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View Full Version : What Would You Call This Roleplaying "Problem" and How Would You Deal With It?



wayfare
2011-06-30, 08:49 PM
A friend of mine occasionally runs into a problem with a few of his players (myself included). What it amounts to is the taking of fluff and using it for mechanical benefit.

Here are a few examples:

1) Players are in a mine with a Cart and Tracks leading to the BBEG. Instead of charging in, the players fill the cart with flammable material and explosive flasks and set it rolling towards the BBEG. GM gets frustrated, says that he had not envisioned that outcome.

2) Player 1 is playing a Bardish warrior who goes around singing songs, even in battle. Player 1 decides to sing about the gruesome death his is about to deliver to Hulking NPC 1. Player 1 Kills Hulking NPC and asks to make an Intimidate check against enemies to demoralize them. GM gets frustrated, says there are no mechanics for it.

3) Player 2 is playing a half-dragon evoker in a very high powered game. Player 2 is true neutral, but notices a band of innocents are going to die and saves them as the rest of the party more or less ignores the innocents. Player 2 saves the innocents, but gets called out for not acting within his alignment (argument being, why would he care -- he's a true neutral dragon). Player 2 later fluffs the rescue as an acquisition -- the people he saved are now part of his draconic horde, thus giving him a reason to save them.
GM gets frustrated, saying that it is a weak reason to act out of character

4) Player 3 gets in on a D&D game, asking to play an Expert/Horizon Walker who focuses on botany and arcana. GM says no, as he fears that Player 3 will create some kind of uber-build with the PrC. Player 3 instead plays an unoptimized melee combat Druid (we're talking feats spent on TWF and Weapon Focus: Scimitar, here), who proceeds to become the most powerful character in the party. GM gets frustrated, accuses Player 3 or min-maxing.

It it the players or the GM acting up here?

Foeofthelance
2011-06-30, 09:02 PM
This definitely sounds like the DM's problem. Yes, D&D is a game, and yes, it has rules, but first and foremost its an exercise in imagination. When a situation comes up that isn't covered by the rules, it's the DM's job to decide what happens next. As a DM, this is how I would handle the situation.

1) High or low roll on the dice. If the players win, the cart hits and deals Xd6 fire damage, minus resistances of course. If the players lose, the cart explodes early and the players now have a flaming obstacle to deal with.

2) That's what intimidation is for. If it was a particularly high damage kill, or he scored a critical hit, I'd give +2 to the roll.

3) This is just pure roleplaying, and doesn't even require a ruling. The player justified it, and now there's something new to work into the story.

4) I thought playing a Druid automatically counted as min-maxing? :smalltongue: More seriously, this sounds more like the party itself was just under optimized. It's the GM's job to design and run balanced encounters, which take these things into consideration. If the druid is just that much more effective at combat, then there's going to be a lot of big, nasty brutes headed his way in combat while the squishier bad guys deal with the squishier good guys.

Knaight
2011-06-30, 09:05 PM
1) Players are in a mine with a Cart and Tracks leading to the BBEG. Instead of charging in, the players fill the cart with flammable material and explosive flasks and set it rolling towards the BBEG. GM gets frustrated, says that he had not envisioned that outcome.
See the italicized words there? That is a huge, huge warning sign, the GM needs to be able to improvise somewhat better than he is doing now. This is a GM problem.


2) Player 1 is playing a Bardish warrior who goes around singing songs, even in battle. Player 1 decides to sing about the gruesome death his is about to deliver to Hulking NPC 1. Player 1 Kills Hulking NPC and asks to make an Intimidate check against enemies to demoralize them. GM gets frustrated, says there are no mechanics for it.
I'd treat this as a normal intimidate check, and give it a small bonus. The GM needs to learn to make rulings where he doesn't know the mechanics.


3) Player 2 is playing a half-dragon evoker in a very high powered game. Player 2 is true neutral, but notices a band of innocents are going to die and saves them as the rest of the party more or less ignores the innocents. Player 2 saves the innocents, but gets called out for not acting within his alignment (argument being, why would he care -- he's a true neutral dragon). Player 2 later fluffs the rescue as an acquisition -- the people he saved are now part of his draconic horde, thus giving him a reason to save them.
GM gets frustrated, saying that it is a weak reason to act out of character
The GM is character lawyering another person's character for no good reason, and demanding that characters act "within their alignment" at all times. Characters are more than their alignment, and that the GM can't see that is another major warning sign.


4) Player 3 gets in on a D&D game, asking to play an Expert/Horizon Walker who focuses on botany and arcana. GM says no, as he fears that Player 3 will create some kind of uber-build with the PrC. Player 3 instead plays an unoptimized melee combat Druid (we're talking feats spent on TWF and Weapon Focus: Scimitar, here), who proceeds to become the most powerful character in the party. GM gets frustrated, accuses Player 3 or min-maxing.

It it the players or the GM acting up here?

Overall, this is a problem GM. Moreover, all of this reeks of railroading, and of control freak tendencies. Point this out in a tactful and nice manner, and let the GM get better, if they refuse to do so, find a better game.

SleepyShadow
2011-06-30, 09:08 PM
1) Players are in a mine with a Cart and Tracks leading to the BBEG. Instead of charging in, the players fill the cart with flammable material and explosive flasks and set it rolling towards the BBEG. GM gets frustrated, says that he had not envisioned that outcome.

That is player ingenuity at its finest. This is stuff that the GM has to be prepared for. In this case, he is overreacting because what the players did was not in line for what he wanted to have happen.


2) Player 1 is playing a Bardish warrior who goes around singing songs, even in battle. Player 1 decides to sing about the gruesome death his is about to deliver to Hulking NPC 1. Player 1 Kills Hulking NPC and asks to make an Intimidate check against enemies to demoralize them. GM gets frustrated, says there are no mechanics for it.

The GM is wrong. It states explicitly that Intimidate can be used to demoralize an opponent. (http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/SRD:Intimidate_Skill) He needs to learn the rules before saying something like that.


3) Player 2 is playing a half-dragon evoker in a very high powered game. Player 2 is true neutral, but notices a band of innocents are going to die and saves them as the rest of the party more or less ignores the innocents. Player 2 saves the innocents, but gets called out for not acting within his alignment (argument being, why would he care -- he's a true neutral dragon). Player 2 later fluffs the rescue as an acquisition -- the people he saved are now part of his draconic horde, thus giving him a reason to save them.
GM gets frustrated, saying that it is a weak reason to act out of character

Again, there is no reason to be frustrated here. Neutral characters can do what they want to do. Save the villagers? Sure. Demand a reward from them afterward? Absolutely. Once again, the GM is overreacting.


4) Player 3 gets in on a D&D game, asking to play an Expert/Horizon Walker who focuses on botany and arcana. GM says no, as he fears that Player 3 will create some kind of uber-build with the PrC. Player 3 instead plays an unoptimized melee combat Druid (we're talking feats spent on TWF and Weapon Focus: Scimitar, here), who proceeds to become the most powerful character in the party. GM gets frustrated, accuses Player 3 or min-maxing.

He allows half-dragon Blaster Casters and TWF Druids, but thinks that an Expert (an NPC class, mind you) is overpowered and will lead to min-maxing? What Player 3 is doing is about as far from min-maxing as possible ... until he decided to play a Druid :smallwink:


It it the players or the GM acting up here?
The GM is at fault (at least in these scenarios) 100% of the time.

hivedragon
2011-06-30, 09:12 PM
In each case the DM who's the problem IMO
explosives are tricky. killing a bbeg with a cart of explosives is like killing a fly with a shotgun. how big is the bbeg? are they trying to blow up a fort? if they are usinmg nitro glycerine it would be hard to get materials. if they are using black power they would need a plunger at the right distance.

I'd say a DC 15 would be enough to demporalize them.

rescuing people so they serve you sounds evil to me. saving people because you'd expect the same from everyone else is nutral.

don't hate the playa hate the game.

erikun
2011-06-30, 09:18 PM
1) Players are in a mine with a Cart and Tracks leading to the BBEG. Instead of charging in, the players fill the cart with flammable material and explosive flasks and set it rolling towards the BBEG. GM gets frustrated, says that he had not envisioned that outcome.
As a bit of personal advice, I would recommend the DM invision the location and try to build the mechanics around that, rather than trying to build a mechanical dungeon and invision the fluff around it. It will help far more for situations like this - if there is a cart rail leading right up to the BBEG's room, then the DM can anticipate it becoming relevant for either the PCs or the NPCs.

Also, don't get upset at interesting solutions. Try to use them to your benefit, to make things more interesting.


3) Player 2 is playing a half-dragon evoker in a very high powered game. Player 2 is true neutral, but notices a band of innocents are going to die and saves them as the rest of the party more or less ignores the innocents. Player 2 saves the innocents, but gets called out for not acting within his alignment (argument being, why would he care -- he's a true neutral dragon). Player 2 later fluffs the rescue as an acquisition -- the people he saved are now part of his draconic horde, thus giving him a reason to save them.
GM gets frustrated, saying that it is a weak reason to act out of character
Alignment is a roleplaying guide. If the DM is going to complain about players acting "out of alignment", then I would suggest he remove the alignment sections from all character sheets.


4) Player 3 gets in on a D&D game, asking to play an Expert/Horizon Walker who focuses on botany and arcana. GM says no, as he fears that Player 3 will create some kind of uber-build with the PrC. Player 3 instead plays an unoptimized melee combat Druid (we're talking feats spent on TWF and Weapon Focus: Scimitar, here), who proceeds to become the most powerful character in the party. GM gets frustrated, accuses Player 3 or min-maxing.
I would recommend that the DM asks outright what the player has planned for the character. Honest players will tell the DM if they have a specific combo planned. Dishonest players can be kicked or kept an eye on in the future.

Also, do not automatically assume that a specific player is minmaxing because they asked a question. I can make a wizard with dozens of custom spells that is just somewhat efficient at blasting. I can also make a 100% core Monk/Cleric that would destroy campaigns.

If you aren't familiar with what is overpowered and what isn't, I'd suggest research or asking others who do know. Knee-jerk reactions get you, well, Druids who are the most powerful character in the party. :smalltongue:

wayfare
2011-06-30, 09:26 PM
He is generally a good GM, but sometimes he has trouble rolling with the punches and improvising. He also tends to take an me v. you stance when dealing with the party, and freaks out when we come up with strange or nifty ideas.

He's the sort of guy who owns all the sourcebooks and knows the rules back and front, but is less cool with stuff that doesn't have any measurable effects. He also tends to segregate rulings for some players, because he thins that they have a greater potential for rules abuse. Like so:

1) Player 1 wants to play a courier in a Trinity game. He wants an Akira style motorcycle and wants to know if he can buy it as a *** piece of equipment. The GM says no, it would cost ***** instead.
When the player asks why, the GM says "Because I know you are going to do something awful with it"

That same session, two Psychokinetic characters (Players 2 and 3) ask for motorcycles so they can do cool tricks with their TK (making invisible ramps and Tron style invisible walls, etc). GM says OK, and tells these players they can each have a motorbike for ***.

navar100
2011-06-30, 09:33 PM
The DM is a DM who hates his players. He can't stand them being able to do nifty things. He hates it when they defeat his BBEGs. He hates hisplayers coming up with brilliant ideas that solve the dilemma he places before them.

The DM should not be the DM.

The Glyphstone
2011-06-30, 10:12 PM
He is generally a good GM, but sometimes he has trouble rolling with the punches and improvising. He also tends to take an me v. you stance when dealing with the party, and freaks out when we come up with strange or nifty ideas.

He's the sort of guy who owns all the sourcebooks and knows the rules back and front, but is less cool with stuff that doesn't have any measurable effects. He also tends to segregate rulings for some players, because he thins that they have a greater potential for rules abuse. Like so:

1) Player 1 wants to play a courier in a Trinity game. He wants an Akira style motorcycle and wants to know if he can buy it as a *** piece of equipment. The GM says no, it would cost ***** instead.
When the player asks why, the GM says "Because I know you are going to do something awful with it"

That same session, two Psychokinetic characters (Players 2 and 3) ask for motorcycles so they can do cool tricks with their TK (making invisible ramps and Tron style invisible walls, etc). GM says OK, and tells these players they can each have a motorbike for ***.

Blatant favoritism and 'good GM' are mutually exclusive concepts. Maybe he's good enough for you, but this is an awful GM by any other measure. Many condolences to the player in question, and hopefully he can find a GM actually worth his game time.

Jay R
2011-06-30, 10:45 PM
You have a double problem. First, he wants to stifle player creativity. That's a big enough problem by itself, but he's not creative enough himself to do it well.


1) Players are in a mine with a Cart and Tracks leading to the BBEG. Instead of charging in, the players fill the cart with flammable material and explosive flasks and set it rolling towards the BBEG. GM gets frustrated, says that he had not envisioned that outcome.

If he just wants to prevent people from getting an advantage from creativity, then as soon as the cart is loaded, he would say, "OK, you are hit with a Fireball. You each take 8d6 damage from the Fireball and another 5d6 from the cart's explosives."


2) Player 1 is playing a Bardish warrior who goes around singing songs, even in battle. Player 1 decides to sing about the gruesome death his is about to deliver to Hulking NPC 1. Player 1 Kills Hulking NPC and asks to make an Intimidate check against enemies to demoralize them. GM gets frustrated, says there are no mechanics for it.

I think it's a perfect example of what a bard is for, and would give extra points for the Intimidation roll, but if he doesn't want to allow it, all he has to say is "Nobody except the guy you fought could hear the words over the sound of battle."


3) Player 2 is true neutral, but notices a band of innocents are going to die and saves them as the rest of the party more or less ignores the innocents. Player 2 saves the innocents, but gets called out for not acting within his alignment (argument being, why would he care -- he's a true neutral dragon). Player 2 later fluffs the rescue as an acquisition -- the people he saved are now part of his draconic horde, thus giving him a reason to save them.
GM gets frustrated, saying that it is a weak reason to act out of character

It is a weak reason. The strong reason should have been "I wanted to sneer at the rest of the party", or "I believe in balance. Next time I might eat them."

The problem here is that the DM has swallowed the fallacy that there are only nine forms of character motivation, and any true neutral must think like any other true neutral.


4) Player 3 gets in on a D&D game, asking to play an Expert/Horizon Walker who focuses on botany and arcana. GM says no, as he fears that Player 3 will create some kind of uber-build with the PrC. Player 3 instead plays an unoptimized melee combat Druid (we're talking feats spent on TWF and Weapon Focus: Scimitar, here), who proceeds to become the most powerful character in the party. GM gets frustrated, accuses Player 3 or min-maxing.

There's no issue here. I have no problem with frustrating the GM.


He is generally a good GM, but ...

You will be much happier when you find somebody who is a good GM, rather than "generally a good GM, but ...".

Knaight
2011-06-30, 10:47 PM
You will be much happier when you find somebody who is a good GM, rather than "generally a good GM, but ...".

Amen. Alternately, take over GMing yourself.

GoblinArchmage
2011-06-30, 10:53 PM
3) Player 2 is playing a half-dragon evoker in a very high powered game. Player 2 is true neutral, but notices a band of innocents are going to die and saves them as the rest of the party more or less ignores the innocents. Player 2 saves the innocents, but gets called out for not acting within his alignment (argument being, why would he care -- he's a true neutral dragon). Player 2 later fluffs the rescue as an acquisition -- the people he saved are now part of his draconic horde, thus giving him a reason to save them.
GM gets frustrated, saying that it is a weak reason to act out of character


I'm too lazy to read the other replies, so somebody may have already said this. Anyway, in that particular case, I am on the player's side. I don't think that one's alignment should restrict one's actions, but that one's actions should determine one's alignment. If the DM felt that this was too good for a neutral character, then in my opinion he should have just told the character to change his alignment to Neutral Good. It wasn't that he was acting out of character, but that his alignment was not really what his character sheet said it was. He wasn't of a class where alignment has a mechanical significance, so it shouldn't have mattered.

Furthermore, I would argue that he could still be True Neutral after saving a group of innocent people. Neutral doesn't mean that one is totally selfish and incapable of empathizing with people who are in danger. That's just my opinion, though.

TheAbstruseOne
2011-06-30, 11:29 PM
Sounds to me like a CMOA was missed for the BBEG in the first example. Players load the cart with explosives and blow up the bad guy before they see him? Add 500XP to the bad guy and give him Resist All (Fire) as an encounter power for one round (or a once-a-day power if playing a different edition). Then the BBEG is walking slowly out of the flames and a big miffed at the players for blowing up his lab/throneroom/whatever.

I've actually had the latter happen multiple times in my game since I had a Chalock who wanted to Diplomacy or Intimidate her way out of every single encounter. I didn't want to discourage this, but trying to intimidate a bunch of kobolds who are serving an adult dragon is pretty much impossible because basically you're trying to be so intimidating that they'd abandon a living god to them. So I handled it a couple of different ways. "Make your check", not pay attention to her roll, rolling a d20 for the sound effect, then saying it didn't work due to negative circumstance modifiers. Other times, I would allow a +2 bonus on the next attack roll due to distraction.

As far as the third example goes, it seems like the DM doesn't understand the different alignments very well. Nothing about the True Neutral alignment would prevent the character from helping innocents and would actually be more likely to be in character than out of character. Evil has power over these people and freeing them from the evil allows them to choose their own actions. Innocents rescued are innocents that owe you a debt. Not helping innocents through inaction is in itself an evil act. That's just three reasons off the top of my head. I'd be more worried about Lawful or Good characters in the party that didn't help the innocents myself.

Frankly, it seems like this DM just has a problem with saying yes to players. Anytime a player tries something you haven't planned for, there's four different responses:

No - Worst choice because it means that you are stifling imaginative play ideas that make RPGs fun. If you want to completely railroad your players, there's a lot of video games that will allow you to do just that.

Yes - This isn't the best answer either because it will encourage players to do wacky stuff for the sake of doing wacky stuff. Ever tried playing a serious political game of Vampire: The Masquerade with a bunch of hyperactive 14 year olds? They spend half the game trying to get their hands on C4 and the other half using the C4. That's what saying "yes" to a D&D group is like.

Yes, but... - This is a better answer. Sure, you just did something crazy and wacky and cool, but there are consequences for your actions. Yes, you can attack the lord of the realm, but now his vindictive brother has put a bounty on your head and you can't go into a city for fear of being arrested or killed. My "spontaneous fire resistance" example above is a "Yes, but..." answer.

Yes, and... - This is my personal favorite answer. When your players try to do something unexpected and awesome, you just ratchet up the awesome even more. This is best used sparingly because it can be hard to pull off correctly and, if you do pull it off regularly, your game will suddenly turn into an Exalted game.

One "Yes, and..." I did was with the Chalock I mentioned above. I figured after the 23rd time she tried to intimidate the bad guys, she should get a real chance to succeed. So she walks into the goblin camp that's 100 strong, stands in the middle of camp, and gives a world-of-cardboard speech about how her and her compatriots could easily wipe them out with minimal effort (enhanced by other characters using things like Mage Hand and Prestidigitation to make her float and appear on fire with several other cantrip effects thrown in) and let her intimidate the goblins. She succeeded, but not that well. So I had her convert half of them who then started attacking the other half of the army. This turned what was supposed to be a stealth/spy mission (they were supposed to sneak into the camp to steal the MacGuffin) into a CMOA for the Chalock's character where she stopped an entire army of goblins using only her social skills.

TL,DR: Yes, this is a common gaming problem for new DMs. It's addressed in the DMG when they advise you to say "yes" for the players instead of saying "no".

Mastikator
2011-07-01, 02:03 AM
Based on all of the examples the GM is not cut out to be a GM, it's ok, not everyone is, it's a lot harder than being a player.
What the players are doing is normal, and in some cases ingenious, this should not be causing a problem to the GM and if it is because it derails his plans then he'd be happier writing books or screen plays.

Remmirath
2011-07-01, 02:47 AM
I'd say the problem is the DM, really; he should be more adaptable.

One is definitely the DM. Ideally he should've planned for that, but if not, he should be prepared to adapt to the solutions that the players come up with (although of course it can be frustrating if they come up with a great idea you'd never thought of, it can still be improvised around fairly easily). Some great moments of gaming can come out of things like that, when the DM is on his game.

Two is even more definitely the DM - there might not be an official mechanic for it (honestly, I don't recall as I never use the Intimidate rules straight) - but he should be able to come up with a circumstance modifier and a DC.

Three... well, I disagree with the DM's assessment that it's out of character (necessarily, anyhow). True neutral doesn't have to be 'I don't care at all', and there are definitely reasons he could have for doing it. Questioning character's actions based purely on alignment is something of a pet peeve of mine, actually. Alignment should not be a one-size fits all crutch for roleplaying, and players definitely should not be punished for not using it that way. :smallannoyed:
Leaving that aside, the player gave a reason that made sense (although the backpedalling isn't something that's ideal, and he should'n't've had to justify it like that), and that should be that.

Four depends a lot on the rest of the group. It's generally polite to optimise to more-or-less the extent as the rest of the group, and it does sound like the Druid player was making an effort at it (although I must point out that, particularly depending on house rules and other factors, those might not be such terrible choices). Accusing someone of min-maxing is really not the way to go. The DM sounds paranoid here, and in the motorcycle example.

If this guy is a relatively new DM, I'd say he's probably still working on learning some of these things and might end up all right down the road. If he's been doing it for a long time and is set in these ways, well, there might not be that much you can do about it.

TheAbstruseOne
2011-07-01, 02:47 AM
Based on all of the examples the GM is not cut out to be a GM, it's ok, not everyone is, it's a lot harder than being a player.
What the players are doing is normal, and in some cases ingenious, this should not be causing a problem to the GM and if it is because it derails his plans then he'd be happier writing books or screen plays.

It's not that he's not cut out to be a DM/GM/ST, it's just that he's not experienced enough or doesn't realize the mistakes he's making. Inexperienced DMs will do exactly the same thing he's doing when they start out. There's an adventure and an obvious way to go through it and if the players try to do something else, they're playing wrong so they can't do it. Hell, one of the guys I grew up who used to do the exact same thing ended up becoming an amazing DM and even wrote a few third-party OGL adventures back in the 3rd Ed boom.

Vemynal
2011-07-01, 02:55 AM
I officially dislike ur GM =p

#1- That's the whole damn point of D&D for me...the reason i play it over a video game. So I can free form come up with something. If my players did that mine cart trick I'd be impressed and think it was really cool.

#2- sure, why not throw the character a +2 or something to his intimidate check? I mean it makes sense and its all part of the fun. Or hell, maybe the henchmen here are hardened killers and arnt affected. Point is, theres no reason for him to get pissy for it.

#3- If the half dragon wants to save the npcs he doesn't have to justify it for his alignment. He simply saves them. alignment is reflective of actions, actions need not be reflective of alignment.

#4- He should help players learn how to become more effective and not be tearing down the other player

SilverLeaf167
2011-07-01, 04:40 AM
-snip- One "Yes, and..." I did was with the Chalock I mentioned above. I figured after the 23rd time she tried to intimidate the bad guys, she should get a real chance to succeed. So she walks into the goblin camp that's 100 strong, stands in the middle of camp, and gives a world-of-cardboard speech about how her and her compatriots could easily wipe them out with minimal effort (enhanced by other characters using things like Mage Hand and Prestidigitation to make her float and appear on fire with several other cantrip effects thrown in) and let her intimidate the goblins. She succeeded, but not that well. So I had her convert half of them who then started attacking the other half of the army. This turned what was supposed to be a stealth/spy mission (they were supposed to sneak into the camp to steal the MacGuffin) into a CMOA for the Chalock's character where she stopped an entire army of goblins using only her social skills. -snip-
One thing's troubling me here, and I can't resist to ask: how did they manage to levitate a person with Mage Hand when the spell can only move 5 lbs.?

ImperatorK
2011-07-01, 05:29 AM
The GM is wrong. It states explicitly that Intimidate can be used to demoralize an opponent. He needs to learn the rules before saying something like that.
Note that you can demoralize only 1 opponent who you are threatening in melee. So in this situation the DM was right, he didn't have mechanics for it (but it is possible mechanically with feats, skill tricks or certain ACFs).

Cerlis
2011-07-01, 05:39 AM
one issue i have is with the Half dragon thing. So a player decided to save a plot device put in there for the party even though the rest wherent. maybe he did it cus he was sympathetic to the pretend people (as i would be) or maybe he thought "hey this might be important, we shouldnt ignore it"

It doesnt matter why the player chose to save the people, or that the reasoning behind it was made after the fact. But his character acted in a way that was apprpriate to his alignment (selfishness being the Leading motivator for Neutral, if not the only, or the minimum motivator) and thats that. The only problem i see is either the DM had plans for those people thinking the party wouldnt rescue them, or that he has a very strict stereotyped view of the alignments. A dragon showing his strength to gain favor, servants, and anything of value is pure dragonness. His human molesting parent would be proud.

I think your words to the DM should be something like "Obviously we have different opinions about how the game should be played. But we are all hear to have fun. We arent here to ruin your plans or make you unhappy. Maybe next time we do something that annoys you, just remember we are doing it to have fun. not to spite you"


or...something.

Thyrian
2011-07-01, 05:42 AM
A DM gives the PC's a means of locomotion that isn't required....and he didn't expect the PC's to attempt to use it? This aside Jay R effectively summarizes the problem.

Your DM is simply saying no to ideas rather than rejecting them in game. In terms of "you can't steer the cart unless you're inside it" or "Are you sure you can set the explosives off at the right time?"... there are so many POWERS available to a DM besides the actual rules.

Mono Vertigo
2011-07-01, 05:56 AM
1st problem: hey, I understand his frustration at seeing props used in a way he hadn't even imagined. However, his job is to improvise, and it isn't too hard in this case. Everyone else found solutions that restored the GM's status as the god of "yeah, you will suffer if you piss him off, and you will eventually piss him off". BBEG throws something hot in the explosives and watches the fireworks. :smallbiggrin:

2nd problem: apparently, others didn't find the problem difficult to solve. I wouldn't know, I never played D&D. Still... a bard singing relevant lyrics and raising his allies morale/lowering his enemies'... that's basically the job definition, right? Why is the GM even complaining about there?

3rd problem: true neutral characters can never be nice? That's new. Remind me to therefore never play anything else than anal LG paladins, annoying CE rogues, and... oh, wait, the 7 other alignments require slightly more subtlety than that, the GM might not like it. :smallbiggrin:

4th problem: again, I don't know much about D&D, but it's petty to accuse a player of something when he tells you he wants to play X character, and accuse him of the same thing afterwards when he instead plays character Y, that's different enough.

Long story short: I don't like your GM. He complains about having to do his job (maybe he could simply ask for help to someone who also knows the rules well, if he has problems with them?), and he complains about a bunch of stuff that don't even reach the gravity of what most PC parties do. :smallannoyed:

hamishspence
2011-07-01, 06:13 AM
It doesnt matter why the player chose to save the people, or that the reasoning behind it was made after the fact. But his character acted in a way that was apprpriate to his alignment (selfishness being the Leading motivator for Neutral, if not the only, or the minimum motivator) and thats that.

There's also cases where selfishness isn't the leading motivator- when the character has both a Good streak and an Evil streak, that manifest themselves in different ways.

Kurald Galain
2011-07-01, 06:22 AM
Imho,

(1) DM's problem. The players have a clever approach that sounds like it should work in-game. The DM should be able to improvise something about this. In a pinch, it duplicates the effect of a Fireball spell.

(2) Ditto.

(3) This is why alignment rules are so often the subject of fervent discussion: there are simply too many acts that are e.g. NG according to some people, LN according to others (or whatever). Essentially, the DM should never tell players that they can't do that because it's against their alignment.

(4) If the DM suspects some kind of uber-build, he could come to the forums and ask. Generally when people suspect such a thing, they tend to be wrong (as in this case - no way an Expert is going to be stronger than a Druid). Any tier-related thread should give plenty info on how to handle this.

hamishspence
2011-07-01, 06:31 AM
Essentially, the DM should never tell players that they can't do that because it's against their alignment.

I think the DMG points this out.

Maybe a "if you do that there's a chance you may change alignment" warning may sometimes be called for, but never "can't do that because it's against alignment".

hewhosaysfish
2011-07-01, 06:51 AM
The GM is wrong. It states explicitly that Intimidate can be used to demoralize an opponent. (http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/SRD:Intimidate_Skill) He needs to learn the rules before saying something like that.


The rules also explicitly state that demoralising an opponeny with the Intimidate skill is a standard action... and thus not something that you could do in a round after attacking.

So the DM could either:
1) Say "NO! YOU CAN'T DO THAT!" This is what the DM actually did and I think we all agree it was the wrong thing.
2) Hand out free actions in combat if someone can argue that "it just makes sense". This is what people on this thread seem to be advocating and I say: "That way madness lies".
3) House-rule (preferably before the campagin) that makes demoralising into a smaller action (like a move or a swift) because demoralising as it stands is kinda rubbish. This would be my first suggestion.
or
4) Suggest that the bard or the warrior could use their action next turn to Intimidate; Give a bonus for circumstances. This would be my second recommendation, if house-ruling is not on the cards.

Serpentine
2011-07-01, 07:07 AM
I know everything's been covered, but I'm weighing in with nothing new anyway :smalltongue:
What it amounts to is the taking of fluff and using it for mechanical benefit.It's called "roleplaying" and "using your abilities and resources creatively".

1) Players are in a mine with a Cart and Tracks leading to the BBEG. Instead of charging in, the players fill the cart with flammable material and explosive flasks and set it rolling towards the BBEG. GM gets frustrated, says that he had not envisioned that outcome.Amazing player resourcefulness. In a game I was in some time ago, the party was going after a white dragon in its underground lair. We scouted out the cavern, and happened to have/find (I forget) barrels of Alchemist's Fire. We set up the fire, positioned my character's Necklace of Fireballs on the barrels, took position, and then sent someone in to bait the dragon. Everything went perfectly, we set off the Fire just as the dragon went over it, and cut the dragon down by half its hitpoints in one go. It had never occured to the DM that we might do something like that, and he was thrilled. If they did it in my game, I'd give them all Cool Points.
A DM should encourage and reward player creativity, not whinge about it.

2) Player 1 is playing a Bardish warrior who goes around singing songs, even in battle. Player 1 decides to sing about the gruesome death his is about to deliver to Hulking NPC 1. Player 1 Kills Hulking NPC and asks to make an Intimidate check against enemies to demoralize them. GM gets frustrated, says there are no mechanics for it.Excellent roleplaying, and perfectly well covered by the Intimidate check. I, personally, would probably give him a small bonus to the check for good roleplaying, but just the Intimidate entry in the PHB would be sufficient.

3) Player 2 is playing a half-dragon evoker in a very high powered game. Player 2 is true neutral, but notices a band of innocents are going to die and saves them as the rest of the party more or less ignores the innocents. Player 2 saves the innocents, but gets called out for not acting within his alignment (argument being, why would he care -- he's a true neutral dragon). Player 2 later fluffs the rescue as an acquisition -- the people he saved are now part of his draconic horde, thus giving him a reason to save them.
GM gets frustrated, saying that it is a weak reason to act out of characterThe DM has done multiple things wrong here.
1. Telling a player what their character would or would not do. That is for the player to decide, never the DM.
2. If the DM really thought that action was not in line with the alignment, then he should have changed the alignment, not the character.
3. Saving innocents isn't the least bit out of character for TN, with or without retroactive justification. Ignoring their plight is, in my opinion, Evil - or at least at the Evil end of Neutral.
There's probably more, but those are the most glaring problems here, in my opinion. But punishing your players for not acting like a jerk boggles my mind...

4) Player 3 gets in on a D&D game, asking to play an Expert/Horizon Walker who focuses on botany and arcana. GM says no, as he fears that Player 3 will create some kind of uber-build with the PrC. Player 3 instead plays an unoptimized melee combat Druid (we're talking feats spent on TWF and Weapon Focus: Scimitar, here), who proceeds to become the most powerful character in the party. GM gets frustrated, accuses Player 3 or min-maxing.This one's more ambiguous, and I don't think I have much to say on it without more information. The first port of call when a problem comes up being accusations and name-calling is an extremely poor move, though.

It it the players or the GM acting up here?GM, almost (or actually) entirely. If he doesn't want his players, I'll have 'em :smallwink:

FelixG
2011-07-01, 07:57 AM
GM sounds like he should be smacked with the DMG and told to read it again, then maybe directed to these forums so he can learn how to do the job right before he is allowed to GM again.

In this modern day there is no reason to get frustrated when there are just so many resources available.

TheAbstruseOne
2011-07-01, 09:48 AM
One thing's troubling me here, and I can't resist to ask: how did they manage to levitate a person with Mage Hand when the spell can only move 5 lbs.?

I Rule of Cool okay'd it. It was out of combat and it was one of about 8 different effects on her at the time, only two of them had actual rules-related effects (I made it into a skill challenge for everyone to assist her). This was like 2 1/2 years ago so I can't remember all the crap they did, but there were at least four cantrips, a potion, a couple of prayers, and just all kinds of stuff until she was floating in the air with (illusionary) flames surrounding her with a booming voice and glowing "wings" (light was cast on her cloak which billowed out via Prestidigitation)...

nyarlathotep
2011-07-01, 10:44 AM
OP it sounds like your gaming group is suffering from BadDMitis. The only cure is a transplant. With some therapy outside of it's usual role the DM may recover but leaving it as is will be fatal.

Rogue Shadows
2011-07-01, 11:13 AM
1) Players are in a mine with a Cart and Tracks leading to the BBEG. Instead of charging in, the players fill the cart with flammable material and explosive flasks and set it rolling towards the BBEG. GM gets frustrated, says that he had not envisioned that outcome.

This seems easy to fix...the cart has to be attended to or it might fall off the tracks if it's just rolling uncontrolled.


2) Player 1 is playing a Bardish warrior who goes around singing songs, even in battle. Player 1 decides to sing about the gruesome death his is about to deliver to Hulking NPC 1. Player 1 Kills Hulking NPC and asks to make an Intimidate check against enemies to demoralize them. GM gets frustrated, says there are no mechanics for it.

Tell your GM that yes there is, it's called a +2 favorable circumstance bonus.


3) Player 2 is playing a half-dragon evoker in a very high powered game. Player 2 is true neutral, but notices a band of innocents are going to die and saves them as the rest of the party more or less ignores the innocents. Player 2 saves the innocents, but gets called out for not acting within his alignment (argument being, why would he care -- he's a true neutral dragon). Player 2 later fluffs the rescue as an acquisition -- the people he saved are now part of his draconic horde, thus giving him a reason to save them.
GM gets frustrated, saying that it is a weak reason to act out of character

It's not out-of-character for two reasons.

One - individual aspects of a character may be good, neutral, or evil. Alignment is the sum of the parts, not every part individually.

Two - it's only against the idea of True Neutral if he goes around actively searching for people to save and wrongs to right. If he sees someone he doesn't know in danger and acts to save them, he's not suddenly Good - he's just not an ass.


4) Player 3 gets in on a D&D game, asking to play an Expert/Horizon Walker who focuses on botany and arcana. GM says no, as he fears that Player 3 will create some kind of uber-build with the PrC. Player 3 instead plays an unoptimized melee combat Druid (we're talking feats spent on TWF and Weapon Focus: Scimitar, here), who proceeds to become the most powerful character in the party. GM gets frustrated, accuses Player 3 or min-maxing.

Sometimes, in life, we become the most powerful member of the party without trying. These things happen.

Though Druids have an easier time of it than others.

Yeah, these are all DM problems.

Frozen_Feet
2011-07-01, 11:26 AM
All things together, this is a clear case of an ill-prepared or unexperienced GM. Nothing the players are doing here is notably out-of-the-line. There are several wys to approach the problem.

1) Let a more experienced player take the reigns, relegating the old GM to learn from example.

2) Point out these are not a real rules problems - for all of these cases, there are rules, and their even pretty clear. For 1), there are rules for setting things on fire. For 2) there are rules for intimidation - all it would've taken is one extra action from the Bard's part. (No ad hoc modifiers necessary.) For 3), if a character ceases to fit an alignment, their alignment changes. Nevermind that isolated cases of OOC behaviour aren't major enough to be a concern anyway. For 4), the Druid player isn't min-maxing, he just happened to accidentally utilize one of the most broken classes in the game. Introducing your GM to the tier system might help.

3) Offer to help the GM with rules if you know them better than he does. All in all, this doesn't need to turn into huge interpersonal drama.

Telonius
2011-07-01, 01:16 PM
Players are in a mine with a Cart and Tracks leading to the BBEG. Instead of charging in, the players fill the cart with flammable material and explosive flasks and set it rolling towards the BBEG. GM gets frustrated, says that he had not envisioned that outcome.


This should serve as a warning to all DMs: Attempt to railroad too harshly, and the players will blow up the line.

Ivellius
2011-07-01, 02:06 PM
I just wanna get another post...ha.


1) Players are in a mine with a Cart and Tracks leading to the BBEG. Instead of charging in, the players fill the cart with flammable material and explosive flasks and set it rolling towards the BBEG. GM gets frustrated, says that he had not envisioned that outcome.

Seriously, though, what did he expect them to do? That has to be the first thing I would think of if I gave a group a setup like that.


2) Player 1 is playing a Bardish warrior who goes around singing songs, even in battle. Player 1 decides to sing about the gruesome death his is about to deliver to Hulking NPC 1. Player 1 Kills Hulking NPC and asks to make an Intimidate check against enemies to demoralize them. GM gets frustrated, says there are no mechanics for it.

My comment here (though it's been mentioned) is that the GM should know there are rules for this sort of thing if he really knows them that well. Now, he definitely shouldn't have given the warrior an extra action to Intimidate, but the correct response is, "Of course you can do that on your next turn."


3) Player 2 is playing a half-dragon evoker in a very high powered game. Player 2 is true neutral, but notices a band of innocents are going to die and saves them as the rest of the party more or less ignores the innocents. Player 2 saves the innocents, but gets called out for not acting within his alignment (argument being, why would he care -- he's a true neutral dragon). Player 2 later fluffs the rescue as an acquisition -- the people he saved are now part of his draconic horde, thus giving him a reason to save them.
GM gets frustrated, saying that it is a weak reason to act out of character

It's been said, but this was pretty ridiculous. Why is it weak? That sounds very draconic to me, especially for a neutral dragon. So what if it came after the fact? It sounds like the player took some time to think about his character's motivations, and a GM shouldn't discourage that. (It's role-playing, after all!)


4) Player 3 gets in on a D&D game, asking to play an Expert/Horizon Walker who focuses on botany and arcana. GM says no, as he fears that Player 3 will create some kind of uber-build with the PrC. Player 3 instead plays an unoptimized melee combat Druid (we're talking feats spent on TWF and Weapon Focus: Scimitar, here), who proceeds to become the most powerful character in the party. GM gets frustrated, accuses Player 3 or min-maxing.

Well...he did play a druid. The GM was wrong to shoot down the first build, but I do blame the player for the latter part. My house rule for a long time now has been that druids don't even get animal companions. Was the player provoked? Yeah, but...making a druid never makes things better. It only leads to madness.


It it the players or the GM acting up here?

As everyone else has said, it's mostly the GM.

Honest Tiefling
2011-07-01, 02:19 PM
To be fair, I am not sure if player 3 picked druid to powergame. Sometimes, players who do not know how awesome druid can be will pick it to actually play a druid. Given that the original concept had both knowledge of spellcasting and botany, I think the player could have easily been intrigued by the blend of magic and knowledge of nature that the druid provides.

Especially since they picked up the TWF chain of feats as well as weapon focus.

Mark Hall
2011-07-01, 02:40 PM
Generally, I agree that this is a problem with the DM. Players are a tricky lot, and some of being a DM means cheating a bit to make the players actions that would destroy the plot a bit less effective.

Take the first one. That's a good idea by the players, but unless they've got certain intelligence of what's at the end of that cart track, the DM is free to make things up... like a backstop that abruptly ends the track out of sight. He shouldn't completely invalidate their actions, but he should make it so the NPCs are not completely trashed.

In the case of Number two, the player's made a reasonable request. There's rules for intimidate checks (in 3.x, at least), but they specify that they cost a standard action. So, he's wanting to do it in place of his move? or as a free action? Let him, but with a penalty for how quickly he's doing it, combined with a bonus for killing someone as he's doing it. The bonuses might not cancel out (I'd say at least a -2 for doing it as a Move action, and probably a -6 or more for doing it as a free), but he gets to try. I'd also be clear that the only reason he's getting to try is because he's been playing this up... I don't want everyone trying free-action Intimidate checks every round just because they can, hoping for the 20 that gives it to them.

Case number 3? Eh. True Neutral doesn't mean "do whatever you want", but going out of your way to save one group of people isn't the end of the TN line. Everyone acts a little out of character from time to time, even in real life.

Rogue Shadows
2011-07-01, 03:16 PM
Case number 3? Eh. True Neutral doesn't mean "do whatever you want", but going out of your way to save one group of people isn't the end of the TN line. Everyone acts a little out of character from time to time, even in real life.

Exactly this. I'm generally a nice person. Except for that time I became a lich. But otherwise? I give to charity whenever I can!

Occasional Sage
2011-07-01, 03:41 PM
He is generally a good GM, but sometimes he has trouble rolling with the punches and improvising. He also tends to take an me v. you stance when dealing with the party, and freaks out when we come up with strange or nifty ideas.


When you find a sentence which is "clause-but-clause", ignore everything before the "but". The Second clause trumps it. Rules of the language.



What Would You Call This Roleplaying "Problem" and How Would You Deal With It?


I would call it "the GM" and I would deal with it by offering to run the game for a set number of sessions. If he didn't improve after, I'd walk*; it's difficult for me to set aside a block of time to play games, and on the occasions when I can I want them not to be mediocre.


*Assuming, of course, that a different GM is a non-starter. But if he feels that he MUST be the guy behind the screen, and doesn't improve....

Evil the Cat
2011-07-01, 04:09 PM
For the most part, all my thoughts have already been stated here. A DM needs to improvise occasionally, that is a large part of being a DM.

As for the alignment part, there is nothing at all contrary about a TN person helping innocent people in the way. How much danger did he actually put himself in to rescue them?

Innocent isn't apathetic to human suffering. That's closer to sociopathy/evil. How much you're willing to give up, or risk losing to help other people is more the difference between good and neutral in this sort of situation.

You could just answer with "They didn't need to die." That is a completely neutral reason for rescuing them.

Ashram
2011-07-01, 04:28 PM
1. While the cart shouldn't lead directly to the BBEG, Final Fantasy-style, filling it with flammable stuff and shoving it into the darkness is pretty awesome. Some DMs can't handle stuff that doesn't follow the railroad (This time, quite literally :smallbiggrin:)

2. While the bard is indeed able to demoralize someone, demoralizing someone in combat is a standard action, so he wouldn't have been able to attack and then intimidate unless the DM "Rule of Cool" handwaved it.

3. Apparently this DM thinks that True Neutral means completely apathetic, all the time, with no opinion as to one thing or another, which is completely opposite of the truth. Make sure said DM reads the part of True Neutral that says "True Neutral people act naturally and do whatever a normal person would do in a given situation", not to be confused with "Whatever seems good at the time", which is usually an indication of Chaotic Neutral. :P

4. I'll sum up number 4 with a quote I've been seeing a lot of here on GitP: "In the land of newbies, the guy with half a clue is king."

mrzomby
2011-07-01, 05:07 PM
1. this is sort of a player and dm problem, however the DM probably shouldnt have the gm just waiting at the end of the tracks and could probably have him survive it easily. also, as players, you should just take obvious quest hooks that make sense :p

2. There are rules for using intimidate, maybe include a circumstance bonus for killing the "big guy" to unnerve opponents? This is actually pretty cut and dry.

3. True Neutral doesn't mean "lawl im gonna sit back and do nothing ever, because I just dont care about anything, anywhere, or anyone". He could easily be neutral leaning toward good, or just not want to see a bunch of innocents get squashed and hope for some sort of gift/favor/maybe help sometime later/reputation as a good person.
It sounds like the DM had this designed as a "good characters help the innocents, evil ones let them die, GO!" and is mad that the only person who "bit" was true neutral, so he was mad at EVERYONE else for not playing to their alignment. Finally, it is HIS character, so alignment is just such a tiny part of that roleplaying experiance, and if he thinks that character would save a group of innocents for any reason, then the character will.

4. Is there anything this player could have done to not get this reaction from the GM? It sounds like there may be a rules misunderstanding, however the GM would be at fault here. He picked a class that the DM approved and instead of asking him to tone it down, he claims the player is obviously min maxing.

ClockShock
2011-07-01, 07:01 PM
*Yawn*
Bored with the "Bad DM" replies now. Shall we add some more to the other side?

Barring these incidents you seem reasonably happy with your DM, for whatever reason. Not everyone can be an excellent DM and not every group is blessed with one. Sometimes we work with what we've got (because heck, they're friends, right?)

So can we try to work with this DM and improve the game? Rather than give up on them entirely and begin the lengthy search for someone else to handle the responsibility.
(but hey, if you want give it a try and feel you can do a better job - go for it)

Maybe making some agreements about not abusing rules (and checking borderline ideas beforehand) will stop the DM feeling it necessary to outright ban (or restrict access to) things that he isn't sure of.

Clearer distinctions between fluff and mechanics might also remove some confrontation. (you can be singing and dancing all you want - but until you tell me it's an intimidation roll it's not mechanically relevant)

It does seem that Improv. ability needs some work, but it is possible to challenge his ingenuity on less important encounters first.
I can understand the reaction to get defensive over how 'boss battles' operate - as typically they get planned out in greater detail (with regards to the character/setting/lead-up/aftermath etc.).
You could agree to play by his book for important encounters if he is willing to release control and let you explore creativeness in the less important ones - allowing him to get used to the idea and open things up further.
Referring to the given example.
"Errr... I didn't plan for that outcome"
"No worries, the cart's probably too rusty to use anyway, let's go smash his face in"

I agree it's not ideal, but life rarely is. If both your DM and the rest of the group are open to discussion and suggestions you can build on what you've got.

Cerlis
2011-07-01, 10:15 PM
There's also cases where selfishness isn't the leading motivator- when the character has both a Good streak and an Evil streak, that manifest themselves in different ways.

I was simply referencing that if you had to make a Single motivation for each alignment, i think I hear agreement here that "Selfishness" or "greed' or otherwise "Benefiting" oneself (I just remember alot of people saying "thats not evil, thats just greedy, its neutral). He didnt save em "cus it was right" or save em So he could sacrifice em. He saved him cus it was a good idea and he'd profit off of it. I believe the fact that he managed to pull of a reasonable motivation after the fact is something to be admired. Players have a hard time trying to play a different alignment and even if it was after the fact he came up with a seemingly neutral motivation which will probably influence how he molds his character.


anyways. Wasnt trying to start an alignment debate. Just personally under the impression most people on this forum believe "greed" or "self serving" to be Neutrals halmark motivation. If i'm wrong then i guess i have a biased experience in that field *shrug*

Bovine Colonel
2011-07-01, 10:58 PM
Just wondering, how do you think your DM would react if pointed to this thread?

Rogue Shadows
2011-07-02, 12:09 AM
...potentially? Poorly.

I'd be careful about any such plan. Maybe just print out a copy of some choice remarks or something.

TheAbstruseOne
2011-07-02, 04:23 AM
...potentially? Poorly.

I'd be careful about any such plan. Maybe just print out a copy of some choice remarks or something.

I would highly recommend against that. It's just far too easy to take comments like the ones we've made in here personally. I would suggest instead of doing something like that, just talk to him sometime and tell him he needs to be more flexible and adaptive when playing. If he doesn't understand, offer to run a one-shot yourself and show him what you mean by having the most minimal notes possible (personally, I go into a session with a map, a bunch of NPC/monster stats and any names as necessary, and a phrase or two in each room or encounter to remind me of the plot I'd come up with...but I'm very much a seat-of-the-pants DM). Take the advice we're giving and always try to say "Yes, but..." or "Yes, and..." when your players try something. After the session, give your notes to the DM and explain how the most fun moments of the session were the players doing something that weren't covered by the notes.

You know the guy's personality better than we do, so you'd know what actions would help him the most. It seems like you really enjoy playing with him, so make sure he knows that too and that you're only trying to help him improve. If you want to avoid any confrontation at all, try sending him links to blogs or websites with advice for DMs saying "I saw these sites and they had some cool ideas you might want to check out" (SlyFlourish and NewbieDM's are my favorites as well as Mike/Gabe from Penny Arcade writing blogs about DMing). Whatever you do, make sure to be nice about it because no one likes criticism.

Jay R
2011-07-02, 09:25 AM
No matter what the game rules allow, some people never know more than three alignments - Lawful Snotty, Neutral Greedy, and Chaotic Back-stabbing.

This DM doesn't seem to be able to break out of the "Neutral Greedy" trap to recognize that not all Neutral characters are clones of each other.

Nero24200
2011-07-02, 11:36 AM
1) Players are in a mine with a Cart and Tracks leading to the BBEG. Instead of charging in, the players fill the cart with flammable material and explosive flasks and set it rolling towards the BBEG. GM gets frustrated, says that he had not envisioned that outcome. The PC's should be playing characters - not actors sitting in for the DM's imagination. If the PC's choose to interact with the world in a unique way the DM should accommodate. If he doesn't want the PC's messing up his story tell him to stay home and write fan-fiction. If the PC's were acting particular unusual or antagonistic I could understand but using something to help you defeat the an opponent you plan on fighting?


2) Player 1 is playing a Bardish warrior who goes around singing songs, even in battle. Player 1 decides to sing about the gruesome death his is about to deliver to Hulking NPC 1. Player 1 Kills Hulking NPC and asks to make an Intimidate check against enemies to demoralize them. GM gets frustrated, says there are no mechanics for it. There are mechanics for it. Just tell the PC to take an action (as outlined in the rules) and make the check. Maybe throw in a circumstance bonus if the sight of the NPC's death was particularly chilling.


3) Player 2 is playing a half-dragon evoker in a very high powered game. Player 2 is true neutral, but notices a band of innocents are going to die and saves them as the rest of the party more or less ignores the innocents. Player 2 saves the innocents, but gets called out for not acting within his alignment (argument being, why would he care -- he's a true neutral dragon). Player 2 later fluffs the rescue as an acquisition -- the people he saved are now part of his draconic horde, thus giving him a reason to save them.
GM gets frustrated, saying that it is a weak reason to act out of character Entirely the wrong attitude. A PC's actions/motives etc should determine their alignment. Not the other way around. Playing 2 should not act neutral simply because it's on his character sheet. Characters do not directly adhere to an arbitrary OOC alignment system (except maybe paladins but they're a special case and are often the subject of alignment debates as a result).


4) Player 3 gets in on a D&D game, asking to play an Expert/Horizon Walker who focuses on botany and arcana. GM says no, as he fears that Player 3 will create some kind of uber-build with the PrC. Player 3 instead plays an unoptimized melee combat Druid (we're talking feats spent on TWF and Weapon Focus: Scimitar, here), who proceeds to become the most powerful character in the party. GM gets frustrated, accuses Player 3 or min-maxing. I sympathise with the PC here. I've made some overpowering characters by accident (usually by taking abilities that I think look cool or just suit the particular character I'm playing and turn out to be much better in practise than I thought). And well...in many cases I don't feel they're overpowered at all, it's simply circumstance or the way the rest of the party is build that just makes them stand out.

For one thing...the DM honestly thought a build involving an NPC class for the most part would be more powerful than a druid? Whilst maybe not the most powerful core class druid is definately the most powerful out-of-the-box class in the game. If it's unoptimised as well then the DM's definately going to have problems. I don't want to be there when someone plays a high level spellcaster, it won't end well. The DM doesn't sound like he/she has any sense of what is powerful and what isn't in the game.

I honestly hope (though seriously doubt it) that these questions are just hypothetical and, if not, that they aren't all the same DM. If so I can see problems.

Kojiro
2011-07-02, 12:14 PM
Not the best at rules here, but issue #3 is something I think is especially odd. Ignoring that the justification was iffy, because it was also unnecessary, the big problem is:

Really, any of the alignments could save a bunch of dying people. Yes, even the Evil ones. Just because one is in "the deep end of the alignment pool" doesn't mean that they can't do something decent. Take some guy who, while not a kitten-sodomizing baby-eater whose malevolence visibly corrupts the very air around him. is rather unpleasant. Selfish, would and has killed people to save his own skin or to get an advantage for himself, is generally unpleasant, etc. This guy is pretty solidly Evil, if not as Evil as some. In the same situation he too could have helped those people. Maybe he expected an award, maybe he thought the situation was too horrible even for his slimy standards, or maybe he just didn't think and jumped in. This doesn't make him not Evil, it just means that he's more than a caricature of one of the nine alignment spaces. Maybe if he repented and changed his ways a bit to be less dickish overall, he'd become Neutral, but this one action, or even a few like it, wouldn't make him not Evil.

Another example, well, Belkar, or Vaarsuvius. Former is definitely evil, even now when he's been helpful and not omnimalevolent. Latter, meanwhile, True Neutral, like the character here. Yes, he (in the gender-neutral sense) cares mostly about himself and those close to him rather than people in general, but he also feels the need to help others (sometimes; poor dirt farmers) and guilt over his failure to help others. There was also that unfortunate incident with some epic-level spellcasting, but going into that is likely to derail this thread.

Basically, what I'm saying is that alignment is not a straightjacket, which is pretty much what the real rulebooks say (they even used that descriptor, which is a good one), and that even if alignment did restrict player choice (which, as many have pointed out, it doesn't), this would not be a problem.

Autolykos
2011-07-02, 04:28 PM
We had exactly the same problem in our Shadowrun group and solved it by just talking about it. Basically, the GM was a good storyteller, but a poor improviser (hard to tell if he couldn't, didn't want to, or just never had to learn it). He usually had gaping holes in the security setup of the targets which he didn't see at the time, but we did (so we happily exploited them). Most of them were on the Computer side because he wasn't very firm in those rules (unlike the guy playing the Hacker, who took a lot of heat for this). It usually ended with him accusing us of trying to break his game (or pulling absurd excuses out of is ass why our plans would fail - usually cases of Schrödinger's Guardsman who always seems to have the right skill and equipment on hand, no matter how obscure) and us accusing him of railroading.
Then we just talked about it and established that we wanted to find creative solutions for problems and expected a reasonable plan to work (even if it wasn't the exact plan he had in mind - we aren't psychics, you know) and he wanted to keep his adventures challenging. At the beginning we established kind of a modus vivendi: we promised not trying to break his game (which we never did anyway) and he promised not to dismiss our plans just because he didn't expect them or because they seem too easy. After some time he got better at improvising (he's still not great, but at least acceptable) and it worked out fine.

EDIT:

1) Players are in a mine with a Cart and Tracks leading to the BBEG. Instead of charging in, the players fill the cart with flammable material and explosive flasks and set it rolling towards the BBEG. GM gets frustrated, says that he had not envisioned that outcome.
The GM gives the players lots of explosives and does not expect them to use it? SRSLY? No GM I know made this mistake twice (including me).
If I were confronted with this (and caught completely off-guard, which would be pretty much impossible anyway), I'd just pull a Never Found The Body (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NeverFoundTheBody) on them (If I didn't want the BBEG to go down so easily).

Ghost49X
2011-07-03, 07:09 AM
I've done this at times as a DM, this is what I've learned from it and hopefully this makes me a better DM


1) Players are in a mine with a Cart and Tracks leading to the BBEG. Instead of charging in, the players fill the cart with flammable material and explosive flasks and set it rolling towards the BBEG. GM gets frustrated, says that he had not envisioned that outcome.


My Advice is the DM should learn to accept his BBEG dieing, even if its not in the spectacular way he intended. That being said there's no garantee that sending him a bomb-cart is going to kill him. Maybe it'll deal some damage, maybe it'll miss completely (try aiming a cart at something you "think" is on the other end without seeing it) there's also the problem of timming for the fuse (too early or too late would scrap the plan) if it's set to explode on impact what is it going to impact? The BBEG? Will he dodge it? There is also the question of what this explosion will do to the enviroment, if all this is happening underground could this damage the cieling supports? maybe this blows starts a chain effect which frees something that shouldn't be free and so on.
in the event that the BBEG is killed, there is no rule saying that the DM can't raise dead NPCs (good DMs will account for the time, resources and other costs for such a spell) personally if I were a BBEG ressurection insurance would be one of the top things on my list of "must haves"




2) Player 1 is playing a Bardish warrior who goes around singing songs, even in battle. Player 1 decides to sing about the gruesome death his is about to deliver to Hulking NPC 1. Player 1 Kills Hulking NPC and asks to make an Intimidate check against enemies to demoralize them. GM gets frustrated, says there are no mechanics for it.



Having an ally killed in a gruesom manner is pretty demoralizing, asign a bonus to the roll depending on moral bonuses & penalities and have those who fail a saving throw react according to a fear effect (the lesser one is usually shaken -2 moral to all attack, skill, and saves) that being said the DM might require another standard action to "gloat or taunt" the kill to make the roll (intimidation usually takes a standard action anyways)




3) Player 2 is playing a half-dragon evoker in a very high powered game. Player 2 is true neutral, but notices a band of innocents are going to die and saves them as the rest of the party more or less ignores the innocents. Player 2 saves the innocents, but gets called out for not acting within his alignment (argument being, why would he care -- he's a true neutral dragon). Player 2 later fluffs the rescue as an acquisition -- the people he saved are now part of his draconic horde, thus giving him a reason to save them.
GM gets frustrated, saying that it is a weak reason to act out of character



alignments are not set in stone, a good character can act seflishly at times and the darkest of characters can show mercy over certain things, it is this that makes a character's personallity. Take Raistlin from the dragonlance series, he's an evil selfish wizard but he has also been known to show mercy to weak creatures in particular. All characters should have one or two circumstances where they'll act differently than what their alignment dictates. Would a Lawful Good person break the law if it could save someone's life? Would a Neutral Good person cure an enemy from a disease? Would a Neutral evil character sacrifice himself to save his brother?




4) Player 3 gets in on a D&D game, asking to play an Expert/Horizon Walker who focuses on botany and arcana. GM says no, as he fears that Player 3 will create some kind of uber-build with the PrC. Player 3 instead plays an unoptimized melee combat Druid (we're talking feats spent on TWF and Weapon Focus: Scimitar, here), who proceeds to become the most powerful character in the party. GM gets frustrated, accuses Player 3 or min-maxing.


Some people do this naturally, maybe the problem isn't with this character but with the others. Are they too weak? Are the players planing their moves or just "winging it" I would just increase the challenge untill it's an even mix (Remember D&D isn't a competition, some players tend to shine only because the others got their backs sure the wizard can finish a fight in a fraction of time it would take for a fighter of the same level, but he can't cast his spells without the fighter taking blow after blow from a frostgiant and still remain standing) an alternative is to work within the story to "re-adjust" the character, bewarned if you do this players don't like to suck and if you push them down just cause they're too strong they'll just min-max more to compensate examples of "re-adjustment" could be putting a curse on the PC requirering a quest to save them, mutulation (losing a limb) or picking up a cursed magic item (Sword of Backbiting FTW!)

onthetown
2011-07-03, 07:50 AM
Your DM needs to loosen up and just roll (okay, bad pun) with it. Putting explosives in the mine cart was a cool idea. He can't just get frustrated every time you do something he doesn't expect; players will never do what their DM expects unless they're put on railroad tracks, and even then...

Then again, you guys aren't helping by continuing to get him riled up. I know you're just trying to play the game and have fun, but you obviously know what his pressure points are. I would say sit down and talk to him about it so you can all find a happy medium.

Savannah
2011-07-03, 03:09 PM
Frankly, it seems like this DM just has a problem with saying yes to players. Anytime a player tries something you haven't planned for, there's four different responses:

Five, actually. You left off "No, but" as in "No, you can't do [insane tactic x], but you can try [similar but not as insane tactic y]". Not ideal, to be sure, but sometimes players come up with stuff that just can't possibly work, and it's better to suggest something similar and workable than to stop them outright.

As for the DM...yeesh. I think the biggest issue is the "me vs them" attitude of his. The problem is that D&D isn't a competitive game and the people on the other side of the screen are not enemies (and, likewise, the person (i.e. DM) on the other side of the screen isn't an enemy, either). If you insist on treating them as enemies, the whole game suffers, and ultimately often goes away when they get fed up enough and quit. Perhaps the DM needs a break -- maybe getting a chance to play his own characters and relax without the pressure of DMing would help him not be so attached to his NPCs and stressed when the players do something unexpected (plus he might learn something from the example of someone else DMing and allowing improvisation).

TheAbstruseOne
2011-07-03, 10:50 PM
Five, actually. You left off "No, but" as in "No, you can't do [insane tactic x], but you can try [similar but not as insane tactic y]". Not ideal, to be sure, but sometimes players come up with stuff that just can't possibly work, and it's better to suggest something similar and workable than to stop them outright.

I didn't add that one because I don't consider it an answer really. If you say "No, but..." you're effectively telling your players what their actions are. That's my opinion at least. I far prefer "No, because..." and explaining why their action doesn't just bend the laws of physics but violates them to the point the laws of physics will have a tearful revelation on Oprah they've been repressing the memories.

Unless you do "No, but when you try..." and giving them a really fun consequence. That would be fun...

Savannah
2011-07-03, 10:58 PM
Um, no, when I say that I'm not telling the players what their actions are. I'm just giving them the closest I can to their idea that has a chance of working. They're certainly free to reject it and choose to do something else instead.

Sebastrd
2011-07-05, 10:44 AM
While all of these are signs of a bad DM, I think the root problem is simply that your DM is playing a different game than the rest of you.

It sounds to me like your DM studied up on all the game rules, has a very logical/rigid personality type, and envisioned a certain style of game. The rest of you are playing a more typical style of D&D, and the DM just hasn't caught up yet.

Discuss it as a group, see if you can get the DM on the same page as the rest of you - with more typical expectations for the game - and hopefully things will improve.

It sounds like you guys are playing 3E, but I highly recommend someone pick up the 4E DMG. There's a LOT of good information for new DMs in there, and your DM could do with a read.

Jay R
2011-07-05, 11:26 AM
1) Players are in a mine with a Cart and Tracks leading to the BBEG. Instead of charging in, the players fill the cart with flammable material and explosive flasks and set it rolling towards the BBEG. GM gets frustrated, says that he had not envisioned that outcome.

Too many choices:
A. The cart rolls two feet and then stops.
B. The cart falls over, leaving a pile of explosives at the PCs' feet.
C. The wheels won't turn.
D. The bottom falls out of the cart, leaving the explosives behind.
E. The explosives arrive and don't explode until the PCs arrive, some time later.
F. The explosives explode the instant the fuse is lit.
G. The BBEG shows up behind them as soon as the cart is sent down, and the only way to run away is down the tracks.
H. As the cart starts to roll away, the fuse falls out of it onto the ground.

Has this guy never seen a Roadrunner cartoon?

Rogue Shadows
2011-07-05, 01:43 PM
Has this guy never seen a Roadrunner cartoon?

The BBEG appears waiting at the edge of sight and uses Nolzur's Marvelous Pigments to send the cart down a new track?

DontEatRawHagis
2011-07-05, 07:29 PM
A friend of mine occasionally runs into a problem with a few of his players (myself included). What it amounts to is the taking of fluff and using it for mechanical benefit.

Sounds like you don't really like this friend's DM style from the way you write later on.


Here are a few examples:

1) Players are in a mine with a Cart and Tracks leading to the BBEG. Instead of charging in, the players fill the cart with flammable material and explosive flasks and set it rolling towards the BBEG. GM gets frustrated, says that he had not envisioned that outcome.
Player's will do this, GM could have just said that the track does not go directly to the BBEG. Maybe it stops right at the door. It blows and the BBEG is only partially wounded.

Improving on the spot to keep things interesting is an art. If the players just killed the BBEG outright it wouldn't be fun, but after one-shotting the first five BBEGs it usually gets boring.


2) Player 1 is playing a Bardish warrior who goes around singing songs, even in battle. Player 1 decides to sing about the gruesome death his is about to deliver to Hulking NPC 1. Player 1 Kills Hulking NPC and asks to make an Intimidate check against enemies to demoralize them. GM gets frustrated, says there are no mechanics for it.
There is a mechanic for that its called level of awesome. In other systems(assuming 3.5) I have seen doing intimidation rolls to demoralize enemies, usually yelling at them, misc mods for the fluff. Depending on the willpower or wisdom check those in sight or earshot are demoralized. Separate rolls for each enemy.


3) Player 2 is playing a half-dragon evoker in a very high powered game. Player 2 is true neutral, but notices a band of innocents are going to die and saves them as the rest of the party more or less ignores the innocents. Player 2 saves the innocents, but gets called out for not acting within his alignment (argument being, why would he care -- he's a true neutral dragon). Player 2 later fluffs the rescue as an acquisition -- the people he saved are now part of his draconic horde, thus giving him a reason to save them.
GM gets frustrated, saying that it is a weak reason to act out of character

Alignment is a stupid restriction that should never actually factor into anything reasonable.

Neutral characters get **** on by DMs in my opinion because everyone has a different idea of what neutral is. One DM i know said the only way you could play a neutral character is if you switched sides in the middle of combat in order to make sure each side had a fair chance of winning. Other definitions could include: caring only about yourself, abstaining from everything, or only reacting to what you see in front of you.

If I was the player I would have a talk with the DM about what my character's alignment means to me. Here are a list of what I will do and what I wont do.

Ex. I do not seek out to do good or evil in the world. I do not follow the laws of the state nor am I brain damaged.


4) Player 3 gets in on a D&D game, asking to play an Expert/Horizon Walker who focuses on botany and arcana. GM says no, as he fears that Player 3 will create some kind of uber-build with the PrC. Player 3 instead plays an unoptimized melee combat Druid (we're talking feats spent on TWF and Weapon Focus: Scimitar, here), who proceeds to become the most powerful character in the party. GM gets frustrated, accuses Player 3 or min-maxing.

It it the players or the GM acting up here?

Honestly the GM is right to say that certain classes if he wants. For example I don't like hybrids, too many rules and too broken for my taste. Also if I don't own the book we can't play just in case there is a rule that was broken.

However the GM is unjust in calling his Melee combat Druid cheating. And GM shouldn't be saying this during the game, more likely he should try to add in stronger encounters to challenge the player. Cake walks are not fun for anyone especially if one player is better than the rest.

hamishspence
2011-07-06, 02:57 AM
I was simply referencing that if you had to make a Single motivation for each alignment, i think I hear agreement here that "Selfishness" or "greed' or otherwise "Benefiting" oneself (I just remember alot of people saying "thats not evil, thats just greedy, its neutral). He didnt save em "cus it was right" or save em So he could sacrifice em. He saved him cus it was a good idea and he'd profit off of it. I believe the fact that he managed to pull of a reasonable motivation after the fact is something to be admired. Players have a hard time trying to play a different alignment and even if it was after the fact he came up with a seemingly neutral motivation which will probably influence how he molds his character.

anyways. Wasnt trying to start an alignment debate. Just personally under the impression most people on this forum believe "greed" or "self serving" to be Neutrals halmark motivation. If i'm wrong then i guess i have a biased experience in that field *shrug*

True- nonselfish Neutral (or Evil for that matter) can exist- but it tends to be the exception rather than the rule.

"Selfish motive for beneficient deeds makes those deeds (and the character) closer to Neutral than Good" has been mentioned in D&D books before.

And the PHB does mention that Neutrals will sacrifice for people they value (friends, family, and for some, fellow citizens) but they generally don't sacrifice for strangers.

Serpentine
2011-07-06, 03:57 AM
I would argue that standing by and letting people die - especially if it would be no significant danger to oneself to save them (the OP is silent on just how risky the rescue was) - is Evil, not Neutral. Neutral can not seek out opportunities to do good deeds, or even actively avoid situations that would put them into such a position, and still feel obliged to do something when faced with something dire such as rescuing a number of innocents from certain death. Such a character has a concience and follows it, but only reluctantly, and (depending on the rest of the character) can still be Neutral.
I don't really believe that "nonselfish Neutral is the exception rather than the rule", I just think Neutral is disproportionately played that way.

hamishspence
2011-07-06, 04:02 AM
Selfish in the "will not make personal sacrifices" sense.


People who are neutral with respect to good and evil have compunctions against killing the innocent but lack the commitment to make sacrifices to protect or help others. Neutral people are committed to others by personal relationships.

Minimal risk rescues probably don't qualify as sacrifices.

A character with a conscience, might weigh the emotional pain of not acting and knowing that death resulted- vs the costs of acting, and decide that the emotional pain is "more expensive".

EDIT:

I would argue that standing by and letting people die - especially if it would be no significant danger to oneself to save them (the OP is silent on just how risky the rescue was) - is Evil, not Neutral.

I agree with this though- and have cited the BoVD text that supports this, quite a few times.

By "unselfish neutral" I mean so unselfish they'd be capital-G Good, if it weren't for all their (minor) evil deeds. Heroes of Horror supports this- but it's about the only 3.5 source that does.

dps
2011-07-06, 10:37 AM
If he doesn't want the PC's messing up his story tell him to stay home and write fan-fiction.


That's a bit harsh, but in a sense, not fundamentally incorrect.

An RPG, if done "right"*, is basically an exercise in story-telling, but it's colloborative story-telling involving both the players and the DM, not the players merely acting out the DM's script, which is how too many DM's look at it. Ideally, the DM provides the setting, and the players (with the help of the DM acting through NPCs) provide the plot. Or, put another way, the DM writes the prolouge, and the players and DM work together to write the rest of the book.


*Really, there is no right way to play an RPG; if everyone in the group is having fun, then it's being done right. Co-operative story-telling, however, seems to be the way most people who designed RPGs intended for them to be played.

Tyndmyr
2011-07-06, 03:00 PM
A friend of mine occasionally runs into a problem with a few of his players (myself included). What it amounts to is the taking of fluff and using it for mechanical benefit.

I wouldn't call it a problem. All fluff things I include are relevant. If it provides a mechanical benefit where it makes sense...awesome. Thats a good thing.


Here are a few examples:

1) Players are in a mine with a Cart and Tracks leading to the BBEG. Instead of charging in, the players fill the cart with flammable material and explosive flasks and set it rolling towards the BBEG. GM gets frustrated, says that he had not envisioned that outcome.

It's a quite literal railroad. The cart is going to the bad guy. This seems predictable. I have, in D&D, invented the combustion engine by a plausible sounding series of accidents. That's unpredictable.


2) Player 1 is playing a Bardish warrior who goes around singing songs, even in battle. Player 1 decides to sing about the gruesome death his is about to deliver to Hulking NPC 1. Player 1 Kills Hulking NPC and asks to make an Intimidate check against enemies to demoralize them. GM gets frustrated, says there are no mechanics for it.

There are plenty of mechanics for an intimidate check. This is a very flavorful time for him to use them. Circumstance bonus may be in order. Good work!


3) Player 2 is playing a half-dragon evoker in a very high powered game. Player 2 is true neutral, but notices a band of innocents are going to die and saves them as the rest of the party more or less ignores the innocents. Player 2 saves the innocents, but gets called out for not acting within his alignment (argument being, why would he care -- he's a true neutral dragon). Player 2 later fluffs the rescue as an acquisition -- the people he saved are now part of his draconic horde, thus giving him a reason to save them.
GM gets frustrated, saying that it is a weak reason to act out of character

True Neutral does not mean you always let innocents die. Even a fairly selfish person might do the occasional good deed. I don't see how he even needs the horde excuse, but yeah...personal benefit from saving them is a common motivation for less good characters. Good things for evil reasons is all kinds of fun.


4) Player 3 gets in on a D&D game, asking to play an Expert/Horizon Walker who focuses on botany and arcana. GM says no, as he fears that Player 3 will create some kind of uber-build with the PrC. Player 3 instead plays an unoptimized melee combat Druid (we're talking feats spent on TWF and Weapon Focus: Scimitar, here), who proceeds to become the most powerful character in the party. GM gets frustrated, accuses Player 3 or min-maxing.

It it the players or the GM acting up here?

I don't see at all how the DM is justifying these accusations. Is there more info here?

hamishspence
2011-07-06, 03:05 PM
True Neutral does not mean you always let innocents die. Even a fairly selfish person might do the occasional good deed. I don't see how he even needs the horde excuse, but yeah...personal benefit from saving them is a common motivation for less good characters. Good things for evil reasons is all kinds of fun.

I wonder how the DM would react to an Evil character doing Good things for Good reasons?

A "compassionate, self-sacrificing psychopath" (psychopath in the BoVD sense, which is person who takes great pleasure in inflicting pain or death on people) - who reserves their evil deeds entirely for "deserving victims" and behaves in a strongly Good fashion toward everyone else?

Occasional Sage
2011-07-06, 03:06 PM
Hey Wayfare, what's ever happened with this?

Tyndmyr
2011-07-06, 03:11 PM
I wonder how the DM would react to an Evil character doing Good things for Good reasons?

A "compassionate, self-sacrificing psychopath" (psychopath in the BoVD sense, which is person who takes great pleasure in inflicting pain or death on people) - who reserves their evil deeds entirely for "deserving victims" and behaves in a strongly Good fashion toward everyone else?

Yeah. People come in shades of grey. Witness any alignment argument...

Evil people occasionally do good things too. Some of them do quite a lot of good things.

hamishspence
2011-07-06, 03:15 PM
I lean to the view that compassion and vindictiveness are both possible in the same character.

And that it's possible to boost both of them into the stratosphere- they're not mutually incompatible.

Such a character might make an interesting "evil hero".

Pisha
2011-07-06, 07:41 PM
When I first attempted to run a D&D game (not that long ago), one of my players, who also DM's, was helping me set up some of the non-spoiler-y aspects of the game. He saw how much planning and plotting and elaborate storybuilding I was doing, and he gave me one piece of advice: assume the PC's are going to wreck your plans. They might not; if everything goes the way you imagine it, great. But try to think of all the ways they could destroy your carefully-laid plans, and then accept the fact that sometimes they'll find the one way you didn't think of.

And thank goodness he did! In the course of this (pretty short) game, I've had to improvise NPC's (complete with backstory and ties to main plot) on the fly, figure out a way for them to interrogate the NPC they managed to capture instead of kill without giving away the whole story, and look up rules for how one would go about breaking out of a jail cell by beating down the walls. (Me (to the Monk): "You're... punching the hinges of the metal door??" Monk: "Yup! I figure if I damage them badly enough, the door can't stay closed properly!" Me: "...") In each of these cases, the temptation was strong to say "Uh... I got nothing planned for that, and/or don't know rules for it, so you can't do it!", but that wouldn't have been a fun game. The warning helped me mentally prep myself for when those things happened.

It sounds like your GM didn't have anyone more experienced than him to prepare him for that. It can be really flustering when your players do something that upsets your plans, and if you're not ready for it, some people do react by freezing up or getting resentful. It sounds like a lot of this is coming from players doing certain things, making certain actions, and being more powerful than he was expecting, and he's having trouble reacting well.

Coming down hard on him would be extremely satisfying, I know, but what'll probably do more good is reassurance. Let him know what you like about his playstyle, and tell you're not going to think he's a horrible GM if an encounter doesn't go as planned, or he has to stop and look up a rule (or - gasp! - make it up), or if an encounter turns out to be over- or under-powered because the group isn't reacting the way he expects. Especially if he's new, he's probably pretty nervous that he's going to look like he doesn't know what he's doing. It might help for him to hear that the GM never really does, not once the players start reacting! The best any GM, even the absolute pros that make it look easy, can ever do is to roll with it gracefully.

With any luck, maybe that'll help him relax a little and not get defensive when he's taken by surprise.

Serpentine
2011-07-06, 11:34 PM
I wonder how the DM would react to an Evil character doing Good things for Good reasons?

A "compassionate, self-sacrificing psychopath" (psychopath in the BoVD sense, which is person who takes great pleasure in inflicting pain or death on people) - who reserves their evil deeds entirely for "deserving victims" and behaves in a strongly Good fashion toward everyone else?So... Dexter? :smallconfused:
:smalltongue:

king.com
2011-07-07, 12:53 AM
1) Players are in a mine with a Cart and Tracks leading to the BBEG. Instead of charging in, the players fill the cart with flammable material and explosive flasks and set it rolling towards the BBEG. GM gets frustrated, says that he had not envisioned that outcome.

2) Player 1 is playing a Bardish warrior who goes around singing songs, even in battle. Player 1 decides to sing about the gruesome death his is about to deliver to Hulking NPC 1. Player 1 Kills Hulking NPC and asks to make an Intimidate check against enemies to demoralize them. GM gets frustrated, says there are no mechanics for it.


Wish I had players like this.



3) Player 2 is playing a half-dragon evoker in a very high powered game. Player 2 is true neutral, but notices a band of innocents are going to die and saves them as the rest of the party more or less ignores the innocents. Player 2 saves the innocents, but gets called out for not acting within his alignment (argument being, why would he care -- he's a true neutral dragon). Player 2 later fluffs the rescue as an acquisition -- the people he saved are now part of his draconic horde, thus giving him a reason to save them.
GM gets frustrated, saying that it is a weak reason to act out of character


One of the reasons alignment is silly, a character chooses to do something, why not shift his alignment towards good then? Since the alignment definitions need to be established beforehand, and a normal person can change based upon their experiences....alignment is silly.



4) Player 3 gets in on a D&D game, asking to play an Expert/Horizon Walker who focuses on botany and arcana. GM says no, as he fears that Player 3 will create some kind of uber-build with the PrC. Player 3 instead plays an unoptimized melee combat Druid (we're talking feats spent on TWF and Weapon Focus: Scimitar, here), who proceeds to become the most powerful character in the party. GM gets frustrated, accuses Player 3 or min-maxing.


One of the reasons I dont play D&D and really dont want to from what I see on this board, seems easy to make very powerful characters versus characters who dont know how/choose not to do so and a GM seems to need to be so very much on top of everything in order to let everyone participate that it seems super easy to throw one over the GM's head.

hamishspence
2011-07-07, 02:35 AM
So... Dexter? :smallconfused:
:smalltongue:

Or possibly the Inglorious Basterds- if we assume that their rage against the Nazis is driven partly by compassion for their victims.

There's quite a few characters in fantasy that take "pay evil unto evil" a very long way.

Rogue Shadows
2011-07-07, 10:24 AM
One of the reasons alignment is silly, a character chooses to do something, why not shift his alignment towards good then? Since the alignment definitions need to be established beforehand, and a normal person can change based upon their experiences....alignment is silly.

Because an individual good, neutral, or evil action does not necessarily indicate a shift towards good, neutral, or evil in a character?

As I've said, alignment is the sum of a character's choices, not each choice in isolation. A neutral or even evil character can still make good choices, and can even do them for altruistic reasons.

Read Eberron! Especially the Heirs of Ash trilogy. That trilogy handles the whole alignment thing - without actually bringing it up - beautifully.

Also, alignment's only silly if you get straddled with people who don't understand the sentance above. Personally, next time I get a chance to play something, I'm going Lawful Good, just to see what happens.

...Of course, I happen to know for a fact that the next campaign is going to be Vampire: The Masquerade.

...so that will be fun.

hamishspence
2011-07-07, 10:33 AM
Personally, next time I get a chance to play something, I'm going Lawful Good, just to see what happens.

...Of course, I happen to know for a fact that the next campaign is going to be Vampire: The Masquerade.

...so that will be fun.

For a vamp who's strongly committed to denying their Beast, this might actually make a lot of sense.

Serpentine
2011-07-07, 11:02 AM
Rogue Shadows: He did say "shift his alignment towards Good", not make it Good in one fell blow.

Golden-Esque
2011-07-07, 12:54 PM
1) Players are in a mine with a Cart and Tracks leading to the BBEG. Instead of charging in, the players fill the cart with flammable material and explosive flasks and set it rolling towards the BBEG. GM gets frustrated, says that he had not envisioned that outcome.

Without any REAL description of the room the tracks are in other than "BBEG is in there" this one is particularly easy to deal with. The GM could rule that the explosives damage the room, making it into difficult terrain but the BBEG's location in the room (perhaps on a ledge or within a small crevice) makes the explosives less potent (3d6 damage, perhaps) plus giving the player's a surprise round.

Another slightly dickish, but perfectly logical, outcome is to roll a percentage die (maybe 5% per square moves on the minecart) to determine whether the fuse is prematurely snuffed out. No explosives in a medieval/renaissance game would be motion/impact triggered; they would all have to be lit, and combined with the speed of the minecart and the fact that soot and debris could be floating around in this cave combines to a very likely chance that the fuse simply goes out before it is supposed to. This would alert the BBEG to the player's presence (an empty cart of explosives just rolls into your lair?) and if the GM is feeling particularly malicious, he could have the BBEG ready an action to shoot the explosives with a flaming arrow or something as the PCs come in, causing THEM to take the heat instead.

Either options would certainly deter such thinking, if not simply require the PCs to take more thought on the matter and not rely on movie logic.


2) Player 1 is playing a Bardish warrior who goes around singing songs, even in battle. Player 1 decides to sing about the gruesome death his is about to deliver to Hulking NPC 1. Player 1 Kills Hulking NPC and asks to make an Intimidate check against enemies to demoralize them. GM gets frustrated, says there are no mechanics for it.

There's a Pathfinder feat for that. It's called Dreadful Carnage (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/combat-feats/dreadful-carnage-combat) and basically how it works is when you drop a creature to 0 Hit Points, you get to make an Intimidate check against all creatures within 30 feet of you that can see you and did see you drop the creature to 0 hp. It's a rather costly feat, requiring Str 15, Power Attack, Furious Focus, and base attack bonus +11.


3) Player 2 is playing a half-dragon evoker in a very high powered game. Player 2 is true neutral, but notices a band of innocents are going to die and saves them as the rest of the party more or less ignores the innocents. Player 2 saves the innocents, but gets called out for not acting within his alignment (argument being, why would he care -- he's a true neutral dragon). Player 2 later fluffs the rescue as an acquisition -- the people he saved are now part of his draconic horde, thus giving him a reason to save them. GM gets frustrated, saying that it is a weak reason to act out of character

I agree that it is a dumb reason, especially since the innocents are not draconic and therefore cannot be part of a "draconic horde," as the word draconic infers that all members of the horde are dragonkin. However, to me it sounds like your entire party, not just the GM, is far too restricted by alignment lines; especially when the character is an evoker and therefore has no mechanical benefits or restrictions based on his or her alignment. True Neutral does not mean "I care about nothing," it means "I do not prefer Good over Evil, nor Law over Chaos." It basically means someone who places their needs over ideals of morality. To me, this is a group problem and not a GM problem, as you are basically expecting the person to play a very specific ideology within True Neutral; Apathetic Neutral. Not all who are True Neutral are Apathetic Neutral.


4) Player 3 gets in on a D&D game, asking to play an Expert/Horizon Walker who focuses on botany and arcana. GM says no, as he fears that Player 3 will create some kind of uber-build with the PrC. Player 3 instead plays an unoptimized melee combat Druid (we're talking feats spent on TWF and Weapon Focus: Scimitar, here), who proceeds to become the most powerful character in the party. GM gets frustrated, accuses Player 3 or min-maxing.

You're not telling us HOW the player becomes the most powerful member of the party, and to be frank, does it matter? It is min-maxing? Does the player simply know how to use his character better than the rest of your players do? Does the GM place you in situations where the party member's skill set shines more often than the other players?

Being "powerful" is a lot like being "useful." It is completely subjective and depends heavily on the situations your players are based in. Sometimes being "powerful" has nothing to do with the PC and everything to do with the player. For example, in my current campaign, my one friend is new-ish to D&D. She knows how to play, but she does not know how to optimize and she lets her boyfriend (another player) build her character to her specifications (I want to be able to Two-Weapon Fight and I want to be a good investigator; good at finding clues and tracking people down and what not). One particular night, I put the entire group up against a series of puzzle-challenges. While this player was not the only person with ranks in Disable Device and Perception, she was always the first person to figure out how the puzzles worked out of game and she was always the first to jump into action instead of debating about it with the rest of the players. Sometimes this worked (She solved a Karma Room where damage was dealt to the attacker by impaling herself on a spike wall which had a door hidden behind it), other times it did not (she tried to break a room of living crystal, activating its glass golem defense perimeters). Regardless, she is often seen as a powerful character because of the player's intuition that manifests itself in the character.

On the other hand, I have another player who has built himself a battle Cleric. His spells, his equipment, his feats, his weapons, they're all optimized to ensure that he deals the most damage possible per swing. That is where he shines as both a character and a player; he's a good tactician and the sheer amount of damage he generates in-game also makes him a powerful character. He is powerful in a completely different way then the previous player, but given their strengths as both players and characters, this is to be expected.

The moral of the story is that, if the GM plans their adventures appropriately, everyone should feel "powerful." If one player maximizes the Linguistics skill (as one of mine did), then make sure he has opportunities to USE that skill; he will figure out ways to use it in ways the GM doesn't expect, after all, so plan some encounters where that skill is a viable tactic. If you have players that like combat but aren't into roleplaying, make sure you give them opportunities to bash heads in without worrying about diplomats trying to reason with the baddies (undead, constructs, and other mindless creatures work well here).


It it the players or the GM acting up here?

Hrm, let's see. In situation #1, that is the GM acting up. That scenario makes it sound like he isn't strong with handling the weird things players will do. Believe me, they will. They always do. Being a Good DM is to understand your player's logic and interpret it in a way that doesn't allow them to break the game, such as the examples I gave above. It is great to reward creative thinking, but it is also important to punish careless or impulsive thinking; you want your players to act like they are a part of the world, and if they run around like maniacs blowing up minecarts, then they're not immersed at all.

For Situation #2, that one is no one's fault. Many skills are open-ended, and it is up to the GM to interpret their usage. If he doesn't want to say "You don't have the feat for that," he could also say "okay, but you need to do it as a full-round action on your next turn." Demoralize has a very real mechanical benefit to it, and you can't let the players just willy-nilly place a -2 penalty on all creatures as a free action. Now, taking your turn to do it, maybe even expending some Bardic Performances, now THAT is a fair trade.

Situation #3 is the player's fault, pure and simple. Not only are the other party members trying to enforce a strict alignment line on a comrade, but the other player is also trying to force people into a horde serving him. There's actually a feat for that, it's called Leadership and no skill check or even a deed should be able to emulate a feat. Besides this, if there were innocents in trouble, there is a good chance that the GM wanted them to be saved for a reason. Your group needs to focus less on alignment and more and roleplaying; Good people are capable of horrible things just like Evil people are capable of compassion; such traits typically make for the best heroes and the most memorable villains.

I can't comment on Situation 4 because not enough information has been given. I don't know WHY the Horizon Walker is deemed "the most powerful party member," but remember, power is objective. It is also a possibility that the GM doesn't provide opportunities for other characters to seem powerful. A good GM can take the most un-optimized train wreck of a character and give him limelight; a moment for him and his party to think of him as being a powerful, contributing member of the group.

There's my 2 sp.

Pisha
2011-07-07, 01:34 PM
I agree that it is a dumb reason, especially since the innocents are not draconic and therefore cannot be part of a "draconic horde," as the word draconic infers that all members of the horde are dragonkin.

I think the word the OP meant to use was "hoard." Try it that way; it makes a lot more sense.


However, to me it sounds like your entire party, not just the GM, is far too restricted by alignment lines;

Huh? I'm pretty sure (from the context, and the OP's response to other comments) that it was the GM, not the party members, who had a problem with the Neutral character taking this action.



You're not telling us HOW the player becomes the most powerful member of the party

At a guess? By playing a Druid. That's... kinda how that works. (Specifically, the player apparently tried to cobble together a half-NPC-class Druid-ish character, which the GM vetoed for being too powerful... and then the GM was somehow surprised when the actual Druid he defaulted to was more powerful.)

Tyndmyr
2011-07-07, 03:49 PM
. There's actually a feat for that, it's called Leadership and no skill check or even a deed should be able to emulate a feat.

Hell, you do realize that a wild variety of books give you the equivalent benefit of a feat merely for say, visiting an interesting location, right?

The philosophy that feats should not be duplicated by actions is not one supported by the rules themselves.

kyoryu
2011-07-07, 07:04 PM
True Neutral does not mean you always let innocents die. Even a fairly selfish person might do the occasional good deed. I don't see how he even needs the horde excuse, but yeah...personal benefit from saving them is a common motivation for less good characters. Good things for evil reasons is all kinds of fun.


Alignment of people is a general tendency, not an absolute. Good people do evil, and evil people do good.

Even a neutral person might help innocents - if doing so is at no real cost to himself. Most people are Neutral on the Good/Evil axis. Helping someone across the street isn't really a "Good" act. It's nice, but there's no real risk or sacrifice. Stopping someone from getting mugged, knowing that the muggers might mug/assault/kill you *is*. Giving someone fifty cents isn't really a good act, either... giving them half of your income *is*.

Kalirren
2011-07-07, 08:18 PM
Sounds like a lack of adaptability, pure and simple. RP'ing with an unadaptable DM isn't collaborative.

I agree with the posters above who think that this DM puts system over game to a fault. How would I deal with it? Tell him that's exactly what he's doing. You don't play a system. You play a game and you use a system to help you play the game. He needs to know it's his responsibility to Rule 0 to find a way to frame what the players do, not to just say no.

Bosh
2011-07-07, 11:56 PM
What it amounts to is the taking of fluff and using it for mechanical benefit.
This is what good GMs live for, GMs that try to stomp all over one of the best aspects of roleplaying shouldn't be GMs.

Pisha
2011-07-08, 04:37 PM
Hell, you do realize that a wild variety of books give you the equivalent benefit of a feat merely for say, visiting an interesting location, right?

The philosophy that feats should not be duplicated by actions is not one supported by the rules themselves.

Or, at the very least, the ability to go into "feat-debt." I.e., if the rp and the story leads you to something that would normally be represented by a feat (like rescuing a bunch of people who are open to the idea of being your followers), a flexible GM should be able to work out a system wherein you can use it, but your next feat is already spoken for. (Or something in-between. Say, "well, they can be your followers, but you'll have to train them. They'll follow you around and do minor stuff for you, but they really won't be skilled enough to be really helpful until... mmm... well, until you level up enough to pick up the feat for it!" The point I'm making here is that if the rules clash with telling a good story, creative compromises need to be made.)

chaotoroboto
2011-07-12, 02:39 AM
1) Players are in a mine with a Cart and Tracks leading to the BBEG. Instead of charging in, the players fill the cart with flammable material and explosive flasks and set it rolling towards the BBEG. GM gets frustrated, says that he had not envisioned that outcome.


I think this is roughly as common as starting in a tavern. Any GM who doesn't expect this shouldn't have had minecarts or rail tracks.

Autolykos
2011-07-12, 04:42 AM
Or Explosives. Usually explosives are the first thing players try to solve their problems - any GM worth their salt knows this. I already lost count on how many city blocks our group leveled with gratuitous use of C4, ANFOS and FAE Bombs (sometimes even by accident). They also get very creative in obtaining the stuff. Just giving them explosives and not expecting them to use it on the next few problems is a sign of a very inexperienced GM.

Tyndmyr
2011-07-12, 11:08 AM
Or Explosives. Usually explosives are the first thing players try to solve their problems - any GM worth their salt knows this. I already lost count on how many city blocks our group leveled with gratuitous use of C4, ANFOS and FAE Bombs (sometimes even by accident). They also get very creative in obtaining the stuff. Just giving them explosives and not expecting them to use it on the next few problems is a sign of a very inexperienced GM.

Yes. Players are like ADD children. If you give them a pile of gold, expect them to try to gleefully spend it in short order. Explosives? Oh, they're gonna blow stuff up with them. New level of spells? Probably gonna get used next combat with much rejoicing. Players love new, powerful looking toys, and will typically use them quickly.

Not expecting this is definitely a sign of a novice GM. More experienced GMs learn to not only anticipate this, but to use this to set up interesting scenarios.

Mark Hall
2011-07-12, 02:15 PM
Yes. Players are like ADD children. If you give them a pile of gold, expect them to try to gleefully spend it in short order. Explosives? Oh, they're gonna blow stuff up with them. New level of spells? Probably gonna get used next combat with much rejoicing. Players love new, powerful looking toys, and will typically use them quickly.

Not expecting this is definitely a sign of a novice GM. More experienced GMs learn to not only anticipate this, but to use this to set up interesting scenarios.

Such as a room packed with even MORE explosives, that blows up and throws shrapnel at the players, while destabilizing the cave complex. You all take <rolls 3d6> 12 damage, dex save for half. I think that knocks Bob unconscious no matter what, right? You have <rolls 2d6> 5 turns to escape the cave complex before it collapses and kills you all.

Bob, are you at -3 or -9? What are you doing?

<starts stopwatch>

Ghost49X
2012-08-04, 10:09 AM
So now that this thread got pretty fat I'd be interested on the opinion of the original poster on all the advice that was provided to him or anyone else who used it. While I don't believe any of the advice was bad including names in your opinion would be appreciated. No need to respond with negative opinions