[D&D Discussion] The real monsters are the friends we made along the way.

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  • GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    “The Orc shamans did a 10 minute ritual to change the weather over a large area” is not “the Orc shamans did some chanting and hit the players with lightning”. The fact that your player described it as call lightning and not as control weather indicates that this was not presented to the players. Maybe you did to a good job of explaining the escalating threat and context. But reading it here it does not seem like it.

    How things are presented to the players matters. Presenting things inaccurately or incompletely is just as much an issue as breaking the rules. In your players eyes they are more or less the same thing. It can also be worse because in your players eyes you may have lied to them about the world.

    Glyph of warding that summons flame skulls and resets is actually something that glyphs of warding can do. And if they cannot it’s only the resetting part, which is like... super minor in the scope of things for a variety of reasons. (Not the least of which is that the glyph is set so that it’s easy to present the changes to the players in ways that reform without breaking expectations). Same with a lich resetting its known spells (which we might note does not modify the spells and likely has zero effect that players can see)

    And, as an aside, just because WoTC does this does this in its official published materials not make it OK or good. It’s still bad.

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  • SteelhawkSteelhawk Registered User regular
    edited October 1
    ironzerg wrote: »
    But that's hard to do, which is a big reason, in my opinion, finding a DM and a group that can run a D&D game for longer than a few sessions honestly ends up being a pretty remarkable task.

    I've been playing D&D for over 20 years now. I can't count the number of characters or groups I've joined, but I can count on a single hand the number of games that have lasted more than 10 sessions.

    This is so different to my experiences over roughly the same amount of time. I also have been playing D&D for over 20 years now, probably more than 30 if you want to be generous with the word "playing", and my experience has been very different. For almost 20 years I have been playing RPG's, mostly D&D, with the same group of guys. In the past year or so, maybe two, my wife convinced me to ask the geek husbands of her friends to form another group and now I two D&D groups. I am slowly starting to realize that my "luck" with long term groups is atypical.

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  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus premium Registered User regular
    A monster exists to pose a threat/challenge to the player. I suppose technically all NPCs are "monsters" but D&D has enough problematic terminology already.

    NPCs should be able to do things the players cannot do, because the monsters are not players. They do not exist in the same sense that a player character does. They do not accrue experience and level up. They are not intended to survive from encounter to encounter, to take an extended rest, to go purchase new equipment and make a pass at the bartender.

    And I suppose this is where I reminisce that, again, 4e had great monsters who could do all sorts of things players could not, bur they followed the same action economy as players so when they did something special it was intuitively understood that it was something the monster got to do, deal with it.

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  • GaddezGaddez Registered User regular
    DarkPrimus wrote: »
    A monster exists to pose a threat/challenge to the player. I suppose technically all NPCs are "monsters" but D&D has enough problematic terminology already.

    NPCs should be able to do things the players cannot do, because the monsters are not players. They do not exist in the same sense that a player character does. They do not accrue experience and level up. They are not intended to survive from encounter to encounter, to take an extended rest, to go purchase new equipment and make a pass at the bartender.

    And I suppose this is where I reminisce that, again, 4e had great monsters who could do all sorts of things players could not, bur they followed the same action economy as players so when they did something special it was intuitively understood that it was something the monster got to do, deal with it.

    This was essentially the core problem I had with 3rd; it was built by players for players with not much consideration for the role of the GM and as such players were able to skyrocket to ridiculous levels of power and quickly dumpter anything that opposed them unless the GM either custom built encounters like traps from the saw franchise or straight up homebrewed content.

    Richy wrote: »
    But I think the resistance I’m getting more has to do with “rawr! Loklar said it! Rage!” than anything else.

    No, it has to do with the fact that you're done nothing but throw lies, blatant flasehoods, and downright dumb statements at us so far.
  • GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    So DMs shouldn't create homebrew creatures?

    Is it still okay to use WOTC created creatures that have abilities that are total bullshit?

    No, DMs are free to homebrew. And no, WoTC should not make bullshit.

    When WoTC makes monsters they should be within the expectations that players have for the rules and world. And when these things are modified and broken they need to be clearly communicated to the players before conflict arises. And similarly DMs are free to homebrew but they should keep those brews within the players expectations.

    Now much of this is probably because the DMG and supporting materials don’t discuss how to convey information to your players.

    Think of it like a platforming game. When you enter a new level the rules of how platforms move can change. In level 1 they moved up and down and now they can also move side to side. But they’re unlikely to change within a level and they’re always going to be moving in a consistent manner, in the manner they are presented to you before you have to jump on them. If platforms aren’t moving until the player jumps on them then you have a problem.

    We when the platforms change in their movement patterns you need to ensure your players know how they move before they have to jump. When the rules change on the players they need to have this communicated to them before they kill/hurt themselves as a result of not knowing the rules.

    Now platformers can mitigate this because players can go back and retry until they get things right. (Even then you need to be very careful with trial/error gameplay because it’s often just not fun if there really is nothing to learn in order to develop mastery). But in DnD you cannot. DnD is a blind Ironman run where the game deletes itself if you lose. If the game isn’t consistent in what it presents to you it doesn’t much matter if it only does it once or twice you’re going to feel cheated and you’re not going to want to play the next game in the series. And it’s even worse because now it’s done intentionally by a person you are interacting with.

    This doesn’t mean you cannot run games with high lethality or other such things that may seem unfair to the players. But you sure as shit need all your players to be onboard with that gameplay before it happens. And even then managing expectations and presenting information is super important to the enjoyment of the game.

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  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited October 1
    Goumindong wrote: »
    “The Orc shamans did a 10 minute ritual to change the weather over a large area” is not “the Orc shamans did some chanting and hit the players with lightning”. The fact that your player described it as call lightning and not as control weather indicates that this was not presented to the players. Maybe you did to a good job of explaining the escalating threat and context. But reading it here it does not seem like it.

    How things are presented to the players matters. Presenting things inaccurately or incompletely is just as much an issue as breaking the rules. In your players eyes they are more or less the same thing. It can also be worse because in your players eyes you may have lied to them about the world.

    Glyph of warding that summons flame skulls and resets is actually something that glyphs of warding can do. And if they cannot it’s only the resetting part, which is like... super minor in the scope of things for a variety of reasons. (Not the least of which is that the glyph is set so that it’s easy to present the changes to the players in ways that reform without breaking expectations). Same with a lich resetting its known spells (which we might note does not modify the spells and likely has zero effect that players can see)

    And, as an aside, just because WoTC does this does this in its official published materials not make it OK or good. It’s still bad.

    So just out of curiosity, should I have sat down and said

    "The orcs you are about to attempt to dislodge from the mountain have spells you have never seen before. They are able to communally change the weather in an instant and hit you with a spell-like ability with a Dexterity Saving Throw of 15 that does 3d8 damage on a failure or half as much on a success. This is the reason why the Dwarven gryphon riders failed in their assault, the ones you didn't investigate the disappearance of. They have 60 feet of darkvision and resistance to lightning damage. They have a Behir leading them. Their weapons deal an additional 1d8 lightning damage on a successful hit and I've sent you their spell list over Discord.

    Your characters have no way of knowing this but it would be unfair to throw you a curveball"

    Edit: Glyphs of warding cannot summon flameskulls, there is no "summon flameskull" spell and there is no mechanical way to make a Glyph of Warding reset.

    5 minutes after the flameskull glyph of warding an arcanloth ambushes the players out of a PERMANENT magical darkness globe, and to the left there's a staff of fire that imparts a character flaw with no saving throw that cannot be removed. The Arcanaloth can see through the darkness, by the way, because it has permanent truesight. Something players cannot get

    That's from one small section of one dungeon in one official module. If you really want to go down this road of saying that WOTC's official modules violate the rules of D&D I... don't think we're ever going to be on the same page

    I will literally give you pages of examples if you want

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  • GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    Goumindong wrote: »
    “The Orc shamans did a 10 minute ritual to change the weather over a large area” is not “the Orc shamans did some chanting and hit the players with lightning”. The fact that your player described it as call lightning and not as control weather indicates that this was not presented to the players. Maybe you did to a good job of explaining the escalating threat and context. But reading it here it does not seem like it.

    How things are presented to the players matters. Presenting things inaccurately or incompletely is just as much an issue as breaking the rules. In your players eyes they are more or less the same thing. It can also be worse because in your players eyes you may have lied to them about the world.

    Glyph of warding that summons flame skulls and resets is actually something that glyphs of warding can do. And if they cannot it’s only the resetting part, which is like... super minor in the scope of things for a variety of reasons. (Not the least of which is that the glyph is set so that it’s easy to present the changes to the players in ways that reform without breaking expectations). Same with a lich resetting its known spells (which we might note does not modify the spells and likely has zero effect that players can see)

    And, as an aside, just because WoTC does this does this in its official published materials not make it OK or good. It’s still bad.

    So just out of curiosity, should I have sat down and said

    "The orcs you are about to attempt to dislodge from the mountain have spells you have never seen before. They are able to communally change the weather in an instant and hit you with a spell-like ability with a Dexterity Saving Throw of 15 that does 3d8 damage on a failure or half as much on a success. This is the reason why the Dwarven gryphon riders failed in their assault, the ones you didn't investigate the disappearance of. They have 60 feet of darkvision and resistance to lightning damage. They have a Behir leading them. Their weapons deal an additional 1d8 lightning damage on a successful hit and I've sent you their spell list over Discord.

    Your characters have no way of knowing this but it would be unfair to throw you a curveball"

    Edit: Glyphs of warding cannot summon flameskulls, there is no "summon flameskull" spell and there is no mechanical way to make a Glyph of Warding reset.

    5 minutes after the flameskull glyph of warding an arcanloth ambushes the players out of a PERMANENT magical darkness globe, and to the left there's a staff of fire that imparts a character flaw with no saving throw that cannot be removed. The Arcanaloth can see through the darkness, by the way, because it has permanent truesight. Something players cannot get

    That's from one small section of one dungeon in one official module. If you really want to go down this road of saying that WOTC's official modules violate the rules of D&D I... don't think we're ever going to be on the same page

    I will literally give you pages of examples if you want

    WoTC official modules routinely break the rules of DnD yes. Well more correctly they break the rules social role playing which they did not write by breaking their own rules that they set to conform with those but it’s easier to just say they break the rules of DnD because no one is exempt from these rules. They are not the rules of DnD they are the rules of “dont fuck with your friends because they’re your friends”. And we only use the rules of DnD as the guide to not break because the rules of social role playing have you first agree to a secondary rule set. But the examples you’re presenting really aren’t that bad. Resetting traps are not outside of expectations. Summoning monsters is not outside of expectations. Permanent spells are like... super commonplace and it is actually possible for players to get permanent truesight and permanent darkness. And, importantly, these are not things that are sprung on the player. The darkness is darkness, it’s not imperceptible. The glyph is sitting there on the ground to see. If the DM doesn’t give you a check to see if you notice the glyph or makes you step on it even if you do this is super bad. Even though these things are well “within” his “right to change things as a DM”. The “rules” do not mean “things that the players cannot do” unless it’s very much in the context of the things players should be able to do. It’s not like dragons shouldn’t be able to breathe fire because players cannot. But it is like dragons should not have 1000 ft cone breathe attacks because it’s out of line with the context that has been created.

    As for your specifics. Again I don’t know the specifics of your game. Maybe you did present things well enough but maybe you didn’t. And maybe they should have known after investigating the disappearance of the drawven griffin riders or maybe if those griffin riders disappeared because they got killed by the Orcs that they players just encountered they wouldn’t have had a chance to learn anything anyway because getting shot by the Orcs and investigating the Dwarves seems kind of like the same action. And maybe the Orcs should not have instant call lightning to any range with any visibility or specificity despite the Orcs only having 60 ft dark vision. Because what you’re communicating to your players isnt “here is a new challenge to navigate” its “Rocks can fall and kill you at any time for reals ha ha ha ha”. And the second feels really fucking shitty as a player and it’s not surprising when your players return with “the fuck, you can’t do that? Even if you really should be able to”

    But if the Orcs weapons do an extra d8 lighting dmg you should tell the players that the Orcs weapons crackle with lightning energy. And if the Orcs can change the weather and call lightning to huge ranges you should indicate the weather changing as they approach. And if those Orcs killed dwarven griffin riders by knocking them out of the air with lightning maybe you might see some griffin bodies on your approach to indicate the edge of the range and give the players something to investigate/hint that things are dangerous. And if a behir has been hunting around there might be indications of the huge lightning breathing monstrosity being in the area.

    again, maybe you did all these things, I don’t know. All I know is that the way you presented it here did not make it seem to me like you had.

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  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited October 1
    Oh give me a fucking break I did not "rocks fall them" I gave them a moderate amount of lightning damage and forced them to approach by land

    It was a really hurtful moment as a DM running my first game to have a player try to openly usurp my authority and tell ME what the monster statblock in front of me says (and "Call lightning" was a player assumption), because the worst thing a player can do to a DM is try to run the game for them (especially an experienced player an inexperienced DM) that continues to hurt to this day, even though since then I have intellectually realized the player was at fault, not me, after asking my players. In that instance, I relented to the player, and I sat there feeling like shit for that and several sessions because he, an experienced player, told me that you can't give monsters spells that players don't have access to. That was a mean and wrong thing for him to do, and nothing you say can convince me otherwise, as I said, my other players disagreed with him when I brought it up out of game.

    I don't know where you're pulling this "rocks fall hahaha" bullshit from, I don't even have permanent player character death in the games I run because none of us like that

    I'm still running with the same group of players, we play every week, and I've only missed 3 or 4 weeks in 3 years from not enough people being available so maybe they like playing with me?

    But you know what? You don't play in my game, so I'm going to resume working on the statblock for the boss on Saturday, a planetar with adamantine skin who has a damage threshhold and warlock abilities, and you can keep playing your games where every monster ability and the complete spell list of all npcs must be known by the players or the DM is being mean and we'll just agree to disagree

    You can't play any of the published WOTC modules if outside context problems or unexpected mechanics are off the table, whatsoever, as far as I know

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  • GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    I did not say that you rocks falled them I said that you seemed to have presented a world in which you would. Or you could have attempted to force them to the ground through context and only then used damage when they didn’t go to the ground. And you would have achieved the same thing without the negative reaction from your players. But rather it seems you went straight to resource penalties... though again, maybe you didn’t. That just isn’t how you presented it here.

    So while you didn’t “rocks fall everyone dies” them it does seem like you did present a world in which you would as you did seem to “rocks fall everyone take damage” them.


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  • ArcanisTheImpotentArcanisTheImpotent Registered User regular
    edited October 1
    this got lost and i wanted to highlight it:
    Nor is he above the general rules and principles prescribe in the books that we spent hundreds of dollars on each time there's a new edition goddammit.

    nah

    i disagree, the DM has house rules and is called out explicitly to be the "adjudicator" and this was touted as The Big Feature of 5e, "rulings not rules"

    what the DM is not above is telling everyone about any changes, but the DM can and should kitbash whatever they need

    also yeah a lot of games don't get beyond 10, but i have several under my belt now that have made it that long, and there's nothing wrong with long form or short form games

    i think re: the call lightning, if players think everything needs to be justified up front that's an expectations issue, not an issue with how it was presented

    i don't change abilities in mid flight, but my players have been told several times most things will not be the same as the book presents them, and will have custom elements; but it's all about trust, they know i'm not going to have them show up and ream the party because who wants that?

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  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited October 1
    I do agree with the general sentiment that foreshadowing paradigm shifts is a good idea: EG, for my Dread Emperor boss fight, the players knew what his sword could do because way back at level 7 they found the sword, and it took control of the fighter, and they had to banish it.

    They learned a few things:
    -What the weapon could do
    -Boy howdy how dangerous the weapon was
    -That once it was free from a wielder it could be banished and couldn't come back without outside help

    So when he drew it from his scabbard they knew to avoid being in an easy to hit cone

    As the most recent example of something that could have fucked the party if they had no idea what it could do in a game I'm running. That's not a D&D thing, that's just good game design.

    Similarly, I tend to put weaker versions of boss abilities on minions of said boss if they're related and not just, mercenaries or whatever. (Eg if they're going to fight a gunslinger, they're going to face dudes before the gunslinger who also have guns and can do things like leg shot to prone them)

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  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited October 1
    the player who complained about the orcs having the magical equivilent of an anti-air cannon was playing as a homebrew race and class that be bullied me into accepting in case anyone still is just assuming that I'm full of shit about this guy being "That guy"

    Although I think the fact that my players are playing in not one, but two games that I DM, the same group of people, 3 years later would be enough evidence that I'm not just some mad dm. I will admit that I should have been more clear that they should have looked into clues about what was going on before deciding to fly gryphons straight to the final encounter, but that came with experience. I was clumsy in my explanation. I didn't do everything perfect, and I probably shouldn't have tried to homebrew "The Forge of Fury" at all, I should have run it straight.

    A new DM might not run everything perfect but it is NEVER okay for an experienced player to dump all over a new DM any more than it would be for an experienced DM to shit on a new player and basically play for them

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  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus premium Registered User regular
    Goumindong, are you telling us that it's wrong/bad to adjust/improvise things in a published module if a player or players are trivializing everything?

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  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited October 1
    Just for clarification, I prefer players to reference the PHB and Xanathars and SCAG and the like

    The "hundreds of dollars in books" they bought don't mean anything to me as a DM, because those books are for me as a DM. I don't feel like the players should be looking at the SKT book if they're playing in it, and I don't feel like they should go reference Mordenkainen's when they run into a group of lost

    I won't get too mad, because I homebrew everything to at least some extent (I use a companion to grant feats to monsters, it has literally every monster type in there, because the players get minor feats every 2 levels, the monsters need "oomph" to keep up), but at some (most?) tables that's considered cheating


    If you go back a few pages and see me complaining like a baby about my Avernus game that I'm playing in (me and DM had a good talk about the mistakes he made and he apologized and last session was A++), I have literally no desire to crack open the book and figure out if my DM is using the "correct" stats for the creatures we fight. Shit I didn't even know we weren't supposed to start in Elturel and spend a bunch of time there

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  • NarbusNarbus Registered User regular
    The DMs role is to present a scenario to the players, let the players do their job and decide how to approach and resolve it, and then the DM steps back in adjucates how that works out. Override did the first part of that job just fine. The issue is that the player in question failed in their job by not figuring out their approach to the scenario, but instead by trying to present the scenario, themselves, instead of letting the DM do that.

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  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    Narbus wrote: »
    The DMs role is to present a scenario to the players, let the players do their job and decide how to approach and resolve it, and then the DM steps back in adjucates how that works out. Override did the first part of that job just fine. The issue is that the player in question failed in their job by not figuring out their approach to the scenario, but instead by trying to present the scenario, themselves, instead of letting the DM do that.

    The rest of the party, I should point out, was like "ah damn I knew it was a bad idea to approach by gryphon after the dwarves sent gryphon riders and they never came back"

    If I were to do it again today, I would have forced some knowledge checks, or had an NPC remind them, or simply had the stable refuse to rent them riding gryphons "Because the weather has been unusually stormy lately and you're novices"

    As in, I'd be more railroady

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  • GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    DarkPrimus wrote: »
    Goumindong, are you telling us that it's wrong/bad to adjust/improvise things in a published module if a player or players are trivializing everything?

    No? Did I say anything like that? What I thought I had said was that the DM needs to conform to play expectations and that includes following “the rules” about what monsters can and cannot do. That a lot of times players rebelling against a DM is not a result of toxic players but players who feel they have been aggrieved in a number of potential ways.

    It’s very easy to make a player feel like the world hasn’t been presented to them honestly. And when this happens many of them don’t have a way to express this except to say “how!?”.

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  • ArcanisTheImpotentArcanisTheImpotent Registered User regular
    this is why i dont play with randos

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  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited October 2
    I personally don't think "the high shamans can hit you with lightning in the sky if they can see you" is more of a shocking twist than the first time players run into intellect devourers and Whoops! You lost your character! or a Marilith completely breaking the rules about reactions

    Seriously how do you avoid the "how!?" reaction from players unless you simply ban new players from joining you? "how!?" is a fine reaction to come from your players, I have that reaction all the time as a player! I ask that question in character and try and find an answer

    Like, you literally can't run Curse of Strahd by these criteria, there is so much errant bullshit in Curse of Strahd that just breaks the conventions players would expect. That entire module is about throwing the players into an unknown, impossible situation. It's supposed to be like a game of cards but you don't know what any of them mean and the dealer keeps changing the rules, until you do figure it out and you run the dealer through with a blade made of sunlight

    examples:
    -Ezmerelda's wagon is full of alchemist's fire and explodes for 10d10 damage. By raw, if players stacked up 100 vials of alchemist's fire, they would do 1d4 damage, but only if they threw them at a target, alchemists fire does nothing unless it is used as an improvised weapon.
    -Van Richten's Tower is surrounded by an anti-magic field that doesn't affect the interior contraptions. The tower can make a giant illusory dragon and spray lightning over a vast area and also the dragon is real.
    -Strahd can just move through walls
    -A massive list of spells either don't work or have their functionality changed. the DM is told to deliberately mislead the players with certain Divination spells
    -Just about everything in the Amber Temple
    -For some reason killing a shambling mound causes Death House to become alive and attack the players. The house attacks them but does not have hitpoints, although it can explicitly be burned down, we don't know its stats and have to do our best with the DMG to figure it out - the players sure as shit don't know
    -Viktor is a 9th level spellcaster who has Cone of Cold despite being essentially an NPC noble who never leaves his house. The entire value of everything in his father's mansion doesn't come close to the price of scribing all of his spells.
    -The general nebulous power of the Dark Powers that just do random shit like make your players see dead bodies
    -Anyone who isn't metagaming is going to be frustrated as all get out by the hags of old bonegrinder as a level 3 to 4 party

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  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus premium Registered User regular
    edited October 2
    Goumindong wrote: »
    DarkPrimus wrote: »
    Goumindong, are you telling us that it's wrong/bad to adjust/improvise things in a published module if a player or players are trivializing everything?

    No? Did I say anything like that? What I thought I had said was that the DM needs to conform to play expectations and that includes following “the rules” about what monsters can and cannot do. That a lot of times players rebelling against a DM is not a result of toxic players but players who feel they have been aggrieved in a number of potential ways.

    It’s very easy to make a player feel like the world hasn’t been presented to them honestly. And when this happens many of them don’t have a way to express this except to say “how!?”.

    So... surprising players isn't allowed? I mean, if they're just looking at the Monster Manual while you're telling them about the monster they're facing, then you think it's poor form to describe a monster to them and then have them be able to do something other than what's printed on the page, even though the issue is actually that the players are engaging in blatant metagaming?

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  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited October 2
    DarkPrimus wrote: »
    Goumindong wrote: »
    DarkPrimus wrote: »
    Goumindong, are you telling us that it's wrong/bad to adjust/improvise things in a published module if a player or players are trivializing everything?

    No? Did I say anything like that? What I thought I had said was that the DM needs to conform to play expectations and that includes following “the rules” about what monsters can and cannot do. That a lot of times players rebelling against a DM is not a result of toxic players but players who feel they have been aggrieved in a number of potential ways.

    It’s very easy to make a player feel like the world hasn’t been presented to them honestly. And when this happens many of them don’t have a way to express this except to say “how!?”.

    So... surprising players isn't allowed? I mean, if they're just looking at the Monster Manual while you're telling them about the monster they're facing, then you think it's poor form to describe a monster to them and then have them be able to do something other than what's printed on the page, even though the issue is actually that the players are engaging in blatant metagaming?

    Like I think I get what he was saying, in my original example that I "gotcha'd" the players. You should avoid "gotchas", it's generally poor design to not foreshadow threats that the players might have esoteric counters to but not bring with because there's no indication (EG. it's better form to send your players somewhere cold to fight a white dragon so they might prepare for the cold rather than just have a white dragon attack them on the sunny beach)

    I did gotcha my players there a bit, and I was clumsy about it, but I think it's actually okay? As long as it was possible for them to avoid it (it was), and you're not "rocks falling" them. In that case, one player's idea was to deliberately skip the entire dungeon, and the get very very mad when I had already prepared a contingency to prevent that (because, the enemies are aware flight exists)

    To be clear: I do now and always do allow my players to do the same kind of thing. If they have downtime, they can make up spells, items, etc to do the thing they want to do. That's where all the spells and magic items came from after all!

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  • GnizmoGnizmo Registered User regular
    Personally, I vastly prefer when I am caught off guard by bullshit that in hindsight was very much telegraphed. I have played D&D for decades, and I hate being DM so mostly as a player. I can't avoid having knowledge of certain monsters bullshit mechanics. I have recently started playing with a fresh group that inevitably follows my lead. Am I suddenly expected to intentionally sandbag to keep the fight interesting? Sorry no. That is tedious.

    Fuck with the stats even a tough though and my mind starts racing. Trying to pull together where this might be coming from, and lead to. Everyone is on relatively even footing, and as long as the DM knows to pull punches if the tweaking went too far. The end of the day it is all for people having fun. Strict adherence to the rules in the face of fun just makes no sense to me. Last I checked there isn't a limited cash reward for best played D&D. If there were then it would only matter in the limited arena of that contest. Adventure League is the closest that exists, and their official ruling in such scenarios is "The DM is right so stop whining."

    The rule of cool is what it is all about. I don't recount fondly the tales of the game where I used polymorph self to become extremely effective melee and at spell casting as needed. I do tell the story about how one DM sent the guards to summon us to something, quickly paused to roll their stats after remembering who was playing, and then ran fleeing into the night as the elf town started to burn down to ash because the situation escalated rather quickly. Or the time we were sent to deal with some swamp creature only to find ourselves in a bit of a situation once the fire and methane mixed in potentially predictable ways. The swamp creature did die, we think. Or the endless death traps that are impossibly always activated by me poking at something shiny that gets even shinier as the group gets stuck in an endless planning loop.

    My groups do their best to baby sit me around the shiny objects. Inevitably someone lets their guard down though. That is when I go grab the amazing artifact of only good things. When did that alarm start sounding?

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  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited October 2
    My biggest growth in learning from early DMing sessions is that players get laser focused on things and I have to practically hit them over the head for warning signs to sink in

    like when my level 9 skt party decided to fight an elder evil (before immediately fleeing) despite cloud giants, wizards, and literal warning signs telling them to not fight the tornado made of worms on the moon (okay yes even typing this sentence, were our roles reversed, I absolutely would also want to fight the tornado made of worms on the moon)

    next time I'll have like.... one of the gods show up and say "look, I'm warning you, the dick-shredding machine will 100% shred your dick. Do not put your dick in the machine"

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  • webguy20webguy20 I spend too much time on the Internet Registered User regular
    edited October 2
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Personally, I vastly prefer when I am caught off guard by bullshit that in hindsight was very much telegraphed. I have played D&D for decades, and I hate being DM so mostly as a player. I can't avoid having knowledge of certain monsters bullshit mechanics. I have recently started playing with a fresh group that inevitably follows my lead. Am I suddenly expected to intentionally sandbag to keep the fight interesting? Sorry no. That is tedious.

    Fuck with the stats even a tough though and my mind starts racing. Trying to pull together where this might be coming from, and lead to. Everyone is on relatively even footing, and as long as the DM knows to pull punches if the tweaking went too far. The end of the day it is all for people having fun. Strict adherence to the rules in the face of fun just makes no sense to me. Last I checked there isn't a limited cash reward for best played D&D. If there were then it would only matter in the limited arena of that contest. Adventure League is the closest that exists, and their official ruling in such scenarios is "The DM is right so stop whining."

    The rule of cool is what it is all about. I don't recount fondly the tales of the game where I used polymorph self to become extremely effective melee and at spell casting as needed. I do tell the story about how one DM sent the guards to summon us to something, quickly paused to roll their stats after remembering who was playing, and then ran fleeing into the night as the elf town started to burn down to ash because the situation escalated rather quickly. Or the time we were sent to deal with some swamp creature only to find ourselves in a bit of a situation once the fire and methane mixed in potentially predictable ways. The swamp creature did die, we think. Or the endless death traps that are impossibly always activated by me poking at something shiny that gets even shinier as the group gets stuck in an endless planning loop.

    My groups do their best to baby sit me around the shiny objects. Inevitably someone lets their guard down though. That is when I go grab the amazing artifact of only good things. When did that alarm start sounding?


    To the two bold things, just my opinion as a DM and player

    I would expect any super experienced player to sandbag a bit when fighting creatures they know about with meta knowledge. I do expect my players to think about what they know, versus what their character knows, and make decisions accordingly. I do respect though that If I'm running a game with experienced players that I'm going to change things up to make it interesting, but if its one or two vets with a bunch of newbies, I'd be annoyed as a DM if my vets just started going meta and not letting the new players experience fighting a displacer beast for the first time as an example.

    In the second bolded, I would get real tired as a player if I always had to keep track of one particular player to make sure they didn't derail plans constantly. I would wonder if they were only in it for their fun or everyone's. If thats a single character in a list of characters and campaigns, sure that can be a ton of fun! Every campaign though? No thanks.

    Now I can only go by what you posted, so I could be completely off base, but my two cents.

    EDIT:
    My biggest growth in learning from early DMing sessions is that players get laser focused on things and I have to practically hit them over the head for warning signs to sink in

    like when my level 9 skt party decided to fight an elder evil (before immediately fleeing) despite cloud giants, wizards, and literal warning signs telling them to not fight the tornado made of worms on the moon (okay yes even typing this sentence, were our roles reversed, I absolutely would also want to fight the tornado made of worms on the moon)

    next time I'll have like.... one of the gods show up and say "look, I'm warning you, the dick-shredding machine will 100% shred your dick. Do not put your dick in the machine"

    Narrators voice: They did

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  • Moridin889Moridin889 Registered User regular
    next time I'll have like.... one of the gods show up and say "look, I'm warning you, the dick-shredding machine will 100% shred your dick. Do not put your dick in the machine"

    That just guarantees someone putting their dick in it. I'm not sure how you'd make it more enticing.

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  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    webguy20 wrote: »
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Personally, I vastly prefer when I am caught off guard by bullshit that in hindsight was very much telegraphed. I have played D&D for decades, and I hate being DM so mostly as a player. I can't avoid having knowledge of certain monsters bullshit mechanics. I have recently started playing with a fresh group that inevitably follows my lead. Am I suddenly expected to intentionally sandbag to keep the fight interesting? Sorry no. That is tedious.

    Fuck with the stats even a tough though and my mind starts racing. Trying to pull together where this might be coming from, and lead to. Everyone is on relatively even footing, and as long as the DM knows to pull punches if the tweaking went too far. The end of the day it is all for people having fun. Strict adherence to the rules in the face of fun just makes no sense to me. Last I checked there isn't a limited cash reward for best played D&D. If there were then it would only matter in the limited arena of that contest. Adventure League is the closest that exists, and their official ruling in such scenarios is "The DM is right so stop whining."

    The rule of cool is what it is all about. I don't recount fondly the tales of the game where I used polymorph self to become extremely effective melee and at spell casting as needed. I do tell the story about how one DM sent the guards to summon us to something, quickly paused to roll their stats after remembering who was playing, and then ran fleeing into the night as the elf town started to burn down to ash because the situation escalated rather quickly. Or the time we were sent to deal with some swamp creature only to find ourselves in a bit of a situation once the fire and methane mixed in potentially predictable ways. The swamp creature did die, we think. Or the endless death traps that are impossibly always activated by me poking at something shiny that gets even shinier as the group gets stuck in an endless planning loop.

    My groups do their best to baby sit me around the shiny objects. Inevitably someone lets their guard down though. That is when I go grab the amazing artifact of only good things. When did that alarm start sounding?


    To the two bold things, just my opinion as a DM and player

    I would expect any super experienced player to sandbag a bit when fighting creatures they know about with meta knowledge. I do expect my players to think about what they know, versus what their character knows, and make decisions accordingly. I do respect though that If I'm running a game with experienced players that I'm going to change things up to make it interesting, but if its one or two vets with a bunch of newbies, I'd be annoyed as a DM if my vets just started going meta and not letting the new players experience fighting a displacer beast for the first time as an example.

    In the second bolded, I would get real tired as a player if I always had to keep track of one particular player to make sure they didn't derail plans constantly. I would wonder if they were only in it for their fun or everyone's. If thats a single character in a list of characters and campaigns, sure that can be a ton of fun! Every campaign though? No thanks.

    Now I can only go by what you posted, so I could be completely off base, but my two cents.

    EDIT:
    My biggest growth in learning from early DMing sessions is that players get laser focused on things and I have to practically hit them over the head for warning signs to sink in

    like when my level 9 skt party decided to fight an elder evil (before immediately fleeing) despite cloud giants, wizards, and literal warning signs telling them to not fight the tornado made of worms on the moon (okay yes even typing this sentence, were our roles reversed, I absolutely would also want to fight the tornado made of worms on the moon)

    next time I'll have like.... one of the gods show up and say "look, I'm warning you, the dick-shredding machine will 100% shred your dick. Do not put your dick in the machine"

    Narrators voice: They did

    I texted this to the artificer and he replied "we have a ring of regeneration though"

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  • SmrtnikSmrtnik job boli zub Registered User regular
    I like to adjust my meta knowledge when playing based on the character.

    My scholarly wizard in Waterdeep knows about all these resistances, and that the moon gibbons of Evereska are very agile so don't bother with a fireball, but it's also deathly afraid of intellect devourers and related creatures (he should be, I gave him CON 8 with point buy!) and panicked and ran away from them each time they showed up, then hiding (with crap stealth).

    My barbarian fisherman from Saltmarsh knows two things: how to catch a lot of fish and how yo carve you up with an 2h axe. And if you are not a fish, it's axe time. Since gained the "reckless attack" ability he has yet do do any attack that is not reckless. The DM knows he always has the melee advantage vs the barn but the barb has melee advantage on all swings too.

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  • SteelhawkSteelhawk Registered User regular
    A player having meta knowledge due to their experience with the game over time, and at least attempting to react to how their character would in a given situation, is very different then finding out that today's encounter is a ghost and immediately opening up DndBeyond's MM page on Ghost to follow along and try to catch a slip the DM makes.

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  • GlalGlal Registered User regular
    My biggest growth in learning from early DMing sessions is that players get laser focused on things and I have to practically hit them over the head for warning signs to sink in

    like when my level 9 skt party decided to fight an elder evil (before immediately fleeing) despite cloud giants, wizards, and literal warning signs telling them to not fight the tornado made of worms on the moon (okay yes even typing this sentence, were our roles reversed, I absolutely would also want to fight the tornado made of worms on the moon)

    next time I'll have like.... one of the gods show up and say "look, I'm warning you, the dick-shredding machine will 100% shred your dick. Do not put your dick in the machine"
    As a player, when the dramatic flow of the campaign is encounters repeatedly presented as "oh shit son, you're effed now!" it's very hard to recognise when one is suddenly "no, this time I mean it". Unless it's literally presented as outside of the character's physical means, but even then we've all had fights like that in past games and won those, too.

  • ironzergironzerg Registered User regular
    As a DM, it's sometimes easy to fall into the trap of thinking you've laid things out very clearly for the PCs. If your PCs have gone so far off-track, or are seriously considering jumping into a challenge you know is 99.9% sure to annihilate them, stop dropping hints and start being more direct.

    Level 9 party wants to fight an elder evil? "Oh, you guys? Geez...I remember a party of adventurers with TWICE your experience who went into battle with that thing, and they were never heard from again. By all accounts, the party was wiped out. TOTAL. PARTY. KILL. One can only hope the gods were kind enough to let them REROLL their souls into a new life."

    And if one of your players OOC asks, it's ok to be like, "Yeah, that elder evil boss would grab your anus with both hands, flip you inside out, and use you as a pretty pink handbag."



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  • evilthecatevilthecat Registered User regular
    edited October 2
    put differently:
    the dm lines up dominos, the players knock them over. players will expect dominos to behave.. domino-ey. making a domino behave in an acceptable un-domino manner is a fluid thing:

    that domino is red!
    that domino did a flip when it got tagged!
    that domino didn't fall over normally, it split in two and knocked 2 others over instead!
    oh shit that domino exploded!
    hey that domino just grew a pair of legs, launched itself into greg's pants and now greg is lying in a fetal position, cupping his groin and screaming!

    I think a lot the time, dm narration could always be a bit better, but as the post up above said, there's always the non-zero chance of dicks being ground.

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  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited October 2
    Steelhawk wrote: »
    A player having meta knowledge due to their experience with the game over time, and at least attempting to react to how their character would in a given situation, is very different then finding out that today's encounter is a ghost and immediately opening up DndBeyond's MM page on Ghost to follow along and try to catch a slip the DM makes.

    yes this, this is one of the worst things you can do to someone who isn't an experienced DM because they will make mistakes and you will erode their confidence

    even professional, decades long DMs like matt mercer frequently make mechanical mistakes, and the players sometimes realize that and politely point it out, but there's two ways to do that:
    "This monster can't do that! No instead it does this. Look I got its statblock here"
    or
    "DM what do I know about these monsters? is it normal for ghosts to be able to drag people into the ethereal plane with them?"

    The second one leaves room for both the DM making a mistake and gives them a chance to spot it without you calling them out, or allows an ingame check to determine if no, really, this kind of ghost can just do that and is much much better

    Shit even if the DM DID make a mistake it gives them a chance to on the fly do some actual DMing and weave a reason why this ghost just dragged you into another plane that isn't "the DM misread a statblock".

    Look I had a rant about a DM that annoyed me in this very thread, but I didn't drag the game down over it. I withdrew a bit and just did the most rote "i attack" every round because i felt like I was being railroaded, but I called the DM out AFTER GAME in private. Bullying a DM at the table is not a cool thing to do

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  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited October 2
    ironzerg wrote: »
    As a DM, it's sometimes easy to fall into the trap of thinking you've laid things out very clearly for the PCs. If your PCs have gone so far off-track, or are seriously considering jumping into a challenge you know is 99.9% sure to annihilate them, stop dropping hints and start being more direct.

    Level 9 party wants to fight an elder evil? "Oh, you guys? Geez...I remember a party of adventurers with TWICE your experience who went into battle with that thing, and they were never heard from again. By all accounts, the party was wiped out. TOTAL. PARTY. KILL. One can only hope the gods were kind enough to let them REROLL their souls into a new life."

    And if one of your players OOC asks, it's ok to be like, "Yeah, that elder evil boss would grab your anus with both hands, flip you inside out, and use you as a pretty pink handbag."

    If they TPK to something idiotic they'll all wake up a few years later back in town after friendly wizards eventually go looking for them, find their bones, and seize their wealth, and their friends/spouses accrue enough money to resurrect them all

    Also: the fire giants will have destroyed one of the dwarven cities entirely

    They know I'm serious about this place now though lol, they had to burn a one time use extremely powerful magical item to not die

    I think there's a greater than 10% chance they won't attack the
    adamantine planetar tomorrow

    override367 on
  • webguy20webguy20 I spend too much time on the Internet Registered User regular
    Also as a DM, especially at low levels, try my best to fill in player/character knowledge. Like if at level 1 they are going against kobolds? Everyone knows about fucking kobolds, the dragon worshiping trap setting little tunnel monsters, and warn the players specifically about them, either as an NPC talking to them (Best) or even just telling them "This is what your character knows about kobolds (Ok). Now though, depending on how much work the players do in pre-gaming the mission they might or might not find out that the kobolds are in the service of a dragon wyrmling who has been making trouble in the swamp. That might be a fun little surprise right there.

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  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    I always make sure to tell people what their characters know about monsters, I've been marathoning ed greenwood and ra salvatore novels so in forgotten realms I have a pretty good idea what most people know about monsters - which is a lot more than I would have expected, basically everyone knows about beholders and mind flayers, just not the specifics of how they work, they know that beholders shoot lasers and mind flayers eat brains. EVERYONE on the sword coast knows about trolls and fire, because they'd all be dead otherwise, everyone knows about kobolds and orcs and zombies

    what was hilarious to me was in the dragon heist adjacent book, Mirt figured out the xanathar was a beholder in 5 seconds by paying a few prostitutes to give him the lowdown on what was going on in skullport

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  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    edited October 2
    5E's Monster Manual largely worked on the pre-4E logic that monsters largely shouldn't be able to do things player's can't. As time has gone on the 5E designers have realized that gives them very little to work with and can result in boring encounters, so they've been increasingly including 4E style monster abilities that the PCs cannot replicate.

    There are many, many, many ways to justify this:
    • Monsters have their own "classes" seperate from what PCs get. As of Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes ogres have access to the "howdah", "chain brute", and "battering ram" classes.
    • PCs are largely itinerant while villains often stay in their own domains. Perhaps these domains have magical phenomena that allow abilities beyond what is normally possible, but only so long as the would-be user is in range. Maybe these phenomena could even require attunement like magic items.
    • A deity or other supernatural patron has given them a unique ability.
    • Spells exist beyond what the various classes have on their spell-lists and are unable to identify. Perhaps translating such a spell into a form usable by PCs could be possible.

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  • The Zombie PenguinThe Zombie Penguin Eternal Hungry Corpse Registered User regular
    I mean, i just tend to justify my crazy beasts by what's cool

    I dont think any of my players were EXPECTING when the Mollusc/Cat Chimeras jumped airborne, rolled into a ball, and came flying at them, but they loved it. The fact they could grapple and throw things with their tentacle tails wasnt spelled out, but it didnt prompt any "that's bullshit" stuff. (Honestly, i think the only real mistake i did was give them waaaay too much hp, but oh well, it made for a fun all in brawl)

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  • The Zombie PenguinThe Zombie Penguin Eternal Hungry Corpse Registered User regular
    So, different mechanic question for you all. 5e uses a pretty crazy amount of different saves.

    What happens if you compress things down into 4e style Reflex, Fortiude, Will, players get proficney in two as it makes sense, and get to assign a stat each? It obviously makes player saving throws WAY better, but i'm not sure that's a bad thing given one of the complaints i've heard about high level 5e is that saving throws start getting pretty brutal in general.

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  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited October 2
    A significant percentage (majority?) of the monsters in the monster manual can do things the players cant

    the areas where they're largely shackled to player limitations are things like statistics, bounded accuracy, proficiency bonus, ability checks, and saving throws

    like it goes against 5e design philosophy to have a monster just have an arbitrarily high athletics score because the DM wants them to be good at athletics - you would, under standard design philosophy, have to give it a trait to explain why it has such a high athletics score

    so I disagree, it's not that the design philosophy is that they do things the players can, it's that that is the default assumption, and anything that breaks from that ought be explained in the traits. A monster doesn't just treat every sword as a flaming sword unless there is a trait explaining that

    but like, if you're designing a monster, that's all for your own benefit, like commenting code. Nothing says you have to spend an extra 20 minutes making a monster to make sure everything is nice and tidy like an official stat block. I do it, but most of my friends who DM don't

    I don't even bother coming up with a CR for creatures I homebrew usually (unless I might publish it), it doesn't matter, I know what I'm using it for

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  • GnizmoGnizmo Registered User regular
    webguy20 wrote: »
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Personally, I vastly prefer when I am caught off guard by bullshit that in hindsight was very much telegraphed. I have played D&D for decades, and I hate being DM so mostly as a player. I can't avoid having knowledge of certain monsters bullshit mechanics. I have recently started playing with a fresh group that inevitably follows my lead. Am I suddenly expected to intentionally sandbag to keep the fight interesting? Sorry no. That is tedious.

    Fuck with the stats even a tough though and my mind starts racing. Trying to pull together where this might be coming from, and lead to. Everyone is on relatively even footing, and as long as the DM knows to pull punches if the tweaking went too far. The end of the day it is all for people having fun. Strict adherence to the rules in the face of fun just makes no sense to me. Last I checked there isn't a limited cash reward for best played D&D. If there were then it would only matter in the limited arena of that contest. Adventure League is the closest that exists, and their official ruling in such scenarios is "The DM is right so stop whining."

    The rule of cool is what it is all about. I don't recount fondly the tales of the game where I used polymorph self to become extremely effective melee and at spell casting as needed. I do tell the story about how one DM sent the guards to summon us to something, quickly paused to roll their stats after remembering who was playing, and then ran fleeing into the night as the elf town started to burn down to ash because the situation escalated rather quickly. Or the time we were sent to deal with some swamp creature only to find ourselves in a bit of a situation once the fire and methane mixed in potentially predictable ways. The swamp creature did die, we think. Or the endless death traps that are impossibly always activated by me poking at something shiny that gets even shinier as the group gets stuck in an endless planning loop.

    My groups do their best to baby sit me around the shiny objects. Inevitably someone lets their guard down though. That is when I go grab the amazing artifact of only good things. When did that alarm start sounding?


    To the two bold things, just my opinion as a DM and player

    I would expect any super experienced player to sandbag a bit when fighting creatures they know about with meta knowledge. I do expect my players to think about what they know, versus what their character knows, and make decisions accordingly. I do respect though that If I'm running a game with experienced players that I'm going to change things up to make it interesting, but if its one or two vets with a bunch of newbies, I'd be annoyed as a DM if my vets just started going meta and not letting the new players experience fighting a displacer beast for the first time as an example.

    In the second bolded, I would get real tired as a player if I always had to keep track of one particular player to make sure they didn't derail plans constantly. I would wonder if they were only in it for their fun or everyone's. If thats a single character in a list of characters and campaigns, sure that can be a ton of fun! Every campaign though? No thanks.

    Now I can only go by what you posted, so I could be completely off base, but my two cents.

    EDIT:
    My biggest growth in learning from early DMing sessions is that players get laser focused on things and I have to practically hit them over the head for warning signs to sink in

    like when my level 9 skt party decided to fight an elder evil (before immediately fleeing) despite cloud giants, wizards, and literal warning signs telling them to not fight the tornado made of worms on the moon (okay yes even typing this sentence, were our roles reversed, I absolutely would also want to fight the tornado made of worms on the moon)

    next time I'll have like.... one of the gods show up and say "look, I'm warning you, the dick-shredding machine will 100% shred your dick. Do not put your dick in the machine"

    Narrators voice: They did

    Which is fine, don't get me wrong. But I go back to the idea that it's there to be fun for everyone. A major part of that philosophy, which I admittedly didn't spell out entirely, is everyone getting on the same page before even agreeing to start the campaign. I am entirely upfront about how I view the game, and how I play. Doesn't work for you? No worries. I will find a different game then. Does that occasionally mean a game doesn't run because it would be slightly too small without me? Yeah, a couple times. Does it mean I don't hang out with friends when they go have fun in a game? Yeah a few times there too. This is better than the other options of someone being miserable while playing a game.

    The second part is slightly exaggerated based on how my most recent DM has been using me. It goes back to what was being discussed earlier where players get caught in a 3 hour planning session. After a certain point it is shit or get off the pot. That's when my character starts doing stuff and we can see what happens next.

    And I also am just that asshole who always pushes the button to see what happens. It is just who I am.

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