DM vs. GM


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


So, after a session last night, I have to ask this.

I GM Pathfinder bi-weekly, with my roommate DM'ing a 3.5 campaign on the weeks I am not doing my thing. While not intentionally bad, I did notice a few things.

The first thing that I noticed is that he inserted a character of his own creation into the game he is hosting, which is completely fine with me. Only problem with it? His inserted character is a way higher level then ours. We have 3rd level characters, and he is using a 10th level character to be "silly" as he puts it. At his turn at the story-weaving helm, he attempted to steal my summoned water elemental (Playing a Halfling Druid, btw, which he thinks is a stupid idea.) saying that because his higher level character knows a language that my character can not speak, he can steal my summon and deny me a support that I needed for a plan I was formulating in my head. I was almost tempted to quit there.

Now, on to last night. I am running RotRL with this group, and I am really trying to get them to roleplay, but they don't want any of it and just want the combat. I prepared a decent session out of the first bit of the book, and a bit with them being introduced to Foxglove. The games I had devised during the Swallowtail Festival were almost gone unnoticed by them, except the Barbarian who participated in a weightlifting contest, the tug-of-war, and a meat pie eating contest. Anyways, I digress.

When it came to introducing the goblins, and as I was trying to explain things, my roommate, the other GM at the table, kept cutting me off. Saying his character wanted to do this before I even set the scene. He constantly brought 3.5 knowledge to the table, which doesn't translate well in PF, and kept talking over a player I had trouble hearing because he had to play over Skype cause his car broke-down.

I don't know what I am going to do. I live with this guy, so I can't cut him out without some kind of repercussion. I need help here, people. Sorry if it seams like I am whining, and I hope it doesn't ^^;


If he's using a GMPC way higher level than the party in his game, have you considered giving everybody else in the party in your game several more levels than his character?

This is plan B by the way, plan A is having a sincere and level heart to heart with him about his behavior. I'm assuming you've tried plan A and it failed.


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DM is the same as GM, just different names.

Your buddy is just terrible at either. And apparently as player too.

Talk to him. That's really the only thing you can do, if you don't wanna toss him out.

The Exchange

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When you do speak to him - and yes, you'll have to - don't put it in terms of confrontation. Explain that as the GM you need to be able to finish your descriptions, and that other players need that information. Touch gently on the point that other players deserve an equal amount of time in the spotlight. Don't go into the problem you're having as his player - while the problems are linked you really need to focus on fixing one before you tackle the other. He obviously feels that a DM has generous privileges, so you should politely but firmly insist that you receive those privileges.

If the problem behavior continues, rearrange your speaking pattern when giving information. We GMs generally give the vital facts first and fill in significant details later. If the most important stuff comes at the end, he has to shut up if he doesn't want his character to come off as a moronic goofball.

GM: The walls of the room are covered with faded runic patterns and you can smell brimstone, a little. There's a high-backed stone chair built into the floor next to the south wall, a silver goblet on one arm of the chair, and a few mounds of straw on the floor. There are exits to the east and south... Oh, and there are two gorgons spreading out to flank you.


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His 3.5 game sounds like BS and I probably wouldn't play in it. Doesn't sounds like any way possible to fix it. A GM playing a character seven levels higher is just nonsense. He needs to not play at all and focus on the NPCs. That said, it sounds like a disaster, that I would avoid completely.

As for him playing in your campaign, all you can do is talk to him outside of the game. Ask him not to be respectful of other players and recognize the times when you are trying to set the stage and not interrupt you either.

If you are worried about confronting him, you can make a general announcement at the start of the next session and announce your concerns to the group - so as to avoid having to single anyone out. Ask everyone to be mindful of their fellow players and give them a chance to take part in the game.

Also - it is always impossible to tell when players are going to participate in roleplaying segments or not. Try not to let it bother you any time you set up something that doesn't come into play. That's just part of being GM. You can never predict what the players are going to do with accuracy.


Thanks for the feed back, people. It really helps with my problem. Also, another tidbit of information with him is that he wants tot ake the Dragoncrafting feat, which is alright by me, but the way he put it is as follows:

"I am taking it to make all these cool things when I hit this level. Also, I am going to go hunt a dragon when I get it."
"Well, if a dragon comes up, you can use the feat."
"No, I don;t care what you say, I am breaking off from the party to hunt a dragon."

Dark Archive

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Let him. Tell him to go wait in another room for you to get to him and his side quest, and then continue running the actual game you informed everyone they would be playing.

Really, dropping out of the 3.5 game is only reasonable. I don't know why anyone would put up with that nonsense.


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Let him make some knowledge rolls to find out where the nearest dragon would be located. Then tell him how long it will take him to get there and when he arrives he finds five black adult dragons that promptly devour him.

Now, he can roll up a new character to go along with the group or go sit out the rest of the session as a ghost.


I'd choose an enjoyable DnD game and awkward or passive aggressive roommate tension to their paired opposites on most days. And if you decide that he won't change, just tell him the truth: that you want to have fun when you play and that the way he participates in the games both as DM and player is not fun for you.

As to the game you GM, the best thing you can do to encourage reluctant roleplayers is to reward them with things they would find useful. This could be 1-use items (alchemical, potions), strategic advice (as if they had rolled Knowledge, or other tips), or services rendered (healing, sharpening swords, buying found treasure at a discount rate). You can also be explicit in saying that in your game, if you want to continue to benefit from an NPCs acquaintance or friendship, you have to spend time out of a typical week interacting positively with them. Give that a whirl and see how your PCs respond.


What does the level 10 character do? Does he follow you around and is a full member of the group, gets an equal share of treasure, etc? Or is this level 10 character someone that shows up on a limited basis?

As far as getting him to not interrupt, you have a few options. If he is playing via Skype, can't you mute him while you read the descriptions, then unmute him when you're done?

If not, or if you don't want to go that heavy-handed, then you may need to constantly remind him, and hopefully he'll eventually "get it." Such as, when you're describing, and he starts to say what his character will do, say "One second, let me finish the description then you can say your actions."


It's a tough situation. Are you the only one having an issue with your roommate?

Not everyone games in the same way. Not everyone makes a good member to your gaming group, even if they are good players, if what they're looking for out of the experience is not the same as you or your group's.

If you can stay with what your experience is: "Look, dude - I'm just not having fun. I'm not enjoying the game any more," without saying "because of you" - that's what needs to happen. You're not blaming him, you're just sharing what's true for you.

And you have every right to say: "I'm GM'ing this game. If you want to play, you need to be the same level as everyone else. You need to participate with what the group is doing. If you want to go off on your own to hunt dragon's, fine! That's great! But that's not what I'm running, and so you'll need to sit out until I can get to you."

By not confronting him, you're digging yourself deeper and deeper into an unhealthy (and abusive, imo) relationship. By stating your truth, you're taking ownership of your part in this, and taking back your power in the situation. If he can handle that, great! If he can't, you need to be willing to handle the fallout and: find a different gaming group; find another roommate, &/or find another place to live; etc. Hopefully it won't come to that, but you need to establish - very clearly and as neutrally as possible (which isn't always easy) - what your limits are. "I can accept this, but I won't put up with that because I don't enjoy it," whatever. You have as much right to enjoy the game as he does, and everyone else at the table. Not more, not less.

Good luck to you!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

As a GM, I have had an 147th level wizard as an NPC. Now, he wasn't a part of the group, but has helped them from time to time. (and in turn, asked for their help)

If I have actual party member, I would have them at the same level as the others, or maybe at one level higher if it was a bard or another badly developed class.

I am planning on doing Rise of the Rune Lords soon, and will have at least four characters that can float in and out of the party to replace or give to players that drop or join in at the last minute. One will be a soul knife.

My suggestion is to have your concerns talked about with the GM about the higher level party member, and the taboo of controlling another player's "toys." The dragon hunting can be done, just have him make another character as the other one is off by himself.

Sovereign Court

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thaX wrote:
If I have actual party member, I would have them at the same level as the others, or maybe at one level higher if it was a bard or another badly developed class.

Wait... bard is badly developed? Bards are an extremely potent class. (Not that GMPCs are ever a good idea.)


The end game BBEG is probably a high level spell caster. This seems like a good opportunity to introduce him/her to the party. Maybe she heard of this incredibly powerful guys and wants him as a mind controlled or gaes'd minion.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Charon's Little Helper wrote:
thaX wrote:
If I have actual party member, I would have them at the same level as the others, or maybe at one level higher if it was a bard or another badly developed class.
Wait... bard is badly developed? Bards are an extremely potent class. (Not that GMPCs are ever a good idea.)

bards are like THE most balanced class in pathfinder.


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I recommend the following:

a) Clear instructions. When he is too loud, tell him to wait for a moment please. You are the GM, you lead the group, you have the right to utter commands if it's for the greater good of the group. Don't be afraid of repercussions. He wants to play these games too. And if repercussions happen, you will survive them.

b) Clear decisions. When you GM, it's good to listen to everyone. Don't focus too much on the annoying guy, he is just a member like everyone else. At the end, decision is yours. You don't have to make perfect decisions all the time (no leader does), you 'only' have to try hard to be a good leader.

c) Explicit criticism. When you are alone with the player, tell him you didn't like a specific behavior, e.g. domineering another player, and explain why it was bad for the group. He will tell crap like 'I didn't do that'. Allow him that last word, neither agree or disagree, move on with other topics. Keep in mind it's not a discussion between equals but between GM and player. Never attack him as a person, focus on the worst behavior patterns. Don't expect miracles, enjoy small improvements. If he doesn't change at all, tell him to leave the group.

I guess these problems are not what you signed up for. It happened to me too, I have a difficult player in my group also. But I won't run away and I won't throw him out since it's a chance to grow as a person. Take it like a paladin. ;)


Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Wait... bard is badly developed? Bards are an extremely potent class.

That looks to have the makings of a solid derail.

SheepishEidolon wrote:
Keep in mind it's not a discussion between equals but between GM and player.

Would you like to buy this extra ring of fire resistance I have? I think you're going to need it.


While your problems are related in that they have a connected root issue; someone with poor social skills, they are otherwise completely different and your only hope at solving them is dealing with them one at a time, and almost certainly separate times as piling on multiple issues tends to be counter productive.

The biggest advice I usually give is to focus on things you can control. You can't really change someone else's behavior, and you while communicating ones problems is useful, when the problem is fairly fundamental to how someone behaves, change is often slow in coming if it comes at all. I would also urge you to work a bit on your own communication skills, as your post is a bit rambling without a really clear statement of the problem. As most people tend to express themselves clearer in writing than verbally, it may be that some of your issues are with clear communication.

When you are running a game, it is absolutely appropriate to tell a player who is interrupting that they need to wait their turn. Clearly saying, 'I'll get back to you when it is your turn' is a good starter, if that doesn't work saying clearly, 'You are being rude, please stop interrupting people' may be necessary. Obviously if the behavior persists (purposefully, more than just blurting out when excited) then that person probably should be asked to leave.

As far as a player and character having side goals, this is often a good thing, and you should find a way to work those in, but a character should be primarily focused on the main quest. If a character can't or worn't be focused on what the group is doing, that character should leave the group. If a player can't make a character focused on what the group is doing, then they should be asked to not play in that particular campaign, since they are just interfering with the fun of others.

Lastly, in the game your friend is running, you have few choices. Explaining why you aren't having fun might help, especially if you can be clear, but most likely you will either have to just roll with it, and enjoy what you can or not play in that game. Sometimes simply by refusing to focus on the negative aspects, consciously ignoring them and refusing to let them bother you, and instead focusing on aspects you do enjoy, an experience can be transformed from overwhelmingly negative to positive without any actual objective changes happening.


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Drop out of his 3.5 game. Do not put up with it. Tell him that you don't want to play in that game anymore and leave it at that. Don't tell him that it's because of his BS unless you actually want him to know that. You're not obligated to tell him. Simply tell him you're not having fun.

If you're lucky he'll be so pathetic about it, he'll drop out of your group as "revenge". Both problems solved.

If it doesn't, minimize his impact on the game by giving him less air-time, and then play a dragon realistically when he finally goes hunting.

As in: dragons are awesome, terrifying, murderous creatures that can outperform just about anyone. For one thing ... dragons fly. At quite high altitudes. They have breath weapons that they don't need to land to use. Don't let him fight the dragon on his terms. Play it in a way that would make sense for a super-intelligent creature that has access to abilities he can't dream of. Make it stay at a distance from him, while flying, casting spells when it's not using its breath weapon. Make it do fly-by attacks. Have it grapple him, pin him and then lift him up to a height of two miles before unceremoniously dropping him. If he can somehow fly himself, the dragon is likely to be by far the better flyer anyway.

Or, of course, you could simply let him know that you're running the game for the entire group, not for his ego's sake, and tell him that he goes off to hunt a dragon and then continue to run the game for everyone else. Seven or eight game sessions later, you can then inform him that he's found a hostile dragon. It is a Great Wyrm, and it's just eaten him. What does he want his new character to be named?

I have precisely -zero- tolerance towards egotistical players and I see absolutely no reason to dance to their tune. Egotistical characters can add a great dynamic to a group, but egotistical players are the bane of fun.


SheepishEidolon wrote:

I recommend the following:

a) Clear instructions. When he is too loud, tell him to wait for a moment please. You are the GM, you lead the group, you have the right to utter commands if it's for the greater good of the group. Don't be afraid of repercussions. He wants to play these games too. And if repercussions happen, you will survive them.

b) Clear decisions. When you GM, it's good to listen to everyone. Don't focus too much on the annoying guy, he is just a member like everyone else. At the end, decision is yours. You don't have to make perfect decisions all the time (no leader does), you 'only' have to try hard to be a good leader.

c) Explicit criticism. When you are alone with the player, tell him you didn't like a specific behavior, e.g. domineering another player, and explain why it was bad for the group. He will tell crap like 'I didn't do that'. Allow him that last word, neither agree or disagree, move on with other topics. Keep in mind it's not a discussion between equals but between GM and player. Never attack him as a person, focus on the worst behavior patterns. Don't expect miracles, enjoy small improvements. If he doesn't change at all, tell him to leave the group.

I guess these problems are not what you signed up for. It happened to me too, I have a difficult player in my group also. But I won't run away and I won't throw him out since it's a chance to grow as a person. Take it like a paladin. ;)

Some good points, here.

Also, generally speaking a DMPC or GMPC (they're just different words due to, I think, copyright) is a red flag. It's a red flag usually because it's led to the type of behavior you're describing. So, to the above advice: accept it is likely to become awkward in the campaign he's running, if you choose to stay in it. He may end up shifting the campaign to be mostly about his PC.

...Which is the other reason it comes up as a red flag at most tables.

If it does, you may wish to communicate with the other players. How do they handle it?

Finally, if your players are more interested in hack'n'slash, you might consider a game of that sort. I know that is not what you want to hear, but.

An alternative would be to drop awards for roleplay solutions in a more public manner. People tend to respond to rewards, and I've found many gamers to be very goal-oriented.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

That was when I was DMing second edition, where the Bard was the dip into all things but master of none. I agree that the Bard is much improved in both PF and the Brand's new shiny.

The Bard and the Assassin are hot topics that gets way to much discussion time and isn't worth derailing the thread with.


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When I saw the title of this thread, I was hoping for a Youtube link to the world's nerdiest brawl. "When GenCon goes wrong..."


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GMPCs are a big no-no in my book.

Too much bad experiences with egomaniacal GMs who used GMPCs and Mary Sues back in my youth. If the team is short, add a couple NPCs that the group know, and help them sometimes. Let the players play them in combat, and use different ones so you don't become attached to it. For example, in my current RoRL campaign, we have 3 players, so Shaelelu and Ameiko have both appeared in different portions of the game, but only when the players asked them for help, and never "played" by me.


The Alkenstarian wrote:
Or, of course, you could simply let him know that you're running the game for the entire group, not for his ego's sake, and tell him that he goes off to hunt a dragon and then continue to run the game for everyone else. Seven or eight game sessions later, you can then inform him that he's found a hostile dragon. It is a Great Wyrm, and it's just eaten him. What does he want his new character to be named?

Another way to pull that off would be to not drag it out over a bunch of sessions, but make it so that the only rumours of dragons anywhere even remotely near him are that one, and then give him increasingly clear signs as he gets closer that this is the biggest, meanest kind of true dragon out there: a Red Great Wyrm. If he turns back and decides to go for the plot with the group and just hope that you might cater to him by dropping an easier dragon that the whole party can fight, then that's great! You might even decide to do that! If he goes in and tries to square off against a Colossal chromatic after getting a peak at it ripping off a live man's limbs one by one and happily devouring them as it keeps him alive by casting Stabilize, then he should be able to see it was his mistake when he gets impaled on a 3 foot talon and spun like a pinwheel. It should also prove the point about letting you finish your descriptions if he charges in without heeding the warning signals.

Or perhaps this one doesn't even have the materials for him to craft with because it's a Red Wyrm Ravener and it's killed any other dragons.


Charon's Little Helper wrote:
thaX wrote:
If I have actual party member, I would have them at the same level as the others, or maybe at one level higher if it was a bard or another badly developed class.
Wait... bard is badly developed? Bards are an extremely potent class. (Not that GMPCs are ever a good idea.)
Bandw2 wrote:
Charon's Little Helper wrote:
thaX wrote:
If I have actual party member, I would have them at the same level as the others, or maybe at one level higher if it was a bard or another badly developed class.
Wait... bard is badly developed? Bards are an extremely potent class. (Not that GMPCs are ever a good idea.)
bards are like THE most balanced class in pathfinder.

It wasn't in pathfinder.

Sovereign Court

leo1925 wrote:


It wasn't in pathfinder.

Sorry - but on a Pathfinder message board, unless you state otherwise the assumption is that you're talking about Pathfinder.


interrupting you when your describing the scene is a big no-no. tell him point blank that its not cool. because technically, its out of game time. you have to take 30 seconds to describe what the players see instantly. you have to put him on hold until you finish over wise it doesn't make sense.

GM: you see a a great wooden door that stands 20 foot tall...
Player: I break down the door
GM: ...thats guarded by 4 heavily armoured knights

explain to him, in game. this doesn't have to be a lengthy discussion. every time he does it stop him and say 'wait a minute'

now if an enemy is monologuing and he wants to attack, thats fine.

regarding the players not wanting to partake in all of the festival games you've created. to be honest I can kind of understand.

I remember when playing one game, everyone was at the tavern where they would spend the night. everyone was just getting drunk and I personally found it boring despite everyone else enjoying it. for me, if it doesn't advance the plot I find it boring.

as for his game, just tell him your not having fun and are thinking about leaving. if he wants you to stay he'll ask whats the matter and take your feelings into consideration. if he doesn't care then he's clearly not the gm for you. kinda like being in a band or a marriage haha.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Charon's Little Helper wrote:
leo1925 wrote:


It wasn't in pathfinder.
Sorry - but on a Pathfinder message board, unless you state otherwise the assumption is that you're talking about Pathfinder.

How many times does the OP have to say 3.5 before it's clear that Pathfinder is not the focus of the thread?


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Charon's Little Helper wrote:
leo1925 wrote:


It wasn't in pathfinder.
Sorry - but on a Pathfinder message board, unless you state otherwise the assumption is that you're talking about Pathfinder.
How many times does the OP have to say 3.5 before it's clear that Pathfinder is not the focus of the thread?

the same number of times it takes to get it moved out of a pathfinder forum.

Sovereign Court

TriOmegaZero wrote:
Charon's Little Helper wrote:
leo1925 wrote:


It wasn't in pathfinder.
Sorry - but on a Pathfinder message board, unless you state otherwise the assumption is that you're talking about Pathfinder.
How many times does the OP have to say 3.5 before it's clear that Pathfinder is not the focus of the thread?

Except the whole mention of bard being weak etc wasn't from the OP - it was from an entirely different poster (thaX), so your point is moot.

In fact - in the post in question he mentioned Rise of the Runelords - so it implied further that Pathfinder was meant.


This is how I got my crew to Roleplay just last Saturday.

I picked my easiest going player (since she would be out for a while), then I had a local rogues guild feed one of the players 2 poisons. One to make her Nauseated and the second to make her pass out after one minute. She ran out of the tavern to retch on the dirt instead of the tavern floor, then promptly passed out.

Rogues picked up her unconscious body and carried her off. The other players had to use RP to get information to find the location of the rogues guild and their companion.

If they don't RP, make 'em MWAH HA HA HA

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Charon's Little Helper wrote:
In fact - in the post in question he mentioned Rise of the Runelords - so it implied further that Pathfinder was meant.

Which was 3.5 first as was the soulknife he mentioned as well.


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Well, it has been 10 days now...

The big question - are they still roommates?


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

this is one of those threads where we never get a reply, so *shrug* could be dead.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Charon's Little Helper wrote:
In fact - in the post in question he mentioned Rise of the Runelords - so it implied further that Pathfinder was meant.
Which was 3.5 first as was the soulknife he mentioned as well.

well obviously there's a RotRLs pathfinder AP, but also isn't soulknife a thirdparty psion class that is pretty commonly used? so i mean, still to me seemed pretty PF.

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