The Cardinal Sins of Certain "Old School" DMs


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I'm a grognard in terms of most of my D&D experience -- mostly 1st edition AD&D, some Holmes/Moldvay basic, etc. -- going back to 1979 or so. But I find my attitudes on what makes a good game, and what makes good game mastering, have changed quite a bit in the intervening decades.

DMs used to roll behind a screen. I don't anymore -- what's good for the goose is good for the gander. My players are mature enough not to metagame it, and that's good enough for me.

DMs used to be all-powerful, making up rules on the spot, overriding rules at whim, blasting the PCs of any player who objected with "ethereal mummies" or whatever. These days I far prefer to be a referee or facilitator, not a dictator.

DMs used to use prominent NPCs to railroad adventures. See above for that.

Alignment used to be a pretty big thing. I downplay it to the point of near-irrelevance now.

Ubiquitous metagaming used to be the name of the game, as houstonderek alluded -- indeed, it was an integral part of playing the game. In-game riddles were solved by the players actually solving riddles. Most skills didn't exist in the early games, so it was all about telling the DM what you were doing, which meant that, if the player was into rock climbing, he could glaze the DM's eyes with talk about pitons and stuff, and all his PCs could climb -- regardless of their stats. I'm kind of glad that's gone now.

Back in my day, immersive role-play began somewhere around 6th level. Most PCs didn't live that long, so we didn't even name them until then. For example, I used to name every thief character "Thug." The one who finally lived to 6th level I tried to name "Snidely Whiplash," but the DM refused to allow it. And most "dungeons" didn't have much of a story -- just a bunch of rooms with monsters, traps, and treasure -- so the whole game was mostly about overcoming challenges and collecting loot. Yeah, some groups layered a bunch of story on top of that, but it wasn't an integral part of the modules or anything.

No one banned "full casters" (and wizards were the only 9-level casters, back then) because most PCs who didn't die retired at 10th level or so. The AD&D rules also had level limits for most races for most classes, so even if the human wizard could keep playing, for example, the rest of the party would be capped out by then anyway.

--

My experiences were not universal for every group, as there was a lot of variation from table to table, but they held for most of the games I was in.


Jaelithe wrote:
Sissyl wrote:
Well, all of them.

I are confused.

You're utterly opposed to all of them or you see where all of them are reasonable in a certain context?

I guess I wasn't clear enough. I will commit these gladly. Excepting one thing I missed earlier: Paladins and casual sex. I wouldn't dream of punishing a character mechanically for roleplaying - the problems to follow would be golden material for me as a GM.

So: Yes, I demand the players roll in the open. I roll behind my screen. I have never been ashamed about it.

I use NPCs, weak and strong, to try to make a vivid setting. I never understood why having a strong NPC somewhere in the world means the players are useless. Sending these powerful NPCs out to accompany the PCs is not usually a good idea, though, unless it's for a short period of time (and will not usually focus on combat...) I vehemently HATE the GMPC concept and will not use it for any reason. If the PCs get a hangaround NPC to follow them for a while, it will be a weak one, but more importantly, it WILL be an NPC, i.e. it will be its own character, have its own motivations, and its own assumptions about the PCs.

I have pretty clear views on alignment, I share them if asked, and you know what? My views are what go because I am the GM. That said, I have never really had a complaint about my handling of it in a game. Paladins are nothing new, and I warn players about to change alignment clearly. I do not, as a rule, allow evil PCs unless the campaign is geared toward them.

I restrict whatever I feel like in a campaign. Simple as that, and anyone who prefers another setup is free to GM instead of me. If I would wait for them to do that, it wouldn't happen, so *shrug*. Theme and flavour are much more important to me than mechanics in why something is restricted or not... but I already have a group of players who don't want to play full casters due to paperwork.

I do try to follow WBL guidelines, simply because it's easy. However, if it's off by some margin, I could definitely care more. Complaints about not getting enough WBL would be filed in the round file archive until such a time as it is clear to me that the PCs are in over their heads in the campaign.

Abusive metagaming and people "roleplaying" through stating mechanical actions, well, I don't have time for it. The first would be an out of game problem to me, and I would discuss sincerely with the player about it... but might well kick them for doing it afterward. People not roleplaying, saying stuff like "I use diplomacy on the... was it a guard this time?", that's so pointless it hurts. I have better things to do with my time.

It depends on the situation what happens, I think, when someone gets mind controlled. I have been in a few situations where the player got flak afterward for stuff he was mind controlled to do, but decided on himself. I would rather not deal with that, so I may well decide to assume control of dominated PCs immediately instead.

I am happy to let players control their mounts, familiars, usually their cohorts and so on - lots of paperwork. The only reason I step in is because the players want their allies to do suicidal acts or stuff the character in question never would.

Grand Lodge

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  • Occasionally fudging die rolls, and reserving the right to roll behind a screen while requiring players to roll openly

    Yes, although my fudges almost always serve the players rather than me. If the first combat has an orc crit the fighter my player spent fifteen minutes making, I'll fudge the hell out of it.

  • Employing prominent NPCs/GMPCs

    Aren't prominent NPCs what a GM is supposed to make? I've only used a GMPC once - and that was a healbot/perception monkey. (2 person gestalt game and they both took classes without perception - they each had a negative modifier.)

  • Disallowing (or even placing restrictions of any kind on) full casters

    Yes, I do this. I don't allow Summoners. It takes too long, nobody builds them right, and I don't think they fit the system. And I've considered doing an all T3 and below game.

  • Enforcing alignment in clear and definitive fashion

    Yeah. Too many players write "CN" on their sheet as excuses to go on murder sprees.

  • Imposing an objective morality on paladins, such as disallowing prevarication for selfish gain, torture, baby- (including baby monster) killing and casual sex as inherently evil and/or chaotic

    In defense of the OP, I could see casual sex as being considered "chaotic". But I don't consider it so, so no. But I actually give my Paladins a 10-point edict to follow according to which god they choose. Far fewer "Should the Paladin fall?" arguments that way.

  • Not providing the "required"/desired magical paraphernalia on schedule

    Oh yeah.

  • Believing the DM's role is benevolent autocrat rather than either gleeful tyrant or impotent fantasy tour guide

    I prefer to see it as a little of both. The important thing is I try to find a balance between the sessions where the players feel challenged and where they get to feel empowered.

  • Refusal to permit evil (or even chaotic neutral) PCs

    Not at all. If you can work within the group, and it can make sense within the framework of the story, all alignments are allowed. Just don't mindlessly backstab the other party members.

  • Disallowing classes that violate the campaign's established and specific tone

    Just did this, actually, against the advice of several other posters. So far it's working out okay, although I did almost kill the party with a swarm.

  • Laying the smack down, hard, on abusive meta-gaming

    Depends. If they're not advancing the plot due to some Platonic ideal of never metagaming, I will encourage them that maybe their character would have an idea of what to do next. But I will come down hard if that 8 int Fighter decides he knows all the strengths and weaknesses of a dragon without the appropriate ranks in knowledge or a good in-story reason.

  • Requiring immersive role-play rather than simple recitation of mechanics

    No. Not everyone can be creative off the cuff like that, and I see no reason to punish them. And I enjoy the mechanics sometimes too.

  • Taking control of PCs who refuse to role-play honestly when charmed, dominated, etc.

    You know, I've never had a problem with this in my games. We all sort of have an agreement not to use "Dominate Person" on PCs in our games - the worst you'll get is a "Hold Person".

  • Retaining control over magical weapons, cohorts, mounts, animal companions, eidolonsSUMMONERS DON'T EXIST! RRRAAGGEEEE!, etc.

    Nope, no way. Too much work on my part. Unless there's a good reason your cohort wouldn't do what you ask them to ("Say, Nodwick, would you kindly go sacrifice yourself on that altar so we can bypass this puzzle? There's a good lad!") I am fine just letting the player handle it.


Jaelithe wrote:

Occasionally fudging die rolls, and reserving the right to roll behind a screen while requiring players to roll openly

not often, but i will often include a cheap way to compensate for character death and i don't force players to roll for anything they can do on a roll of 2 or better

Jaelithe wrote:
Employing prominent NPCs/GMPCs

i use the term DMPC, i prefer to use Tagalong NPC. but i don't beleive they have to be a bad thing, they offer plenty of plot fodder to work with

Jaelithe wrote:
Disallowing (or even placing restrictions of any kind on) full casters

the only restrictions i place is the in game social drawbacks of performing obvious shenanigans, like the blacksmith's guild hiring a group of powerful NPC but PC classed adventurers to assassinate a wizard who dare flood the economy with masterwork daggers via wall of iron and fabricate at such an accellerated rate as an example

Jaelithe wrote:


Enforcing alignment in clear and definitive fashion

i prefer shades of grey

Jaelithe wrote:
Imposing an objective morality on paladins, such as disallowing prevarication for selfish gain, torture, baby- (including baby monster) killing and casual sex as inherently evil and/or chaotic

i am looser with paladins and allow paladins of alternate moralities more appropriate to their religion, and treat them as divine warriors rather than warriors of good, a paladin who follows the bushido code is very different from a paladin who follows the teachings of Sarenrae is yet again, very different from a paladin who follows the teachings of Cayden Cailian

Jaelithe wrote:
Not providing the "required"/desired magical paraphernalia on schedule

i provide magic items if purchased, usually on commission, but sometimes, you may have to tweak your adventuring schedule to accommodate the new item or do the adventure without it. items from the big 6 tend to be higher priority for crafting because they tend to sell more often,but if you all have a day job, you can all wait out your items together, i don't run rushed adventure paths and generally let players control their own pace

Jaelithe wrote:
Believing the DM's role is benevolent autocrat rather than either gleeful tyrant or impotent fantasy tour guide

i'm niether of the 3 mentioned variations, i am a suspiciously generous sadist, i give you all the good stuff you want to butter you up at the low levels, and save the real threats for when your reputation is built up enough, and usually, i don't send one lone dragon or balor to its death

Jaelithe wrote:
Refusal to permit evil (or even chaotic neutral) PCs

i allow evil and chaotic neutral PCs if they can come up with an excuse for why they travel with a good party, and i do the reverse for good characters in a mostly evil party

Jaelithe wrote:
Disallowing classes that violate the campaign's established and specific tone

i don't disallow classes as much as i disallow character concepts, if a character's concept is knight errant and they are using the ronin order and samurai class to accomplish it, i will look at it as the knight errant presented and not a ronin

if the character clearly wanted to play an anime catgirl samurai and you didn't want a cat eared girl with a katana, there is nothing stopping the disruptive player from playing a human barbarian with a Falchion who wears a cat eared hairband and emulates the catgirl samurai aesthetic you tried to ban

the key is to ban the concept, not the class. a Chelexian Hellstalker who models their magical assassin style after the hellcat is a perfectly valid ninja reskin for a pathfinder game in cheliax

Jaelithe wrote:
Laying the smack down, hard, on abusive meta-gaming

not all metagaming is abusive, i allow the players of low int characters to come up with brilliant schemes that the high int character's player can't, i just thank the low int player for helping the high int player come up with a plan that his high int character would have easily developed. i seperate IC from OOC not too badly

Jaelithe wrote:
Requiring immersive role-play rather than simple recitation of mechanics

i require a description of what you plan to recieve as the final result, how you intend to achieve that result and your approach to the result, which could change the modifiers

"i plant my daggers with cunning and clever precision into the obvious weak points of the opponent's anatomy" would be an attack and damage roll each modified by intelligence instead of strength

Jaelithe wrote:
Taking control of PCs who refuse to role-play honestly when charmed, dominated, etc.

i don't use charm/dominate unless the players agree to it, and if they agree to it or actively use it, only then will i use it back. because using it hints the players agree to it. not agreeing to it bans it on both sides. because mind control leads to squicky situations

Jaelithe wrote:

Retaining control over magical weapons, cohorts, mounts, animal companions, eidolons, etc.

i give my players the important information pertaining to the magical weapons they loot and i let them run and make/level their own cohorts, mounts, animal companions, eidolons, familiars, followers. and the like as well as come up with the highly specific parameters for running and using the hirelings they seek. i don't need all that massive headache and the players usually spend time and precious resources for those features and don't want to feel like i am gipping them by giving them a cohort they don't want to be saddled with.


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Jaelithe wrote:
Occasionally fudging die rolls, and reserving the right to roll behind a screen while requiring players to roll openly

I don't ever do this. First, from personal experience, it can lead to players questioning the legitimacy of the DM, which can cheapen the experience (in either direction, depending on the level of "PC-friendliness" of your DM). It also heightens the tension - the players know that I don't know the outcome either. All die rolls are made out in the open, unless what's happening is actually secret (Stealth checks for unseen creatures, for instance).

This is a trick. It makes the players believe that the game's outcome is truly in the hands of their decisions and the outcome of die rolls. That's an illusion. I still retain control of the game, and have a chest of tools I can use to alter the game's outcome without needing the dice to turn out in my favor (or against my favor).

Quote:
Employing prominent NPCs/GMPCs

GMPCs? No, not unless I have no other option. I'm not there to get my jollies off in my own world. I'm there to see how players react to it and to make their experience a good one.

The players and their characters are the most important thing in the game world.

Quote:
Disallowing (or even placing restrictions of any kind on) full casters

Never. This is the sort of thing I can only see being conscionable if the DM is truly a novice, and doesn't feel comfortable dealing with the mild curveballs that full casters sometimes throw.

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Enforcing alignment in clear and definitive fashion

Alignment is descriptive. Not prescriptive. Always. There is nothing to "enforce".

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Imposing an objective morality on paladins, such as disallowing prevarication for selfish gain, torture, baby- (including baby monster) killing and casual sex as inherently evil and/or chaotic

Objective morality is uninteresting, and leads to intra-party conflict. Intra-party conflict is the game-killer.

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Not providing the "required"/desired magical paraphernalia on schedule

If the game's mechanics are predicated on a loose adherence to a set of progression guidelines, I will follow those guidelines. Your DM freedom is not being constrained by this. If you feel it is, you need to find a different way to flex your creativity. Hint: It probably shouldn't involve you making your players feel like they're being deprived, or being punished.

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Believing the DM's role is benevolent autocrat rather than either gleeful tyrant or impotent fantasy tour guide

This I absolutely agree with, though my experience is that this is more a "new school" trait than just about anything on this list.

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Refusal to permit evil (or even chaotic neutral) PCs

I discourage evil PCs, and any players who do run evil PCs need to agree (out of game) to make a special effort to find a way to align their goals with the party's goals.

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Disallowing classes that violate the campaign's established and specific tone

There is no such thing. You can figure out a way to find a place for that class or race in your campaign. I have faith in you.

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Laying the smack down, hard, on abusive meta-gaming

I'm not sure what "hard" means here, but in my experience the idea of "abusive" metagaming is much overplayed.

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Requiring immersive role-play rather than simple recitation of mechanics

It isn't my job as DM to dictate to my players how they enjoy their character and their place in the game. If they don't want to participate heavily in character-based social interaction, that's fine.

Quote:
Taking control of PCs who refuse to role-play honestly when charmed, dominated, etc.

This doesn't seem like something anyone would object to, or that anyone would term particularly "old school". I mean, what's the alternative? Let the player act like their character is unaffected? Does anyone allow that? Ever?

Quote:
Retaining control over magical weapons, cohorts, mounts, animal companions, eidolons, etc.

Yeah, because that's what DMs need. More control over the game world. Unrestrained power to shape the world and story, but you'll be damned if you let one of your players control his own pony's action! Heck, I take it a step further - I retain control of all PCs' right arms; you know, just in case.

Grand Lodge

"Any action that ruins the game experience for either players and DMs/GMs"

In my opinion this is really the only cardinal sin of any DM/GM either old school or new school. Honestly both are there to have fun and should both should work together to ensure that everyone, not just the players or not just the DM/GM, is having a good time.

Dark Archive

Jaelithe wrote:

Here's a quick baker's dozen:

  • Occasionally fudging die rolls, and reserving the right to roll behind a screen while requiring players to roll openly
  • For information that should be secret, yes - I roll behind the screen. My players are sharp and can quickly do the math once they have some lead numbers (and not just for PF, any and every game). Once the meta information is out (fight several of the same foes, guess their DR, AC and even hit points) the rolls come out.

    Attack rolls are always made out in the open unless the player is being attacked by an undetected foe.

    Fudging - yes and no. A die roll stands where it lands, but if I f'd up some stats or counted something wrong I always err on the side of the players. Altering results as bi-product of a prior mistake I do not consider fudging, just me screwing up the encounter.
    Fudging so the players win or loose because that's what I want - no.
    -

    Quote:
  • Employing prominent NPCs/GMPC
  • Bad guys yes, of course. GMPCs - I use them to round out smaller parties or those lacking enough in a role. I make them distinct, even badass - but they are never better fighters than the PC fighter in the group, better casters than the PC casters in the group, etc. They are there for mechanical support and some RP opportunities. They help out and sometimes they need to be saved.

    The are also designed with the idea that if a PC dies, they get to pick one of the NPCs in the troupe as their next character - and they even manage the NPCs in a fight (I'm too busy worrying about other things).

    I try to make distinctive memorable NPC allies so the PCs can befriend them and sometimes even count on them for advice, support and insight.

    And then when I get a chance, I kill them.
    -

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  • Disallowing (or even placing restrictions of any kind on) full casters
  • As the esteemed HD said up thread - this is a 3.X construct. Rangers and Pallys were not 2nd tier casters, at high level they could barely cast at all. 1st and 2nd ed didn't have this phenomenon, you either let people play magic-users and clerics or you didn't. I never restricted classes in those games.

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    Quote:
  • Enforcing alignment in clear and definitive fashion
  • For the most part yes. LG had its drawbacks, but it's virtues were almost always rewarded. This extends even to classes where alignment is not a factor (LG fighters for example). Good behavior, while sometimes difficult and not the easiest thing to do had an end-game, a karmic reward down the road. All the alignments do.

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    Quote:
  • Imposing an objective morality on paladins, such as disallowing prevarication for selfish gain, torture, baby- (including baby monster) killing and casual sex as inherently evil and/or chaotic
  • Yes.

    This is not a DM sin imo, sorry for those who think it is. Paladins in older games were exceptionally difficult to create (roll stats), and had a slew of powers over other martials. Running a quasi-medieval/European campaign (my early AD&D days) that meant a code in addition to alignment. Never had a paladin fall because people who played them knew what they were getting into up front.
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    Quote:
  • Not providing the "required"/desired magical paraphernalia on schedule
  • 3.X problem primarily. I can be overly generous or stingy, but I make sure that the players have at least the bare-bones minimum to meet their objectives. Some scenarios (due to low gear) are harder than others. Players sometimes complain, but this is mostly in jest. They understand the need for scarcity depending on the game, be it bullets and grenades or magic swords.

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    Quote:
  • Believing the DM's role is benevolent autocrat rather than either gleeful tyrant or impotent fantasy tour guide
  • I'm just the ref. I left the tyrant/autocrat days behind me after high school.

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    Quote:
  • Refusal to permit evil (or even chaotic neutral) PCs
  • I do this now primarily because I want to game and not spend hours massaging damaged egos and hurt feelings as players backstab each other other's characters. I have done this before - Gamma World - where the PCs were allowed to play any sort of verminous, cybernetic scum they could think of - we had a blast (they blew up a town with a bomb).

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    Quote:
  • Disallowing classes that violate the campaign's established and specific tone
  • Haven't had the need to do this yet, but I would have no problem doing so (Ninjas in western euro themed game, etc). More of an issue with AD&D/PF and "campaign worlds" more than other games I run.

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    Quote:
  • Laying the smack down, hard, on abusive meta-gaming
  • Not so much a smack down as disallow. I have gamed with players who have been in actual combat and I run them on modern/futuristic combat rpgs. They understand that they can't call into tactics/rw training their character wouldn't know and that all in all it's still a game. And they have fun. So much so that one commented on how Iraq was something out of Gamma World or the Road Warrior.

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    Quote:
  • Requiring immersive role-play rather than simple recitation of mechanics
  • I try to get the players to connect the both, when a cleric turns undead I ask him what he says. Some players are ok with this while others struggle. I help with the latter.

    Even if someone is playing a face guy while irl their CHA is only 10, I still ask them what they say. If they are creative they get a bonus, if not they still get the normal roll (as long as it isn't asinine).
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    Quote:
  • Taking control of PCs who refuse to role-play honestly when charmed, dominated, etc.
  • They get bonus xp or attribute points on their next character if they do this right (and their PC dies). Plus I give still work in a mechanical trick for them to try and break out of the hold - so they go along and ham it up in the process.

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    Quote:
  • Retaining control over magical weapons, cohorts, mounts, animal companions, eidolons, etc.
  • Yes. For combat they can mostly manage them, but as NPCs they are the province of the DM/GM, so it stays that way.

    The cohort/animal/companion circus is primarily a 3.X construct though. Older editions at low to mid levels you had a familiar and that's about it. Then maybe a magic sword, and then npc followers. It wasn't the same as 3.X.

    I don't consider most of these sins (for those who adhere to them) - as long as they are having fun and are coming back you are doing something right. You just need to figure out what that is so you can repeat that magic.


    ITT: We learn that one player's absolute "sins" is another person's shade of gray.

    It's almost as if there are different styles of play/GMing and expectations that go with those styles.


    Jaelithe wrote:

    Here's a quick baker's dozen:

    • Occasionally fudging die rolls, and reserving the right to roll behind a screen while requiring players to roll openly

    • Disallowing (or even placing restrictions of any kind on) full casters
    • Enforcing alignment in clear and definitive fashion
    • Imposing an objective morality on paladins, such as disallowing prevarication for selfish gain, torture, baby- (including baby monster) killing and casual sex as inherently evil and/or chaotic

    • Believing the DM's role is benevolent autocrat rather than either gleeful tyrant or impotent fantasy tour guide
    • Refusal to permit evil (or even chaotic neutral) PCs
    • Disallowing classes that violate the campaign's established and specific tone
    • Laying the smack down, hard, on abusive meta-gaming
    • Requiring immersive role-play rather than simple recitation of mechanics
    I have committed at least ten of these at one point or another during my nefarious DMing career, and still unswervingly swear by at least eight or nine of them.

    Which of these do you espouse? Which are at least comprehensible to you, even if they're not quite your style? Which do you find abhorrent? Which of you think I should be found, shorn, tarred, feathered and run out of town? (Note that last may have nothing to do with this thread, but feel free to make your feelings known.)

    Well, of these I only find one which I would call a 'sin " most of these are really good ideas (Mind you , I am SUPER Old School, so...). True, not happy with all those Paladin restrictions, but some are no Paladin-like, unless you have a rather odd deity .

    Only "Disallowing (or even placing restrictions of any kind on) full casters" is to me a "sin" (altho certainly it can make for an interesting 'change of pace" campaign) but that's the opposite of "
    old school'. This new "e2" meme and super low magic is by inexperienced and new DM's that cant handle the challenges. ;-)


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    knightnday wrote:
    Laurefindel wrote:

    Those are cardinal sins!?!

    The only "sin" I can understand would be "purposefully ruin the fun of your players"

    If any of those "sins" contribute to make the game more fun for all, I say go for it!

    Agreed. I guess I am a sinner if these are sins.

    We are all sinners.....

    Sovereign Court

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    And it feels good.


    Finally got time to do a more detailed answer.

    Jaelith wrote:

    Here's a quick baker's dozen:

  • Occasionally fudging die rolls, and reserving the right to roll behind a screen while requiring players to roll openly
  • I fudge rolls far less often than I did when I began GMing, but occasionally do so if we are not using something akin to Hero Points, especially if the die roll brings about a bizarre result or an unsatisfactory death. I don't fudge to win -- what would be the point? As far as the screen goes, I roll a lot of things behind the screen. Sometimes I just roll dice to provoke people into movement, set a mood, or otherwise let the players know that time and NPCs are still moving. Othertimes I may wander by the table, snag a die and make a roll in the open while moving minis or whatever instead of tromping back to my seat to do it behind the screen. Whatever the mood calls for.

    Quote:
  • Employing prominent NPCs/GMPCs
  • Yes. NPCS or GMPCS are part of the GMs arsenal of toys to play with. The idea is to fill in the world or the party, to give the players people to deal with in any manner possible. Otherwise it might get boring if there was no one of interest around.

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  • Disallowing (or even placing restrictions of any kind on) full casters
  • On occasion this has come up, depending on the game. We've toyed over the years with alternate magic systems, restrictions like the "noise" from the Belgariad and other restrictions on spell casters. Everyone knows well beforehand what is going on and those games are usually short lived as a testing process with some elements being moved into full games if they test well.

    Quote:
  • Enforcing alignment in clear and definitive fashion
  • Yes and no. I give a good deal of latitude in alignment when it is used and expect players to be within a step of what they are claiming. Unless one is tied directly to the divine, there isn't much 'enforcement' other than passing comments of where they might stand now.

    Quote:
  • Imposing an objective morality on paladins, such as disallowing prevarication for selfish gain, torture, baby- (including baby monster) killing and casual sex as inherently evil and/or chaotic
  • Paladin have codes and are expected to follow them; if casual sex is on your no-no list, then there you go. Those few that play paladin or others with a code are expected to follow it. If you aren't interested in that, it isn't the type of class for you.

    Quote:
  • Not providing the "required"/desired magical paraphernalia on schedule
  • Depends on which game we are playing; in general, you'll have what you need to meet the sort of challenges you'll face. It might not be as simple as you'd like, but it isn't a challenge if it is easy, eh? Desired and required are two separate things as well. You might desire a Holy Avenger, that doesn't mean you'll get it at the time you believe you should.

    Quote:
  • Believing the DM's role is benevolent autocrat rather than either gleeful tyrant or impotent fantasy tour guide
  • Term I heard used in several online games was "Benevolent Dictator". I don't need to be a gleeful tyrant in order to get kicks, nor do I allow myself to get marginalized as a tour guide.

    Quote:
  • Refusal to permit evil (or even chaotic neutral) PCs
  • I seldom allow evil PCS. Most people are not very good at it, frankly, and after the third or so person twirling their mustache and plotting to kill the other PCs it became a waste of time and energy to allow it. IF and only IF I believe the person is mature enough to play evil and not Comic Book Evil then maybe. Chaotic Neutral played as Chaotic Random Stupidity gets a glare, then a glower, then an invitation to make something else. I've seen a number of very good CN characters, and way too many people that play them as a d% random chart of activities (in one place literally).

    Quote:
  • Disallowing classes that violate the campaign's established and specific tone
  • Usually. I mean, what is the point of disallowing if you go "Oh, sorry, yes go right ahead." That said, I'm always willing to work with someone to get close to the idea if it is possible. There are times that doesn't work and I expect the player to be a grown up about it and move to a new idea.

    Quote:
  • Laying the smack down, hard, on abusive meta-gaming
  • "Hey <insert name here>, stop cheating. Thank you." Some people need the commentary to be on the nose to get their attention and I'm willing to do that for them. Usually this isn't a problem. When it is, I try to deal with it away from the table with a few comments. If I have to ask twice, I am less kind.

    Quote:
  • Requiring immersive role-play rather than simple recitation of mechanics
  • I try to help people get into the game. As it turns out, I acted for many years and try to bring that to the table, and to teach when I can. If people get into their characters, it often helps them get into the game a bit more. Some people you cannot help, however, and if you want them at the table you have to take what you can get.

    Quote:
  • Taking control of PCs who refuse to role-play honestly when charmed, dominated, etc.
  • Yes. Goes with the cheating bit above. If you are unwilling or incapable of doing what your character would do in that situation, I'll ask them to step aside. I hate doing it, and I'll often try to coax them into doing the right thing.

    Quote:
  • Retaining control over magical weapons, cohorts, mounts, animal companions, eidolons, etc.
  • Sometimes. I usually let the PCs deal with their things; that said, I'll give hints/suggestions on what the object might do. If it is something that they have no control over (like a magic item that totally outclasses and controls them) then they can ask or suggest what it might do and we'll see. Otherwise, I usually have too much on my plate to micromanage.


    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    • Occasionally fudging die rolls, and reserving the right to roll behind a screen while requiring players to roll openly.

    There are people who honestly think that when the dice and the GM disagree that the dice win? Consider me boggled.

    • Employing prominent NPCs/GMPCs

    Nah, I just let the PCs exist in a featureless void inhabited by owlbears. Again, the hell?

    • Disallowing (or even placing restrictions of any kind on) full casters.

    The idea of 'full caster' is something I had never encountered till a few months ago. Of course magic users had some hefty restrictions back in the day, not the least was being called 'magic user'. Sounds like your some kind of drugger, 'hey pal, would you like some, magic?'.

    • Enforcing alignment in clear and definitive fashion

    Only if enforced means a double-tap to the head. I stopped using alignments after seeing how it was used in Traveller.

    • Imposing an objective morality on paladins, such as disallowing prevarication for selfish gain, torture, baby- (including baby monster) killing and casual sex as inherently evil and/or chaotic.

    Well, imposing subjective morality would be silly. Anyways most D&D worlds were ones with objective morality. There are 'good' gods promoting goodness and 'evil' gods promoting evil. 'The problem of evil' is not a philosophical question in D&D. It's typically answered by the counter question 'How do we shank Asmoday and Demogorgon?'

    • Not providing the "required"/desired magical paraphernalia on schedule.

    Yes, I'm a stingy GM. Mainly because half of all 'train-wrecks' of games fault starts with ODing on magic items.

    • Believing the DM's role is benevolent autocrat rather than either gleeful tyrant or impotent fantasy tour guide

    That's Mr Benevolent Autocrat to you.

    • Refusal to permit evil (or even chaotic neutral) PCs

    See alignment above. Go ahead, play a scumbag. Just don't whine when Mr Daniel Dredd (paladin) and pals come calling.

    • Disallowing classes that violate the campaign's established and specific tone.

    Nope. You bring it. I'll hurt it.

    • Laying the smack down, hard, on abusive meta-gaming.

    We just laid the smack-down. Constant, horrible peril to your PCs was a reward for good roleplay. I realise now that it was hard to distinguish from the incesscant, merciless torment inflicted on the munchkins, whiners and other x-men of the gaming world.

    • Requiring immersive role-play rather than simple recitation of mechanics

    That's right. I am a tyrant for insisting on roleplaying in a roleplaying game. Madness personified.

    • Taking control of PCs who refuse to role-play honestly when charmed, dominated, etc.

    Nope. After all, those x-men refused to roleplay honestly any other time as well. Just brought more pain.

    • Retaining control over magical weapons, cohorts, mounts, animal companions, eidolons, etc.

    Reminding the players that their followers (sientient weapons, mounts, hideous things from another dimnesion) are people and not mindless automatons. I'm such a meanie.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    First up, a disclaimer that I do not consider myself old-school in regards to gaming in any fashion, as I only started gaming in 2006. Now, my thoughts on the list:

    Jaelithe wrote:
  • Occasionally fudging die rolls, and reserving the right to roll behind a screen while requiring players to roll openly
  • I fudge on occasion, and roll on my laptop, which serves as my GM screen. Before I got my laptop, I used a DM screen for a while, went to rolling in the open, and would occasionally pull the screen back out for encounters that I knew could turn deadly.

    Quote:
  • Employing prominent NPCs/GMPCs
  • Do this quite often. In fact, my RotRl game currently has 2, one being my original GMPC (which started out as an NPC and the group requested outside the game that he join the party), and the other being a former PC who's player moved.

    Quote:
  • Disallowing (or even placing restrictions of any kind on) full casters
  • Have never done this, and don't see a reason to. Then again, I've only ever had 2 players interested in full casters, and one was a problem player who wound up getting booted from the group. The other is my wife who is more into roleplay than mechanics.

    Quote:
  • Enforcing alignment in clear and definitive fashion
  • Nope. HATE alignment. Tried getting rid of it altogether, but am starting to realize it's a bit hard-coded into the rules. Have come up with a couple of solutions, but that's really beyond the scope of this thread.

    Quote:
  • Imposing an objective morality on paladins, such as disallowing prevarication for selfish gain, torture, baby- (including baby monster) killing and casual sex as inherently evil and/or chaotic
  • Have had exactly one paladin in a game, and the only moral quandary I threw at him was a group came to arrest him for legitimate reasons, were rendered helpless, and he attempted to murder them in cold blood. He fell hard.

    Quote:
  • Not providing the "required"/desired magical paraphernalia on schedule
  • I allow my players to buy whatever they can afford from Ultimate Equipment. I handwave shopping, and really could care less if the item technically should be available in the town or not.

    Quote:
  • Believing the DM's role is benevolent autocrat rather than either gleeful tyrant or impotent fantasy tour guide
  • I prefer to think of DMing as being the storyteller/referee.

    Quote:
  • Refusal to permit evil (or even chaotic neutral) PCs
  • See above regarding alignment.

    Quote:
  • Disallowing classes that violate the campaign's established and specific tone
  • Have not done so yet. I'm not saying I never will though. I have disallowed certain races before though.

    Quote:
  • Laying the smack down, hard, on abusive meta-gaming
  • Unfortunately, yes. Led to the player getting booted.

    Quote:
  • Requiring immersive role-play rather than simple recitation of mechanics
  • I encourage roleplay, but don't require it. I really would like everyone to get really immersed in their characters, but I have at least a couple of regular players who that would be very hard for, and would make them feel awkward enough that they might quit playing. So, no requiring heavy RP.

    Quote:
  • Taking control of PCs who refuse to role-play honestly when charmed, dominated, etc.
  • I keep this as an option, and it was SOP when I first started DMing. I prefer not to do it, but will if needed.

    Quote:
  • Retaining control over magical weapons, cohorts, mounts, animal companions, eidolons, etc.
  • Intelligent magical items only, and only for roleplay. I've got enough to keep track of without having to worry about the pets.

    Scarab Sages

    I never understood why people get so uppity about alignment. There are SO many complaints I see about alignment changing, but WHO CARES?!

    I had a DM "threaten" me with an alignment shift from Neutral Good to Neutral... and I just said "okay", because it doesn't change anything about the way we play our characters.

    Liberty's Edge

    Some of these aren't sins but rather virtues. That said, the DMNPC thing is especially common and rather annoying among old school DMs. It's one of those things I keep hoping will die.


    The one I have the biggest problem understanding is why it would be "bad" to restrict some player options because of the setting

    DM Bob: Okay, guys and gals, this adventure centers around the party searching out the clues to the mystery of why the world no longer has "Cat-People," okay, so what are you thinking?

    Player Steve: I am going to create a Cat-person

    DM Bob: Steve I just said the world has no cat-people, it's the whole theme of this adventure

    Player Steve: Flips table and kicks chair - damn self righteous old school bastard doesn't understand how the game is supposed to be played

    Grand Lodge

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    Davor wrote:
    I just said "okay", because it doesn't change anything about the way we play our characters.

    You might not be so quick to say that if you were playing 2nd edition AD&D...

    2nd Edition DMG wrote:

    the character earns no experience whatever until his former alignment is regained. This assumes, of course, that the character wants to regain his former alignment.

    If the character decides that the new alignment isn't so bad after all, he begins earning experience again, but the doubling penalty goes into effect. The player does not have to announce this decision. If the DM feels the character has resigned himself to the situation, that is sufficient.

    And that's if the change of alignment is involuntary!

    If the change is voluntary:

    2nd Edition DMG wrote:
    The instant a character voluntarily changes alignment, the experience point cost to gain the next level (or levels in the case of multi-class characters) is doubled. To determine the number of experience points needed to gain the next level (and only the next level), double the number of experience points listed on the appropriate Experience Levels table.

    Further, if the character keeps changing alignment:

    2nd Edition DMG wrote:
    A character can change alignment any number of times. If more than one change occurs per level, however, the severity of the penalty increases. (The character is obviously suffering from severe mental confusion, akin to a modern-day personality crisis.) When a character makes a second or subsequent alignment change at a given level, all experience points earned toward the next level are immediately lost. The character must still earn double the normal experience.

    Makes alignment an important part of just who your character is...

    I really love 2nd edition!

    Shadow Lodge

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    Digitalelf wrote:
    I really love 2nd edition!

    Good on you, mate. I'm amused at the alignment/XP combo you describe, since it takes two things I dislike to make a tailored nightmare for me. :)

    (Although I probably would never even see an alignment change happening unless the GM was out to get me.)


    Jaelithe wrote:
  • Occasionally fudging die rolls, and reserving the right to roll behind a screen while requiring players to roll openly
  • I roll stealth, perception, bluff, disguise and sense motive "hidden" (play on a VTT so guess that a screen). I role for all the players as well "hidden". If they see their role it will influence whether they believe their sense motive, or if they want to sneak through that cave knowing the dice had a 3 on it. Everything else is pretty much in the open.

    Jaelithe wrote:


    Employing prominent NPCs/GMPCs

    I was guilty of this in my younger days. Now I don't promote "prominent" GMPC's. If they are there for story reason, their combat skills are lacking. If the party needs some help I make a buffer type character that contributes almost nothing to damage, debuffing, etc.

    Jaelithe wrote:
    Disallowing (or even placing restrictions of any kind on) full casters

    I have done this, and my current game has many many caster restrictions.

    Jaelithe wrote:
    Enforcing alignment in clear and definitive fashion

    I am generally fast and loose with alignment. My current game has alignment completely reworked so it doesn't even exist. I find alignment often (though not always) detracts from the actual game.

    Jaelithe wrote:

    Imposing an objective morality on paladins, such as disallowing prevarication for selfish gain, torture, baby- (including baby monster) killing and casual sex as inherently evil and/or chaotic

    I usually provide alternate codes for Paladins, as long as I'm not on Golarion in which case I use deity specific codes. I usually follow the greater good vs immediate good and law vs chaos thing, having the player choose where he falls on each.

    Jaelithe wrote:
    Not providing the "required"/desired magical paraphernalia on schedule

    I use the magical item Bazaar, so PC's can buy what they afford. I rarely drop the big 6 though, so they usually have to buy/sell for it. WBL is a component of level though. Sure, you can mess with it, just remember the PC's effectiveness is directly related to this (NPC's loose 1 CR for having NPC WBL for instance, while NPC's with PC wealth gain a CR). But its setting dependent too. I ran a darksun campaign (super low wealth) and by the end of the game the most wealth anyone player had was like 50k, at level 17, so I'm flexible.

    Jaelithe wrote:

    Refusal to permit evil (or even chaotic neutral) PCs

    Totally depends on the player and the setting.

    Jaelithe wrote:
    Disallowing classes that violate the campaign's established and specific tone

    Absolutely. I will also ban a class (Magus is banned forever to me) based on the fact I'm sick of it. WAY too many of them running around in PFS. If I'm running a no tech game, there aren't going to be gunslingers. If I'm running a Dark Sun campaign, summoners can't be a thing and clerics are nerfed bad.

    Jaelithe wrote:

    Laying the smack down, hard, on abusive meta-gaming

    I never really have a problem with metagaming. I could see it if your running an AP or something, but its never really come up for me, and the metagaming that does happen at my tables is more than acceptable to me.

    Jaelithe wrote:
    Requiring immersive role-play rather than simple recitation of mechanics

    I totally do this, and get bashed on the boards for it. I don't do this in PFS anymore though, but my games RP is required, particularly as I prefer running political/social type adventures.

    Jaelithe wrote:
    Taking control of PCs who refuse to role-play honestly when charmed, dominated, etc.

    I have not had this be an issue since I was a teenager, but sure I would.

    Jaelithe wrote:
    Retaining control over magical weapons, cohorts, mounts, animal companions, eidolons, etc.

    No. I have enough to deal with. I do run cohorts outside of combat though.

    I really don't see these as being "Old School" though, and several of these are rather new developments, to me anyway. I didn't start until the early 90's so don't have the XP some of you old timers have a better grasp than I do.

    Grand Lodge

    TOZ wrote:
    Digitalelf wrote:
    I really love 2nd edition!

    Good on you, mate. I'm amused at the alignment/XP combo you describe, since it takes two things I dislike to make a tailored nightmare for me. :)

    (Although I probably would never even see an alignment change happening unless the GM was out to get me.)

    I tend to run 2nd edition as written (making use of many of the optional rules presented), though I do not use much of what's in the 1995 Player's Option books.

    As to the rules of alignment...

    Between 1989 when 2nd edition came out, and 2000 when 3rd edition replaced it, I can count on one hand the number of times I had to enforce the alignment rules... And in the past year and a half or so since I started running it again, the issue of changing alignment (voluntary or involuntary) has yet come up.


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    Terquem wrote:

    The one I have the biggest problem understanding is why it would be "bad" to restrict some player options because of the setting

    DM Bob: Okay, guys and gals, this adventure centers around the party searching out the clues to the mystery of why the world no longer has "Cat-People," okay, so what are you thinking?

    Player Steve: I am going to create a Cat-person

    DM Bob: Steve I just said the world has no cat-people, it's the whole theme of this adventure

    Player Steve: Flips table and kicks chair - damn self righteous old school bastard doesn't understand how the game is supposed to be played

    Not to encourage the I'm-The-Uniquest-And-Most-Special mentality of PC creation, but I think you could probably figure out a way to make your game more interesting by having the last remaining cat-person be part of the party searching for the reason the rest disappeared. Don't you think so?

    A lot of DMs get it in their heads that their game is going to have a certain few immutable characteristics. That's silly. Each of your players is roughly 20% of the reason you all are gathering to play the game. You can accommodate them - and, at worst, you're merely sacrificing the holy inviolate purity of your personal fantasy world headcanon, which no one except you really cared about anyway.

    The exception, of course, is game balance - if one player's choices are going to dramatically upstage everyone else at the table to such an extent that the "spotlight" time is skewed overmuch in their direction, you should consider having them tone it back.

    Sovereign Court

    6 people marked this as a favorite.
    Scott Betts wrote:


    Not to encourage the I'm-The-Uniquest-And-Most-Special mentality of PC creation, but I think you could probably figure out a way to make your game more interesting by having the last remaining cat-person be part of the party searching for the reason the rest disappeared. Don't you think so?

    No, if the cat people are all gone, they are all freaking gone.

    So when I wanted to play a gnome summoner in my friend's game, he told me that the gnomes were extinct. So I changed it to an elf. I don't get players who get butthurt over something being banned and taking it personally. Adapt for Pete's sake.


    4 people marked this as a favorite.
    Scott Betts wrote:
    Terquem wrote:

    The one I have the biggest problem understanding is why it would be "bad" to restrict some player options because of the setting

    DM Bob: Okay, guys and gals, this adventure centers around the party searching out the clues to the mystery of why the world no longer has "Cat-People," okay, so what are you thinking?

    Player Steve: I am going to create a Cat-person

    DM Bob: Steve I just said the world has no cat-people, it's the whole theme of this adventure

    Player Steve: Flips table and kicks chair - damn self righteous old school bastard doesn't understand how the game is supposed to be played

    Not to encourage the I'm-The-Uniquest-And-Most-Special mentality of PC creation, but I think you could probably figure out a way to make your game more interesting by having the last remaining cat-person be part of the party searching for the reason the rest disappeared. Don't you think so?

    A lot of DMs get it in their heads that their game is going to have a certain few immutable characteristics. That's silly. Each of your players is roughly 20% of the reason you all are gathering to play the game. You can accommodate them - and, at worst, you're merely sacrificing the holy inviolate purity of your personal fantasy world headcanon, which no one except you really cared about anyway.

    There's a difference between sacrificing the purity of your headcanon and sacrificing the main plot of the campaign. If the plot of the campaign is about finding out what happened to the catpeople, then depending on what the answer to that is, having a player be the last remaining cat person might or might not work. You might have to throw away the entire backplot of your campaign to make it work.

    More importantly, it's a bad sign. It's one player saying "I don't care what you've proposed for the campaign." To which the simple response would be "Why do you want to play in it then?" Maybe the answer is kick that player out. Maybe it's ditch the campaign idea and run something more generic. Maybe it's time for someone else to run something. Maybe the campaign idea can be stretched to accommodate.

    Now if the player asked about the possibility and doesn't flip out if told it wouldn't work, then there's no problem.

    Even when the only problem is "sacrificing the holy inviolate purity of your personal fantasy world headcanon, which no one except you really cared about anyway", if the GM stops caring about the game, the game dies. So that's kind of important. Obviously it can be taken too far, but so can the idea that all campaigns must be generic kitchen sink games with every possible option available for players.

    Dark Archive

    2 people marked this as a favorite.
    Orthos wrote:
    steelhead wrote:
    Jaelithe wrote:
  • Not providing the "required"/desired magical paraphernalia on schedule
  • I have no idea what you are saying here. What magical paraphernalia and on whose schedule?

    Some players will complain things like "The game mechanics and Wealth-by-Level charts say we should have a magic weapon by level 4! Why haven't you given us magic weapons yet?!"

    I do not actually know if it's level 4, and I'm too lazy to actually look it up.

    I'm totally this guy.

    I remember a game where we made it to 7th level, and my character was still wearing his 70 gp. worth of starting gear, and the GM kept complaining about all the near-wipes, because of our 'poor tactics' against swarms and incorporeal foes and foes with DR that we couldn't affect.

    Several APs, in my experience, go by the assumption that clerics and wizards don't need treasure, at all. In Council of Thieves, we were 5th level before the GM deliberately added a couple of scrolls of wizard spells as a bonus, since there had, by the end of book two, not been a single item of treasure (or enough gold to craft even a potion, let along purchase a wizard spell) for a wizard (or, if there was, we missed it all, despite attempting to sell everything we found for cash and taking odd jobs around town for money to equip the party fighter with a masterwork weapon...).

    Gah.

    I don't need Stormbringer or anything, but an orcbane short sword and a mithril chain shirt could be handy (I'll pass on the ring of invisibility with the massive curse...).

    Although, being a fan of games like Mutants & Masterminds or Vampire the Masquerade, which don't have 'loot' at all, I suppose D&D/PF characters can go fine with no loot, so long as monsters that require magic loot to defeat (incorporeal foes, foes with lots of DR, etc.) are either changed or removed from play.

    Saying 'you must be this tall to play' and then arbitrarily capping height at 5" below that just seems weird and frustrating.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    thejeff wrote:
    More importantly, it's a bad sign. It's one player saying "I don't care what you've proposed for the campaign." To which the simple response would be "Why do you want to play in it then?" Maybe the answer is kick that player out. Maybe it's ditch the campaign...

    If the players all agreed "no catpeople" in advance, and one guy rolls one up anyway, yeah, he's being a jerk. By all means kick him out.

    On the other hand, if one or more players roll up catpeople, why would a DM at that point suddenly choose to insist on a "no-catpeople" campaign, if that's the opposite of what the players wanted? Just to "show them who's boss?" That makes no sense to me. If the DM announces a "no catpeople" campaign AFTER the players have already made catpeople characters, then the DM is being a jerk, and the players should depose him.

    It seems like we've had this conversation in at least 16 other threads, though, and it always comes down to people reading that and saying "Doesn't matter what the players want. Me DM. Me decide." Which I guess is fine, if you can still manage to attract and retain players.

    Scarab Sages

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    Digitalelf wrote:
    Davor wrote:
    I just said "okay", because it doesn't change anything about the way we play our characters.

    You might not be so quick to say that if you were playing 2nd edition AD&D...

    2nd Edition DMG wrote:

    the character earns no experience whatever until his former alignment is regained. This assumes, of course, that the character wants to regain his former alignment.

    If the character decides that the new alignment isn't so bad after all, he begins earning experience again, but the doubling penalty goes into effect. The player does not have to announce this decision. If the DM feels the character has resigned himself to the situation, that is sufficient.

    And that's if the change of alignment is involuntary!

    If the change is voluntary:

    2nd Edition DMG wrote:
    The instant a character voluntarily changes alignment, the experience point cost to gain the next level (or levels in the case of multi-class characters) is doubled. To determine the number of experience points needed to gain the next level (and only the next level), double the number of experience points listed on the appropriate Experience Levels table.

    Further, if the character keeps changing alignment:

    2nd Edition DMG wrote:
    A character can change alignment any number of times. If more than one change occurs per level, however, the severity of the penalty increases. (The character is obviously suffering from severe mental confusion, akin to a modern-day personality crisis.) When a character makes a second or subsequent alignment change at a given level, all experience points earned toward the next level are immediately lost. The character must still earn double the normal experience.

    Makes alignment an important part of just who your character is...

    I really love 2nd edition!

    Sure... but we're not playing 2E anymore. And thank goodness, if that was one of the rules. EXP is already subject to DM ruling. Forcing you to gain double exp, or lose all of it, because you and your DM disagree about the nature of Good, Evil, Law, and Chaos, is just abysmal.


    Player Steve: So, wouldn't it be cool if I was the last cat-person, huh, huh, did you think about that

    DM Bob: Yes, Steve I did, but see the game has a few things that need to be worked through so that when the players find out that they are all already cat people who have been transformed to protect them from the great evil small dog overlords then...aw, crap, *rips up campaign notes* never mind...

    Shadow Lodge

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    Davor wrote:
    Sure... but we're not playing 2E anymore.

    Well, Digitalelf is.

    Grand Lodge

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    Davor wrote:
    Sure... but we're not playing 2E anymore.

    That may be the case for you and your group. But this is a thread where we're talking about old school ideals, and your DM "threatening" to change your character's alignment harkens back to the days before 3rd edition and PF, to when alignment really mattered, and was much more than a simple mechanic that indicates what spells effect or do not effect your character...

    And like Orthos above said, I still play 2nd edition (and do so pretty much by the RAW).

    YMMV and all of that.


    At one point I was certain this list came about because the DM refused to let the OP play a super ninja hobomurder paladin

    and against all odds and obstacles the OP did indeed get to play his SNHMP to the detriment of all the other players and the DM as well......


    2 people marked this as a favorite.
    Kirth Gersen wrote:
    thejeff wrote:
    More importantly, it's a bad sign. It's one player saying "I don't care what you've proposed for the campaign." To which the simple response would be "Why do you want to play in it then?" Maybe the answer is kick that player out. Maybe it's ditch the campaign...

    If the players all agreed "no catpeople" in advance, and one guy rolls one up anyway, yeah, he's being a jerk. By all means kick him out.

    On the other hand, if one or more players roll up catpeople, why would a DM at that point suddenly choose to insist on a "no-catpeople" campaign, if that's the opposite of what the players wanted? Just to "show them who's boss?" That makes no sense to me. If the DM announces a "no catpeople" campaign AFTER the players have already made catpeople characters, then the DM is being a jerk, and the players should depose him.

    It seems like we've had this conversation in at least 16 other threads, though, and it always comes down to people reading that and saying "Doesn't matter what the players want. Me DM. Me decide." Which I guess is fine, if you can still manage to attract and retain players.

    Since in the example at hand it was specifically Campaign first, then player objecting, I don't think we really disagree.

    In some cases, there will be miscommunication and a player will come up with something the GM hadn't specifically forbidden, but that still screws up the GM's plans - which could be class, race or a more general concept. That's a little harder to handle. It's still usually easier for the players to change than for the GM to rewrite entire chunks of background to accommodate a player's whim. In other cases, it might be an easy change. Everyone should try to be flexible. I just think it's usually easier for a player to come up with a different character concept than for a GM to come up with a different campaign.

    Of course, some GMs do campaigns pretty much on the fly anyway, with little planned out ahead of time. This argument applies much less in that case.

    You'll might also note that even in the post you quoted I said: " Maybe the answer is kick that player out. Maybe it's ditch the campaign idea and run something more generic. Maybe it's time for someone else to run something. Maybe the campaign idea can be stretched to accommodate."

    Of course this post will probably still be read as "Doesn't matter what the players want. Me DM. Me decide."


    thejeff wrote:
    Of course this post will probably still be read as "Doesn't matter what the players want. Me DM. Me decide."

    I don't read it that way at all. I think you and I agree almost completely. I'm just waiting for the people (not you, but others who always do so) to come in and go off about how "players are a dime a dozen but DMs are vanishingly rare" (which has never true in my experience) "and therefore players' desires are unimportant," and/or the infamous "DMs work SO HARD that they should always get whatever they want!"

    Sovereign Court

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    Everyone's desires are important. But unreasonable things should not happen.


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    knightnday wrote:

    Finally got time to do a more detailed answer.

    [

    Quote:
  • Employing prominent NPCs/GMPCs
  • Yes. NPCS or GMPCS are part of the GMs arsenal of toys to play with. The idea is to fill in the world or the party, to give the players people to deal with in any manner possible. Otherwise it might get boring if there was no one of interest around.

    Note there's a large difference between a NPC and a GMPC (which is a special case of NPC, true).

    Generally, when GMPC is used, what is meant is a Character similar to or more powerful than the PC's and who adventures with the party on a more or less constant basis. This can be REALLY annoying and is often abused.

    prominent & interesting NPCs= Good
    prominent & interesting GMPCs= Usually bad.

    Grand Lodge

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    Hama wrote:
    Everyone's desires are important. But unreasonable things should not happen.

    I agree, and I feel that sometimes it is absolutely unreasonable for the GM/DM to modify his or her campaign just to accommodate a single player.

    I know others will disagree.

    YMMV and all of that...

    Shadow Lodge

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    The catfolk don't seem so extinct if a band of 4-6 of them can randomly meet in a tavern.


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    DrDeth wrote:
    knightnday wrote:

    Finally got time to do a more detailed answer.

    [

    Quote:
  • Employing prominent NPCs/GMPCs
  • Yes. NPCS or GMPCS are part of the GMs arsenal of toys to play with. The idea is to fill in the world or the party, to give the players people to deal with in any manner possible. Otherwise it might get boring if there was no one of interest around.

    Note there's a large difference between a NPC and a GMPC (which is a special case of NPC, true).

    Generally, when GMPC is used, what is meant is a Character similar to or more powerful than the PC's and who adventures with the party on a more or less constant basis. This can be REALLY annoying and is often abused.

    prominent & interesting NPCs= Good
    prominent & interesting GMPCs= Usually bad.

    Of course. But it is also a matter of what you are doing and how you are going about it. Some people use the GMPC as a bludgeon to force the PCs along, or to show them up (often because they don't get to play or have a really broken idea that they want to showcase but not allow other players to have.)

    If the GM is doing the above, they are as disruptive as the players who try to play super dooper broken characters and then claim "who me?"

    If, on the other hand, your GMPC is just another party member, no better or worse, then I have little problem with it. Like any tool, it is how you use or abuse it that matters.


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    Digitalelf wrote:
    Hama wrote:
    Everyone's desires are important. But unreasonable things should not happen.

    I agree, and I feel that sometimes it is absolutely unreasonable for the GM/DM to modify his or her campaign just to accommodate a single player.

    I know others will disagree.

    YMMV and all of that...

    I tend to agree. If the GM spent the time making a campaign, which will take months or even years to do, and is going to take the time prepping every week, spending probably double the time than a player does at least, the player can make something that fits the setting.

    As others have pointed out, if your more off the cuff that's one thing. But when I spend a year creating a homebrew, none of my players say "why can't I be a tiefling, who cares if the world has been cut off from the planes for 1000 years". They know there are the 16 races which already are reflected in the campaign world. Having to reconstruct 200 pages of lore to accommodate one player is asinine, and that player is being a serious jerk IMO.

    I have dozens of pc ideas i can try, if ones not going to fly at one table just pick another one.


    Yep, just like I predicted.
    Anyway, there's already 52 or more (admittedly mostly locked) threads about how players' ideas aren't important compared to the DM's. Let's allow this one to go back to the original topic.

    Grand Lodge

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    Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
    Digitalelf wrote:
    Hama wrote:
    Everyone's desires are important. But unreasonable things should not happen.
    I agree, and I feel that sometimes it is absolutely unreasonable for the GM/DM to modify his or her campaign just to accommodate a single player.

    Indeed. I just have a problem with the people who change 'sometimes' to 'everytime'. Sometimes it is the GM who is unreasonable.


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    TriOmegaZero wrote:
    Digitalelf wrote:
    Hama wrote:
    Everyone's desires are important. But unreasonable things should not happen.
    I agree, and I feel that sometimes it is absolutely unreasonable for the GM/DM to modify his or her campaign just to accommodate a single player.
    Indeed. I just have a problem with the people who change 'sometimes' to 'everytime'. Sometimes it is the GM who is unreasonable.

    People can be unreasonable, no matter where they sit at the table. Best you can do, even if you screen your groups and play with your very best friends, is to talk about it. Sometimes someone had a bad day and is reacting to that instead of your keen idea for a game or a character.


    Kirth Gersen wrote:

    Yep, just like I predicted.

    Anyway, there's already 52 or more (admittedly mostly locked) threads about how players' ideas aren't important compared to the DM's. Let's allow this one to go back to the original topic.

    I fail to see how already established game lore = players ideas aren't important.

    If someone comes to me in a dark sun game and wants to play with a firearm, its totally anti thematic. It would disrupt the world for myself and the other players. Same with the summoner as it calls an Eidilon from the planes, which are cut off. (Note: 2nd ed lore here, as far as I can tell 4E murdered the setting so this may not be accurate with the current world.)

    Now if I run in Golarion (which I rarely do) everything is pretty much open, but Golarion is a giant mashup of everything, not all campaign worlds are like that.

    Shadow Lodge

    knightnday wrote:
    Best you can do, even if you screen your groups and play with your very best friends, is to talk about it.

    Unfortunately, everyone I play with has been beaten down by the status quo so that they never offer to get involved in worldbuilding. So I'm stuck doing all the work even when I ask 'what would you like?'


    TOZ wrote:
    knightnday wrote:
    Best you can do, even if you screen your groups and play with your very best friends, is to talk about it.
    Unfortunately, everyone I play with has been beaten down by the status quo so that they never offer to get involved in worldbuilding. So I'm stuck doing all the work even when I ask 'what would you like?'

    That has been all too often where I've been over the years. In those cases, I let the players know that if they don't tell me more than "Whatever, don't care" then they get what they get and complaining after the fact isn't useful.

    Sort of like when I make dinner and hear, after I've asked and people shrug, that they didn't want what was made. If you had an actual opinion and didn't voice it even after being asked, whose fault is that?


    Under A Bleeding Sun wrote:
    I fail to see how...

    Reading any one of those 52 other threads would probably answer that for you.

    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
    knightnday wrote:
    If you had an actual opinion and didn't voice it even after being asked, whose fault is that?

    Of course, you could always have not had an opinion until you tried it. But this is social interactions, not GM virtues/sins, so we can let it go.


    Kirth Gersen wrote:
    thejeff wrote:
    More importantly, it's a bad sign. It's one player saying "I don't care what you've proposed for the campaign." To which the simple response would be "Why do you want to play in it then?" Maybe the answer is kick that player out. Maybe it's ditch the campaign...

    If the players all agreed "no catpeople" in advance, and one guy rolls one up anyway, yeah, he's being a jerk. By all means kick him out.

    On the other hand, if one or more players roll up catpeople, why would a DM at that point suddenly choose to insist on a "no-catpeople" campaign, if that's the opposite of what the players wanted? Just to "show them who's boss?" That makes no sense to me. If the DM announces a "no catpeople" campaign AFTER the players have already made catpeople characters, then the DM is being a jerk, and the players should depose him.

    It seems like we've had this conversation in at least 16 other threads, though, and it always comes down to people reading that and saying "Doesn't matter what the players want. Me DM. Me decide." Which I guess is fine, if you can still manage to attract and retain players.

    Why is it that this is either/or? (ie, if the bad fit character is presented either before or after a GM gives the rules) I can't be the only person who approaches a new campaign by giving a vague idea of the type of story I want to run, and then let players come back to me with their preferred race/class choices and some limited backstory. Then I'll build a little more story and a little more detail about the world (using their information as building blocks) and ask them some follow up questions. I get full backstories from them, we determine which PC's know each other ahead of time and how each of their stories got them to the point they are in. Then I completely finish out the details of the area they are in, the NPC's important to each character, and the different factions (ie, cults, guilds, and governments) that are important.

    At that point I have a pretty detailed sandbox where the players had major input into the world creation. The large forces in the game move without PC interaction, but how each part is dealt with and how the world grows is entirely up to the players.

    There is no way to get blindsided with a "strange" or "ill-fit" character this way. Am I seriously the only one who does this? I thought that is what collective story telling was about...


    BigDTBone wrote:

    Why is it that this is either/or? (ie, if the bad fit character is presented either before or after a GM gives the rules) I can't be the only person who approaches a new campaign by giving a vague idea of the type of story I want to run, and then let players come back to me with their preferred race/class choices and some limited backstory. Then I'll build a little more story and a little more detail about the world (using their information as building blocks) and ask them some follow up questions. I get full backstories from them, we determine which PC's know each other ahead of time and how each of their stories got them to the point they are in. Then I completely finish out the details of the area they are in, the NPC's important to each character, and the different factions (ie, cults, guilds, and governments) that are important.

    At that point I have a pretty detailed sandbox where the players had major input into the world creation. The large forces in the game move without PC interaction, but how each part is dealt with and how the world grows is entirely up to the players.

    There is no way to get blindsided with a "strange" or "ill-fit" character this way. Am I seriously the only one who does this? I thought that is what collective story telling was about...

    Collective storytelling is broad. I generally prefer, even as a player, an existing world to fit characters into and some kind of existing threat or problem for them to engage with.

    I'm not particularly fond of the sandbox approach.

    The story emerges from the characters actions and the antagonist's responses against that backdrop, rather than from the players defining background or even necessarily having it shaped for them specifically.

    More practically, as a GM, I'm fairly slow at such things. There's no way I could create a setting and run a game starting with nothing but a vague idea in anything like real time. I need time for things to gel together in my head. Once I've got the basics down and a good feel for the setting and what the NPCs are like and are doing, I can improvise details and reactions fairly well, but if I didn't have more than vague idea before character building started, I'd either have to stall a couple months before actually running or just be floundering.

    Shadow Lodge

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    • Occasionally fudging die rolls, and reserving the right to roll behind a screen while requiring players to roll openly

    Yes. Under the stated terms: if you play smart I will not intentionally kill your character (it happens but I'm not out to kill characters). If you play dumb I will roll in the open and let the dice gods have mercy on your souls.

    • Employing prominent NPCs/GMPCs

    Yes; but more and more I prefer not to. If I want to play a PC I let somebody else GM.

    • Disallowing (or even placing restrictions of any kind on) full casters

    Only to limit spells that will be disruptive to the game.

    • Enforcing alignment in clear and definitive fashion

    Not really. I do require paladins to follow the code for their deity and keep them to a concept of orderly lives in the name of righteousness and all that and clerics/druids to follow the concepts of their deity; but otherwise alignment is for the judges in the afterlife.

    However, I do make the game world react to the PCs actions; so if you act like a dirt-bag in character your character gets treated like a dirt-bag by the NPCs.

    • Imposing an objective morality on paladins, such as disallowing prevarication for selfish gain, torture, baby- (including baby monster) killing and casual sex as inherently evil and/or chaotic

    See above: and unless a PC paladin takes a vow of chastity or follows a deity with strictures against casual sex; have fun with it. Just don't be a dirt-bag about it (again, see above).

    • Not providing the "required"/desired magical paraphernalia on schedule

    There's a schedule? Most people looking to keep to WBL will hate my games. I'm stingy as hell with magic. Who makes magical items? Spell Casters. Who do they make them for? Spell Casters. What do they make most? Scrolls, potions, things wizards/sorcerers and clerics/druids can use. Are there magic weapons? Sure, but you won't get one by 4th level.

    • Believing the DM's role is benevolent autocrat rather than either gleeful tyrant or impotent fantasy tour guide

    Benevolent? I'm here to provide a framework for a story. Death is good drama. I prefer Benevolent Tyrant.

    • Refusal to permit evil (or even chaotic neutral) PCs

    I'm actually most inclined to outlaw CN over any alignment. Too many players use it as an excuse to do anything with the expectation that they face no consequences. More and more, I just send the law after then and smack them down in game after a polite warning that being a dirt-bag under the claim that you are CN does not mean that the NPCs of the world all say, "It's no big deal. He's chaotic neutral so he's allowed to treat us NPCs like usable trash."

    • Disallowing classes that violate the campaign's established and specific tone

    Always. Just because you want to play a samurai in my French Revolution themed game doesn't mean there are samurai wandering around France. Write me a hell of a good back story or your character died of the plague in Constantinople before making it to France. (My son wrote a 10 page story just so I'd let him play a tengu inquisitor. It was a damned good story so I gave it to him.)

    • Laying the smack down, hard, on abusive meta-gaming

    Oh yeah. If PCs metagame, them NPCs metagame too; and I know your characters better than you know all my game books with monsters in them.

    • Requiring immersive role-play rather than simple recitation of mechanics

    I don't require immersive RP; but I give really good bonuses if you do good immersive RP. And that tends to either drive away players that won't RP (which I don't like but I can't make you RP) and rewards people for getting into the game.

    • Taking control of PCs who refuse to role-play honestly when charmed, dominated, etc.

    I've never had this problem. Most of my players are willing to really turn the screws on their fellow PCs when charmed/dominated; but they don't get lethal either so it is usually good fun.

    • Retaining control over magical weapons, cohorts, mounts, animal companions, eidolons, etc.

    Rarely. But I have had very few players chose to have cohorts where it is most likely to be a problem. Mostly it comes up when a player wants an animal companion to do something that an animal wouldn't do that.

    Players that think I'm doing something wrong doing most of the things on this list really don't understand the GM's roll in roleplaying.

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