November 4th, 2002

abstract teacup

What's your worst ever roleplaying experience?

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?