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  • Horrible Dungeon Masters

    How many people here play Dungeons and Dragons? Or used to?

    If you've ever been a part of the experience, sooner or later, you're going to come across Dungeon Masters who can be douchebags when they are hosting a campaign.

    Last year I was part of a group whose DM had control issues. He insisted that people create characters based on how he liked them, and if he didn't like the way you fleshed yours out, he would find a way to kill them off, requiring you to create a new character in the process.

    In the span of a year I had lost 2 Rogue Halfling characters in two different campaigns, not due to any carelessness or toxic behavior on my part, but because he found the character annoying. The DM decided to kill the first character off, since he was loosely based on Mort from Family Guy (Saul Rosenberg if you remember the Jerky Boys), and was primarily a comic relief character. The second Rogue was loosely based off Tommy Chong, and would make casual stoner jokes and 70's metal references. All the players enjoyed how I portrayed them, so I know that the issue was with the DM (obviously). He came up with a story how my second Rogue was captured and sold off to slavers, despite having great sneaking abilities. He even did this on a session which I couldn't make, due to a conflicting work schedule.

    He then insisted that I create a character altogether different from a Rogue class, and reluctantly agreed to a samurai character. I played him straight forward without any real personality. It was the worst. I started to attend less, and even missed two sessions back to back because the gaming felt more forced instead of natural.Other players lost interest as well, and a short time later, he asked me to leave the group. By the end of last year, all of the original group members had been replaced, not because of infighting or other issues, but because the DM was a royal dick.

    Now I'm taking a break. I prefer playing Elder Scrolls Online to get my D&D fix. Anyone who's played ESO knows that Bethesda has heavily "borrowed" (*coughcoughrRIPPEDOFFcoughcough*) many elements for their game play. I'm not complaining, but acknowledge that they didn't really try to so hard to reinvent the wheel, and that's fine. At least this way, I can keep my Nightblade Wood Elf without fear of unlawful termination. Anyone who's invested lots of time in their character know how much it sucks when they die, and to go through 3 characters in a year's time is unheard of. None of my characters made it beyond level 2, which is morale crushing in itself. I've known people who've had their characters for years, developing and honing their skills. Most people would freak if something similar happened to them.

    Everyone is familiar with annoying players, but horrible Dungeon Masters are also a thing, too.
    Last edited by D20Greg; 05-05-2019, 07:43 AM. Reason: Proof reading

  • #2
    Point and laugh. Only viable option.

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    • #3
      I don't usually play D&D, but it's natural that some people when given even a symbolic amount of power start acting like jackasses.
      If I was in Survivor, I wouldn't throw Aidy off a cliff to win immunity. I would just throw him off a cliff.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by D20Greg View Post
        [...]

        Last year I was part of a group whose DM had control issues. He insisted that people create characters based on how he liked them, and if he didn't like the way you fleshed yours out, he would find a way to kill them off, requiring you to create a new character in the process.

        [...]
        There is a very fitting line in the core rulebook for Shadowrun 4 that pertains to this situation: A gamemaster that unnecessarily kills off player characters finds himself running out of players very quickly.
        Essentially players will be fed up with the GM or DM in question and stop playing in their campaigns - meaning such situations sort themselves most of the time.

        Never be afraid of telling a GM to their face that you are not enjoying the group - and also never ber afraid of just leaving such a group. Roleplaying is supposed to be fun.
        Heck, even if that GM happens to be the only one around for miles, it could also be an encouragement to you for stepping up and running a campaign of your own with some friends.

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        • #5
          Been recruited to be a game master for a Vampire The Masquerade game. Which is funny because never done it before (nor even done classic version as a player), though I did forewarn them that I would make them regret it XD But yeah, as far as their character creation is concerned, most I've done is sign off on whether or not they have any thought put into it, rather than just "this is my character".. there's only one that I've had to help with, but he said he's crap at making characters, everyone else it was pretty much I just read it and was "okay" still have to wait on one more person to finish theirs. Still dunno if it'll ever actually happen since outside of the one, seems like everyone forgot about it. Can't complain, I didn't exactly have a say in the matter when they first brought it up, was a flood of messages I came back to in group chat on Discord with them wanting me to be game master *shrug*

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          • #6
            I think it was more of a thing years ago, when there was less things for people to get on with (no internet, PCs etc) if they had issues with their DM.
            Nowadays, if a DM is being a jerk, people get flaky turning up REALLY quickly. They'll find other things to amuse themselves with such as Console, PC games etc etc or just stay home and watch Netflix, Youtube.

            If you are is a situation with a DM who is a jerk and you don't have a lot of options. Well, I suppose you can offer to DM for a while to the other players.
            But yeah, I remember those days when a DM used it as some sort of powertrip.

            I remember as a teen many years ago, I used to help run a gaming club.
            If there were conflicts over this sort of thing, it often resulted in shouting/arguing, bang fists on tables etc lol. It was kinda stupid, but funny thinking back. haha!

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            • #7
              Never had a problem with a DM. Other Players on the other hand, i've had problems with.
              Last edited by Pliskin Zanzibar; 05-06-2019, 03:15 PM. Reason: Slipped before i could finish my sentence.

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              • #8
                After the second character was killed off I would have announced that my first character made a heroic escape from slavery and because of this he has returned to the game. If he didn’t like that I would have told him he could go eat a bag of baby dicks because I don’t care if he liked the character or not.

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                • #9
                  I would not be in that game long.

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                  • #10
                    My only issue with a DM has been when he clearly favors one player to my detriment. Let's ignore the Paladin right in front of the Dragon, because the Ranger with Shadowsong is right there and I can one shot em, again. In hindsight they did so many things to exclude me, that I don't regret ghosting the group after we were done with SKT.

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                    • Ranek Eisenkralle
                      Ranek Eisenkralle commented
                      Editing a comment
                      That sounds like the GM in question is under the incorrect impression that he is "supposed" to play against the players. A GM is, however, supposed to proide the players with challenges to overcome in order to create an interesting and immersive story WITH them.

                  • #11
                    I'm going to chalk this one up to inexperienced DM, rather than horrible DM... Just a strong desire, almost delight in killing PCs. Now this was D&D Adventurer's League Season 7, that whole Tomb of Annihilation thing with no resurrection and surrogates and all that jazz. But still, most PCs eventually do something really, really stupid, and most DMs at that point give them some sort of out or hint that it's a really, really bad idea and maybe they should rethink it. None of that here. Just BAM you're dead, roll a new char.

                    Also, everything rolled behind a DM's screen, which to me typically means the DM is going to fudge some rolls here and there, sometimes in the PCs' favor and sometimes not. Again, none of that here. Oh, I rolled 20 and almost max on each damage die, that's more than your max hp? I guess you're insta dead. Come on! Fudge that sh*t a little bit. The DM actually tore a PC's char sheet in half (again, season 7, so no resurrection and the PC chose not to take a surrogate).

                    Eventually that whole group stop playing. It kind of seemed like people didn't have the time anymore, but given how long we'd been going, I wonder if it was that they just didn't want to play with that DM anymore.

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                    • Ranek Eisenkralle
                      Ranek Eisenkralle commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Mhm.. that does sound like a proto-GM indeed. Still halfway in the player-stage and not aware of the powers he has as GM (fudging rolls being among them). And yes, I think you are right that players just were done with him - which is regrettable in itself as they may have lost interest in the hobby entirely.

                  • #12
                    I did bad things to a player when I started DM'ing. He made a character that was a brass dragon in a city that had recently been ravaged by a red dragon. I thought it would be reasonable to assume that the city would not welcome him so I introduced him as their prisoner. Later, I had bandits try to capture the same character, but I had little experience with traps, so the sudden capture was hamfisted. I found myself backpeddling and improvising a strength check to see if he broke free of the trap. He escaped, the bandits ran and met a fiery doom. I was using the Tal'Dorei campaign setting, developed by Matt Mercer. I set the campaign after the events of Vox Machina, which involved a gang of dragons f'ing up Emon, which is the city I began the campaign in. The party still maintains that the leadership in Emon is a bunch of racist pricks. Whoops.

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                    • Ranek Eisenkralle
                      Ranek Eisenkralle commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Well, I suppose you at least learned from it, haven't you? Nobody is perfect - and to me it doesn't seem like you were going after the player - you seem to just have gone with what you believed to be accurate within the setting, which sounds reasonable enough to me.

                    • epicTreeStick
                      epicTreeStick commented
                      Editing a comment
                      @ranek Yep, I learned that if I need to set up a scenario certain way, I can give my players an illusion of choice i.e. make the DC really freaking high for a trap. Thanks for the support!

                    • Ranek Eisenkralle
                      Ranek Eisenkralle commented
                      Editing a comment
                      You are very welcome. Good GMs always try to improve - and external feedback sure does help.

                  • #13
                    There are some excellent GMs out there, but of course there are also some assholes.

                    We had one GM who wanted to beat us so badly that in our big conflict with the villain, he cheated relentlessly - giving his enemies more movement and actions than the players in ways designed to thwart the plans he'd heard them make. We got so sick of him constantly cheating to one-up us that we started making joke characters designed to keep ourselves entertained where the GM no longer could. The same GM would humiliate characters just to keep the player egos in check.

                    Had other GMs who cared so little for description or characterization that going through a dungeon was just a string of connected combat encounters, with barely time or reason to roleplay. GMs who so clearly favored their girlfriends over everyone else that it unbalanced the group and you knew their characters were immortal. Sometimes those GMs get better, sometimes they don't.

                    When I GM, I don't have to deal with any of those problems - just another reason why I do it.

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                    • Ranek Eisenkralle
                      Ranek Eisenkralle commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Ouch.. those do sound like horrible experiences indeed. I'm glad you haven't lost interest in the hobby over that - and have become a GM yourself instead. Thumbs up for that.

                  • #14
                    Before I started co-DMing myself, I was in this online campaign that we played on Discord. Now, our party had just hit lvl3, which meant subclasses) We had a me - a rogue, a monk, two sorcerers - draconic bloodline and divine soul, and a bard. Now, I asked the DM through DMs (i know, right) if he minded supplementary books. He said that as long as it's not homebrewed, I'm good to go, so I made my rogue a Swashbuckler. I told the DM that I would do that, which is important. Now, I assume that the DM didn't study Xanathar's subclasses thoughroughly enough. The next arc that he had planned for us took us to a majority dwarf city, and we just so happened to waltz in during a big tournament. We naturally signed right up, and by we I mean me and the monk, cause arcane-based casters were not allowed to enter. So, the tournament begins, me and the monk fist bump each before he goes into the arena. Weapons were allowed in fights, which lasted until someone went unconsious. His opponent was a half-orc berserker barbarian, so he had a tough time, but managed to pull it off. Next the DM describes the duel between a spear-wielding fighter and a dual-axe paladin, with the paladin coming out on top. Next was my turn, so I waltz in and greet my opponent - a heavily-armored greatsword-wielding battle-master fighter. We roll initiative, and I obviously attack first. I go up to him, give him a poke with my rapier and miss, take a swing with my offhand dagger and hit. You can probably see where this is going - the DM announces that I hit, so I roll damage - 13 hit points. The DM says "Hold on, that's a dagger, how did you deal 13 hit points of damage?", so I, slightly worried, send him the Swashbuckler skill list, and point to an alternative way to activate sneak attack. He begrudgingly accepts and carries on. I say "I move away 10 feet", DM "Ok, he gets an attack of opportunity though.", me, more worried "uhh...no...", I then proceed to point him to the other lvl3 skill a swashbuckler gets, which allows you to leave melee with a creature you have hit without triggering an attack of opportunity. He gets slightly pissed, realizing that he basically unintentionally created a perfect scenario for my character - open arena, 1on1 duel, so I can sneack attack on every hit and move away untouched without using disengage. This particular fight goes back and forth quite a bit, but I eventually down the fighter by landing a hefty crit-sneak with my rapier. The tournament was not meant to carry on, however - there was an intrusion in the palace, so it was shut down. The session continued, and in a standard party fight my alt-sneak didn't come up more than once or twice. After the game, howver, the DM messaged me saying that I need to switchh my archetype and that Swashbuckler is too OP to use. I refused, cause earlier he gave me permission. So, from that session forward he did everything in his power to get my character surrounded, just so I could never trigger the alternate sneak attack. Because of that, however, he paid little attention to other players and even sometimes forgot that I can still do standard sneak attack, so he would foten go "...no, you can't perform sneak... oh, right...". IMO, you need to know what you're allowing your players to do as a GM.
                    Last edited by albino_tiefling; 05-15-2019, 09:19 PM.

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                    • #15
                      Hmmm, the horror stories are many from many sources. High school we had Gregory who was definitively in the 'evil is cool' and made the villains the center of the stories rather than the players. I tended to play a cleric during this time and he always decided everywhere we traveled was so converted to THE EVIL that the weak GODS couldn't bestow clerical spells so I usually spent most of my time a weaker fighter. Even pointing out in 1st edition that 1st-3rd level spells did not technically need a deity's direct attention. So we generally existed in a world where our characters were constantly pursued by vampire lords, death knights, Githyanki, evil 14th level magic users... Keeping in mind we were generally around 3rd to 5th level characters always outclassed by his various evil menagerie. Finally became that moment where it was just jointly decided that we stand and fight and just let him kill our characters, get it over with and someone else can DM a more sane campaign. Just remove him from the driver's seat by letting him get a TPK so we can start over.
                      At this point the game changed. Suddenly the villains would cackle and escape after almost killing us but they were running from us. It was that realization that it was just an endless cycle of character torture for him but he wasn't going to have the characters die except one at a time assuming the player would make a new character and the cycle could continue.
                      I had to do the 'hard thing' that is just talk with him honestly. Told him no one liked his Super Friends of Satan campaign and he was running it to fulfill his personal satanic power trip. We ousted him and had a friend take over in a new campaign. Now Gregory went through a cycle of trying to usurp the game and dominate it with evil characters but it never quite worked out as he was constrained by limitations of being a simple player character. For all that he did grow out of that phase and ran a few decent campaigns but during that time, just ouch.

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