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joemetheus
2015-10-26, 06:56 PM
Hey, new to the forum and need some advice. I am currently playing a game with a very novice DM whose plot is cool but the characters really don't have any agency in determining the outcome of the story which is taking away from the fun of the adventure. We're just automatons on a track. For example, we make astonishing rolls only to have them arbitrarily negated without an explanation of an opposed check. The NPCs are all pretty much douche bags to PCs despite, rank, level and charisma, and the plot is completely fixed. And the DM makes up wildly crazy things to dissuade characters from doing anything she deems problematic in a threatening way like asking how many hit points you have then having a 18th rogue come out of the woodwork to stab you. The DM is a friend and co-worker so I am not trying to just walk away cause I dont want to hurt anyone's feelings but it's really frustrating. I think I am just going to do outlandish stuff until my character is killed then join another game. Also, we just level up after 2 sessions no matter what, we dont record loot or experience and local shops have mystical potions/items that are sold for 10x less their value. It's like we can just buy our way out of any problem. And then we have enemies that way outside our ability. Currently there is a 17th level rogue sorcerer as the villain against our 7th level group. It's like our characters are just the co-between for power NPCs.

gadren
2015-10-26, 08:08 PM
The Enter key is your friend.

Also, as far as advice goes, I'm quite fond of chanting "CHOO! CHOO! CHUGGA-CHUGGA-CHUGGA-CHUGGA!" when a DM railroads the party too hard, but then again I'm kind of an ass.

JNAProductions
2015-10-26, 08:22 PM
Say it with me-no gaming is better than bad gaming.

Outside that, have you considered DMing for the group instead?

oxybe
2015-10-26, 08:25 PM
Since you're co-workers i'll assume the minimum maturity needed to hold a job and go with the ol'standby: During a break at work or something, tell him the issues you're having, if he refuses to address them thank him for the opportunity to play at his table, but his style doesn't mesh with your own and leave the table with grace.

slaydemons
2015-10-26, 08:26 PM
Sometimes Gms want that. they would rather not want people destroying their story by say turning the world upside down using some craft alchemy and real world knowledge to make black powder. now I am not saying they are good Gms but they are typically new, sometimes they are extremely daunted by the task of having to come up with things on the fly, a lot.

Some simple solutions, if anyone in the group is good at gming offer to give them advice. or try Gming a game for them let them be in a very open world and if they get excited they might try incorporating it into their games.

I also am going off some assumptions that everyone in the group is new excluding yourself. Maybe its something the gm does because they didn't learn what its like to be a player. I was once a gm like that though I was lucky as I had always planned an open world, but my first players had almost never played an rpg at all, except one and he understood why I made it a tad more linear.

Thrudd
2015-10-26, 08:27 PM
It sounds like a situation to discuss calmly and politely outside the game, with the whole group. Maybe gently direct the DM to resources that could help her avoid those pitfalls in the future.

Ie: "Hey, I found this blog that has some articles about running games, if you ever want sone ideas."
http://thealexandrian.net/gamemastery-101

snacksmoto
2015-10-26, 08:35 PM
You and the other players need to sit down with the DM and explain the railroading situation and how it isn't conducive to group play. Adding to that are the punitive DM attacks, campaign imbalance and the excessively overpowered opponents. It sounds as if your DM already has an entire story planned that would do better if she were to author the story rather than DM it.

You shouldn't have to have your only resort being outlandish character behaviour undermining the campaign. The only instance that I can think of where blatant railroading would be acceptable is a novice DM running a prepackaged scenario/campaign with a group that enters with the foreknowledge and acceptance that it will be a DM training run.

She's a friend so talk to her. Don't let it fester.

StealthyRobot
2015-10-26, 09:43 PM
Do I have a (on topic) story to tell.

My first time as a DM, I made a continent, lore, factions, etc. I then made a really cool story about stopping war between gods, and planned out the basic storyline from level 1 to level17, including when they would level up. I then told everyone to make their characters (one of them was part of a prophecy about this god war.)

They go on an adventure and kill some wolves, and end of second session they are told about this ancient prophecy and it needs to be stopped. Being in character, one character just walked off. (The player was gonna roll a new one.) So, session 3 starts. Two party members, the monk and barbarian, start the night off by killing the wizard, sorceror, and druid. They then proceed to read off a list of criticism. I took it all well, at first a little upset but realized the players weren't having fun, which is the entire point of the game.

My second campaign uses the same world and lore, but is completely open. I only plan for the next session, and it usually involves a lot of improv. The players are loving it though, which in turn means I'm having fun.

It seems you need to have a discussion with your DM, maybe not in the same manner my friends used. It is probably more stressful to everyone with her trying to keep her story on track, and you guys dont want to be a part of a story. See how she responds to this, and give her a second chance. I'm told my ideas and lore are really cool, but the story needs to evolve around the characters. Some plans will never be seen (such as an extensive bandit camp, maps, special bosses, lott lists and all), but thats alright. The players want to go to the city, not fight bandits.

Now if shes stubborn about it, up and quit. Let her go write a story and find a new DM.

goto124
2015-10-26, 11:35 PM
The only instance that I can think of where blatant railroading would be acceptable is a novice DM running a prepackaged scenario/campaign with a group that enters with the foreknowledge and acceptance that it will be a DM training run.

Would this be the most friendly solution?

I ran a quest with a friend. Before starting the quest, I gave him an outline of what would happen - his PC will go to visit the king, to get told what artifacts he'll need to collect. Then he'll go around collecting said artifacts. At one point this happened:

Me (GM): Would you mind if I skipped forward to having the PC in the forest (where an artifact is)? There's not much in between anyway.

Him (Player): So PC1 leaves the castle, and teleports to the forest or something.

Everyone already knows the basic plot, it's the details that are fun and interesting. And when everyone's following along, there should be no need to drop level 18 rogues on the PCs.

DireSickFish
2015-10-26, 11:51 PM
It all depends on if you want to try and put in the effort necessary to mold a new player into a good DM. If you arn't in it for a fixer upper you should find a way to quietly lead the table.

If you want to make them better you're going to have to alternate between giving advice/criticism/gm resources and just putting up with how they are GMing. Complaining about everything they do wrong after every session is a quick way to get them frustrated and to give up on the hobby. GMing is a lot of work, and learning how to do it is even more so. It sounds like she is at least putting int he effort to plan sessions, which is good.

Try and find out what she is having fun with behind the screen. See what parts she find a chore and those that are her focus. If she likes world building or molding a plot arc that's good. Brainstorm with her about plots and try to get her thinking about branching plot threads.

I've been ready the angrydm's advice which can be found here: http://theangrygm.com/. His advice resonates with me.

You are not obligated to try and make her a good GM however. So don't feel bad if you need to duck out of the game.

Raimun
2015-10-27, 12:47 AM
Choo-choo.

It's always nice for the players to have freedom and options to advance the story to different directions but then again, there is a limited amount of preparation a GM can do for a session and there is value at having a coherent story. Still, it sounds like your DM has gone a bit too far.

TheOOB
2015-10-28, 01:18 AM
Different campaigns offer different amounts of freedom, and sometimes being on the railroad can be fine as long as the players understand whats going on. That said, talk to the DM on the side, and explain that while he's the narrator, you guys are the main characters, and you need to be able to add your own spin to the story.

Mr.Moron
2015-10-28, 01:38 AM
Tell the GM you think you might find things more exciting, if everything was done in the open.

The DCs and fail/success consequences of every roll announced after you've made a commitment to the action, but before the actual resolution.
When you commit to making an opposed roll, the NPC rolls first their result announced and the consquences for beating them or failing to beat them announced before you roll is made.

All this happens after you've commited to the roll, so you can't back out of it after the DC is announced. It keeps rolls and actions very honest from both sides.


Maybe they'll be open to the approach.

hymer
2015-10-28, 05:07 AM
@ OP: How about showing her how it's done well? Find a way to get into the big chair and do it right.
Anyway, talking about it in a mature and non-confrontational way, as has been suggested already, is likely the better way forward.


I think I am just going to do outlandish stuff until my character is killed then join another game.

Don't do this. If you really want out, bow out gracefully and politely. Especially since you'll be dealing with your co-worker in other circumstances. No need to antagonize her.

Mr.Moron
2015-10-28, 05:39 AM
Don't do this. If you really want out, bow out gracefully and politely. Especially since you'll be dealing with your co-worker in other circumstances. No need to antagonize her.

I think this kind of thing being a go-to response is very often telling about the legitimacy of the complaints in the first place.

hifidelity2
2015-10-28, 07:02 AM
This is often the problem for new GMs (and I am sure I did it to a greater or lesser extent). Its often due to them having a fixed story (like in their favourite fantasy book) and not wanting the PCs to ruin the story (and all of their hard work)

If one of the PCs has DMd this GM before and they know that the GM liked the adventure then they need to sit down away from the rest of the PCs (so as to keep any embarrassment to a minimum) to have a chat. Explain how / what railroading is and how you can still direct the PCs to the end you want without the need to railroad.

(I when DMing have a general plot Go from A to Z but I dont overly mind if you go via B,C & D or D,C & Y so long as you get to Z. The encounters I put in will be there to nudge you to Z)

New GMs often want to Bribe parties (maybe because they remember being a struggling PC themselves and want to be able to buy all the coll stuff they wanted)


As for going up levels every so many adventures in my group we have one DM that does not give out XP just levels when he feels like we have earnt them so long as it generally seems fail none of us have any problems with that

joemetheus
2015-10-29, 05:04 PM
The Enter key is your friend.

Also, as far as advice goes, I'm quite fond of chanting "CHOO! CHOO! CHUGGA-CHUGGA-CHUGGA-CHUGGA!" when a DM railroads the party too hard, but then again I'm kind of an ass.

Thanks for the advice but I fear she is not above kicking me in the nuts

joemetheus
2015-10-29, 05:06 PM
Say it with me-no gaming is better than bad gaming.

Outside that, have you considered DMing for the group instead?

Thanks for the advice. Not really sure I agree. The experience overall is rather frustrating and no-gaming would not be frustrating. I would DM but I am in school right now and have a lot of constraints on my free time. I really just want to have fun with my friends.

JNAProductions
2015-10-29, 05:07 PM
Have you considered board games? YouTube videos? TV? Just hanging out and chatting? You don't need D&D to have fun with friends.

joemetheus
2015-10-29, 05:07 PM
You and the other players need to sit down with the DM and explain the railroading situation and how it isn't conducive to group play. Adding to that are the punitive DM attacks, campaign imbalance and the excessively overpowered opponents. It sounds as if your DM already has an entire story planned that would do better if she were to author the story rather than DM it.

You shouldn't have to have your only resort being outlandish character behaviour undermining the campaign. The only instance that I can think of where blatant railroading would be acceptable is a novice DM running a prepackaged scenario/campaign with a group that enters with the foreknowledge and acceptance that it will be a DM training run.

She's a friend so talk to her. Don't let it fester.

Thanks, this resonates with me a lot in the sense that I feel like this is bad for group play and that the story is not about our characters nor does it revolve around them.

joemetheus
2015-10-29, 05:11 PM
Do I have a (on topic) story to tell.

My first time as a DM, I made a continent, lore, factions, etc. I then made a really cool story about stopping war between gods, and planned out the basic storyline from level 1 to level17, including when they would level up. I then told everyone to make their characters (one of them was part of a prophecy about this god war.)

They go on an adventure and kill some wolves, and end of second session they are told about this ancient prophecy and it needs to be stopped. Being in character, one character just walked off. (The player was gonna roll a new one.) So, session 3 starts. Two party members, the monk and barbarian, start the night off by killing the wizard, sorceror, and druid. They then proceed to read off a list of criticism. I took it all well, at first a little upset but realized the players weren't having fun, which is the entire point of the game.

My second campaign uses the same world and lore, but is completely open. I only plan for the next session, and it usually involves a lot of improv. The players are loving it though, which in turn means I'm having fun.

It seems you need to have a discussion with your DM, maybe not in the same manner my friends used. It is probably more stressful to everyone with her trying to keep her story on track, and you guys dont want to be a part of a story. See how she responds to this, and give her a second chance. I'm told my ideas and lore are really cool, but the story needs to evolve around the characters. Some plans will never be seen (such as an extensive bandit camp, maps, special bosses, lott lists and all), but thats alright. The players want to go to the city, not fight bandits.

Now if shes stubborn about it, up and quit. Let her go write a story and find a new DM.

this is how i feel exactly--that the story does not evolve/revolve around our characters but a prefabricated story that is fixed an immutable

Hybridartifacts
2015-11-02, 07:21 AM
I have found quite a few published adventures that do the railroading and as a GM the problem is if I actually have the time to create new content when my players (inevitably) stray far outside the expected boundaries of the adventure. I am actually happy to do that most of the time, but it can result in a lot of work or improvising.

Thats actually one reason I started to experiment with game systems that enable a degree of story improvisation on the fly and feature a degree of player collaboration with it. In the end I just created my own system that helps a lot and makes improvisation a LOT easier.

I guess where I am going with this is that the GM may just not feel comfortable straying from something they have notes and information on already. There can be this panic zone for some GMs if things go off track because they don't feel prepared or capable of improvisation. That can be really scary for some people as they feel like they will just loose control and the game will be ruined - so its possible the railroading is happening because they want everyone to have fun. I would agree with previous comments that maybe just talking to them would help - maybe sugar coat it a bit if you can, pick up on what you have been enjoying as well as what you have not.

joemetheus
2015-11-12, 05:37 PM
Have you considered board games? YouTube videos? TV? Just hanging out and chatting? You don't need D&D to have fun with friends.

and yet, you need friends to play D&D. what a conundrum...

Raphite1
2015-11-14, 01:25 AM
I agree with the other who recommend just telling her that you'd like some opportunities for your characters to be able to influence the direction of the story. Also tell her things that you like - positive reinforcement is great for DMing, which is always time-consuming and often thankless.


Also, we just level up after 2 sessions no matter what, ...
And then we have enemies that way outside our ability. Currently there is a 17th level rogue sorcerer as the villain against our 7th level group. It's like our characters are just the co-between for power NPCs.

In my experience te vast majority of games don't used fixed XP, and the DM gives levels after a suitable number of accomplishments and story developments.

It's also pretty awesome to have intimidatingly strong adversaries, imo. It makes it a real accomplishment when you finally defeat them.

Kami2awa
2015-11-14, 04:30 AM
There are 2 (+1/2) ways to deal with it, I think:

1) Talk to the GM about it, see if that works. Often, however, this is like trying to hammer in a nail made of jelly using a sponge. Worth a try, however.

2) GM yourself, and show them how it's done. People learn well by imitation, and if you have a different GMing style people will pick up on it and emulate it (and probably try and improve on it). This may not work, but it would probably be the least confrontational route.

2 1/2) Leave the game. That's not very satisfactory for many of us, however.

Mr. Bitter
2015-11-14, 03:35 PM
In my experience te vast majority of games don't used fixed XP, and the DM gives levels after a suitable number of accomplishments and story developments.

I wish this were true. :(