Need Help, DM wants new houserule: No off-turn Free-Actions

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So basically I just got a Dwarven Armor and during a fight I got surrounded by enemies, I went from full health to 5 HP before the last enemy swings at me. I use my free action surgeless healing that that armor provides to help me withstand the last hit.

My DM says this is overpowered and thinks allowing off-turn free actions is too lenient. He says it would allow a Shaman with the right feat to free action summon off-turn and impede an enemy's movement or provoke a opportunity attack from his summon.

Thoughts or arguments about the viability of off-turn free actions? We are aware of the current rules on them.
Talk to your DM. Ask your DM to challenge your characters with something else than houserules.
He seems to be good at it if he can bring your character from full to 5hp in one round, characters in 4th edition are very sturdy.
I mean, he should let your character use the magic item and then continue to pound on your character with his pack of monsters.
That way, you get to use your item, and he gets to still defeat your character. Best of both.

Overpowered? No.
Annoying? Yes indeed. I mean off-turn actions are great but slow the game so much it's not even funny.
Your DM is wrong.  Flat out.  It's not overpowered.  Case closed.  End of sentence. 

Anyway, if your DM thinks it's overpowered that you used an offturn free action from your Dwarven Armor to heal, then why did he let you have Dwarven Armor in the first place?  Doesn't sound like he thought that through, and now he's making you pay for it.  And now he wants to make a major rules change for everyone just because he was shortsighted enough to allow you to have a magic item he doesn't like?  That, just piles mistake on mistake, and it's kind of dickish to boot.

Explain to the DM that changing the rules like this is going to break many, many game elements, so he should avoid doing that because it's going to lead to a cascade of further broken game elements.  Tell him you do not agree to this rule change. 

Besides, what gives the DM the right to arbitrarily change the rules at-will?  If he wants to do that, he needs to get you all to buy in on it.  If you all agree to change a rule because you like it better that way, that's fine, but he doesn't have the right to change rules based on his preference alone.  He's a referee, and referees get to make calls based on the rules as agreed upon, whether those are the base rules or houserules agreed to in advance; they don't get to change the rules any time just because they feel like it.

If he thinks it's broken that you were almost dead and you got one lousy surge value for free, it sounds like he is basically just out to kill you, and he's not going to be happy until he does.  I have a feeling you're going to have more problems with this DM in the future unless you help him understand that he doesn't own the game by himself ... all of you own it together, and that trying to kill the PCs is not the only way to make the game fun; it's actually one of the laziest, most overdone ways.  There are many ways to challenge PCs besides threatening them with death.  Think about it and I'm sure you could come up with a dozen ways to do that - and there are many, many suggestions about how to do this on these boards.

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.

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"Besides, what gives the DM the right to arbitrarily change the rules at-will?  If he wants to do that, he needs to get you all to buy in on it."

No offense, but this basically summarizes what I believe to be one of the biggest problems in D&D today. The DM doesn't have the independence to run the game as he sees fit.  While I don't agree with this particular ruling, I do support his right to make it.


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"Besides, what gives the DM the right to arbitrarily change the rules at-will?  If he wants to do that, he needs to get you all to buy in on it."

No offense, but this basically summarizes what I believe to be one of the biggest problems in D&D today. The DM doesn't have the independence to run the game as he sees fit.  While I don't agree with this particular ruling, I do support his right to make it.

It's not his game alone to run "as he sees fit."  It's everyone's game to play together and run as they see fit, as a group.  The DM DOESN'T have the independence to run the game as he sees fit IF the other players don't want to do it that way.  He is dependent on the other players to give him the power to referee the game and if he doesn't do things fairly, the rest of the players will replace him, one way or the other.  It takes both DM and players working together to make a good game, not one person playing god and the other people asking his permission to be allowed to have fun, especially when it comes to players doing things that are well within the rules and that shouldn't require permission in the first place, like using a legal magic item's free action power during someone else's turn.

No offense to you either, but that attitude sums up everything I think is wrong with DMing since I started playing in 1980.  I no longer bother to play with DMs who are on a power trip, and changing the rules arbitrarily to someone else's detriment is an example of that.

The game works better and everyone has more fun if everyone agrees to a rules change before implementing it.  When this doesn't happen, you have situations like the OP is describing.

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.”

No offense, but this basically summarizes what I believe to be one of the biggest problems in D&D today. The DM doesn't have the independence to run the game as he sees fit.  While I don't agree with this particular ruling, I do support his right to make it.

He never did.  Don't like a houserule?  Don't play!  Lose enough players that way and the DM doesn't have a game anymore. 

I'm significantly in favor of anyone deciding to talk through issues in the game / rules rather than just dropping bombs that are likely to alienate players or the DM.  Everyone should be having a good time, including the guy running the game.

To the OP - I'd recommend introducing limits on a case-by-case basis.  Under a microscope, Dwarven Armor's daily power is significantly powerful.  Pull back a bit, though - that's a daily power.  Pull back a bit more - how often is your character threatened such that an emergency healing surge once per day is an absolute lifesaver?

It's not all that potent a feature once you factor in the circumstancial daily use.  A lot of the "surprise!" powers are like that - really potent in the exact right circumstance, but not really a big deal in the long run.  If your party finds some specific options you're really unfond of, decide as a group to do away with them.

From a mechanical standpoint, your general case ends up being a bit... weird.  Free Actions include speech.
"Besides, what gives the DM the right to arbitrarily change the rules at-will?  If he wants to do that, he needs to get you all to buy in on it."

No offense, but this basically summarizes what I believe to be one of the biggest problems in D&D today. The DM doesn't have the independence to run the game as he sees fit.  While I don't agree with this particular ruling, I do support his right to make it.



The DM has every right to run the game as he sees fit, with no input from his players.

The players have every right to find a new DM.

D&D is a group activity. Sometimes compromises must be made for the good of the group.

The OP's DM does not sound like a fun DM to play with. My decision would be easy, find or start a new game, and leave his behind. Failing that, find something else to do with that time. No D&D is better than bad D&D, and I can use the intervening time to prepare for my next campaign when the cirsumstances do become right.

I also wanted to state I hope I didn't mischaracterize the DM in terms of whether he is dictating this new rule or whether he is instead discussing it with the group first.  If he's talking it over with you all, I think it's a bad houserule, but it's good that he is trying to get the group to agree to it before implementing it.  If instead, he implements it despite objections, I'd suggest you start looking for another game because this is probably just the beginning ...

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.”

The DM has every right to run the game as he sees fit, with no input from his players.

The players have every right to find a new DM.

This is very true, because you can't FORCE people to do things a certain way.  But where your solution to this issue involves basically saying "screw you guys, I'm going home,", bad feelings happening and people leaving the group, my solution to the problem involves the group working together to change a rule in a way that makes the game better for EVERYONE, which leads to more game, more fun, and fewer potential hurt feelings.

Which would you prefer to have happen?

My way or the highway is an ultimatum.  An ultimatum is just a threat, and most people don't like threats.  In this case the threat is "play it my way or get out."  That's dictatorial, and that sucks.

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.”

The DM has every right to run the game as he sees fit, with no input from his players.

The players have every right to find a new DM.

This is very true, because you can't FORCE people to do things a certain way.  But where your solution to this issue involves basically saying "screw you guys, I'm going home,", bad feelings happening and people leaving the group, my solution to the problem involves the group working together to change a rule in a way that makes the game better for EVERYONE, which leads to more game, more fun, and fewer potential hurt feelings.

Which would you prefer to have happen?

My way or the highway is an ultimatum.  An ultimatum is just a threat, and most people don't like threats.  In this case the threat is "play it my way or get out."  That's dictatorial, and that sucks.




You seem to have missed part of my post.




D&D is a group activity. Sometimes compromises must be made for the good of the group.




I agree with you.

It sounds like the players have already raised their objections, and the DM is standing firm. "My way or the highway" has already been issued, and it was done by the DM.

If I am wrong, and the DM is open to discussion, then the discussion needs to happen. If the discussion has already happened, and the DM and the players disagree about the rules, then more drastic action needs to happen.

Honestly, if the DM is nailing you from full to 5 hp, then getting mad when you have a counter to him KOing you, it sounds like he was out to kill you.

I mean, what if you had used something like the wizard's Shield to counter the attack? Most immediate actions are designed to negate attacks
Perhaps more to the point... blocking off-turn free actions means Warlords break.  It also means you can't use Elven Accuracy on Disruptive Strike.  It means any number of things which trigger when you're hit, missed, or attacked, fail.

It's a really, really stupid change.
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especially when it comes to players doing things that are well within the rules and that shouldn't require permission in the first place



I agree with pretty much everything you've said in this thread but wanted to highlight this particular bit. It sounds a lot like my friend who DMs when I'm not DMing, he seems to have a fundamental misunderstanding of what the DM is supposed to do. Instead of moderating the game, enforcing the rules, and solving problems - he creates problems by coming up with arbitrary houserules when something happens that he "doesn't like" - the players (mostly me) don't just let him get away with this stuff but it leads to big arguments. I am constantly worried because he says things like "I'll allow it" when I do things entirely within the rules, and I get to thinking he has the notion that it is his job to allow or disallow things that are already inherently allowed by rule, its so confusing I don't understand why a DM would want to take things away from players like that.


[ This is exactly my point, although more eloquently stated here. Yes, a good DM takes the players' views into consideration. However, he--ultimately-has the final say in rules adjudication. Let me restate the fact that I heartily disagree with the ruling of the OP's DM. Not everyone is cut out to be the DM. I say this in hopes of people finding ways of curtailing the argumentative player who threatens to have sessions and even campaigns suffer collapse. Conversely, **** DMs must realize repeated bad calls and capricious rulings result in the same fate.


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"Besides, what gives the DM the right to arbitrarily change the rules at-will?  If he wants to do that, he needs to get you all to buy in on it."

No offense, but this basically summarizes what I believe to be one of the biggest problems in D&D today. The DM doesn't have the independence to run the game as he sees fit.  While I don't agree with this particular ruling, I do support his right to make it.



The DM has every right to run the game as he sees fit, with no input from his players.

The players have every right to find a new DM.

D&D is a group activity. Sometimes compromises must be made for the good of the group.

The OP's DM does not sound like a fun DM to play with. My decision would be easy, find or start a new game, and leave his behind. Failing that, find something else to do with that time. No D&D is better than bad D&D, and I can use the intervening time to prepare for my next campaign when the cirsumstances do become right.




I meant to quote this post.


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[ This is exactly my point, although more eloquently stated here. Yes, a good DM takes the players' views into consideration. However, he--ultimately-has the final say in rules adjudication. Let me restate the fact that I heartily disagree with the ruling of the OP's DM. Not everyone is cut out to be the DM. I say this in hopes of people finding ways of curtailing the argumentative player who threatens to have sessions and even campaigns suffer collapse. Conversely, **** DMs must realize repeated bad calls and capricious rulings result in the same fate.





This.

i believe the DM has final say-so, but must take his players in consideration. like when our DM wants a badguy to escape, when you have 5-6 different characters all with different skillsets it makes it pretty hard, but if you make up a reason such as he uses his ring of portal to escape. and some players will get PO'ed cause they dont have access to such items therefore they think noone else should. But to the OP, as a player and DM i strongly disagree with that houserule. sit down and ask him what his reasoning for it is. so what if a shaman got an extra attack on an enemy? thier companion spirits arnt really stupid strong, all  its doing is speeding up  the hp pools depletion. explain to him how thats just hurting you as the players. surely a mature and polite discussion will allow you to reach a comprimise at the least. who knows maybe it will help you grow as both players and as a DM.
"Besides, what gives the DM the right to arbitrarily change the rules at-will?  If he wants to do that, he needs to get you all to buy in on it."

No offense, but this basically summarizes what I believe to be one of the biggest problems in D&D today. The DM doesn't have the independence to run the game as he sees fit.  While I don't agree with this particular ruling, I do support his right to make it.



Yeah, I agree. The Player entitlement attitude has really befouled D&D.

The rules have changed from being a tool to help the DM into a straitjacket that chokes out every bit of creativity out of your DM. The latest editions have tried to turn the DM into a spineless coward who is afraid to take charge and tell his players "No".

I'd much rather take the old days of "DM is god" instead of this new age of the rules-lawyer and entitled spoiled brat PC.
"Besides, what gives the DM the right to arbitrarily change the rules at-will?  If he wants to do that, he needs to get you all to buy in on it."

No offense, but this basically summarizes what I believe to be one of the biggest problems in D&D today. The DM doesn't have the independence to run the game as he sees fit.  While I don't agree with this particular ruling, I do support his right to make it.



Yeah, I agree. The Player entitlement attitude has really befouled D&D.

The rules have changed from being a tool to help the DM into a straitjacket that chokes out every bit of creativity out of your DM. The latest editions have tried to turn the DM into a spineless coward who is afraid to take charge and tell his players "No".

I'd much rather take the old days of "DM is god" instead of this new age of the rules-lawyer and entitled spoiled brat PC.

Meh, rules lawyers have always been with us in D&D.

The DM, however, is the final arbiter of the rules.  That doesn't mean he's infallible, just that, for the sake of playability, when there's a dispute, he decides.  Hopefully, the OP's DM is open-minded enough to see that there isn't a problem with free actions working per the rules, just because he felt frustrated at not dropping a PC because of a free-action magic item.  But, if not, he is within his rights to make the house-rule he wants.  

He could also just throw level+10 encounters, if all he wants to do is drop PCs, so there's little point in trying to constrain his ability to alter the rules "in his favor" - they're already in his favor if he wants 'em to be.


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The Player entitlement attitude has really befouled D&D.


Yeah.  Gods forbid the players actually expect the DM to not only follow the rules but to not change the ruleset at whim just because he failed to kill the PCs.

Sorry, I happen to know the definitions (both by connotation and denotation) of the word "entitlement," and there was only one person in the OP's story who was acting "entitled."  And it wasn't any of the players.
On the original post: talk it over, ask why he wants to have it changed, and if it's reasonable enough a reason then it's probably all for the better.  But honestly, if he's treating that one extra heal as if it was a "cheat code" for you to bypass what he thought was inevitable, then tell him this: "If it was an at-will ability, I'd agree, but since it's a very specific, once per day ability, which means I'll never get to do it until the next extended rest, what's the harm in letting this ability slide?"

On the subject of "age of rules lawyer" vs. "DM is god", or player entitlement vs. DM entitlement: I don't get it, really.  The TRPGs are conceptually a group activity, not so different from board games in general, save for the part where DMs control a completely different set of creatures than what other players can normally control, and sometimes follow a completely different ruleset from that of players (in part due to his responsibilities as arbiter of the game, as well as the design of the game itself as a storytelling medium, regardless if it's storytelling with game in it or game where storytelling evolves from it).

As Tony_Vargas mentioned, rules lawyers have always been with TRPGs, and technically have been with us since rules as a whole existed — in fact, there's an entire real life profession dedicated to such activities — and even with Rule 0 they never really got to shut up on the rules lawyering, so claiming that modern TRPGs involve an "age of rules lawyers" is ridiculous at least.

Entitlement, on the other hand, regardless if it's DM-side or player-side, can be disruptive to play, as any group activity involves a level of give-and-take; DMs may have the power to change the rules and dictate the storyline, but with it comes the responsibility to take into serious consideration the desires of all the players involved.  Players might have the power to just walk away should the DM be deemed a self-righteous entitled basterd, but with that comes the responsibility of cooperating with the DM should you wish to play in the DM's campaign.

Although honestly I'd rather think that being a DM is the same as being any other sort of artist: just because you're the guy in charge of creating the art, doesn't automatically mean you get the right to lambast prospective clients (the players).  Sure you could take your artwork elsewhere, but the client can also take their cash (and time and effort) elsewhere too... or they could just as well outright not bother buying at all.  Meanwhile, you the artist still need to sell your artwork... 
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So basically I just got a Dwarven Armor and during a fight I got surrounded by enemies, I went from full health to 5 HP before the last enemy swings at me. I use my free action surgeless healing that that armor provides to help me withstand the last hit.

My DM says this is overpowered and thinks allowing off-turn free actions is too lenient. He says it would allow a Shaman with the right feat to free action summon off-turn and impede an enemy's movement or provoke a opportunity attack from his summon.

Thoughts or arguments about the viability of off-turn free actions? We are aware of the current rules on them.



Erm, you mean Nimble Spirit? It works on the player's turn only.

Also, forbidding out of turn free actions will make many enabling powers and a boatload of other things  like items and features completely useless.

Tell your DM he'd rather learn to play and he'll be fine.

Edit: There's also Sudden Call, but that's only on the player's turn, as well.