Unless They Do Something Really Stupid

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At a party the other day, sitting around talking about D&D:

Me: "I guess I'm kind of the nice DM.  Nobody dies in our campaign unless they want to die because that's fun for them.  Why kill off a player's favorite thing; their character?  Besides, I like to see them win most of the time."

Other guy:  "Yeah, I normally don't kill characters either, unless they do something REALLY STUPID.  (laughs)  Then they deserve it because they brought it on themselves.  It's not my fault if they get themselves killed."

Me:  "So when you're DMing you decide whether what the other players do is stupid or not, and punish them if you think they're stupid or give them stuff if you think they're smart?"

Other guy:  "Well ..."

I didn't push that thread of conversation any further because I wasn't there to start an argument.  But it just reminded me how many DMs out there are still into the whole lording it over other players thing and sitting in judgement of other folks, maybe because they like to always be the smartest guy in the room.  BTW, this is also a guy who, as soon as I mentioned 4e, said that "there's no roleplaying [in 4e] just like WoW."

On the one hand, I wish I could spend more time with folks like this and try to show them there are other ways to DM that are more fun for the group as a whole.  Ways that involve the rest of the group in creating the story, getting buy-in from them on where we want to go, not blocking, saying "yes, and ..." instead of "that's stupid and you're going to die," etc.  I wish I could find this guy (didn't catch his name) and convince him to play a few games with my group or co-DM with me or something. 

But on the other hand, is it supposed to be my mission to try to convince other folks that the way I do things is better (because I believe it is)?  Everyone's entitled to play the way they want to play and if they don't play the way other folks want to, they won't have many folks to play with after a while.  But some players don't realize there are different and better ways to play, either.

What do you all think?  Do you feel it's your "duty" as a player and/or DM to help others to improve their game, however you define "improvement?"  Do you feel that you should try to promote what you think are your good ideas even if you weren't asked for your advice?  If so, what do you think are the best ways to do this?  Or do you think that you should simply respect the idea that others have their own playstyles and not seek to "proselytize" for your own way of doing things?  And if so, do you think that maybe you're denying others an opportunity to improve or do you think that it's simply not your business or not worth pursuing?

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.”

There is an extremely vocal minority on this forum that pushes 'the better way' of playing on a constant basis. 
I don't feel that the idea of 'a better way' to play is a legitimate way of looking at the situation.
'different way to play' can be the only way to look at it.

As for Death by Stupidity?
I think there has to be some judgement call by the DM, or the game fails to suspend disbelief.
Attempting to leap a 30' chasm of lava is dangerous and reckless.
Attempting it while carrying your horse...and having any success crashes the suspension of disbelief.
And not having consequences to acting stupid does nothing to encourage smart play.
I can imagine most players would be extremely frustrated to be playing smart and having the one player who is acting stupid being able to cruise along and do just as well.
"really? He didn't die? OK, I guess I pick up my horse and jump as well. Then Mr. horse jumpers player can take over my character, because I won't be back next week"
 
1. Fanaticism is the number 1 problem with all of humanity. "I have the duty to [insert x] for you". No offense sir, but I find that offensive and ridiculous. The mindset itself is toxic and poisonous. Nothing good comes of it. We all probably know 1-2 things that could be beneficial to others. I promise it would behoove you to get a bicycle and ride 2 miles a day. That doesn't mean I should try to make you buy one and assume that I have a duty to you because my failure to get you on a bike could make me responsible for your health. What if you fall off your bike into traffic, am I responsible for that as well?

2. You should promote your own ideas. If everyone stood in line waiting to speak until spoken to, we wouldn't have a free country. You do have a duty to yourself to promote your beliefs in a non-intrusive way. If you attempt to promote a case for something, but condescending arguments cause your ideas to push a wrong button you perform an ultimate disservice to your ideas.

That said, I believe you should look for 1-2 "cases in point" that you could illustrate. Then ask one simple question:

"Doesn't that make sense?" This gets you into the reasoning of the person you are talking to and offers you insight to their way of thinking. You learn why your idea does or doesn't "click". Then, you can offer a simple solution if there is a problem or ask another question: "What would you do in this situation?" Being nice about things and offering another person the ability to engage with the idea rather than trying to "push it" on them is more effective. You can ask "What is the most difficult moment you had running a game?" and say "In this case, I would have..." and go from there.

Within; Without.

What do you all think?  Do you feel it's your "duty" as a player and/or DM to help others to improve their game, however you define "improvement?"  Do you feel that you should try to promote what you think are your good ideas even if you weren't asked for your advice?  If so, what do you think are the best ways to do this?  Or do you think that you should simply respect the idea that others have their own playstyles and not seek to "proselytize" for your own way of doing things?  And if so, do you think that maybe you're denying others an opportunity to improve or do you think that it's simply not your business or not worth pursuing?



Any game worth playing is worth improving at. Any game worth improving at must support the ability to improve. A game one cannot improve in is not a game worth playing.

It is not my "duty" as a DM to do anything to help my players improve but I do enjoy helping others with games. So, if asked for advice, I will gladly give it because I support them improving at the game. Similarly, as a player I will try to help my fellows improve as well be it through assisting them with character choices or just setting a good play example or providing other advice, etc.

In a community sense (both in the sense of the community of my table and in the larger sense) I like to see people improve and I like to improve as well. Without the sharing of ideas this is impossible as little improvement occurs in a vacuum.


I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

www.dorktower.com/1997/09/05/shadis-maga...





best to keep it simple and avoid frustration
www.dorktower.com/2013/04/18/an-intro-to...



While I don't have a link the one I always think of is from Knights of the Dinner Table where they murder the king in his throne room to steal his crown and try to sell it at the first shop they find after leaving the castle.
The sea looks at the stabillity of the mountian and sighs. The mountian watches the freedom of the sea and cries.
Even though the following example is not D&D, it does relate to the thread.

Back in the mid-80s I was playing Champions (anybody remember that RPG?) at a con.  We had a really young player (middle school age) playing a buffed up flying type character.  He wanted to do a "move-through" on a bunch of reinforced steel doors.  All the players told him that it was not in his best interest to do that.  The DM made sure that was what he wanted to do.  Contrary to "common sense" advice, he did it anyway.  He actually smashed through 2 of the 4 steel doors, but died halfway through the 3rd.  This player really thought his character should have survived.  After having made a scene, he walked out of the game because he did not get his way.  Looking back on it, and I may be mis-remembering, but I think he was in tears when he left.


Long story short, we told him that his PC would die if he did that.  He refused to believe us.  He did it anyway.  His PC died.  He walked off crying.  Basically, he did something stupid and died.  The DM did not roll any of the damage dice because it was the PC doing the damage and the end result was death.

You have the free will to agree or disagree.
You have the ability to act freely on the above choice regardless of the consequences.

It is not your mission to tell anyone how to play the game, vote, worship --or not-- enter into, sustain, or end romantic relationships, or make the world's best French toast. It's fine to talk about all of those things, but until someone asks for my advice I generally refrain from giving it
Even though the following example is not D&D, it does relate to the thread.

Back in the mid-80s I was playing Champions (anybody remember that RPG?) at a con.  We had a really young player (middle school age) playing a buffed up flying type character.  He wanted to do a "move-through" on a bunch of reinforced steel doors.  All the players told him that it was not in his best interest to do that.  The DM made sure that was what he wanted to do.  Contrary to "common sense" advice, he did it anyway.  He actually smashed through 2 of the 4 steel doors, but died halfway through the 3rd.  This player really thought his character should have survived.  After having made a scene, he walked out of the game because he did not get his way.  Looking back on it, and I may be mis-remembering, but I think he was in tears when he left.


Long story short, we told him that his PC would die if he did that.  He refused to believe us.  He did it anyway.  His PC died.  He walked off crying.  Basically, he did something stupid and died.  The DM did not roll any of the damage dice because it was the PC doing the damage and the end result was death.

So, what did you take away from that incident?  Do you think that game was a good experience?  For who?  Or was it a negative experience?   For who?

Do you still think this was a failure on the player's part or was it a failure on the DM's part or a failure on the part of everyone playing the game?  Or not a failure at all?

If you're satisfied with the outcome, that's great.  But if you consider that a failure or a negative experience, what could you, yourself (because you can't control other folks) have done differently to prevent this from happening?

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.”

Unless they're coming to you asking for questions, or have an honest question about how you do things, it's probably not worth explaining anything to them. It's probably not even worth asking them questions about their own approach, unless you're asking honestly to learn, as opposed to trying to get them to question what they're doing.

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

It is not your mission to tell anyone how to play the game, vote, worship --or not-- enter into, sustain, or end romantic relationships, or make the world's best French toast. It's fine to talk about all of those things, but until someone asks for my advice I generally refrain from giving it

I think it IS my duty, in a sense, to tell others what I think if I think it will help them, in a game or in life in general.

However, I don't demand or expect them to do what I think is right.  That's just wasting time, and trying to control things I can't control.  I just feel that expressing my opinion is the best way "to thine own self be true," where my own self is just trying to help people be better.  So when folks disagree with me on game stuff and I try to convince them I'm right but I don't get anywhere ... hey, oh well, it's just a game.

On more weighty matters I might push it more but in the end, I can't control others, and I don't want them to control me either so you just gotta be able to let it go in the end.

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.”

Unless they're coming to you asking for questions, or have an honest question about how you do things, it's probably not worth explaining anything to them. It's probably not even worth asking them questions about their own approach, unless you're asking honestly to learn, as opposed to trying to get them to question what they're doing.

I see what you're saying about "trying to get them to question what they're doing."  It doesn't usually work.

It occurs to me that convincing someone to do something different can be done the same way that good writing is done.  When you're writing a story, the traditional wisdom is to always "show, not tell."  In other words, if you want to convince someone to do something differently, you should perhaps lead by example.

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 see what you're saying about "trying to get them to question what they're doing."  It doesn't usually work.

No, generally not.

And to be clear, if someone is having trouble with some aspect of the game, and ask for your advice, I think it's appropriate to suggest whatever you honestly think might help.

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

But on the other hand, is it supposed to be my mission to try to convince other folks that the way I do things is better (because I believe it is)? 


There is a trick some artists use when evaluating their own work.  It is to look at your artwork in a mirror.  When everything is reversed, then problems in the art become more apparent.

In the same manner, try looking at the mirror image of your question.

But on the other hand, is it supposed to be his mission to try to convince me that the way he does things is better (because he believes it is)?

Hopefully, you can now see that the answer to both questions is "no".

But some players don't realize there are different and better ways to play, either.

Perhaps you should consider the possiblilty that some players ARE aware that there are different ways to play, but did not find them "better".

Playstyle is purely a matter of preference.  Unlike game mechanics, there is no subjective criteria to say that a lethal game where the characters have a real chance of dying each encounter is better or worse than a game where the characters can simply steamroll over combat but constantly have their morals and motivations challenged.

Next time, instead of simply assuming that he is into "lording it over other players, etc" ask him what he means by "something stupid."  Perhaps he meant something like a player suddenly declares that he wants his new armor to get painted pink - so an arrow suddenly shots him in the neck out of nowhere, killing him for being stupid.  Perhaps instead he means something like a player with only a handful of HP left charging into an overwhelming group of enemies instead of retreating or otherwise trying to avoid the fight.  Or perhaps a character tried to make an almost impossible leap across a chasm, knowing the odds were against him but making the attempt anyway for whatever reason.

You could have been surprised by his answer, and learned something that helped you create more enjoyable games for your players.
To tell you the truth, this particular person has played in other Champions games.  And the DMs in those games did try to be accommodating.  But, again, it was he was right and the rest of you are wrong and throws a small tantrum when he didn't get his way.  Since it was a con, we couldn't really prevent him from joining in.

What did I get out of this?  Never allow this type of player in any games I'm DMing.

As far as the failing is concerned, I don't think anybody failed to get his or her point across to this player.  We also did our best to do this as diplomatically as possible.  It was a con after all.  He wasn't causing a major disruption either.  Well, up until his PC died, that is.  He walked out on his own instead of us throwing him out.

It was definitely the fault of the player because of his adamant refusal to listen to reason.

Being satisfied with the outcome?  Not really.  We wanted it to be fun for everybody.  But it did seem that we all breathed a sigh of relief when he left.  I think the DM did what he was supposed to do despite the difficulties presented and let the dice land where they may.   

You have the free will to agree or disagree.
You have the ability to act freely on the above choice regardless of the consequences.

Being satisfied with the outcome?  Not really.  We wanted it to be fun for everybody.  But it did seem that we all breathed a sigh of relief when he left.  I think the DM did what he was supposed to do despite the difficulties presented and let the dice land where they may.   

I take a different view.

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

Attempting to leap a 30' chasm of lava is dangerous and reckless. 
Attempting it while carrying your horse...and having any success crashes the suspension of disbelief.



I disagree. Leaping across a 30' chasm of lava is heroic and superhuman (you need a DC30 Athletics check, so not recommended before mid-paragon). Doing it while carrying your horse is also doable - you just put your slightly malnourished horse in your handy haversack (the sack holds 1000lbs and the average weight of a horse is 1100lbs). Problem solved. It would actually be easier just to take the mounted combat feat and have the horse share your athletics check. Having your horse jump over the lava gorge is even more heroic and then you can pick up the maiden and carry her off to safety. 
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
Being satisfied with the outcome?  Not really.  We wanted it to be fun for everybody.  But it did seem that we all breathed a sigh of relief when he left.  I think the DM did what he was supposed to do despite the difficulties presented and let the dice land where they may.   

I take a different view.

Hard to say Centauri. We do not know how the *other* players would have taken it when a player can ignore the agreed upon rules of the game and setting just because he feels like it ;) Expecting to survive when doing something "stupid" can be blocking in itself after all depending on the expectations of the game. Now whether or not this particular example was handled well we don't know, since we simply do not have the right amount of details and it is unlikely Astromath has either after twenty years.

Being satisfied with the outcome?  Not really.  We wanted it to be fun for everybody.  But it did seem that we all breathed a sigh of relief when he left.  I think the DM did what he was supposed to do despite the difficulties presented and let the dice land where they may.   

I take a different view.




Just so you know, this comes off as rather arrogant.  Going to state that you have a different view but not share it?  Either share it or don't say anything at all.  What, are you to good to share your view with us or something?  What was the point in even saying ou had a different view if you were not going to share it.  Just to lord it over us that you have a better way?  But then not share that way?  Or do you delight in making forum monkeys dance and request it out of you? I know you probably did not mean it that way, but it really seems that way.

I totally agree though.  Especially since this was at a con, where they play by the rules.  After all, it is a demonstration of the RAW.  The kid was told repeatadley, if you try that, it won't end well.  He tried it anyway.  What is the point in even having rules at all if you are not going to pay them any mind.  If I was in one of your games, where you always say yes and they players are always right and I decided to say, "I leap up into the air and fly, I then use psychic powers to locate the big bad guy and shoot lasers out of my ass to destroy him.  My butt lasers immediatly disintigrate anything they touch,"  would you say, "Yes, and..." to that?
I totally agree though.  Especially since this was at a con, where they play by the rules.  After all, it is a demonstration of the RAW.  The kid was told repeatadley, if you try that, it won't end well.  He tried it anyway.  What is the point in even having rules at all if you are not going to pay them any mind.  If I was in one of your games, where you always say yes and they players are always right and I decided to say, "I leap up into the air and fly, I then use psychic powers to locate the big bad guy and shoot lasers out of my ass to destroy him.  My butt lasers immediatly disintigrate anything they touch,"  would you say, "Yes, and..." to that?

You would be blocking, and you can say "no" to that. Obviously, in a regular campaign you would sit down and discuss these kinds of things in a slot 0. It is slightly more problematic in convention games, although even there is is best to at least spend some time on it. Having said that though, spending a lot of time to debate the specific rules or driving one player to tears is in general (not judging the original example - I simply do not have the facts to do so) not very productive for a simple 4 hour game. 

I totally agree though.  Especially since this was at a con, where they play by the rules.  After all, it is a demonstration of the RAW.  The kid was told repeatadley, if you try that, it won't end well.  He tried it anyway.  What is the point in even having rules at all if you are not going to pay them any mind.  If I was in one of your games, where you always say yes and they players are always right and I decided to say, "I leap up into the air and fly, I then use psychic powers to locate the big bad guy and shoot lasers out of my ass to destroy him.  My butt lasers immediatly disintigrate anything they touch,"  would you say, "Yes, and..." to that?

You would be blocking, and you can say "no" to that. Obviously, in a regular campaign you would sit down and discuss these kinds of things in a slot 0. It is slightly more problematic in convention games, although even there is is best to at least spend some time on it. Having said that though, spending a lot of time to debate the specific rules or driving one player to tears is in general (not judging the original example - I simply do not have the facts to do so) not very productive for a simple 4 hour game. 


O obviously over-exagerrated, my point was, there has to be a line to the yes, and...line of thinking.  I use yes, and in my games regularly, with things that my players have asked me ahead of time, would you let me do this because most DMs say no.  Yes, you would set a lot of limits during session zero, however personally, I play online with a lot of strangers.  In a game I was playing, I had a session zero, and we discussed all these things ahead of time.  I had one player who, despite agreeing to everything, he was constantly making butt sex jokes and just being a general retard.  The rest of the group really did not like him.  He also rarely paid attention if it was not his turn, he was new to DnD along with half thr group and I would explain something thouroghly to the other players then his turn would come around and he'd ask the exact thing.  When told I just explained it, did you not hear it his response was sorry, I was not paying attention, explain it again.  No please, just demanding I explain it again.  He was a disruption to my entire game, even though we had a session zero.  Do you still always say, "yes, and..." to this type of player?

Also, the situation we are describing, there was no session zero, it was a quick one-shot at a con.  The other players telling him that that was not possible and he should not try it was kinda like a session zero, setting the limits of the world ahead of time.  He broke it.  What do you do when you have a session zero and a player goes against what was agreed to in the session zero?
You would be blocking, and you can say "no" to that. Obviously, in a regular campaign you would sit down and discuss these kinds of things in a slot 0. It is slightly more problematic in convention games, although even there is is best to at least spend some time on it. Having said that though, spending a lot of time to debate the specific rules or driving one player to tears is in general (not judging the original example - I simply do not have the facts to do so) not very productive for a simple 4 hour game. 



If I had a copper piece for every forum poster here that said "Yes, and..." meant the group has to accept any fool thing that drops out of a player's gob, be they magic goats to fly to safety or lasers shot out of one's posterior, I could retire from adventuring. There are responsibilities when it comes to "Yes, and..." as you point out above, but I guess that wouldn't be good for someone with an agenda to acknowledge. Magic goats and laser buttocks are much lower-hanging, more disingenuous fruit.

To the OP: When it comes to an actual game, I offer advice to the DM or group if I'm asked. (I'm usually asked, after the game, and I oblige honestly.) The key thing to remember is that with buy-in any game will work, but we simply might not be willing to give that buy-in. This is okay. It doesn't mean "they're doing it wrong." It just means the way they're doing it doesn't appeal to us. Another thing that some forums posters like to say is that "Oh, well here's Mr. 'There's No Wrong Way' saying that so-and-so DM is doing a crumby job. What a hypocrite!" This misses the point entirely, not surprisingly. It's all about preferences. Whatever it is the DM is doing is fine as long as his group buys in. We can still tell them it's not our preference and why, and answer questions and counters honestly. We also can't know if someone is genuinely seeking advice or just wants validation of their ideas. (This leads to all sorts of "interesting" threads or, in person, a lot of "Yeah, but..." as they try to justify their position rather than listen to the advice they solicited.)

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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Being satisfied with the outcome?  Not really.  We wanted it to be fun for everybody.  But it did seem that we all breathed a sigh of relief when he left.  I think the DM did what he was supposed to do despite the difficulties presented and let the dice land where they may.  

I take a different view.

Hard to say Centauri. We do not know how the *other* players would have taken it when a player can ignore the agreed upon rules of the game and setting just because he feels like it ;) Expecting to survive when doing something "stupid" can be blocking in itself after all depending on the expectations of the game. Now whether or not this particular example was handled well we don't know, since we simply do not have the right amount of details and it is unlikely Astromath has either after twenty years.

It's never necessary to ruin someone's enjoyment of a game. The opposite of "Yes, and..." is not "No," it's finding out where the disconnect is and working out something everyone can enjoy. That's worth pausing a game for or, better yet, having a short Session 0, even at a con game. Twenty minutes of getting everyone on the same page and offering a chance for compromise or for people to see that it's not the table for them might save a lot of trouble.

Just so you know, this comes off as rather arrogant.  Going to state that you have a different view but not share it?  Either share it or don't say anything at all.  What, are you to good to share your view with us or something?  What was the point in even saying ou had a different view if you were not going to share it.  Just to lord it over us that you have a better way?  But then not share that way?  Or do you delight in making forum monkeys dance and request it out of you? I know you probably did not mean it that way, but it really seems that way.

If I'd gone into detail as to why I disagreed, I'd have been lambasted for that, so I can't really be given to care. But you might consider keeping your personal criticisms of other posters confined to private messages instead of airing them on the forum.

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

In defense of Centauri, he's probably posted in several hundred threads exactly what his different view is, pertaining to situations very much like this, so I can understand why perhaps he didn't go into it again, so I doubt he meant it in a snarky way.  Then again, I think I know what his POV is already, so that's why I interpreted it that way. 

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.”

It's a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't situation. Some posters have beef with other posters, not necessarily their ideas. Instead of blocking them, they snipe and criticize said poster, make wild assumptions, and ask dishonest questions or even outright state their goal is to chip away at someone's credibility. It's disingenuous and, frankly, a little weird. It makes the sharing of ideas harder and the discussions generally muddled. I've gotten dragged into these situations more than once and now my philosophy is to just block these guys when they don't bring anything to the discussion. I don't even mind being attacked so long as there are ideas being discussed in the offing. But if all they got are whines about how someone presents their ideas or the like, off they go. Nothing productive comes out of that.

But anyway, that's never going to change, so I wonder what everyone's experience is "in-person" with this sort of thing. How often has a DM asked for feedback/advice after you've played through a game and taken it with gusto? How often have they instead rejected it with resentment? Or listened thoughtfully, ignored the advice, and repeated the same patterns?

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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Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

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I think it's important to determine why an action is "really stupid."

In some cases, it just means that the PC wants to try something that the DM isn't ready for.

In some cases, it means the PC is trying to do something despite the DMs gentle (or otherwise) attempts to discourage such behavior. "I tried to warn him" is a pretty common saying after a character dies.

In some cases, it's a player trying to establish his character's personality as reckless or particularly committed to a course of action without regard to his own safety.

I think it's rare for a player to truly die from stupidity. Most of the time it's some kind of disconnect between how the player expects something to go and how the DM expects it to go. The DM can then use his omnipotence to either play things out as he originally intended and kill the character, or change the world around the player's expectations. I often think the latter course of action is the better one, but I'd hesitate to say that I'd always go that way. There are typically a lot of other variables involved both in game and out.
It's a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't situation. Some posters have beef with other posters, not necessarily their ideas. Instead of blocking them, they snipe and criticize said poster, make wild assumptions, and ask dishonest questions or even outright state their goal is to chip away at someone's credibility. It's disingenuous and, frankly, a little weird. It makes the sharing of ideas harder and the discussions generally muddled. I've gotten dragged into these situations more than once and now my philosophy is to just block these guys when they don't bring anything to the discussion. I don't even mind being attacked so long as there are ideas being discussed in the offing. But if all they got are whines about how someone presents their ideas or the like, off they go. Nothing productive comes out of that.

But anyway, that's never going to change, so I wonder what everyone's experience is "in-person" with this sort of thing. How often has a DM asked for feedback/advice after you've played through a game and taken it with gusto? How often have they instead rejected it with resentment? Or listened thoughtfully, ignored the advice, and repeated the same patterns?

Personally, I am geniunly interested in how the specific scenario at a convention could have been handled differently.  I mean, your at a con, you are demonstrating the game, presumably as written, to players.  You have a group of players playing the game that way and enjoying themselves.  You then have another player show up and he joins the game.  He starts to try to do things that are against the way the others that were already ther are playing.  They let him know, that will not work the we are playing(session 0 type of discussion) and he goes about it anyway.  As DM, what would you do in this situation?  The majority of the players at your table have stated, to the player and the DM, that they do not enjoy that kind of play.  I see no other way to handle it than to go with the majority.  That may be my lack of experience not able to see another way, but you cannoe please all the people all the time.  Either the kid was gonna get upset, or the other 4 would get upset.  As a company at a convention, would you rather have 4 upset players at your booth or one upset kid at your booth?
Most of the time it's some kind of disconnect between how the player expects something to go and how the DM expects it to go. The DM can then use his omnipotence to either play things out as he originally intended and kill the character, or change the world around the player's expectations. I often think the latter course of action is the better one, but I'd hesitate to say that I'd always go that way. There are typically a lot of other variables involved both in game and out.



Bingo. Blocking can be purely unintentional: The player didn't hear or understand something that was established already, be it a fact about the world, the situation, or the rules. Sometimes, however, it's intentional - the player heard the fact or rule and chooses to avoid, ignore, or negate it. It could be this is how the player always played (and that's very common in D&D where one of the traditional interactions of the game is based on blocking) and doesn't know any better. Or he's just a jerk.

In any of these cases, these are out-of-game problems to be handled with an out-of-game solution called "talking directly to another human being and working something out." (This is a strange concept to some, so I put it in quotes.) All parties should be held to whatever agreement or compromise comes out of that discussion. Anyone who can't do so should be asked to leave the game, politely yet firmly. You don't get to be my player, friend, or business associate if you can't keep to your agreements. I assume the same when it comes to keeping my own 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
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

Here are some reasons I see for DMs to claim a player's stated action is "stupid." Perhaps others can add more.


  • It doesn't fit the plot or what is planned to follow.

  • It doesn't fit the DM's sense of logic or realism.

  • It circumvents some prep work the DM undertook.

  • It's something the DM doesn't know how to adjudicate.

  • It doesn't reach the threshold the DM has for "good RP."


For my part, I prefer to let the dice decide if an idea was "stupid" or not, where failure is always interesting to the players (if not the characters), and with stakes on the line everyone can accept.

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

Here are some reasons I see for DMs to claim a player's stated action is "stupid." Perhaps others can add more.


  • It doesn't fit the plot or what is planned to follow.

  • It doesn't fit the DM's sense of logic or realism.

  • It circumvents some prep work the DM undertook.

  • It's something the DM doesn't know how to adjudicate.

  • It doesn't reach the threshold the DM has for "good RP."


For my part, I prefer to let the dice decide if an idea was "stupid" or not, where failure is always interesting to the players (if not the characters), and with stakes on the line everyone can accept.




I know you likely won't see this as I am pretty sure you blocked me, but whatever.

I too like to let the dice decide, however, for the dice to decide, there must be a DC.  So when a player tries to do "something stupid", let's use the previous example of jumping across a chasm whilst carrying your horse, how do you let -only- the dice decide, without setting some type of DC.  Yes, the dice decide the outcome, but against a DC that must be set by the DM.  Again, geniunly curious here.

For my part, I prefer to let the dice decide if an idea was "stupid" or not, where failure is always interesting to the players (if not the characters), and with stakes on the line everyone can accept.



If I take nothing else from all these discussion threads (there is a lot I'm trying to figure out how I can personally use) it's this gem.

I swear that I will never again call for a roll (meaning I will just assume success) unless there is an interesting effect regardless of success or failure. I believe I am going to adopt a gradation of rolls, even, with the minor/medium DC (whichever is appropriate) as a "success with a complication/cost" and the high DC "complete, cinematic success", but even failure ("Oh, crap. I rolled a 2...") won't end ANYTHING, it will just change the game. 
So many PCs, so little time...

For my part, I prefer to let the dice decide if an idea was "stupid" or not, where failure is always interesting to the players (if not the characters), and with stakes on the line everyone can accept.



If I take nothing else from all these discussion threads (there is a lot I'm trying to figure out how I can personally use) it's this gem.

I swear that I will never again call for a roll (meaning I will just assume success) unless there is an interesting effect regardless of success or failure. I believe I am going to adopt a gradation of rolls, even, with the minor/medium DC (whichever is appropriate) as a "success with a complication/cost" and the high DC "complete, cinematic success", but even failure ("Oh, crap. I rolled a 2...") won't end ANYTHING, it will just change the game. 




I also totally agree with this.  It was something I had kinda figured out on my own, but once I read some things here it let me refine my process.  Basically, I now consider die rolls to be a measure of success, not succeed/fail thing, most of the time.  You will still suceed, but may hurt yourself, cut off the shorter route, or draw attention to yourself in some way on a failure.
I think it's important to determine why an action is "really stupid."

In some cases, it just means that the PC wants to try something that the DM isn't ready for.

In some cases, it means the PC is trying to do something despite the DMs gentle (or otherwise) attempts to discourage such behavior. "I tried to warn him" is a pretty common saying after a character dies.

In some cases, it's a player trying to establish his character's personality as reckless or particularly committed to a course of action without regard to his own safety.

Yes, it's worth taking the time to figure that out, and figuring out what it means if the action fails. Let players go in with eyes open, and with failure planned for as a group. It's fair for players to know what the stakes are, even if their characters don't.

I dislike the "I tried to warn him" response. "Tried"? Did the DM (not referring the Astromath's case here, but the general case) state the situation explicitly to the player, or put things in vauge or possibly even misleading terms? "Warn"? About what? About the kind-of-wacky-when-you-think-about-it idea that one consequence of following the rules in a non-competitive game should be that you're ejected from it? Did the player really understand the stakes, or think that the DM wouldn't follow through? The DM can't really abdicate all responsibility for a player's unhappy reaction.

I think it's rare for a player to truly die from stupidity. Most of the time it's some kind of disconnect between how the player expects something to go and how the DM expects it to go. The DM can then use his omnipotence to either play things out as he originally intended and kill the character, or change the world around the player's expectations. I often think the latter course of action is the better one, but I'd hesitate to say that I'd always go that way. There are typically a lot of other variables involved both in game and out.

I'd say that's a good assessment. Other "stupid" actions stem from players acting out and testing boundaries. Some see that as the time to slap the players down and teach them what they must and mustn't do, according to that DM. Others prefer to see it as a time to find out what the players are really after in the game.

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


For my part, I prefer to let the dice decide if an idea was "stupid" or not, where failure is always interesting to the players (if not the characters), and with stakes on the line everyone can accept.



If I take nothing else from all these discussion threads (there is a lot I'm trying to figure out how I can personally use) it's this gem.

I swear that I will never again call for a roll (meaning I will just assume success) unless there is an interesting effect regardless of success or failure. I believe I am going to adopt a gradation of rolls, even, with the minor/medium DC (whichever is appropriate) as a "success with a complication/cost" and the high DC "complete, cinematic success", but even failure ("Oh, crap. I rolled a 2...") won't end ANYTHING, it will just change the game. 




I also totally agree with this.  It was something I had kinda figured out on my own, but once I read some things here it let me refine my process.  Basically, I now consider die rolls to be a measure of success, not succeed/fail thing, most of the time.  You will still suceed, but may hurt yourself, cut off the shorter route, or draw attention to yourself in some way on a failure.



Its a pretty siesmic shift in my thinking process, I hate to say. I've played every form of D&D in the last 30 years, and I've DM'd for almost that long. I guess I was always a "standard" DM, meaning that I blocked ideas (some that, lets be honest, DESERVED blocking!) sometimes and said "no" sometimes. I am not saying that I'm a bad DM (I think I'm pretty good!), but we can all improve, right?

But I also believe that change is good, and a lot of the "yes, and.." CONCEPTS are really intriguing, and I KNOW my players would enjoy adding in some of those elements (some more than others). I won't say I NEVER did this before, because we all do to an extent, but I'm really focusing on taking the "co-player" role instead of the "guy that runs all the monsters and tries to challenge you" role.

It's a different approach, and checking out ideas from folks like Iserith, Centauri and Yagamifire let me weigh things as "Hm. I can work with that.." or "Nah, that doesn't fit my group or me at ALL".


edit: Plenty of other posters have great ideas! I was just naming the 3 that seem to comment on ALL these threads at some point! 
So many PCs, so little time...
Its a pretty siesmic shift in my thinking process, I hate to say. I've played every form of D&D in the last 30 years, and I've DM'd for almost that long. I guess I was always a "standard" DM, meaning that I blocked ideas (some that, lets be honest, DESERVED blocking!) sometimes and said "no" sometimes. I am not saying that I'm a bad DM (I think I'm pretty good!), but we can all improve, right?

Indeed.

It's a different approach, and checking out ideas from folks like Iserith, Centauri and Yagamifire let me weigh things as "Hm. I can work with that.." or "Nah, that doesn't fit my group or me at ALL".

edit: Plenty of other posters have great ideas! I was just naming the 3 that seem to comment on ALL these threads at some point!

I'm sure we're all happy to help. Thanks for the acknowledgement.

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

Its a pretty siesmic shift in my thinking process, I hate to say. I've played every form of D&D in the last 30 years, and I've DM'd for almost that long. I guess I was always a "standard" DM, meaning that I blocked ideas (some that, lets be honest, DESERVED blocking!) sometimes and said "no" sometimes. I am not saying that I'm a bad DM (I think I'm pretty good!), but we can all improve, right?

But I also believe that change is good, and a lot of the "yes, and.." CONCEPTS are really intriguing, and I KNOW my players would enjoy adding in some of those elements (some more than others). I won't say I NEVER did this before, because we all do to an extent, but I'm really focusing on taking the "co-player" role instead of the "guy that runs all the monsters and tries to challenge you" role.



I was just talking about this on Twitter. Talk to me as little as 3 years ago about some of the stuff I recommend wholeheartedly now and I would likely have rejected it. I had 20 years to refine and justify my old process and the various methods to quash this or that troublesome aspect of the game, most of which developed through trial and error with a limited group of players. Those things are hard to let go because we invest so much in making them work. When we encounter a new approach that calls into question all those processes, I'd say it's pretty natural to be skeptical. I know I lost some longtime players when I switched to the new paradigm, so it can be just as hard for players as for DMs, if they're used to a certain way.

Naturally, I don't see any of these DMs' processes as inherently wrong as long as the group buys in. That's been backed up by my own experience. It's just that now I see a simpler way of getting what everyone seems to want out of the game and I value that over what used to be a fairly prep-heavy, contentious affair that only usually led to fun. My approach now is to take the uncertainty out of having fun and put it elsewhere that enhances that fun. When I see issues in games in which I play as opposed to DM, I too feel the urge as the OP suggested to offer advice. I've since learned (or am reminded from time to time when I forget) that it's best to keep it to one's self unless specifically asked. (And sometimes even when asked!)

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

When I DM some threats will be more deadly than other for the players. So dumb creatures will fight to escape, drow would probably capture them to torture for entertainment, orcs would probably eat them etc. It depends on how smart and or cruel thecreature is. Thugs might just beat them to a pulp (loose extra surges) rob them and leave. Still better than being dead.
But then again, if they fall down that 10000 foot drop or go swimming in the plane of fire what do they expect ? 

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When I DM some threats will be more deadly than other for the players. So dumb creatures will fight to escape, drow would probably capture them to torture for entertainment, orcs would probably eat them etc. It depends on how smart and or cruel thecreature is. Thugs might just beat them to a pulp (loose extra surges) rob them and leave. Still better than being dead.

Not to everyone. If the character's dead, at least a new one can come in who isn't captured and has all its stuff.

But then again, if they fall down that 10000 foot drop or go swimming in the plane of fire what do they expect ? 

The point is that this shouldn't be a rhetorical question. If someone is actually doing or risking those things, why? Make sure that the result is something everyone can enjoy, otherwise have a different result, or part ways amicably instead of angrily.

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

But then again, if they fall down that 10000 foot drop or go swimming in the plane of fire what do they expect ? 



Fun.

Or they should in my view. Otherwise, why play? Of course it's not always as simple as that and one man's fun hapless death is another man's sitting around watching others 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?"

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

But then again, if they fall down that 10000 foot drop or go swimming in the plane of fire what do they expect ? 

Fun.

Definitely. But it can be important to determine whether they're expecting to have fun from giving the DM and the other players conniptions or from how the action plays out in the game.

I think this can help frame the conversation I hope people have when a player does something "stupid": "I want you and the other players to have fun, so I just want to understand the outcome you're expecting that will be fun for you and the other players." (Yes, yes, the DM deserves to have fun too, but there's no point in it coming at the expense of the players' fun.)

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

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