PDA

View Full Version : GM Gripe



Superglucose
2010-03-23, 07:19 PM
So one of our players is AFK for the week, and I've been asked to run her character. Which is fine, she's been playing a healbot Cleric up until this point in a party that consists of a Ranger/Wizard, Wizard, Rogue, and Sorcerer (2/4ths of those are any decent in combat, I'll let you guess which ones). Recently, I, the Wizard, have been pretty much taking on the responsibility of tank (Alter Self + Mage Armor, mostly) and since I am playing the Cleric's brother, she expressed some complaints about her brother being in the front lines in combat without wearing armor (a naive character who doesn't know much about magic).

Well, I thought, since the player has been asking me for spells to prepare, I figured this might be a chance to see what I can do to figure out how to turn her into an effective character in combat. Pretty much she's been ineffectually swatting at things and occasionally healing off damage, and the week before we almost TPKed on a Huecava with six kobold skeletons, because the Huecava had DR 15 (which we couldn't overcome) and high elemental resist (which stopped the sorcerer).

Going down into the area, I thought to myself, "What spells would a 5th level cleric with the Plant and Healing domains prepare? OOOOH! BARKSKIN?!?! Ok that's prepared... and Magic Circle against Evil since we're fighting against undead... and I need Divine Favor and Bull's Strength to overcome the DR since this cleric is literally the only character in the party capable of overcoming DR 15/silver." So with Barkskin and Magic Circle against Evil, I got the AC up to 22. Eventually the Sorc enlarged her making her AC 20... still well out of range for 1 HD kobolds, and the +10 to hit, 2d6+8 to damage was pretty solid against the skeletons (though barely touched the Huecava).

Partway through the combat I decide to switch tactics and just heal the goddamn undead. 3d8+6 >> 2d6+8, even if they get will for half, just because 2d6+8 is really 2d6-7 against the big undead. Needless to say, we end combat fairly efficiently with one party member at around half health, the Cleric down 8 out of 30 HP, and everyone else untouched (against a CR 7 and 4 1HD kobold skeletons). The undead tried to attack us from behind with another Huecava (I think?) and a few more Kobolds, but I used Web to lock them down and then Grease to keep the Huecava busy while the Sorc blasted him out of the sky. This basically took up most of our spells but also cleared out essentially the rest of the dungeon. Pats on the back were had all around, with only the rogue being immeasurably bored. Compare this to last week where we were almost TPKed.

Fast forward to today, and I find out that the GM is having a bitchfest about how I turned the healbot into a "combat monster." I can't decide if he's just upset because we actually managed to have fun and turn a combat into, well, what a combat should be (using most of our resources and coming out victorious) or if he's just got a fairly large brick stuck in the cavity where his brain is supposed to be. I used TWO offensive buffs (Bull's Strength and Divine Favor) which ended up being infinitely worse for me than just casting heal spells (hmmm... 2d6-7 or 2d8+6?) and the rest of the spells cast were either Searing Light (which turns out to be useless in Ravenloft since it allows a will save... the more you know!) or Healing spells.

He's complaining because I didn't sit back and just heal the party all game long... but what he doesn't take into account is that exactly two characters were hurt: one who was behind a Grease spell that I couldn't get the Cleric to (he decided to move behind the grease well after it was cast) and the Cleric... and I healed the Cleric when the Cleric was down a significant amount!

UGH.

sofawall
2010-03-23, 07:22 PM
Is this the same GM you were trying to flood with horses, and who you were lucky if you got a masterwork item?

Swordgleam
2010-03-23, 07:24 PM
You probably just threw him off. He prepared the encounter expecting the party to follow its usual tactics. It didn't, not because the cleric's player wised up, but because you turned your greater game experience to making the cleric better. So you (in his view) utterly obliterated his carefully-prepared encounter and derailed everything by using your min-max-y tactics on a character that wasn't even yours.

He'll most likely calm down. Especially if a couple of the other players (ie not the rogue) mention how much fun that combat was and how great the session was.

DeltaEmil
2010-03-23, 07:34 PM
Why was the GM upset that you won a difficult combat? Please don't say it's the same GM with which your group had problems the last time in Ravenloft.

Also, let me guess. The undead were too powerful to be turned, right? The spells that you mention are all low-level, and if your most powerful anti-undead spell was cure moderate wounds, then your GM has no right to get angry at all.

Superglucose
2010-03-23, 07:34 PM
I feel bad for the rogue, and am doing my best to stick up for her. The player seriously was more upset that I was using her PHB to flip through spell effects during combat (so she couldn't read it since she was so bored) than she was at fighting Undead. Fortunately we only have one more undead encounter to go, and then any other undead encounters will be met with flying objects at the GM Screen.

Also Sofa: yes, but the loot problem magically fixed itself after approximately "enough time afterwords for the GM to save face." We're looking at having +1 weapons/armor across the party now with an expected wealth of... *thinks*... looks like 3,000 in weapons/armor a person, with a considerable amount of gold and silver left over, as well as four or five suits of full plate to sell. At level 5, so it's not great, but then again we're limited to enchanting our own. Next level they'll be in +2 stuff though since we have the enchanter's squad ready.

CSW was the best anti-undead spell, but then again it's pretty much core.

Sinfire Titan
2010-03-23, 07:43 PM
Your DM has just felt a taste of the power of CoDzilla. It's natural that he would react like this, though in all fairness he wouldn't have to if he knew how to balance encounters.


FYI: I don't think the Huecava has ever been updated to be 3.5 compatible.

DeltaEmil
2010-03-23, 07:48 PM
Who else than a cleric could ever be effective against undead? Especially if everybody is playing around level 5.

Did the GM at least give the rogue some kind of extra feat to make the sneak attacks work, or was he just being assinine again.

valadil
2010-03-23, 07:53 PM
When another PC takes over a character, three things can happen. The PC can play the character canonically, trying not to deviate from how its owner would act. The PC can play the character their own way, for good or ill. Or the PC can make that suffer through the entire session, as the absent character gives out all his gold to the other PCs and offers to carry all their gear and test out all trapped doors. My groups usually hint at #3 but never actually go through with it. Super, if your GM wanted you to play one way (as close to the original player as possible), your GM should have told you that when you took over the character. Period, end of discussion.

Sinfire Titan
2010-03-23, 07:56 PM
When another PC takes over a character, three things can happen. The PC can play the character canonically, trying not to deviate from how its owner would act. The PC can play the character their own way, for good or ill. Or the PC can make that suffer through the entire session, as the absent character gives out all his gold to the other PCs and offers to carry all their gear and test out all trapped doors. My groups usually hint at #3 but never actually go through with it. Super, if your GM wanted you to play one way (as close to the original player as possible), your GM should have told you that when you took over the character. Period, end of discussion.

The thing is, the OP still played a Healbot. He just wasn't healing his allies.

:smallamused:

Kallisti
2010-03-23, 08:09 PM
You're pulling off effective combat tactics with a character who hasn't done this kind of thing before. He's surprised. That happens to people sometimes.

That said, if 2d8+6, Will half, in a major combat where you're all willing to burn significant numbers of spells/other limited powers is enough to surprise him, you're not high enough level to be fighting Huecuvas or you're the only one in the group with any optimization skill. This is really basic stuff here. The idea that your tank is a person with Alter Self is a bad sign--that is a much-abused spell--but a cleric using heals to hit the undead for roughly decent-weapon level damage is par for the course in a medium-low optimization party. He's got nothing to complain about.

So if he was just surprised he'll get over it, so stop being so harsh on him. If this surprised him because nobody else can optimize and he's never played with optimized characters, talk to the group, point out that there's a significant optimization gap, help them all optimize, and politely ask him to monitor the encounter balance carefully while you make the transition.

If other people optimize too, this kind of combat performance is nothing special for your party, and he's still bitching just because it was the cleric and clerics must be healbots, then you have a genuine reason to gripe.

...So yeah. [/2]

Starbuck_II
2010-03-23, 08:15 PM
Really, I'm surprised that the DMs encounters are near TPK with the player's usual tactics. What did the Cleric do before?
Pepare curing spells as a good cleric?

Superglucose
2010-03-23, 08:31 PM
Oh dear god. There's no talking to this guy. So apparently the LJ and the email sent out the day after basically saying "SG ****ed up playing Emma" and "we need to talk about how other people play other PCs" within an hour of each other is no reason to get defensive, and he wasn't going to single me out?

Kallisti
2010-03-23, 08:34 PM
Oh dear god. There's no talking to this guy. So apparently the LJ and the email sent out the day after basically saying "SG ****ed up playing Emma" and "we need to talk about how other people play other PCs" within an hour of each other is no reason to get defensive, and he wasn't going to single me out?

This...this is a bad sign.

I think maybe your group needs to have a little talk about game balance and maintaining the same levels of optimization. And about encounter balance. And maybe about the concept of a "healbot" and how the healbot really, really should be an NPC or cohort unless you have a player who actually enjoys being the healbot.

DeltaEmil
2010-03-23, 08:41 PM
Throw this GM out. Or make somebody else GM. Or leave the group. Nothing good can come out of playing with somebody like that. Unless you're a masochist, being one moment longer with this type of GM only makes the situation much worse. He'll always have to gripe about you. Either you can change this once and for all, or you're deserving what you get next time when you and the GM clash again about something stupid like his undead NPC tpk-ing you all and turning your characters into brainless zombies for story-purpose or something assinine like that.

Sinfire Titan
2010-03-23, 08:59 PM
Oh dear god. There's no talking to this guy. So apparently the LJ and the email sent out the day after basically saying "SG ****ed up playing Emma" and "we need to talk about how other people play other PCs" within an hour of each other is no reason to get defensive, and he wasn't going to single me out?

The problem is the DM then. IIRC, he isn't willing to read the forums, right? Then point the other players to us. Tell them "Hey guys, you know why I do so well during these combats? I read the forums at GiantITP/BG. I'd like you guys to read them too, so we don't have to struggle as much with these encounters. Please check it out."

Grommen
2010-03-23, 09:43 PM
Ya know. I was going to go with the DM just didn't expect things like that. He is used to a totally weak party (I mean look if your wizzie is tanking things you have a problem one way or the other), then out of no where the Cleric grows a pair and starts whooping butt. That would toss me off my game too if I were running the game and I've DM'ed for 20 years. High powered or low powered it does not matter. When the party changes tactics it is hard to balance. Natural responce is to complain about it. DM's are people too after all.

However if he is tossing out e-mails about how you have to discuss about how someone runs another character for a stinknen week.. That's just a little silly. I would say more but this is a public forum. Your DM just needs to learn to take his lumps, come right back with a TPK of his own and move on. DM's loose just about every fight they enter into anyway. Otherwise we would not have a story and people would get sick of rolling up new toons.

Good luck with my friend. Sounds like dark times ahead.

Superglucose
2010-03-23, 10:49 PM
Good luck with my friend. Sounds like dark times ahead.
Ironically, probably not. This is just a GM hissy fit, and so far all I've said off here is that a) telling me I did it wrong is a bit premature, b) saying "combat monster" and "gogo selfbuff combat cleric" carries the connotation of disapproval when one is talking about how you need to make sure I never do that again, and c) future reference, if you don't like how I'm doing it go ahead and say, "I don't think that character would do that" rather than letting me do it and then publicly airing me out to dry later on.

In addition, I sent an email to the Cleric user, and said basically, "I found some spells you should prepare more often... Shield of Faith, Barkskin (plant domain, she has it), and Magic Circle against Evil if you anticipate us going against evil creatures. I used Divine Favor and Bull's Strength to get you up to +10 to hit and 1d8+8 damage, and I know you've been frustrated at not being able to hit things. Next session we're going to fight a ghost and probably your best bet is probably to use healing spells for damage since Searing Light, which is normally an excellent spell, allows a will save in Ravenloft." I did this well before any of the GM whining happened, and honestly would have ignored his livejournal post as just GM whinging except for the email to the whole group. The Cleric's player has been asking me for help for a while, and honestly I was really excited when the GM said, "SG, play her character for her" because it meant I got a chance to see what I had to work with.

On a semi-related note, this still bugs the crap out of me:

"Incorporeal creatures hiding inside solid objects get a +2 circumstance bonus on Listen checks, because solid objects carry sound well. Pinpointing an opponent from inside a solid object uses the same rules as pinpointing invisible opponents (see Invisibility, below)."
GRAH! You should be deaf if incorporeal!

On a very related note, how would a party of level 5s go about killing a ghost which drains 2 levels, no save whenever it hits?

Knaight
2010-03-23, 11:24 PM
Stay away from the ghost. Long distance is your friend.

Superglucose
2010-03-23, 11:27 PM
I think I've found the answer.

Blink.

(the main problem we were having is how to hit it)

AslanCross
2010-03-23, 11:33 PM
Wow. I had the exact opposite of your DM's problem. I was frustrated in my first campaign when the cleric was healbotting and did my best to get her to fight.

It took being pulled underground by burrowing monsters to do that. :D

DeltaEmil
2010-03-24, 07:12 AM
On a very related note, how would a party of level 5s go about killing a ghost which drains 2 levels, no save whenever it hits?By having the players tell the GM to stop bringing such crap in the first place and start growing a brain or something. Really, why the heck do you and your group still put up with such shenanigans from that third-edition-hating, near-party-wipe-encounter-bringing guy who gets mad at you for something stupid? Also, he seems to be incapable of being nice to the rogue, if he brings such undead-heavy encounters.

potatocubed
2010-03-24, 07:26 AM
You could always suicide against the ghost, let everyone die, then start a new game with a different GM.

I mean, I support house rules in games and non-standard monsters that might be more powerful than what the party is used to, but I suspect that your GM is not deploying these things with due care and attention.

Togo
2010-03-24, 08:41 AM
The problem is probably less bad than he thinks.

The problem is that you were winning. If you turn your healbot into a combat character, that's fine, but then noone is healing. As it is you took almost no damage, which means the cleric didn't need to change back to her primary role.

Doing this means that the party, when it's winning, does extremely well and kills the monsters quickly. When it's losing, it doesn't get the same boost, because the cleric has to go back to keeping the PCs in the fight.

I think the bottom line here is that the GM prepped for Emma, and you weren't Emma. People had fun, which suggests that, rarely for your group, they're not used to coming out clearly ahead of the opposition. Given that this is a Ravenloft game, the GM may feel that the PCs shouldn't be coming out clearly ahead of the opposition, and while the other players are happy about one easy victory, they may end up agreeing with the GM in the long run.

While Emma may be wanting to do some optimisation, the GM and the other players may be less happy about it. A more prominent role for Emma may mean showing up some of the other PCs. A cleric doing less healing and more fighting may mean other characters actually have to take care of themselves, and drop out of the fight if they get badly hurt. They may not like that. Playing a healbot is very dull, but it's a great help to the other characters. If you're serious about helping Emma, make sure you help her ease into her new role because the other players may not welcome it. They'll have to change how they conduct themselves, and the GM will certainly have to retool the encounters.

So that's where the GM may be coming from. That said, my sympathy is firmly with you and Emma. A cleric is supposed to kick undead ass. That's what they are intended to do, in the core rules. It's like blaming a rogue for doing really well against a single guard who didn't see her coming. Just make sure you realise that Emma needs to change her play style gradually, not suddenly, and that the rest of the players may genuinely not want to optimise their characters, or get left behind if others do.

BenTheJester
2010-03-24, 08:51 AM
The rogue feeling useless was probably not because of you, but because of the DM giving him nothing but undead to fight.

Randalor
2010-03-24, 09:11 AM
I think your group should sit down and talk this over. Not because you're "doing it wrong" as the GM seems to be putting it, but because... well... the GM seems to be forgetting that D&D is a group game.

As for the rogue, has she actually had anything to do *IE: using her skills* or has it been more combat-orientated? I know from firsthand experience that playing a rogue against undead can get boring fast because you just stop caring about positioning yourself for sneak attack opportunities, and in my case, tended to degrade into "What? It's my turn? Fine, I guess move away from the enemies and shoot the nearest enemy with my crossbow. No, I don't care if he's fighting my ally. Can I go back to my book now?" or "I begin looting the bodies. No, I don't care if I'll take an AoO at this point because half the enemies are still alive."

Everyman
2010-03-24, 09:24 AM
To be fair, its a rogue in a Ravenloft campaign. It sounds like the group is high enough level where either the player should have been given the opportunity to grab an item that'll allow her to sneak attack the undead. If not, she might want to ask.

As far as the DM, it sounds like he's taking his role a tad too seriously. Yes, you used tactics that the player would not have done (and thus, broke character in the role-playing sense). However, you didn't do anything that was illegal or "mixmax-y". If memory serves, he tends to pull this stunt on you often.

If its still getting on your nerves, have you considered giving him a break and being a DM for a bit? I've found that I can become a bit grouchy when I have to DM all the time. At the very least, maybe give him a week off and play a game of Munchkin or something. Nothing like a fun group activity to help bring the DM and PCs together.

InkEyes
2010-03-24, 09:47 AM
FYI: I don't think the Huecava has ever been updated to be 3.5 compatible.

I don't think it was ever officially reprinted but the Fiend Folio is one of the books Wizards put a free 3.5 updater (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/dnd/20030718a) for online. Not that a DM that's unwilling to read internet forums is likely to even know about that.


To the OP: Your DM is a jerk for throwing a rogue into Ravenloft without allowing them some way to get Sneak Attack in, and for assuming you'd play identical to another player.

jiriku
2010-03-24, 11:42 AM
SG, I am voting for the cranial brick explanation as the source of all this.

Still, this is a great opportunity to practice your people-management skills. It seems to me that the biggest problem y'all are having is that different people have different expectations, and some people (the DM for example) aren't aware of that fact.

You all could benefit by sitting down together and sharing expectations. It can be helpful to actually say out loud:

"I like my characters to be clever and effective. Even if they're overmatched by the powers of Ravenloft, I have fun when my characters can be good at what they do and/or use their powers in innovative and surprising ways."
Likewise, the DM can say (if he's got the cojones to admit it):

"I think the player of a cleric ought to confine himself to healing and buffing others. Clerics should refrain from using their spells to make themselves effective in combat, even if the rules technically make it possible."
When clashing expectations are uncovered, you have the opportunity to hash out a compromise. It's also possible that when he says things like this out loud, the DM may realize that they sound domineering and unreasonable. But I wouldn't count on it.

Now, it may seem that this ignores a fundamental problem, which is that your DM is a douchebag, but since you aren't planning to quit the group or rotate DMs, you pretty much have to accept that he is who he is, and that DM douchebaggery is part of the total package.

Sinfire Titan
2010-03-24, 11:48 AM
I don't think it was ever officially reprinted but the Fiend Folio is one of the books Wizards put a free 3.5 updater (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/dnd/20030718a) for online. Not that a DM that's unwilling to read internet forums is likely to even know about that.

It was updated to have DR 10/Silver. That's it.

Superglucose
2010-03-24, 12:23 PM
It was updated to have DR 10/Silver. That's it.
15 from what I saw. Which is why it was thoroughly confusing that he was talking about the cleric being a melee monster... the cleric was USELESS in melee. One-shotting CR 1/3 skeletons (at CL 5... why is this surprising to him?) and dealing 2d6-7 (yes, minus) to the huecava. My average damage per hit was 0.

RAAAARGH unbalanced.