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BreaktheStatue
2019-02-06, 04:36 AM
Either as a DM or player, what are your most reliable indicators that a new player (or existing player, with new PC), is going to be a...handful.

Of course you've got the obvious ones, (serious OOC personality issues, open sexual harassment, extreme, habitual tardiness, etc.), but what are some more subtle things to look for?

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-06, 06:15 AM
I'm a pretty one-sided GM. I'm good at story and roleplay - fairly crappy at combat, crunch and so on. So a major red flag for me is any player who immediately asks for races, classes, feats or features dug up from some seriously shady 3rd party source. Or some slightly less shady 1st party source. And I don't want to poke the whole optimizers discussion, it's entirely possible to fall in love with strange 3rd party concepts for RP reasons - I just see that less often.

If you want an example of a truly momentuous red flag, it's the player who asks for a 3rd party PF high level gimmick - in a game that's clearly stated as being core only D&D 3.5 E6. If you straight up refuse to read the title line of the game, you're not getting in - you needn't even try to apply.

Mordaedil
2019-02-06, 06:51 AM
Any time they bring something I've not heard or seen before, I will ask for a source, reference that source myself or ask them to provide the reference. If they can't, I turn it down.

If the only source is dandwiki I look at them, sigh and deny them. And then I will mock them by pointing out other **** on that site.

DeTess
2019-02-06, 08:15 AM
One thing that indicates a player being a handful, but not to the point that I'd kick them (as it's not being actively malicious), is a player that even after a couple of sessions still needs to be told exactly how to mechanically accomplish the most basic rolls. They could be perfectly fine role-players, but it's annoying for everyone involved if they slow down the game whenever they're supposed to get the dice out.

JMS
2019-02-06, 08:38 AM
One thing that indicates a player being a handful, but not to the point that I'd kick them (as it's not being actively malicious), is a player that even after a couple of sessions still needs to be told exactly how to mechanically accomplish the most basic rolls. They could be perfectly fine role-players, but it's annoying for everyone involved if they slow down the game whenever they're supposed to get the dice out.

Sigh, you just described the entirety of my current group.
One thing that has been a problem is people who distract from the group playing with phones and such.

Geddy2112
2019-02-06, 10:59 AM
Putting chaotic neutral on their character sheet

Seriously though:
I second players not knowing or caring to learn the most fundamental rules of the game being a red flag. The tangent of taking forever to decide what to do in combat is also pretty big.
Also second pulling out exotic races and tons of splat, particularly when they are new to a table. I don't mind if my friends who I have been playing years with want to play a 3rd party class, but when a newbie shows up and insists on being a monster race or something I have never even heard of, I instantly grow leery.
Anyone who is overly inattentive, to the point they constantly ask "what's going on" because they were on their phone or some other distraction is fairly grating.

kyoryu
2019-02-06, 11:25 AM
Asking for things outside of the established campaign guidelines. Doubly so if they continue to push.

Hand_of_Vecna
2019-02-06, 11:41 AM
Anyone who can't read, whether literally or figuratively, the theme of the campaign. I was recently looking at the character applications for a game that is stated to be a coming of age test in a human village (pop 750). Half the applications were for non-humans (and this is counting half-elf and plane touched as human) with backgrounds that put them in continent spanning adventures.

supergoji18
2019-02-06, 11:51 AM
1. Players who are on their devices most of the game. Even if you have your character sheet or other resources on it, you shouldn't need to be looking at it all the time. At a certain point, it becomes obvious you're not paying attention and are instead on social media.

I remember one player during a LMoP playthrough that was on their phone almost all the time. One session, we began at the store, then proceed to a few other locations before entering the redbrand hideout about an hour into the session. When the DM asked her if she wanted to do something, she said "Huh? Oh, um, I ask the shopkeeper if he has any potions." We all let out a collective sigh of frustration when we realized she hadn't paid attention to the last hour of gameplay. She wasn't around for many more sessions after that.

2. Players who go off on their own and do their own thing. There are times when this is acceptable and can even be good roleplay. But in my experience most players who do this just want to waste time getting their character into hijinks or actively make things more difficult for other players.

I was a player in one game with a person whose character would repeatedly and intentionally get in our way and make life difficult. There were times she would drop down in the middle of a narrow hallway while we were being pursued and would just fall asleep. Sometimes she would just abandon us in the middle of a fight. Everyone was clearly frustrated with her, but I had reached my boiling point. I cast fireball on her, killing her character instantly. She was genuinely surprised, but didn't seem bothered by it. She just watched the rest of the game from the sidelines. No one else said anything, and we continued on with the campaign as if nothing had happened.

Easily the best use of fireball I've ever made.

3. Players who would rather play house than play D&D. I don't understand why, in a game with infinite possibilities, so many players seem drawn to the inn and just want to play getting drunk.

One particularly egregious example of this was during a session I was DMing a few years ago.

This session took place after the resolution of a storyline involving the party helping a group of archeologists destroy a demonic relic that was spreading a death curse. The session began immediately after the hard fought battle from last time. After looting some nice new items, the players were rewarded with a large sum of gold both as a reward and as hush money to keep this event a secret (the archeologists were worried they would get into trouble with the law if they found out what had happened). To celebrate, they decided to go to a fancy inn and get drunk as sin.

One of my players expressed a desire to switch out his character to a different one. I agreed, and we both decided to have the new introduction be through a murder mystery. His old character would be the victim, while his new character would help solve the case. This would give incentive for him to join the group as well as a reason for the other characters to be accepting of him.

What I didn't count on was that most of the players wanted to goof around and role play getting drunk at the inn. I played along for a little while because it was fun at first and everyone was laughing and having a good time. But when I tried to speed things along to the plot of the session, NO ONE was on board except the previously mentioned player. They seemed to do everything in their power to try to avoid ending this drunken party. This went on for FAR longer than it should have. By the time I got to the actual murder reveal, we had to end the session because it was really late at night.

In hindsight I should have just put my foot down and said "party is over, time to move on with the game" way earlier. I think I didn't want to railroad things, and I also saw they were having fun so I didn't want to be "that guy" and spoil it for them. But this was a mistake. I wasn't having fun, the player I mentioned wasn't having fun, and after this session the campaign was canceled so no one had fun.

Hindsight is always 20/20

4. Players who disregard NPCs. I can understand that there is a detachment when playing a game like D&D, since it's all pretend and there's no real world consequences for what happens. But some players just take it too far. They treat NPCs like crap regardless of that character's status or relationship to the players, disregard the concept of property, and sometimes go full murder hobo. It's as if they've transformed into murderous Kender.

One player I was in a session with would act like a cat. In one session, they climbed right on top of an important NPC's desk and just started to sleep there. Since the NPC had no way to stop them and couldn't ask for help (we were much higher level and they were alone in the office), there wasn't anything they could do. So the conversation played out with one character on the person's desk curled up like a cat.

ngilop
2019-02-06, 12:24 PM
1) they start talking about 'tiers'

2) they start to get angry when the DM or a player makes a helpful suggestion

3) they try to bring the real world into the game

those are the big three for me when I know as the DM I need to have the 'is this the right is the group for you?"

Pleh
2019-02-06, 12:41 PM
Disjointed character concepts. Like assassin/serial killer Ewoks.

It's not a red flag to have a unique combination of character traits. It's a red flag when character personality stretches suspension of disbelief and clearly exists to exploit mechanical loopholes and not so much to explore the uniqueness of a unique character.

It's not that the Ewok Assassin is bad. It's when there is no change to their Assassin by being an Ewok (except for their exceptional racial stealth modifiers).

Friv
2019-02-06, 12:49 PM
Disjointed character concepts. Like assassin/serial killer Ewoks.

It's not a red flag to have a unique combination of character traits. It's a red flag when character personality stretches suspension of disbelief and clearly exists to exploit mechanical loopholes and not so much to explore the uniqueness of a unique character.

It's not that the Ewok Assassin is bad. It's when there is no change to their Assassin by being an Ewok (except for their exceptional racial stealth modifiers).

I mean, they are tiny stealthy cannibal geniuses, what more do you need? Assassin-ness should be, like, the top job in Ewok communities.

Telok
2019-02-06, 01:04 PM
People who can't read three paragraphs of non-rules text. Doesn't matter if they're the GM or a player.

For players if there's setting info like other planes of existence being weird and dangerous, a massive continent spanning empire that controls magic & spell access, or the fact that all demonic looking things are completely kill-on-sight for everyone, then they probably matter. Especially of they were included in the opening pitch for the game. Don't come in with a character that can fool around in the ethereal and expect everything to be normal if its been explicitly stated to be different. Don't whine when the magic police kill the lol-random wild mage when magic law enforcement has been mentioned and demonstrated. Don't try to play a character with demonic looking wings and eyes in a setting where that gets you killed, unless you want and expect to get killed.

For a GM if the player has any backstory, especially if they bother to work in settings bits and put plot hooks in it, at least have the decency to read it. If the class on the character sheet says 'fighter/bard (refluffed into noble with magic training)' then that's because fighter/bard was the best mechanical fit for the character concept. Do not tell the player with the tone deaf scholar/warrior character that "you learned <thing> in bard school when you learned how to play the lute". If the player has stated several times that the character has a deep and violent hatred of kobolds try to at least remember it once in a while. Do not be surprised when your 'comic relief kobold ally' gets violently dismembered and murdered by the guy on watch when it sneaks up in the middle of the night.

Rhedyn
2019-02-06, 03:57 PM
1. They reference Tweet rulings. (At all for any reason)

2. They reference forum dev post as rules.

Rerem115
2019-02-06, 04:18 PM
Heh, I'm pretty sure that I started a thread with this topic a while ago. http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?562050-What-to-Watch-Out-for-in-Your-Players.

My response is still pretty much the same, though tempered with a bit more experience.
--Refusal to learn basic rules
--Insistence on homebrew/obscure and busted characters
--Poor attendence
--Refusal to work with the party, in and out of character
--Chaotic Neutral

Lapak
2019-02-06, 05:32 PM
A few people have mentioned the players who act disinterested or are always on their phones. For me it is the distracted players, but most particularly the ones who are distracting OTHERS. If you are not paying attention, it is annoying, but if you are drawing other players into your distractions the game is going to start to break down fast.

Particle_Man
2019-02-06, 06:44 PM
1. They reference Tweet rulings. (At all for any reason)


Do you mean "Johnathan Tweet, game designer" or do you mean "something posted on Twitter"?

Darth Ultron
2019-02-06, 08:28 PM
Well, a lot of what was said above.

A big one for me is a player that is not relaxed and having fun. I'm playing the game to have fun, and I know the player that is not having fun with me will be a handful.

The same goes with hyper competitiveness, where the player 'must' have the most HP or BAB of the group.

The Lone Wolf type player.

Pleh
2019-02-06, 10:36 PM
I mean, they are tiny stealthy cannibal geniuses, what more do you need? Assassin-ness should be, like, the top job in Ewok communities.

Cannibal? According to what sources?

LordEntrails
2019-02-06, 10:57 PM
They want to play a chaotic neutral kender

Xuc Xac
2019-02-06, 11:22 PM
Cannibal? According to what sources?

In "Return of the Jedi", the ewoks were literally going to eat Han, Luke, and Chewie.

DataNinja
2019-02-06, 11:41 PM
In "Return of the Jedi", the ewoks were literally going to eat Han, Luke, and Chewie.

I mean, none of those three are Ewoks. That doesn't make them cannibal, just carnivorous. :smalltongue:

Gnoman
2019-02-06, 11:50 PM
Han, Luke, and Chewie are not Ewoks. Thus, an Ewok eating them is not cannibalism.



My big red flag for players is a categorical refusal to work with the setting. The two worst examples I've had:


Player A insisted on turning every game into some sort of Glorious Revolution. We played Star Wars, he spent every IC moment trying to force a Droid Rebellion - in a party where he was the only droid character. In a fantasy setting, he was a Game Of Thrones-type peasant who wanted to kill all the nobles - in a world with a fairly noble nobility where one of the PCs was 563rd in line to the throne. In a semi-RW setting where the PCs are law enforcement, he was Dale Gribble with a machine gun.


Player B never made it to the game. After being told that the only legal PC races were Elf, Dwarf, Human, Orc, Kobold, or various Elf hybrids (in this setting, Gnomes, Halflings, and a few other races counted as this), his first character submission was a half-Hill Giant, which I rejected outright because the setting has no place for giants of any sort. He responded with a half-Cloud Giant, then a half-Storm Giant. Once I got him to stop submitting giants, everything he submitted was some sort of TO nonsense that simply didn't work even within the loose confines of TO - most involving exotic races that didn't fit the requirements.

Pex
2019-02-07, 12:10 AM
Player:

Upon finding party treasure when by himself for some reason, a legitimate reason as opposed to being a Lone Wolf, takes it all and doesn't tell the party.
Upon learning important need to know information never tells the party.
Being a Lone Wolf.
Passes secret notes with the DM.
Refuses to tell other players his character's name or what class he's playing.
Does not help a party member who needs it.
Helps a party member who needs it but pompously declares he has to save him again.

DM:

Has his own handbook of house rules.
Continuously changes his house rules.
Lots of things are banned.
Magic items don't exist.
Always looks for ways to make a player's idea not work.
Boasts of his PC kill count.
Has a high PC kill count.
Has an NPC who can do anything, knows everything, and is infinitely wealthy.
Just when you think a combat is over here come reinforcements.

Particle_Man
2019-02-07, 12:11 AM
Sounds like he was trolling you with those giants.

The Glyphstone
2019-02-07, 12:59 AM
Han, Luke, and Chewie are not Ewoks. Thus, an Ewok eating them is not cannibalism.



My big red flag for players is a categorical refusal to work with the setting. The two worst examples I've had:


Player A insisted on turning every game into some sort of Glorious Revolution. We played Star Wars, he spent every IC moment trying to force a Droid Rebellion - in a party where he was the only droid character. In a fantasy setting, he was a Game Of Thrones-type peasant who wanted to kill all the nobles - in a world with a fairly noble nobility where one of the PCs was 563rd in line to the throne. In a semi-RW setting where the PCs are law enforcement, he was Dale Gribble with a machine gun.


Player B never made it to the game. After being told that the only legal PC races were Elf, Dwarf, Human, Orc, Kobold, or various Elf hybrids (in this setting, Gnomes, Halflings, and a few other races counted as this), his first character submission was a half-Hill Giant, which I rejected outright because the setting has no place for giants of any sort. He responded with a half-Cloud Giant, then a half-Storm Giant. Once I got him to stop submitting giants, everything he submitted was some sort of TO nonsense that simply didn't work even within the loose confines of TO - most involving exotic races that didn't fit the requirements.

That's definitely a...
*sunglasses
giant red flag.

LaserFace
2019-02-07, 01:01 AM
I haven't really had many disaster games, but a lot of my experiences have been generally unpleasant and unfulfilling. Nowadays, I only care to play with people I know and trust, because I only have so much time to spend and I'd rather not waste it with people who annoy me. When I'm around new people, I keep my eyes open for a few red flags; none of which are necessarily a deal-breaker, but will probably rub me the wrong way:

Players
-Obvious references or OOC jokes in the character name or background.
-Fails to grasp the themes and tone of the setting, as they were established in session zero (e.g. wants to play a comical character in Curse of Strahd).
-New character backstory is more than two paragraphs.
-New character backstory comes with unearned greatness or prestige.
-Player thinks they deserve special treatment if they "put in more work" than others at the table.
-Clearly wants to be The Protagonist.
-Does long-term level planning.
-Clearly gives more thought to their build than their character.
-Clearly gives more thought to their character than the collective fun had by players at the table.
-Shows up 30 minutes late without notice.

DMs
-Obvious references or OOC jokes in the world lore.
-Jarring tonal shifts.
-Has more conversations between NPCs than with PCs.
-DMPC
-PCs are hired to do tasks anyone else could do.
-Demands players read world lore, never takes the time to verbally explain it or reveal it through actions of inhabitants of the world.
-Clearly has never considered explaining what people in town eat, how they dance, what sort of music they have, what sort of colors or jewelry they wear, or what customs they practice.
-Hands out magical equipment without thinking about who made it, how it got to where it was, or what makes it unique from other loot out of the DMG.
-NPCs have zero motivations apart from vomit plot points, attack the party, or both.
-Clearly gives more thought to their story than the collective fun had by players at the table.
-Has planned out exactly how the next 5 sessions will go.
-Makes you roll to succeed at mundane tasks.
-Never asks their players anything about what they want or like in a game.
-Never asks players what they do or how they do it; makes assumptions for them.
-Tries to emulate "real life" with D&D combat encounters.
-Never actually has any dungeons (or dragons!) in their D&D game.
-Has clearly never rolled on a random table for anything.
-Never improvs.

Zhorn
2019-02-07, 01:24 AM
DM:

Has his own handbook of house rules.

If they are going to have house rules, I would mach rather have them written down for players to know ahead of time. Much worse when they have a whole list of house rules that contradict the basics rules in the book, BUT specifically go out of their way to not inform players until they commit to a choice or action just to have those "Hah, gotcha!" moments.

Big red flags for me:

DM's that ask for multiple rolls when performing a single task.

PC: "I'd like to climb this 10 foot ledge"
DM: "Roll athletics for it"
PC: *21*
DM: "Roll again"
PC: *27*
DM: "Roll again"
PC: *9*
DM: "You fall and take damage"
(true story)


DM's that ask for rolls when success was never an option

PC: "I'd like to check the tiles for traps"
DM: "Roll investigation for it"
PC: *natural 20*
DM: "you don't find anything"
PC: *takes a step forward*
DM: "The tile shifts under your feet and triggers the trap"
(also a true story)

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-07, 02:03 AM
-Clearly gives more thought to their story than the collective fun had by players at the table.


As a GM, this is what I contribute, what I bring to the table: The story. As it happens, it's also what makes the game fun for me. I can hope everyone enjoys the story, but I can't always know, and I've seen stories fail. I know for a fact that sometimes a story has failed because of me, likely because I made a plot too convoluted.

But if the players come to my table, then my story is part of their fun - or they've sat down at the wrong table. There are wide borders for players to have their own fun inside the framework of the story, but my story is still the collective fun had by the players at the table. If you're there for some other reason, then ... quite simply, you shouldn't be.

Grimmnist
2019-02-07, 02:24 AM
The player who brings an 8 page backstory. I like to write long backstories but by the time I give it to the DM I have parsed it down to 3-4 paragraphs of just the important bits. I feel like long backstories establish too much about the world, encroaching on the DMs ability to create engaging content for the whole party and in my games these players have often been spotlighers not collaborating with the other players and trying solo every problem.

Draconi Redfir
2019-02-07, 03:17 AM
it's petty i know buut...


Players (and on occasion DM's) who only reply with one or two sentences (or less!) in IC text-based play-by-post games.
Bonus points if they reply with one sentence of dialogue and nothing else.



Honestly to me this shows that the player is not invested in the world or whatever is happening at the time and can't be bothered to put in the small amount of effort required to have their character emote, make a hand gesture, or otherwise act as an animated character in some way. It feels stale and awkward to read, and even harder to reply too.

It's fine if it only happens once every so often of course, we all have slow days where we're tired or can't think of anything at that particular moment, I've had that myself plenty of times. But to me, anyone who regularly posts less then a paragraph in-character just isn't worth investing my time with.

D-naras
2019-02-07, 03:33 AM
The DM not knowing the rules is a pretty big sign that they aren't interested in the G part of the RPG.

Players that jump the gun and roll without being asked to, bother me just as much as the DM asking for rolls for the simplest tasks.

The NPCs and PCs using non-Deception Social skills on other PCs with the blessing of the DM. Specifically, persuasion equivalents. I had this happen to me with a new DM and it felt like a violation of sorts. I understand that others play like this, but to me it seems like a way for DMs to force PCs to act just like they want to, which then gets me to wonder: If the DM controls all NPCs and the setting, and his NPCs can exert that much influence on my PC, then where is my agency?
I am all for ways to force PCs to act within the fiction (blackmails, rewards, etc.). These leave a lot of wiggle room for the player to play how they want. But, when the DM (and other PCs) simply has to roll high on a Persuasion roll to have you honestly agree to do something in character (doubly so when there are no clear rules about this kind of thing), then what's the point?

DMs and players that boil down characters to their classes. "(5e) So your Fighter has expertise in History, proficiency in Arcana, can cast arcane rituals and has 18 INT? Nope, he couldn't possibly know that piece of common arcane lore. He is a Fighter."

This is especially annoying to me. The DM runs a homebrew setting and is delighted when I tell him that my concept is a well-educated warrior scholar, that wants to unearth knowledge. So, with the DM's blessing, I put all resources in knowledge skills that the DM then ignores, because he hasn't thought up enough of the applicable lore, I expected my character to know, so I am just as clueless about everything, just like the rest of the PCs, except I also lack the social skills, that the DM is a slave to. (This from a DM that banned a CHA of over 18 because "you could do anything with it").

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-07, 03:50 AM
Players (and on occasion DM's) who only reply with one or two sentences (or less!) in IC text-based play-by-post games.
Bonus points if they reply with one sentence of dialogue and nothing else.


Further bonus points if their one sentence indicates they're taking an action - but they didn't roll the dice for it, so you need to remind them. And everyone has to wait.

Rhedyn
2019-02-07, 08:03 AM
Do you mean "Johnathan Tweet, game designer" or do you mean "something posted on Twitter"?
Idk Mr. Tweet, but I feel it's safe to say both.

Jay R
2019-02-07, 08:45 AM
There are so many good ways to play, and so many bad ways to play, that there are no real flags for somebody who is soon going to be a problem.

Pretty much every flag listed is either:

a. something somebody else can do well, and help the game, or
b. not an indication of a coming problem, but the existence of a current problem.

The red flag that somebody is a problem is when he or she causes a problem.

Floret
2019-02-07, 08:54 AM
1. Players who are on their devices most of the game. Even if you have your character sheet or other resources on it, you shouldn't need to be looking at it all the time. At a certain point, it becomes obvious you're not paying attention and are instead on social media.

Since I found myself on my phone quite a lot the last few games (regardless if GM or player), I feel like I wanna defend this behaviour - somewhat. As a person with ADHD, it actually helps me pay attention. My mind needs to be fully occupied, or it looks for things to occupy it, and that might very well distract me fully. When I occupy myself with something that I know will not drown out the thing I actually want to pay my main attention to (the game) (and that I can just put down at any time), I eliminate the risk of drifting off, and can stay engaged in parts of the game where I don't have anything directly to do.

In a digital (voicechat) game, reading internet stuff gets too distracting (I suppose the physicality of the game is more involving and present, but have no clue), and therefor I have taken to painting miniatures instead. Online games worked, but were impossible to put down without delay.

I'm not saying some players don't get distracted from their phones, or that those aren't the majority of those looking at their phones (and annoying). I just wanna point out that it can mean something else. And if you forbid me from looking at it, I disengage far more easily.

hotflungwok
2019-02-07, 09:06 AM
-Does long-term level planning.

How is this a red flag?

Pauly
2019-02-07, 09:27 AM
- Players who want every XP and GP to be awarded. The type of players who respond to “Your 18th level Fighter/Wizard just killed a rat” with “How much XP do I get for it and was it carrying any loot?”
- min maxers/power levelers and other assorted players more interested in their power level than in role playing.
- Pack rats, players who need a bag of holding to hold their bags of holding. “I’ve got something just perfect for this situation, hold on while I check my inventory ...” [10 minutes pass]

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-07, 09:44 AM
How is this a red flag?

There can be many dangers in this. For one, if your build doesn't really start kicking serious rearside until level 18 - but the campaign ends at level 12. I had a player in Dark Heresy who had very specific plans for ... well, he figured he could get four mechadendrites each with a multilaser, and when he found out he couldn't, he threw a tantrum and posted stuff like "I go to the engine room and blow up the ship with everyone on it."

Also, almost no one who doesn't make long term plans ever just accidentally lands with a build that's stupidly OP.

OverLordOcelot
2019-02-07, 09:59 AM
DM's that ask for rolls when success was never an option
[/LIST]
PC: "I'd like to check the tiles for traps"
DM: "Roll investigation for it"
PC: *natural 20*
DM: "you don't find anything"
PC: *takes a step forward*
DM: "The tile shifts under your feet and triggers the trap"
(also a true story)

DCs can be higher than 20, and all you declared was a roll of 20, not a higher total. Natural 20 is not an automatic success on anything but a to-hit roll, so saying 'natural 20' is as relevant as 'natural 15'. I get annoyed with players who don't call out their total and instead say something like 'oh, I failed' or 'I rolled X', and at some point will stop asking them for a total and just go with whatever number they declared instead of reminding them yet again how basic game rolls work.

kyoryu
2019-02-07, 10:09 AM
Sounds like he was trolling you with those giants.

Clearly.

He didn't like the restriction, and so tried to push against it in any way that he could.

That sort of behavior is precisely why "not working within the constraints of the game world" seems to be the number one red flag in this thread so far.


How is this a red flag?

Two things, really.

1) the chance of stupid level of OP character is much higher
2) there's a high chance of the player getting upset if things in the game go a way which doesn't allow for their build to work out

At a high level, planning a build like that can be a sign that the player wants things to go a very, very certain direction and will be inflexible in it not going that way. Note that a lot of the other red flags are basically around this as well.

hotflungwok
2019-02-07, 10:31 AM
There can be many dangers in this. For one, if your build doesn't really start kicking serious rearside until level 18 - but the campaign ends at level 12. I had a player in Dark Heresy who had very specific plans for ... well, he figured he could get four mechadendrites each with a multilaser, and when he found out he couldn't, he threw a tantrum and posted stuff like "I go to the engine room and blow up the ship with everyone on it."
The first one sounds more like someone who is not planning a character to fit the game, and the second sounds more like a 4 year old throwing a tantrum. Neither have to do with someone planning their character build out.

I'm in a Pathfinder game right now, and I have my character planned out, just cuz that's how I like to make characters. I know the game isn't likely to go past 10th level or so, but I still like to see how the character can develop.

hotflungwok
2019-02-07, 10:35 AM
Two things, really.

1) the chance of stupid level of OP character is much higher
2) there's a high chance of the player getting upset if things in the game go a way which doesn't allow for their build to work out

At a high level, planning a build like that can be a sign that the player wants things to go a very, very certain direction and will be inflexible in it not going that way. Note that a lot of the other red flags are basically around this as well.
These make a bit more sense. Both would seem to have other reg flags first though. A min maxer should be obvious from the get go, and an immature player who's going to pitch a fit if things don't go his way is probably also going to be doing this from the beginning.

Honestly, I worry more about players who don't do at least some planning with their character, cuz they tend to end up with a mish mash of abilities that don't work together and then wonder why their character isn't very effective over 10th level or so.

Draconi Redfir
2019-02-07, 10:36 AM
Since I found myself on my phone quite a lot the last few games (regardless if GM or player), I feel like I wanna defend this behaviour - somewhat. As a person with ADHD, it actually helps me pay attention. My mind needs to be fully occupied, or it looks for things to occupy it, and that might very well distract me fully. When I occupy myself with something that I know will not drown out the thing I actually want to pay my main attention to (the game) (and that I can just put down at any time), I eliminate the risk of drifting off, and can stay engaged in parts of the game where I don't have anything directly to do.

In a digital (voicechat) game, reading internet stuff gets too distracting (I suppose the physicality of the game is more involving and present, but have no clue), and therefor I have taken to painting miniatures instead. Online games worked, but were impossible to put down without delay.

I'm not saying some players don't get distracted from their phones, or that those aren't the majority of those looking at their phones (and annoying). I just wanna point out that it can mean something else. And if you forbid me from looking at it, I disengage far more easily.

i can agree / attest (is that the right word?) to this. To play D&D i need mainly my ears and mouth, anything i need my eyes for i can figure out in just a quick glance. For the game on my (muted) phone, i only need my hand and my eyes, so there's no real crossing between them.

Granted lately I've been playing a number-matching game that takes a good amount of brainpower. and i think that's been getting my focus off the game a bit more... should probably go back to the muscle-memory game where i run a ball along the same path over and over again until i eventually win.

kyoryu
2019-02-07, 10:40 AM
The first one sounds more like someone who is not planning a character to fit the game, and the second sounds more like a 4 year old throwing a tantrum. Neither have to do with someone planning their character build out.

I'm in a Pathfinder game right now, and I have my character planned out, just cuz that's how I like to make characters. I know the game isn't likely to go past 10th level or so, but I still like to see how the character can develop.

Red flags aren't dealbreakers. They're just signs that there may be issues further down the road. Not everyone displaying a "red flag" will turn out to be toxic, but a higher percentage of people with red flag behaviors do end up being toxic. You may not be one of them, and that's cool.

Rerem115
2019-02-07, 10:55 AM
-Does long-term level planning.
-Clearly gives more thought to their build than their character.


:smalltongue: Guilty as charged. Granted, the tables I run with tend to be pretty combat heavy hack'n'slash crawls with a big party. Your character gets dropped pretty quickly if it isn't at least moderately well-optimized, and since there are so many players (with more than a few dedicated RPers), if I add to the chaos by insisting on making IC speeches and other shenanigans, I'd be slowing down the session.

While it's fine with the tables I'm used to, I know it's a bad habit.

kyoryu
2019-02-07, 11:01 AM
:smalltongue: Guilty as charged. Granted, the tables I run with tend to be pretty combat heavy hack'n'slash crawls with a big party. Your character gets dropped pretty quickly if it isn't at least moderately well-optimized, and since there are so many players (with more than a few dedicated RPers), if I add to the chaos by insisting on making IC speeches and other shenanigans, I'd be slowing down the session.

While it's fine with the tables I'm used to, I know it's a bad habit.

Not really. It's a totally valid way to play the game, and what you're doing fits with your table.

There's nothing wrong with that. At all. Now, if you tried doing that at a table where that wasn't the culture, there'd be an issue with it - just like bringing an unoptimized character that was all about the RP would be an issue at your table.

The primary skill in RPGs is "learn how to work with a group," and a ton of that is making sure that what you do is compatible with that group.

OverLordOcelot
2019-02-07, 11:08 AM
I agree that I don't like players who are disengaged from the game from the start or after a short time, but I don't agree with the 'devices' thing. People like to complain about 'phones and devices' because it's the 'get off my lawn' of the twenty-teens, but it doesn't really have anything to do with devices; I've seen it long before cell phones were something you could carry in your pocket, and I've seen plenty of players who are on a device and engaged in the game.

One of mine:

DMs who have a really specific fetishy-thing that turns up all the time. Having the burly male fighter decide whether or not to wear the Lingere of Protection under his armor can be amusing once, but when treasure hordes have fighter gear that's progressively more and more feminine, there may be something going on. If you encounter fey creatures that happen to be nude because that's how they are it's just part of the world, but it's really different than if the DM goes into great descriptive detail about the naughty bits, or if he keeps having the creatures stand close and keeps mentioning things like 'oh, and the satyrs junk is at eye level, does that bother you?'.

Jophiel
2019-02-07, 11:09 AM
Two things, really.

1) the chance of stupid level of OP character is much higher
2) there's a high chance of the player getting upset if things in the game go a way which doesn't allow for their build to work out
I'd also be worried that the player is going to want to burn through content/levels and be less engaged in the story or non-level gaining activities until his build comes online at level 12.

Quertus
2019-02-07, 11:49 AM
Interesting topic. We've had similar before, but, if I'm reading correctly, perhaps not this exact topic.

Really, IMO, the only thing that makes a player a "handful" is if a) they do not have max ranks in "read the GM's mind" / "Knowledge:Table"; b) have habits or assumptions that go against the style of the table; and c) lack the ability or desire to adapt to the table.

My character submissions are often... hmmm... if not "extreme", then "pushing towards certain extreme directions", to see what kind of feedback the GM will give. Because GMs are, IMO, notoriously horrible at explaining their table's style. So I show/describe several characters suited for different styles (and decidedly not suited for various styles) to see how they respond.

A GM who cannot give reasonable feedback to my set of characters has no business being my character's eyes and ears.

Flipping that, a player who cannot comprehend feedback on how their character might not fit, even when given explicit examples of "x is good, y is bad" (or a good/bad fit, whatever) along with explanations of why, is what I'd consider a "handful".

kyoryu
2019-02-07, 11:58 AM
My character submissions are often... hmmm... if not "extreme", then "pushing towards certain extreme directions", to see what kind of feedback the GM will give. Because GMs are, IMO, notoriously horrible at explaining their table's style. So I show/describe several characters suited for different styles (and decidedly not suited for various styles) to see how they respond.

Many players, including GMs, do not understand that their way of playing RPGs is not a universal way of playing RPGs. I think this is exacerbated by the amount of time (and therefore how entrenched the habits gets) you play RPGs, and the fact that outside of organized play, a given group tends to be insular and therefore feeds on its own assumptions.

I mean, that's half the point of the whole RPG Patterns post I made, to kind of lay out some of the styles of play that I've seen.


Flipping that, a player who cannot comprehend feedback on how their character might not fit, even when given explicit examples of "x is good, y is bad" (or a good/bad fit, whatever) along with explanations of why, is what I'd consider a "handful".

Absolutely. There's two issues - explaining the table culture/game style effectively, and being willing to make reasonable accommodations (and while that goes both ways, I'd say it's more incumbent on the individual player, especially if joining an already existing game).

A lot of it boils down to "can you compromise?" If no, it's going to be difficult.

Quertus
2019-02-07, 12:41 PM
Many players, including GMs, do not understand that their way of playing RPGs is not a universal way of playing RPGs. I think this is exacerbated by the amount of time (and therefore how entrenched the habits gets) you play RPGs, and the fact that outside of organized play, a given group tends to be insular and therefore feeds on its own assumptions.

I mean, that's half the point of the whole RPG Patterns post I made, to kind of lay out some of the styles of play that I've seen.



Absolutely. There's two issues - explaining the table culture/game style effectively, and being willing to make reasonable accommodations (and while that goes both ways, I'd say it's more incumbent on the individual player, especially if joining an already existing game).

A lot of it boils down to "can you compromise?" If no, it's going to be difficult.

Perhaps the only thing I'd add to that is, "are you communication compatible?". Just as gaming tables have styles, people have different styles of communicating. If the player isn't a good fit for the table's social skills & communication style, it's going to be a tough row to hoe. Even if both sides are perfectly willing to compromise, is rough if they don't know what the other person wants, and read into things differently than the other party intends.

Faily
2019-02-07, 12:43 PM
Two different categories for me - Play-by-post or tabletop.


Tabletop
Player red flags:
- As much as I would jokingly want to put "Chaotic Neutral" here, I hate having discussions about how it's "for the greater good" that PCs do a lot of dickish, unlawful, and nongood actions and still argue that they are still either lawful or good. :smallsigh: Thankfully that's only been two players in my years of gaming.
- Players not checking the sources on feats, spells, archetypes etc and making sure that it is something that fits with the setting or is even available to their character (like some of the spells in Advanced Race Guide being race-specific).

GM red flags:
- GM who likes to throw super-difficult encounters at the party and then act all surprised when one or more PC dies... or just skimp on XP after an encounter regardless of how difficult it was because "oh, that's a lot". :smallannoyed:
- Adding in annoying houserules without warning.


Play-by-post
Player red flags:
- Needy and requires twice the attention than any other player.
- Obfuscating rolls for others to see (not logging dice correctly, or hiding it).


GM red flags:
- Plays favorites.
- Ignores game rules at whim because "it's cooler this way".
- Very low presence in the game.

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-07, 02:04 PM
The first one sounds more like someone who is not planning a character to fit the game, and the second sounds more like a 4 year old throwing a tantrum. Neither have to do with someone planning their character build out.

I'm in a Pathfinder game right now, and I have my character planned out, just cuz that's how I like to make characters. I know the game isn't likely to go past 10th level or so, but I still like to see how the character can develop.

They both have to do with planning a character out. Obviously.

Look, I'm not saying you're doing the same thing those players are. At all. But I do hope you can see that both of those players were problematic? That's why it's a red flag. It doesn't always have to be someone who's going to deliberately try and ruin a game for everyone else like a 4 year old. But sometimes it is.

Quertus
2019-02-07, 02:32 PM
- Plays favorites.

I could comment on most of these, but wouldn't this be an issue at any table, not just PbP?

hotflungwok
2019-02-07, 02:44 PM
I could comment on most of these, but wouldn't this be an issue at any table, not just PbP?
It was certainly a problem in a Changeling game I played in. I should have quit as soon it (and other antagonistic things) started to happen.

supergoji18
2019-02-07, 03:15 PM
Since I found myself on my phone quite a lot the last few games (regardless if GM or player), I feel like I wanna defend this behaviour - somewhat. As a person with ADHD, it actually helps me pay attention. My mind needs to be fully occupied, or it looks for things to occupy it, and that might very well distract me fully. When I occupy myself with something that I know will not drown out the thing I actually want to pay my main attention to (the game) (and that I can just put down at any time), I eliminate the risk of drifting off, and can stay engaged in parts of the game where I don't have anything directly to do.

In a digital (voicechat) game, reading internet stuff gets too distracting (I suppose the physicality of the game is more involving and present, but have no clue), and therefor I have taken to painting miniatures instead. Online games worked, but were impossible to put down without delay.

I'm not saying some players don't get distracted from their phones, or that those aren't the majority of those looking at their phones (and annoying). I just wanna point out that it can mean something else. And if you forbid me from looking at it, I disengage far more easily.

If it really helps you focus, then I'd say that's fine as long as the others are aware of it so there are no misunderstandings.

But the players I refer to do not have ADHD and are on their phones (or in one case a portable game console) while dialogue or combat is going on. At some points they even start getting other players involved in it, showing them what they're doing or seeing, and distracting from the game as a whole. That is a problem.





On another note, because someone brought up something similar, Players who are more concerned about leveling up than actually playing the game. Maybe it's because of how central levels and grinding is in other RPGs, but holy cow some people need to cool their jets when it comes to this. I remember a player I was DMing for who, at the end of every session, would ask if he had leveled up (I allot exp and level ups at the end of sessions to avoid taking up too much time). The session after everyone leveled up, he asked again. And of course, every time I said no he didn't level up, he'd always go "oh come on, we did so much!" or some other complaint. It got really annoying really fast.

Particle_Man
2019-02-07, 04:17 PM
- Pack rats, players who need a bag of holding to hold their bags of holding. “I’ve got something just perfect for this situation, hold on while I check my inventory ...” [10 minutes pass]

I wonder if that is why AD&D had the rule that a bag of holding inside another either caused an explosion (destroying everything) or caused a rift that sucked the owner into the astral plane (effectively ending that character).

Gary Gygax played hardball.

kyoryu
2019-02-07, 05:34 PM
I wonder if that is why AD&D had the rule that a bag of holding inside another either caused an explosion (destroying everything) or caused a rift that sucked the owner into the astral plane (effectively ending that character).

Gary Gygax played hardball.

Being a resource management game (what do I take with me? How much? What do I not take with me?) bags of holding (which were generated randomly, remember, and not guaranteed to be available) gave the lucky character a chance to bring more resources. Allowing them to stack would mean that you could bring *all* the things, making certain types of resource management completely obsolete.

noob
2019-02-07, 05:53 PM
- Players who want every XP and GP to be awarded. The type of players who respond to “Your 18th level Fighter/Wizard just killed a rat” with “How much XP do I get for it and was it carrying any loot?”

it is inefficient relatively to moving on and trying to get bigger loot.

LaserFace
2019-02-07, 06:08 PM
As a GM, this is what I contribute, what I bring to the table: The story. As it happens, it's also what makes the game fun for me. I can hope everyone enjoys the story, but I can't always know, and I've seen stories fail. I know for a fact that sometimes a story has failed because of me, likely because I made a plot too convoluted.

But if the players come to my table, then my story is part of their fun - or they've sat down at the wrong table. There are wide borders for players to have their own fun inside the framework of the story, but my story is still the collective fun had by the players at the table. If you're there for some other reason, then ... quite simply, you shouldn't be.

To be clear, I'm talking about favoring story over the players. I'm not arguing against a DM coming with prepared material, but rather, robbing players of their agency (e.g. The Villain always escapes in Act 2, no matter what the players choose to do). I think D&D is a collaborative game that requires input from players to get anywhere; so while I certainly "tell stories" throughout gameplay, there is never a set script that players are merely present to witness. I understand players love stories and plots, that's all great, but I personally feel it's my job to facilitate the players, and certainly not just make it my personal novel that they are "fortunate" enough to be in.


How is this a red flag?

:smalltongue: Guilty as charged. Granted, the tables I run with tend to be pretty combat heavy hack'n'slash crawls with a big party. Your character gets dropped pretty quickly if it isn't at least moderately well-optimized, and since there are so many players (with more than a few dedicated RPers), if I add to the chaos by insisting on making IC speeches and other shenanigans, I'd be slowing down the session.

While it's fine with the tables I'm used to, I know it's a bad habit.

I don't think it's bad intrinsically, I think you're describing something pretty reasonable. And I understand character building can actually be pretty fun. But, it's nevertheless a pet peeve of mine, because I feel like mechanics should be a secondary concern to the overall game experience, which I would say is more about IC decision-making. But, I don't think making optimized characters precludes coming up with interesting characters, or being a fun person to include at the table. I guess I just sometimes see uninteresting people solely fixated on just numbers and feats, which I encountered frequently in 3.x, which is when I used to do play-by-post and Neverwinter Nights servers. But, one of my best friends and long-time D&D mates plans his characters from level 1-20 sometimes. So, I might give the person scrutiny, but I'd never disqualify someone on that basis.

In other words I think it's just a mild quirk, like somebody who optimizes their MTG Commander deck for tournament play, or someone who puts mayonnaise on their french fries. Weirdos.

Floret
2019-02-07, 06:39 PM
If it really helps you focus, then I'd say that's fine as long as the others are aware of it so there are no misunderstandings.

But the players I refer to do not have ADHD and are on their phones (or in one case a portable game console) while dialogue or combat is going on. At some points they even start getting other players involved in it, showing them what they're doing or seeing, and distracting from the game as a whole. That is a problem.

Misunderstandings? What misunderstandings would happen? If I am clearly engaged and paying attention, that's what matters, right? What are you afraid would happen if someone thought I was just randomly on my phone?

And I dunno, the question of what exactly is going on in game is rather irrelevant to my need for focus control. "Combat" is actually a thing I tend to need it most, since it involves long wait times between my ability to properly continue my plans (necessary modifications due to circumstances notwithstanding). Dialogue that does not directly involve me is no more maxing out my concentration than landscape descriptions do.

Yes, people getting distracted is a problem. But in that case, the solution should be an attempt to find the cause of the problem, not a blanket ban that may or may not help. A quick "look at this cool thing" to someone equally uninvolved in the current scene isn't really obtrusive. Taking phones away might make even those players worse, them taking to louder and more obtrusive shenanigans if the cause is boredom or disinterest. Solve causes, not symptoms.

Faily
2019-02-07, 06:57 PM
I could comment on most of these, but wouldn't this be an issue at any table, not just PbP?

I've found it in my experience to be a worse problem in PbP than on tabletop. Again, this is from my experience and the style of PbP our community plays which I know is not the same for everyone else.

Gnoman
2019-02-07, 07:31 PM
Clearly.

He didn't like the restriction, and so tried to push against it in any way that he could.

That sort of behavior is precisely why "not working within the constraints of the game world" seems to be the number one red flag in this thread so far.


It felt more like he was trying to wear me down from sheer fatigue by insisting on taking things literally - a rather childish way of trying to get what he wanted. Given that his proposed builds were terrible - the TO builds were based on tricks that blatantly don't work (don't remember the details, but at least one relied on synergizing two abilities that explicitly did not synergize) and the giant builds had Level 2 or 3 damage out put at an ECL of 11 or 12-, he probably had more fun arguing for them then he would have had playing them at my table. Fortunately for my sanity, this was for an online game on another forum, and he got banned for picking fights with mods.

Pauly
2019-02-08, 01:52 AM
it is inefficient relatively to moving on and trying to get bigger loot.

Exactly. But some players demand their rewards for even the tiniest and mundane of achievements. I’ve been in games where the calculating and divvying up of XP and loot took longer than it took to play ROFL-stomping a bunch of minor minions.

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-08, 03:26 AM
.. robbing players of their agency ..

See, I hate that term. 'Player agency' is a BS term invented by players who think they're all that matters, and they should be the center of the multiverse.

That special feeling you get when you finally defeat the BBEG in the third battle, and end his reign of terror ... that is only ever possible if he survives the first two times. It's not something I've ever done, it's just an example, but it's undeniably true. I've done many other things over the years that were scripted somehow - and there's an art to it: It goes over much better, the more you make the transition invisible. No one really objects when you blast your way through the secret base, fighting against coordinated resistance, only to find the command centre deserted and the launch tubes empty - what's generally sure to generate tears and gnashing teeth is when all your dice rolls fail, because that's what it says in the script.

LaserFace
2019-02-08, 04:12 AM
See, I hate that term. 'Player agency' is a BS term invented by players who think they're all that matters, and they should be the center of the multiverse.

That special feeling you get when you finally defeat the BBEG in the third battle, and end his reign of terror ... that is only ever possible if he survives the first two times. It's not something I've ever done, it's just an example, but it's undeniably true. I've done many other things over the years that were scripted somehow - and there's an art to it: It goes over much better, the more you make the transition invisible. No one really objects when you blast your way through the secret base, fighting against coordinated resistance, only to find the command centre deserted and the launch tubes empty - what's generally sure to generate tears and gnashing teeth is when all your dice rolls fail, because that's what it says in the script.

Except, what I'm explicitly talking about is player actions completely invalidated for no reason other than they ruin my later plans. Finding the command center deserted is way different from finding it inhabited, having a fight break out, and when the boss suffers several debilitating debuffs followed by lethal damage, he chooses not to die but to leave, and none of the PCs are allowed to stop him or follow him out of sheer contrivance. I feel like I've been pretty clear that the problem isn't having a plan, the problem is making the choices of the players irrelevant to the game.

If you genuinely mean to argue that it's totally cool to have player action to have 0% impact on outcomes, uh, agree to disagree.

Son of A Lich!
2019-02-08, 05:18 AM
As a constant DM with a revolving group of new players about every other month, I have two warning signs that I explicitly call out;

Paladin Role Playing

I'm Lawful Good, so You can't do something against the Law. We need to do this by the book because My character wouldn't let you do something like that.

Druid Role Playing

My character doesn't care about the city or its civilians, what is motivating me to help the party?

This is just basic cooperation issues and they are inverses of one another - "Paladins" want to dictate the other players role playing to support their role in the party. Druids want their role to be catered to them by the party. I usually just have a generic "You met in a tavern" attitude towards character creation and play pretty generic FR-esque games so that players can make their characters freely, but with the understanding that your character has to work with their peers, and "But MY character" isn't rationale enough to try to force another player to play something they didn't want to.

With 5e, I've been considering adding in "Warlock Role Playing", which is dark, brooding "Fine, I'll join you but I'm not going to like it" kind of passive resentment to their fellow players, but it hasn't been a big enough problem yet to warrant anyone getting kicked.

Zhorn
2019-02-08, 06:01 AM
DCs can be higher than 20, and all you declared was a roll of 20, not a higher total. Natural 20 is not an automatic success on anything but a to-hit roll, so saying 'natural 20' is as relevant as 'natural 15'. I get annoyed with players who don't call out their total and instead say something like 'oh, I failed' or 'I rolled X', and at some point will stop asking them for a total and just go with whatever number they declared instead of reminding them yet again how basic game rolls work.

Oh I fully understand this, and can agree that as a legitimate and fair way to rule it. Had it been with another DM my first thought would tend towards "this is a high DC". This particular DM though had established critical successes and failures on skill checks a few times prior in this game, but we got an admission later that they'd just ignore rolls if they result didn't fit with what he wanted to happen. Same DM that would ask for consecutive rolls until one failed. Generally just had an antagonistic 'DM vs Player' mindset and became over time more inconsistent and openly hostile towards the characters.
As the topic the the thread says, this was just one of the 'red flags'.

Arbane
2019-02-08, 11:40 AM
In a sci-fi game inspired by Starcraft, where the PCs are soldiers in a penal battalion, playing a stripper serial killer 'inspired' by Harley Quinn, who argues with every authority figure about EVERYTHING.
I'm planning on taking bets whether the character is killed by other PCs, an NPC, or the Zerg.

Luccan
2019-02-08, 12:33 PM
In a sci-fi game inspired by Starcraft, where the PCs are soldiers in a penal battalion, playing a stripper serial killer 'inspired' by Harley Quinn, who argues with every authority figure about EVERYTHING.
I'm planning on taking bets whether the character is killed by other PCs, an NPC, or the Zerg.

They know Harley Quinn was a psychiatrist, right?

Arbane
2019-02-08, 01:54 PM
They know Harley Quinn was a psychiatrist, right?

If he does, he doesn't seem to care.

King of Nowhere
2019-02-08, 05:47 PM
DM:

Has his own handbook of house rules.
Lots of things are banned.
Boasts of his PC kill count.
Has a high PC kill count.
Has an NPC who can do anything, [another npc that] knows everything, and [another npc that] is infinitely wealthy.

I'm guilty of those. I use a lot of houserules and bans; some are because I started using them in ignorance and kept them for consistency, some are because I have some very casual players and I'm trying to keep things simple enough for them, and some are intentional. Overall, most of that is just a quirk of the specific campaign and group, though.
I also have a high pc kill count because I run a world where, if you are part of a powerful organization, you are guaranteed resurrection. So character death really has little consequence (unless loot is stolen).
As for npcs, the one who can do anything (20th level lich cleric with 45 wisdom) is intended to be one of the final bosses, and the other two (20th level homebrew specialized expert with +50 to gather information and guy with monopoly on all banking and magic trade) all run powerful organizations and may be allies or enemies of the pcs, depending on how the game evolves. Anyway, their powers are mostly in line with their levels and positions, and they are fully justified in world.



DMs
-Obvious references or OOC jokes in the world lore.
-Jarring tonal shifts.
-Never actually has any dungeons (or dragons!) in their D&D game.
-Has clearly never rolled on a random table for anything.

I am also guilty of that. I like tonal shifts. More exactly, I like to walk the fine line between serious and ridiculous. I like to make stuff that looks ridiculous, but that actually makes sense in-world. While still looking ridiculous. I mean, I filled my infernal planes with cute fluffy bunnies with breath weapons and plenty of defensive abilities, and chihuahuas whose continual barking is so nerve-wracking that it deals wisdom damage. At the same time, I managed enough consistency that my players treat them as any other monster now.

As for dungeons, there isn't really any room for them in my world. I considered the worldbuilding, and I realized that dungeons make no sense past level 5ish in the setting, except in super-rare circumstances.
So I had a big fair where they built an artificial dungeon with windows to look in and sent in the pcs to make a show for the public outside. Complete with sponsors and giant illusions of the pcs projected outside to give a mock "modern sport event" vibe. Everyone recognized it was mostly an excuse to do something I don't get to do often otherwise, but it made sense in contest, and it was fun.


Two different categories for me - Play-by-post or tabletop.


Tabletop
Player red flags:
- As much as I would jokingly want to put "Chaotic Neutral" here, I hate having discussions about how it's "for the greater good" that PCs do a lot of dickish, unlawful, and nongood actions and still argue that they are still either lawful or good. :smallsigh:

How about players who put "evil" in their alignment and then do a lot of dickish, unlawful, and nongood actions "for the greater good" and argue "well, that's why I'm evil"?
I have that player in two games, in one he's great as he drives a lot of the plot by doing things differently, in the other he may end up clashing with the good members of the party as his evil wizard get more and more power obsessed... which could be a great roleplay occasion, mind you. Basically, he's straddling the line between "interesting character that get things done dirty harry callahan style" and "murderhobo"




A lot of it boils down to "can you compromise?"
this wins the shortest summary of all red flags

JNAProductions
2019-02-08, 06:56 PM
King of Nowhere, something to keep in mind is that these are Red Flags-not Dealbreakers.

From what you've said, I don't see anything that screams "GET OUT! HORRIBLE DM!" I see "Okay, keep this in mind, and if it becomes a problem, talk to them and possibly walk if they refuse to listen."

While some flags might be serious enough to merit immediate leaving, the vast majority are just warning signs.

Or, in other words, you should be fine. If you're REALLY worried about if you're doing a bad job as a DM, just ask your players.

Edit: One of my red flags is when a DM refuses to use the actual rules WITHOUT official houseruling.

I'm fine with a DM who says, before I make my character, "Hit dice are spent in a lump sum-try not to over-or under-shoot your HP when healing," but I'm less fine when it's sprung on me after a harsh fight and I need HP back.

But, to carry on with the spirit of this post, that DM who I had that happen with was the best DM I've played under in real life. He wasn't the best at rules, but damn could he make it fun.

LaserFace
2019-02-08, 07:25 PM
I am also guilty of that. I like tonal shifts. More exactly, I like to walk the fine line between serious and ridiculous. I like to make stuff that looks ridiculous, but that actually makes sense in-world. While still looking ridiculous. I mean, I filled my infernal planes with cute fluffy bunnies with breath weapons and plenty of defensive abilities, and chihuahuas whose continual barking is so nerve-wracking that it deals wisdom damage. At the same time, I managed enough consistency that my players treat them as any other monster now.

As for dungeons, there isn't really any room for them in my world. I considered the worldbuilding, and I realized that dungeons make no sense past level 5ish in the setting, except in super-rare circumstances.
So I had a big fair where they built an artificial dungeon with windows to look in and sent in the pcs to make a show for the public outside. Complete with sponsors and giant illusions of the pcs projected outside to give a mock "modern sport event" vibe. Everyone recognized it was mostly an excuse to do something I don't get to do often otherwise, but it made sense in contest, and it was fun.


Well hey, if you and your players are enjoying it, that's what's important. I might complain about aesthetics that I see here and there, but I think the critical element is just having friends at a table who appreciate what everyone else is doing. There is no substitute for a DM who looks to provide a good time for their friends.

King of Nowhere
2019-02-08, 09:40 PM
Well hey, if you and your players are enjoying it, that's what's important. I might complain about aesthetics that I see here and there, but I think the critical element is just having friends at a table who appreciate what everyone else is doing. There is no substitute for a DM who looks to provide a good time for their friends.

Yep, that was my point (wasn't clear, I know); most of those red flags are situationals.
It's not much what is done, but how and why.

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-09, 03:03 AM
If you genuinely mean to argue that it's totally cool to have player action to have 0% impact on outcomes, uh, agree to disagree.

That is clearly not what I'm saying.

GrayDeath
2019-02-09, 09:24 AM
Well, I only count things as Red Flag that, if extreme enough, would on their "merit" alone make me leave a game, so I ahve a smaller list (although a lot of the stuff mentioned here also makes me have less fun, mind!).

From a Player:

Does not read/understand the Setup of the Game and NEVER ASKS until he shows halfway through the first session that he doesnt get anything.

Cheats

Plays only for his own Fun and other be damned.

Cancels his attendance around the time the Game was supposed to start (with a vague reason/obvious lie).

Does only bring food/Snacks/etc for himself, but still munches from the "Snack Pool".

Each of those I give a warning ONCE: And then its goodbye.


From a DM:

Does not tell the players all Rules that apply (attention: Only valid exception is if a new/changing rule is central part of the plot and the palyers have to find out about it!)

Changes Rules on the fly all the time (if there is a tough spot where all realize a rule does not work and he makes a Ruling thats of course OK, but a palyer needs to be able to rely on the Rules).

Does not give detailled descriptions of his world/NPCs or their Actions (it is after all ALL the players have to react to).

Does not give out Info "Because you might metagame and make "THe Best (TM) Decision" (again caveat: if the game is Paranoia, or really close to RL Intruige thats OK).

Fudges Rolls against the Players (or fidges them at all if a Game is very competetive/the reason for playing is competetive).

Asks for Backstories implementing his setting, and then promptly ignores them.

Promises one type of game, but DM`s another entirely (most recent example: I was playing in a Superhero Setting, the setup was "Choose your path as Villain or Hero in a Classic (slightly more deadly) Superhero Setting". And then it all came down to Police (and police Heroes) acting "realistically" following the old theme of "American Police Officer in Gang Country en****ering a Suspicious" man" but with more Legal speak and less common sense.
All the fricking time.)

Is not prepared (attention: If he admits it, and for example says "Sorry, had no time, just talk a bit while I finish" thats totally fine!, same of course for Full Impro DM`s if one knows that they are such)


Ando for both: Does not follow the Session 0/Gentlebeings Agreement.

LaserFace
2019-02-09, 12:58 PM
That is clearly not what I'm saying.

Right.

What I've been trying to say is that maybe what I said and what you interpreted are maybe not in full alignment.

Schismatic
2019-02-09, 08:33 PM
People who have to take a phonecall 3 times in the first session's hour and a bit. When asked if somethig's wrong (because, hey, real life) they answer 'Nah'. As in 'not out of the ordinary'.

It might be the educator in me, but I hate mobiles.

I'm pretty good at dealing with most players at the table, and part and parcel with that is familiarity as 90% of the players I've played with (barring cons, tournaments, etc) I've known for multiple years. I know what they like, I know what will keep their attention, I even know what's the best pizza and beer to get that will placate all of them when we just want to slow things down a bit for an extra long gaming session.

Often familiar players help out ironing out the troublesome types, because we all have hangups and part of dealing with our flaws is simply experience and a quick word.

So much easier when 80-90% of the group is on the same page. So I'm pretty fortunate in those respects with my gaming group.

Honestly most of it's pretty common sense and SU&SD did a really good video on problem players.

https://vimeo.com/140446794

But mobile phones are my bane.

MasterCat
2019-02-09, 08:39 PM
In "Return of the Jedi", the ewoks were literally going to eat ... Chewie.

In fairness, he brought it on himself with that name.

theMycon
2019-02-09, 10:25 PM
In fairness, he brought it on himself with that name.

But that's his slave name. He calls himself "Aooorhhh RAAAgh". Wookies can't even say Chewbacca, or anything closer than "Ah".

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-11, 06:36 AM
Right.

What I've been trying to say is that maybe what I said and what you interpreted are maybe not in full alignment.

Um, right.

My rant against 'player agency' wasn't directed at you, as such. You mentioned player agency, and I commented on that, but I didn't mean to imply that ... that your views on player agency are what I'm opposed to. Nor am I opposed to player agency, as such. But the term is most often (in my experience) used to create problems where none exist, or by players who lack the social understanding to work in a group to justify their belief that they're the center of the universe.

Anyone with social understanding: You're not the ones I'm talking about. But if you've never seen it, you're very lucky indeed.

Name_Here
2019-02-11, 12:33 PM
As a DM when a player starts doing things with a clear plan without telling me the overall plan. Had a player almost build a bazooka in a CoC campaign.

Wouldn't have been overly useful but it was still the start of a not great player in a campaign.

Friv
2019-02-11, 12:54 PM
I mean, none of those three are Ewoks. That doesn't make them cannibal, just carnivorous. :smalltongue:

Wookies are just large ewoks. Prove me wrong. ;)

The Glyphstone
2019-02-11, 02:09 PM
Wookies are just large ewoks. Prove me wrong. ;)

I feel obligated to interject on Peelee's behalf....wookiee. Two E's.:smallcool:

That out of the way, Eewoks are actually miniature mutant Wookiees.

Luccan
2019-02-11, 04:07 PM
I feel like most settings with multiple creatures of human or near-human intelligence treat cannibalism as any intelligent creature eating another. I know it's not technically correct, but intelligent beings shouldn't eat other intelligent beings. The Ewoks were still gonna eat people, whatever you want to call it.

martixy
2019-02-11, 04:21 PM
Actually a few of the replies here raise red flags, mostly in the BadWrongFun category. But I won't be naming anyone, that's not polite.

Most of the things have already been mentioned, of course, but I have one I suffered from a couple times:
Indecisive DMs. It might not sound like much, but they are supposed to be an authority in the game. They should not leave themselves to be walked over by the players over every minor gripe, or coerced into allowing every broken bit of content someone dregs up from the internet.
Not bad with a cultured party, terrible with a bunch of cheating *****.

Mr Beer
2019-02-11, 04:55 PM
The main one I've experienced is a guy who immediately started trying to renegotiate session 0 character restrictions.


Druid Role Playing

My character doesn't care about the city or its civilians, what is motivating me to help the party?

"Your motivation would be your problem sir"

Seriously never going to argue with someone as to why they want to join the adventure, the doors right there if you don't want to play.

LaserFace
2019-02-11, 04:56 PM
Um, right.

My rant against 'player agency' wasn't directed at you, as such. You mentioned player agency, and I commented on that, but I didn't mean to imply that ... that your views on player agency are what I'm opposed to. Nor am I opposed to player agency, as such. But the term is most often (in my experience) used to create problems where none exist, or by players who lack the social understanding to work in a group to justify their belief that they're the center of the universe.

Anyone with social understanding: You're not the ones I'm talking about. But if you've never seen it, you're very lucky indeed.

Oh, I see.

As a player, I have experienced another player spout "This is how my character would act!", while they attacked their party-mates, which maybe falls under the same category. But I think the saner players realize we all make little conceits to our behavior, for the sake of both the party and the DM as well. I think players probably should generally recognize they're not supposed to have 100% control.

But, I guess I've experience far more DMs who disregarded player freedom than players who use that sort of phrasing to justify stupid behavior, so, that's my bias. Like, I've witnessed DMs just completely ignore dice rolls, nullify spell choices, make up completely arbitrary things on the spot as a way to maintain their story's intended outcomes. Phrases like 'player agency' have only ever been brought up with positive connotations among our group, so, I guess that's what struck me as confusing.

Thanks for clarifying.

Son of A Lich!
2019-02-11, 05:34 PM
The main one I've experienced is a guy who immediately started trying to renegotiate session 0 character restrictions.



"Your motivation would be your problem sir"

Seriously never going to argue with someone as to why they want to join the adventure, the doors right there if you don't want to play.

Yeah, it's a bit of a trap too. If you start trying to negotiate reasons why they want to be with the party, suddenly they start trying to slip in conceits that make them the Main Character and start expecting it every time something new changes up the party dynamics.

Usually, (But not always) this is seen in Druids and Rangers. They want to be loners that happen to tag along with the party because it's mutually beneficial. At first, it can be a common hiccup with trying to balance the character envisioned with a party dynamic and I can excuse the "But why would I want to be here?!" if they are trying to ask the party to account for an 'In', and they haven't communicated it to the other players well enough for them to help.

It's when they are constantly trying to curve the narrative to put them center stage that it becomes a problem for the rest of the party.

Quertus
2019-02-11, 06:32 PM
The main one I've experienced is a guy who immediately started trying to renegotiate session 0 character restrictions.

That's me, sort of.

See, if the GM has a 20-page house rules document, well, they're probably clueless. If they've got strange, unexplained character requirements, well, it might indicate such cluelessness, or there might be other causes. So I'll poke at it, to see if it's worth my time to get invested in the game.

Maybe they have some really cool world-building, like all lefties are descended from the gods or something. Maybe they're trying to explore something specific, which blindly following the letter what they said would miss the mark (I've seen that too many times). Maybe they've had bad experiences with something, and generalized it to "x is bad - no x" for an awful lot of exes. Maybe they're terrible at communication, and cannot serve as the eyes and ears of my character. Or maybe they're just completely clueless.

So, yeah, when I'm given Arcane starting conditions, it's enough to catch my attention (a yellow flag?), so I'll poke at it to see what's up.

Of course, back in my day, the starting conditions were simple, like "5th level character", and you'd still get people asking for 6th or 4th. So, it's a culture thing.

Speaking of - any grognards care to comment on whether they're familiar with such behavior, of people pushing level requirements, from "back in the day"?


"Your motivation would be your problem sir"

Seriously never going to argue with someone as to why they want to join the adventure, the doors right there if you don't want to play.


Yeah, it's a bit of a trap too. If you start trying to negotiate reasons why they want to be with the party, suddenly they start trying to slip in conceits that make them the Main Character and start expecting it every time something new changes up the party dynamics.

Usually, (But not always) this is seen in Druids and Rangers. They want to be loners that happen to tag along with the party because it's mutually beneficial. At first, it can be a common hiccup with trying to balance the character envisioned with a party dynamic and I can excuse the "But why would I want to be here?!" if they are trying to ask the party to account for an 'In', and they haven't communicated it to the other players well enough for them to help.

It's when they are constantly trying to curve the narrative to put them center stage that it becomes a problem for the rest of the party.

Again, back in the day, "session 0" was "Xth level character". And, as this newfangled "role-playing" thing took off, you'd increasingly get parties with... coherency issues. A lot of players would turn to the GM to fix it. Solutions like "he saved your life" or "he's kin" were not uncommon.

Also quite common were adventures and characters not matching up, like the paladin being asked to assassinate the good and rightful king.

These are just a few of the reasons why I found it best to solve the problem on my own, and keep a portfolio characters handy. But, for many players, the lack or inadequacy of session 0 left them asking the existential question, why am I here?

Jama7301
2019-02-11, 07:53 PM
Excessive pedantry. You can ask for a clarification, but when you keep trying to push the edges little by little, or keep angling for some different reading I'm going to get sick of it. Let me make a ruling and let's move on.

I know some places expect a level of negotiating or interpretation, but I run/play games to relax and unwind. I'm fairly laid back, so I'm willing to give some slack on first reading, but if I say "This is how this works", just let it be. I don't need people in my hobby to push at the same buttons that people at work try to push at.

If it comes up frequently in early sessions, I can tell that the sessions are going to be more exhausting than fun.

Pex
2019-02-11, 08:25 PM
Players
-Obvious references or OOC jokes in the character name or background.

I don't mind this as long as it's not monopolizing the game. If the player is being serious about it, it could make for a fun thing to experience as a party member if that's his story arc while I have mine and we have ours. If it's just a joke name that's not ridiculous to say, and that's all there is to it as we play the game normally in everything else, that's fine too. I've done this myself, having named 3E characters with Harry Potter references, and in 5E once played a sorcerer named Ricardo Montalban and currently another sorcerer named after a professional bodybuilder.



-New character backstory is more than two paragraphs.

I've had DMs who like this very much.



-Does long-term level planning.

I do this with all my characters and discuss it with the DM so he knows what to expect and my thoughts of the character. Sometimes I will change my mind based on campaign circumstances because campaign story and/or game mechanics reality show something else to be a better fit.



DMs
-Obvious references or OOC jokes in the world lore.


See above. I've done it in my game, and the players enjoyed it. The first adventure was literally Night of the Living Dead, starting at the graveyard for a PC's dead grandfather anniversary to the house with the NPC family in the basement. They also enjoyed the Brady Bunch Children of the Corn. We'll have to call this different tastes.



-Clearly has never considered explaining what people in town eat, how they dance, what sort of music they have, what sort of colors or jewelry they wear, or what customs they practice.


Such things are nice to have, but depending on the DM there is only so much time a DM has to prepare an adventure. They're making a game not writing a fantasy novel. Such exacting detail isn't necessary if it's not going to make an appearance. If a player asks in game sure make something up. A bard knowing the local customs can help the party ingratiate themselves for an easier time of doing the adventure or blowing off steam after a previous intense story arc.



-Hands out magical equipment without thinking about who made it, how it got to where it was, or what makes it unique from other loot out of the DMG.


See above.




-Never actually has any dungeons (or dragons!) in their D&D game.


I see that as a different taste issue, not a bad DM warning problem.



-Has clearly never rolled on a random table for anything.


How is a DM supposed to know the life history of a bag holding or alchemy jug if only comes into existence right then and there by a random die roll? It's the DM's world. What's wrong with him deciding what's in it?

Mr Beer
2019-02-11, 08:37 PM
Excessive pedantry. You can ask for a clarification, but when you keep trying to push the edges little by little, or keep angling for some different reading I'm going to get sick of it. Let me make a ruling and let's move on.

Ha ha, yes! Have a player who tends to do this, not to excess but yeah it grinds my gears.

LaserFace
2019-02-11, 11:33 PM
point-by-point thinger

So, none of these are like, strike 1 and you're out. They're warning signs. I take note of them. It's not that people might not be ok in spite of them, and some people might even enjoy them. I just tend not to like those people. At least, the ones I've come across.

But since you're interested:



I don't mind this as long as it's not monopolizing the game. If the player is being serious about it, it could make for a fun thing to experience as a party member if that's his story arc while I have mine and we have ours. If it's just a joke name that's not ridiculous to say, and that's all there is to it as we play the game normally in everything else, that's fine too. I've done this myself, having named 3E characters with Harry Potter references, and in 5E once played a sorcerer named Ricardo Montalban and currently another sorcerer named after a professional bodybuilder.


My friends make jokes all the time. A lot of them can be stupidly immersion breaking, and absolutely hilarious at the same time.

I once played a game of Burning Wheel, where my character was an adventuring Lawyer. I got into a 'battle of wits' with an angry ghost whose tomb we entered, and the guy goes on to cite precedence for punishing grave robbers from a historical case, which the GM improvised on the spot to be The case of Dr. Pepper (as in the Soda, which was at the table) vs Spellbeard. I was simultaneously rolling my eyes and laughing about it; the whole table was. It wasn't just an absurd scenario, but now we had stupid names to deal with. We had a good time.

But this kind of thing isn't really funny if it's just always staring me in the face every time we play. If a PC at the table was instead named Dr. Pepper, I would get bored of it. Throwaway lines from NPCs can be cute, but I'm talking about persistent low-grade humor just killing my desire to even get into character. That's what I really can't stand.



I've had DMs who like this very much.

I've known lots of annoying DMs and players, most of which claim they love heapings of backstory. I don't think it's good to write up tons of information before play has even begun, without any collaboration from the DM or the other players. Not only are they setting themselves up for an insular approach to the game, but I've seen way too many people like this whose style can be summed up as "Tell, Don't Show", and it's maybe one of my biggest peeves. If you have ideas about your character, wonderful, but unless it's part of the group's experience, nobody really ought to care.

Again, I'm making huge blanket statements that aren't really making room for exceptions that are fine, maybe even great; but if somebody were to had me a full page or more of writing, 1) I hope it's malleable and 2) I hope the player wrote with a human reader in mind.



I do this with all my characters and discuss it with the DM so he knows what to expect and my thoughts of the character. Sometimes I will change my mind based on campaign circumstances because campaign story and/or game mechanics reality show something else to be a better fit.


I hope your DMs enjoy it more than I do. Maybe the last conversation I want to have with a player includes "Maybe this character should take Fighter to level 5, then go Paladin, and take Feats X, Y and Z at points 1, 2 and 3."



See above. I've done it in my game, and the players enjoyed it. The first adventure was literally Night of the Living Dead, starting at the graveyard for a PC's dead grandfather anniversary to the house with the NPC family in the basement. They also enjoyed the Brady Bunch Children of the Corn. We'll have to call this different tastes.

So the 'references' in my statement are also in the context of World Lore. If you wanna do a little adventure where players get to experience something from pop culture, that could be fun, sure. Everyone borrows from things they know. I mean I just hate seeing the really obvious things written on the setting map, or making it plainly obvious what's going to happen by making things too similar to the reference material.



Such things are nice to have, but depending on the DM there is only so much time a DM has to prepare an adventure. They're making a game not writing a fantasy novel. Such exacting detail isn't necessary if it's not going to make an appearance. If a player asks in game sure make something up. A bard knowing the local customs can help the party ingratiate themselves for an easier time of doing the adventure or blowing off steam after a previous intense story arc.

I mean, I don't really have lots of time. It doesn't take a lot of time to say "this is a fishing village, they tell folk songs around a fire, make instruments from the bones of dead fish monsters, wear drab colors because they're poor, and have a festival that ends with sacrificing virgins to a horrible sea king." in my notes. It's not about making a novel, it's about making a location worth thinking about. Magical items, even a +1 sword or the alchemy jug, deserve the same attention. Or else, why care? Why think twice about pawning it at the next shop? Why not just immediately invite your players to start whining about when they get a +2 sword? To me, describing and enriching these things are one of the most important jobs of the DM. If I'm not going to invest my time in explaining what it is, I feel like I may as well just skip over it entirely.



I see that as a different taste issue, not a bad DM warning problem.

Yes, this is a personal red flag that sees people who fail to do this as having bad taste. Like the rest, entirely my opinion.



How is a DM supposed to know the life history of a bag holding or alchemy jug if only comes into existence right then and there by a random die roll? It's the DM's world. What's wrong with him deciding what's in it?

Usually you roll in advance, and report the results during the game upon examination. And it's not really the life story, so much as what is clearly evident (see the DMG 142 for the sort of things I mean). It's not much different from designing a NPC, in my opinion (which DMG 90 also helps tremendously with, btw). But, if I am doing an improv game, I usually just tie it somehow to the environment. If you find an Alchemy Jug in a demon's lair, well, maybe he cruelly dunks his victims into vats of mayonnaise before eating them. I dunno dude.

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-11, 11:58 PM
Oh, I see.

As a player, I have experienced another player spout "This is how my character would act!", while they attacked their party-mates, which maybe falls under the same category. But I think the saner players realize we all make little conceits to our behavior, for the sake of both the party and the DM as well. I think players probably should generally recognize they're not supposed to have 100% control.

But, I guess I've experience far more DMs who disregarded player freedom than players who use that sort of phrasing to justify stupid behavior, so, that's my bias. Like, I've witnessed DMs just completely ignore dice rolls, nullify spell choices, make up completely arbitrary things on the spot as a way to maintain their story's intended outcomes. Phrases like 'player agency' have only ever been brought up with positive connotations among our group, so, I guess that's what struck me as confusing.

Thanks for clarifying.

Thanks for listening. It's a common issue for me: I take someone's statement, and use it to make a general comment - and unsurprisingly, they feel it's directed towards them. It's mainly something that happens online, and in english, and ... you know, like in this case, I often have to actively think about it to even realise that's what's happening =)

I've had arbitrarily awful GM's too, but ... well not since I was a teenager. One thing I remember was being ambushed by giants, on a grassy plain. It went something like this:

GM: Suddenly, giants!
Players: Excuse me - from where? How? .. why??
GM: From the grass!
Players: Um ... an entire tribe of giants were hiding in the grass? Which you at no point described as being particularly tall or particularly suited for ambush?
Players: ....
Players: We've checked - we all have a way to fly. We fly away.
GM: Ok - 20 mages wielding wands of lightning appear from the clouds!
Players: Ok - if you want to end the campaign, you could have just said so.

True story. And I'm guessing we were supposed to be taken captive, but well - instead, we swapped GM. He was a nice guy, but I think his GM toolbox wasn't really full yet. Like I said, teenagers =)

JNAProductions
2019-02-12, 12:00 AM
Yeah. There's a big difference between BAD DMing and MALICIOUS DMing. Or, more specifically, malicious DMing is an awful, awful subset of bad DMing.

A bad DM can improve, and with time and practice, most likely will.
A malicious DM... Not so much.

One Tin Soldier
2019-02-12, 01:13 AM
But that's his slave name. He calls himself "Aooorhhh RAAAgh". Wookies can't even say Chewbacca, or anything closer than "Ah".

"Slave name" seems overly harsh, and also just doesn't match up with what we've seen. Maybe it's just the closest that humans can pronounce it.


As for the discussion at hand, the only red flag that I've personally experienced that comes to mind is personal hygiene. If the other players can't sit next to you, you're probably going to be a problem.

Son of A Lich!
2019-02-12, 01:42 AM
Thanks for listening. It's a common issue for me: I take someone's statement, and use it to make a general comment - and unsurprisingly, they feel it's directed towards them. It's mainly something that happens online, and in english, and ... you know, like in this case, I often have to actively think about it to even realise that's what's happening =)

I've had arbitrarily awful GM's too, but ... well not since I was a teenager. One thing I remember was being ambushed by giants, on a grassy plain. It went something like this:

GM: Suddenly, giants!
Players: Excuse me - from where? How? .. why??
GM: From the grass!
Players: Um ... an entire tribe of giants were hiding in the grass? Which you at no point described as being particularly tall or particularly suited for ambush?
Players: ....
Players: We've checked - we all have a way to fly. We fly away.
GM: Ok - 20 mages wielding wands of lightning appear from the clouds!
Players: Ok - if you want to end the campaign, you could have just said so.

True story. And I'm guessing we were supposed to be taken captive, but well - instead, we swapped GM. He was a nice guy, but I think his GM toolbox wasn't really full yet. Like I said, teenagers =)


Yeah. There's a big difference between BAD DMing and MALICIOUS DMing. Or, more specifically, malicious DMing is an awful, awful subset of bad DMing.

A bad DM can improve, and with time and practice, most likely will.
A malicious DM... Not so much.

When I was little, really really little, like 9 or so, I remember getting a Jurassic Park T-Rex toy with Battle damage that popped off the sides.

If I was DMing a game with my friends down the street You could not stop me from putting a Tarrasque in the middle of the adventure, Especially if it didn't make sense. It was a valuable opportunity to put my new T-rex to good use and my dad said the scariest monsters were ones you didn't expect.

I remember coyly looking up from the book as the players were getting ready to go back to town and trying to sneak the T-rex behind the DM screen and insisting that "Nuh uh! No, No Mike! I don't have the Tarrasque behind the Screen! Stop trying to Peek!"... Oh man...

For some reason I don't remember the Rules for AD&D... But I remember the Battle Damage was SO realistic.

I think that Malicious DMing can improve with time as well, but Maturity helps a whole hell of a lot.

Schismatic
2019-02-12, 09:46 AM
Yeah. There's a big difference between BAD DMing and MALICIOUS DMing. Or, more specifically, malicious DMing is an awful, awful subset of bad DMing.

A bad DM can improve, and with time and practice, most likely will.
A malicious DM... Not so much.

I think bad GMing is a difficult criterion to nail down. I think it's more determinable by player expectations, but there's a social contract that requires players to rein that in.

I think a lot of us have a touch of the control freak that isn't really that uncommon a phenomena of board gamers and RPgamers, I know I totally am... Compulsively sleeving every card of every board game I own and with our Gloomhaven nights having everything just so.

I'm the type of GM that insists on character sheets to print off and sleeve in a binder folder. Treating campaigns like a mindmap of results, destinations, and with an idea of an internal timeline that events occur within a campaign.

So we can all have that touch of order and a desire for it.

But with this DM he would compulsively retroactively argue why the PCs were someplace. This one DM in an old group was a really busy government agent that only really liked to GM, so when running an adventure was more like; "You find yourself in this place."

Very much; "I'm running this, deal."

Now I know some players hate that, and if you focus on it it seems like bad GMing, but if you ignore it you find virtue in this as well. The flipside of this is GMing with the absurd idea that every player deserves a whole world of stuff, and being able to treat adventures like sticking a map on a dartboard and deciding that way. And who legitimately has time for that if you work 5/6 days a week?

And I think the criticism of 'railroading' is simply ignoring an idea that that's basically what dungeon crawls are and why they're a popular choice in D&D, and if they weren't it would be a freeform dissociative nightmare on Pandemonium that transforms GMing into a job rather than a game.

Mentally memorising a 40 page chapter of a major adventure arc and simply expecting that in a session isn't 'railroading' ...

JNAProductions
2019-02-12, 09:56 AM
Eh... I wouldn't call "You start here" bad DMing.

It's definitely a certain style that does NOT mesh well with everyone, but it's a good way to get the ball rolling.

Also, to Son Of A Lich!: I was working under the premise that the DM who's being malicious is an adult already, or near enough to it that they ain't gonna be maturing a ton barring some serious introspection. I wouldn't judge an 8 year old DM NEARLY as harshly as a 40 year old DM. Because they're young, they're inexperienced, and they're immature-with no expectation of them BEING mature. Whereas a 40 year old DM might be inexperienced, but they should damn well be mature.

Resileaf
2019-02-12, 10:17 AM
I think bad GMing is a difficult criterion to nail down. I think it's more determinable by player expectations, but there's a social contract that requires players to rein that in.


There are no perfect GMs anyway. Only perfect GMs for your particular group. Some GMs will not fit with different groups. I myself will almost definitely not fit with purist players because I like to add videogamey concepts in my games, particularly on bosses. I am ready to bet that a lot of players would hate that, but my current group enjoys boss battles like that.

Black Jester
2019-02-12, 10:48 AM
How is this a red flag?

It fixes the character in place before the game actually begins, preventing any outside influences - like the actual events in the actual game you are playing - to shape the character and form him through his or her experiences. If the character's development is already predetermined before the start of the game, the chances are high that the character will not change that much, which basically means that he or she is static and boring.
It is not the worst thing a player can do, but it is certainly not a desirable trait in a player.

Actual red flags, as in 'signs that including this player is a worse decision than playing without him', I know only two: one is being an *******, i.e. having others pay the consequences for easily fixable personal issues, like needlessly aggressive or confrontational attitude towards other players, tardiness, poor body hygiene, massive self-entitlement and other forms of egotistical behaviour. To a pretty significant degree, being an ******* is a choice. And I rather prefer to play with fellows who make the conscious decision to not be an *******.

The other thing is an obsession with balancing. Accepting that an RPG simply cannot be balanced without taking all decision-making processes from the players is a necessary step of fully understanding how RPGs work. Just as important is the acknowledgement, that a game simply should not be balanced at all time or under all circumstances and that divergence and other players having something for their characters that is uniquely interesting and powerful is a genuine good thing for any game you actually want to participate in. This attitude of fetishizing balancing is in my experience framed as an issue of fairness, but is actually the exact opposite: it is an expression of pettiness and a lack of generosity towards the other players and their characters, not to create any form of equilibrium but to prevent that any other character could possibly outshine one's own. This is a particular combination of selfishness and small-minded hypocrisy I find deeply unsympathetic

hotflungwok
2019-02-12, 11:19 AM
It fixes the character in place before the game actually begins, preventing any outside influences - like the actual events in the actual game you are playing - to shape the character and form him through his or her experiences. If the character's development is already predetermined before the start of the game, the chances are high that the character will not change that much, which basically means that he or she is static and boring.
It is not the worst thing a player can do, but it is certainly not a desirable trait in a player.
But taking feats/skills/abilities based on what's happening in the campaign at that moment is a good way to end up with useless abilities and a lack of synergy later. If I plan my character's fighting style out with a list of feats I'd like to take, how does that prevent any character development in game? My character started with two weapons, he's going to become a better two weapon fighter. How does that make the character static and boring? He's going to get abilities based on what they as a character are good at and trained in. Of course, this can be taken too far, but as I said before I see a player who doesn't plan out their character at least some and takes whatever he thinks is kewl at the moment he levels is a much worse player than one who plans out how they see their character developing and tries to incorporate some kind of goal for late game.


The other thing is an obsession with balancing. Accepting that an RPG simply cannot be balanced without taking all decision-making processes from the players is a necessary step of fully understanding how RPGs work. Just as important is the acknowledgement, that a game simply should not be balanced at all time or under all circumstances and that divergence and other players having something for their characters that is uniquely interesting and powerful is a genuine good thing for any game you actually want to participate in. This attitude of fetishizing balancing is in my experience framed as an issue of fairness, but is actually the exact opposite: it is an expression of pettiness and a lack of generosity towards the other players and their characters, not to create any form of equilibrium but to prevent that any other character could possibly outshine one's own. This is a particular combination of selfishness and small-minded hypocrisy I find deeply unsympathetic
I had a player years ago who would regularly announce his character's net value and how much over or under the game's stated average for level he was. Then usually it was bugging other players how much they were worth and what they had.

Friv
2019-02-12, 11:26 AM
I feel obligated to interject on Peelee's behalf....wookiee. Two E's.:smallcool:

whhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

How did I never know that?

Schismatic
2019-02-12, 11:33 AM
Eh... I wouldn't call "You start here" bad DMing.

It's definitely a certain style that does NOT mesh well with everyone, but it's a good way to get the ball rolling.


Yeah... works well with new players or short sessions I found.

I found his GMing style to be really efficient and engrossing. He had a photographic memory, and he was really good at trasforming plots and events into comprehensive, multifaceted actors. So if people would actually scratch past the fact the comparatively simple machination of 'choice' of multiple plot hooksfor different adventures he exchange for a hell of a detailed adventure, they might see that he offered more player agency in total.

He taught me a lot about single site campaigns. So I feel the critique of being 'railroaded' ignored the fact that he could really sell an idea of living in a city with multifaceted personalities living within it.

I mean epic quests and travelling all over a map, and multiple adventure hooks all over a sprawling map and world might sound like a lovely adventure... but honestly I really like the fact that he exchanged that for a single site and just saying; "This is what happens to you..." And it allowed us to do things like run businesses, make contacts, make friends, even beable to know intuitively where to find NPCs at different times of the day and where they might be located.

So is it actually railroading at that point? It might seem like it but after the third session we probably had more real choices than in anygame where a GM is like; "Well up north you heard there's orcs raiding, in the south you've heard rumours of mysterious lights over the woods..." and so on I found.


There are no perfect GMs anyway. Only perfect GMs for your particular group. Some GMs will not fit with different groups. I myself will almost definitely not fit with purist players because I like to add videogamey concepts in my games, particularly on bosses. I am ready to bet that a lot of players would hate that, but my current group enjoys boss battles like that.

Yeah, I'm in this sort of boat. I'm really lucky to have dedicated gaming groups, and pre-knowing what grabs people and being able to tailor experiences to that. I had been running with more new players in both my boardgaming and RPgaming groups to build on my improv skills. As everybody has their foibles, and the fact of the matter is I don't think I've ever run into a natural born GM that can do no wrong.

So a lot of the critiques of 'Bad GMing' is often merely a failure to appreciate a particular GM's strengths and nuances, and a lot of the times it's often just an experience boundary.

It's kind of like fundamental attribution error. Other people do things because it's innate to their character, but when you make mistakes it's because work has been riding you, etc.

I'm not discounting bad GMs exist. Just I often find it helps with a new GM to remember all the mistakes you made when you first sat in the chair. A lot of it is personal taste, but I also find that most of the fun is participating... Chinese might not be your favourite food, but if the rest of the players like it it is possible to like a game simply because your friends like it. And honestly is the game and game alone the only reason why you're there?

I mean it might be, but humans are the best ingredient in any game.

That being said, mobile phones are still my bane. That's my big red flag that is really hard to chalk to anything but longterm probemtic if plyers re getting routine phone calls through seshs.

Quertus
2019-02-12, 12:06 PM
There are no perfect GMs anyway. Only perfect GMs for your particular group. Some GMs will not fit with different groups. I myself will almost definitely not fit with purist players because I like to add videogamey concepts in my games, particularly on bosses. I am ready to bet that a lot of players would hate that, but my current group enjoys boss battles like that.

A perfect GM would adapt to the group, or Mindrape the group to match his style.

GoodbyeSoberDay
2019-02-12, 12:48 PM
A lot of these "red flags" seem like table styles - inter-party conflict, having fun with game mechanics, focusing on setting details, etc. could be red-flags either because they are supported or discouraged. I suppose if you don't like a particular style, then a sign that the table is that style is a red flag. The common themes that aren't just table style seem to be abrasive people, power tripping GMs, and un-invested players... which are all red flags to me as well.

Passes secret notes with the DM.Sometimes I like this. It can remove the faintest appearance of metagaming from the other characters, which is great when they were planning not to metagame anyway. If it's for the purpose of screwing everyone over, and that's not your preferred table style, then that is a bit different.

Has his own handbook of house rules.Most games need house rules, or at least a bunch of spot-rulings to patch holes. I'd rather they are written down. I agree that constantly changing house rules is a big red flag... which is why I prefer a more static, publicly available list.

Pex
2019-02-12, 01:21 PM
Most games need house rules, or at least a bunch of spot-rulings to patch holes. I'd rather they are written down. I agree that constantly changing house rules is a big red flag... which is why I prefer a more static, publicly available list.

House rules are not the problem. The problem is a list of house rules that fundamentally change almost everything of how the game is played are you even playing the system you signed up for, D&D in my case.

LaserFace
2019-02-12, 03:54 PM
Thanks for listening. It's a common issue for me: I take someone's statement, and use it to make a general comment - and unsurprisingly, they feel it's directed towards them. It's mainly something that happens online, and in english, and ... you know, like in this case, I often have to actively think about it to even realise that's what's happening =)

I've had arbitrarily awful GM's too, but ... well not since I was a teenager. One thing I remember was being ambushed by giants, on a grassy plain. It went something like this:

GM: Suddenly, giants!
Players: Excuse me - from where? How? .. why??
GM: From the grass!
Players: Um ... an entire tribe of giants were hiding in the grass? Which you at no point described as being particularly tall or particularly suited for ambush?
Players: ....
Players: We've checked - we all have a way to fly. We fly away.
GM: Ok - 20 mages wielding wands of lightning appear from the clouds!
Players: Ok - if you want to end the campaign, you could have just said so.

True story. And I'm guessing we were supposed to be taken captive, but well - instead, we swapped GM. He was a nice guy, but I think his GM toolbox wasn't really full yet. Like I said, teenagers =)

I guess if I read slower I might have made the correct interpretation. And yeah, I think this happens to just about everyone; I think the best approach is to just be consistent and try to be patient, so I appreciate you doing so with me.

haha, I was a terrible DM when I was a teen, my material was probably just as bad (and really, we were all terrible). I think when you just don't have good examples in front of you, it can be hard to deliver a fun game. One of the major reasons I post here is actually just to share my experiences with younger DMs; my players are wonderful, they seem to enjoy my games, and I see these really sad posts where I can't help but imagine people making mistakes about how to run a game or play with a party. And, I just want to violently shake their bad ideas out of their head, and substitute them with my own. So, I think my inclination is to expect resistance, be really annoying and persistent, and ultimately set maybe a handful of people on a path toward a more enjoyable experience.

Mr Beer
2019-02-12, 05:50 PM
The other thing is an obsession with balancing. Accepting that an RPG simply cannot be balanced without taking all decision-making processes from the players is a necessary step of fully understanding how RPGs work. Just as important is the acknowledgement, that a game simply should not be balanced at all time or under all circumstances and that divergence and other players having something for their characters that is uniquely interesting and powerful is a genuine good thing for any game you actually want to participate in. This attitude of fetishizing balancing is in my experience framed as an issue of fairness, but is actually the exact opposite: it is an expression of pettiness and a lack of generosity towards the other players and their characters, not to create any form of equilibrium but to prevent that any other character could possibly outshine one's own. This is a particular combination of selfishness and small-minded hypocrisy I find deeply unsympathetic

I don't think balance is necessary anyway, what's more important is that every character gets a chance at the spotlight. It's fine to have a combat monster and a face in the party who are not remotely 'balanced' against each other, the trick is to make sure Charm Man gets to do his social stuff and Stabby Mcslash gets to butcher some goblins.

Spiritus
2019-02-12, 11:44 PM
I don't think balance is necessary anyway, what's more important is that every character gets a chance at the spotlight. It's fine to have a combat monster and a face in the party who are not remotely 'balanced' against each other, the trick is to make sure Charm Man gets to do his social stuff and Stabby Mcslash gets to butcher some goblins.

Agreed 100%. Balance isn't making every character homogenous, its having every character be good at some stuff and worse at other stuff, and having the different varieties of stuff grant roughly as much utility as each other.

137ben
2019-02-13, 12:33 AM
I heard this one from someone else:

Someone was looking at joining a game. The aspiring GM said "If you are going to be in my game, you can't talk about gaming with strangers on the internet."
The potential player responded "You mean you don't want people using their laptops or phones during the session if it isn't being used for the game? That sounds reasonable."

The aspiring GM then said
"No, I mean you can't use gaming forums at all outside of the session, as long as this campaign is going on. Internet forums are ruining this hobby."

The person who told me this story did not bother joining the game.

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-13, 03:39 AM
I guess if I read slower I might have made the correct interpretation. And yeah, I think this happens to just about everyone; I think the best approach is to just be consistent and try to be patient, so I appreciate you doing so with me.

haha, I was a terrible DM when I was a teen, my material was probably just as bad (and really, we were all terrible). I think when you just don't have good examples in front of you, it can be hard to deliver a fun game. One of the major reasons I post here is actually just to share my experiences with younger DMs; my players are wonderful, they seem to enjoy my games, and I see these really sad posts where I can't help but imagine people making mistakes about how to run a game or play with a party. And, I just want to violently shake their bad ideas out of their head, and substitute them with my own. So, I think my inclination is to expect resistance, be really annoying and persistent, and ultimately set maybe a handful of people on a path toward a more enjoyable experience.

I think the things I'd say of myself as a GM today, are the same as what I'd say when I was a teenager: I'm inventive, good with fluff, and terrible at combat and general crunch.

As a player, I've changed a lot. Very early - I guess I was 16 - I actually cheated. I had two different GM's living in different towns, so they had no contact, but ... well, it's their fault, really: They allowed me to use the same character for their campaigns. So I could, and would, simply invent loot I wanted and claim the other GM had given it.

I was very young. And that was inexcusable. And I only did it, like, once. 'Oh, this sword that combos in wildly OP ways with the cloak you gave me? Yea, I got that from the other GM. Yea, honestly I don't know what he was thinking either.

Rolling nat20's also seemed way more common when we were all younger. I hardly see any crits anymore these days =)

Hand_of_Vecna
2019-02-13, 11:13 AM
Usually you roll in advance, and report the results during the game upon examination. And it's not really the life story, so much as what is clearly evident (see the DMG 142 for the sort of things I mean). It's not much different from designing a NPC, in my opinion (which DMG 90 also helps tremendously with, btw). But, if I am doing an improv game, I usually just tie it somehow to the environment. If you find an Alchemy Jug in a demon's lair, well, maybe he cruelly dunks his victims into vats of mayonnaise before eating them. I dunno dude.

Whether you roll in advance or roll at the table, post hoc justifying the existence/placement of randomly rolled items, monster encounters, and even random quirks (from the above cited table in the dmg I've also used charts from dragon magazine, third party, other people's net published homebrew) and traits (UA has a table for rolling those) is what gives my games an organic feel. I find that hand crafting everything leads to projecting the DM's logic onto all NPC's. Forcing myself to justify something I would never choose adds a variety of personalities into the gameworld that I would never come up with through brainstorming.

Wow that's the third scroll in four treasure piles I've rolled that had a morale buffing spell and a spell that created or controlled undead. Okay, someone must be cobbling together an army of a budget using both undead and green troops. They must have a few minions who are casters, but are too low level to cast these spells themselves. They also went with scrolls over wands that would be more economical in the long term which further reinforces that this is a budget force and isn't meant to be held together for very long.

*roll roll* Let's see the mayor's daughter has odd hair color *roll* green and *roll* magical aptitude. Well the town is near a swamp, her grandmother is a hag. Does her father know, Nah DRAMA!

Odd counter intuitive thing, not every story needs to be interesting. If more often than not the answer is the most mundane answer possible it adds a layer of verisimilitude to the world and makes the special stories more special. Unless you're actually running a low magic game belts of Giant Strength and plus one swords can be one of many commissioned by different families, warlords, etc though it can be nice to spice things up a little "the metal has a slight bluish tinge and smells oddly fresh rather than oily or metallic" a dozen or so descriptions like this can be attached to several reliable sources of magical arms and armor and be applied to all items that don't justify their own legends.

LaserFace
2019-02-13, 11:01 PM
I think the things I'd say of myself as a GM today, are the same as what I'd say when I was a teenager: I'm inventive, good with fluff, and terrible at combat and general crunch.

As a player, I've changed a lot. Very early - I guess I was 16 - I actually cheated. I had two different GM's living in different towns, so they had no contact, but ... well, it's their fault, really: They allowed me to use the same character for their campaigns. So I could, and would, simply invent loot I wanted and claim the other GM had given it.

I was very young. And that was inexcusable. And I only did it, like, once. 'Oh, this sword that combos in wildly OP ways with the cloak you gave me? Yea, I got that from the other GM. Yea, honestly I don't know what he was thinking either.

Rolling nat20's also seemed way more common when we were all younger. I hardly see any crits anymore these days =)

I think I've mostly grown as a DM, since that's what I'm doing about 95% of the time I play. lol as a young DM I'd cheat for the sake of doing what I felt should happen; all of my dice rolls were secret, and I would just decide on a whim, "Player A should take damage, he's been untouched so far.", or "Yeah let's not critical Player B", or "The Boss should die now." I think it was painfully obvious even to the other 12 year olds and I'm pretty sure my players could see through it (and who could blame them when they didn't seem to like it). I'd also run a DMPC in the hopes that we'd rotate DMs (spoiler: we never did), and surely enough, try to self-reward my character here and there with little things. So awful :smallbiggrin:

I don't really know where I stand in terms of being inventive, or having interesting fluff, or combats or anything; if I were to be proud of anything it's that I am conscious about delivering an entertaining experience to my friends. They seem to dig it.


Whether you roll in advance or roll at the table, post hoc justifying the existence/placement of randomly rolled items, monster encounters, and even random quirks (from the above cited table in the dmg I've also used charts from dragon magazine, third party, other people's net published homebrew) and traits (UA has a table for rolling those) is what gives my games an organic feel. I find that hand crafting everything leads to projecting the DM's logic onto all NPC's. Forcing myself to justify something I would never choose adds a variety of personalities into the gameworld that I would never come up with through brainstorming.

Wow that's the third scroll in four treasure piles I've rolled that had a morale buffing spell and a spell that created or controlled undead. Okay, someone must be cobbling together an army of a budget using both undead and green troops. They must have a few minions who are casters, but are too low level to cast these spells themselves. They also went with scrolls over wands that would be more economical in the long term which further reinforces that this is a budget force and isn't meant to be held together for very long.

*roll roll* Let's see the mayor's daughter has odd hair color *roll* green and *roll* magical aptitude. Well the town is near a swamp, her grandmother is a hag. Does her father know, Nah DRAMA!

Odd counter intuitive thing, not every story needs to be interesting. If more often than not the answer is the most mundane answer possible it adds a layer of verisimilitude to the world and makes the special stories more special. Unless you're actually running a low magic game belts of Giant Strength and plus one swords can be one of many commissioned by different families, warlords, etc though it can be nice to spice things up a little "the metal has a slight bluish tinge and smells oddly fresh rather than oily or metallic" a dozen or so descriptions like this can be attached to several reliable sources of magical arms and armor and be applied to all items that don't justify their own legends.

I agree with all of this. I find that trying to fit strange, quirky encounters, locations, NPCs, etc, into my setting can really get me and my players excited. Sometimes I roll something and I don't quite feel the enthusiasm, but that's ok; I can just roll again, or if I know there's something I want in that spot, I can just do that. But, nevertheless, the creative challenge of actually going with it really intrigues me, and I think it presents an opportunity to give the group some really fresh and unique gameplay. I think people who don't even try to do this are really missing out.

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-14, 01:32 AM
Whether you roll in advance or roll at the table, post hoc justifying the existence/placement of randomly rolled items, monster encounters, and even random quirks (from the above cited table in the dmg I've also used charts from dragon magazine, third party, other people's net published homebrew) and traits (UA has a table for rolling those) is what gives my games an organic feel. I find that hand crafting everything leads to projecting the DM's logic onto all NPC's. Forcing myself to justify something I would never choose adds a variety of personalities into the gameworld that I would never come up with through brainstorming.

I should do this more - definitely. For one thing, I always feel that my shop keepers are all the same guy, with different appearances and mannerisms.

However, randomly generated NPC's are never as interesting as the ones I put effort into creating. At least I feel that to be the case. I suppose it's sort of emergent storytelling vs regular storytelling, and that's a question of personal taste. Funny, really - I've seen people invent elaborate stories for stuff they're doing in games, be it Stellaris or Civ5, but personally I like games like Tyranny, where I'm told the story with limited ability to direct it myself.

redwizard007
2019-02-14, 08:04 AM
My biggest red flags come from people who want to rewrite the rules to accommodate their special characters. LG Necromancers in a Necromancy = Evil setting. Dwarven wizards in settings where dwarves can't learn magic. Feindish half-celestial lycanthrope vampires... Also, anyone who says "on GiTP..."

The Glyphstone
2019-02-14, 12:02 PM
I should do this more - definitely. For one thing, I always feel that my shop keepers are all the same guy, with different appearances and mannerisms.

In my group's campaigns, the shop keepers are all literally the same guy, Nurse Joy/Officer Jenny style. It's a complete mystery as to how he does this, how long it's been going on, or what/who he really is...

Friv
2019-02-14, 12:39 PM
In my group's campaigns, the shop keepers are all literally the same guy, Nurse Joy/Officer Jenny style. It's a complete mystery as to how he does this, how long it's been going on, or what/who he really is...

Obviously, the shopkeeper is running on Chuubo's rules even though everyone else is playing D&D. This allows him to dramatically appear whenever other people want to buy things, to always have exactly the right gear on hand, and to survive seemingly lethal events when the players get frustrated and shank him.

*EDIT* Man, has anyone ever done a campaign in which different characters are operating on totally different rule structures? That might be neat...

King of Nowhere
2019-02-14, 02:07 PM
I heard this one from someone else:

Someone was looking at joining a game. The aspiring GM said "If you are going to be in my game, you can't talk about gaming with strangers on the internet."
The potential player responded "You mean you don't want people using their laptops or phones during the session if it isn't being used for the game? That sounds reasonable."

The aspiring GM then said
"No, I mean you can't use gaming forums at all outside of the session, as long as this campaign is going on. Internet forums are ruining this hobby."

The person who told me this story did not bother joining the game.

there's some truth to it; but in practice internet forums are tools, and like all tools they can be used for good and for evil alike.

The Insanity
2019-02-14, 04:19 PM
When the DM starts his campaign pitch with something like "So, in my game..."

Son of A Lich!
2019-02-14, 04:25 PM
Obviously, the shopkeeper is running on Chuubo's rules even though everyone else is playing D&D. This allows him to dramatically appear whenever other people want to buy things, to always have exactly the right gear on hand, and to survive seemingly lethal events when the players get frustrated and shank him.

*EDIT* Man, has anyone ever done a campaign in which different characters are operating on totally different rule structures? That might be neat...

I'm working on a campaign setting where PCs are Tummy Bears (Like my Avatar) in a Lotus eater machine. NPCs are Programs, and the whole thing is built off of a line from The Matrix that has haunted me since I was a teen.


Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this: the peak of your civilization.

I was going through early manic depression that would later be diagnosed as Season Affective Disorder, so hearing that even if I were in literal paradise I would simply reject it was a horrifying realization to me.

But all the NPCs are functionally immortal and recognized as being there to serve Tummy Bears, and this is just the natural order of the world. It's all bright and fluffy, murder is nigh impossible (Mostly... at least) and everything is designed from the ground up as being as pleasant as possible with out causing stress.

Naturally, things will go awry as time progresses. When the program fails to keep everyone happy, it causes it to glitch out and clouds of static start to spread like the Nothing in Never ending Story.

Particle_Man
2019-02-14, 04:58 PM
I feel like most settings with multiple creatures of human or near-human intelligence treat cannibalism as any intelligent creature eating another. I know it's not technically correct, but intelligent beings shouldn't eat other intelligent beings. The Ewoks were still gonna eat people, whatever you want to call it.

Similarly, anyone wearing dragonhide armour is probably not a nice person.


A perfect GM would adapt to the group, or Mindrape the group to match his style.

Um, no? :smalleek:

Spiritus
2019-02-14, 05:12 PM
I'm working on a campaign setting where PCs are Tummy Bears (Like my Avatar) in a Lotus eater machine. NPCs are Programs, and the whole thing is built off of a line from The Matrix that has haunted me since I was a teen.



I was going through early manic depression that would later be diagnosed as Season Affective Disorder, so hearing that even if I were in literal paradise I would simply reject it was a horrifying realization to me.

But all the NPCs are functionally immortal and recognized as being there to serve Tummy Bears, and this is just the natural order of the world. It's all bright and fluffy, murder is nigh impossible (Mostly... at least) and everything is designed from the ground up as being as pleasant as possible with out causing stress.

Naturally, things will go awry as time progresses. When the program fails to keep everyone happy, it causes it to glitch out and clouds of static start to spread like the Nothing in Never ending Story.
Personally, I see that quote as a failure to understand that humans like challenge. Designing a Sim to cater to our every whim doesn't make humans happy it makes them bored.

noob
2019-02-14, 05:26 PM
Similarly, anyone wearing dragonhide armour is probably not a nice person.



Um, no? :smalleek:

It is because you did not meet that gm yet.
If you did you would consider it is the perfect gm and also you would have given all your money to that gm and started worshiping it.

Particle_Man
2019-02-14, 05:30 PM
Personally, I see that quote as a failure to understand that humans like challenge. Designing a Sim to cater to our every whim doesn't make humans happy it makes them bored.

That is what The Matrix has taught us.

Agent Smith: "Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world, where none suffered, where everyone would be happy? It was a disaster. No one would accept the program, entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world, but I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from."

Particle_Man
2019-02-14, 05:31 PM
It is because you did not meet that gm yet.
If you did you would consider it is the perfect gm and also you would have given all your money to that gm and started worshiping it.

Fortunately (for this case, at least!), magic isn't real.

noob
2019-02-14, 05:34 PM
Fortunately (for this case, at least!), magic isn't real.

Fortunately the people with inclinations on trying to change people through brute force are usually doctors and are working only on "ill" people.(doctors are defining cleanly what are the different mental illnesses but it is still quite a complex thing because many patients does not considers themselves ill and people who were considered ill a few generations ago are now seen as normal)

Resileaf
2019-02-15, 09:48 AM
That is what The Matrix has taught us.

Agent Smith: "Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world, where none suffered, where everyone would be happy? It was a disaster. No one would accept the program, entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world, but I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from."

That's just a cynical way to say that humans need a challenge in their lives though. :smalltongue:

Hand_of_Vecna
2019-02-15, 10:46 AM
I should do this more - definitely. For one thing, I always feel that my shop keepers are all the same guy, with different appearances and mannerisms.

However, randomly generated NPC's are never as interesting as the ones I put effort into creating. At least I feel that to be the case.

A good NPC requires a that the gm instill them with a genuine spark of life. The trick is this spark doesn't need to be at the first step in their creation.


Sometimes I roll something and I don't quite feel the enthusiasm, but that's ok; I can just roll again, or if I know there's something I want in that spot, I can just do that. But, nevertheless, the creative challenge of actually going with it really intrigues me, and I think it presents an opportunity to give the group some really fresh and unique gameplay. I think people who don't even try to do this are really missing out.

If you look at what you've rolled and don't feel you can instill that spark in the collection of random traits rolled then some or all of those of those rolls can be discarded. locking yourself into every roll would eventually lead to a world filled with soulless puppets with diverse surface characteristics and hobbies or a series of failed "lol I'm so random" jokes. The hardest part is building up the discipline to give most rolls an honest chance, otherwise you're just creating things whole clothe with extra steps.

LaserFace
2019-02-15, 05:26 PM
If you look at what you've rolled and don't feel you can instill that spark in the collection of random traits rolled then some or all of those of those rolls can be discarded. locking yourself into every roll would eventually lead to a world filled with soulless puppets with diverse surface characteristics and hobbies or a series of failed "lol I'm so random" jokes. The hardest part is building up the discipline to give most rolls an honest chance, otherwise you're just creating things whole clothe with extra steps.

Spot on. I see rolling as a a useful tool. Helps me quite a bit, but you've still got to use some judgment. If I had to guess, people stay away from this kind of approach specifically because the "lolrandom" perspective; like, if you go totally out-there silly, you might find your audience kinda narrow. But, yeah, I think a lot of things that evoke those concerns are worthy of that honest chance, so I try to push myself to do it, and I frequently get positive feedback.

King of Nowhere
2019-02-16, 06:53 AM
Similarly, anyone wearing dragonhide armour is probably not a nice person.


In my setting, dragons willingly sell their scales sometimes, either to increase their loot, or to offer as a reward. they put sigils on them to prove that they were freely offered. Old dragonhide armor, made long ago when dragons and humanoids still hunted each other freely, is also considered ok: everyone was playing nasty at the time, and there's no point in wasting a perfectly good magic item.
trying to hunt dragons for scales in modern time, however, would result in plenty of dragons getting angry, and no humanoid willing to offer protection to the perpetrators

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-16, 07:16 AM
A good NPC requires a that the gm instill them with a genuine spark of life. The trick is this spark doesn't need to be at the first step in their creation.

Yea ... while I know what you mean, I'm not totally sure I agree.

Most NPC's are just extras, they have no major role to play, but serve to make the world real and alive. And if actively engaged with by the PC's, they may suddenly bloom - get names, and stories, and everything.

Important NPC's may or may not require a spark of life. To me, what they mostly require is a story. Who are they, what are they, why are they here? Why, specifically, are they part of the greater story. What can they provide, and what do they require.

Still, I'm not sure I disagree either: Like I said, my npc's tend to all act in a similar manner, unless I'm making a conscious effort to make them different.

Darth Ultron
2019-02-16, 04:55 PM
Most NPC's are just extras, they have no major role to play, but serve to make the world real and alive. .

'Extras' is not the right word for NPCs, at least not all of them. Most NPCs are in the category of "Guest Stars" or ''Also Staring".(guest stars get their names up during the first couple minutes of the show; Also Stars have their names way at the end credits).

A guest star is a major NPC that will interact with the player characters.

The Also Stars are minor NPCs that will interact with the player characters.

Really, there is no room in the game for ''extra NPCs", they are just in the background.

Resileaf
2019-02-16, 06:56 PM
'Extras' is not the right word for NPCs, at least not all of them. Most NPCs are in the category of "Guest Stars" or ''Also Staring".(guest stars get their names up during the first couple minutes of the show; Also Stars have their names way at the end credits).

A guest star is a major NPC that will interact with the player characters.

The Also Stars are minor NPCs that will interact with the player characters.

Really, there is no room in the game for ''extra NPCs", they are just in the background.

So if I say "There are about twelve other villagers drinking in the pub" or "There are about a hundred people milling about in the marketplace", are they not extras?

Darth Ultron
2019-02-16, 07:10 PM
So if I say "There are about twelve other villagers drinking in the pub" or "There are about a hundred people milling about in the marketplace", are they not extras?

Well, sure they are extras.....just casually mentioned and ignored....IN the background.

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-16, 07:52 PM
Well, sure they are extras.....just casually mentioned and ignored....IN the background.

This is such an important discussion. And on topic too.

Cluedrew
2019-02-16, 09:29 PM
As I recall "Extras" in movies refers to people who don't have any lines. So NPCs can be anywhere from that to co-stars. That is, one step below the stars, the PCs. Incidentally I would consider trying to break that a red flag.

Most of my red flags have already been mentioned. Most boil down to: is self centered (which can be on their character or their plot), cannot think of what is going on in terms of an in-world view. or does not understand the game. The last group I can try explaining it to them, if they still don't get it than that can be a real problem.

Maelynn
2019-02-17, 05:23 AM
Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this: the peak of your civilization.

[...] hearing that even if I were in literal paradise I would simply reject it was a horrifying realization to me.

Oh yes, I love this quote. Quite mind-blowing if you think about it, really. I had this realisation, but to me it actually provided some peace of mind. It helped me accept some of the awful things that were happening (or happened later) because it made life more interesting, worth living, how the dark makes the light brighter. Funny how people can react so differently.


In my setting, dragons willingly sell their scales sometimes, either to increase their loot, or to offer as a reward. they put sigils on them to prove that they were freely offered. Old dragonhide armor, made long ago when dragons and humanoids still hunted each other freely, is also considered ok: everyone was playing nasty at the time, and there's no point in wasting a perfectly good magic item.
trying to hunt dragons for scales in modern time, however, would result in plenty of dragons getting angry, and no humanoid willing to offer protection to the perpetrators

I might steal this idea. I really like it.

The Glyphstone
2019-02-17, 11:30 AM
Oh yes, I love this quote. Quite mind-blowing if you think about it, really. I had this realisation, but to me it actually provided some peace of mind. It helped me accept some of the awful things that were happening (or happened later) because it made life more interesting, worth living, how the dark makes the light brighter. Funny how people can react so differently.


I think the most horrifying part of that quote is the idea that 1999 is the peak of our civilization.

Resileaf
2019-02-17, 06:20 PM
I think the most horrifying part of that quote is the idea that 1999 is the peak of our civilization.

And even today, it's not hard to think that this might be truthful.

noob
2019-02-17, 07:07 PM
And even today, it's not hard to think that this might be truthful.

I do not think it was the peak of civilization because the criterias I use to judge a civilization keeps improving.

Xuc Xac
2019-02-17, 08:31 PM
I do not think it was the peak of civilization because the criterias I use to judge a civilization keeps improving.

Agent Smith explained it in that scene. It's not the peak of "civilization". It's the peak of "human civilization" because after AI started thinking for us, it became the machines' civilization.

137ben
2019-02-18, 12:06 AM
Agent Smith explained it in that scene. It's not the peak of "civilization". It's the peak of "human civilization" because after AI started thinking for us, it became the machines' civilization.

Yea, but we already had AI In 1999, just not on the same scale. Google search launched in 1997.

noob
2019-02-18, 02:55 AM
Agent Smith explained it in that scene. It's not the peak of "civilization". It's the peak of "human civilization" because after AI started thinking for us, it became the machines' civilization.

By this logic the peak of human civilization was before taming animals for far away in prehistoric era.
Ais did not yet start thinking for humans more than cats do yet: they still are not smart enough.

King of Nowhere
2019-02-18, 03:21 AM
One day AIs will do all the thinking for us. They already started for everything related to calculations (really, data analysis was a nightmare before the information age). Every year they take over gradually more complex tasks.
Really, you can't take a specific day to say "and here human civilization stopped and machine civilization started". 1999 is as good as any other time

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-18, 05:44 AM
Since this is now the AI discussion thread, I will say this:

AI can do big numbers and calculations quickly, and can simulate stuff that can be reduced to numbers.

What AI cannot do is understand, anything. It also cannot feel or want, anything. AI, no matter how impressed we are by it, is still just a brick, until we tell it to be something else. It does precisely nothing of it's own accord, and as I said, it isn't capable of understanding anything. It can form mathematical patterns, create aminoacids and proteins, it can simulate conversations and predict patterns in predictable things - such as weather, or consumer behavior. But it does all of these things without even the most basic understanding, and without any shred of volition.

It's important to remember that AI is artificial - but it's not intelligent.

And whether you think it will be, eventually, should be influenced by this: Everything a computer does can be done with rocks, or pieces of paper. So if a computer can think - then a pile of rocks can too. You can literally do everything a computer does with a pile of flat rocks, white on one side and black on the other. It's just slower, is all (rather a lot slower, but .. yea)

Resileaf
2019-02-18, 07:31 AM
Remember, a computer is a rock we tricked into thinking. :smallbiggrin:
I think that says more about us than about the rock.

Particle_Man
2019-02-18, 10:00 AM
The question then becomes, if computers do gain inner points of view qualia style consciousness how could we tell? We do not have telepathy and the Turing Test only measures how well the inner consciousness can be mimicked, which computers are already getting pretty good at and might well get great at.

Hand_of_Vecna
2019-02-18, 10:07 AM
One day AIs will do all the thinking for us. They already started for everything related to calculations (really, data analysis was a nightmare before the information age). Every year they take over gradually more complex tasks.
Really, you can't take a specific day to say "and here human civilization stopped and machine civilization started". 1999 is as good as any other time

We don't know how long each iteration of the matrix is meant to last, but I expect it's multiple human generations. The machine's ego(s) would probably lead them to go back no further than the WWII with its room sized calculation machines and the forward bookend would of course be the machine's victory in the war. 1999 is just an arbitrary point within the period that the machines identify as the peak that Neo's matrix has reached when his story takes place.

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-18, 11:37 AM
The question then becomes, if computers do gain inner points of view qualia style consciousness how could we tell? We do not have telepathy and the Turing Test only measures how well the inner consciousness can be mimicked, which computers are already getting pretty good at and might well get great at.

They're not. We're just easily fooled. Actually, even the very, very best computers can manage is pathetically bad. We'll know articifial consciousness is a thing the very instant a computer gives us something we didn't put into it ourselves.

Quertus
2019-02-18, 02:57 PM
On a completely unrelated note, how does one start a fresh crop of humans? At initialization, are all the adults in the matrix programs? :smallconfused:


Most of my red flags have already been mentioned. Most boil down to: is self centered (which can be on their character or their plot), cannot think of what is going on in terms of an in-world view. or does not understand the game. The last group I can try explaining it to them, if they still don't get it than that can be a real problem.

So, me in wh40k?

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-18, 04:56 PM
On a completely unrelated note, how does one start a fresh crop of humans? At initialization, are all the adults in the matrix programs? :smallconfused:

That .. seems to be two questions? You start a fresh crop with gene samples and artificial wombs. At initialization (to my mind, and I'm definitely not clear on the lore) the war was still on, I guess? Humans 'torched the skies', but the AI's came up with an alternative (and incredibly contrieved) alternative power source.

noob
2019-02-18, 05:31 PM
That .. seems to be two questions? You start a fresh crop with gene samples and artificial wombs. At initialization (to my mind, and I'm definitely not clear on the lore) the war was still on, I guess? Humans 'torched the skies', but the AI's came up with an alternative (and incredibly contrieved) alternative power source.
As one of the characters said "You might think ais can not use humans as a power source due to the laws of thermodynamics but where did you learn those? In the matrix"

Avista
2019-02-18, 05:57 PM
This went totally off topic, didn't it?

Hand_of_Vecna
2019-02-19, 10:59 AM
That .. seems to be two questions? You start a fresh crop with gene samples and artificial wombs. At initialization (to my mind, and I'm definitely not clear on the lore) the war was still on, I guess? Humans 'torched the skies', but the AI's came up with an alternative (and incredibly contrieved) alternative power source.

I never thought it was that important whether they used gene samples and artificial wombs or just used babies, obviously the machines can get an arbitrarily large number of human babies. The issue is adults, someone has to raise those babies. Are the machines capable of placing adults in the new crop in media res? Do they reprogram adults to be adults in the new matrix as Cypher's conversation with Smith shows he believes is possible? Do they not reprogram, but program tank grown humans rapidly aged to the approximate age of their personas? Or in the most disturbing alternative is everyone over a certain age in the new crop a program?

Oh, alternative take on the power source Morpheus is wrong. In the original script the humans were there for processing power not energy. That's better, but I believe the machines are actually maintaining the matrix out of benevolence. According to the Animatrix humans were the aggressors in the war, Morpheus himself acknowledges that he doesn't know who started the war and that humans were the ones who scorched the sky essentially wiping out all life on earth. The machines could easily use the thermal energy that Zion taps into to maintain themselves and they probably do along with nuclear and tidal power. They created the Matrix because preserving human life is a core part of their programming.

To stay on topic; someone giving Morpheus's version of events as the basis of a game would be a red flag for me.

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-19, 01:06 PM
I never thought it was that important whether they used gene samples and artificial wombs or just used babies, obviously the machines can get an arbitrarily large number of human babies. The issue is adults, someone has to raise those babies. Are the machines capable of placing adults in the new crop in media res? Do they reprogram adults to be adults in the new matrix as Cypher's conversation with Smith shows he believes is possible? Do they not reprogram, but program tank grown humans rapidly aged to the approximate age of their personas? Or in the most disturbing alternative is everyone over a certain age in the new crop a program?

Um ... no, see, the babies never leave the womb.

They are grown artificially, plucked and shuffled off somewhere to receive implants, and are inserted into the matrix. They live and die inside the same womb.

And from the point of view of the first crop of artificially bred babies, they have entirely ordinary lives, with AI parents easily simulating a happy, safe family. Although they propably get a few iterations of that wrong too, at first.

Remember, AI's are throw-away. There is precisely zero reason you couldn't - and wouldn't - churn out a million purpose built AI's to babysit a million artificial babies, and then recycle the AI's. They're not human, after all, and there's zero reason to think the AI's themselves wouldn't realise that.

And by 'recycle' I mean delete and use the storage capacity and processor cycles for something else.

That's also apparent, I feel, in the movies: Each and every squiddie is an AI, agents are (possibly more advanced AI's), and all are equally expendable. I feel that's why Anderson is so ... well, the way he is: He knows perfectly well that if he fails at his job, he'll be deleted. That's why he strives so hard to become ... something else. Essentially, he wants to be ... 'human'. A unique and beautiful snowflake - not a string of sentient code that can be instantly replaced.

... that's my take-away, anyways =D

Arbane
2019-02-19, 01:54 PM
"The danger is not that AIs will become smarter than we are, but that we will meet them halfway."

Anyway, back on topic: One yellow flag for me is the GM saying we'll start the game by being prisoners. I'm a bit sick of games that insist the PCs have to start with nothing.

The Glyphstone
2019-02-20, 01:10 AM
That's also apparent, I feel, in the movies: Each and every squiddie is an AI, agents are (possibly more advanced AI's), and all are equally expendable. I feel that's why Anderson is so ... well, the way he is: He knows perfectly well that if he fails at his job, he'll be deleted. That's why he strives so hard to become ... something else. Essentially, he wants to be ... 'human'. A unique and beautiful snowflake - not a string of sentient code that can be instantly replaced.

... that's my take-away, anyways =D

And his solution is to become a vast army of identical copies, each effectively a string of sentient code that can be instantly replaced with another copy of said code. I guess it makes sense it a deranged sort of way, since he's trying to be 'human' without the slightest understanding of what that means or how to do it.

Also, I think you mean Smith. Anderson is Neo.

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-20, 01:36 AM
Also, I think you mean Smith. Anderson is Neo.

Jesus Christ, I need my failing organic brain compiled into perfect, glorious code. Yes, thanks - I do indeed mean agent Smith.

The Jack
2019-02-20, 09:51 AM
When the DM starts his campaign pitch with something like "So, in my game..."

This is a cancerous belief. Sure, not all DMs have great ideas, but you shouldn't try to stifle the ones that do based on bad experience with the ones that don't.


My red flags:
GM tells you what your character decides. That's the no.1 cardinal sin. Only spells can really make this ok, because players are more comfortable giving up agency if there's a story reason for them to lose it, rather than a out of character railroad.
GM retcons the setting mid game
GM overwhelmingly focuses pre-game talks on setting rather than what he wants from our characters.
GM after giving us the go ahead, doesn't understand our characters or motivations, or gets the focus really wrong on our backstories. even though we've discussed this with them and were willing to change should they not have wanted the character. (between this and the last problem; I'm going to make a sandbox character for a linear game, and I'm going to hate that)
Player or GM have difficulties with 'evil'. They assume you as a person have a moral failing being able to play evil and they can't make believable evil characters.
Player typecasts themselves. I don't want to be your therapist.
Player just wants to play house; rollplaying having a family and stuff. See above.

Lesser things.
GM does a star wars game. Hours of obsession over detail and plenty of relying on things you might recognise and that they're excited to put into a game.

GM doesn't let me plan to win. a lot of the fun for me is thinking up in-character ways for an advantage be it changing the terrain, using diplomacy, avoiding a fight altogether or having someone else fight it for me. I don't always play characters that do this but it really sucks when I do create such a character and I'm forced into a series of duels anyway or they obviously alter the encounter difficulty so that my plan was meaningless.

I'm happy to make simple characters who can get suckered along your railroad, but don't bait me with the prospect of a juicy sandbox and switch.

hotflungwok
2019-02-20, 11:21 AM
Player or GM have difficulties with 'evil'. They assume you as a person have a moral failing being able to play evil and they can't make believable evil characters.
As a GM I tend to have a problem with evil, not because I think the player is a bad person, but because I've seen this cause problems in groups before.

Some players think 'evil' means 'jerk' and spend their time doing petty things against the other players and every NPC annoying everyone. Some players think 'evil' means 'contrary' and constantly oppose everything the group does. And some players think 'evil' means 'I can do whatever I want and no one can complain about it cuz that's what my guy would do' and ruin other players fun.

Evil is one of those things you need to demonstrate some maturity and experience before I'll be ok with you playing it, and you have to have the right group of players as well. I've seen players kicked out of groups cuz they didn't know how to be evil, friendships strained, games ruined, etc.

For me, a brand new player to my group wanting to be evil is a red flag.

DrownsInCancer
2019-02-20, 01:11 PM
My player's character is a tabaxi fighter with whom she calls a neko whose sole purpose is to flirt with every straight male character. This player is equally childish and flirty in real life, but in a very creepy and annoying way. She's a handful in life, and a handful in game too.

kyoryu
2019-02-20, 02:07 PM
As a GM I tend to have a problem with evil, not because I think the player is a bad person, but because I've seen this cause problems in groups before.

Some players think 'evil' means 'jerk' and spend their time doing petty things against the other players and every NPC annoying everyone. Some players think 'evil' means 'contrary' and constantly oppose everything the group does. And some players think 'evil' means 'I can do whatever I want and no one can complain about it cuz that's what my guy would do' and ruin other players fun.

Evil is one of those things you need to demonstrate some maturity and experience before I'll be ok with you playing it, and you have to have the right group of players as well. I've seen players kicked out of groups cuz they didn't know how to be evil, friendships strained, games ruined, etc.

For me, a brand new player to my group wanting to be evil is a red flag.

Absolutely. "I want to be evil" is a huge red flag. But it's a red flag, not an automatic veto. But if you say that, you better believe that I'll be watching how it develops very closely and/or will question you more about your intent.

King of Nowhere
2019-02-20, 03:43 PM
But it's a red flag, not an automatic veto.

This makes me think that maybe all this time I got the meaning of "red flag" wrong.
Because to me a red flag is a sure sign of a problem.
Something that is sometimes associated with problems, but that is perfectly fine if done correctly, is not a red flag... I'm not really sure how I'd call it. Maybe yellow flag? But again, that implies something that is wrong, while it needs not be the case.

Lord Torath
2019-02-20, 03:51 PM
A red card means you're out of the game. A red flag means "This could be a problem. Pay close attention and proceed cautiously".

The Jack
2019-02-20, 05:09 PM
Evil is a thing that shouldn't be complicated, but somehow is. Maybe I'm a natural or I've grown up or something, but I can become a character and play out their flaws like it were normal: I can be an alcoholic, a drug addict, a sadist, a racist or exhibit some weird kink. I can adopt an extreme philosophy or a strange religion or a lack of empathy; but all these things aren't me in real life (except this one minor thing, but I can roll with it or very much play against it as a character that totaly-isn't-for that one thing)

So I'm very comfortable with playing characters with huge moral failings. I mix these vices up with virtues and play something very human. On occasion I've misread who I'm playing with and cross the line (this is happening less with experience) but my characters are the legends that everybody remembers.


When a player asks if they can be evil, and they've got a particular look as if they're excited at the prospect,
they're probably going to play stupid evil. (a human-evil player either doesn't ask or asks on the side, or asks what people are comfortable with)

Stupid evil players are the bane of every human-evil player's existence, because people have such bad experience with SE that they don't want to allow for E at all. Stupid evil players are inherently disruptive to the game, because they're attracted to the novelty of going against what people want. A human-evil character might bring sadism into fights against their enemies, use the nasty spells, cheat the honest shopkeeper or have grand ambitions to **** the queen but they're mostly with the party and can drive the plot with the best of them. A Stupid evil character is going to kill a bunch of people for no reason, stab the party in the back for no reason, and steal everything with the idea that -you guys can't hurt me, you're neutral or good! - and they're going to bring the party down by mere association.

And I think this is indicative of two kinds of people. Very new players and people who lack the ability to disassociate things effectively and become someone else; They can't be a flawed person, they either have to be all bad or all good. Often, if they don't play themselves, they play someone better than themselves and govern their character by what they think other players want. When they're playing good, they're fine if a little square, but if they're playing 'evil' they're not comfortable with going full psycho or mixed because they fear judgement by other players, as if people'll think they're evil because they can play evil (and maybe some of it's just lack of imagination). So when they do play evil they go for a caricature, they do things they believe unacceptable because they want a character very distanced from themselves.

(I'm basing this hugely on experience with people I know.)
My experience so far with characters that are bad with evil is that a lot of them IRL are either edgelords or are altruists that are just too nice for their own good. Magnificent bastards come from affables.

King of Nowhere
2019-02-20, 09:14 PM
A red card means you're out of the game. A red flag means "This could be a problem. Pay close attention and proceed cautiously".

then i would say that many of the things mentioned here (does not cooperate, disrupts game) are actually red cards, not red flags.
They can possibly be considered red flags because they are not traits that are immediately clear, and so it may take a while to say for certain "this guy is not just confused about how this is suppossed to play, he's a total jerkass".

Mutazoia
2019-02-20, 09:37 PM
3. Players who would rather play house than play D&D. I don't understand why, in a game with infinite possibilities, so many players seem drawn to the inn and just want to play getting drunk.

I'll do you one better:

One group I was in, had one player that insisted on having his character get married, in pretty much every game we played. He would force our (male) DM to role play the other end of that "relationship". All. The. Time.


Player:

Upon finding party treasure when by himself for some reason, a legitimate reason as opposed to being a Lone Wolf, takes it all and doesn't tell the party.

I've actually done this on one occasion, but for RP reasons...the group was thrown together by being escaped slaves and my thief was building a "nest egg" to allow him to ditch "these fools" and break north. As he got to know them he eventually stopped. He never took the ENTIRE treasure...just kept a few extra things for himself.

Pex
2019-02-20, 10:23 PM
I've actually done this on one occasion, but for RP reasons...the group was thrown together by being escaped slaves and my thief was building a "nest egg" to allow him to ditch "these fools" and break north. As he got to know them he eventually stopped. He never took the ENTIRE treasure...just kept a few extra things for himself.

That doesn't change my mind.

Hoplite308
2019-02-21, 12:38 AM
Either as a DM or player, what are your most reliable indicators that a new player (or existing player, with new PC), is going to be a...handful.

Of course you've got the obvious ones, (serious OOC personality issues, open sexual harassment, extreme, habitual tardiness, etc.), but what are some more subtle things to look for?

What does their character do?

I had a player in a M&M game. If you're not familiar, the short version is that you build your own powerset. He brought Stardust the Super Wizard, a character whos powers were "anything I say they are", because they used the Variable power. Variable is a 7-for-five trade that lets you do whatever you want with your points on the spot. He ended up being disruptive enough with how he used his powers that I kicked him from the game.

Are they taking another character's "thing"?

As a player this time, I was all set to play the monk of the group when we had the final player join us. He decided to also bring a monk. I switched to Fighter because he insisted on doing exactly what I was doing, he dropped, and I never got to play the character I really wanted to play. I ended up dropping a few weeks later since I wasn't enjoying Fighter.

kyoryu
2019-02-21, 10:21 AM
I've actually done this on one occasion, but for RP reasons...the group was thrown together by being escaped slaves and my thief was building a "nest egg" to allow him to ditch "these fools" and break north. As he got to know them he eventually stopped. He never took the ENTIRE treasure...just kept a few extra things for himself.


That doesn't change my mind.

Yeah, the fact that you made a character concept that was working against the group is, in itself, a red flag. Now, you got past that, but "a character that is at some level in opposition to the success of the group" is a HUGE red flag.

JoeJ
2019-02-21, 11:35 AM
Yeah, the fact that you made a character concept that was working against the group is, in itself, a red flag. Now, you got past that, but "a character that is at some level in opposition to the success of the group" is a HUGE red flag.

Although a story arc in which the character goes from opposing the efforts of the others to joining them could be fun in a game where character development is a major focus. That would probably work better using Fate or Cortex Plus than something like D&D.

kyoryu
2019-02-21, 12:53 PM
Although a story arc in which the character goes from opposing the efforts of the others to joining them could be fun in a game where character development is a major focus. That would probably work better using Fate or Cortex Plus than something like D&D.

It could be fun in D&D (though I'd never steer people away from Fate).

The trick is making sure that that's what's happening, and it's known up front, and that the oppositional behvaior isn't out of hand during the arc.

"This could go wrong, but might be okay, it depends on the person" is a category that a lot of red flags get lumped into.

Arbane
2019-02-21, 01:40 PM
I had a player in a M&M game. If you're not familiar, the short version is that you build your own powerset. He brought Stardust the Super Wizard

Somebody played this guy? (https://scans-daily.dreamwidth.org/8227684.html#cutid1)

Yeah, some sort of 'disruption' was pretty much guaranteed.

Cazero
2019-02-21, 01:56 PM
Somebody played this guy? (https://scans-daily.dreamwidth.org/8227684.html#cutid1)
...What the heck did I just read?

King of Nowhere
2019-02-21, 05:33 PM
but couldn't stardust act a few minutes before and save thousands of lives?

Avista
2019-02-21, 06:03 PM
The biggest red flag came during my first introduction to a D&D Campaign. There was one guy who had a crush on me, and he kept subtly flirting - even after the DM pulled him aside and told him to knock it off. I left that group shortly after, and found a new, better group.


Player:
Upon finding party treasure when by himself for some reason, a legitimate reason as opposed to being a Lone Wolf, takes it all and doesn't tell the party.

I've actually done this, sort of. I was the rogue of the party, and we found a small loot of treasure. I offered to carry it all until we got back to the inn to divide it up.

We...never got around to dividing it up. :D

Granted, I did feel a little bad doing that, so I casually handed out gems and treasure to other party members over the course of the sessions, to make up for the loot I kept.

Mutazoia
2019-02-21, 10:27 PM
Yeah, the fact that you made a character concept that was working against the group is, in itself, a red flag. Now, you got past that, but "a character that is at some level in opposition to the success of the group" is a HUGE red flag.

Well most games start with the "you were all childhood best friends that decided to go adventuring together" schtick. This was more of the "you are total strangers that have to work together because some one big and powerful is hunting your collective asses, so deal with it" schtick, so having the rogue keep a few extra things aside for himself made sense. It also helped that we were playing "Iron Heroes"...a game that has zero magic, so there wasn't really the huge emphasis on money that you get in a D&D game (where you have to scrimp and save to buy magic gear).

Eldan
2019-02-22, 08:00 AM
I've absolutely played games where players had hidden agendas. Usually one-shots though, or they were soon resolved halfway peacefully in the group. But I once ran a murder mystery on a cruise ship with five players, who all had a hidden reason to be on board. It was the first cruise of a new type of luxury ship, full of celebrities and politicians and one player was an industrial spy, trying to get a glimpse at the new engines, one was a saboteur, trying to make the cruise ship fail its schedule in a publically humiliating way for the shipping company (those two soon worked together), one was political spy, trying to steal some documents from an ambassador and transmit them using the ship's radio and the last one was just a movie star trying to keep his drug and alcohol habits hidden from the rest of the group.

It was a lot of fun.


Edit: the thing is, I think, everyone needs to know about it beforehand and to be okay with it. We've had games with clerics of trickster gods who cheated NPCs behind the party's back and played pranks. In character, we would have been furious. Out of character, we were laughing our asses off. It can work.

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-22, 09:18 AM
Hm - I played a game once where one of the players was a cleric of Lathander (Ento Endymion, I recall). Halfway through the campaign, the cleric betrayed us all, collapsed a temple (of Lathander, of course) on us and a bunch of civilians we were protecting, and left us for dead.

And thus that player took the GM chair, and his former character became the new main villain - and that was absolutely brilliantly done. So brilliantly done that I can't imagine my friends being capable of having planned it in advance. I'm pretty sure it was a spur of the moment thing. Maybe they came up with it say, the day before. But no way did they think that far ahead when we started the game.

Quertus
2019-02-22, 10:28 AM
This is a cancerous belief. Sure, not all DMs have great ideas, but you shouldn't try to stifle the ones that do based on bad experience with the ones that don't.

My red flags:
GM tells you what your character decides. That's the no.1 cardinal sin. Only spells can really make this ok, because players are more comfortable giving up agency if there's a story reason for them to lose it, rather than a out of character railroad.
GM retcons the setting mid game
GM overwhelmingly focuses pre-game talks on setting rather than what he wants from our characters.


I took the poster you were replying to to have been upset with the GM calling it their game, rather than the group's game.

"GM tells you what your character decides" sounds like a red card, not just a red flag. Bullet to the brain pan, squish.

"GM retcons the setting mid game" - do tell.

As for focusing on the setting... What if it were a custom sandbox setting, where the GM doesn't care so much about what you do, but that you understand enough to have the traction to build your character and do those things?


I've absolutely played games where players had hidden agendas. Usually one-shots though, or they were soon resolved halfway peacefully in the group.

Edit: the thing is, I think, everyone needs to know about it beforehand and to be okay with it. We've had games with clerics of trickster gods who cheated NPCs behind the party's back and played pranks. In character, we would have been furious. Out of character, we were laughing our asses off. It can work.

I've never had good experiences with the players knowing those kind of things OOC. OTOH, most of my worthwhile characters have numerous hidden agendas. They just don't run explicitly contrary to the party's goals.


Hm - I played a game once where one of the players was a cleric of Lathander (Ento Endymion, I recall). Halfway through the campaign, the cleric betrayed us all, collapsed a temple (of Lathander, of course) on us and a bunch of civilians we were protecting, and left us for dead.

And thus that player took the GM chair, and his former character became the new main villain - and that was absolutely brilliantly done. So brilliantly done that I can't imagine my friends being capable of having planned it in advance. I'm pretty sure it was a spur of the moment thing. Maybe they came up with it say, the day before. But no way did they think that far ahead when we started the game.

Well, at long last - a story of betrayal that worked out. Can we call this the exception that makes the rule? Or was he really technically no longer a PC when he betrayed the party?

The Insanity
2019-02-22, 11:54 AM
I took the poster you were replying to to have been upset with the GM calling it their game, rather than the group's game.
This man gets it.

The Jack
2019-02-22, 12:27 PM
"GM retcons the setting mid game" - do tell.


Sure, the example has a secondary problem too.
Nice GM but a Bad GM.


-We were told the setting was in a tropical archipelago and that some groups were viking-based others were mesoamerican
-We the players were two blond hair-blue eyed aasimar, an aracocra and a Japanese pirate with a chinese name. We were shipwrecked after a big storm and the local villages didn't get along, had recieved damage from the storm, and signs pointed towards impending attacks from sea peoples because the villages were overfishing.
-We find statues of Thor and foreboding totems/tattoos of loki.
-We learn of the situation of two villages, rescuing village one from a scouting party's occupation. after some diplomacy we decide to put the rescued villagers in the other village because the DM's described it as having good walls and intact buildings.

We have a two week break.

-The game is still in an archipelago, but the predominant culture is japanese (and not the fun japan with guns, early samurai japan) Us Aasimar players are giving eachother the eyes whilst the japanese character has apparently decided that he's indonesian . The pirate and the GM are close friends, and I think they've influenced eachother during the week off. The two tell us 'it was japanese all along' when I've made white Jesus (with a backstory involving A Jarl) and someone else has made a viking paladin (the Aaracocra's player was an airhead so only got a little confused)
-Adding insult to injury, the GM's got a bunch of japanese misconceptions.
-GM introduces the lord of the villages, who seems like an incompetent bad dude. My character has some very bad experiences with such types (he grew up in prison because his mother, confident after birthing an aasimar, decried a local lord) I actually get hyped up for the unjust lord's destruction. In preparation for the battle, the lord puts a few of his men on the front line and then hides inside the tavern guarded by the rest of his men.
- When the battle begins with the sea creatures, it turns out that the village was far less definsible than it once was; it does have a wall, but only for threats coming from the land, even though we spent half a session talking about the defenses of the place and based our plans against an aquatic invasion around the defences previously.
-Fortunately for us and our complete lack of a good battle plan, the Aquatic invasion comes in conveniently sized waves, giving us the level up to restore health and spell slots mid way through. (also, I'm blasting from the top of the watchtower with two archers, who forget to shoot things. Like I don't care for every npc to roll against every npc, but you can at least fluff a larger battle)
- When we finish the battle, I get excited to kill the ****ty arrogant and cowardly lord. Nope, apparently he's fought really hard on some front we didn't realise was there; there are mountains of arrow filled corpses on the other side of the village.

The DM was a nice guy, but his stupidity denied every satisfaction. To top it off, The sea god popped up and told us this whole battle was a test, we're the chosen ones, most of the elemental gods have picked us to collect the elemental orbs and fight the god of light who's been stifling them (even though half the party or divinely powered Aasimar of radiant persuasion). To top it off, said god offers to resurrect the dead mother I'd been planning to avenge.
Everything after that was working out how to say no to a god.
We never got round to planning the next session.

Tvtyrant
2019-02-22, 12:47 PM
3. Players who would rather play house than play D&D. I don't understand why, in a game with infinite possibilities, so many players seem drawn to the inn and just want to play getting drunk.

]One particularly egregious example of this was during a session I was DMing a few years ago.

This session took place after the resolution of a storyline involving the party helping a group of archeologists destroy a demonic relic that was spreading a death curse. The session began immediately after the hard fought battle from last time. After looting some nice new items, the players were rewarded with a large sum of gold both as a reward and as hush money to keep this event a secret (the archeologists were worried they would get into trouble with the law if they found out what had happened). To celebrate, they decided to go to a fancy inn and get drunk as sin.

One of my players expressed a desire to switch out his character to a different one. I agreed, and we both decided to have the new introduction be through a murder mystery. His old character would be the victim, while his new character would help solve the case. This would give incentive for him to join the group as well as a reason for the other characters to be accepting of him.

What I didn't count on was that most of the players wanted to goof around and role play getting drunk at the inn. I played along for a little while because it was fun at first and everyone was laughing and having a good time. But when I tried to speed things along to the plot of the session, NO ONE was on board except the previously mentioned player. They seemed to do everything in their power to try to avoid ending this drunken party. This went on for FAR longer than it should have. By the time I got to the actual murder reveal, we had to end the session because it was really late at night.

In hindsight I should have just put my foot down and said "party is over, time to move on with the game" way earlier. I think I didn't want to railroad things, and I also saw they were having fun so I didn't want to be "that guy" and spoil it for them. But this was a mistake. I wasn't having fun, the player I mentioned wasn't having fun, and after this session the campaign was canceled so no one had fun.

Hindsight is always 20/20
This seems like a good way to do the roleplaying part of roleplaying game. If most of them were enjoying playing a party why are you opposed to it?

One of my groups deep dived downtown abbey style petty politics, I just rolled with it. If they want to micromanage a manor and deal with servants and balls why force them to go hack stuff up instead?

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-22, 12:47 PM
Well, at long last - a story of betrayal that worked out. Can we call this the exception that makes the rule? Or was he really technically no longer a PC when he betrayed the party?

He was still a PC, but it was done band-aid style. As in ... and let me see if I remember this right:

We're in the temple of Lathander, and Ento Endymion kneels to pray. He says something along the lines of 'don't worry, my god will make everything right!'

Kneels, prays, the heavens split open above (temples of Lathander being always open to the sky, of course) and a host of black angels swarm through. Thunder and lightning crush the temple while Ento laughs and laughs, and the black angels cut down the defenseless civilians. The PC's are swept aside as a mere inconvenience, and at the end, Ento ascends into the sky and through the rift, which closes behind him.

And that was that. And we were all utterly stunned, because we had not seen this turn coming, at all. But then the player of Ento took the chair.

It was really rather wonderfully played. But you're right - I wouldn't count on making it work again another time.

Pex
2019-02-22, 01:29 PM
He was still a PC, but it was done band-aid style. As in ... and let me see if I remember this right:

We're in the temple of Lathander, and Ento Endymion kneels to pray. He says something along the lines of 'don't worry, my god will make everything right!'

Kneels, prays, the heavens split open above (temples of Lathander being always open to the sky, of course) and a host of black angels swarm through. Thunder and lightning crush the temple while Ento laughs and laughs, and the black angels cut down the defenseless civilians. The PC's are swept aside as a mere inconvenience, and at the end, Ento ascends into the sky and through the rift, which closes behind him.

And that was that. And we were all utterly stunned, because we had not seen this turn coming, at all. But then the player of Ento took the chair.

It was really rather wonderfully played. But you're right - I wouldn't count on making it work again another time.

I already would never trust a player again when his character betrays the party, but to become the DM and have his character be the main BBEG I wouldn't trust even more because the DM has an inherent bias. His DMPCVillain will not go down easy if at all, and I'm still not trusting him for the betrayal. I'm also not trusting the DM turned player of his new character because he enabled all of this when he was DM. I'm likely to have left the group, at best a game session or two later just to see how the new DM's campaign is working out to see if he can salvage the fun that was sucked out of the room not that I have my hopes up. I'm sure everyone is mutually happy I left.

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-22, 01:52 PM
I already would never trust a player again when his character betrays the party, but to become the DM and have his character be the main BBEG I wouldn't trust even more because the DM has an inherent bias. His DMPCVillain will not go down easy if at all, and I'm still not trusting him for the betrayal. I'm also not trusting the DM turned player of his new character because he enabled all of this when he was DM. I'm likely to have left the group, at best a game session or two later just to see how the new DM's campaign is working out to see if he can salvage the fun that was sucked out of the room not that I have my hopes up. I'm sure everyone is mutually happy I left.

Oh but you misunderstand.

We were betrayed, on the most basic level. He was our healer. He nurtured us back from near-death. This guy was the backbone of the party. Also, and this may be important, we're old peolple (30's, at the time) and have played since our late teens. So we trusted Ento, but we also trusted Anders.

And he completely blindsided us.

But that's all motivation. And that's important. I can honestly say that no one in our group ever hated any villain as fiercely as we hated Ento, and we never killed a villain as utterly, and victory was never sweeter. It is, without a doubt, the best campaign I ever played.

MrZJunior
2019-02-22, 02:08 PM
Hm - I played a game once where one of the players was a cleric of Lathander (Ento Endymion, I recall). Halfway through the campaign, the cleric betrayed us all, collapsed a temple (of Lathander, of course) on us and a bunch of civilians we were protecting, and left us for dead.

And thus that player took the GM chair, and his former character became the new main villain - and that was absolutely brilliantly done. So brilliantly done that I can't imagine my friends being capable of having planned it in advance. I'm pretty sure it was a spur of the moment thing. Maybe they came up with it say, the day before. But no way did they think that far ahead when we started the game.

That's awesome!

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-22, 02:09 PM
That's awesome!

Yes ... yes it is.

But it could have not worked. It was done at huge risk, but done properly, and it was, as you say, bloody awesome =D

MrZJunior
2019-02-22, 02:31 PM
Yes ... yes it is.

But it could have not worked. It was done at huge risk, but done properly, and it was, as you say, bloody awesome =D

But it did work, and that's what matters.

Cluedrew
2019-02-22, 09:03 PM
Oh but you misunderstand. [...] And he completely blindsided us.I don't know if this is just me, but if a upstanding member of the community (or party) just suddenly turns out to be evil, my reaction is generally "what?" and not "that was awesome!".

Which is why my "but when betrayal worked" looks very different. First off the PCs involved were not on the same side so it was more a betrayal of expectation. But what really made it work for me is it was a twist that in hindsight, I really should of seen it coming. As in was told it would happen in session 0 but I forgot in the moment and my character headed straight into a trap.

On the other hand, the next campaign I was in was cancelled over an incident centered around a betrayal gone wrong. Both in the how successful it was for the betrayal and what it did to the game.

The red flags from that game: evil for the sake of evil, betraying the party, breaking an out of game promise (which could be a red card depending), in ability to consider an NPC as more than a cardboard cut-out, optimizing above the rest of the party, not understanding the (imagined) environment even when explained (which didn't actually happen, but it felt like it did), the inability to take risks when playing a risk-taking character, trying to find loopholes in the rules (especially when your searching consists of asking if there is a way to do it... again, just in case it has changed in the last minute) and I already said inability to take risks. That last one came up twice.

This was all in one session, which was the last of the campaign.

D+1
2019-02-22, 09:38 PM
Either as a DM or player, what are your most reliable indicators that a new player (or existing player, with new PC), is going to be a...handful.

Of course you've got the obvious ones, (serious OOC personality issues, open sexual harassment, extreme, habitual tardiness, etc.), but what are some more subtle things to look for?
Most problem players will out themselves just by talking to them, hearing their gaming stories and their reaction to yours. Few really problem players fly UNDER the radar.

It is telling, however, that before I actually started reading the responses the first thing that came to mind is a player who immediately asks for a class, race, feat, or even entire rules edition (seen it...) that is beyond the stated intent of the DM to allow. And then the first couple pages of responses all repeatedly hit that very same thing and many other flags brought up can be compared to it. There is clearly a thing about players who want to be the center of attention, want to break the game, want to get their entertainment by making everyone else at he table feel insignificant or outright miserable, want to be the one in control of the game rather than the DM, etc. And it would seem they also gravitate toward being rude little s**** outside of that. It is clearly a common enough thing to encounter such players that so many people consistently bring it up as one of the first red flags to watch for. Sad.

D+1
2019-02-22, 09:44 PM
But it did work, and that's what matters.
You never reach the brass ring without jumping.

Pex
2019-02-22, 10:02 PM
Oh but you misunderstand.

We were betrayed, on the most basic level. He was our healer. He nurtured us back from near-death. This guy was the backbone of the party. Also, and this may be important, we're old peolple (30's, at the time) and have played since our late teens. So we trusted Ento, but we also trusted Anders.

And he completely blindsided us.

But that's all motivation. And that's important. I can honestly say that no one in our group ever hated any villain as fiercely as we hated Ento, and we never killed a villain as utterly, and victory was never sweeter. It is, without a doubt, the best campaign I ever played.

I understand perfectly. He betrayed the party. I don't care what his motivation was. He betrayed the party. I don't care how brilliant it was. He betrayed the party. I will never accept it for any reason, and I'm perfectly fine with us being mutually happy I wasn't there.

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-23, 03:49 AM
I don't know if this is just me, but if a upstanding member of the community (or party) just suddenly turns out to be evil, my reaction is generally "what?" and not "that was awesome!".

It wasn't out of the blue in that sense. I'm trying to sum up an entire campaign in a few sentences. We were fighting overwhelming odds, and it was clear we were approaching some sort of crescendo - it was not clear to us, however, that our good cleric had decided somewhere along that the only way to win was to turn to evil.

He also didn't 'turn out to be evil'. He went mad. The pressure of - apparently - having the fate of the world on our shoulders, and failing, simply broke him, and so he found the one way out: Offer ... I think it was Bane ... to turn, in trade for Bane saving the world.

King of Nowhere
2019-02-24, 10:14 AM
Yes ... yes it is.

But it could have not worked. It was done at huge risk, but done properly, and it was, as you say, bloody awesome =D

thhe only things that are not risky are lukewarm storytelling. Really, you either do something that was done to the death before, or you twist some stuff. And that's risky, because it may not work. It's worth the risk, though. Especially if you're a well established group, and you can afford to have a campaign not work.

Tanarii
2019-02-24, 04:55 PM
Red flags from players:
- ask for a special exception to the character building rules
- expect me to read their backstory
- argue with me after I tell them my ruling, and that we'll look it up after the game
- bring to the table Vlad Shadowbane, whose parents were killed by Vampires.

Red flags from DMs:
- talk about running a game as telling a story
- roll behind a screen
- ask to see my character's backstory

The Glyphstone
2019-02-24, 05:12 PM
Red flags from players:
- ask for a special exception to the character building rules
- expect me to read their backstory
- argue with me after I tell them my ruling, and that we'll look it up after the game
- bring to the table Vlad Shadowbane, whose parents were killed by Vampires.

Red flags from DMs:
- talk about running a game as telling a story
- roll behind a screen
- ask to see my character's backstory

Did a backstory run over your puppy when you were a child?:smallconfused:

Tanarii
2019-02-24, 05:23 PM
Did a backstory run over your puppy when you were a child?:smallconfused:It was tragic. Let me choke back my tears and tell you a story about my past ...

The Glyphstone
2019-02-24, 05:28 PM
It was tragic. Let me choke back my tears and tell you a story about my past ...

Only if it's at least 10 pages, single-spaced, in size 8 font.

Pex
2019-02-24, 06:26 PM
Only if it's at least 10 pages, single-spaced, in size 8 font.

and Comic Sans

The Jack
2019-02-24, 06:50 PM
Only then will you know that you're going to be getting high quality writing

Quertus
2019-02-24, 10:10 PM
Red flags from players:
- argue with me after I tell them my ruling, and that we'll look it up after the game

Red flags from DMs:
- talk about running a game as telling a story
- roll behind a screen
- ask to see my character's backstory

Totally agree with the GM red flags. Curious about that player red flag - do you retcon if you learn that your ruling was wrong? Change the physics of the world to match your ruling (and allow character rebuilds for characters that were based on that rule)? Make the world inconsistent by saying, "Eh, physics worked that way once, but it'll work like RAW the rest the time"?

I've never seen a good answer to "we'll do it wrong for now". What's yours?


On the other hand, the next campaign I was in was cancelled over an incident centered around a betrayal gone wrong. Both in the how successful it was for the betrayal and what it did to the game.

The red flags from that game: evil for the sake of evil, betraying the party, breaking an out of game promise (which could be a red card depending), in ability to consider an NPC as more than a cardboard cut-out, optimizing above the rest of the party, not understanding the (imagined) environment even when explained (which didn't actually happen, but it felt like it did), the inability to take risks when playing a risk-taking character, trying to find loopholes in the rules (especially when your searching consists of asking if there is a way to do it... again, just in case it has changed in the last minute) and I already said inability to take risks. That last one came up twice.

This was all in one session, which was the last of the campaign.

That's... quite the unusual list. Sounds like quite the story.

Historically, I've played with a lot of war gamers (I am one myself, after all), many of whom had 0 role-playing ability. So I'm kinda "meh" on the RP related ones.

"not understanding the (imagined) environment" - that sounds like a communication issue, which, while it takes two(+) for miscommunication, because the GM is the eyes and ears of the character, I generally place the responsibility for resolving that squarely at the GM's feet. So, outside of, say, myself in WH40K (where I'm just constitutionally incapable of grokking the setting), unless the player got it, then smoked up and lost it, I'm not seeing how that's a player red flag.

Betraying the party is usually a pretty strong red flag in my book. But, in this case, you've already shown that it wasn't verboten at that table, so... oddly, I guess I can hardly call it a red flag in context.

I agree that "breaking an out of game promise" could easily be a red card. Of course, since when comes to "player vs GM", I usually side with the player / give the player the benefit of the doubt, I suppose that I'll continue that trend here. Especially given the communication issues above, I'll pitch my standard technique: be very explicit. The first time they break their promise, explain to them in very clear terms, "you promised X. In scenario Y, you did Z. Here is how Z is not X. Here is what X would have liked like in scenario Z. Do you understand the difference? Do you think you can actually do X?" Because, I've seen "promises" fail numerous times just from people defining their words differently, misunderstanding concepts, etc.

If you don't have time for the whole story, what I'm most interested in is the promise (what it was, how it was broken), and what you mean by, "evil for the sake of evil", especially since it seems unrelated to the "betrayal" bit.


To top it off, The sea god popped up and told us this whole battle was a test, we're the chosen ones, most of the elemental gods have picked us to collect the elemental orbs and fight the god of light who's been stifling them (even though half the party or divinely powered Aasimar of radiant persuasion). To top it off, said god offers to resurrect the dead mother I'd been planning to avenge.
Everything after that was working out how to say no to a god.
We never got round to planning the next session.

That bit sounds like it could have come from one of my old tables. Curious just what the GM was thinking here.

DataNinja
2019-02-25, 12:41 AM
I've never seen a good answer to "we'll do it wrong for now".
Isn't the point to usually just not bring the game to a screeching halt, and instead maintain the momentum? Then when you have all the time in the world, you can look up the rules on it??

Avista
2019-02-25, 01:03 AM
Only if it's at least 10 pages, single-spaced, in size 8 font.

You mean a backstory is supposed to be more than a short paragraph?

I've been doing it wrong all along...

Luccan
2019-02-25, 02:05 AM
Depending on the type of game, no background at all is a Red Flag. I don't get it as a general rule at all; do you not want your PCs to have any connection to the game world? By all means, help your players to build backgrounds appropriate to the setting, set limitations where you feel they're necessary, but if you expect us to roleplay, why do you not want us to roleplay people who have, you know, actual lives? I get some people build stupid backstories, but the vast majority I've seen are passable and some are pretty damn good for mining adventure hooks.

Draconi Redfir
2019-02-25, 02:30 AM
I've never seen a good answer to "we'll do it wrong for now". What's yours?

"It'll take us like, twenty minutes to go digging through all the rules to figure out what the heck is supposed to happen here. So i'm just going to say X happens for now, we'll look it up later, / you can look it up on your own when it's not your turn, and all future instances of this will work like they're supposed too."


can't say i understand not wanting DM to read your backstory. that's kind of the point isn't it? It allows them to potentially introduce elements of your backstory into the plot, characters you knew, memories you have, put your hometown onto the map and have you visit there at some point, etc.I can't think of a single bad thing that might come from the DM knowing your backstory, unless you know that your backstory contains some element that doesn't fit with the world and you don't want the DM to know that.

Luccan
2019-02-25, 02:48 AM
"It'll take us like, twenty minutes to go digging through all the rules to figure out what the heck is supposed to happen here. So i'm just going to say X happens for now, we'll look it up later, / you can look it up on your own when it's not your turn, and all future instances of this will work like they're supposed too."


can't say i understand not wanting DM to read your backstory. that's kind of the point isn't it? It allows them to potentially introduce elements of your backstory into the plot, characters you knew, memories you have, put your hometown onto the map and have you visit there at some point, etc.I can't think of a single bad thing that might come from the DM knowing your backstory, unless you know that your backstory contains some element that doesn't fit with the world and you don't want the DM to know that.

Also this. Why would you write it if you didn't want to share it? And if your plan is to spring it on your DM... that's not gonna go well.

Tanarii
2019-02-25, 03:02 AM
Curious about that player red flag - do you retcon if you learn that your ruling was wrong? Change the physics of the world to match your ruling (and allow character rebuilds for characters that were based on that rule)? Make the world inconsistent by saying, "Eh, physics worked that way once, but it'll work like RAW the rest the time"?

I've never seen a good answer to "we'll do it wrong for now". What's yours?Game rules are not physics.

I change my rulings moving forward if I decide I like it better a different way after review. Generally speaking if a ruling would royally screw a player in the immediate, I rule in their favor until after review, which makes continuing to argue even more egregious. Since it's always over something relatively minor, or a build issue that can be sorted out after the game.


I can't say i understand not wanting DM to read your backstory. that's kind of the point isn't it? It allows them to potentially introduce elements of your backstory into the plot, characters you knew, memories you have, put your hometown onto the map and have you visit there at some point, etc.I can't think of a single bad thing that might come from the DM knowing your backstory, unless you know that your backstory contains some element that doesn't fit with the world and you don't want the DM to know that.
Mainly, its a waste of my time. I deal with upwards of 30 players a month. I'm currently running 5e, which has constructs for character motivations to use as a useful player tool, and for the DM to interact with interact with. If the player wants that, use those. Not backstory, which does a poor job as a player or DM tool.

Draconi Redfir
2019-02-25, 03:19 AM
i mean if you're a DM who doesn't want to read backstories, that's one thing, since DM's can be pretty busy already.

if the DM is asking to read your backstory though, i don't see the harm.

Avista
2019-02-25, 03:46 AM
It'd depend on the table and the group. If the group goes through rotations and group up with new people every session, then I can see why the DM doesn't want to be bothered with backstories. You have a mission, get through the dungeon, acquire loot, do whatever else you want on your own time.

The worst I ever did was write a one page backstory for a one-shot character. (I got inspired, bite me) He got killed in the second session, but hey, one shot. Not supposed to get attached to those fodder characters.

...one day, that character will have his glory in a proper campaign...one day.

Tanarii
2019-02-25, 04:23 AM
if the DM is asking to read your backstory though, i don't see the harm.
If thats the case, I'll offer my list of motivations instead. Problem is most people that think backstory is useful don't understand motivations are the key component. So they'll reject a bullet point motovation list because of format, since it doesn't look like a story.

Kaptin Keen
2019-02-25, 05:39 AM
If thats the case, I'll offer my list of motivations instead. Problem is most people that think backstory is useful don't understand motivations are the key component. So they'll reject a bullet point motovation list because of format, since it doesn't look like a story.

I take it you're not in the collaborative storytelling camp then =)

If a player delivers a list of bulletpoint goals to me, I'll tell him he's in the wrong group, and will likely have more fun playing with someone else.

Quertus
2019-02-25, 06:59 AM
Isn't the point to usually just not bring the game to a screeching halt, and instead maintain the momentum? Then when you have all the time in the world, you can look up the rules on it??

I mean, that may be the GM's reason for doing it wrong, but that doesn't make it right.

So, we've got a river. For whatever reason, we decide to collect rocks, throw them in, and very slowly build a short dam.

The GM narrates how we throw the rock into the river, and watch as it floats away. Because the GM rules that rocks float. Because pumice is a rock, and it floats, so, clearly, rocks float.

So, when you "maintain the momentum" of the game, and run with it, do you a) retcon the session later, when you prove to the GM that, no, rocks don't float; b) say that rocks floated just that once, but, from now on, they sink; or c) say that, no, in this world, all rocks float (and allow immediate rebuilds on characters whose concepts or backstories are in part or whole invalidated by the new physics)?

Or do you have some other option that actually works well?

Quertus
2019-02-25, 07:13 AM
Game rules are not physics.

I change my rulings moving forward if I decide I like it better a different way after review. Generally speaking if a ruling would royally screw a player in the immediate, I rule in their favor until after review, which makes continuing to argue even more egregious. Since it's always over something relatively minor, or a build issue that can be sorted out after the game.

So, just to be clear, if one of your players thinks that rocks float, and based their plans on that "fact", you'll rule that rocks float this once, and then they'll stop floating once you've proven it between sessions?

I've had a GM like that. It... works, it's fun at the time, but boy are the stories nonsensically.


If thats the case, I'll offer my list of motivations instead. Problem is most people that think backstory is useful don't understand motivations are the key component. So they'll reject a bullet point motovation list because of format, since it doesn't look like a story.

That's silly of them. You've got the right of it. Although I, personally, prefer to make it a conversation rather than handing them a list, as humans love to define words differently, read between the lines, or assume that lines will be read between rather than being explicit.

I had a GM give a simple requirement to a group of about a dozen players, and half of them came to the game with "inappropriate" characters because they misunderstood what the GM clearly implied, but didn't actually explicitly say.

JoeJ
2019-02-25, 07:33 AM
I mean, that may be the GM's reason for doing it wrong, but that doesn't make it right.

So, we've got a river. For whatever reason, we decide to collect rocks, throw them in, and very slowly build a short dam.

The GM narrates how we throw the rock into the river, and watch as it floats away. Because the GM rules that rocks float. Because pumice is a rock, and it floats, so, clearly, rocks float.

So, when you "maintain the momentum" of the game, and run with it, do you a) retcon the session later, when you prove to the GM that, no, rocks don't float; b) say that rocks floated just that once, but, from now on, they sink; or c) say that, no, in this world, all rocks float (and allow immediate rebuilds on characters whose concepts or backstories are in part or whole invalidated by the new physics)?

Or do you have some other option that actually works well?

Really? This is the best example you could come up with?

King of Nowhere
2019-02-25, 07:37 AM
I've never seen a good answer to "we'll do it wrong for now". What's yours?



depends on specifics, really.

In most cases, it's about figuring out an appropriate modifier. In that case, you don't need to retcon anything, you can just do it properly in the future.
Example: One of my players died to a destruction. Later, we remembered that dwarves get a +2 to saves against spells, and he would have passed the saving throw with it. Well, fine. Just assume that he actually rolled lower.

Sometimes it's about figuring out if something is possible. In that case, it's generally possible to make a minor retcon by assuming slightly different circumstances, and keep the same outcome of the story.
Example: An assassin wanted to use death attack on the druid. The druid used foresight to protect himself. The assassin set up a flank and managed to land a death attack. Now, in this case my ruling (that prescience does not block death attack from flanking) was correct, but if it had turned out to be wrong, I could have justified the pc death by having the spell expire, or perhaps being dispelled by an accomplice of the assassin.
Or, since the character was true resurrected straight away, I could have just given back the diamonds to the party and retconned that he never died.

Sometimes, though, fixing a mistake would invalidate parts of the story. in this case, rather than retconning a lot, or saying "the laws of physics played differently that one single time", I prefer to just houserule that things are like that, period.
Example: in my world high level defences include prismatic walls in permanent antimagic fields. Now, I later learned that AMF is blocked by line of sight, so the prismatic wall would block the AMF, so casting spells against the front of the prismatic wall would work just fine. But I already established that the strongholds are made that way, and their existance is an important piece of worldbuilding, so I just houseruled that prismatic walls do not block AMF line of effect for the sake of consistency.

EDIT: in your specific given example, I would adjudicate either as
d) those rocks floated because they were pumice. Yep, you were in volcanic ground all the time, crazy coincidence.
or
e) rocks don't float, and you started to build a dam. However, something else prevented the formation of a dam - maybe the current was too strong and scattered the rocks, maybe an aquatic monster smashed them - so that the end result, i.e. you did not make a dam on the river, remains unchanged.

Quertus
2019-02-25, 08:41 AM
Really? This is the best example you could come up with?

I've had some really bad GMs. I've got several examples on this level of epic brain damage.

And I think it illustrates the point rather well. Do you disagree?



Example: in my world high level defences include prismatic walls in permanent antimagic fields. Now, I later learned that AMF is blocked by line of sight, so the prismatic wall would block the AMF, so casting spells against the front of the prismatic wall would work just fine. But I already established that the strongholds are made that way, and their existance is an important piece of worldbuilding, so I just houseruled that prismatic walls do not block AMF line of effect for the sake of consistency.

So, you just have to cut a hole in the wall, tinfoil hat trick the AMF, and then take down the Prismatic Wall?



EDIT: in your specific given example, I would adjudicate either as
d) those rocks floated because they were pumice. Yep, you were in volcanic ground all the time, crazy coincidence.
or
e) rocks don't float, and you started to build a dam. However, something else prevented the formation of a dam - maybe the current was too strong and scattered the rocks, maybe an aquatic monster smashed them - so that the end result, i.e. you did not make a dam on the river, remains unchanged.

D) so the lavamancer would have gotten to do his thing
E) so we could have interacted with the sea monster

In other words, we have to spend next session redoing last session.

Pex
2019-02-25, 08:45 AM
Mainly, its a waste of my time. I deal with upwards of 30 players a month. I'm currently running 5e, which has constructs for character motivations to use as a useful player tool, and for the DM to interact with interact with. If the player wants that, use those. Not backstory, which does a poor job as a player or DM tool.

This answers the question on why it's a red flag for you, but for the general audience it's a matter of personal taste. I'm playing with DMs where character backstory figures into the game and others where only the campaign plot matters. It's whatever works for the particular game.

Tanarii
2019-02-25, 10:03 AM
This answers the question on why it's a red flag for you,Exactly:

Either as a DM or player, what are your most reliable indicators that a new player (or existing player, with new PC), is going to be a...handful.
-------------

but for the general audience it's a matter of personal taste.None of mine were supposed to be general, and all of them are not only personal taste, but also personal to my current campaign I'm running in case of players (open table but personally constructed not official play, 5e, at game stores adjacent to colleges so mostly college kids), and current most likely game system to participate in (5e) for considering DMs.

Although I wouldn't be interested in joining any D&D-edition campaign where the DM thought the primary purpose was anything to do with story, I'd have totally different DM red flags if I was likely to join a game of AW or Paranoia. :smallamused:

Resileaf
2019-02-25, 10:05 AM
What's wrong with stories in a role-playing game?

King of Nowhere
2019-02-25, 10:25 AM
So, you just have to cut a hole in the wall, tinfoil hat trick the AMF, and then take down the Prismatic Wall?

How do you cut a hole in a prismatic wall in AMF?
Oh, I read people claim you can put a (regular) wall in front of it, put a hole in the wall that is big enough to cast spell through but small enough that it still blocks line of effect, and so ignore the AMF. But I call that a RAW abuse. If you have line of effect to it, then it has line of effect to you.
And anyway, since those walls, and their reasonable effectiveness are established worldbuilding points, any easy way to deal with them is houseruled to not work. If you call that attitude a red flag, that's fine. A setting that has no consistency because all its premises get routinely turned upside down every time someone finds a new obscure spell to ignore some limitation would be a red flag to me.





D) so the lavamancer would have gotten to do his thing
E) so we could have interacted with the sea monster

In other words, we have to spend next session redoing last session.[emphasis mine]
Not at all. You keep the same outcome. You modify the facts just enough to get the desired outcome. minimum modification to keep things consistent.
It may not be a perfect solution, but it's the best I've seen, and it worked nicely every time I needed it.

In fact, you have picked a very egregious example. Every rule fix that has ever happened to me could be easily handled by small houseruling to very small details, or by very small retcons of minor details that made the events go smoothly. Having a whole way to solve the plot blocked solely by something completely nonsensical is quite the stretch.

last but not least, "talking to the group" is parrt of the solution. If there isn't a clear better way to deal with it, I'd ask them if they'd rather retcon one thing or another.

Tanarii
2019-02-25, 10:26 AM
What's wrong with stories in a role-playing game?
It's a red flag for me, because it all too often indicates a DM who will invalidate agency in favor of story reasons.

I'm playing D&D to be a character making meaningful decisions, often life and death ones, interacting with the fantasy environment. I want a DM thinking about how the environment exists to be interacted with and reasonable consequences for my actions. Not what makes the best story, or moves a plot forward. (Moving the action forward is fine, that's different.)

Schismatic
2019-02-25, 11:02 AM
It's a red flag for me, because it all too often indicates a DM who will invalidate agency in favor of story reasons.

I'm playing D&D to be a character making meaningful decisions, often life and death ones, interacting with the fantasy environment. I want a DM thinking about how the environment exists to be interacted with and reasonable consequences for my actions. Not what makes the best story, or moves a plot forward. (Moving the action forward is fine, that's different.)

Wait a minute... so you want a GM to provide a living world where your actions provide the most tangible change that legitimates your activity, but that is somehow divorced from the plot?

I mean let's say my backgroud for the PCs is; "PCs need to do some wetworks and kill this dude otherwise they'll have problems..." PCs decide to fit a carbomb and rather than trying to find the target in an estate, manufactures the scenario where the target kills themselves getting into their car.

What exactly is not story-based? And surely the reasons why the PCs might want him dead is part and parcel of providing that agency, legitimation and consequences of their actions? Moreover, what if the GM wants to tell a story? Or they want to create a story that is shaped by if/how/when/why the PCs did said wetwork?

It sounds like player entitlement that is like; "GMs aren't allowed to have fun..."

JoeJ
2019-02-25, 11:35 AM
I've had some really bad GMs. I've got several examples on this level of epic brain damage.

And I think it illustrates the point rather well. Do you disagree?

Well, since I'm having a very hard time believing in the existence of a GM who doesn't understand how rocks interact with water, I do disagree. It sounds like an extremely, absurdly contrived situation, which makes it unhelpful for illustrating how to deal with situations that might actually occur.

Draconi Redfir
2019-02-25, 12:31 PM
If thats the case, I'll offer my list of motivations instead. Problem is most people that think backstory is useful don't understand motivations are the key component. So they'll reject a bullet point motovation list because of format, since it doesn't look like a story.

So why don't you want to write a story then?




The GM narrates how we throw the rock into the river, and watch as it floats away. Because the GM rules that rocks float. Because pumice is a rock, and it floats, so, clearly, rocks float.
i can't believe that would ever happen. you're vastly overestimating what's going on.
at WORST i can see MAYBE saying "This particular group of rocks you are collecting float because they are specifically Pumice", but even that is a stretch.


So, when you "maintain the momentum" of the game, and run with it, do you a) retcon the session later, when you prove to the GM that, no, rocks don't float; b) say that rocks floated just that once, but, from now on, they sink; or c) say that, no, in this world, all rocks float (and allow immediate rebuilds on characters whose concepts or backstories are in part or whole invalidated by the new physics)?

Or do you have some other option that actually works well?

You'd say just that once they floated because those specific rocks you threw were weird. If the players went back to that river to try and collect more of those rocks, then they'd probably get 2-5 floating ones, but the rest would be normal sinking rocks, since you already threw most of the floating rocks into the river and they've floated downstream.


but again it's very unlikely that particular settup would happen. In most cases it's something like:

A: "I cast this spell, i deal 3d4 damage."
B:"Doesn't that require an attack roll?"
A "I don't think so..." *Starts reading through the two-paragraph text listed for the spell*
DM: "We'll go with the direct damage for now, keep reading in your own time though to make sure. next person's turn!"

some time passes, A double-checks everything when it's not his turn.

A: "Okay yeah, i did actually need an attack roll for that spell, my bad."
DM: "Okay, in the future when you cast that spell you'll need to roll the attack roll. Since it already happened, we'll just assume you succeeded the attack roll last time."
A: "Sounds good."

Luccan
2019-02-25, 01:43 PM
If thats the case, I'll offer my list of motivations instead. Problem is most people that think backstory is useful don't understand motivations are the key component. So they'll reject a bullet point motovation list because of format, since it doesn't look like a story.

So, what makes character motivation (presumably the things that happened to your character or are part of their life) meaningfully distinct from a decent backstory? What do you think is being applied incorrectly from backstories?

King of Nowhere
2019-02-25, 01:53 PM
What's wrong with stories in a role-playing game?

it's particularly telling that others see the lack of background as a red flag. So no matter what you do, you'll be a red flag for someone.

Maybe you could try the schroedinger's backstory: your character both has and has not a backstory. Your DM kicks you out of the group and does not kick you out. The good thing is that you are both playing D&D with the group and playing videogames at home. The bad thing is that you are also doing neither. :smallcool:

But really, I think those extreme examples were poorly worded; someone using general terms to refer to something very specific. Or either it was someone paranoid that was seeing something perfectly innocent as a possible sign of something else.

I've seen it before, but I say it again. The red flag is not what you do, but how you do it.

Tanarii
2019-02-25, 05:53 PM
So, what makes character motivation (presumably the things that happened to your character or are part of their life) meaningfully distinct from a decent backstory? What do you think is being applied incorrectly from backstories?
Motivations are things that will affect your decisions and behavior going forward. Backstories are historical events that happened to your character, some of which may have an affect on your decision making going forward, some of which may not, and often all jumbled together without any clarity.

A motivation list parses out the useful and makes it explicit, and hopefully clear and concise. These are the things that are going to affect my decision making or behavior.

5e has one motivation that is interesting, one its personality traits is 'Bond'. It's where you put historical things that may affect your behavior, but also quite clearly useful as a strong DM plot hook. That's something more commonly associated with Backstories, but it's still done in the clearly delineated and simple structure that 5e uses to outline character traits (motivations) across multiple categories.

Quertus
2019-02-25, 06:22 PM
How do you cut a hole in a prismatic wall in AMF?

Ah, miscommunication. I was picturing a Prismatic Wall blocking a passageway (and cutting a hole the walls of the passageway), not, say, a Prismatic Wall surrounding the entire castle.

And... you could probably pull the same trick using the ground, by digging under it to erect your mundane barrier on the other side, unless it's a bubble surrounding a flying castle.

At which point... AFB, but I think I may still have two ways to trivially take it down, just in core. And numerous other techniques, which are a bit more niche / expensive / obscure.

So, out of curiosity, if someone were to point this out at your table, would you be willing to have the world hold the idiot ball equally hard to make their character concept work? Does just your world get to be cool, or do the PCs get to be cool, too?


Not at all. You keep the same outcome. You modify the facts just enough to get the desired outcome. minimum modification to keep things consistent.
It may not be a perfect solution, but it's the best I've seen, and it worked nicely every time I needed it.

In fact, you have picked a very egregious example. Every rule fix that has ever happened to me could be easily handled by small houseruling to very small details, or by very small retcons of minor details that made the events go smoothly. Having a whole way to solve the plot blocked solely by something completely nonsensical is quite the stretch.

Welcome to my world. And why I hate railroads.


last but not least, "talking to the group" is parrt of the solution. If there isn't a clear better way to deal with it, I'd ask them if they'd rather retcon one thing or another.

That... is valid, actually. Just... I've never seen a GM pull it off that didn't come off as "please help me railroad your into this stupid story I've written, because I'm too dumb to do it myself".

That probably came across wrong. If you can do it right, and get the group to decide how handle it, well, that's your good. My senile mind cannot remember ever seeing it, but if you say that's your style, kudos!


What's wrong with stories in a role-playing game?


It's a red flag for me, because it all too often indicates a DM who will invalidate agency in favor of story reasons.

I'm playing D&D to be a character making meaningful decisions, often life and death ones, interacting with the fantasy environment. I want a DM thinking about how the environment exists to be interacted with and reasonable consequences for my actions. Not what makes the best story, or moves a plot forward. (Moving the action forward is fine, that's different.)

100% this. To add my take: I want the GM to care about setup; I want the players to care about and create the story (or not).


Well, since I'm having a very hard time believing in the existence of a GM who doesn't understand how rocks interact with water, I do disagree. It sounds like an extremely, absurdly contrived situation, which makes it unhelpful for illustrating how to deal with situations that might actually occur.

Welcome to my world.

Being extreme helps illustrate just how stupid variable / illogical world physics comes across to those who care.

And, when evaluating the plausibility of my examples, remember, some GMs are children, stoned, drunk, imbeciles, and/or railroaders. Although rarely all 5. I am sadly often surprised by the weapons grade stupidity of the species.


Isn't the point to usually just not bring the game to a screeching halt, and instead maintain the momentum? Then when you have all the time in the world, you can look up the rules on it??

I want to circle back to this. Let me answer your question with a question: isn't the point of "my guy" to maintain role-playing momentum, instead of bringing immersion to a screeching halt?

(BTW, the answer is "yes".)

And, the funny thing is, I don't disagree that the ceiling on fun is higher when everyone maintains focus and momentum, with "shoot from the hip" rulings and "my guy" role-playing. Just... both lower the floor on fun, for very similar reasons.

Part of me would love to go back to the carefree days of "role-playing is good, metagaming bad", when the colors were brighter, the highs were higher, and the role of the player was so much simpler. But once you've tasted the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, how do you go back?

So... Ignore everything I've said. Until and unless it becomes a problem at your table, enjoy what you've got while you can. Let the "my guy" roleplayers have fun in "my guy" groups, and I'll try not to ruin people's fun focusing on the downsides of rulings & retcons.

EDIT:
i can't believe that would ever happen.

I get that a lot when I talk about what I've done. It's why I've taken to explicitly talking about Armus, or Quertus, my signature academia mage, for whom this account is named, by name, to skip the step where people tell me that what I've ****ing done is "impossible". :smallannoyed:

I'm glad that your GMs and your experiences lead you to call that unbelievable. Mine do not. :smallfrown:

JoeJ
2019-02-25, 06:36 PM
Welcome to my world.

Being extreme helps illustrate just how stupid variable / illogical world physics comes across to those who care.

Unfortunately, you haven't shown me your world. You've shown me a ridiculously over-the-top example, but without giving me any idea of the kind of actual game events you're trying to illustrate with that comparison. Somehow this connects with a GM deciding to cut an argument at the table short, but the situations in which that generally occurs are not at all similar to your example. Can you give me an actual example that you experienced, rather than a hypothetical?

The Jack
2019-02-25, 06:45 PM
Backstories are primarily things players write for themselves.
If they want the GM to read it, they should be succinct. Like a paragraph or two informing the GM of 'Here's my goals, here's how I behave and why and how to screw me over.'


My first downtime was way too long. Later on I wanted to formerly apologise to my own DM for ever expecting him to read it. I must've looked like a real problem player.
But at the same time my character was given three months so...
(i probably still could've been more concise in language. I don't write flowery, but I tend to be paranoid that a GM will get misconstrue me)

Tanarii
2019-02-25, 08:50 PM
Backstories are primarily things players write for themselves.
If they want the GM to read it, they should be succinct. Like a paragraph or two informing the GM of 'Here's my goals, here's how I behave and why and how to screw me over.'

Let's not start casting things in the form of a reasonable middle ground.

Quertus
2019-02-25, 09:07 PM
Unfortunately, you haven't shown me your world. You've shown me a ridiculously over-the-top example, but without giving me any idea of the kind of actual game events you're trying to illustrate with that comparison. Somehow this connects with a GM deciding to cut an argument at the table short, but the situations in which that generally occurs are not at all similar to your example. Can you give me an actual example that you experienced, rather than a hypothetical?

Clearly, you didn't get the memo. This wasn't a hypothetical. An old memory, with ample senility and poetic license, perhaps. With a few details left out to emphasize the lunacy.

The similarly silly physics that I can recall or half-recall off the top of my head involve gross miscomprehension of volume, mass, time, buoyancy, carrying capacity, GNP, processor power, energy, force, inertia, distance, population, population density, or food/water consumption - often off by multiple orders of magnitude. Plus complete miscomprehension of the impossibility of certain concepts. But "floating rocks" is a much more evocative visual than clown-car space ships whose human inhabitants live off a grain of rice every decade or two, or countries with no imports who survive and field huge armies off the efforts of a dozen peasants.

OK, the last one wasn't actually that bad, but I don't remember the actual numbers, only that orders of magnitude of error were involved.

Luccan
2019-02-25, 09:28 PM
Backstories are primarily things players write for themselves.
If they want the GM to read it, they should be succinct. Like a paragraph or two informing the GM of 'Here's my goals, here's how I behave and why and how to screw me over.'


That's all I ask or expect. I don't know where the idea of pages long backstories comes from, maybe I'm lucky enough I've never met one of these players, but the most I've run into was a few paragraphs. And maximum background length is something you should make clear, I think, if this is something you've run into before.

JNAProductions
2019-02-25, 09:30 PM
That's all I ask or expect. I don't know where the idea of pages long backstories comes from, maybe I'm lucky enough I've never met one of these players, but the most I've run into was a few paragraphs. And maximum background length is something you should make clear, I think, if this is something you've run into before.

I've got a writer friend, who enjoys writing backstories.

However, there are two key things that makes it okay in my book:

1) They're entertaining to read. As in, I've reread them sometimes because they're goddamn funny, yet work for his characters and the world.

2) He can sum them up. He might have five pages worth of material, but if he needs to, he can condense it down to a paragraph or two of essentials.

Arbane
2019-02-25, 10:04 PM
Unfortunately, you haven't shown me your world. You've shown me a ridiculously over-the-top example, but without giving me any idea of the kind of actual game events you're trying to illustrate with that comparison. Somehow this connects with a GM deciding to cut an argument at the table short, but the situations in which that generally occurs are not at all similar to your example. Can you give me an actual example that you experienced, rather than a hypothetical?

Basically, there's three entire threads full of them. Start here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?275152-What-am-I-supposed-to-do), and brace for madness.

DaOldeWolf
2019-02-25, 10:09 PM
Reading this topic explains to me why some DMs have rejected my chars because my usually three paragraph backstories are too big or not big enough. I didnt know it some people considered it a red flag. :smalleek:

The Jack
2019-02-26, 06:14 AM
Three paragraphs is probably fine.
I feel in smaller games you can write a bit more, in large games you shouldn't write anything.

I don't want to target you, but some people just write bad backstories.


You want to be good and special enough to be in the game. *
But not so good that you're way more special than the other players or exceed what would be good for your level.

*Often you can just play the most boring bad character so long as you have a good plot hook to keep you in the game, but I feel a lot of concepts need a 'you must be this tall to enter' restriction. In DnD, you just need a reason to be in the party. In say WoD you are chosen and need to be worthy of that somehow; There's a minimum base competence for a lot of factions.

Mundane backstories are generally better.
I mean mundane in context; You can go to wizard school, encounter a magic creature that influenced you or have supersticious villagers try to drown you because they all feel personal, but the less chosen one stuff you've got is better. I think whimsical fairytale stuff can work, but chosen one/unnatural talent stuff is the mark of a bad player.
(unless the unatural talent is something whimsical, like you're a Yo-yo artist or you put expertise into cooking, then it can work.)

Resileaf
2019-02-26, 10:16 AM
100% this. To add my take: I want the GM to care about setup; I want the players to care about and create the story (or not).


Okay, so basically you prefer a sandbox where the GM just gives you the stuff you want to do. That's fine too. Just seems a bit petty to decide that you don't like when GMs have a storyline in mind and a general course of events planned out.

Jophiel
2019-02-26, 10:17 AM
So, we've got a river. For whatever reason, we decide to collect rocks, throw them in, and very slowly build a short dam.

The GM narrates how we throw the rock into the river, and watch as it floats away. Because the GM rules that rocks float. Because pumice is a rock, and it floats, so, clearly, rocks float.
If the rocks float, the rocks float. The stuff people are talking about are mechanical rules issues, "Can I take an extra attack after doing that move?" or "How much damage does this power swing's bonus strike do if I'm under a strength spell?". Stuff that, after the fact, you can look up in the official rules and see who was accurate and who was mistaken.

You're not going to pull out the Big RPG Book of Stone Densities and make a mechanical argument for rocks floating or sinking. Just gotta roll with the DM on that one; if his rocks float then they float. Decide on another plan. Or find a DM who doesn't have silly world physics but you're not going to actually prove that the way rocks act in his world is wrong.

Kesnit
2019-02-26, 12:17 PM
Isn't the point to usually just not bring the game to a screeching halt, and instead maintain the momentum? Then when you have all the time in the world, you can look up the rules on it??

If it is a simple matter, yes. But erroneous rulings can have major, game effecting consequences. In one game I was in, it led (through a chain of events) to my wife and I leaving the game permanently.

My wife's character attacked a Huge spider-type monster. (The rest of the party was too far away to help for game reasons.) When it attacked her, she took 10 STR damage. She only had 8 STR. The DM declared that she died from negative Strength. A 5-second look in the book (later that evening) told me STR can't fall below 0, and she would have just fallen where she was flying. (Possibly taking falling damage, but not enough to kill her, and the monster would have flown away.) The DM would not let me look it up, though, and declared her dead.

In his world, PCs who die can make a "god call" to see if their diety will bring them back. My wife failed, and was ready to retire that PC. The DM offered her another chance, though, if she would accept the "trickster god" and a Saw-like PrC (evil clown that pulls deadly tricks). My wife accepted.

That evening, my wife got an e-mail from the DM's wife (who was also a player) ranting at my wife for accepting the Evil Clown, because the player doesn't like clowns, and oh by the way, she's pissed at the way my wife and I were playing. (She had a long list of reasons, none of which are applicable here.)

My wife and I decided soon after to leave that game. Had I been allowed to look up Strength damage, none of it would have happened. (The DM would not have allowed a ret-con, even if I had been able to later show him his mistake.)

King of Nowhere
2019-02-26, 12:22 PM
At which point... AFB, but I think I may still have two ways to trivially take it down, just in core. And numerous other techniques, which are a bit more niche / expensive / obscure.

So, out of curiosity, if someone were to point this out at your table, would you be willing to have the world hold the idiot ball equally hard to make their character concept work? Does just your world get to be cool, or do the PCs get to be cool, too?



well, when i set up the whole thing, the characters were low level, so i figured i'd never have to worry about that. Now they are high level, so I do.

If there were ways to take down that defence trivially, I assume they are blocked in some way. I'd have to see the specific case, but the whole world has roughly 100 casters with 9th level spells, so I assume anything trivial was already taken into account.
Something that is not trivial, that I may let fly, as long as it's obscure enough that it's reasonable that nobody used it before. As I said, worldbuilding consistency is important to me; if everybody used defences that had a big gaping hole, and nobody noticed it, that's inconsistent. if somebody discovered some new spell that can take down existing defences, that's something that happens once in a while.

Anyway, you can take down one such stronghold by blasting the front door. they are warded against teleportation, so they need a mundane door for allies to enter. the doors are thick and require some time to break down, and after them there are some mechanical defences involving abundant use of gunpowder in antimagic fields, but with enough high level firepower, it is possible to take down the defences. scamming may also work, though very difficult because they run a lot of checks.

In the end, I expect the party to start assaulting the places soon enough. We'd be already at that point, if real life business hadn't kept us from playing in the last two months.

MoiMagnus
2019-02-26, 12:49 PM
I'm playing D&D to be a character making meaningful decisions, often life and death ones, interacting with the fantasy environment. I want a DM thinking about how the environment exists to be interacted with and reasonable consequences for my actions. Not what makes the best story, or moves a plot forward. (Moving the action forward is fine, that's different.)

It might be strange to you, but I don't. I'm playing RPG to discover a universe and a story, enjoy moments with others, and influence the universe to fill some blank and improve some parts.

I usually ends up in the "assistant DM" position, because I don't really care about my character. (Well, I do care about him, but not much more than I care about the other PCs or the NPCs I've had some influence on their creation). And I usually tend to avoid having to take meaningful decisions (and when I have to, it is more "what would my character do in this situation" than a personal decision).

And I have a lot of problems with DM that expect me to have a strong agency, particularly DM that expect me to try to anticipate what will happen (for example, preparing against an ambush, a traitor, an unconventional enemy, or not falling into a trap).

kyoryu
2019-02-26, 01:55 PM
So, what makes character motivation (presumably the things that happened to your character or are part of their life) meaningfully distinct from a decent backstory? What do you think is being applied incorrectly from backstories?

A motivation doesn't have to be written in prose form. It can be very terse. It's also the most actually useful bit.

A backstory can be long and drawn out, without actually including the useful bits.


it's particularly telling that others see the lack of background as a red flag. So no matter what you do, you'll be a red flag for someone.

Well, he did say story, not backstory.

But, yeah, different games are different, and require different things. Know what your game is.


I've seen it before, but I say it again. The red flag is not what you do, but how you do it.

The backstory red flag, for me, is an indication in the provided backstory that it is not motivation or background, but rather the start of a fairly well understood story by the player that was essentially written in a vacuum without consideration of the other players or GMs and their wishes. IOW, "this is the story, you're all bit players in me telling my story."

It's essentially the player-side version of a railroad, though players have less mechanical powers to enforce it.

Jophiel
2019-02-26, 02:05 PM
If it is a simple matter, yes. But erroneous rulings can have major, game effecting consequences. In one game I was in, it led (through a chain of events) to my wife and I leaving the game permanently.
I think most reasonable people would allow a rules check before killing a character (if its in dispute) even if they'd normally move past a question of whether you you use [skill] to stack another five damage on an attack. I wouldn't assume that a GM doing the latter will be indicative of him not allowing the former.

Schismatic
2019-02-26, 02:07 PM
The backstory red flag, for me, is an indication in the provided backstory that it is not motivation or background, but rather the start of a fairly well understood story by the player that was essentially written in a vacuum without consideration of the other players or GMs and their wishes. IOW, "this is the story, you're all bit players in me telling my story."

It's essentially the player-side version of a railroad, though players have less mechanical powers to enforce it.

I think this is somewhat situational, however. Most players I spend time with involves players I've known for years... and basically we have a pseudo understanding that backstory should instruct others how we're likely going to play. It runs more ike a psych profile while providing reasons why we all came together.

It's a lot of fun for friends to get together before a sesh and be like; "So how did we meet eachother? What's our adventuring party name?" So on and so forth.

I agree in so far if backstories are only written in terms of that character, but I've found it always helps to ask the players to come up with a backstory why they're together. It allows us to jump into the action and avoid that awkwardness of manufacturing a reason why the PCs work with eachother, or that it necessitates a clear and present danger large enough to bring them all together... Campaigns just flow better when the players just already know eachother, and have constructed a mutual event in their past that may or may not bite them in the arse.

Plus if the latter, you're guaranteed the players won't forget a location, enemy name, or event coming back to haunt them if they themselves came up with it...