Bad DMs

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Bad DMs

PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2006 10:05 pm

Posts: 447
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 3:24 am
Location: SSX Vault 12
Chim wanted to hear about my last DM, but I didn't really want to derail the topic with a rant.

Gaming with a bad DM is like being in an abusive relationship for me. I want to leave the campaign, but I want to keep playing D&D, and I'm too lazy to find a new DM. It can get pretty disgustingly bad, but through it all, I'll do little more than fall asleep during sessions and complain about them afterwards. My last DM was awful. He was flaming-poo-on-the-doorstep awful. He played WoW.

I now ask two questions before joining a new campaign. Does the DM play WoW? Did he homebrew the campaign setting? My last DM homebrewed a campaign setting. Normally, I wouldn't mind that so much, except that when I say my DM 'homebrewed' a campaign setting, I mean he plagiarized Azeroth. There was an alliance, consisting of most of the PHB races. There was a horde of undead and drow. There was a great wyrm red dragon that lived in an active volcano that he would have called Molten Core, if I didn't threaten to pull his skull out through his nose and beat him with it. Okay, he's not creative.

Let's be honest for a moment. Blizzard doesn't know what an RPG is, or they'd stop calling their games RPGs. Their games don't give you a role to play; they give you a set of levels to grind. (If you disagree with me, just remember, I have the right to my opinion, and you're an idiot who shouldn't be allowed to speak.) My DM saw an experience point table, and pages of class features in the PHB and saw not a roleplaying game, but a level grind. When he got his grubby paws on the Epic Level Handbook, he even started painting D&D's experience system in shades of WoW. Twentieth-level characters, he suddenly started to consider pathetically low-level and would put his absolute best effort into seeing that they would reach level sixty in a matter of months. If he could grind a WoW character from level one to sixty in a few weeks, then we should be doing the same thing in D&D.

The problem with that is that you do that in WoW by attacking monsters that are of a substantially higher level than yourself. He equates D&D's CR with WoW's monster levels. That's fine, except that he never read the section of the DMG that describes the difference between CR and EL. Let me give you insight into his thought process when designing an encounter....

Nick's brain wrote:Hmmm.... Party of four, at fifth level, really needs to level up a good two or three times next session. What should I start them off with? Half-dragon template is LA +3. Slap that on a fourth-level human fighter, and we're up to what? CR7? Yeah, I could throw three of them in as a warm-up.

Other fascinating encounters that he chose include the mummy lord (CR10) that we fought at level three, the young adult black dragon (CR 9) at the same level, the four ogres (one of which was a third-level barbarian, making EL 9) at level two, and at some point, there was a pirate ship full of wizards that my therapist says I should try to put out of my mind. How do we survive? On the one hand, sometimes we don't, and he gripes under his breath about how easily we should have handled the encounter. On the other hand, most of the time, he's got an NPC wandering around with the party that's about twice our level and has had nearly every rule in the book bent to put his power level more in line with his newest abomination of a WoW 'character'.

Surely, there must be some kind of redeeming quality lodged in this thing I've been calling a DM. If he can't build a world, and he doesn't understand the rules, then he must at least be able to write a great plot, so that he has some basis upon which to found his claims of being a qualified Dungeon Master, right? Ye gods, no! Most of his plotlines involve the party randomly meeting his NPC-to-join-the-party, and that NPC then drags us by the nose to other NPCs who send us on quests, which are really just jaunts out into level-grinding-land, where we kill monsters and find the first legendary item in a colossal string of fetch-and-carry quests designed to last until we've reached post-epic-wow-that-really-is-a-WoW-character status.

Apparently, that's where the real plot supposedly begins to enter the equation. He's only ever finished one campaign, though, and I was not in the party that finished it. Why? Well, I equated his campaigns to abusive relationships. I stick with them well after I should leave, but eventually, I do buck up, say, "Enough is enough," and leave. That's why I'm finally running my Planescape campaign. It's not so much because I like DMing more than playing, but because I presently don't trust anybody else to do the DM's job right.

Anyway, share your bad DM horror stories. I command it.

PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 6:11 am

Posts: 551
Joined: Thu Dec 30, 2004 2:07 am
Luckily for me none of my freinds who play D&D play WoW. (genearly they think its ****)

My DM... well his not bad, his just got a penchant for trying his best to kill the characters because they made a particualy buff or powerful character. So he tries to kill you off because your inbalanced. Admitadly he has a point on occasion (i believe my human warrior with jotunbrud using a fullblade and a large great bow might of been a wee bit overpowered). Also with the RttToEE about to start, having the DM say that we are going to fail because weve chosen imba characters doesnt make you feel like playing much lol.

Problem is just about every D&D people end up arguing with him over characters because he says they are all imba (he goes for insanley realistic which isnt bad but...its a fantasy game in the end and youve got fantastic characters they arnt your average powerful NPC). There is not one D&D weve had that someone hasnt died, been caputred and molested (poor old gnome artificer), or generaly owned and saved only by rediculous DM magic. (ive only had one person get killed due to some bad luck (cleric got his brains sucked out by a mindflayer)

Ive been Dming as well latley and have noticed the players prefer the slighlty more fantastic. As the book of challanges says in the DMs Dirty little secret at the start: "your really on the players side". DMs seem to have a penchant for trying to over complicate teh game in the name of realism (again not a bad thing but you can go too far), or playing it as if they were players... ie trying to wipe out the party.

Its the DMs job to be origional (or use current material), to make it a fun experience for all, help the players, keep it balanced but dont be obsessive about it and generaly just run the game well.

On another note i think the best D&D ive had was when the DM had only a players handbook and made it in like a couple hours.

(btw no offence to anyone with the next bit)

DM: You see some people hiding in the bushes
Player 1: Are they black?
DM: It doesnt matter if they are black or not
Player 1: If their black their gonna rob us
DM: ....Look for the moment lets assume, their black
Player 1: so they gonna rob us
Dm: goddamit yes they are going to rob you


PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 3:12 pm

User avatar
Posts: 324
Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2004 6:52 am
Location: Madison, WI
Some people seem overeager to use every monster in the book and throw them at the players. Most D&D players are cool with the hack-and-slash aspect, but in all honesty, the game starts at the level you want to play. It seems foolish to "grind" your players up to high-level.

Part of the fun is realizing early on, you're outclassed. "This troll wants to tear out my ribcage and make a piano out of it. I better delay my tactics until I can get my hands on some fire." Later on at high-level: "This troll wants to tear out my ribcage and make a piano out of it. Guess I better burn off a charge on my wand of liver implosion, which according to the book I read should destory its ability to regenerate." You get the idea.

I don't know what to tell you about the GM, maybe you can get him a module and say "Here. Balance your adventures thusly."
Pain is weakness leaving your body.

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