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D&D 3E
What's your worst ever roleplaying experience? 
4th-Nov-2002 12:45 pm
abstract teacup
After the previous thread, I thought it might be interesting to discuss "bad" roleplaying experiences. Specifically those caused by bad GMs.

I've only been in two campaigns, with several one-off sessions. One campaign, has and is, excellent. The other, though incredibly enjoyable, can only be considered "bad". I personally found that all my characters were messed around one way or another. Other characters received "favouritism" which was less than fun for their players. Even when the characters were on deaths door, the GM would find a way to keep them alive, while I managed to have three different character die. Yes, I'm bitter, some very well thought out characters ended up nothing like how I intended them to be, through no fault of my own. This was my first "real" experience roleplaying.

The first character died through a misunderstanding between the players. I can't blame the GM for this, but I think he could have been a little more lenient knowing this was about my fourth ever session.

My second character was intended to be a fighter-thief. He had a fantastic background tied in with another character that would be joining soon. Since the player of that character didn't turn up for another month, the background was quickly changed. I was suddenly faced with playing a character that didn't make sense. And then, all my attempts to be "thief-like" failed. I was "thief" by name, but everything my GM did geared the character towards being a fighter. If I were to sneak ahead with the other thief of the party, I wouldn't be successful. Some of this would be rolls, granted, but much of it was the way the GM ran the game. On the rare occasions I went up levels (don't even get me on to the GMs random experience system) I couldn't reason a good reason to go up thief levels. And then I decided I was going to retire the character. I had plans of suicide, or running off. But I wasn't given the opportunity for my own, satisfactory retirement of the character. In an attack by a bunch of assassins, I was hit. The poison used was one of those types that cannot be saved against (although I'm sure someone else had been hit and not killed by the poison). He died instantly. What little control I had ever had of the character was totally lost, and being still a relatively new player, I didn't have the confidence to do anything about it.

The third character died after half an hour of roleplay, due to what I consider a severe misjudgement by the GM. Imagine a young mage suddenly finding herself in Ravenloft. She's scared stiff. Her new companions tell her to be wary, because anything might appear out of the mists and attack. A massive beast appears to her left, her first instinct is to throw her most powerful spell at it - a lightning bolt. If it had been anything, from a squirrel to a God, she would probably have done this. The beast happens to be either a Tanaari or a Baitzu (apologies for mis-spellings). Across the other side of the road is whichever of these creatures the first isn't. The two are about to duel. But the characters are totally unaware of this, unexpecting. The beast could have just shrugged off the little lightning bolt that did it no damage, it's focus on the enemy ahead. That would have been a good GM judgement. But no, it throws a lightning bolt back (which I'm sure would have been 6d6) at a mage who is at most level 3 (so 12 hit points max?). She didn't have a chance and died horribly. The other character to be hit was fortunately a half-vampire, and survived. Everything I did was perfectly in character. The GM should have considered this, given us a chance to run away. At least some chance to survive. But no, the first encounter after thirty minutes of real time, and my character dies horribly. Is it just me, or was this incredibly unfair GMing?

The next character was cool, and I did enjoy what was left of the campaign. I really had fun, and slowly my roleplaying improved (although my other campaign proved to be much more useful in that respect). But the GM was still often unfair, favouring some players above others, much to the chagrin of all. Fortunately, it didn't affect my opinion of roleplaying, and I am still playing and playing and playing. But it wouldn't surprise me that if others experienced such a GM for their first time, they might give up.

So, has anyone else got any bad GMs, or horrifying roleplay sessions to share?
Comments 
4th-Nov-2002 12:32 pm (UTC)
Anonymous
I've had non-GM related bad sessions before (and since), but the one session that really irked me went as follows:

Having not rpg'd for a long time, and rarely in a d&d rule system/universe, the prospective GM somehow managed to convince me to participate in a session that they would be running.

I prepared a character with such depth and life history as I had never done before.. I wanted to do the character justice. A while later a rather natty Elf maiden sorceress was born, her history had been created and her reason for being was all planned in great detail.

The session began with the characters getting to know each other, they started their journey and sometime into the session they were attacked by a single enemy. Unfortunately the elf maiden was alone on watch, she raised the alarm and woke the others but as she did so, the beast approached. In one swipe of its scythe-like-weapon it cleaved the naive elf maiden in two and her life was over.

It took all of about 20 minutes and I had to sit out the rest of the several hour session.

The GM later apologised stating that they hadn't intended to kill my character it was just the way it happened. Don't get me wrong, characters die, I get that, but most of the good GM's would not have allowed a new character to die so easily and without intending it. It honestly came as quite a shock to the GM when they announced how much damage the attack had caused and I reacted by saying my character was dead - GM's should know a little about their pc's before they kill em ;)

I'm just bitter and twisted.
4th-Nov-2002 01:55 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry! How many times do I have to say I'm sorry?

To qualify his claims. This was my first ever D&D 3E session. I rarely GM as it is so I'm not used to balancing things. It's not like I wanted the character to die, I'd invested a lot of effort into her myself. And well, I might not have killed her if I hadn't been so amazed at my rolls and blurted it out. Okay, so I'm a bad GM.. but when you roll that many criticals... It wasn't meant to be a tough fight!!! (Of course, I didn't account for the fact that only one character would meet the bad guys at first).
4th-Nov-2002 01:17 pm (UTC)
Wow - after experiences like that, I'm glad to hear you're not soured on roleplaying! Fortunately, the DM I regularly play with is pretty good. His one annoying habit is sometimes not reminding players of knowledge their characters should legitimately have, but that the player is having trouble remembering (if the player was ever told at all).

If a DM has a problem with a character, he should let the player know and talk it out with that player before he (or she) ever allows that character in the campaign. Messing with a character without the player's input is not the way to keep your players engaged. And if you're going to go to extraordinary lengths to keep one player's character alive, then you should do it for all. "Favoring" one person's character over another is a really great way to create dissension among the players. We did have an occasion where one player character took enough damage that, by the rules, she really should have died. However, the DM decided that the character did, in fact, have a near death experience, but did not die. The character in question belongs to our youngest player (she's 13), and none of the other players had a problem with his decision. In fact, all of us were looking at him, quite plainly thinking, "Don't you DARE kill her character." I'm pretty sure he'd do the same for any of us, though.

I'm not really sure what to say about handling such things in the future. My only advice is to talk with the DM privately - if you criticize him or his decisions in front of the rest of the party, it will only cause him to become defensive. But I don't think you'd be at all out of line to ask him about some of his decisions and what his reasoning was. You could also say that you feel he's been "favoring" some people (with examples), and that it doesn't feel very good to be one of the people who hasn't received such consideration. Of course, he may throw you out of his campaign, but I'm not sure how much of a loss that would be!
4th-Nov-2002 01:29 pm (UTC)
Fortunately that campaign ended about 4 years ago, and the GM is well aware of his faults. We complained like hell to him - he still gets ribbed about it nowadays.

As for your GM not reminding you of info.. if we can't remember stuff, then we have an intelligence check (the more your character knows the thing, the easiest it is). If the intelligence check fails, then the character is having one of those forgetful moments that you have when you can't find the remote control, or your glasses on top of your head.. ;)
24th-Nov-2002 01:27 pm (UTC) - WOW!
What a terrible DM.
25th-Nov-2002 05:07 pm (UTC)
Hey there.

Those sound like some pretty frustrating experiences you've had there. About the only one I think I see as having some kind of reasonable basis for happening the way it did was the one where your character got fried by lightning... think of it this way, if the demon doesn't know you from anywhere and all of a sudden you're tossing lightning at it, why wouldn't it think that you were minions of the other demon across the way? And aren't demons known for their foul tempers regardless? I guess I've just been accustomed to gaming in a group where if acting in character gets you killed, then so be it... Not every character will make wise decisions all the time. However, this doesn't mean that I think the DM was all that great for falling into the standard Ravenloft mindset of having horrible demons just randomly wandering around... and letting PCs be any part Vampire... *shudder* It's a very tough world to do justice to. I'd also ask why the DM let a 3rd level character cast lightning bolt. ;)

Actually, my worst DM stories all come from a particularly bad Ravenloft campaign... it had some good moments, and great role playing potential, but they were interspersed between periods of total DM unpreparedness, an unwillingness to read or even understand the rules, an unwillingness to let NPCs die (or PCs for that matter), and petty spitefulness against PCs if the player had somehow annoyed her earlier. I'll never forget the time that I dared think that missing out on a game to talk to my dad over the phone on his birthday was more important than sticking around for a game that evening. Conveniently, that was the day that all the characters present gained enough XP to go from level 12 to level 15 in a single night... bear in mind that I had *never* missed a session before that night. And what did they do deserve this massive ammount of XP? They killed a wizard who could cast fireball, and disintegrated a succubus. Wow, what a feat. :/ That was when I just stopped showing up for weeks at a stretch.
26th-Nov-2002 04:25 am (UTC)
I agree, the whole lightning event was fair. And I wouldn't be narked except for the fact that I'd only been playing for half an hour. Killing off a character that quickly - whether their actions are in character or not - is I think a little unfair. Especially since he knew I was still relatively new at roleplaying. He would have known that my character would most probably die and I feel he could have worked round it. He could have hurled something much less powerful at us, ignored us due to his obvious enemy in front of him, or I'm sure he could have found other ways around it. That said, I have myself killed off characters in their first session. But I'm incredibly experienced as a GM (and try not to do it anymore because I know I'm crap at judging things). He'd been roleplaying for years. He'd been at the hands of GMs worse than him. I just think he could have judged the situation better. I mean, if it had happened the next session it wouldn't have been so bad.. but after half an hour! Okay, so I'm still bitter about it.. and I probably always will be. :)
23rd-Dec-2002 09:07 pm (UTC)
For what it's worth, I don't believe in fudging the dice rolls either way. If a character dies, they die. On the other hand, I think a DM should know enough about the party to know what it can and can't handle, and throw stuff at them that they'll likely survive without some sort of deus ex machina.
25th-Jan-2003 11:59 am (UTC)
I guess I've been fairly lucky when it comes to DMs, because I don't have any major complaints. My worst game, to date, had nothing to do with the DMing, but with the other players. The party seemed to change every week. The only people who were constant were myself, the DM, and one other player... it was obnoixious to never know what the party was going to be from one session to the next.
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