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View Full Version : Gamer Drama Am I an unreasonable player? Rogue Trader blues



Kalmageddon
2015-07-03, 12:39 PM
Warning: wall of text incoming. But please read the whole thing before replying.

In my gaming career, now approaching 14 years, I've almost always been the GM. It started from the very first campaign I took part in, the DM was ****, so I said "I can do better than this!" and did. Occasionally I would go back to being a player and inevitably either the GM wouldn't be that good or they wouldn't have the skills to manage the group well enough to make the campaign last more than a handful of sessions.
Meanwhile, I run some good campaigns, players are all having fun and once the group consolidates it's basically guaranteed that I'll be able to run a year-long game with a satistfying ending. So I think I have GMing pretty much under control. But inevitably I get tired of it and try to go back to being a player, only to be disappoined and go back to GMing.

Up until now, I was satisfied with exactly 2 campaigns of the many I took part in as a player. In one of them my character was basically the real protagonist and I got to do everything I wanted to do and make a real impact on the world. How much of it was due to skill and how much was due to pandering I couldn't tell you, so it's not really my standard. The other one was a very promising RotRL campaign that lasted about 2-3 sessions before the GM moved to another country, so I don't know if I should really count it.

Which brings me to my current predicament. I'm taking part in a Rogue Trader campaign via Skype with a few friends. Bantering is always fun, we crack some good jokes on the various situations, but I'm finding myself more and more disatisfied with the campaign itself.
This is due to various factors, which I'll try to sum up:

- The GM is really, really description heavy. Anything we do warrants a full blown description that takes 2-3 minutes of game time away, this borders on comical when we explicitly ask to make things move quicker, the GM agrees, and the moment after that he's back making description porn of stuff that could be summed up with 3 words.

- Related, the GM likes to describe what our characters say or do. Not in the sense that he takes away control from us, mind you. But let's say I describe what my character does, maybe I roleplay it in first person, maybe I just give a quick summary. Moments later, the GM is "flashing out" what happens by basically repeating or expanding on what my character does, putting words in its mouth and so on. The first few times I actually bothered to correct him, saying "no, my character doesn't say Y, he says X", but I realized this only served to have him repeat a variation on what I literally just described yet again.

- We are playing on easy mode. I was new to Rogue Trader when we started and, having no real sense of what was "normal" for the game, fell in love with the idea of starting on a Grand Cruiser, because I found one ship that had a really cool history. Basically we started with 20 ship points more than what should be possibile. The GM initially said that because of that we would have to start with only "virtual" Profict Factor (what you use to buy stuff and mantain what you have) that would decrease over time.
This sounded good, having to rush some really profitable jobs in order to avoid bankruptcy and the ruin of our house was a cool premise, even if it wasn't standard for the game. But this never amounted to anything except starting with very low PF.
And in almost 6 month of gaming, our ship never took a single point of hull damage. Basically we wen unopposed and uncontested. The few times when stuff could have happened, the GM made it go away with a handwave, like the one time his girlfriend's character could have died because she pushed her Psi rating too high. Or when our whole fleet should have been stuck in a warp storm.
Or what about the fact that we have a full stock of VORTEX GRENADES?! Stuff that would be high-end for Astartes and isn't even contemplated in Rogue Trader material.

-Finally, the real problem, everyone in the group plays individually. Basically we are all in downtime for 90% of the game while one or two other players do something, which proceeds very slowly because descriptions, and in 3-4 hours of game time we actually play for like 20 minutes each. This is strongly correlated to the fact that the GM has to describe everything, so when somebody just wants to buy a gun, this takes at least 10 minutes out of the game, which is considerable in a system when you don't even have to keep track of currency.

Now, you are probably saying "no, you are not being unreasonable in having problems with this game". But here's the thing. This guy? Probably one of the most lauded GM's I've ever known. Nobody else is speaking up on these issues and as far as I know, everyone is comfortable with it, except one player that shares my frustration but hasn't acted on it in any way.
So I have to wonder... Is this something that actually happens in almost all campaigns? Do most of you guys have to put up with similarly frustrating aspects when you are playing as players?
Basically, am I being unreasonable and all of this is perfectly normal in the average gaming group? Am I the exception, as a GM, for not having this sort of things and should I just put up with it and not give any real feedback?

eleazzaar
2015-07-03, 01:26 PM
What you describe would drive me crazy. I don't know anything about that game, but I believe in making a strong distinction between important and unimportant, and minimizing the one to emphasize the other.

If people love this GM perhaps he's a really good narrator that makes the setting come alive? I don't know-- but such a style isn't for everyone. There's no shame in haveing a different preference.

some guy
2015-07-03, 01:38 PM
I would step out of that game, but I would not find it unreasonable if other people would like that dm'ing style.

Kalmageddon
2015-07-03, 01:39 PM
He is definitly a good narrator, no doubt about that.
However, I'm strongly against strictly narrative rpgs, I feel like I need to be challenged and that the possibility of faliure must be dictated by both impartially enforced hard rules and appropriately challenging encounters. And in my opinion, Rogue Trader isn't the right rpg for a narrativist style of GMing. Half the fun, from what I can see, comes from the possibility of a roll badly screwing you or presenting you with an unforseen challenge, maybe during warp travel, maybe after a botched skill roll. The GM should go for an almost hands-off approach, based entirely on player initiative and the random outcome of tables and events.

This GM purposefully simplifies rules (or just ignores them) in favour of making things happen the way we want them to (easy mode) or in the way he thinks is more interesting, which results in us getting bogged down in sidequests all the time, which take 1-2 sessions to complete each. To put it in perspective, the campaign has been going on for 6 months now. We have completed exactly 2 Endeavours. The premise of the campaign should have been a conquistadores style campaign, with us running around the Koronus expanse, plundering planets for resources and ancient tech. So far we have seen none of it.

Katana1515
2015-07-03, 01:53 PM
That's a LOT of time spent in one on one or one on two. As a GM I find 'private' scenes useful and my players love them. But if its taking over the game that much I would definitely speak up about it. My group frequently does scenes like this with a 'tarantino' effect, ie out of chronological order. This means we can fit in RP scenes important to individual characters when it's convenient, rather than keeping 3 out 4 players out of the game.

Propose that some of these scenes take place sometime during the week when the GM and relevant player are free rather than consuming session time which should focus on your group activities. Consider alternate mediums like Chat or PbP for those scenes if finding time for video calls is a pain.

Hopefully if you can reclaim some of this lost time the overly flowery description will be less annoying. Trust me when I say that a tendency to be overly verbose is vastly preferable to a GM who stutters or has nothing to say.

PS I feel your pain on the I CAN DO THIS BETTER syndrome, I myself suffer from it.

Kalmageddon
2015-07-03, 02:09 PM
Propose that some of these scenes take place sometime during the week when the GM and relevant player are free rather than consuming session time which should focus on your group activities. Consider alternate mediums like Chat or PbP for those scenes if finding time for video calls is a pain.


In theory, we already done that. In practice, there is the intention but not the facts. The GM runs something like 4-5 campaigns each week and already isn't really good at time and group management, so what we get when we try to handle stuff in-between sections is that he either says "ok, we'll do the rolls before the game" only to show up half an hour late and spend the next hour or so handling the situation or he just makes us do the rolls ourselves but then, the next session, he goes on one of his descriptive rampages, makes follow-up questions and we are back to the previous example where it takes an hour to get it over with.

Criticism has been encouraged but not really listened to. As I said, even when we push for a faster resolution of something he makes it sound like it's perfectly reasonable but then he does everything as before. Putting me/us in the uncomfortable situation of not being really sure if we should insist because maybe he hasn't understood what we mean or just let it go because maybe he simply can't concieve a different way of doing things and there's always the possibility of unintentionally offending him.
It's kind of jarring, actually, and even if I'm sure he's not doing it on purpose, it's the most effective way to reject criticism I've ever seen. Simply aknowledge that those that criticize you are right, agree on doing things differently and then don't. Nobody will be sure on how to react from that point on.

Katana1515
2015-07-03, 02:51 PM
He has you trapped in a web of your own politeness! I would call him on it personally, describe his habit and suggest your fruatration in the politest way you can manage. If he doesn't change, explain that this format isn't for you. It doesn't sound like you will be missing much sadly. If he refuses to work out what his players want from the game and adapt to it, I don't think he should be so lauded? Though I suppose his style could be aimed at the rest of the group?

Kalmageddon
2015-07-03, 03:01 PM
What I can tell you for a fact is that his girlfriend loves being pandered to and hates challenging situations, so I'm pretty sure this kind of campaign is right up her alley. He's known for setting up private campaigns just for her, which I'm fairly sure are basically power fantasies for her. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just a form of escapism I'm not interested in.

Two players are a very specific kind of geek, born and raised on roleplaying servers of computer roleplaying games where not having anything to do and dealing with questionably competent GMs is the norm, so I'm fairly sure their standards are set so low that they would complain only if the game went completely off the rails. As long as they feel like the roleplaying aspect is done right and they can spend their downtime during the campaign logged in their rpg server I feel like they are fine.

The other two players are more of my own brand, but not nearly as outspoken as me when it comes to criticism. One is a bit of a munchkin and would never complain for things being too easy or his own character being too OP, both of which are true. The other simply is really, really careful in openly criticizing anything.

Last player is a newbie with no experience who spends his time on Facebook or in LoL when it's not his turn, he's barely in the campaign anyway.

But I guess the point of this thread is that, despite evidence and my own common sense, I might be wrong. Maybe I'm asking too much and most people just play the game as it comes without having much in the way of standards and expectations. It's just that my free time just disappeared after starting a new job which leaves me with very little free time and spending my afternoon playing Hearthstone while I wait for my turn is starting to feel like wasted time... At the same time, it's one of the really few occasions I have to spend time with these people, which I like and whose company I greately enjoy. I mean, aside from eventual rolepaying incompatibilities, they are all good friends and I generally have a good time just bantering.

ShaneMRoth
2015-07-03, 04:50 PM
The few times when stuff could have happened, the GM made it go away with a handwave, like the one time his girlfriend's character could have died because she pushed her Psi rating too high. Or when our whole fleet should have been stuck in a warp storm.


There could be a problem.

Can't quite place my finger on it.

But it seems like there is a problem. Somewhere.

It's on the tip of my tongue...

TheThan
2015-07-03, 06:25 PM
As always talking to the DM can solve this.

Ask him privately if he can find a way to speed up his game. Tell him youíre finding it hard to keep interest when you spend 90% of the session doing nothing but listen to him drone on.

If he doesnít seem to get it, record a game session and play it back for him. particularly the parts when he simply repeats what you say and ignores your pleas to speed up the game.

Kalmageddon
2015-07-04, 11:33 AM
There could be a problem.

Can't quite place my finger on it.

But it seems like there is a problem. Somewhere.

It's on the tip of my tongue...

Nah, he's probably not doing it on purpose. Beside, they have that kind of relationship and frankly I don't mind, it's not like he's turning her character into a Mary Sue or anything. That's not even something I would bring up, honestly.

As for openly talking to him, I sort of tried that yesterday, recommending the golden rule of "never split the party if you can avoid it", he didn't sound enthusiastic about it but we'll see. I'm more worried that nobody commented on it, frankly I've always had a problem with people that don't speak up their mind. Even just to say "look we think the current situation is fine and we don't agree with you".

Hawkstar
2015-07-04, 11:38 AM
It seems like a playstyle mismatch to me.

Thrawn4
2015-07-04, 04:31 PM
I feel your pain. I have been the GM for most of my roleplay career, and I rarely amused myself as a player. On the one hand I usually have way more practice and theoretical knowledge, on the other I obviously pander to my own style while GMing. In other words, it's a matter of different preferences and (sorry if I sound smug) me having more experience. It can be irritating sometimes... Maybe I actually am smug, but I find it dissatisfying if I want to go hunting, the DM asks me to roll to see what I find and then says "You find a boar. It attacks you. Roll initiative." Especially when other players seem to be fine with that.
There was also a skype game where I spent most of the time listening to the GM and barely acted at all. It was extremely boring and did not last long.

Marlowe
2015-07-05, 07:09 AM
Okay, I don't know anything about Rogue Trader but I do know my BFG. And...

You're on a GRAND CRUISER.:smalleek:

A very rare, ancient type of vessel that also happens to be over 12 km long. With a crew of thousands. Regular IN Cruisers are big enough to classify as flying cities, and Grand Cruisers are...well...bigger.

This ship should be the flagship of the local Imperial navy squadron, not a trading vessel. The cost of your ship shouldn't just be bankrupting your house. It should be enough to bankrupt an entire industrial system for years.

Is this sort of thing normal in RT? If not; was there any justification for the DM handing you a ship that makes the Executor look like a modest little roadster?

Kalmageddon
2015-07-05, 07:27 AM
What you are thinking of is a Battleship. A Grand Cruiser is indeed an ancient vessel, but ancient in the sense of outdated (and this is WH40K so think about it for a moment) which is not nearly as big, it's "only" 7,5 km.
And it's not a trading vessel at all, it's a ship made to plunder planets conquistador-style, the trading part is handled by contracted freighters or our small escort fleet of captured ships.

Anyway, yes it's a mighty powerful ship, even if it's still not fully armed. Honestly I had no idea how costly they were in RT, I just remember reading about the Repulsive Grand Cruiser hull and loving the idea of flying in a cursed ship known for being used almost exclusively by Chaos, so basically flying one of the few remaning loyalist Repulsive class.
As I said, at the time I didn' know that it shouldn't have been possibile. But it's not like the ship can't be challenged, in fact it's not as strong as you might think. Beside, we won most of our naval engagements by boarding and hit and run tactics, which in RT are effective regardless of ship class and size.
Anyway, it's not impossibile to challenge us, but the GM is not really trying.

Marlowe
2015-07-05, 07:45 AM
Oh. I know the difference between a Grand Cruiser and a Battleship. I have a Repulsive myself. It had its weaknesses but its a damn nice heavyweight brawler.

We can argue about scale, but whether 12km long (what it says in BFG) or 7500 meter long, still an insane asset to just hand a group of players. Even a Vengeance would have been slightly more plausible.

TurboGhast
2015-07-05, 11:43 AM
I honestly don't understand why he is lauded after reading that he uses so much prose that it drags down the game's flow, among other issues. You seem perfectly reasonable.

Genth
2015-07-05, 03:57 PM
This sounds like much more of a (and people have said this before) a play style mismatch rather than a 'bad gm'.

But it's not just a mismatch with the GM, it's a mismatch with the game. Rogue Trader is very VERY different to the other 40k rpgs. Rogue Trader is ENTIRELY about having an obscenely powerful starship, weapons, all the goodies you could want...

Having a Grand Cruiser is entirely within the purview of a Rogue Trader. Don't let the 'Trader' part fool you, these are not 'Merchants' or 'Tradespeople', Rogue Traders have almost as much political and much more economic clout than blimmin' Inquisitors. Especially in the Koronus Expanse. Rogue Trader houses have economies BIGGER than Industrial sectors.

With Rogue Trader, you have the ENTIRE SECTOR to explore, literally with wonders never seen by human eyes, with enough firepower and clout to go and do whatever you want. I disagree that Rogue Trader should be 'About loosing everything on a single dice roll', and if anything, is the perfect game for long narratives, because there's *so much stuff*. It sounds like you're looking much more for a Dark Heresy game to be honest.

Kalmageddon
2015-07-05, 04:26 PM
This sounds like much more of a (and people have said this before) a play style mismatch rather than a 'bad gm'.

But it's not just a mismatch with the GM, it's a mismatch with the game. Rogue Trader is very VERY different to the other 40k rpgs. Rogue Trader is ENTIRELY about having an obscenely powerful starship, weapons, all the goodies you could want...

Having a Grand Cruiser is entirely within the purview of a Rogue Trader. Don't let the 'Trader' part fool you, these are not 'Merchants' or 'Tradespeople', Rogue Traders have almost as much political and much more economic clout than blimmin' Inquisitors. Especially in the Koronus Expanse. Rogue Trader houses have economies BIGGER than Industrial sectors.

With Rogue Trader, you have the ENTIRE SECTOR to explore, literally with wonders never seen by human eyes, with enough firepower and clout to go and do whatever you want. I disagree that Rogue Trader should be 'About loosing everything on a single dice roll', and if anything, is the perfect game for long narratives, because there's *so much stuff*. It sounds like you're looking much more for a Dark Heresy game to be honest.

I don't want to lose everything, but I would like some challenge and the feeling that bad things could happen to our characters and/or ship if we screw up. Nothing that should be beyond recovery, but Rogue Trader rules absolutely support a large amount of random events, both for botched Profict Factor rolls and for warp travel. Anyway, that's beside the point. Even if Rogue Trader is about having a cool ship and all the wealth in the world I don't think it's wrong to wish for some amount of challenge.

Vitruviansquid
2015-07-05, 05:53 PM
You are being reasonable. There's a style that you like to play that doesn't match the style that is being played, so you're not having a ton of fun. That's reasonable. I suppose there is a possibility that you're being a control freak, and you're never going to be happy with anything he does because it was he, not you, who doe sit, but forum people like me can't diagnose that.

The GM is also being reasonable. There's a style that his player wants, but it's much easier and more natural for the GM to run games in his own style, and even when he is trying to play a different style, he can backslide into it without knowing.

What I would do in your position is try to enjoy what you can enjoy in the campaign. Accept the fact that the GM will never run, or even be able to run, the game exactly as you would run it. If there is truly nothing enjoyable about the campaign, even the ability to sit down and hang out with your friends for a few hours a week, then you should probably leave it. The exception is if you leaving the game means the game will be canceled, in which case people would probably appreciate your complaints a lot more than you just leaving.

CombatBunny
2015-07-07, 12:43 PM
Hi,

I just want to tell you that I also share your frustration, and it has nothing to do with a different GMing style.

Since the first moment I knew RPGs I felt in love with them. From the first moment I wanted to be a player and live many adventures, guided by the hand of a good GM that would give me liberty and would make a world come alive before my eyes. But because I didnít know anyone around who played this kind of games, I bought my first manual, I read it, prepared my first adventure, gathered interested people and began to play feeling unsure because I had never witnessed how was this supposed to be played and I had no one around to ask for advice and doubts regarding rules.

From that moment on, I have dedicated a lot of effort in reading tons of manuals, GMing guides, forums, blogs, etc. and I had always tried to give my best in preparing the adventures, props, music, encouraging feedback, experimenting techniques, buying aiding material and doing everything on my hands to run the games and adventures I would like to be in as a player myself. I even payed 250 dollars to subscribe myself to an online course for adventure building.

All of this work makes me get very tired and I canít run more than 15 sessions before being exhausted and needing a good time to recover. So I decided to make the GM role a rotating one, for those who wanted to share the experience. Each GM is expected to run between 10 and 17 sessions.

So I prepare myself to enjoy the adventure, to embody my PC and to let my imagination run wild without having the great responsibility that being GM entails, only to find that the GM hasnít ever read the rules, that he prepared the adventure on the bus as he was heading to our gathering place and making everyone on the table yawn and long for the moment that this torture ends (in the feedback, some players have even stated that they would had rather go to watch a movie, play a videogame or do anything else, if they knew the adventure was going be as boring). I have been playing more than five years under this scheme, and I suffered everything with the patience of martyrs, believing that it was part of the GM learning curve and all of that, but after all of this time and witnessing how the GMs doesnít follow any advice given, havenít read the books yet and show a evident lack of interest, I just gave up.

I have asked them if they truly want to GM, but they all say that they do. Now I actually donít expect anything, but yawn session after session and enjoy the snacks and playing with the miniatures and dice (in a way not related with the adventure). My only comfort is that eventually my turn will come to GM.

I still dream of that day when I will be a player, as I envisioned when I first learned about RPGs. I want to be the player that canít wait for the next session, because the previous one was left with a terrific cliff-hanger; I want to be the player that learns and awes from the techniques of a GM that has a lot to teach and to give; I want to be the player that is so engaged that has forgotten that he is around a table, and he is watching all around everything that is getting spawned on my imagination, with the help of a good GM.

But that day is far from coming =/ So, the closest thing that gives me the joy that I canít get otherwise, is being a GM myself.

If something good has come from all of this, is that being a player has helped me a lot to improve my GMing in ways I could no other way had, because the game as a player feels a lot more different from being a GM.

For those GMs that say with proud that they have been GMs all of their career, I would like to invite you to try to be players now and then, because someone who has always been GM is blind to many issues that are just detected as a player, and they might think that everyone is having fun, when the only person who is actually enjoying the game is the GM. Just an advice.

Thrawn4
2015-07-07, 01:17 PM
*snip*
Well said!

Segev
2015-07-10, 11:33 AM
The description thing has two components as you noted, and both are stylistic things:

1) Description porn is just the GM absolutely loving making sure you have a vivid picture of what's going on. If he's doing it well, it means you don't have to stop and ask questions about how things "really" are situated. Most GMs, myself included, are sparser on such descriptive detail, and it can lead to significant confusion sometimes as to what's going on and where people are.

2) Describing the characters' actions after the players say what they do is technically a form of god-moding, but it's a relatively benign one. Again, it's a stylistic thing: the GM is trying to make sure that your declared actions and what he's picturing and what actually happens as part of the rich scene he's portraying is all clear. I can certainly understand it bothering you.


The Rifts game I'm in, the GM does the second thing. A lot. In her case, I think it's partially in response to a lot of her players being...light...on the description of what they're doing and how. I've found that, when I'm very clear about what I'm doing, she might repeat it, but only in a "I have heard and an agreeing that's what you do" sort of way.

Part of your issue may be that you're playing in a text medium (or are you using skype's voice function?). They are inherently slow.

You probably should talk to the GM OOC about the stylistic bit about narrating your PC's actions; you do your part to describe clearly what you're doing in a cinematic sort of way, and ask him - outside of the game time - to just acknowledge or deny your stated action, because you don't want him narrating your actions. Be polite and remember you're friends, and it should go alright. You're expressing a preference for how your character is handled, is all.

Hopefully, he's constitutionally able to restrain his descriptive and editorial impulses.

Kalmageddon
2015-07-10, 12:21 PM
The Rifts game I'm in, the GM does the second thing. A lot. In her case, I think it's partially in response to a lot of her players being...light...on the description of what they're doing and how. I've found that, when I'm very clear about what I'm doing, she might repeat it, but only in a "I have heard and an agreeing that's what you do" sort of way.

Part of your issue may be that you're playing in a text medium (or are you using skype's voice function?). They are inherently slow..

I agree, the same thing is happening to us. The palyers barely speak during the game because the GM does everything else. Another player summed it up pretty well "we make one comment, one dice roll and then the session is over". And it's literally true quite often.

Anyway, no we are not playing by chat, God forbid, that would make the game unplayable. We are playing by voice chat, which as you can imagine, makes everything even more frustrating, because supposedly voice chat should be more immediate and closer to a live tabletop experience.

illyahr
2015-07-10, 02:35 PM
It does sound like a style mismatch more than anything to me. Trust me, I've been there before. I had to drop out of a prospective campaign a while back because everyone else had a high-op, crunch-heavy playstyle and I'm more of a mid-op, fluff-heavy player.

If most of the group is enjoying themselves, I would just politely back out. Make it clear that the style of play just doesn't suit you. The point is to have fun. If you aren't having fun, you aren't accomplishing anything. All you are doing is frustrating yourself.

Kalmageddon
2015-07-13, 05:13 AM
At the moment my schedule has been to busy to play and the campaign went on hiatus. Now I'm faced with the dilemma of wanting to DM again, because if I have a single afternoon of free time each week I might as well be doing something immersive and interesting instead of sitting around for 3 hours.. But this would surely mean the RT campagin ends. I don't know how to approach the issue...

MrStabby
2015-07-13, 07:43 AM
it does sound more of a missmatch issue.

The DM is highly regarded.
No other players are vocally complaining to the DM.

To me this suggests that he does some things that a lot of players like. It may be his style or it may be the easymode issue (or a combination) but either he doesn't suit the game or you don't suit the game (which does not reflect badly on either of you). If easymode means that conflicts are not dangerous then understandably there is little drama in undertaking the combat actions themselves; drama has to come from the description (ok, he is possibly overdoing it but there should be some content somewhere).

You also mentioned there is a new player - if he doesnt know the setting then description fleshing things out and building the character of the world may be more about that guy, and bringing him into the game (and therefore lessen through time).

I don't think anyone is unreasonable here in having their own tastes in how games ore run.