What are some of the worst rulings you've had to deal with in games?


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How Not to GM.


I think most of these guys wind up snagging new players into the game, so they can 'teach' them that this is how it's supposed to work. New players don't know otherwise, so they're just more likely to accept what they're told.

Then these players eventually become bad GMs, and their players become bad GMs ...


Zhayne wrote:

I think most of these guys wind up snagging new players into the game, so they can 'teach' them that this is how it's supposed to work. New players don't know otherwise, so they're just more likely to accept what they're told.

Then these players eventually become bad GMs, and their players become bad GMs ...

Bit of truth to this. For example a group I was in once thought movement from a charge doesn't provoke and used it to shut down some builds. They then bring it to the public setting when they go to PFS, and when they run games they run it that way and say it works that way, and some people bite into that Zeitgeist and suddenly you had a lot of players who were running the game with that house rule.

Of course when you wanted to run a reach build the fact everyone is suddenly avoiding your AoOs or brace that kind of drove you a bit nuts.


MrSin wrote:
Zhayne wrote:

I think most of these guys wind up snagging new players into the game, so they can 'teach' them that this is how it's supposed to work. New players don't know otherwise, so they're just more likely to accept what they're told.

Then these players eventually become bad GMs, and their players become bad GMs ...

Bit of truth to this. For example a group I was in once thought movement from a charge doesn't provoke and used it to shut down some builds. They then bring it to the public setting when they go to PFS, and when they run games they run it that way and say it works that way, and some people bite into that Zeitgeist and suddenly you had a lot of players who were running the game with that house rule.

Of course when you wanted to run a reach build the fact everyone is suddenly avoiding your AoOs or brace that kind of drove you a bit nuts.

LOL. I'm having the opposite problem running WotR. All my Baphomet cultists use reach weapons. Guess what? The party fighter just runs through the threatened squares to get next to them and from then on it's,

"GM: The cultist takes a 5' step to be able to use her reach weapon."
"Player: I have Step Up so I stay next to her and her reach weapon is useless."
I swear I have no idea why anyone would EVER use a reach weapon, in spite of all the build threads that say they're the end-all and be-all of martial builds.


Our "worst GM EVER" was Champions, not Pathfinder.
- All villains MUST recur, no matter how badly you defeated them/killed them/desecrated their bodies. He MADE them come back. Presumably so he didn't have to create new ones.
- Every villain must be able to penetrate the most powerful brick's defenses (hence one-shotting anyone who didn't dedicate a lot of points to defense) and must resist the most powerful attacker's assaults (rendering people who built anything other than raw DPR useless).
- If the fight went poorly, the bad guy got to rewrite the rules on the fly.

I think that's a common theme: The GM is SO insistent on the "story" that he or she abandons the rules to make things come out the way he/she wants them to.

That's a common theme among all bad GM's I've had the misfortune to play under.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
KrispyXIV wrote:
SAMAS wrote:
KrispyXIV wrote:

I had 'fun' in a rifts campaign once trying to play a power armor character.

Things like attempting to camouflage myself with extensive Resources expended and being told hiding in an iron man scale armor was impossible, being unable to maneuver indoors in the same, etc were one type of bad.

To be fair, you are wearing motorized full plate. If your armor wasn't the kind designed for stealth, you usually shouldn't bother. But this and the other depends on your model of armor. If you're packing one of my namesakes, for example, you got a very large thruster pack and great big wings hanging off your back.

Quote:
Being told I could not wear my armor 'in town' because it was unreasonable was the real kicker. In any other setting, sure. In this one, half the people on the street could vaporize me with a thought because most of them were some sort of monster, cyborg or mage. Power armor was my equivalent of a tazer, but I ended up being the only one in the party required to walk around helpless most of the time (because everyone else was one of the aforementioned monsters).

Well, they're half right here. Most towns and cities don't let people walk around with Mega-Damage weapons and armor within their walls. This is explicitly stated in the books. One book even shows why, with a story of a psychotic SAMAS pilot who slaughtered an entire village with just two missiles, a railgun, and his bare hands.

Now the question is: Did he apply that to everybody? Even cyborgs have to have their onboard weaponry deactivated if not removed, and a lot of predominantly Human settlements wouldn't even let monstrous Mega-Damage beings in, at least not without keeping an eye on them. Of course, if that all only applied to you...

Quote:
The character retired after his first badass attempt at an ambush ended with him being given no chance at Stealth against enemies who used Magic (which normally does not function this way) which simply
...

Me, I simply went for a demigod from Pantheons of the Megaverse, strapped to the Paladin class from the Palladium Fantasy RPG, refusing to use any weapon more sophisticated than a bow, who came to Rifts Earth wearing a suit of SDC Chainmail (which really didn't last very long at all).

My Rifts GM is an awesome guy.


NobodysHome wrote:
MrSin wrote:
Zhayne wrote:

I think most of these guys wind up snagging new players into the game, so they can 'teach' them that this is how it's supposed to work. New players don't know otherwise, so they're just more likely to accept what they're told.

Then these players eventually become bad GMs, and their players become bad GMs ...

Bit of truth to this. For example a group I was in once thought movement from a charge doesn't provoke and used it to shut down some builds. They then bring it to the public setting when they go to PFS, and when they run games they run it that way and say it works that way, and some people bite into that Zeitgeist and suddenly you had a lot of players who were running the game with that house rule.

Of course when you wanted to run a reach build the fact everyone is suddenly avoiding your AoOs or brace that kind of drove you a bit nuts.

LOL. I'm having the opposite problem running WotR. All my Baphomet cultists use reach weapons. Guess what? The party fighter just runs through the threatened squares to get next to them and from then on it's,

"GM: The cultist takes a 5' step to be able to use her reach weapon."
"Player: I have Step Up so I stay next to her and her reach weapon is useless."
I swear I have no idea why anyone would EVER use a reach weapon, in spite of all the build threads that say they're the end-all and be-all of martial builds.

Jaunt Boots man. 15 ft steps 3 times a day. You take a 5ft step, he Steps Up, you turn your 5ft step into a 10ft step.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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I once played with a GM who was way into SCA. Normally this is a neutral thing, but this individual had pages and pages of extra rules for martial types, such as extra combat maneuvers only fighters could do and so forth. Then he made every NPC flat-out immune to spells. No targeted spells worked on anyone humanoid, period. This was "justified" by them all having rings of globe of invulnerability, rings which stopped working when the wearer died. Everybody had them. I should have been suspicious when I joined the group and no one at all was playing a spellcaster, and I thought I'd make a wizard to balance out the group a bit. Yeah.

In a more tongue in cheek manner, here's probably one of the worst GM calls I've seen:
(In a 2e game)
Me: Can I play a chronomancer?
GM: Sure.


My worst ruling story is more of roleplay ruling than a mechanics ruling.

My first (and worst) GM ran a campaign that had 6 people. The wizard and the fighter of the group started fighting over things in game. The GM was best friends with the wizard so he took it out on the fighter. Usually this meant having his expensive equipment ruined. We joked that if we sovereign glued his armor to him, the GM would make it rain universal solvent.

It didn't get really bad until the second campaign we did. (He was the only GM on campus with a spot free.)

The next campaign followed from the first one. The wizard and fighter had become demigods in the meantime. The GM ruled that the wizard who had become the demigod of protecting the timestream (our characters had time-traveled so it wasn't really out-of-place) and had a respectable following.

The Fighter had become the demigod of winter and mercenaries because he had become a demigod by killing an evil winter god that made it snow all the time. The winter god was trapped near a city called Winterfall because the evil god made it winter all year round due to his presence. After the Fighter killed him, the city had a milder, more temperate climate. This somehow crashed their economy which had been solely built on exporting ice to the Dwarves. This is despite the fact that the Fighter and Wizard killed the evil god 500 years in the past due to aforementioned time-travel. I repeat: the economy of Winterfall had not recovered in 500 years.

My character in this campaign was a lvl 7 cleric of the Fighter God. It was decided that I was technically the most powerful cleric of this religion because "mercenaries wouldn't need a god especially one that was LN." Thus I suddenly became high priest and decided to build up the church just to spite the GM.

The Fighter's player, meanwhile, decided to play a summoner with an Eidolon that was because a Machamp with wings and poisoned claws. This was a huge mistake.

When the summoner tried to buy something from a shopkeeper, the shopkeeper was horrified and threw him out. After a lot of arguing, the player decided to compromise and de-summon the Eidolon. This wasn't good enough and he was still kicked out. This was happening in the Dwarven city we were in which only allowed non-Dwarves in one sector. The shopkeeper decided that merely throwing him out of the store wasn't enough. He sent an assistant out to every single shop and inn to tell them about the Summoner. He was banned from every store and almost every inn. The only inn he was allowed in was the shady as hell one. I was the only one who accompanied him to that inn and stood by him. The rest of the party were either fed up and on the verge of quitting or GM pets.

The rules for how to control Eidolons hadn't come out yet so there was a night-long argument about who got to control him. This arose after the player used his Machamp to set off traps rather than risk the life of the ninja. The GM rule zeroed him and took control of the Eidolon away. He then ruled that his Eidolon hated him. The Player decided to scrap that character because he was now unplayable and introduced a sorcerer but the campaign and our time with that GM died shorty thereafter.

TL;DR version: A GM had a beef with a player so he restructured his whole world to screw over both of his characters.


KrispyXIV wrote:
SAMAS wrote:
KrispyXIV wrote:

I had 'fun' in a rifts campaign once trying to play a power armor character.

Things like attempting to camouflage myself with extensive Resources expended and being told hiding in an iron man scale armor was impossible, being unable to maneuver indoors in the same, etc were one type of bad.

To be fair, you are wearing motorized full plate. If your armor wasn't the kind designed for stealth, you usually shouldn't bother. But this and the other depends on your model of armor. If you're packing one of my namesakes, for example, you got a very large thruster pack and great big wings hanging off your back.

Quote:
Being told I could not wear my armor 'in town' because it was unreasonable was the real kicker. In any other setting, sure. In this one, half the people on the street could vaporize me with a thought because most of them were some sort of monster, cyborg or mage. Power armor was my equivalent of a tazer, but I ended up being the only one in the party required to walk around helpless most of the time (because everyone else was one of the aforementioned monsters).

Well, they're half right here. Most towns and cities don't let people walk around with Mega-Damage weapons and armor within their walls. This is explicitly stated in the books. One book even shows why, with a story of a psychotic SAMAS pilot who slaughtered an entire village with just two missiles, a railgun, and his bare hands.

Now the question is: Did he apply that to everybody? Even cyborgs have to have their onboard weaponry deactivated if not removed, and a lot of predominantly Human settlements wouldn't even let monstrous Mega-Damage beings in, at least not without keeping an eye on them. Of course, if that all only applied to you...

Quote:
The character retired after his first badass attempt at an ambush ended with him being given no chance at Stealth against enemies who used Magic (which normally does not function this way) which simply
...

Wait, he did all that [CENSORED] over a Flying Titan?

WHY??

(For the non-Rifts-savy, a Flying Titan has armor slightly better than body armor, two light lasers, and a few missiles. IMO, it wasn't impressive back when it first came out. It's pretty much a Level 1 suit)


MrSin wrote:
Lincoln Hills wrote:
Yeah, sometimes the only good thing to come out of contact with certain GMs is a fund of stories you can use to impress and horrify your fellow gamers.
But the mental scars and trauma... *Shivers*

This explains a lot- including your choice of Avatar! ;-)

My story is we have a heavy RPing and Political campaign. Each PC took hours to do up, including emails back and forth with the DM, then other players detailed background, etc. Cool.

First combat, foe shoots me with a arrow. 20, followed by 20, followed by 20- which under that DM's crit rules was a auto-kill. Two weeks and 12 hours wasted. I stopped playing for a while, miraculously my PC was razzed....

One of my current DMs, who is otherwise great, allows only six seconds of talking per round per player. He also times us out of combat so when 6 minutes go by, so do six minutes of spell duration.

Early in D&D, one DM loved "typo-fumbles"- if your spell caster rolled a 1 on a D6 the spell fumbled in a "funny" way- fireball became fur ball, continual light became continual wight (which almost TPKed us) and so forth. So, in my dungeon, I had The Blue Pencil of Editing which game the wielder 100% proof vs Typos. Heh. I also hated early psionics. So I handed out rings of Psionic class VI.


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Larkos wrote:
TL;DR version: A GM had a beef with a player so he restructured his whole world to screw over both of his characters.

Man, that is pretty f~#~ing terrible. You want to know what's worse?

Having an egomaniac GM so self important that when his players are getting fed up with how he is handling our Gundam RPG he decides to delete the entire forum everything was hosted on in a massive rage quit - we were still able to play with another player taking the GM mantle, but most everything (character sheets, hundreds of pages of roleplay logs, etc) was lost.

This guy wasn't pretty before that either. Want to know what's worse than a railroady BSing GM in a tabletop game? A railroady BSing GM in a completely freeform PbP. I can't even tell you how much NPCs controlled by him were constantly A) Outfitted with equipment designed specifically to counter people's characters and B) Nigh untouchable.

Oh, and the GM can call hits, but the players can't.

Not to mention, I think the guy had some kind of personal beef with me, since the roleplay had a rewards system after missions that gave you credits to upgrade your Gundams - and I always got less than anyone else on the same mission, usually because my repair costs were always higher and ate into my profits more than anyone else.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
NobodysHome wrote:

Our "worst GM EVER" was Champions, not Pathfinder.

- All villains MUST recur, no matter how badly you defeated them/killed them/desecrated their bodies. He MADE them come back. Presumably so he didn't have to create new ones.

<snip>
- If the fight went poorly, the bad guy got to rewrite the rules on the fly.

In all fairness, both of these are well within the superhero genre, particularly the former. Villains recur. You can disintegrate them, blast them out into space, have them captured by vastly more powerful alien entities, revert them to children, turn them into brain dead vegetables, or trap them in miniature androids of themselves and they will come back. (note - most of those examples are ones I can think of off the top of my head that have happened to either Doctor Doom or Magneto over the last 40 years - now add all of the other possible deaths other villains have escaped...).

At least Mutants and Masterminds compensates you with a hero point when the GM pulls the latter on you to give his villain an improbable win or escape.

But seriously, getting into the genre is part of playing a genre RPG like Champions. If you chafe at either of the two examples of yours I quoted, you're probably not approaching the genre with the right mindset.


Bill Dunn wrote:
NobodysHome wrote:

Our "worst GM EVER" was Champions, not Pathfinder.

- All villains MUST recur, no matter how badly you defeated them/killed them/desecrated their bodies. He MADE them come back. Presumably so he didn't have to create new ones.

<snip>
- If the fight went poorly, the bad guy got to rewrite the rules on the fly.

In all fairness, both of these are well within the superhero genre, particularly the former. Villains recur. You can disintegrate them, blast them out into space, have them captured by vastly more powerful alien entities, revert them to children, turn them into brain dead vegetables, or trap them in miniature androids of themselves and they will come back. (note - most of those examples are ones I can think of off the top of my head that have happened to either Doctor Doom or Magneto over the last 40 years - now add all of the other possible deaths other villains have escaped...).

At least Mutants and Masterminds compensates you with a hero point when the GM pulls the latter on you to give his villain an improbable win or escape.

But seriously, getting into the genre is part of playing a genre RPG like Champions. If you chafe at either of the two examples of yours I quoted, you're probably not approaching the genre with the right mindset.

I suspect it's more that I described it poorly for space porpoises. Every mook with a name reappeared, upgraded to be able to take on the entire group. So it wasn't Dr. Doom reappearing; it was that his henchman was called "Fred" in one panel of the comic, so "Fred" reappeared as a super-villain next comic. And Fred would have attacks that could one-shot anyone in the party, and defenses that couldn't be breached by anyone in the party, even with cooperative attacks. So we'd have to run away, and the GM would complain about how "stupid" we were, end the session, and then start the session the next week with his villain "downgraded" enough for us to be able to beat him.

And then he'd get frustrated that his villain lost, upgrade him a bit more, ad nauseum.

We had 5 Champions GMs. We ended up rebelling and not allowing this one to GM any more.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Lormyr wrote:
When I join a game, I usually have a build fully stated out before beginning play. I always let the GM know what I am intending, and make them aware of any silly rules interactions I am using.

Yeah, I totally do that too.

Lormyr wrote:
It drives me nuts when a GM approves a build, and then employs ludicrous fiats, heavy handed railroading, and/or completely made up and nonsensical rulings and mechanics to negate the build.

I once had a 'save or die'-focused character with obscene spell DCs. Showed it to the GM for prior approval and everything (even pointed out the obscene spell DCs). Over the course of three games, he forced saves on no less than 15 enemies. Not. One. Ever. Failed.

Enemies, who should have had, at best, a 10% success rate.

My min/maxed character was mocked by the rest of the party in-game for her perceived uselessness and eventually ejected from the party. Just try and imagine 15 rounds of combat where you effectively do nothing.

Never again will I suffer such things from a GM. Our GM now rolls in the open, ever since the other players realized what he was doing.

Silver Crusade

Here's a question where I think the GM ruled incorrectly, but I can kinda see why: Does a Blade Barrier spell block line of effect for other magic?

In a PFS game, 4 PCs died because the GM ruled that my cleric behind the Blade Barrier couldn't channel to heal the other PCs in front of it, because the blades would block the channeled energy.

Maybe it's just me, but if I were a GM, even if I agreed with that ruling (which is a questionable ruling and I don't agree, but I can at least see the reasoning), I'd at least rule in favor of avoiding a near-TPK on a questionable call.

That's not my worst GM horror story, though. Even worse was a small convention I went to, where a few experienced D&D 3.5 players decided to do Pathfinder Society for the first time. One of them was GMing a scenario every slot that weekend, and hadn't had time to read them all. So he was making stuff up about the adventure, not really knowing the Pathfinder rules, and for some unknown reason, he seemed to have it in for my PC.

The first death at least seemed fair, though it probably could have been avoided if our party had gotten all the information he should have given us at the start of the fight. But in a long, tough fight, my character died, then was raised from the dead before the next session.

The next session starts out with him giving us about 30 seconds of background info, then putting our minis on a playing mat that represented our march through the wilderness (without asking us what marching order we preferred), then claimed some soldiers on horseback ambushed us out in the open. They charged us for x3 damage or whatever (they had all the mounted combat feats that I don't know enough about to give you specifics), and for no obvious reason, he decided they'd all target my PC first, resulting in my second death in less than an hour of playing time. Needless to say, I was upset, and someone else called BS on mounted troops getting a surprise round on an open field where they couldn't possibly have snuck up on us. So he agreed to reverse that and start over without the surprise round, so my character didn't die.

As it turns out, I checked on the forums here later, and that ambush is supposed to take place in terrain where those horsemen can't charge to make the most of those mounted combat feats. So what should have been a stupidly easy combat was incredibly tough for us, because he gave them the terrain advantage of being able to charge back and forth on their horses the entire fight, when they shouldn't have been able to charge at all, or even move that far because of the terrain. That also explains how they were supposed to ambush us without us seeing them coming - the terrain gave them cover.

Still not as bad as most of the others in this thread, but those were my two worst.


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

I go to a local con called SwampCon once a year to roleplay and meet other like-minded dorks.

Last year, a trio of "long-time, professional GMs" held a seminar to a room filled with nearly 150 people. They then began to give "expert advice" on how to deal with problem players, all of which ultimately amounted to "make an in-game example out of him" by "dropping a grand-piano on his head" or some such things. Ironically, many of the side-line stories they told of their own adventures made it clear that they themselves were likely problem players.

Worst GMing advice EVAR!!!

ALmsot makes me want to host my own panel next year where I can counteract some of the damage they've done by teaching people about the fun social experience of roleplaying and about how you really should treat your GM and fellow players as like-minded, intelligent adults who (like you) are simply hoping to have a good time.

MagusJanus wrote:
After that, they asked me to stop playing Zelda games :P

UNREASONABLE!!!


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Fromper wrote:


That's not my worst GM horror story, though. Even worse was a small convention I went to, where a few experienced D&D 3.5 players decided to do Pathfinder Society for the first time. One of them was GMing a scenario every slot that weekend, and hadn't had time to read them all. So he was making stuff up about the adventure, not really knowing the Pathfinder rules, and for some unknown reason, he seemed to have it in for my PC.

PFS seems to attract all kinds of bad GMs, because virtually everyone I know has a bad PFS story.

One of my older friends was playing a PFS game with his wife (who is blind and thus has a hard time with map positioning) in some kind of trapped house of horrors where their party was setting off all kinds of spell traps and were being attacked by a mage. At one point, she apparently left a hallway which the PCs were in and backtracked down a staircase they'd been by to get to safety, after which the GM springs a trap on the whole party, who have to make reflex saves to avoid a fireball spell. When my friend pointed out his wife's character wasn't in line of effect, the GM said she had to roll to save anyways because the spell said "it hits all the party."

Later on in the game they were on a bridge and had trouble fighting people on the other side, and it was ranged combat (this story I'm a little bit fuzzier on the details) for some reason or other there wasn't any way for her to attack so she was Delaying the whole combat - until apparently one of the enemies got into the open. So she said she was going to come in then and shoot him with her crossbow. The GM said she couldn't because he didn't remember hearing her say she reloaded her crossbow and she needed to do a full round action to reload. (she got up and walked out of the table after that).


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"Carnivorous Apes jump from the trees! Roll initiative!"

"Um, what trees? We're in a desert...?"

"You didn't see the trees? Then you're surprised!"


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CommandoDude wrote:
Fromper wrote:


That's not my worst GM horror story, though. Even worse was a small convention I went to, where a few experienced D&D 3.5 players decided to do Pathfinder Society for the first time. One of them was GMing a scenario every slot that weekend, and hadn't had time to read them all. So he was making stuff up about the adventure, not really knowing the Pathfinder rules, and for some unknown reason, he seemed to have it in for my PC.

PFS seems to attract all kinds of bad GMs, because virtually everyone I know has a bad PFS story.

One of my older friends was playing a PFS game with his wife (who is blind and thus has a hard time with map positioning) in some kind of trapped house of horrors where their party was setting off all kinds of spell traps and were being attacked by a mage. At one point, she apparently left a hallway which the PCs were in and backtracked down a staircase they'd been by to get to safety, after which the GM springs a trap on the whole party, who have to make reflex saves to avoid a fireball spell. When my friend pointed out his wife's character wasn't in line of effect, the GM said she had to roll to save anyways because the spell said "it hits all the party."

Later on in the game they were on a bridge and had trouble fighting people on the other side, and it was ranged combat (this story I'm a little bit fuzzier on the details) for some reason or other there wasn't any way for her to attack so she was Delaying the whole combat - until apparently one of the enemies got into the open. So she said she was going to come in then and shoot him with her crossbow. The GM said she couldn't because he didn't remember hearing her say she reloaded her crossbow and she needed to do a full round action to reload. (she got up and walked out of the table after that).

I've had a few PFS GMs outright tell me that PFS mandates this kind of GMing. It's a side-effect of how PFS is handled. That's a major reason I'm not a big fan of it, as it seems to be designed to force people to be bad GMs.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
NobodysHome wrote:
Bill Dunn wrote:
NobodysHome wrote:

Our "worst GM EVER" was Champions, not Pathfinder.

- All villains MUST recur, no matter how badly you defeated them/killed them/desecrated their bodies. He MADE them come back. Presumably so he didn't have to create new ones.

<snip>
- If the fight went poorly, the bad guy got to rewrite the rules on the fly.

In all fairness, both of these are well within the superhero genre, particularly the former. Villains recur. You can disintegrate them, blast them out into space, have them captured by vastly more powerful alien entities, revert them to children, turn them into brain dead vegetables, or trap them in miniature androids of themselves and they will come back. (note - most of those examples are ones I can think of off the top of my head that have happened to either Doctor Doom or Magneto over the last 40 years - now add all of the other possible deaths other villains have escaped...).

At least Mutants and Masterminds compensates you with a hero point when the GM pulls the latter on you to give his villain an improbable win or escape.

But seriously, getting into the genre is part of playing a genre RPG like Champions. If you chafe at either of the two examples of yours I quoted, you're probably not approaching the genre with the right mindset.

I suspect it's more that I described it poorly for space porpoises. Every mook with a name reappeared, upgraded to be able to take on the entire group. So it wasn't Dr. Doom reappearing; it was that his henchman was called "Fred" in one panel of the comic, so "Fred" reappeared as a super-villain next comic. And Fred would have attacks that could one-shot anyone in the party, and defenses that couldn't be breached by anyone in the party, even with cooperative attacks. So we'd have to run away, and the GM would complain about how "stupid" we were, end the session, and then start the session the next week with his villain "downgraded" enough for us to be able to beat him.

And then he'd get...

Now I've got "So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish" running through my head. Thanks, NobodysHome. ;-P

My turn!

Back in LG, I was playing my dwarven rogue through an adventure. Don't remember which now, but we were exploring a lost island, and we were all about 6th or 7th level. The final encounter was a giant two-headed viper. My rogue was the only one in melee with it when it attacked, but fortunately, the wizard had successfully hit it with a slow spell. Regardless, the DM stated it got all of its attacks, and critted me with one of them. I went from "perfectly fine" to "instantly dead." The DM was also well known for making terrible rules calls, and I had to argue my way out of that one, basically pointing out that a slowed hydra would only get one attack, so this two-headed creature would only get one as well.

(He still died a few years later, but hey, that's White Plume Mountain for you.)


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This one is my bad; In PFS I ruled that using presdigitation to make an enemy smell like barbeque would grant the wolf animal companion with scent a bonus percent chance of hitting the target concealed with darkness. That opened a can of worms.


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Malwing wrote:
This one is my bad; In PFS I ruled that using presdigitation to make an enemy smell like barbeque would grant the wolf animal companion with scent a bonus percent chance of hitting the target concealed with darkness. That opened a can of worms.

Not a bad call at all. Like Mage Armor affecting a stirge, it falls under the Rule of Funny.


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Ravingdork wrote:

I go to a local con called SwampCon once a year to roleplay and meet other like-minded dorks.

Last year, a trio of "long-time, professional GMs" held a seminar to a room filled with nearly 150 people. They then began to give "expert advice" on how to deal with problem players, all of which ultimately amounted to "make an in-game example out of him" by "dropping a grand-piano on his head" or some such things. Ironically, many of the side-line stories they told of their own adventures made it clear that they themselves were likely problem players.

Worst GMing advice EVAR!!!

Boy, their advice was completely wrong. I have said it many times, here and elsewhere- "You can't fix a OOC issue IC." If you have a "problem player' you sit down and talk to him like adults. if that doesn't work, you eject them.

Silver Crusade

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MagusJanus wrote:
CommandoDude wrote:
Fromper wrote:


That's not my worst GM horror story, though. Even worse was a small convention I went to, where a few experienced D&D 3.5 players decided to do Pathfinder Society for the first time. One of them was GMing a scenario every slot that weekend, and hadn't had time to read them all. So he was making stuff up about the adventure, not really knowing the Pathfinder rules, and for some unknown reason, he seemed to have it in for my PC.

PFS seems to attract all kinds of bad GMs, because virtually everyone I know has a bad PFS story.

One of my older friends was playing a PFS game with his wife (who is blind and thus has a hard time with map positioning) in some kind of trapped house of horrors where their party was setting off all kinds of spell traps and were being attacked by a mage. At one point, she apparently left a hallway which the PCs were in and backtracked down a staircase they'd been by to get to safety, after which the GM springs a trap on the whole party, who have to make reflex saves to avoid a fireball spell. When my friend pointed out his wife's character wasn't in line of effect, the GM said she had to roll to save anyways because the spell said "it hits all the party."

Later on in the game they were on a bridge and had trouble fighting people on the other side, and it was ranged combat (this story I'm a little bit fuzzier on the details) for some reason or other there wasn't any way for her to attack so she was Delaying the whole combat - until apparently one of the enemies got into the open. So she said she was going to come in then and shoot him with her crossbow. The GM said she couldn't because he didn't remember hearing her say she reloaded her crossbow and she needed to do a full round action to reload. (she got up and walked out of the table after that).

I've had a few PFS GMs outright tell me that PFS mandates this kind of GMing. It's a side-effect of how PFS is handled. That's a major reason I'm not a big fan of it, as it seems to be designed to force people to be bad GMs.

I don't know who you've been talking to, but this simply isn't true. Yes, you have to run the adventure as written, so no changing monster stats or anything like that, but you still have to have a brain. If the enemy mage was trying to target as much of the party as possible with a fireball, he still won't hit the one who's not in the room. That GM was just an idiot. And I'm pretty sure I know which adventure you're talking about - it's actually a very fun one, when run well.

I hope these stories aren't turning people against PFS. I've got the 2 bad stories I mentioned above from probably 150+ sessions playing/GMing in Society play. Most of the GMs I've played with have been at least pretty good. A couple have been excellent. A couple were kind of mediocre, but even then, they're rarely awful. Just those two really bad calls, and even the first of those was a pretty good GM otherwise, until he made the one call about the Blade Barrier that I disagree with which killed more than half the party.

The Exchange

It's an open house situation in PFS. Most of us realize that means cutting the game a little slack. And as a perk, if you realize that a particular PFS GM is out of his demented little gourd, you can simply avoid his table forever afterward. It's far less complicated than backing out of a home game - though obviously it's not good for the PFS society at large when that happens.

I haven't had very many 'wut' moments as a player - most of my GMs were sticking to or at least within sight of the rules, with their differences more in the neighborhood of being too power-gamey or Monty Haul for my tastes. Though I do recall the occasion where the GM explained that we could never climb over the keep wall without getting spotted by the (human) guards... because there was moonlight. (I can't remember which set of Stealth rules was in play - those rules seem like they've transmuted 90 times since the 3.0 Player's Handbook came out - but I do know that a system where moonlight is all it takes to make Stealth impossible isn't doing the rogue any favors.)


Lincoln Hills wrote:
It's an open house situation in PFS. Most of us realize that means cutting the game a little slack. And as a perk, if you realize that a particular PFS GM is out of his demented little gourd, you can simply avoid his table forever afterward. It's far less complicated than backing out of a home game - though obviously it's not good for the PFS society at large when that happens.

Depends on how your local PFS runs things too. The one I went to didn't actually post who was running things or going. Going into town to find out that one jerk you don't like is running can lead to a rough decision.

Its not all bad though, ofc.


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I'm going to go ahead and continue the sidetrack for one more post, figuring that "Bad GM stories" are far too fun for any particular sidetrack to get too much traction. This is more of a "bad player" post.

So, as I've said in other threads, I love to GM, but I doubt I'll ever GM PFS for reasons listed above (rigid rulesets) and reasons abundantly clear in other forums (RAW vs. RAI, rollplaying vs. roleplaying, optimization, etc.).

Anyway, I had the "honor" of my first PFS veteran player joining my "kids' game". His behavior so far:
- His character is an aasimar Paladin/Zen Archer because he saw it at a PFS game and he loves the synergy of using Flurry of Blows with a bow with Smite Evil.
- So I asked him for a background, and his response was, "Oh, what? We have to have backgrounds? I really wasn't thinking of that when I came up with this character. Do I really need one to play?" Yeah, I still don't have one.
- He chooses clear d20s so he can roll in the open, then "shift" the die with his finger while picking it up. He doesn't think I've noticed. I'll be calling him out on it next session. Cheating during a kids' game is downright pathetic.

So it's "bad player" rather than "bad GM", but I'm afraid it's further jading my opinion of PFS...


Not as big a 'bad ruling' as some of these, but presently one of my GMs thinks charging provokes an AoO from the person you're charging.


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Conversely, another GM keeps thinking that the withdraw action renders the character completely immune to AoO. We have to constantly remind him that's not the case.


Disciple of Sakura wrote:

First 3.0 campaign I played, I was a fighter with weapon focus: Heavy Crossbow for thematic reasons. I fired at a creature climbing up towards our location along an almost sheer cliff. I asked how far away it was, the DM replied "120 feet" and I fired at it. Rolled pretty high, DM responded that there was "no way" I could hit it because it was "120 feet away. That's too far to hit it." Needless to say, I quit that game after that session.

My first 3.0 experience, I built a gish sorcerer and gave her Martial Weapon Proficiency: Greatsword at first level. The DM refused to allow it, because she didn't know how to wield a longsword, and there was no way someone could learn to use a greatsword without knowing how to use a longsword first.

That's a pretty bad pair of rulings. Your counter arguments should have been:

* "One doesn't need to know how to use a pistol first before they can use a shotgun, nor a musket before using a revolver."

* "120 feet is just slightly longer than a basketball court, and a third of a football field. Heavy crossbows have real-world ranges well beyond that, and are accurate at likely twice that range in the hands of a proficient user."

In reality you can probably hit a target from 200 feet with a shortbow if you really know what you're doing.

I don't personally have a worst ruling ever, just a ruling that makes some sense to most but that I disagreed with privately: I was playing a game of Dresden and leaping from a tall building to strike at a troll with a pair of iron knuckles. The DM at the time ruled that I couldn't add Inhuman Strength (it might have been Superhuman at the time) because I didn't have a place to brace my feet, a ruling that disregarded the real world physics of an arm's power not being linked with the feet or stance in a free-fall setting. It's a bit much to get into, but throwing a punch increases the speed of the attack, where force is a measure of mass by acceleration; strength should really have been added.

In the end, I knocked him senseless regardless so the ruling never bothered so much; in general the rules of the Dresden game are just broken beyond repair. The chase, speed, and distance rules in particular are badly broken, and the combat system itself is far too easy to game into single, massive blows by any particular player class if they simply maneuver the system properly.

Outside of all that, I really don't have a lot of bad GM'ing stories in general; every GM/DM I've played with stuck to the rules and used common sense. The weak point of the GMs I've played with has rather been coming up with enough story to keep original settings going, not any problems with rules interpretations; they've in fact been all very spot-on and logical in applying rules, even with complicated sets like Dresden and DnD.

Never played Pathfinder pen-and-paper though, so I have no idea how the Pathfinder community is like. These days I've just been trying to meld the various game designs into an original one, a project that's likely to take some more years until I have a design I like.


I guess I've been rather fortunate, but over he years and several D&D editions I've stumbled on some very bad calls:

In 2e AD&D
-Hold Person. Though your target is immobilized, you still need to hit his complete armor class.
-We beat everyone present in the thieves' lair. Too much gear to carry, so we go back to town to heal up a bit and get a carriage. We come back, everything's been cleaned out.

In PF:
- GM told me flat out before the game there was no way my monk would be able to trip an Iron Golem because they just weigh too much. So my trip build + Enlarge Person spell was rendered null, regardless of what I could've rolled. I was tempted to take a sorcerer level just to cast True Strike.
- GM ruled that fire resistance is counted before I roll my evasion saving throw. So I would always take damage from a fireball, even on a successful save.
- Critical Fumble cards, if you roll a '1' and "confirm it" with another miss (not just another '1') you have a critical fumble. Being a monk with flurry of blows and unimpressive strength gave me a proportionally higher chance of critical fumbles than all other characters around the table combined!

He's also the kind of DM to hold a grudge and for some reason finds it insulting to be able to lookup the PRD and Paizo boards when a rules question comes up and see if it was brought up before.


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The use of Critical Fumbles is universally, no, omniversally a bad GM call.


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Zhayne wrote:
The use of Critical Fumbles is universally, no, omniversally a bad GM call.

It saved my party previously a number of times. I actually enjoy the critical hit/fumble tables or cards. They do make the combats more interesting than "I hit it with my weapon *roll*". Of course, I know there are people who hate it. I wouldn't call it an omniversally bad GM call.

I am happy to say I haven't come across any terrible GMs, though I have played with (and ran for) some terrible players.


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On the other hand, some Critical Fumbles go like this...

DM: Ouch! Rolled a 1! Okay, roll to confirm.
Fighty McFighter: Ah ^%$%. *rolls a 1*
DM: Another 1! Okay, let me check...
*DM rolls a 1d100*
Hrm...
*DM rolls scatter and distance*
Let's see... that brings us to...
*DM looks to mage*
What's your AC?


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MagusJanus wrote:

On the other hand, some Critical Fumbles go like this...

DM: Ouch! Rolled a 1! Okay, roll to confirm.
Fighty McFighter: Ah ^%$%. *rolls a 1*
DM: Another 1! Okay, let me check...
*DM rolls a 1d100*
Hrm...
*DM rolls scatter and distance*
Let's see... that brings us to...
*DM looks to mage*
What's your AC?

I've got a better one.

DM: Ouch! Rolled a 1! Okay, roll to confirm.
Fighty McFighter: Ah ^%$%. *rolls a 1*
DM: Another 1! Okay, let me check...
*DM rolls a 1d100*
Hrm...
*DM rolls scatter and distance*
Let's see... that brings us to...
*Dm Looks up at the fighter*
You just managed to decapitate yourself.

Lots of fun with critical fumbles, aww yeah! Well I mean... unless you wanted your characters to live. It also tends to work against players much more than NPCs.


Having to reroll stealth checks every time someone rolls against you with Perception.

Heres a funny one.

One day at my local gaming store I noticed there was a PFS group. I was like "Neat! I've always wanted to try organized Pathfinder. I wonder what it will be like."

So I pop in on the day they meet and threw together an Archer Fighter to follow them. Fast forward to an encounter with an ice golem thingy. I roll a 20 then a 19.
"Sweet I got a crit!"
"Uh no you didn't, Constructs are immune to critical hits."
"What? No, I know I did, this is one of those big things that changed about monsters, just like how undead are vulnerable to critical hits now too. I know this, I've been playing Pathfinder for 2 years before coming here."
"Constructs are objects and not subject to critical hits."

The PFS GM is shaking her head at me and the whole table is pointedly looking down at this point. To this day I've never gone back. Though I did write an angry email.


MrSin wrote:

Lots of fun with critical fumbles, aww yeah! Well I mean... unless you wanted your characters to live. It also tends to work against players much more than NPCs.

Have you ever played Rolemaster (aka Chartmaster)? You could not only injure or kill yourself, but your error could so dishearten your teammates that they'd take a huge penalty on their next action.

The Exchange

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MagusJanus wrote:
walter mcwilliams wrote:
Reading these posts is crazy! How do GM's who perpetrate this type of insanity keep players in their groups! So thankful for the great GM's I have in my circle of gamers!!

The two I had that were really bad didn't keep their groups ;)

SAMAS wrote:
MagusJanus wrote:
Chengar Qordath wrote:
MrSin wrote:
Here's another one, if you roll too high you do too well and fail. That one drives me a little nuts.

Ugh, that one. It's especially annoying since it usually seems to stem from GMs getting pissy over players doing too well.

Roll too high on Intimidate? The target faints in terror or runs away screaming at the top of his lungs.

Roll too high on Diplomacy to gather information? Instead of getting useful information, you get one useful thing buried in dozens of irrelevant facts.

Roll too well on your attack? You hit the monster so hard your weapon gets stuck in it's hide.

That would get beyond tiring in a hurry. The GM would have to be replaced after doing that enough times.

Actually, "Gone Horribly Right" rulings could be fun if done right. Like that one incident in an Adventure Path where if you successfully used Diplomacy to slip past a city guard, she might pull you aside and ask you out.

But they would have to be more balanced than just auto-failure, though. Like getting your weapon stuck in the enemy is an automatic Max damage roll, but you need to make a Strength test to pull the weapon out.

Gone horribly right is a good one, but never as an autofail.

Funny is using diplomacy on a goblin, getting a natural 20, confirming it, and later being awoken by the goblin trying to sing a love ballad outside your window ;)

My players have learned that when I ask them to confirm a natural 20 on a skill check, things are about to get interesting :D

My Favorite "gone horribly right" was the old Living Death rpga game. If a character tried to use the psychometry (object reading) psychic ability you can get a feeling for what happened with it, on a nat 20 you relive it. My poor guy got a 20 on everything with blood. including the Bastille guillotine.......


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Quote:
This one is my bad; In PFS I ruled that using presdigitation to make an enemy smell like barbeque would grant the wolf animal companion with scent a bonus percent chance of hitting the target concealed with darkness. That opened a can of worms.

That is one of the best rulings ever.

Grand Lodge

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KL Sanchez wrote:
Quote:
This one is my bad; In PFS I ruled that using presdigitation to make an enemy smell like barbeque would grant the wolf animal companion with scent a bonus percent chance of hitting the target concealed with darkness. That opened a can of worms.
That is one of the best rulings ever.

I can see the can of worms though.

"I make the spider smell like gnome, therefore our party's half-orc gains a bonus to his bite attack." Party's gnome looks at the half-orc, "What the heck dude?"

I would certainly rule something like this in my home game. Inventive uses for abilities and spells make me happy.


The need to search every 5 foot square individually.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
The need to search every 5 foot square individually.

I don't know if its worse when something is there or when you wasted your time looking for nothing.

100 rolls later...

The Exchange

Zhayne wrote:
Have you ever played Rolemaster (aka Chartmaster)? You could not only injure or kill yourself, but your error could so dishearten your teammates that they'd take a huge penalty on their next action.

I saw Rolemaster on the shelf a few times, back in the day. I was able to recognize that particular lemon by sight - I didn't have to bite into it. Any system in which Aragorn kills or maims another member of the Fellowship every 50 or 60 rounds of battle is not for me. Think how many poor Rohirrim died of "friendly stab" during the Battle for Helm's Deep! Mourn for the Eorlingas!


MrSin wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
The need to search every 5 foot square individually.

I don't know if its worse when something is there or when you wasted your time looking for nothing.

100 rolls later...

I could see 100 rolls for a search if it covered something like New York City... But not a 10 x 10 room.


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Zhayne wrote:
The use of Critical Fumbles is universally, no, omniversally a bad GM call.

This. So much this. Making the supposedly competent martial classes the ones most likely to critical fumble (since they make the most attacks) is just about the worst idea ever. If forced to participate in such a game I would play a caster that didn't roll dice. As should everyone else.

@Scavion that is truly unfortunate. Especially since that was one of the really notable changes. We need a system mastery belt ranking system. It would vastly improve the game by helping to determine people in a position to actually know the rules.


Zhayne wrote:
MrSin wrote:

Lots of fun with critical fumbles, aww yeah! Well I mean... unless you wanted your characters to live. It also tends to work against players much more than NPCs.

Have you ever played Rolemaster (aka Chartmaster)? You could not only injure or kill yourself, but your error could so dishearten your teammates that they'd take a huge penalty on their next action.

You can also make your opponents laugh so hard at you they get a penalty too.

Scarab Sages

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Zhayne wrote:
MrSin wrote:

Lots of fun with critical fumbles, aww yeah! Well I mean... unless you wanted your characters to live. It also tends to work against players much more than NPCs.

Have you ever played Rolemaster (aka Chartmaster)? You could not only injure or kill yourself, but your error could so dishearten your teammates that they'd take a huge penalty on their next action.

I used to think the critical hit/critical fumble charts where hilarious.

Sadly, critical fumble systems punish FoB/TWF styles far more than characters making single large attacks.

Scarab Sages

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Anzyr wrote:
Zhayne wrote:
The use of Critical Fumbles is universally, no, omniversally a bad GM call.

This. So much this. Making the supposedly competent martial classes the ones most likely to critical fumble (since they make the most attacks) is just about the worst idea ever. If forced to participate in such a game I would play a caster that didn't roll dice. As should everyone else.

@Scavion that is truly unfortunate. Especially since that was one of the really notable changes. We need a system mastery belt ranking system. It would vastly improve the game by helping to determine people in a position to actually know the rules.

Drop it with the caster/martial BS Anzyr. Most of it just exists in your mind anyways.

My tables had critical fumbles for casters as well. I used this wonderful little set of charts in The Dragon Tree Spellbook.

Shadow Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Most of my bad GM stories are not as crazy as some of the other ones here. I had a GM once tell me that a coup de grace took 1 round during last years Gencon special. Luckily I was my crossbow ranger, against my favored enemies, and in my favored terrain so I just smoked one of the other enemies and then looked up the rule while I waited for it to come back around to my turn.

That being said I have heard some horror stories. I know some of my friends have played in a game where nat 1's on skill checks were automatic failures regardless of skill mod and nat 20's were automatic successes. That sucks just hearing about it.

As for crit fumbles and crit decks my party has never had a problem but again I can see them as being not for everyone. What I always find funny is in my home games I roll more damn 1's than my players more often. It is never fun to watch your giant dragon light his own foot on fire but it does make one hell of a story.

I will say one of my biggest peeves is gm's who know just enough of the rules to think they know all of the rules and do not broke any discussion to the contrary. Also when you walk into a game that has a hefty pile of houserules that either no one knows about till they stumble onto or that the GM doesn't inform you about until after you've built your character. Also gm's who are not respectful of content or maturity when it comes to your player base. I always get pissed when GMs try to include content that just doesn't work for the party either mechanically or because the content is not something they want to explore.

For example in my home game I've got a player who's character is missing an eye, another who is missing 6 fingers, and many of them who are slowly going insane. Now my party is having an absolute blast (4 fingers now has a beartrap glove so he can hold his warhammer without worrying about his effectively missing hand) but I know of a few players who I know wouldn't be able to handle the concept of their optimized paladin getting his arm lopped off even if they were forewarned or would miss the point of a game with an insanity mechanic. I think in the end a lot of big friction just comes from players and gm's not being on the same wavelength, no one talking about it, and someone not wanting to budge from their beliefs.

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