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


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Self-explanatory title.

If I had to pick one, it would be when a GM went to limit several of my otherwise open item slots because of armor like Full Plate coming with a helmet, gauntlets, sabatons, etc. Making our naked Monk the most tankey and effective guy in our group was somewhat hilarious, though also the dumbest thing I've ever heard...


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.


No will save on dominate person. The gm could use it on the entire party at any time, unlimited duration.


Having a GM dictate to me who my character supposedly was based on my stats, trying to overrule my backstory and redirect the course of my RP from that point forward.

Haven't been back since.


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A GM who was so into Tolkien that he enforced its bits mechanically.

If a dwarf was in the presence of alcohol, he had to make saves of increasing difficulty, or else drink until he passed out (or the alcohol ran out).

A halfling away from home had to make saves of increasing difficulty, or go running back to their home regardless of the situation.

And the kicker ... since elves were a 'wise, elder race', you had to make a save or you would believe literally anything an elf told you, even if it contradicted your own experiences, knowledge or senses. If an elf told you the sky was plaid, and you blew the save, you would think something had been wrong with your eyes since birth.


Oh that reminds me, a gm who declared no barbarians could be city dwellers or not hate books, so the first time I said I didn't really mind cities he attempted to change all of my levels to fighter but with no bonus feats.

I didn't go back.


Worst I've ever had:
You can't walk up stairs.
Grappled = Helpless.
Not using the check result from Diplomacy when talking to NPCs (the DM determined by what we said, which sounds like a good RP enforcer, but it isn't).
Not allowed to throw bombs (as an Alchemist).


My first DM had a rule that whoever struck the last blow on an enemy received all the experience for it. I hated that rule.


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DungeonmasterCal wrote:
My first DM had a rule that whoever struck the last blow on an enemy received all the experience for it. I hated that rule.

Sort of works that way in rolemaster!


Intimidate as mind control. A high level NPC could intimidate you and you would have to do what he said.

There was also the guy who thought each feat you took for two weapon fighting meant you got an extra attack per feat per attack with your primary because 'that's how it works irl!". So a guy who used two weapon fighting and was level 11, with 3 primary attacks and 3 twf feats, made 12 attacks. That took forever to roll.

I've also had to deal with a few save or dies without a save. That's not cool, ever.

DungeonmasterCal wrote:
My first DM had a rule that whoever struck the last blow on an enemy received all the experience for it. I hated that rule.

I had something like that once. The gm gave out Xp based on how much you contributed to combat. However he only really considered damage contribution, so even if you destroyed the encounter with CC and everyone else cleaned up, you got no credit. I was playing a buffer character and had to get the rules changed to get any xp at all. He also forgot to track damage sometimes, so even if I did over 100 damage in the encounter he'd give me none, and the creature would be alive that much longer. Drove me nuts.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

I don't think I've had to deal with anything as bad as these before. of course i always get stuff checked before hand with my DM, but some of these just defy explanation/show a great lack of knowledge for the rules.

I know everyone has to start somewhere, but why there of all places?

Scarab Sages

I had a GM insist players couldn't talk to each other unless it was their turn because talking is a free action and thus only on your turn.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Cascade wrote:

I had a GM insist players couldn't talk to each other unless it was their turn because talking is a free action and thus only on your turn.

... but free actions... can be done in anyone's turn, and interrupts actions...

;-; i feel so much empathy for everyone.


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The worst rulings (in order from least bad to most bad):

1. No longer allowed to seduce the BBEG to the side of good.

2. Dwarves do not count as catapult ammunition, even if we limit it to the barbarians.

3. Gnomes are people.

4. May not use humanoid bodies as melee weapons, even if they are the only thing at hand and you are fighting for your life.

5. Sure, you can buy potions in flask amounts. (This one was later reversed due to being abused.)

6. You may not load catapults with anything except rocks. No horses, dead cows, dire bears, orcs, dead humanoid bodies, treants, rust monsters, gelatinous cubes, barrels of alchemist's fire, or zombies.

7. No longer allowed to play male paladins after using one to distract the BBEG by seducing him. (Apparently, I disturbed the GM. He wasn't with the group for much longer.)

8. Women automatically lose to men in a strength check. (After we dropped the GM off at the hospital for having the gall to say this in front of a woman with a blackbelt and then claim he can prove it, we unanimously voted to eject and replace him.)

Edit: Reordered the list. I had put one in the wrong spot.


DungeonmasterCal wrote:
My first DM had a rule that whoever struck the last blow on an enemy received all the experience for it. I hated that rule.

It was implied that that was the it was supposed to work in 1st ed.


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MagusJanus wrote:

8. Women automatically lose to men in a strength check. (After we dropped the GM off at the hospital for having the gall to say this in front of a woman with a blackbelt and then claim he can prove it, we unanimously voted to eject and replace him.)

Wow. Just ... wow.

Not a 'ruling', per se, but I have had a GM in the past who insisted that the role of any female character of a female player was to be a 'damsel in distress', or a babysitter. No matter how bad-ass the character was, his pet DMPC would rescue her, even from situations where she didn't need rescuing. If there was any child involved in a plot (or someone of child-like intelligence), it would be foisted on her.


Zhayne wrote:
Not a 'ruling', per se, but I have had a GM in the past who insisted that the role of any female character of a female player was to be a 'damsel in distress', or a babysitter. No matter how bad-ass the character was, his pet DMPC would rescue her, even from situations where she didn't need rescuing. If there was any child involved in a plot (or someone of child-like intelligence), it would be foisted on her.

On the other far end, I once had a GM who gave the woman in the group free rolls anytime she asked. So essentially she never failed, or anyone she liked, and if she wanted something to happen it was going to happen. Wasn't an official houserule, but... was what happened and there was never a no.


Worst for me was probably this game one game that was being run over IRC. Was a new game for the group, we'd been doing stuff over Yahoo! before, other systems, etc. This wasn't a d20 system, but anyway.

Party got a little split up, so some things were being handled in IMs. But then one other player and myself are trying to do something in the main channeland are getting nothing out of the GM. And I mean nothing.

Later he told me I should have contacted him via PM.


DM was a good friend of mine but he would start making up rules in combat because the he could only see it working that way. If you swung on a guy trapped in a web then you had to make a save or also be caught in the web, brand new rule after I cast web. Also made up more rules for being blind in combat to where it is so debilitating you can't function


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I had one GM that hand a pile of house rule seemingly set on getting our character out of their clothes
invisibility didn't stop when you attacked but did not effect your clothing
also when you teleported nothing came with you unless it was carried in a certain magic bag


Not as bad as those above and the DM stopped after a while after he learned how stupid it was, but:

Diplomacy against other PCs as a way to get them to do what you want. Fighter essentially "forced" me to make him breakfast.

Not a big deal, but not something my character would want to do. Didn't help that what the character said wasn't very diplomatic either... so my character made him the worst breakfast they could.


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Cascade wrote:
I had a GM insist players couldn't talk to each other unless it was their turn because talking is a free action and thus only on your turn.

LOL. Depends on your group. I run a kids' game with two 10-year-olds and three 13-year-olds. They couldn't possibly shut up long enough for the person whose initiative it was to take their turn.

So I implemented EXACTLY this rule to keep the combat running smoothly and prevent the players from constantly interrupting each other.

And the sad fact is we've had to do it with our larger adult group, too. I swear, some people just don't know how to let other people take their turns.


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Paladins can't use traps or ambushes.

Because you're lying by omission to your opponent about your presence/the safety of the area.


Rynjin wrote:

Paladins can't use traps or ambushes.

Because you're lying by omission to your opponent about your presence/the safety of the area.

I can see the slippery slope already.

No feints. Rogue can't feint. No coup de grace....


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Rynjin wrote:

Paladins can't use traps or ambushes.

Because you're lying by omission to your opponent about your presence/the safety of the area.

That GM is chaotic evil by default then


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Oh yeah ...

Paladins get their powers yanked if they detect something evil and don't immediately attack it, no matter where or when.


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Draco18s wrote:
No coup de grace....

I've actually had a lot of groups who think Coup De Grace is an innately evil act and will argue that your character should be turned evil, and that this is, of course, an instant fall for a paladin. This unfortunately includes PFS GMs.

I mean, you can totally coup de grace, but if you do you risk losing your character because of the no evil rule that was also there. Drives you a little nuts when your then expected to do something with the leftovers, or worse, your told your supposed to wait around and kill them after they get up which is... awkward, to say the least.


Zhayne wrote:

Oh yeah ...

Paladins get their powers yanked if they detect something evil and don't immediately attack it, no matter where or when.

I once played in a game where anyone around you automatically knew if you were using your powers because 'there had to be a tell' and you could've bluff it, and they tended to impale you if you tried anything.

No problems with detection... or most witch abilities out of combat.

In another game something similar happened with intimidation, regardless of how intimidating you were, you just really enraged the guy across from you and he would charge and try to murderize you. Suddenly people stopped using intimidation.


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I have too many from the most-often GM in my group of friends. I started GMing so he wouldn't have to.

Natural 20 on a skill check is a perfect execution, no matter what. Disguise? No amount of perception will let you see through it. Bluff? You believe me when i tell you your brain is trying to kill you. Stealth? I basically become invisible, don't make any sound, lose any scent i could have, stop emitting vibration and there is absolutely NO WAY you will ever be able to find me. Then some pc (girls, and i would like to point out is not their fault) and other npc pop up with the ability to take automatic natural 20 on specific skill checks… for character background reasons.

Every time we fight an npc prepared caster, he never needs to prepare spells, nor even has limited slots or needs components or casting time. The guy basically opens the manual and choses what he wants to cast turn by turn. One rapid spell and one normal. Also metamagic feats applied according to what is needed.

In general, doesn't matter what modifiers you have, if your dice score is high, you succed, if it's low you fail. I can't even count how many time i lost track of a heavy armor no ranks in stealth antipaladin in our party with my +23 base perception.

Also, world of darkness system, late game, no more that two session away from the final (fighting) encounter against the BBEGs, everybody high power, i was extremely over optimized for fighting: basically able to one-shot anything with a "standard sheet life-bar" and needed 5 times max damage to be stopped. I challenge to fight an ally NPC for story reason and my GM wants to roleplay the scene away from the table.

Me: let me get the dices.
GM: doesn't matter, come with me.

I follow him, confused.

GM: everything you do is useless. He is better than you in every way: stronger, faster, more resilient. He beats you.

I expected to lose, but… being humiliated at my own specialty with a maxed out character without even rolling dice? Why was even a final encounter needed? Why didn't he solve the story… like... yesterday?


TittoPaolo210 wrote:
In general, doesn't matter what modifiers you have, if your dice score is high, you succed, if it's low you fail.

I had a GM who did the same sort of thing. It was utterly ridiculous and frustrating.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I will try to keep this brief -

In a game session, our PCs were in a "pointer" scene, planning how to infiltrate an outpost / base, whatever. The GM had a very short attention span and ran it as if we were actually performing the plan, rather than discussing it. The GM also neglected to tell us this, just kept saying "And then you do what?", which I thought meant to hurry our planning along - not that our characters were actually acting out the infiltration!

What resulted is that when the group decided on a final plan, it became anticlimactic when the GM announced "So you took the (whatever macguffin we had to get at the time) and escaped. So now what?"

What? Our characters did it without even rolling skills? What? Our characters were pulling it off rather than planning it?


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Here's another one, if you roll too high you do too well and fail. That one drives me a little nuts.


Our DM once sicced Soul Eaters on us (as he was directed by the campaign module) but did not allow us Fort saves on the Soul Eater's WIS damage touch attacks, so our many Low WIS characters were in CONSTANT danger of being knocked unconscious due to WIS damage and then being perma killed-no res allow.

We also happened to be under the impression that Haste gave you an extra move action a turn if you didn't full attack (4e rules) so I chalk it up to just generally being bad at rules, but we had to engineer significant shenanigans to keep the party Witch from being Soul Drained, twice.

A different group DM once ruled you needed CHA checks or Diplomacy checks to do ANYTHING social related, even talking to people. Made me stop roleplaying with my Fighter completely since there were constant checks involved.


So i had a dm that gave 100 1 hd goblins a chance to shoot at 3 characters flying in the air 60 feet above their heads while invisible. He said that they would know that there was someone flying above them. He rolled 100 d20s and any 20's were auto hits. Didnt roll for concealment. It was pretty bad.


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.


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Rogar Stonebow wrote:
So i had a dm that gave 100 1 hd goblins a chance to shoot at 3 characters flying in the air 60 feet above their heads while invisible. He said that they would know that there was someone flying above them. He rolled 100 d20s and any 20's were auto hits. Didnt roll for concealment. It was pretty bad.

A group I was playing in was fighting some flying elves who were pretty well putting us to shame. (We weren't flying and no ranged weapons out in a open field.) One player wild-shaped into a will-o-wisp and turned invisible. He went to try and grapple one of the elves and then change into an ogre to plummet the elf out if the sky but he could never even get close to one because the GM rules that the elves could detect "a disturbance in the thermals," so they were able to stay ahead of him.


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.


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BigDTBone wrote:
Rogar Stonebow wrote:
So i had a dm that gave 100 1 hd goblins a chance to shoot at 3 characters flying in the air 60 feet above their heads while invisible. He said that they would know that there was someone flying above them. He rolled 100 d20s and any 20's were auto hits. Didnt roll for concealment. It was pretty bad.
A group I was playing in was fighting some flying elves who were pretty well putting us to shame. (We weren't flying and no ranged weapons out in a open field.) One player wild-shaped into a will-o-wisp and turned invisible. He went to try and grapple one of the elves and then change into an ogre to plummet the elf out if the sky but he could never even get close to one because the GM rules that the elves could detect "a disturbance in the thermals," so they were able to stay ahead of him.

You guys should've demanded to see his perception check. 'caus that smells like all kinds of b!#*%**&. And if my DM was talking about shooting my invis character, I'd remove my figure from the board and mark my location on a separate map - see how much he hits me when he's playing Battleship.


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Early in 3.0, I was in an arena style PvP game (terrible idea, never do it). One team used their extra gold to buy a camel and several flasks of alchemist fire. They proceded to load a dozen flasks onto the camel, and push it off a hill towards our team. The DMs ruled it did area of effect damage equal to every flask cumulatively, basically turning the camel into a cheap (intensified) fireball, against a group of third level characters.
I never went to another meeting of that gaming society.


A crucial NPC, who used a longbow as his main weapon, was handed over to me to play because my character had died.

GM: he won't use melee weapons.

Yeah.. He died from an AoO because of that.


CommandoDude wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
Rogar Stonebow wrote:
So i had a dm that gave 100 1 hd goblins a chance to shoot at 3 characters flying in the air 60 feet above their heads while invisible. He said that they would know that there was someone flying above them. He rolled 100 d20s and any 20's were auto hits. Didnt roll for concealment. It was pretty bad.
A group I was playing in was fighting some flying elves who were pretty well putting us to shame. (We weren't flying and no ranged weapons out in a open field.) One player wild-shaped into a will-o-wisp and turned invisible. He went to try and grapple one of the elves and then change into an ogre to plummet the elf out if the sky but he could never even get close to one because the GM rules that the elves could detect "a disturbance in the thermals," so they were able to stay ahead of him.
You guys should've demanded to see his perception check. 'caus that smells like all kinds of b#*+#&%*. And if my DM was talking about shooting my invis character, I'd remove my figure from the board and mark my location on a separate map - see how much he hits me when he's playing Battleship.

I chalked it up to him learning the game. He still makes mistakes. But not nearly as eroneus. But im not perfect either and i also make mistakes.


"CommandoDude"see how much he hits me when he's playing Battleship. [/QUOTE wrote:


And the pieces keep moving.


Another rule my first DM had (AD&D 1e) was that paladins were tasked to destroy evil, no matter what. Paladins were just butchers in his eyes that were designed to wipe out anything even remotely evil, males, females, children, pets, etc.


Mine was in Rolemaster.

In this game attack rolls were open ended d00%, and the higher you rolled the more damage you did. So BBEG, I roll and got 98 (roll again and add) then rolled a 97 (same) then a 40 something. This was extreme.

Then I rolled on the critical tables (which can lead to instant kills). My crit roll was perfect.

1 round, fight over.

Sort of anti-climactic yeah - but it was all legal, and rolled open table.

The next session the GM said he would be making all rolls (including all PC rolls) himself behind the the screen. I handed him my character with some comment about "if you want to play my character so bad, go ahead" and walked out. Never came back.


these are awesome

LUCKILY i play with a GREAT group of around 8 people, and the people that DM are generally the best of them

BUT
i have this ONE

OKAY so
we were sent into some caves to kill a bunch of giants and such, and all went well until....

the party walks into the room
round one, we all get hit by three maximized cone of colds from no apparent source, it came from the walls

so the party all went... i disbelieve the walls

only one party member rolled high enough
the cleric
once we saw her walk through a few more people believe, but those of us that didn't were told that we cant go through them
we were trapped in a like 20 by 20 room getting hit by repetitive cones of cold

Oh and there was a ghost that was draining a point of con every time it attacked us through the floor

needless to say it was nearly a full party wipe
they kept doing large amounts of AOE damage and specifically targetign people that had been hurt alot or had low HP


that barrels full of flammable/explosive chemical have a radius of effect based on taking the gallons of contents flask-by-flask

that the sloshing, splashing chemical above somehow is not ignited by flaming arrows, only by zombies dropping torches into it, according to The Plan

that best 3-of-4d6 is fair, beside best 1-of-300-npcs for the bff's character

that 12 random bar patrons carrying furniture ("delivering a barfight") make no sound on approach down an inn hallway, until one takes an axe to the room door

that all female elves have a chance to snore. Really, all of them. We're just going to check for your PC first...

that Mage Armor cast after a stirge attaches, will also protect the stirge...


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Ok that stirge one is actually funny enough for me to believe it wasn't a bad call...

The Exchange

at a recent con, a GM ruled that a bloody rag had no scent, nearly completely negating a PC's build.


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Chernobyl wrote:

at a recent con, a GM ruled that a bloody rag had no scent, nearly completely negating a PC's build.

The entire build? That PC had no significant abilities apart from smelling bloody rags?

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