When discussing player entitlement why do players get the short end of the stick?


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Why is it that a player saying "X is in the official rules, so I can play X" is considered "player entitlement", but the statement "You can't do/play Y because of Z" from the DM is not seen as "player entitlement"? In both cases it is one person at the table trying to dictate how the game will be played to all the other people at the table, so why does almost everyone on these boards perfectly fine with that happening if the person is a DM, but completely against it when it is anyone else?


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Because it is the GM that is taking the time to create the world and define the rules of his world.

Would you really want to play a Gunslinger in a world where gunpowder doesn't work?


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BECAUSE THE GM IS THE LAW!

Joking aside, I'm serious. The GM is the one running the game. He is the one that ultimately sets the ground rules. If he doesn't want anything non-european, there won't be anything non-european.


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Vod Canockers wrote:

Because it is the GM that is taking the time to create the world and define the rules of his world.

Would you really want to play a Gunslinger in a world where gunpowder doesn't work?

Sure. Just replace 'gunpowder' with some equally violent substance that is reasonably stable except when triggered.

Or possibly compressed air.


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Vod Canockers wrote:

Because it is the GM that is taking the time to create the world and define the rules of his world.

Would you really want to play a Gunslinger in a world where gunpowder doesn't work?

And it's the players who take time out of their schedule every week (or month or whatever) to play the game. Yes, everyone is putting effort in. Your point? It's a game of collective storytelling.

Also, as someone who is currently playing a Gunslinger in Golarion, I actually revel in being unique.

From a DM's standpoint, you're right it's up to the DM to set boundaries on what is available or not...but be up front.

I think it's fair to assume, unless the DM has explicitly stated otherwise upfront--i.e. before the campaign begins--that all standard options are available and all rules function as RAW.


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Because my world has 20 years of history, through 7 different RPGs. If what you want to play cannot exist by the natural laws of my world, there is no way I'm going to let you play it. If you want to play whatever your idea is, we need to find another GM. AND THAT'S O.K., we can still play together, you can still play your idea, you just can't play it in my world.


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Because the GM is doing all the work. The player just has to show up and enjoy it.

If I bake a cherry pie(adventure) and invite you to have a piece. All you have to do is show up with a spoon(character) to enjoy it.

It is DAMN RUDE to show up and complain that the pie isn't apple, or that you brought a fork and are having a hard time eating said FREE pie.


meatrace wrote:


And it's the players who take time out of their schedule every week (or month or whatever) to play the game. Yes, everyone is putting effort in. Your point? It's a game of collective storytelling.

All members of the group devote time at the table and reliable players are valuable, but the DM has additional duties and responsability. Someone has to have the final say, and it falls to the referee of the game. Now this doesn't mean there aren't unreasonable jack-ass GMs, or players for that matter. If you are lucky enough to have a group where the GM and players trust/respect one another, none of this is an issue.


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I have been a GM forever. I was running my first campaign within a week of picking up my first d20. I love being a GM. I have probably put more time and effort into creating, updating, fixing, populating, mapping, creating terrain for, creating miniatures for, hauling stuff for and buying equipment for my campaigns than many people have put into their educational background. I've probably invested upwards of $3,000 or so over the years specifically into equipment and materials for running campaigns. And that may be a highly conservative estimate. My wife would probably say it's double that.

And yet when I see this constant refrain that the "GM rules because the GM creates the world and the players have to accept his dictates" it makes me squirm in embarrassment.

Listen fellow GMs, if you don't GM because you love the challenge, love the creative process, love the collaborative process and just flat out enjoy being able to guide a cooperative activity that gives all players (including you) a chance to exercise their imagination and escape their worldly cares for a few hours....

Well, if you're doing it for any other reason, you probably shouldn't be doing it.

And if you are doing it for those reasons, then "RESPECT mah AUTHORITAY!!!" should embarrass you too.


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iLaifire wrote:
Why is it that a player saying "X is in the official rules, so I can play X" is considered "player entitlement", but the statement "You can't do/play Y because of Z" from the DM is not seen as "player entitlement"? In both cases it is one person at the table trying to dictate how the game will be played to all the other people at the table, so why does almost everyone on these boards perfectly fine with that happening if the person is a DM, but completely against it when it is anyone else?

I think it becomes entitlement when that player tries to thump the rule book(s) and say that they can play whatever they want to the GM even when the GM has expressly stated that said race/class/combo is not available in their world or that particular book is not allowed in their game.

The GM has the final call on what is and is not allowed in their campaign. If a player doesn't like a certain GM and what they do or do not allow in their world, then said player can become a GM and run the world the way they see fit. The problem with your statement is that everyone knows that the GM is the world builder, the final arbiter of the rules, and the one who spends the most time preparing for the adventures ahead.

So yes, when it comes down to it, it's the GM who gets the last say, but open communication is key because if player X just wants to super dip into classes a, b, d, f and z just to get some crazy abilities along with picking a monstrous race just because it is an option in the rulebooks, that's where this false entitlement comes in. For GM's a lot of times it's about balance and making the story work.

Dark Archive

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Adamantine Dragon wrote:

I have been a GM forever. I was running my first campaign within a week of picking up my first d20. I love being a GM. I have probably put more time and effort into creating, updating, fixing, populating, mapping, creating terrain for, creating miniatures for, hauling stuff for and buying equipment for my campaigns than many people have put into their educational background. I've probably invested upwards of $3,000 or so over the years specifically into equipment and materials for running campaigns. And that may be a highly conservative estimate. My wife would probably say it's double that.

And yet when I see this constant refrain that the "GM rules because the GM creates the world and the players have to accept his dictates" it makes me squirm in embarrassment.

Listen fellow GMs, if you don't GM because you love the challenge, love the creative process, love the collaborative process and just flat out enjoy being able to guide a cooperative activity that gives all players (including you) a chance to exercise their imagination and escape their worldly cares for a few hours....

Well, if you're doing it for any other reason, you probably shouldn't be doing it.

And if you are doing it for those reasons, then "RESPECT mah AUTHORITAY!!!" should embarrass you too.

I don't always agree with you, AD, but I like you a lot right now.


As a GM I want the players to have a character concept but for the ultimate 'destination' of it to be in part negotiable due to interactions within game play. For example I do not like players buying magic items, for me it cheapens what should retain an air of mystery even within an RPG. I would much rather the players planned and discussed their characters together to address party weaknesses WITHOUT having the option to buy magic.

I don't feel my players have a sense of entitlement as such, as we have 3 other DM's who allow the purchase of items, but within my game that is the accepted 'norm' and we are okay with that.

I would also point out that being a DM is a massive undertaking even with a purchased adventure (reading, game admin, etc). There is far more work involved than being a player, therefore I think the DM earns the right to define the parameters of his game to a large degree - the DM is the one doing the giving here.


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strayshift wrote:


I would also point out that being a DM is a massive undertaking even with a purchased adventure (reading, game admin, etc). There is far more work involved than being a player, therefore I think the DM earns the right to define the parameters of his game to a large degree - the DM is the one doing the giving here.

If you expect compensation, even if that compensation is merely a deference to your authority, then what you are doing is not strictly defined as "giving."


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The compensation is the gaming experience, the friendships, laughter and ancedotes. Power and authority do not come into it.


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I can't understand that Player Vs DM obsession.
Good DM are not tyrants that only allow to play some narrow types of characters; all restrictions will have a more important reason that "because I say so".
Good players are not capricious people that play strange things only to destroy the game world.
Sometimes I think the DM should play more often and the players should DM more often. Knowing both sides of the table is important. That, and the ever vital communication around the table.


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Guys something happened in my game
but I am going to be very general about it
and then tell you that it happens in your games too

so why do almost all of you let this happen in your games?

Specific experiences are specific.


Alaryth wrote:

I can't understand that Player Vs DM obsession.

Good DM are not tyrants that only allow to play some narrow types of characters; all restrictions will have a more important reason that "because I say so".
Good players are not capricious people that play strange things only to destroy the game world.
Sometimes I think the DM should play more often and the players should DM more often. Knowing both sides of the table is important. That, and the ever vital communication around the table.

Exactly! Players can learn more about the other side of the equation if they GM the same as GM's can learn more if they play. They can then see both points of view and understand each others' perspective. The best thing is the communication as well. Just asking "why" can net you a lot of information, it shows where that other person is coming from and allows for a good discussion. Gaming should be cooperative and not adversarial, everyone at the table should be having fun.


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strayshift wrote:
The compensation is the gaming experience, the friendships, laughter and ancedotes. Power and authority do not come into it.

Then why did you even bring up the "The GM does so much more" argument if it doesn't apply?

Two things here:

1. In our gaming group we have two regular GMs and one part time GM out of six - eight people, depending on time of year, military obligations and family duties. The two GMs (me and another fellow who is a lot like me) work together as sort of co-GMs in most of our campaigns. We share miniatures, share maps, terrain, talk shop between sessions, create backup PCs and NPCs for inclusion in future games, etc. We do it all the time so that when it's time to run a campaign it's really not so much creating something from scratch as it is assembling something greater than the sum of the existing parts. Our part-time GM is beginning to do the same thing, although he's not much interested in miniatures outside of those for his own characters or terrain. He is, however, a great source of plot device suggestions, narrative background and really cool monster ideas. This collaboration not only means we get more done for each campaign with less individual effort, but it is actually more fun to work on material this way.

2. I understand that the remaining players in our group are not interested in being GMs or in partnering in the creation of material. They just want to play. But you know what that gives me and my fellow GM that we desperately crave and appreciate more than we can express? An audience that appreciates our efforts. Man, that's the real secret to the whole thing. Without our players we'd be a sad couple of wanna be campaign creators with a bunch of dusty miniatures and terrain clogging up our closets.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:

I have been a GM forever. I was running my first campaign within a week of picking up my first d20. I love being a GM. I have probably put more time and effort into creating, updating, fixing, populating, mapping, creating terrain for, creating miniatures for, hauling stuff for and buying equipment for my campaigns than many people have put into their educational background. I've probably invested upwards of $3,000 or so over the years specifically into equipment and materials for running campaigns. And that may be a highly conservative estimate. My wife would probably say it's double that.

And yet when I see this constant refrain that the "GM rules because the GM creates the world and the players have to accept his dictates" it makes me squirm in embarrassment.

Listen fellow GMs, if you don't GM because you love the challenge, love the creative process, love the collaborative process and just flat out enjoy being able to guide a cooperative activity that gives all players (including you) a chance to exercise their imagination and escape their worldly cares for a few hours....

Well, if you're doing it for any other reason, you probably shouldn't be doing it.

And if you are doing it for those reasons, then "RESPECT mah AUTHORITAY!!!" should embarrass you too.

How does this post match with your post in the other thread about the campaign world with no dwarves? Was that an example of GM entitlement?

Because, to me, that sounds like a perfect example of the ""You can't do/play Y because of Z" from the DM" in the OP.


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It comes down to power ultimately. While the players as a group have relatively equal power to the GM as to whether said game actually occurs on a one to one basis the GM has more power than any single player. If the GM decides not to run the game, the game doesn't happen. If a single player decides not to play, another can be found or they can just make do with one less player. This combined with the fact that the GM does far more work (whether it is enjoyable or not is irrelevant) than any player leads to the GM having the most leverage regarding making ultimatums.

That being said leveraging that power and issuing ultimatums is not generally a great way to go about being a GM. If you have to rely on ultimatums all the time you are going to find yourself labeled a bad GM generally. The GM does have every right to limit what races, classes or other rules that are a part of their game, but in the end it is about a group of people getting together to have fun playing a cooperative game. The GM and the players should both try to make concessions regarding this.

If a player wants to play a gunslinger but there are no guns maybe the class can be re-skinned to use crossbows or maybe the GM can take some time to try to work firearms into the game. Maybe the player should take a step back and analyze why there is only this one class, that happens to be banned, that they want to play or the GM should think about why they only ban this one class.

In the end it is about everyone on both sides of the screen having a good time, and if everyone takes into consideration how each other have fun and enjoy the game then it usually is a simple matter to resolve these kinds of issues. Being selfish and only focusing on your own enjoyment almost always leads to others losing out on their enjoyment, so take a step back and ask yourself "Am I being a selfish t*$!?" If so then try to put yourself in the other persons shoes for a second and realize how being a selfish t+** is affecting them. This is not something that our society encourages or generally approves of (speaking of the US), but it actually is the best way to handle things of this nature.

Sczarni

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The GM is the PS1 Disc you put into your drive. If you don't like the Disc, play a different game... or learn hexadecimal coding and change it yourself.


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Adamantine Dragon wrote:
strayshift wrote:


I would also point out that being a DM is a massive undertaking even with a purchased adventure (reading, game admin, etc). There is far more work involved than being a player, therefore I think the DM earns the right to define the parameters of his game to a large degree - the DM is the one doing the giving here.
If you expect compensation, even if that compensation is merely a deference to your authority, then what you are doing is not strictly defined as "giving."

Um yes it is.

You mean it isn't gifting.

And maybe it's just me, But I'm not doing all of this work as a gift to my players. And I seriously doubt that the majority of DM's are as altruistic as you are trying to claim.

I do expect certain things in return for my services as a DM. Particularly attendance, appreciation and respect for the time and effort I am putting into crafting the campaign, not playing something that is going to make unwelcome extra work for me, or insisting on playing a class or race that is going to break the verisimilitude of the campaign world. I don't think that's is too much to ask.


BiggDawg wrote:
The GM does have every right to limit what races, classes or other rules that are a part of their game,

Not really applicable. The OP has specifically stated that the GM who does this is flaunting "Entitlement".

Edit: I don't think this is entitlement, I'm saying the OP has specifically said that this is the entitlement they are talking about.


thejeff wrote:

How does this post match with your post in the other thread about the campaign world with no dwarves? Was that an example of GM entitlement?

Because, to me, that sounds like a perfect example of the ""You can't do/play Y because of Z" from the DM" in the OP.

Honestly, I was a young kid when I ran that campaign, and I was pretty full of myself and had a bit of that "ResPECT mah authoriTAY" going on myself.

I would handle it differently today. In fact I have handled it differently today. Today when I am starting a campaign I spend a lot of time with the player group gaining consensus on what sort of campaign they want to run. I wouldn't make such a sweeping and player-impacting decision like that today.

But even so, I don't have a problem with GMs who have some limitations to their worlds for flavor reasons. And with party consensus I've run other campaigns with similar restrictions, but I haven't imposed them since, what, 1978?


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Cinderfist wrote:

Because the GM is doing all the work. The player just has to show up and enjoy it.

If I bake a cherry pie(adventure) and invite you to have a piece. All you have to do is show up with a spoon(character) to enjoy it.

It is DAMN RUDE to show up and complain that the pie isn't apple, or that you brought a fork and are having a hard time eating said FREE pie.

Is my group the only one where the players work with the gm to build the world? In my group players drive a fair amount of the world building, creating organizations, npcs for your backastories (or as contacts) onces I even drafted an entire body of laws for our kingmaker nation (which had been previously debated in character).

I mean i know that the tradition of pathfinder storytelling is very dm centric, but I also know that collective storytelling has gained alot of ground in rpgs in general, and even in dnd/pathfinder. So I am wondering, is it really still the case that the DM does 'all the work'? I dont intend to diminish the work the dm puts in, but I feel like its an antiquated view. In this age of adventure path players guides, and google docs, and email, are there really still a majority of players that just showup and play without doing anything away from the table?


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
If you expect compensation, even if that compensation is merely a deference to your authority, then what you are doing is not strictly defined as "giving."

This may be off-topic, but I disagree. Whether it's reciprocal altruism in nature or tit for tat in games, you can indeed expect compensation for something you give and it's still "giving."

This reminds me of that old argument that "there are no selfless deeds, because you always get something for doing them, even if it's just a pleasant feeling." I look askance at the assumption that a deed must result in no personal gain whatsoever to be considered "selfless" in the first place - of course there is, and should be, a payoff for doing something good (even if that is just a pleasant feeling), otherwise there'd be no reason whatsoever for doing it!


RadiantSophia wrote:
Because my world has 20 years of history, through 7 different RPGs. If what you want to play cannot exist by the natural laws of my world, there is no way I'm going to let you play it.

Of all the reasons I have seen on the boards on the topic, this is probably the only acceptable reason I have seen so far.

And even then, is not "I will only run games in my setting" just as obstinate as "I will only play this one race/class/weapon combo"? (Of course this doesn't apply if you are already running the game and either a new player is joining or an existing player is rolling up a new character).


Mr Dragon (sorry don't know your name, and formal always feels antagonistic to me - so apologies if that is how that was interpreted) we have similar situations and are probably only disagreeing on a minor point here.

I DM because I want to give back to the group (and we have 3 others who are happy to do likewise). BUT it is a huge amount of work (especially as I write/create the entire world). We've established that the reward is the camaraderie (spelling?) and this is why I/we do this.

Now for me it is a love of story-telling also, the players narrative -
and that involves creating a world/suspension of disbelief. Now if the focus of the pcs if 'maximisation' I find that all sorts of 'incongruences' start to creep into the game and this undermines what I/we are trying to achieve.

So back to the core thread, player 'entitlement', it's only an issue if you don't have options regarding who runs the game - after all if you want to do it differently, run your own game and see what it's like in the DM's hotseat!


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The Game Master should not dictate character creation, or any other aspect of the game--he should guide it. This is a cooperative game, and the relationship between the players and the GM is no exception.

Players come to games to feel larger than life, and each brings a character that has aspirations, desires, abilities, and unique ways of looking at the world. The Game Master’s job is to help guide the story and involve each character in a way that makes her actions feel meaningful. This means listening to the players while simultaneously keeping your own preferences in mind. No two gaming groups are the same, so groups that discuss their preferences for styles of play, tone, and group dynamics are more likely to enjoy long-running, trouble-free games.

*Takes a deep breath*

Duties of a GM:
While everyone at the table plays the game, the Game Master creates the world, breathing life into it in front of a small audience enraptured by his story. The Game Master works the hardest of everyone, spending night upon night before each game session carefully weaving the strands of fate and plotting the course of the adventurers’ lives, working in twists, building encounters and monsters, and pouring blood, sweat, and tears into his creation.

To use a common analogy, roleplaying games are like movies where the actors get to improvise and alter the script as they go, working off prompts from the Game Master. Extending this comparison, if the players are the actors, then the Game Master is the director—and often the screenwriter, even when basing the story on a published adventure. While this is a generic comparison, it illustrates some of the multiple roles the Game Master fills. The position can also be broken down into a number of other duties and responsibilities as follows.

Storyteller: Weaving plots involving the player characters and any number of nonplayer characters, leading dialogue, and unfurling a vast tapestry of ideas, stories, and adventure, the Game Master is a storyteller first and foremost. While the game is a collaborative narrative told from all sides of the table, the Game Master paves and maintains the road along which the adventurers walk.

Entertainer: Despite the best-laid plans and most intricate plots, if the game isn’t fun and engaging, it isn’t worth the effort. It’s the Game Master’s job to do whatever’s necessary to keep the players’ energy and interest up, immersing the group in the story through the use of strange voices, animated gestures, and generally making a fool of himself in the most classic sense. In order to fulfill the role of every individual the player characters encounter, the Game Master needs to be impressionist, comedian, and thespian all in one. In the role of the entertainer, the Game Master is the steward of every player’s experience, keeping everyone at the table involved and the story moving along at the proper pace.

Moderator: While important in any game, the role of moderator becomes even more important in games with new players unfamiliar with the rules, or situations where the Game Master might be running a game for strangers, such as “organized play” sessions at gaming stores and conventions. Many players enjoy the tactical aspects of the game and make the most of the rules in and outside of combat. The Game Master should know what each character is capable of, as well as the abilities of the nonplayer characters and monsters, and should be prepared to pass judgment on any contradictory or disputed interpretations of the rules. And while it’s important for the Game Master to be fair and hear out players’ opinions and arguments, a good Game Master has the confidence and resolve to hold firm once he’s made a decision.

Creator: Not only does the Game Master bring stories to the table, but many times he is also the creator of entire worlds. More often than not, he spends more time preparing for the session than the session actually takes to play. When not using a published setting or adventure, the Game Master must take the time outside of the game to create the plot, build enemies, construct encounters, develop magic items and spells, design monsters, and flesh out the world of adventure the players will soon inhabit.

Instructor: Not everyone is going to show up to the table with an equal—or even sufficient—understanding of the rules. Some of these players will be young, the new generation of gamers eager to enter into the ranks, and others will be friends you’ve encouraged to learn the joys of roleplaying games; some may even be fresh recruits at conventions or game stores. Everyone has a different aptitude for the admittedly complex rules of roleplaying games, and many people are intimidated by them. Part of a Game Master’s role is to guide players in learning the game—after all, the majority of Game Masters playing today learned from another Game Master who was patient with them.

Player: Despite a pervasive myth, roleplaying games are not about pitting the Game Master against the players. They are not competitions, and the Game Master does not lose when the players succeed—rather, if the players leave the table feeling tested but triumphant, then the Game Master has achieved the best possible result. Though one person guides the game, everyone is a player in some sense.

Game Masters must be as convincing with the nonplayer characters they control as the players are with their own characters, if not more so.

In addition to these roles, the Game Master might also fill a handful of others. Many groups maintain a set of house rules for their games, and the Game Master has the final say on particular interpretations and arbitrations of rules (though everyone in the group should be aware of
any house rules beforehand). The Game Master may also act as host for the game. At the least, the host provides an ample place to play. While some extraordinary Game Masters might provide all materials, including books, character sheets, pencils, dice, miniatures, and a battlemat, groups should decide upon those details themselves. As the host for a game, it is important to provide a surface large enough to play upon, a place for everyone to sit, reasonable facilities, and the desire to get a good game going. Whether played at a Victorian dining table lit with candelabras, on the floor of a spartan apartment, in the library during recess, or in the back of a van on the way to a family camping trip, roleplaying games can be tailored to most any situation, as long as there’s excitement and a desire to play.

- Excerpt from Chapter 1 of the GameMastery Guide

*Takes an even bigger deep breath*

Creating Adventures:
It’s the GM’s job to plan and predict the course of an adventure. Depending on you and your players’ play style, this may be an easy endeavor or require a lot of work.
The basic types of adventures are linear, unrestricted, and nonlinear.

Linear: A linear adventure scenario is pretty straightforward; the PCs begin at point A, travel to point B, then C, and so on until they reach the end of the adventure. What exactly those points are, and which of them are combat encounters, roleplaying encounters, or merely places to rest and buy new equipment varies from adventure to adventure. For example, a scenario may start at a village where orcs just attacked, follow a survivor’s directions toward the orc lair, deal with the orcs in the lair, and end with the PCs returning triumphantly to the village; there isn’t much room for deviation from the expected plot. Most published adventures are linear adventures simply because a book only holds a limited amount of information—it’s impossible to account for every possible character motivation, wild goose chase, or wrong turn that the PCs may take during the course of one or more nights of play.

With linear adventures, the GM has to be ready to steer the PCs back to the task at hand; one of the easiest ways is to use a timed event to encourage the PCs to stay on track (such as a prisoner held captive in the next location who must be rescued before the monsters kill him), but some GMs fall into the trap of using brute force, such as an army of lizardfolk that coincidentally appears whenever the PCs try to go a different direction. Linear adventures are often called “railroads” because there’s only one place the PCs are supposed to go—but this isn’t always a bad thing. If you’re just running a one-shot game—say if an old friend is in town for a long weekend or the gaming group wants to play a single game with high-level characters—it’s perfectly acceptable to railroad the characters; the expectation is that everyone wants to finish the adventure, and wasting time looking for clues in the wrong place just makes it more likely the group won’t finish in the allotted time. In these situations, it’s okay for the GM to say, “you don’t think this has anything to do with the Dungeon of Bloody Death, and heading to Black Blood Mountain is clearly the way to deal with this threat.” In the same way that your group can use their imaginations to see ex-quarterback Bob as a female gnome rogue, they can accept a gentle push in the direction of the actual adventure when things get too far off track.

In an ongoing campaign, you have to be prepared for the PCs to go off the rails and stay off the rails for extended periods of time. Even if your plan is to run a linear adventure, it’s a good idea to have some miniadventures, random encounters, or interesting locations for the PCs to visit should they detour from the plot of the adventure. With careful planning, these deviations can help steer the PCs back toward the main adventure—a random encounter with an orc raiding party that’s fresh from cooking and eating some peasants may inspire the PCs to deal with the lair; an old ranger needing help fighting a dire wolf may have a few +1 orc bane arrows he was saving for a special occasion, and so on. Of course, the best solution is to have several linear adventures planned, seeding the PCs with information about each, and letting them pursue whichever one they want—which actually works much like the next adventure type.

Unrestricted: In an unrestricted adventure, the PCs can go anywhere and do anything; they may not even be aware of your initial ideas for the first adventure. This sort of gaming is often called a sandbox” because there are no limits to what the PCs can do, like children on a playground creating their own imaginative stories with toys. Running a sandbox game requires a GM with a lot of prepared game material or the ability to create multiple story elements on the fly. An easy way to “cheat” at running a sandbox game is to have several parallel adventures planned so if the PCs wander away from one 3rd-level dungeon, you can insert another one in the path of the PCs.

Another trick is to “re-skin” one adventure with a different flavor, such as taking a fire-themed temple and changing all encounters, spells, and monsters from fire to cold as the players go through it. If you’re running a sandbox campaign and you get stuck, either because the PCs have lost track of adventure hooks or they’re heading toward something you haven’t thought much about, use the same tactics you’d use in a linear or nonlinear adventure (see below)—steer them in a new direction, tell them where they’re headed isn’t ready yet or is too powerful for them, or ask them what they expect to find there and use that to inspire what’s actually there.

The one big potential trap of a sandbox game is that because there’s so much to do, some players may split off from the main group for extended periods, leaving you to GM one group of players while the rest have to sit and wait until it’s their turn. If this happens, steer the wandering PCs back to the main group, as dividing your attention for too long leads to bored players. Sometimes it’s best to arrange a short session (or even a series of emails or messageboard posts) for just those PCs to let them deal with their plot elements and get back on track with the main plot. Sometimes the most drastic and mysterious action is best—if the wandering PCs turn up near the main group, disoriented and with no memory of the last few days except a sense of horror, you can move on with the main plot and plant seeds for what happened to that “missing time.” For more information on dealing with split parties, see pages 65–66.

Nonlinear: If an unrestricted adventure is a blank page, a nonlinear adventure is a flow chart, as when the PCs have multiple options for engaging a storyline, they feel more in control, and the adventure starts to look more like a flow chart or series of crossroads than a straight railroad—this is the core of a nonlinear adventure. In many cases you’re able to bend or add to the developments of a linear adventure based on the actions and desires of the PCs, turning it into a nonlinear adventure.

For example, in the aftermath of an orc raid on a village, the PCs may decide that tracking the orcs back to their lair is too difficult without a ranger and decide their abilities are better suited to building defenses for the town and waiting until the orcs come back. Instead of the PCs dealing with the monsters room by room, you can use those area-based monster encounters to attack the town in waves, or (if you think the PCs are up for it) to attack from two different directions. The PCs don’t need to know that the encounter with the orc monster tamer and his worg pet was supposed to be area 4 of the orc lair, and perhaps the increased mobility of an open area brings an interesting twist to what may have been an otherwise routine encounter.

Nonlinear adventures require you to plan ahead for what the PCs may do, and think on your feet in case they come up with something you weren’t expecting. For example, if the PCs are intimidated by your description of the damage from the orc raid and ask about finding better weapons to help deal with the orcs, you may be momentarily caught offguard because this sort of action wasn’t in the original idea of the lair-based adventure. However, developing a stable of secondary characters and side treks lets you quickly insert an appropriate NPC for this purpose, such as the aforementioned old ranger with the +1 orc bane arrows—who no longer needs help with a dire wolf, and is now willing to trade the arrows for a favor to be named later (which you can use as a plot hook for the next adventure). If you’re stuck for ideas when the PCs make an unexpected shift, don’t be afraid to ask the players what their characters are looking for; if they ask about orc bane arrows, that may inspire you about a hermit ranger, but if they ask for potions or scrolls, it may inspire the idea of a lonely, half-mad cleric living at a ruined shrine, and the players don’t need to know that their suggestion as to what they’re looking for helped define the course of the adventure.

- Excerpt from Chapter 2 of the GameMastery Guide

*Begins to show signs of hyperventilating, but presses onwards anyways*

Before the Game:
Prior to sitting down to create characters, the players and GM should have a discussion about what sort of game they want to play. Although most campaigns using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game fall within the sword and sorcery genre, other options abound, and the GM should make sure the players are aware of what sort of game they’re headed into. If that means a world where wizardry is outlawed, or all druids have been driven underground by the depredations of an industrial revolution, they should know this before the game begins. Getting a sense of the types of characters each player would enjoy running helps the GM tailor the game from its outset.

- Excerpt from Chapter 3 of the GameMastery Guide

Anyone who is taking this, and similar threads, too seriously really need to read the GameMastery Guide (or read it again). It directly covers nearly everything discussed in this thread, covers a whole lot of common situations not mentioned in this thread, and gives an amazing amount of insight into how the Pathfinder Tabletop Roleplaying Game was meant to be played and how GMs are meant to treat their players and vice versa.


Kolokotroni wrote:
Cinderfist wrote:

Because the GM is doing all the work. The player just has to show up and enjoy it.

If I bake a cherry pie(adventure) and invite you to have a piece. All you have to do is show up with a spoon(character) to enjoy it.

It is DAMN RUDE to show up and complain that the pie isn't apple, or that you brought a fork and are having a hard time eating said FREE pie.

Is my group the only one where the players work with the gm to build the world? In my group players drive a fair amount of the world building, creating organizations, npcs for your backastories (or as contacts) onces I even drafted an entire body of laws for our kingmaker nation (which had been previously debated in character).

I mean i know that the tradition of pathfinder storytelling is very dm centric, but I also know that collective storytelling has gained alot of ground in rpgs in general, and even in dnd/pathfinder. So I am wondering, is it really still the case that the DM does 'all the work'? I dont intend to diminish the work the dm puts in, but I feel like its an antiquated view. In this age of adventure path players guides, and google docs, and email, are there really still a majority of players that just showup and play without doing anything away from the table?

Well unfortunately for me it is. A number of the players in the pool we can pick from like to show up to be entertained. It can be like herding cats to get them to even level their characters between sessions. Yes it's incredible frustrating and does color my opinions. I know players like what you are describing. I've had some in the past that were very eager to sit around and talk about their guys, and work up stats on their castles, and servants, etc. But as I have gotten older so have my players. And they are too busy or uninterested in spending that sort of time on the hobby anymore. sad but true


Cinderfist wrote:


You mean it isn't gifting.

I'd call that a semantic distinction of dubious value.

Cinderfist wrote:
And maybe it's just me, But I'm not doing all of this work as a gift to my players. And I seriously doubt that the majority of DM's are as altruistic as you are trying to claim.

I don't see it as altruistic. I truly love having the opportunity to run a campaign. I put a lot of effort into my world and any chance I get to have people experience that effort is something I am truly grateful for.

Cinderfist wrote:
I do expect certain things in return for my services as a DM. Particularly attendance, appreciation and respect for the time and effort I am putting into crafting the campaign,

I certainly appreciate it when my players express appreciation for my efforts. And I game with a good group of guys so I get a lot of kudos for my work. I certainly feel appreciated anyway. But other things like attendance, preparation, knowledge of the game, etc. are things that I consider to be things each individual player owes the entire group not just me. If a player is disrespectful of me as the GM or any other player at the table, that's a big downer for the whole table, not just me. If a player is not prepared, that's again a negative experience for the whole table. If someone is always late, or doesn't show up, that's not just me sitting there twiddling my thumbs, all the other players are too. I consider most of this to be expectations between the group as a whole and each individual player.

Cinderfist wrote:
not playing something that is going to make unwelcome extra work for me, or insisting on playing a class or race that is going to break the verisimilitude of the campaign world. I don't think that's is too much to ask.

This is where I start to lose you. This is all about the partnership and cooperation between player and GM. I suppose I've been very lucky in my career as a GM and it has been literally decades since I've had any issue whatsoever with what sort of character a player wanted to play in my campaign. Back in 3.5 days we, as a group, did not allow certain 3.5 splat books. We got a new player who wanted to use a bunch of the more "out there" splat books and we told him "no". We did so very politely and explained that we simply didn't want to deal with some of the issues those books raised. If he wanted to use those books he was welcome to find another group, but if he wanted to play with US (note: not "ME") then he would have to agree not to use content from those books.

He agreed and became a core member of the group for several years before being sent off to Iraq. He is now in Afghanistan but we expect him back next summer.

Silver Crusade

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If you want to discuss rules then it is in the rule book that DMs have the final say so. Also, it depends on how you read the rulebook. No where in the entire book does it say you can play accertain class. I'm not talking about the capability part, I'm talking about the allowing part.

You see, assumption has played a big part in this. You assume that just because something is in the book that it is automatically allowed and that you are entitled to it but you're not. Your DM will let you know if something isn't allowed but you won't find any passage in any of the books that say you can take X just because it's a part of the rules of the game.


Breathe MrRavingDork, breathe.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

I believe RAW rule #1 is that what the GM says goes. At least that is what was put in many editions of the "worlds greatest game". So this really is not a rule issue. However, most game groups work together so this usually really is not a problem.


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I am entitled, Ultimately, NOT to GM. If the choice is between playing something you don't want to and not playing, Is the player allowed to not play? If so, then why would you assume that the GM doesn't have that same choice.

Dark Archive

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

An RPG is like playing Cops and Robbers, except everyone involved has agreed to appoint an arbiter (the GM) to create a plot and adjudicate the rules. Player entitlement is one player arguing - after everyone agreed to play Cops and Robbers - that they should be able to play a dinosaur.

The time for that kind of lobbying is when the potential players and potential GM(s) are deciding what to play. Maybe everyone agrees to play Dinosaurs and Damsels, or Dinosaurs eat Cops and Robbers. But once the mutual decision has been made, the GM should be able to enforce it. And if the GM wants to run Cops and Robbers dinosaur-free, you either agree to play Cops and Robbers or find another, dino-friendly GM. Everyone has an opportunity to buy in, or not, but after that the GM is in charge.


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Part of the social contract we have as a group is, of course, that the GM has final say. That means that for rules issues, unclear interpretations, things just not covered in the rules, or rules disputes, the GM can rule definitively and we will move on.

I try my best to treat that as a responsibility, not a power I have over the group. So does my co-GM. We have been known to walk away from the table together during a particularly difficult issue and compare notes privately before returning to the table and the current GM making his ruling.

We also have an open policy of "please send me any issue you feel was handled incorrectly so I can try to do better next time."

I recently ruled incorrectly on a rather obscure rule. The player in question questioned the rule in game but we were in a particularly immersive part of the game and I politely asked if we could address off line. He agreed and by email we discussed it and I was wrong. So our next session started off with my apology.

Now, it was not an encounter-breaking or PC-death related issue. It had no real impact to the game. Had it been a major deal we'd have stopped the game and resolved it before moving on.

I seriously find myself appreciating my game group more and more every month I read messages on this messageboard. I am frankly saddened by some of the things I read here about how games have gone and how feelings have been hurt or games have been ruined. We do this for fun. If it isn't fun, something's not working right.


Thank you, Ravingdork. I was on the verge of rage at some of the bs posted till I read your response.

Well done, and well said, sir.


Everyone who is arguing that DMs have the right to do anything they want because they are DMing and the only one putting any effort in between games, that really depends on the group. If as a DM you just buy APs all you need to do is read through it between games, maybe slightly adjust things to fit the characters. In my group one of the players loves painting minis and is the one who pretty much provides all the minis for the game and another player loves writing so they take notes during the game and write up a character journal for both the DM and players to use as a reference in the future.

I in no way advocate that players should use the rulebooks as a hammer to beat their poor DM senseless to get everything they want. It just seems any time a situation where what the DM wants and what a player wants arises on the forums the majority of the people on the board yell "player entitlement" and say that the player must bow to the wishes of the DM or leave the game. Very few people seem to advocate for the two to sit down and come up with a solution that both DM and player are happy with.


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I GM as a creative outlet. If you don't like that then don't play. But it means I am going to be crafting the setting, story, and most of the characters in the world. I like doing this but make no mistake it IS work. And if you want to just show up and expect me to run what I don't want to run... then you are not going to have a game to play. So shape up and work WITH me rather than against me and you will have a much easier time, and you will make the game fun for both of us.

Player collaboration only ruins a creative endeavor unless tightly controlled. The players should be encouraged to build a small amount of the setting specifically around their character. But too many cooks doesn't make a sweet pie, it just makes a mess. Everyone has cool ideas, but they don't usually work well together. You NEED a head chef to say we ARE making a cherry pie... not an apple pie or a pumpkin pie or even a chocolate cake. If you lack leadership in the kitchen you will end up with a cherry-apple-pumpkin-chocolate mess. A good head chef limits collaboration to a few extra chefs as needed and assigns them specific tasks. That way you get a delicious cherry pie. If you don't want cherry pie fine, but get out of the kitchen then please.


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iLaifire wrote:
Why is it that a player saying "X is in the official rules, so I can play X" is considered "player entitlement", but the statement "You can't do/play Y because of Z" from the DM is not seen as "player entitlement"? In both cases it is one person at the table trying to dictate how the game will be played to all the other people at the table, so why does almost everyone on these boards perfectly fine with that happening if the person is a DM, but completely against it when it is anyone else?

Part of it is hypocrisy and GM Entitlement. Part of it is justified (but not the GM entitlement and/or hypocrisy). Most GMs (and I'd dare say most players) want worlds that are consistent and make some reasonable amount of sense so as to suspend disbelief (this believability is known as "verisimilitude").

Many good GMs will try to accommodate a player's ideas and/or wishes but this generally means a little give and take. It's a compromise between both for the betterment of all. Compromising is a good skill and leads to wonderful things. Let's use an example that is based in a real situation that comes up pretty frequently.

Let's say you, as a player, wish to play a Warforged (a sentient living construct made famous by the Eberron campaign setting and the Monster Manual III). Now you want to play this warforged in a setting such as Golarion, yet there are no Warforged in Golarion. Now the GM and you could sit down and come up with some alternative ideas. For example, your warforged might be related to the androids found in the great silver mountain, or you might be a creation of a wizard who has passed, or perhaps a legacy piece unearthed from an older time. Now naturally the warforged fluff from Eberron won't fit in Golarion (at least not without some pretty major editing of the Eberron fluff) but you might be able to compromise.

Sometimes for setting sanity you may find yourself simply out of luck. If there are no orcs in the world (such as in the case of the Dragonlance campaign setting) then naturally playing a Half-Orc would be out of the question. But if your heart was set on it then it might be possible to use the orc or half-orc statistics for something else. Perhaps instead of orcs there is a race of powerfully built cousins of humans that are a bit dimmer but physically stronger (perhaps like Neanderthals) or a certain tribe that could take orc-based features due to their upbringing and traditions. You won't be a half-orc literally but you might get to play the character very close to what you wanted to play.

There are limits though, and while some options might be able to convert or find a place in a world not all will. It's important to try and work together as a group that finds something that works well for you and your GM. You are on the same team in your quest for a good time after all!

This is actually one of the reasons I really began to sit down and think about where different races fit into my campaign setting. Currently there are over 20 playable races as standard races for player characters and each has a history, traditions, and so forth. That includes subspecies as well. I want players to have options from the start. :)


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RadiantSophia wrote:
I am entitled, Ultimately, NOT to GM. If the choice is between playing something you don't want to and not playing, Is the player allowed to not play? If so, then why would you assume that the GM doesn't have that same choice.

Why would you assume that? The GM always has a choice. If the GM is uncomfortable and feels they are being forced to do something they don't agree with, then by all means the GM should defer being the GM until the game is more to their liking.

The point is that it's a negotiation, not a mandate. The GM has leverage and the player has leverage. A properly initiated campaign is one where the GM and the players are excited and happy about the prospect and eager to move forward.

Sometimes that means reaching some sort of compromise between members of the group.

It's not always just about the GM. In many, many campaigns I've been part of the bigger issue for a campaign start is player vs player expectations. Just choosing roles for the party is usually more of an issue than any sort of GM/Player problem. Everyone typically has to give up some ground to allow the other players (including the GM) to find a place to settle. That's the nature of just about any group activity.

"Let's play chess."
"Cool, I LOVE chess!"
"OK, here's the board, I'll play white."
"What, NO! I wanted to play white!"

It's not a PF issue. It's a social interaction issue. The real problem is when groups can't resolve the issue and get to the fun.


Plus I have been told not to hate the Player, but to hate the Game.
So I have just figured it was always the GM's fault anyways.


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tribeof1 wrote:

An RPG is like playing Cops and Robbers, except everyone involved has agreed to appoint an arbiter (the GM) to create a plot and adjudicate the rules. Player entitlement is one player arguing - after everyone agreed to play Cops and Robbers - that they should be able to play a dinosaur.

The time for that kind of lobbying is when the potential players and potential GM(s) are deciding what to play. Maybe everyone agrees to play Dinosaurs and Damsels, or Dinosaurs eat Cops and Robbers. But once the mutual decision has been made, the GM should be able to enforce it. And if the GM wants to run Cops and Robbers dinosaur-free, you either agree to play Cops and Robbers or find another, dino-friendly GM. Everyone has an opportunity to buy in, or not, but after that the GM is in charge.

+1.


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Player entitlement. GM entitlement. Its a wash.

Most of these GMs who complain about player entitlement complain that 'if you don't like it find another table...' Well that door swings both ways.

Saying that the gm deserves his entitlement because being the GM is harder is silly. If you think it means you deserve something special then take off the badge and let someone else run the game. You're just another dude at the table and if you don't like 'what you're playing' (which is a gm whose players want to play whatever it is that you're not allowing), then, like every other person at the table, you've got the choice to find a different table. If the power of wielding the paintbrush of infinite possibilities isnt enough power for you, and playing every other aspect of the world isn't good enough for you, and you now have to decide what everyone else brings to the table then you don't get to have the paintbrush anymore.

Ashiel wrote:
You are on the same team in your quest for a good time after all!

Unless you aren't.

Look. Political banter has made the word 'entitlement' a bad word. But the truth is everyone at your table is entitled to a good time. For some GMs that means only running a certain kind of world with certain levels of magic or certain races. For some players that means only running warforged. Everyone is entitled to do exactly that. Sometimes they just cant game at the same table.

Its a Venn Diagram. There's a circle called 'how you want to run things' and a circle called 'what the players want to run' and if those circles dont meet somewhere in the middle then you havent got a game.


I find a lot of people complain about not being able to do X, even though X specifically says "with the approval of your GM" or similar wording.

For example, I allowed Featured and Uncommon races from the Advanced Race Guide in my Kingmaker campaign, BUT with reduced point buys for those races (20 points for core races, 15 points for featured, 10 points for uncommon) to try to keep things balanced.

And, of course, right off the bat, one of my players shows up to the first session with a pureblooded ancient Azlanti with a 20-point buy (despite not being a core race or in the ARG and it specifically says "with the permission of your GM" in the text). I told him he had to switch to a regular human with a +2 to one ability score, not +2 to every ability score, or rebuild his character. There was some back and forth, but eventually he switched to a regular human and we got playing.

Gunslinger is another big one of contention between GMs and players. The Emerging Guns scenario, some players seem to think that Advanced Firearms are readily available and craftable, when the text says otherwise.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Kolokotroni wrote:


Is my group the only one where the players work with the gm to build the world? In my group players drive a fair amount of the world building, creating organizations, npcs for your backastories (or as contacts) onces I even drafted an entire body of laws for our kingmaker nation (which had been previously debated in character).

I mean i know that the tradition of pathfinder storytelling is very dm centric, but I also know that collective storytelling has gained alot of ground in rpgs in general, and even in dnd/pathfinder. So I am wondering, is it really still the case that the DM does 'all the work'? I dont intend to diminish the work the dm puts in, but I feel like its an antiquated view. In this age of adventure path players guides, and google docs, and email, are there really still a majority of players that just showup and play without doing anything away from the table?

We do group world building in, maybe, a quarter of the campaigns we're playing in now. Otherwise, most of the time we actually want to play in a specific campaign world guided by a more unified vision or interpretation, whether it's my Greyhawk game, my friend's homebrewed campaign, or another friend's adapted Mass Effect campaign. In each of those cases, the GM's rule over whether something fits the campaign is the final say, though we all work with the players to help them come up with suitable characters and will adapt things as necessary to do so.

EDIT: Thought I'd add why... One reason we like playing in someone else's campaign under their vision is we get to concentrate more completely on our characters and what we want to do there, plus we're willing to experience what the GMs want to share with us, as they want to share it. We trust our GMs to present a fun setting in which we can all find something to enjoy.
Participation in world building - can be difficult - particularly when you've got some strong ideas among world builders. I find a lot more energy goes into mediation and compromise in those situations. That's not necessarily bad, but it is different and not to my cup of tea for every game.


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The only people with any real leverage are GMs and hosts. Players have only the right not to play... which is fine the game will go on without you. If the GM walks then there is no game and everyone suffers till a new GM can be recruited. The host as well controls the venue and can uninvite people unilaterally till a new place can be found to hold the game.


shallowsoul wrote:

If you want to discuss rules then it is in the rule book that DMs have the final say so. Also, it depends on how you read the rulebook. No where in the entire book does it say you can play accertain class. I'm not talking about the capability part, I'm talking about the allowing part.

You see, assumption has played a big part in this. You assume that just because something is in the book that it is automatically allowed and that you are entitled to it but you're not. Your DM will let you know if something isn't allowed but you won't find any passage in any of the books that say you can take X just because it's a part of the rules of the game.

The same rule that says the GMs have final say so also says that everyone should discuss rules changes and interpretations.


I actually have considered quitting a game I'm hosting but not GMing, and I'd still host it even if I did... At best to try and learn something from a playstyle I don't agree with and at worst to be able to say 'I told you it was crap' when the campaign goes crumbling down.

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