When do you feel a DM is over stepping their authority?

58 posts / 0 new
Last post
With me it is when a Dm actually trys to tell me what I can and can not name my character, I have actually walked out of games for that one...

Official Warning From this point in time I will no longer deal with people who want to turn my post into flame war's, if you cannot respond in a civilized matter Then simply do not respond, all troll  implications or just plain rudeness will  no longer be tolerated and will reported to the mod as soon as I see the reply...

With me it is when a Dm actually trys to tell me what I can and can not name my character, I have actually walked out of games for that one...

Yeah, that's pretty major. Any idea why you were told that?

I feel that a DM should never unilaterally decide anything about a player character. A DM should be able to ask questions about and even make suggestions regarding a player character, but the decision needs to rest with the player.

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

With me it is when a Dm actually trys to tell me what I can and can not name my character, I have actually walked out of games for that one...

What did you want to name your character? Maybe I've spent too much time as a DM, but this one actually seems pretty reasonable to me.

For me, it's playing one of my characters for me. If I create the character, then that's my character, and nobody else gets a say in how they act or what they think or do. That necessarily includes every character in my backstory, with the possible exception of a noted rival or arch-enemy. Please do not play my character's parents, friends, or family members, because you're going to do it wrong.

The metagame is not the game.

When I'm not having fun. Simplest answer, must appropriate answer. I play D&D to have fun, or at least to be engaged, and I'm pretty easy to entertain, so if a DM can't do that something has to be going wrong.
With me it is when a Dm actually trys to tell me what I can and can not name my character, I have actually walked out of games for that one...

What did you want to name your character? Maybe I've spent too much time as a DM, but this one actually seems pretty reasonable to me.

I can also see situations in which the DM might want to say something about a character's name, particularly if the theme of the game is important and had been previously agreed to. But I still see that as grounds for a conversation, not unilateral and irrevocable actions by anyone involved.

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

With me it is when a Dm actually trys to tell me what I can and can not name my character, I have actually walked out of games for that one...

What did you want to name your character? Maybe I've spent too much time as a DM, but this one actually seems pretty reasonable to me.

I can also see situations in which the DM might want to say something about a character's name, particularly if the theme of the game is important and had been previously agreed to. But I still see that as grounds for a conversation, not unilateral and irrevocable actions by anyone involved.

I've seen some pretty bad names in my DMing day...

Fighter the Fighter
Spiderman
Spiderman 2
Spiderman 3
Spiderman 4
Spiderman 5
Spiderman 6
Green Goblin
No Name
Couldn't think of a name
Ninja the Ninja
Dude
Mr. Dude
Sword-Man
Pac-Man
Michael Jackson the Bard
Beasty Boyz
Bob Just Bob
My Character
(Insert player's name here)'s Character
Super Super-Man
Lumber Jack
Mario Brothers
And the ever popular... Blank (spelled without any letters... as in "          ").

Their characters were as original as their names. Unfortunately none of these characters survived for long enough to explore all aspects of their personalities.
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.
With me it is when a Dm actually trys to tell me what I can and can not name my character, I have actually walked out of games for that one...

Just curious, what was the character's name?
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
I am also curious about the characters name so that I can share your outrage
I can't really think of a name that would matter much as a dm to insist someone change it.  If someone wants to choose a dumb name, like one listed ones above, it would be good fodder for mockery, but just a roll of the eyes and continue on.  

 Well, mostly mockery
I can't really think of a name that would matter much as a dm to insist someone change it.  If someone wants to choose a dumb name, like one listed ones above, it would be good fodder for mockery, but just a roll of the eyes and continue on.  

 Well, mostly mockery


It depends on the group ofcourse, and context is key here, but there are plenty of out of line names I can think off:
- Names that include profanity.
- The name of a historic figure who commited heinous acts, especially if the DM's family was victimized by such figure.
- The DM's mother's name, and then roleplaying her in any insulting way (okay that's more about the way the character is played, but it may be too personal still).
- Names that includes an affliction that any of the DM's friends/family suffers from.

@OP
Any deviation from the groundrules that end up gimping your character in any way (without your consent).
Playing favorites with anyone.
Disabling the group and then hogging the limelight for an extended period of time.
I've gamed with the occasional yahoo that you didn't care to game with again but nobody quite in that particular ballpark of douche
With me it is when a Dm actually trys to tell me what I can and can not name my character, I have actually walked out of games for that one...


Depends on the reasons from the DM.
As stated before, Fart VonPenisbreath is going to be reasonably shot down most any DMs.
Alternately, there may be game structures at play.  My current campaign requires different name structures from each race, as it plays into details of the world and also sets mood.
Seems like apretty minimal complaint.
When a DM puts me in a situation, as a player, where I have to be a party to roleplaying something evil or else my character will be punished.

Especially when it makes no sense.

Last time this happened it was a dude who insisted that my character participate in chopping off a thief's fingers because ... the local Paladins said since I caught him in the act of stealing from me it was the law that I inflict the sentence on him.  My character wouldn't do that, I certainly won't roleplay something sadistic like that, and furthermore, it made no damn sense that a bunch of Paladins would make me do it or else have my own fingers chopped off in his place.

I just told the DM that no, I'm not going to roleplay that because it's sadistic, my character isn't doing that because it's sadistic, and I'm going to go outside and have a smoke while you all have fun pretending to torture people.  Tell me when you're ready to act like adults and I'll rejoin the game.

He backed down and nothing happened to my character, which is good because I would have left the game if he followed through.   Turns out I left shortly after that anyway, but that's because it was a PF game and I was playing a Fighter at 9th level, so there really wasn't any more reason for the character I wanted to play to be there anymore when there's at least one Wizard in the party.

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

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"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.”

When a DM puts me in a situation, as a player, where I have to be a party to roleplaying something evil or else my character will be punished.


 I'm okay with this sort of thing if it has a purpose or is vital to the story. If you have to make a decision on say, supporting the lesser of two evils (a dictatorial leader vs. a devil), or commit an act you would find heinous to save someone you love or something you love (have to murder a man in cold blood or else an evil cult will kill your wife), etc, then I'm okay with it because you have a meaningful choice to make that really reflects on your character.

The situation you described is, of course, none of these things and is sadism for its own sake, and yes I agree with you there 100% that's a load of garbage. But if you want to see how something like this can really be done quite well, and make you feel TERRIBLE for doing said evil acts play Spec Ops: The Line, I really can't reccomend it enough.

Personally I've done a few things like this in the past, not with such obvious bias towards violence though. I've had characters make deals with devils in order to acomplish some goal or another that was vital, or else very important to their character.

My personal favorite catch-22 pick the lesser of two evils was when my sister was playing and Avenger of Sehanine. Her character hated lycanthropes and champioined love, as a good avenger of Sehanine should. So her and the party went to a small village where the village was being attacked every month on the full moon, and people began to suspect werewolves. So the town's duke asking the players for help sends them on their way to exterminate the werewolves, which no one seems to have a problem with, I mean they're werewolves. They get there and the werewolves, instead of fighting, surrender and explain the situation. The leader of the pack, as it turns out, a female werewolf, was organizing the raids trying to break into the castle's dungeon to free her beloved who was being held prisoner by the duke for some petty crime or another. My sister's character had a tough choice to make at that point, kill the werewolves in accordance with her god's wishes (werewolves being an abomination), or let the werewolves live for the sake of love. In the end she decided her commitment to love was more important than killing the werewolves, especially given the situation, and agreed to help them, but she still wasn't exactly thrilled with letting a pack of werewolves loose.
When a DM puts me in a situation, as a player, where I have to be a party to roleplaying something evil or else my character will be punished.



I'm in the total opposite situation to you. I have a neutral character and the DM gets mad at me if I don't make decisions as if I had good alignment. If he wanted everyone in the party to have a good alignment he should have said so. Now he not only punishes my character every time I make a neutral decision, but also punishes the entire party just to make me look bad. So, this results in out-of-game bullying where players are complaining at me for making "bad" decisions - even though it's exactly what my character would do!!!! It's not my fault he wants to be a douche canoe and punish everyone.

Also, because he feels that there is no difference between neutral and evil, he's now convinced that I'm an evil person IRL. The whole situation is moronic. It's supposed to be a freaking game. I can understand a paladin feeling that a neutral character is indistinguishable from evil, but the DM....?
Your DM shouldn't be "punishing" you for decisions you make, even if you do use the alignment system. Other players shouldn't be bullying you because of your alignment either.

But also note "It's what my character would do" has been used over the years to justify some truly dickish behavior. When I hear a fellow player utter those words, it's usually a last ditch effort to justify something lame or disruptive to the game.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Find Your GM Style  |  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

I'm Recruiting Players for a D&D 5e Game: Interested?  |  Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Your DM shouldn't be "punishing" you for decisions you make, even if you do use the alignment system. Other players shouldn't be bullying you because of your alignment either.

But also note "It's what my character would do" has been used over the years to justify some truly dickish behavior. When I hear a fellow player utter those words, it's usually a last ditch effort to justify something lame or disruptive to the game.



I could totally understand him punishing me if I was a neutral character going on a rampage of pure evil, but I don't think there is ever a situation where all the other players should be punished too just so they will gang-up on me.

My character isn't slaying NPCs in their sleep, isn't plotting against the other characters, and isn't putting anyone in danger. It's little things like using Charm Person on someone who is a threat to our party. The DM thinks that Charm Person is a purely evil spell that shouldn't be used by neutral characters because it means taking away a person's freedom, and I disagree. So, when I use Charm Person I get punished for it - even if the DM admits that it was a completely justifiable use of the spell. Now, if I used Cause Fear I would understand...

It's just things like that.
I could totally understand him punishing me if I was a neutral character going on a rampage of pure evil,



Nope, shouldn't punish you for that either. Though if you wanted to be punished because you thought it might be interesting, then it's justified.

but I don't think there is ever a situation where all the other players should be punished too just so they will gang-up on me.



Right. This is deserving of an out-of-game conversation to correct the issue.

My character isn't slaying NPCs in their sleep, isn't plotting against the other characters, and isn't putting anyone in danger. It's little things like using Charm Person on someone who is a threat to our party. The DM thinks that Charm Person is a purely evil spell that shouldn't be used by neutral characters because it means taking away a person's freedom, and I disagree. So, when I use Charm Person I get punished for it - even if the DM admits that it was a completely justifiable use of the spell. Now, if I used Cause Fear I would understand...

It's just things like that.



My guess is that you're doing more than just that to provoke such a strong response from the DM and fellow players. But again, that's just a guess.

In any case, alignment systems really seem to bring out the armchair philosophers eager to use the mechanic to justify "logical repercussions" as a form of in-game behavior modification.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Find Your GM Style  |  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

I'm Recruiting Players for a D&D 5e Game: Interested?  |  Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />My guess is that you're doing more than just that to provoke such a strong response from the DM and fellow players. But again, that's just a guess.



Nope. That's why it's so frustrating to me. I'm not new to D&D by any means, and I've played plenty of neutral characters over the years. I'm not going to deliberately provoke a DM because there's no point to it. I've never been in a situation like this before.

The response from the other players is related to the DM's punishment, not my character's actions. They don't see anything wrong with what my character is doing until the punishment comes down, and then the comments start. He punishes them on purpose so they will have this exact reaction. They should really be getting mad at him, and not me.

I've always thought of alignment as a guideline for characters, but he seems to have completely different definitions for alignment than anyone I've ever met, and he won't let anyone deviate from his definition. I've never heard of anyone defining Charm Person as a purely evil spell before.
Nope. That's why it's so frustrating to me. I'm not new to D&D by any means, and I've played plenty of neutral characters over the years. I'm not going to deliberately provoke a DM because there's no point to it. I've never been in a situation like this before.

The response from the other players is related to the DM's punishment, not my character's actions. They don't see anything wrong with what my character is doing until the punishment comes down, and then the comments start. He punishes them on purpose so they will have this exact reaction. They should really be getting mad at him, and not me.

I've always thought of alignment as a guideline for characters, but he seems to have completely different definitions for alignment than anyone I've ever met, and he won't let anyone deviate from his definition. I've never heard of anyone defining Charm Person as a purely evil spell before.



Before this turns into a thread on alignment, I'd like to direct everyone to the countless and unproductive threads on alignment that litter these forums. Go there and learn from the mistake of starting alignment threads.

In any case, if you have any interest in fixing the situation, then you should have a direct conversation outside the context of the game to resolve it. If it cannot be resolved, then I'd suggest finding another DM. There is a mismatch of expectations going on here.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Find Your GM Style  |  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

I'm Recruiting Players for a D&D 5e Game: Interested?  |  Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith


In any case, if you have any interest in fixing the situation, then you should have a direct conversation outside the context of the game to resolve it. If it cannot be resolved, then I'd suggest finding another DM. There is a mismatch of expectations going on here.



I was just posting about it in here in response to the OP's question as an example of a DM way overstepping his bounds. I wasn't necessarily looking for a solution because I've already made the decision to leave.

I see. Good luck in finding a group that better matches your preferences!

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Find Your GM Style  |  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

I'm Recruiting Players for a D&D 5e Game: Interested?  |  Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

I would never tolerate juvenile punishments, god NPC's to "stick us" or any other petty and immature 'baggery.

I am an adult, I only game with adults and I won't play with someone who behaves like a child. I once stood up and walked out of a room because a DM wanted my girlfriends character to be "dating" one of his NPC's (god character). I also walked out on a DM who constantly blocked us and wanted to run a game out of a booklet thing. He shouted in a rasty voice that we would be joined by our faithful party leader, his paladin from first edition (these were second edition days). In the middle of the game, I asked the player next to me to pass the drink and the DM says "You just said that in game, and everyone is looking at you like you're stupid." 

I mean, really? After a few sessions of his "Call" rule (you say it, and someone says call, and your character just said it) and him telling you monty python jokes to walk you into "your character just said toilet plunger! hahahahaha!" and I was done letting others DM for me.

When I started DM'ing myself, I paid careful attention to issues surrounding the interactions of DM and Player to determine what the proper ways to "experience the best game possible for everyone" are. I learned that some people are best left to play with themselves. I began working hard to create a different type of open ended game with relaxed rules.


The lesson I learned from all the bad DM's I have been under (and even one who used Charm, Command and Thrall effects for mid-battle **** scenes) is that whatever one person does effects the game for every player. Every player should try to use their "turn" (including the DM) to advance the game, and keep it fun. I have learned the best tool for a DM is asking your players honest questions. "Do I suck at running good battles with Dragons? Did you like how I used the Beholders? What was the least fun part of the game for you and what could I have done differently to avoid that?" When your players know they can honestly criticize you, and you will be receptive to their opinions, everyone is much happier. I wind up using content they want, and avoiding elements of the game they don't like, and we all win.

Within; Without.

I think a DM oversteps their bounds when their narrative and vision of the story stops the game from being an interactive experience and one where the characters are more like characters in a novel; subject to whims and decisions of the DM to the point where they are railroaded into actions.  I also, think that a DM who intentionally designs games so that just about every encounter and  monster and situation is maximized to be as difficult as possible to PCs and counter their abilities is a bad DM.  Lastly, I think that DMs who have a pattern of routinely interpreting rules in a manner that is disadvantageous to the PCs on a consistent basis (and throughout various gaming systems) is a bad DM.
With me it is when a Dm actually trys to tell me what I can and can not name my character, I have actually walked out of games for that one...

That depends on the name. I can see how in a serious game a silly name, or a name stolen from a tv show or movie wouldnt be appropriate. 

i would probably cull the monk in an orange jumpsuit named Son Goku from my group as a DM, lol 










 I also, think that a DM who intentionally designs games so that just about every encounter and  monster and situation is maximized to be as difficult as possible to PCs and counter their abilities is a bad DM.


 



Not necessarily. Cake-walks are no fun for most players either. 
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 also, think that a DM who intentionally designs games so that just about every encounter and  monster and situation is maximized to be as difficult as possible to PCs and counter their abilities is a bad DM.


 



Not necessarily. Cake-walks are no fun for most players either. 



I absolutely agree a cake walk is no fun for players either, but the game has a set power level for certain levels of adventurers.   If every encounter is designed in a way to almost hose down the PCs that does not become fun.  For example, in 3.5  we had a DM once that constantly loved to use Undead, Poisonous, and other creatures that drained or did stat damage or level drain or something like that.  This was not fun and needless to say the game did not last very long.  Yes, the game should be a challenge but if a DM constantly designs encounters along the lines of "You can't fit down this hallway wearing armor so the people in armor have to remove it to get through" and then right when you come out of the hallway into the next room a big monster or monsters is waiting there to attack naked fighters this is not fun.    There is fine line between challenging and being dweeb DM.

I like giving my players situations where using their best skills and favorite abilities are the ticket to win, which rewards them for whatever they like to do. I also like to give them occasional adversities like anti-magic field, diseased swamps or level drain creatures where they are appropriate and there is a proper response that the players have a good chance at overcoming.

Any DM who maintains "DM versus Player" has made my life harder, so I think that is one of the worst types of a DM. I hate it when new players at my table are afraid the NPC they meet is level 80 with 9000 hit points, ready to throw the hand of god on them if they mouth off to the king.

Within; Without.

I like giving my players situations where using their best skills and favorite abilities are the ticket to win, which rewards them for whatever they like to do. I also like to give them occasional adversities like anti-magic field, diseased swamps or level drain creatures where they are appropriate and there is a proper response that the players have a good chance at overcoming.



I  think this quote and attitude is what comprises a good DM.  My most enjoyable games I can remember is one's where the DM understood my characters motives and what the player's specialty sets were and allowed them to shine at doing it.  Yes, there were times that were designed to counter those but the keyword you used is occasional.  When just about every encounter and every encounter of note has these counters that is when I have and problem and the red flag of a bad DM goes off in my mind.   Sounds to me like you are a good DM.










 I also, think that a DM who intentionally designs games so that just about every encounter and  monster and situation is maximized to be as difficult as possible to PCs and counter their abilities is a bad DM.


 



Not necessarily. Cake-walks are no fun for most players either. 

I'd not be "most" players then.  I love winning!  Too me, an ideal game would be combats where I can walk all over enemies and look good doing it, and then have some great story telling that further emphasizes how awesome I am.  ;)

IOW, I like being the hero.

Challenging games are okay but I find winning handily to be more entertaining than barely eking out a victory.    

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

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"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.”



I absolutely agree a cake walk is no fun for players either, but the game has a set power level for certain levels of adventurers.   If every encounter is designed in a way to almost hose down the PCs that does not become fun.  For example, in 3.5  we had a DM once that constantly loved to use Undead, Poisonous, and other creatures that drained or did stat damage or level drain or something like that.  This was not fun and needless to say the game did not last very long.  Yes, the game should be a challenge but if a DM constantly designs encounters along the lines of "You can't fit down this hallway wearing armor so the people in armor have to remove it to get through" and then right when you come out of the hallway into the next room a big monster or monsters is waiting there to attack naked fighters this is not fun.    There is fine line between challenging and being dweeb DM.


I still tell people about the Pathfinder campaign I was in where over 25% of combats started out with my Fighter not wearing his armor and over 50% of combats had enemies that were immune to crits. 

I know these percentages because once I realized how much I was getting screwed I started counting and I didn't need to count long before I left. 

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

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"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.”

I'd not be "most" players then.  I love winning!  Too me, an ideal game would be combats where I can walk all over enemies and look good doing it, and then have some great story telling that further emphasizes how awesome I am.  ;)

IOW, I like being the hero.

Challenging games are okay but I find winning handily to be more entertaining than barely eking out a victory.

Huh, that's interesting. How easy a fight is too easy, for you?

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

Your DM shouldn't be "punishing" you for decisions you make, even if you do use the alignment system. Other players shouldn't be bullying you because of your alignment either.

But also note "It's what my character would do" has been used over the years to justify some truly dickish behavior. When I hear a fellow player utter those words, it's usually a last ditch effort to justify something lame or disruptive to the game.



This.  And this - that's the only reason I can think of why a DM could legitimately step in to tell a player "no way":  if the player is acting like a troll and disrupting the game.



And, in fact, that first statement probably one of the points where I would say you can tell the DM is exceeding his authority:  when the DM is into "punishing" players.

In reading the forums, it seems that some DMs prefer playing vaguely Tolkien-flavored games of "Mother May I?", "Simon Says", "I Spy", or some sort of G-rated BDSM game, or something:  authoritarian direction-following games with the DM arbitrarily handing out punishments to a captive audience... if that's what you're into, then that's fine, I guess - not my cup of tea, but it's a broad hobby with a lot of different styles of enjoyment in it. 

If you're not having fun, though, and getting annoyed and frustrated by the DM "punishing" you, as a player or as your character in a way that affects your fun as a player, unilaterally and without your consent, especially for doing things that should support a normal game of collaboration and imagination, then your DM is probably exceeding his authority. 

Legitimate DM authority:  ejecting outright trouble-makers from the game; setting aside the dice and books for a few minutes to try to solve out-of-game problems by talking to the players like adults and asking players to make changes for the good of the game. 

Dodgy DM authoritarianism:  handing out little "punishments" for not speaking in character, for not remembering character names, for not building a sufficiently optimized character, for not hopping on the train at the railroad station as planned, for not buying pizza, for being more convenient than kicking the dog when the DM has had a bad day, and any other petty excuse the DM can think of.
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
I think a DM oversteps their bounds when their narrative and vision of the story stops the game from being an interactive experience and one where the characters are more like characters in a novel; subject to whims and decisions of the DM to the point where they are railroaded into actions.  I also, think that a DM who intentionally designs games so that just about every encounter and  monster and situation is maximized to be as difficult as possible to PCs and counter their abilities is a bad DM.  Lastly, I think that DMs who have a pattern of routinely interpreting rules in a manner that is disadvantageous to the PCs on a consistent basis (and throughout various gaming systems) is a bad DM.



...Any DM who maintains "DM versus Player" has made my life harder, so I think that is one of the worst types of a DM. I hate it when new players at my table are afraid the NPC they meet is level 80 with 9000 hit points, ready to throw the hand of god on them if they mouth off to the king.



These are also, I think, good signs that the DM is overstepping his authority:



  • The DM is treating you like a captive audience, rather than a trusted, valued, and respected part of his storytelling team.

  • When it's clear the DM is not a fan of the PCs, but rather an opponent to them, or a rival to them for attention.



For what it's worth, these things also apply to players - you can tell players are overstepping THEIR authority when they are "punishing" each other or "punishing" the DM, when they treat each other and the DM like a captive audience to their spotlight-hogging, or when it's clear the player is not a fan of his team members but rather an opponent to them or rival to them and/or it's clear that the player is not a fan of the game world and sets about dismantling it through unilateral force and making it over in the PC's own twisted image through fire and swordpoint.





Did we ever find out from the original poster what name prompted this thread to begin with?
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
I would also like to know.

Within; Without.



I absolutely agree a cake walk is no fun for players either, but the game has a set power level for certain levels of adventurers.   If every encounter is designed in a way to almost hose down the PCs that does not become fun.  For example, in 3.5  we had a DM once that constantly loved to use Undead, Poisonous, and other creatures that drained or did stat damage or level drain or something like that.  This was not fun and needless to say the game did not last very long.  Yes, the game should be a challenge but if a DM constantly designs encounters along the lines of "You can't fit down this hallway wearing armor so the people in armor have to remove it to get through" and then right when you come out of the hallway into the next room a big monster or monsters is waiting there to attack naked fighters this is not fun.    There is fine line between challenging and being dweeb DM.


I still tell people about the Pathfinder campaign I was in where over 25% of combats started out with my Fighter not wearing his armor and over 50% of combats had enemies that were immune to crits. 

I know these percentages because once I realized how much I was getting screwed I started counting and I didn't need to count long before I left. 




Sounds to me like you made a good decision in leaving.   The last bad DM I had the encounter of gaming with had me leaving the game thinking to myself " I just spent 5 hours of my life doing something I didn't enjoy and there goes time I can never get back."  I swore to myself after that game that if I was ever put into a campaign again that I didn't like rather than try to stick it out, I would respectfully as possible state that this just isnt' for me and get up and walk away.    Luckily, in my experience just outright bad DMs are not too common.

When the DM says:

I'm going to roll d20. If I roll a 20, you fail slightly; if I roll a 1 you fail miserably. You had a very good idea and put forth a lot of effort and resources to make it work, but it doesn't... because the world is a terrible place and my NPCs are out for themselves... unless you use that to influence their behavior, then they just don't do whatever it is you want them to do, because if they did... it would be too easy.

OR

DM: You're trying to sell expensive jewelry for the price you appraised it for? Make an Appraisal check AND a diplomacy check AND a knowledge local check AND a knowledge nobility check AND a gather information check, then make a level check. DC 30 on all of them. HAR HAR HAR HAR. If you fail you only get 10% of its value. If you succeed you only get 25% of its value.. unless you want to take a year away from the adventure I have planned and honestly expect your character to live, but you'll get the full value if you do that (evil grin).

Me: That's pretty hard. Lest you accuse me of cheating, I'll roll for all to see. As it happens, the skills required are the skills my Aristocratic-type character are focused on. (Rolls two natural 20s, a 19, two 17s and ANOTHER natural 20 on his final roll). I succeeded at all checks.. YESSS! I will still go on the adventure, but will use my COHORT and followers to do the grunt work and call upon that favor I was promised by one of your NPCs some time ago because such an expensive item will require some extra guards. I'll still be able to adventure. I will sell it to the noble with the best reputation for honesty, fairness and so on..

DM: (one year later). The buyer's son dies by a thief trying to get the expensive piece of jewelry and the buyer blames you and only pays you half the value instead of the agreed-upon amount. Because your character is an aristocrat and you'll be too powerful if you have money.
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.
What really sucks is when there is only one group playing the game you want to play, in your area.  So, if you end up with (what you consider to be) a bad GM, and you walk away from the game ... well, I guess there's other stuff to do besides play D&D....
What really sucks is when there is only one group playing the game you want to play, in your area.  So, if you end up with (what you consider to be) a bad GM, and you walk away from the game ... well, I guess there's other stuff to do besides play D&D....


... like DM D&D. 

If you've played enough D&D to recognize bad DMing when you see it, you just might have what it takes to start up your own group and DM it the way it should be done.

Yeah, it takes a little time and effort, but I find it rewarding.  And that's another thing I love about 4e ... cuts down on the amount of prep time and makes it easier to DM.

Personally, I think everyone who plays D&D should be a DM too from time to time, even if they prefer to play a PC more often. 

There's another thing that could be considered a DM overstepping his authority ... a DM who refuses to let anyone else take a turn at DMing once in a while.  It doesn't have to be the same campaign, but a DM who refuses to let anyone else have fun DMing is overstepping his bounds, IMO.

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

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"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.”

... like DM D&D. 

If you've played enough D&D to recognize bad DMing when you see it, you just might have what it takes to start up your own group and DM it the way it should be done.

Yeah, it takes a little time and effort, but I find it rewarding.  And that's another thing I love about 4e ... cuts down on the amount of prep time and makes it easier to DM.

Personally, I think everyone who plays D&D should be a DM too from time to time, even if they prefer to play a PC more often. 



Agreed.

And if you have no players in your area, try online at Roll20.net. It might take a few tries to find a group and DM that fits the bill, but at least you'll have some options.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Find Your GM Style  |  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

I'm Recruiting Players for a D&D 5e Game: Interested?  |  Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Set up a useless email address, go to your local comic/game dealer, and ask if you can put up a flyer in their shop to recruit players.

Most stores encourage this, because it tells other players you might not even know about that campaigns are happening and starting, which can cause the shop to sell a book or pack of dice or something. Most shops will say yes, and some shops are open to letting you use the rear area tables for hosting a game.

You can also use Obsidian Portal, Facebook and any other social networking you use, to let it be known you want to start a campaign and recruit players. This is the time to establish your table rules and get some communication established with potential players to root out conflicts and establish mutual expectations. You can have a lunch meeting or coffee meeting at "location x" at "time y" and try a mini session zero.

Within; Without.

Sign In to post comments