatever anyone else establishes. Mistakes of this kind are common and tend to feed into the comedy aspect of improv, and technically they're blocking, but they can also stem from a misunderstanding.

In a more general sense, I see blocking as not accepting things that there's no good reason not to accept. In my case, I guess I have the bar set high for good reason not to accept something. Some set that bar at "the player suggested it." Others have it set at "it's not what I had in mind." I like to think I have it set somewhere around "is deliberately intended to be disruptive or makes someone feel bad (intentionally or not)." But that's where my bar for talking to the player is set, so I would do that before saying no.

That's a lot of stuff when you think about it. At the top of the list are the ruleset, the tone/themes/style of the game to be played, and established fiction. You can't agree to play 4e and then try to play by 3.X rules. You can't agree to play Dark Sun (with all that entails) and then show up with a singing, dancing warforged cleric loaded down with magic items. You can't say there's a ladder when the DM (or another player) declared specifically that there are none. Some of these are silly examples, but ultimately they demonstrate that saying, "Yes, and..." doesn't mean you don't say "No." It just means you can only say "No" when blocking is already occurring.

The only reason I don't agree with this entirely is that some things are difficult to agree with in detail, even if they're agreed with in general. I have a player who really doesn't understand the 4e rules, even though they agreed to play under them. They regularly misinterpret even the simplest text pertaining to their powers, even what has been explained to them multiple times. I found that correcting them was causing stress at the table, and was wasting everyone's time, and so I judged that it was better just to accept their interpretations and move on. Sometimes it has even proven rather interesting.

Now, this player is blocking, even though it's not really willful. To say that it's okay to say "No" to them because they're already blocking, I think opens the door to DMs to excuse boorish behavior and rules pedantry. I think lots of people here would say I'm in my rights to tell this player to read and follow the rules, because having to correct the player "impacts the DM's fun" and letting them get away with rules misunderstandings "impacts the other players' fun." Instead, I decided that I don't have to correct her, and that this was a much lower impact to everyone's fun than correcting the player.

In the case of someone who is aware of what they're doing and asking for a little leeway, I think the same situation holds. I don't have to debate them, and not debating them will usually have a lower impact on everyone's fun than than following the rules exactly. I guess it takes experience to know this, but it holds true remarkably well. Even though I'm "allowed" to say "No," there's not really a good reason to.

Same with settings, and why I don't like settings in which there's only one way certain things can go. "The King would never allow that" "The guards would prevent that" "This is certain death" are the kinds of things that I see as setting oneself up as having to block players when the players either forget (or didn't know) a particular fact, or ask for leeway. These sorts of things are also generally more interesting to allow anyway. If we established that there are no airships, and someone declares that they jump off a building and land in an airship, well that's a bit inconsiderate, but it wouldn't quite hit my bar for saying "No."

So, I hold with the ideal, and recommend against ever saying "No." It can be used properly, but I wouldn't bet on it. Even Chris Perkins uses "No" at times when I think things would have been phenomenal if he'd said "Yes, and..." (which he often does do.)

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

That all makes sense and sounds reasonable. If I had to define the bar, it's willful blocking. I sometimes get to DM for newer players and a lot of rules they mess up I just gloss over. "Leeway" often falls into Rule of Cool territory and my experienced players know this. They know they can stretch it a bit to attempt something amazing.

A lot of this comes down to intent, as you know. And sometimes you can't determine intent clearly without stepping outside the game and asking the player directly for clarification. 

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  Structure First, Story Last  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
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Iserith/Centauri, have either of you played Apocalypse World?
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Iserith/Centauri, have either of you played Apocalypse World?

Yes. I like the rules, but not the setting. I'm more familiar with Dungeon World, whose setting I prefer and whose rules I'm okay with.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

My regular 4e game played a 1-shot of it last night. It was a interesting change - a lot more free-flowing and not as interrupted by mechanics. One could just declare something to be and it was. It worked great mostly due to the fact that it was pretty much a 2d6+stat system (sort of like playing an entire game through a skill challenge). However one of our players did get up and leave the (e)table, with the words "I'm sorry, this isn't for me". 

So both systems work nicely but the mechanics of some systems push towards different styles of play.

So yeah, it was more immersive, more like collaborative story-telling, more creative, less tactical. More English, less maths. Different strokes for different folks. 
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Iserith/Centauri, have either of you played Apocalypse World?



I've played several hacks of it (Star Wars, Dungeon World, and Mass Effect) but not the base rules. I know the system inside and out, just not the setting. I will be playing in a straight-up Apoc World game next week. 

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

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See my post above.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
My regular 4e game played a 1-shot of it last night. It was a interesting change - a lot more free-flowing and not as interrupted by mechanics. One could just declare something to be and it was. It worked great mostly due to the fact that it was pretty much a 2d6+stat system (sort of like playing an entire game through a skill challenge). However one of our players did get up and leave the (e)table, with the words "I'm sorry, this isn't for me". 

So both systems work nicely but the mechanics of some systems push towards different styles of play.

So yeah, it was more immersive, more like collaborative story-telling, more creative, less tactical. More English, less maths. Different strokes for different folks. 



You'd probably find that my 4e game is a mash-up of this style of play, plus all the tactical bells and whistles. You can have both in the same game. This has been my approach for the last two years or so.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  Structure First, Story Last  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
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Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

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Do you play over maptools at all? And do you have any pick-up games? I'm willing to give anything a go, once.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Do you play over maptools at all? And do you have any pick-up games? I'm willing to give anything a go, once.



I don't use Maptools, but I do use Roll20.net. I'm a little leary of taking on players from these forums for reasons I'm sure you can imagine, so I hope you won't take offense if I get back to you on that sometime. I really do appreciate the interest, however.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  Structure First, Story Last  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

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No worries - I just thought that the best way to understand what the hell you're talking about is to experience it first hand :P
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
No worries - I just thought that the best way to understand what the hell you're talking about is to experience it first hand :P



I totally agree with you. And I'd like to. But I've taken at least one player from these forums that has turned around and admittedly tried to disrupt the game (he failed to do so because the game can't be disrupted in the manner he attempted), so once bitten, twice shy.

If you played a good round of Apoc World, it's close to that in terms of flow, but with all the usual 4e tactical combats as necessary. In fact, I use the relative success mechanics in our games straight out of the *World mechanic - roll high, you get what you want; roll middling, you get what you want but with a complication; roll low, interesting failure.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  Structure First, Story Last  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

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My regular 4e game played a 1-shot of it last night. It was a interesting change - a lot more free-flowing and not as interrupted by mechanics. One could just declare something to be and it was. It worked great mostly due to the fact that it was pretty much a 2d6+stat system (sort of like playing an entire game through a skill challenge). However one of our players did get up and leave the (e)table, with the words "I'm sorry, this isn't for me".

I'd be interested to know more about why. As I say, I don't like the setting and my primary experience was with someone who tended to use it to its full gross-out potential, so I can understand someone wanting to get out of it. It's designed to make the players uncomfortable and if you've ever seen the author, you'd probably understand where that comes from.

So, was it really the rules?

So both systems work nicely but the mechanics of some systems push towards different styles of play.

I don't believe they do, except insofar as someone who wants to track hard numbers for initiative and range won't really find those in *World games.

The Dungeon World "hack" of Apocalypse World strikes me as being designed by someone who likes D&D, but doesn't like how the rules handle it, even in older editions. It has almost all of the old school trappings, but tries to add in Bonds (hate them, prefer Hx from Apocalypse World), and tries through the rules to add in what I imagine the author and his friends would do without rules, but which they wanted to figure out how to encourage through the rules.

Basically, there's nothing you can do in a game of Dungeon World that you can't do in a game of D&D, it's just that D&D doesn't provide direct incentives for it. You can powergame in Dungeon World the same as you would in D&D, but you won't advance as quickly as those who take (and fail) some risks, and put some effort into resolving bonds. So, if "winning" means being the best, most powerful character, in DW it also includes being a character who has encountered a lot of pitfalls and maybe had some interpersonal drama (or it would if Bonds worked worth anything).

And the same goes for many story games. All they do is offer in-game incentives to do the stuff I'm talking about doing with D&D, which is stuff that groups that trust each other have done for a long time anyway.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

No worries - I just thought that the best way to understand what the hell you're talking about is to experience it first hand :P



I totally agree with you. And I'd like to. But I've taken at least one player from these forums that has turned around and admittedly tried to disrupt the game (he failed to do so because the game can't be disrupted in the manner he attempted), so once bitten, twice shy.

If you played a good round of Apoc World, it's close to that in terms of flow, but with all the usual 4e tactical combats as necessary. In fact, I use the relative success mechanics in our games straight out of the *World mechanic - roll high, you get what you want; roll middling, you get what you want but with a complication; roll low, interesting failure.



I don't quite follow how a combat can be both tactical and immersive/flowing. Most of the games I've played of 4e have had no RP at all in combat and the few that have have felt rather forced. I've seen it more as a boardgame (they even made boardgame with extrememly similar mechanics - Castle Ravenloft et al) interspersed with improv, or vice vera depending on percentages.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
I don't quite follow how a combat can be both tactical and immersive/flowing. Most of the games I've played of 4e have had no RP at all in combat and the few that have have felt rather forced. I've seen it more as a boardgame (they even made boardgame with extrememly similar mechanics - Castle Ravenloft et al) interspersed with improv, or vice vera depending on percentages.

Because "RP" doesn't just mean talking. When there's a goal in combat other than just pasting the other side, when there's a question to be answered, and some actual stakes, people start making in-character choices that are cool instead of the absolute best choice. They make moves to find out what happens, rather than to minimize risk. That's roleplaying.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I don't quite follow how a combat can be both tactical and immersive/flowing. Most of the games I've played of 4e have had no RP at all in combat and the few that have have felt rather forced. I've seen it more as a boardgame (they even made boardgame with extrememly similar mechanics - Castle Ravenloft et al) interspersed with improv, or vice vera depending on percentages.



This bit is definitely easier to show than explain. I'm probably going to fail at explaining, but here goes:

I don't imagine many players would find the encounters we do all that different from any given table. We follow the rules pretty much as written, close enough where I can't even think of a meaningful exception to share outside of my mind-bogglingly (that's a word, I'm sure of it) controversial death house rule. If you are ever in one of my 4-hour timed one-shots, you'd likely note that 3.5 hours of it is straight combat, the first thirty minutes or so is intro'ing the characters, connecting them to each other and the adventure, and getting on the same page as to how the game will go.

When I have occasion to play in other games, the combats feel really flat compared to the ones we have in our group. I like tactical play so this doesn't bother me so much and I engage in in-character interaction during these scenes more than most in my experience. I think the key difference is in the stakes and goals. The scene has more going on in it than just pounding the other side into goo. As well, since we spent a good half-hour establishing collaboratively why any of the characters (and by extension, the players) give a sh*t about what they're doing, there tends to be a lot of engagement and in-character interaction as things unfold. 

I'd go into an example of a game we played last night, but then I'd be one of those guys "telling you about his game." But in 4 hours of pretty much straight combat, we told one helluva story and I'll remember those characters for a long time, even though it was just a one-shot.

EDIT: Ninja'd by Centauri. 

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  Structure First, Story Last  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

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I see.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
@Fardiz: We're really off-topic at this point, but who could possibly be reading anymore 18 pages in? Anyway, I'd like to hear your take on Centauri's question in post 352 (top bit). Or more generally, what did you like from that game that 4e games don't seem to have?

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  Structure First, Story Last  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

@Fardiz: We're really off-topic at this point, but who could possibly be reading anymore 18 pages in? Anyway, I'd like to hear your take on Centauri's question in post 352 (top bit). Or more generally, what did you like from that game that 4e games don't seem to have?

Specifically I was wondering about why the one player left, if Fardiz knows.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

He's more of a hack 'n' slash player - that group doesn't tend to do much in-character speech. I think he was uncomfortable with the acting side of the game and preferred the maths side of things. 
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
One of my abiding interests is in group dynamics and how players react to things. If you're willing, I'd like to hear more about the whole session. What the content was, the tension, and action especially. Did the MC have story-game experience? (PM me if you like.)

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  Structure First, Story Last  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Thanks everyone for a lively discussion.
I think much was learned all around.
 
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