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Old 03-25-2007, 09:39 AM   #1
PurpleXVI
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(Larry, feel free to nuke this if it doesn't belong here, but I figured it would be more likely to catch the eye of the people it would matter to here than in, say, the GD or the Misc. Games forum.)

Now, as DM's and players, we all have our own preferences and dislikes, our little pet peeves and an assortment of things that we always do.

So, to the players:

What sort of common mistakes does it really get on your nerves when DM's make? What really makes the game better for you on the rare times when the DM does it? What would you prefer it if your fellow players stopped doing/did more?

To the DM's:

What does it really annoy you when your players do? What really makes the game better for you on the rare times when the players do it? What would be your most brilliant piece of advice to your fellow DM's?

Note: The intent is not for this to be targeted at anyone, this is to players and DM's in general(So please, do not name names unless whoever you're naming is cool with it, check first! Personally, feel free to point me out... If it's a good thing, otherwise your character dies from a sudden rain of rocks. [img]smile.gif[/img] ). The thought behind this was that maybe we could all get a few helpful ideas or perhaps recognize something we did in a player or DM's pet peeve.

And a PS: Feel free to name stuff that isn't covered by my questions, either. If you've got something that just generally annoys you, or some piece of advice that would be good for everyone, go for it.
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Old 03-25-2007, 12:08 PM   #2
Legolas
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As a player, my main dislikes are being visibly railroaded, being left with no idea of what to do, being clearly outperformed by others; particularly NPCs, being told I can't do things, and large parties.
As a DM, the only thing I seriously dislike are characters without agendas.

Being railroaded or blatantly outperformed is a problem for me because I like to feel that my actions are having some kind of impact. While I enjoy reading a good story as much as the next person, that's not the reason I play these games. If the DM wishes to take me by the hand to guide me to all the highlights he/she planned, if NPCs take care of all the obstacles, if I only have one way to go, then I'm not having fun.
And even though, or maybe because, I'm perfectly happy playing weaker characters as I enjoy being the flawed underdog, the proverbial invulnerable companions with mass-murder moves have a tendency to take the sense of achievement out of the character's struggle to overcome the odds - not to mention that most DMs counter high level partymembers with high level monsters, which promptly eat the lower levels who can't touch them in return.

Being left clueless is usually a result of my trying to break away from railroads into unprepared grounds or the DM trying so desperately to keep all options open that there's too much choice to pick any significant direction. Another common reason is that the DM, knowing where the story is going, what the factions want, how the puzzle works and so on, can't imagine that his/her already generous hints are being completely ignored because of things he/she assumes some things are obvious based on that extra information. It's no wonder then, that one of the most important DM skills is to direct the players without their realizing it, and that this involves giving just the right amount of the right information at the right times to make players favour certain current and future choices they're given.

Being told I can't do something then. While it's essential that DMs dare tell the players No when they're being terribly disruptive, being told I can't try to break through a wall, climb down the incredibly deep gorge and then up the other side, trick the snake monster into tying itself in a knot or whatever unexpected notion I come up with just kills creativity. I'm not attempting to cheat my way past obstacles, I'm seeking to find solutions, and even though they may not be what the DM had in mind or success is contrary to the DMs plans (I should run or turn back), I appreciate having at least some chance of success.

As far as large parties are concerned, they are not really a problem other than that it becomes hard to decide on anything without a few days' worth of posting. Three or maybe four players in a group is about the maximum number which I find still allows for some pace to the game, but even that's not guaranteed. The problem, of course, is that while every player has the time to think things through and write up a lot of text, interaction with other characters is slow unless you resort to an instant messenger program to write up dialogue together.

And finally, agendas. I find characters without an agenda are either impossible to motivate and engage in the story, or mindless puppets following the railroad awaiting the DMs next whim. At the same time, those -with- agendas are driven individuals full of surprises, both easy and fun to work with. Give me the party with private interests any day - and I'm talking about interests which can be realized in-game in particular. It's great that you left home to kill orcs after they destroyed your village when you were five, but even better when you cast a fireball near the rogue because you discovered that he's only in the party to keep an eye on you after his master learned you're on the trail of the Crystal Rose of Geldran you know must be hidden near the dungeon the fighter asked your help exploring. Sorry, I thought you'd pass your reflex save! Hey, who drugged the cleric?
Not that inter-party conflict is always a good thing, there are other ways to portray it.

In summary, I like seeing multidimensional characters in a world, rather than classes in a story, but too much freedom leads to a loss of focus. The DMs task then is to channel character interests and combine them in a captivating tale of his/her design, where the players do most of the work willingly.
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Old 03-25-2007, 03:19 PM   #3
Man Who Fights Like Woman
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Since I've had a good bit of experience from both sides, with groups of varying sizes in forum and table groups and with different amounts of success in each, I've seen a good bit. First I'll start off with a player's gripes, some of which will probably be answered in my own DM gripe section.

First thing I think of that annoys me when playing is making the hints too damn obvious. Obvious hints are okay, but you don't have to make it over the top. Usually this is how you introduce an important NPC or villain. With the villains, it would be much better if he becomes a villain through actions rather than his introduction. You don't need to say that he's a towering man with an enormous army of skeletons who wears all black, a black cape, a black top hat, a monocle, with a black handlebar mustache and a black cane. It's much more effective if he's treated like a character with his own desires and goals, and develops his plans based on that. Not only does it make a better villain with a variety of ways of defeating him, but it also makes the party more involved in hating him if, say, they saw him slaughter a village and raise them as his undead minions rather than just knowing that he has a lot of skeletons.

Another thing is a common complaint that players have, usually with new DMs, and that's the DMPC. This is an NPC, usually accompanies the party, who is awesome at everything. He's a lover of women, a multi-billionaire, an expert swordsman, and dabbles in magic (but he's better than the party's wizard). Your characters can never be better than him, and if they try he'll wrestle them to the ground like the family's patriarch at a reunion in an attempt to prove that he's still a bad-ass and remind you of your place. Nobody likes being in his or her entourage, ever. It's time for this old error to go the way of the dodo, I think. More on this in the DM section though.

Also, I really hate railroading. While some players may be eager to go along with the plot because it falls in with their character's goals, it might not be what my character wants to do. This can be done just as well by the players as it can be done by the DM though. In a predominantly good campaign I was in, it was literally impossible to play an evil character. If you tried to bring one in they would refuse to let him in the city gates. But this isn't to complain about old groups specifically.

DM favoritism is another pet peeve. Yeah, sometimes the dice favor one player or another, that happens. But a DM who puts in items specifically for one player, or sets up encounters regularly for one character, or puts in monsters that only that character can defeat (because of items he gave that player in the past, usually) is a bad thing. It makes the other players feel like they're spectators again, and it makes the favored player more and more like a DMPC the longer it goes on.

I'll post more about it later, since I've already spent a good deal of time already and there are things to do today. [img]smile.gif[/img]
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Old 03-25-2007, 05:56 PM   #4
Legolas
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I nod and agree with most of that, but I'd like to suggest that obvious hints are far better than hints so subtle they're overlooked. That just leads to confused players and frustrated DMs.
It's certainly an art to get it right and a lot depends on how good the group is at picking up on those things, how driven they are to look for it, and if they know it's something they can expect from you as a DM.
An obvious hint though, is not usually a problem, nor is it an issue when players put hints together and correctly guess at the next plot twist the DM had planned - it just proves the group is on one line, the DM can think up twists and the group is smart enough to notice. Everyone is great.
I think obvious hints only really become a problem if the DM does not learn to make future hints less blatant in an alert group - and even then a character portrayed as an obvious villains might in truth be something else entirely, turning what was seen as a plain hint into succesful misdirection.
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Old 03-25-2007, 10:29 PM   #5
Larry_OHF
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This is a good idea, Purple. In fact, I hope that people who have actually gamed with me and for me would step up and tell me specifically where I need to improve, giving me examples of when I did not perform well as a DM or gamer. I am not a real DM with books and understanding of rules, etc..., and always am seeking advice, and I hope that people will be honest enough to tell me right now what it is that I can do to be better.

As for my comments on the subject:

As a gamer, I do not like games that are so open-ended that it is obvious that there is no goal in sight nor best-choice path to take to get to that goal. I like a bit of structure and to know where my limits are as a character.

As a DM, I do not appreciate lack of equal effort from each gamer. Some gamers can write beautiful paragraphs to detail their "move" and some people don't even take the time to spell correctly and make those horrible "one-liners". I understand that people are at different levels of experience and education, but sometimes the lack of effort is too apparent to ignore.

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Old 03-26-2007, 12:16 AM   #6
Sever
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Quote:
Originally posted by Larry_OHF:
and I hope that people will be honest enough to tell me right now what it is that I can do to be better.
Well, off the top of my head, Larry, you could try not enjoying it so much (openly, at least) when you're telling people that their characters are likely to be killed off in the next post.

Seriously though, having only ever played in the Lockesville and current Awakenings games, i think i found a happy medium from the start. After one or two of my earliest, inexperienced, overambitious and ultimately deleted posts, you guided me back in line, without limiting my options, with more patience than your kill-crazy DMs rep would have suggested. (Ok, i'll knock it off.) As a result, i think i got the hang of it painlessly enough that i was able to include broader scale, less obvious intentions amongst the standard "i'm doing this, now i'm doing that" text relatively early on. You seemed to recognise most of my subtlest intentions through the hints i provided which is no small task given that i often wonder if my writing style is too bloody confusing to anyone besides, and sometimes even, me. Not only was it often recognised, you often included it and gave me the option of my input when the situation allowed and didn't even kill me if i over-did it! (Ok, ok. I really knock it off now.) Also, in times when i've obviously failed to see your intended course of action, you've worked with whatever lame response i've conjured or have politely offered a nudge-wink by way of PM when my wayward actions just can't be worked with. In fact Larry, I can't help but state that the only criticism i have towards your DM style is to wonder if you're as lenient with everybody else. Oh, that and the fact that we're never truly able to forget that you've potentially a sadistic death ready and waiting for each and any one of us at the next post. I think by now, we know we're not to become too attached to our characters. Seriously man, the constant reminders can mess with a guy's head.

But enough about you. End the paranoia. Tell me what i'm doing wrong! [img]graemlins/petard.gif[/img]

Edit: If in any way i've mistaken your doings for Cyril's, could you pretty please ask him not to kill me?

[ 03-25-2007, 11:20 PM: Message edited by: Sever ]
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Old 03-26-2007, 02:04 AM   #7
Larry_OHF
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sever:

Edit: If in any way i've mistaken your doings for Cyril's, could you pretty please ask him not to kill me?
Eh? Hey, I am just hoping everyday that Cyril don't kill me! (again). You're on your own with that one.

And thanks for the "positive" feedback. I was not expecting it (seriously).
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Old 03-26-2007, 03:17 AM   #8
Sever
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Seriously seriously?
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Old 03-26-2007, 09:32 AM   #9
Morgeruat
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Not sure if his has been covered yet, but as a DM you have to know when to back off of the rules to tell a good story sort of tying into the "3 stages of GMing",

first the noob where you just let anything go because you're only interested in the fun, second the rulehound because eventually you get tired of #1 and want to bring the game back under your control and not under the control of now godlike PC's instead you overcorrect and rely too strictly on the rules to make the game, and 3rd the mix, you rely on the rules to establish a common ground, but they can be ignored or enforced as necessary to tell a story that's fun for all.

As for things that annoy me, disruptive players who are too busy doodling, looking at stuff online, chatting, etc to play the game. Players who just don't pay attention and miss key plot points, or players who do downright stupid things (bashing down a wall with a magical sword and ending up breaking both), and players who take the game too seriously, characters die, saving throws fail, monsters get lucky, terminal velocity lives up to it's name, this stuff happens, grab the dice, grab some paper, and roll up another one.
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Old 03-26-2007, 09:43 AM   #10
Morgeruat
Jack Burton
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Legolas:

Being told I can't do something then. While it's essential that DMs dare tell the players No when they're being terribly disruptive, being told I can't try to break through a wall, climb down the incredibly deep gorge and then up the other side, trick the snake monster into tying itself in a knot or whatever unexpected notion I come up with just kills creativity. I'm not attempting to cheat my way past obstacles, I'm seeking to find solutions, and even though they may not be what the DM had in mind or success is contrary to the DMs plans (I should run or turn back), I appreciate having at least some chance of success.
I like this one particularly, many times players get clever ideas that aren't covered by the rules, things that are more complex than "I hit it with my sword until it drops" and as a DM you need to be flexible enough to judge things that aren't covered by the rules, not necessarily allow all of it to happen (the snake monster has a 19 intelligence and isn't going to tie itself into a knot, but have 25xp for the clever idea) spontaneous rewards for clever ideas or good roleplaying can help to encourage the same in the future, and also show that even if it didn't work this time, the thought is appreciated and might work again in the future. And finally the advice from the 1st ed AD&D DMG, the rules are a guideline, feel free to modify, ignore, or enforce them to make your game the very best game you can have.

(additionally on the note of being outperformed by NPC's, GMPC's can be a menace if they take center stage, as it often becomes a case of "watch my character run through the adventure while his/her henchmen (the players) pick up the tablescraps.
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