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    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default The DM who says yes too much

    Often online I see people talk about the Dungeon Master who says "no" and restricts what the players can do. Obviously this is no fun. However, I find that there are some DMs (I consider myself to be one) who say yes too often. I am frequently frustrated with my players (not all but quite a few) trying to get away with things that simply shouldn't be allowed (mainly regarding use of cantrips in 5th edition but other things also) because I generally allow them to attempt any ideas they have.

    Does anybody else have thoughts on this?

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    Say no, but also say why no. If players are still pushing ridiculous things all the time, if you make a habit of this, then you have bad players.
    Last edited by Koo Rehtorb; 2018-10-30 at 11:43 PM.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    "Yes and x happens" is a reasonable answer for people trying to get away with too much.

    Specifically with cantrips you may want to curb some obvious abuses e.g. spending all day casting Acid Splash into ceramic containers and then selling the results.

    "Yes you can do that but cantrip acid vanishes in 30 seconds".
    Last edited by Mr Beer; 2018-10-31 at 12:08 AM.
    Re: 100 Things to Beware of that Every DM Should Know

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    93. No matter what the character sheet say, there are only 3 PC alignments: Lawful Snotty, Neutral Greedy, and Chaotic Backstabbing.

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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    A LOT of people (even more so younger ones) have the idea that they should always say "yes". It was part of the big culture shift after the early 90's: everything is ok, everything is equal and always say ''yes''.

    It would seem the "always yes" teaching goes something like : "Unless it is very harmful to our views, you should always say yes by default. You don't have the power to say yes anyway, but if you do..somehow...then just say yes."

    And it does work great in social things like an RPG. The Yes DM is everyone's favorite DM.

    Can you change...well maybe...but it will be hard. And you should note...for you...saying no will be hard.

    I wonder what cantrips you have said yes too....please post.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    Quote Originally Posted by Ronnocius View Post
    Often online I see people talk about the Dungeon Master who says "no" and restricts what the players can do. Obviously this is no fun. However, I find that there are some DMs (I consider myself to be one) who say yes too often. I am frequently frustrated with my players (not all but quite a few) trying to get away with things that simply shouldn't be allowed (mainly regarding use of cantrips in 5th edition but other things also) because I generally allow them to attempt any ideas they have.

    Does anybody else have thoughts on this?
    Generally, allowing people to attempt something is a good thing. Just saying "no you can't do that" should be reserved for obviously impossible things like jumping to the moon. Anything else can be allowed to be attempted, but with two caveats.

    1: Just because something can be attempted doesn't mean that it should be propable, or even possible. Sure, you can try persuading a dragon to give you all his treasure horde, but without a really good in character reason, you're looking at a DC that you just can't make. Your character simply is not good enough. Sure, you can try assaulting the kings castle with a butter knife at level 1, but barring an insane number of 20s and 1s, you're not even getting passed the slightly bemused gate guards.

    2: A DM needs to ensure that there's a level playing field, both between the adventure and the players and between each player. When one player starts to pull some shenanigans to break wealth by level or by playing a character vastly more or less powerfull than the agreed-upon norm, the DM needs to put down his foot.
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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    Quote Originally Posted by Mystral View Post
    When one player starts to pull some shenanigans to break wealth by level
    I agree with the whole post, but I wanted to highlight this part. One thing that often goes unnoticed as that character wealth is often a form of progression, nearly as important as character level. Just like you wouldn't let a player summon monsters and reap XP for killing them over and over again, you shouldn't allow players to create valuables and then sell them.
    "Only I may walk in the shadow between realms. Though I go mad, I do so to awaken those who came before and shall once more come again."

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    Griffon

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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    I almost never say "no" to my players, but they've also never tried anything totally ludicrous, and I like to reward creativity.

    "Yes, but..." is, in my opinion, often more useful than "no." Not always, mind you! But often.

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    I've been guilty of this in games before. I've had to nerf or take back items I allowed cuz I didn't know the rules well enough or didn't see the problem with them.

    Know the rules, apply them fairly, talk to the player about why they want the thing and what they're going to do with it.

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    DrowGuy

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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    The worst advice I ever gave when teaching new DMs, and I've since figured it out, is to tell them to say "yes" to everything.

    Players generally don't know what they really want, it sounds mean but it's true. A player comes to you and asks if they can spend hours of their down time crafting items so they can sell them for money. The idea is "the player wants funds to buy something", however what the player really wants is something unique to set them apart, like that Longsword of the Vampire he saw someone have so he's trying to find a way to do it without asking you straight up for the weapon.

    Players want to feel epic and feel like they're more powerful than anything else in the world. When they feel like they're losing that status they'll pull out stuff that makes them feel that way, they'll try to cut corners or manipulate the rules to their favor. It's not malicious, it's simply trying to fulfill that desire. There are the outliers, the ones who are trying to game the system, cheat, or otherwise just want to be the star all the time. They're outliers, most people aren't like that.

    I could go on, but those two examples are best and they're easy to resolve: "Yes, but...". I now live by the actions have consequences philosophy, and it makes the game so much smoother. You can, as was said by Mystral, make DC checks that reduce the players' chances at success due to the frivolity or absurdity of the idea. You can create results that impact the choice negatively, such as the disappearing acid. You can also make it so that the idea is balanced and give the player a choice to take it or leave it.

    A player wanted to create custom beast shapes with unique traits for their druid. His druid had a fascination with reptiles and would only beast shape into lizards. He sat down one night and went to work, unknown to me, he then handed me a stack of beast shape ideas that he'd come up with. I told him I'd look into the shapes and see what I thought, yes but... I then took and compared each shape to what was available at his level and adjusted them as I felt needed. It took close to a week of this before we came to an agreement, and some of the shapes were simply thrown out or restricted to higher levels.

    Once you start using "yes, but..." consistently your players will begin to understand that they should put thought into what they're asking. It will give them the freedom to explore and allow you to reign in the shenanigans.
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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    Just saying "yes" is as boring as saying just "no". It doesn't add anything to the game, and is only preferred because people enjoy getting away with things, rather than having their ideas shot down. But automatic success is no more entertaining than automatic failure.

    If a player wants to try something that's not in the rulebook (but makes sense), you should let them try, but not necessarily succeed (if they can't solve a puzzle, maybe let them roll for hints). Likewise, sometimes you can let players get away with a "free" success, but word it as "Yes, but..." and add something else, something interesting (want to just brute-force the code for that padlock? Sure, but that takes you a few minutes, and just as you finally get it right, your hear footsteps around the corner...)

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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    It also comes down to getting buy-in with the players to what type of game experience you want, getting everyone on the same page on what is appropriate. If that's not communicated well, it's harder for players to know that what they are asking for is stupid. So you could discuss it in advance, or be sure to justify why you say no when it comes up in play.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    Well, IMO, it's not the GM's game, it's the group's game. As GM, I often tend to try to get a feel for the room when making a decision like this. Of course, my gut instincts are primarily to cite RAW, or, failing that, to spend hours researching the exact RAW for this situation. My secondary guy response is to say "yes, here's the roll you need to make" and come up with something on the fly.

    Often, when I make that pause of "I don't know / remember RAW off hand" one of the other players will chime in with a (very rarely wrong) RAW citation, and we'll go with that. Because, sadly, out of all the players in my various groups, I believe only my brother and I actually enjoy spending hours rules lawyering.

    So, OP, the point of that is, my recommendation is that, if you find that your style doesn't suit you, I suggest that you crowd source.

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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    My worse DMing ever was from saying 'yes' too much. It was a homebrew game (we didn't have any real RPG books), and it mainly manifested as

    1) letting players choose silly things that detracted from the game (e.g., one guy asked if, instead of a gauntlet that shot lightning, could he have a butt-plate. That is, metal armor that shot lightning from his rear, mainly for fart jokes. Some silliness is cool, but it got a little too extreme)
    2) letting players do whatever crazy stuff they figured out worked by RAW, since it was fair they figured out a loophole
    3) not insisting PCs follow the established setting (e.g., my girlfriend was visiting and joined for a game and wanted to use a character from another game world. I agreed, since it was just for a couple games. Powers didn't mesh well, which led to an unfortunate encounter or two. Also, thinking back, this was the cliche of GM's girlfriend gets a boon others don't.)

    We were high-schoolers at the time, or maybe freshmen in college. It was mostly immaturity and lack of experience with games. I think it was the first or second RPG any of us had played.
    For example of inexperience, we later bought D&D 3.5 because we figured a professional game would be completely balanced (which led to a too-strong adherence to RAW early on, but that was another person GMing.)

    ---

    But, in general, I'd agree with a usual "yes, but" or "yeah, I see that matters to you, so cool", unless it's something that really detracts or breaks the game mechanics, setting, or ethos.
    Last edited by JeenLeen; 2018-10-31 at 10:56 AM.

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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    In my earlier days of DMing, I couldn't say no. And there was this player who was great at diplomacy (not the character, the player), and he had a lot of ideas of stuff he'd have liked, so he persuaded me to let him have most of everything.

    And so it was that by level 9 he had a +5 flaming sword with a few extra properties, some gloves that would automatically make one extra ranged attack for free every round, boots that interrupted enemy spellcasters by projecting a spectral kick, a +5 dragonhide greater cold resistance armor, an adolescent white dragon companion (he saved the dragon in a quest, hence the dragon's mother gave him some of her scales to make an armor, and the dragon followed him).
    I have to say, this forum also has a lot of blame: I kept reading all the time how melee are useless and casters rule everything forever, and since the guy is a barbarian, I kept thinking, well ok, he's still going to get outclassed by the casters, can't do wrong by giving him some extra swag.

    Well, I gave everyone else plenty of goodies too, I nerfed the most ludicrous interactions in my custom items, I gave everyone plenty of xp so that their loot wouldn't be too inappropriate, and so that the casters could actually catch up, and I worked everything into the story. Now the world knows them as "those guy who lucked a few times and became influential earlier than they should have", and they are making enemies with equally powerful people
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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    Quote Originally Posted by Thinker View Post
    I agree with the whole post, but I wanted to highlight this part. One thing that often goes unnoticed as that character wealth is often a form of progression, nearly as important as character level. Just like you wouldn't let a player summon monsters and reap XP for killing them over and over again, you shouldn't allow players to create valuables and then sell them.
    I'm going to disagree because you have your D&D glasses on. In some systems coming up with ingenious ways to make extra cash is encouraged.

    If my players come up with brilliant plan to break into the evil Kings treasury then that is part of the fun.

    Or if someone comes up with a quick cash grab scheme that benefits the group, then I don't think that should be punished
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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    After going through a lot of phases (saying No too much, saying Yes too much, and so on), by now I've gotten to my main policy being simply: honesty.

    Maybe it's because as I get older, my circle of gamers tends to age as well, but in my experience it tends to work well on younger players as well. Just talk to them. If someone asks you "Can I do this?" and you have second thoughts, don't just try to say "Yes" or "No", say what you think. "Yes, I think in theory the rules would allow you to do this, but I fear if you do this might ruin some of the fun because <reason>" can work wonders if you then listen to what the player has to say.

    Now, of course this isn't always reasonable in the middle of a combat, but I find that a players willingness to accept a quick ruling in the heat of the moment is much higher if they know you to be reasonable and open to discussion and feedback afterwards.

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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    Quote Originally Posted by RazorChain View Post
    I'm going to disagree because you have your D&D glasses on. In some systems coming up with ingenious ways to make extra cash is encouraged.

    If my players come up with brilliant plan to break into the evil Kings treasury then that is part of the fun.

    Or if someone comes up with a quick cash grab scheme that benefits the group, then I don't think that should be punished
    I can assure you that I don't even have any D&D glasses to wear. I haven't played D&D since 4E came out and I mostly do PbTA games these days. This forum is D&D-centric and many answers will be applicable to that system. The original post mentioned cantrips, which I have rarely come across outside of D&D or games trying to invoke a feeling of D&D. But, for the reason that you mention, I said (emphasis added): "One thing that often goes unnoticed as that character wealth is often a form of progression, nearly as important as character level."

    Of course wealth isn't always progression - there are systems that abstract wealth out to practically just be another skill or don't mention it at all. But, if any system grants access to greater capabilities, it is effectively a progression system. You can do the same with reputation, alignment, research, or any number of other systems. More power is more power, regardless of the source. I think that GM's should say "no" to any player trying to gain extra game-power through exploiting the game rules unless it is a system where character power differences is mostly meaningless.
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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    I'll second that players often don't know what they want...but also it is often fun to give it to them so they can get it out of their system. A lot of players think a ''thing" is not so great once they get it.

    The big problem is the basic D&D rules don't let a some players feel Cinematic Epic, especially at low levels of game play. Players watch a lot of movies and Tv shows that in D&D terms have a 30th level hero fighting 0 level mooks. They watch as in one second the cyborg ninja cowboy kicks and kills two foes, leaps into the air and throws three daggers at the heads of three other foes and kills each of them, spins in mid air and 'summons the power of the dragon', draws their double balded super sized claymore kantana and cuts off the big bads head...while still in mid air. To them, it is the coolest thing ever. And again, in D&D terms, this is a 30th level character fighting zero level foes.

    Then the player plays the game, and the game is balanced so the above can't normally happen. In most D&D games, 30th level characters don't fight zero level foes. And to come even close to that fight, you would not only need the near perfectly built and perfectly played character but also the perfect battlefield and most of all the controlling DM making sure the exact scene happens.

    Of course the first one, rule mastery, system mastery and game play master is hard enough just by itself. And the second part is unlikely to happen in a lot of games as a lot of more modern DMs don't think they should do that sort of thing or control anything.

    Starting with 3E, many DMs have had the view that they are ''just a player", so they should not control anything and they should let the players control the game and the DM should just react to the players. This leads to most combat encounters being very bland: unless less set up and controlled by a DM a combat encounter is just about always bland. The vast majority of 'random' combat, just happen in blank areas with some vague set dressings like ''oh it's a castle".

    A DM created, set up and controlled battlefield can be a wonder to the players. They can have a ton of fun and feel very Cinematic Epic, even at first level. Just a basic castle courtyard with ladders, stairways, ropes, chains and walls is great. The skill based characters can jump and climb around. The warrior types can smash things. Spellcasters can do clever things. Just the simple ''any time a foe is near an edge" the PC can trip, knock down or whatever the foe...and drop them off the edge. A foe is moving across a suspended walkway....the PC can cut the rope holding it up. Any foe on a narrow walk way, or stairs, is an easy target that can't move. And so on.

    This is the sort of Cinematic Epic combat a lot of players like.

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    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    There is a simple rule you can apply when you say yes (too) often. Everything the players have and can do, the NPCs can do too (or have as well).

    Another option is mentioned already: say no but explain why you don't allow something.
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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    Quote Originally Posted by Delta View Post
    After going through a lot of phases (saying No too much, saying Yes too much, and so on), by now I've gotten to my main policy being simply: honesty.

    Maybe it's because as I get older, my circle of gamers tends to age as well, but in my experience it tends to work well on younger players as well. Just talk to them. If someone asks you "Can I do this?" and you have second thoughts, don't just try to say "Yes" or "No", say what you think. "Yes, I think in theory the rules would allow you to do this, but I fear if you do this might ruin some of the fun because <reason>" can work wonders if you then listen to what the player has to say.

    Now, of course this isn't always reasonable in the middle of a combat, but I find that a players willingness to accept a quick ruling in the heat of the moment is much higher if they know you to be reasonable and open to discussion and feedback afterwards.
    You know, I was with you until you said, but not in combat. Combat is, IME, where people get the most creative, swinging off chandeliers, trying to collapse the ceiling, setting the place on fire, playing dead, trying to form alliances with enemies - sometimes, all in the same fight!

    Combat is where these skills are, IMO, most tested, and most valuable. And, to show my bias, where my war gamer buddies are probably most comfortable with quoting the rules.

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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    What the players want during the session is an easy, risk-free way to accomplish their current goal.

    But what they will want after the session is to have faced a nearly impossible task, risked death, and barely succeeded against great odds.

    Giving them everything they want prevents that. And "after the session" lasts a lot longer than "during the session".

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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    Something else that annoys me that is somewhat connected is that if a player attempts something (for example persuading a dragon) they expect a high roll to miraculously save them. For example if they tried to persuade a dragon and rolled a 20 and I said 'the dragon allows you to leave with your lives but takes your stuff because you broke into his lair' their reaction would be 'that is all I get from a 20? seriously?'

    Even though in 5th edition natural 20s do not mean anything special except for attacks.

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    DrowGuy

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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    Nat 20s never meant a success outside of combat. The easiest way to resolve that is to explain the sliding scale approach to your players.

    Based on the DC, with a fluid skill check like persuasion, the result will be more/less effective the further it is from what you've set.

    This type of approach, when used consistently, will give more organic interactions, create varied responses from NPCs, and reward players who have decided to invest in those skills more than others.
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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    Quote Originally Posted by Ronnocius View Post
    Something else that annoys me that is somewhat connected is that if a player attempts something (for example persuading a dragon) they expect a high roll to miraculously save them. For example if they tried to persuade a dragon and rolled a 20 and I said 'the dragon allows you to leave with your lives but takes your stuff because you broke into his lair' their reaction would be 'that is all I get from a 20? seriously?'

    Even though in 5th edition natural 20s do not mean anything special except for attacks.
    This is an instinctive reaction to something that they haven't worked out on a conscious level. If you can't succeed at your stated intent, then the GM should not have you roll dice at all.

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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    Quote Originally Posted by Ronnocius View Post
    Something else that annoys me that is somewhat connected is that if a player attempts something (for example persuading a dragon) they expect a high roll to miraculously save them. For example if they tried to persuade a dragon and rolled a 20 and I said 'the dragon allows you to leave with your lives but takes your stuff because you broke into his lair' their reaction would be 'that is all I get from a 20? seriously?'
    Announce the DC and potential consequences before they roll, and that becomes more transparent for the players.

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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    Quote Originally Posted by Koo Rehtorb View Post
    This is an instinctive reaction to something that they haven't worked out on a conscious level. If you can't succeed at your stated intent, then the GM should not have you roll dice at all.
    I disagree on this, at least partially. There are degrees of success, and the roll lets the GM decide which degree of success or failure the PCs have attained. The GM shouldn't let the players roll dice when there is absolutely no chance of success/failure, but as long as there is a chance for the action to fail or succeed - even if not in the ways the players expected - a dice roll is fair.

    In Ronnocius' example, the players wanted to persuade the dragon to let them leave unharmed - but that doesn't mean that the roll must have a binary result. The dragon does let them leave unharmed, but requests an "offering". A worse roll might have meant the dragon laughed and attacked them, so they players still attained some degree of success.

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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    Don't say yes to everything. The default assumption should be that you can *try* everything.

    The DM's job, *after the player determines what they will try*, is to determine if it is impossible (flap your arms to fly), then to determine if it is automatic (move your feet to walk), then, rarely if it doesn't fall into one of those then you ask for a check.

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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    Quote Originally Posted by Silly Name View Post
    I disagree on this, at least partially. There are degrees of success, and the roll lets the GM decide which degree of success or failure the PCs have attained. The GM shouldn't let the players roll dice when there is absolutely no chance of success/failure, but as long as there is a chance for the action to fail or succeed - even if not in the ways the players expected - a dice roll is fair.

    In Ronnocius' example, the players wanted to persuade the dragon to let them leave unharmed - but that doesn't mean that the roll must have a binary result. The dragon does let them leave unharmed, but requests an "offering". A worse roll might have meant the dragon laughed and attacked them, so they players still attained some degree of success.
    I'd say only roll when the stakes make it interesting to do so. Rolling to jump over an overgrown fence in the middle of nowhere isn't very interesting. Rolling to jump over a fence while being pursued by a pack of wild dogs is.
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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    I think saying yes in a situation is generally preferable to saying no. Nothing in my experience takes the air out of a player's sail than a no to his question. And my best campaign came about because I let the group go wild. At least when it comes to treasure and plans. I mean that's what you want to happen for the group to be invested and proactive in the game. There is literally nothing I like more when I'm a GM. Also it's not like it's my money they're getting.

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    Default Re: The DM who says yes too much

    Quote Originally Posted by Ronnocius View Post
    Often online I see people talk about the Dungeon Master who says "no" and restricts what the players can do.
    Like most internet generated mantra, it's mostly a load of hot air. But it's important to understand the original context of it.

    A DMs job includes world design/mechanics selecting, and adjudicating actions.

    Not saying no didn't have anything to do with what fits in the world vs what mechanical selections a player chooses to make when designing their characters. It was about adjudication.

    The mantra to not say no, as opposed to "no, but ..." And "yes, and ..." or whatever the jargon is now, is supposed to apply to how you respond to a players declared actions during a session. Not to just shut them down and tell them things won't work. At the minimum give them alternatives.

    Obviously that's just as much a load of nonsense as allowing players to make whatever mechanical choices they want. Some things won't work. And when the player asks if they can blah blah, the appropriate response is "there's no way that will work." And allowing it will break everyone's suspension of disbelief, even in a elf & magic game.

    That said, what blah blah is varies heavily from table to table. I've seen a poster write about how they did a flying leap onto the back of a dragon, stabbed it with their daggers, and used them as handlebars to steer it. If you tried that last part in a game I was running I'd laugh, and then when I realized you were serious I'd laugh harder. But clearly it worked for that table.

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