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D&D 3E
Most annoying DM sins 
22nd-Nov-2005 07:08 am
wicked handclasp
What are the Cardinal Sins of DMship that should be forbidden?

My contribution:

1. Geas/Quest abuse.

I HATE that. Sheesh, I'm not sure Geas should have ever even been written. I think it can be used responsibly, but that is difficult to do. Any time you are forcing the characters to follow a course of action because they will probably feel kinda crappy if they don't, ... you need to reevaluate what you are trying to accomplish as a DM.

2. Swiping a spellbook.

It's just ... mean. The player had really better be an a$$hole if you are going to do that. Not to be confused with the character being and a$$.

3. Pigeon-Holing.

Ya know what? The players may NOT want to do that quest! So don't force 'em. It sucks, yes. Spent a lot of time on it, I bet you did. But, get over it. It's all about the roleplaying, and metagaming characters into a quest they wouldn't go on just sabatoges RP.

Having said that, one of the reasons I recognize all these is because I've committed them all somewhere along the way. As a new DM, I saw Geas and said "OOOOH!" and of course (ab)used it. Wups. I also was guilty of the second two in the same campaign v.v (which admittedly was my first attempt at DMing. Sorry emagius! I'm sure you are remembering baaaaaaad, bad sessions right about now. ~_^ Heh, thanks for enduring my newbien DMness. I'm much better now, I promise. ~_^) I'm lucky I've had such great players!
22nd-Nov-2005 12:15 am (UTC)
Of course, there's a corallary to your third point.

DMs need to commit not to railroad, but players need to commit to playing characters who are going to fit into the campaign as the DM has described it, and who aren't going to resist going on most of the DM's adventures.

AFAIAC, a smooth-running game that's fun for everyone--including the DM--is the responsibility of everyone at the table.
29th-Nov-2005 04:31 am (UTC)
I will totally agree with that. I've had my fair share of players who are all "BUT I HAVE A MISSION!" and it just doesn't fit into anything the DM does. ARG.

Good point. We are ALL players, after all, in the sense that we are all participating in a game. And the point of games are to have fun.
22nd-Nov-2005 12:15 am (UTC) - The DMG2 has a list;
The one I think really needs enforcing is the "beginningthe game deprived of sleep and on an empty stomach, and over compensating with a caffiene/sugar rush".
22nd-Nov-2005 12:18 am (UTC)
In second edition, before wish had clearly defined limits), a GM I used to play with would love giving out wishes.

But no matter how trivial your wish, or how carefully you worded it, it would work out in the worst way possible. I got into the habit of wishing for a sandwich, on the grounds that it couldn't go too wrong, but I choked to death on it. And he wouldn't let people not wish, because your character doesn't know that it'll work out badly, right?

Stupid wishes.
22nd-Nov-2005 02:32 am (UTC)
"I wish I didn't have this wish" ?
22nd-Nov-2005 02:44 pm (UTC) - I tried that once.
the rat bastard DM made time reverse itself and the manner in which I got he wish, a.k.a. releasing a boung solar from a liches clutches; the lich came back, the solar was bound again, only none of us (my party) got any HP back or anything. I never played one of his games again, and when he played mine, I made him suffer.
Nothing is more fun than forcing someone who specializes in non-logic to have consequences. HEH
22nd-Nov-2005 12:19 am (UTC)
2) But sundering a sword is okay? There's nothing wrong with swiping a spellbook, just so long as it follows from the game, not the other way around.
22nd-Nov-2005 12:08 pm (UTC)
That was going to be my point exactly. Spellbooks are no more sacred than a fighter's weapon or a bard's instrument.
22nd-Nov-2005 01:32 pm (UTC)
That's why I always play a monk :)
22nd-Nov-2005 09:36 pm (UTC)
Or a sorceror. ^_^

Or a bard whose performance is based on oratory skills. (Not sure that's actually kosher with the bard's ability descriptions, but it was so much fun having a bard that could inspire his comrades simply by cursing up a storm.)
23rd-Nov-2005 12:11 am (UTC)
It is indeed kosher. It's refered to as bardic music, but the only requirement is that the bard be heard.
22nd-Nov-2005 05:43 pm (UTC)
To be fair, a wizard's spellbook is harder to replace than a sword. And even if you can find one, you need to spend several days learning how to read it, and probably end up losing half the spells you knew.

Which isn't to say that it should be done lightly, but it should be considered more carefully than sundering a sword.
23rd-Nov-2005 12:10 am (UTC)
Of course, but you also take into account that a spellbook isn't being waved around in battle all the time and there are specialized spellbooks that wizards can get for themselves that ensure that they remain safe and sound.

Also, most wizards are paranoid about their spellbooks and set up little traps/checks to make sure nothing happens to them. At least, all the wizards I've known.
22nd-Nov-2005 01:40 am (UTC)
Its not the adventure that is lacking if the players dont fall for it. Its the DM's approach. Switch to a different hook, engage one of the characters in such a way that they feel obligated to go on the quest. Not obligated as in player obligated to DM, more of honorbound or do it in fear of their life type of obligation.

Geas to me are very fun. It does take some getting used to and working with. You have to have a player that wouldnt mind being in cahoots with you. A good mind trick on the players is always a fun thing. Trick about the geas is to use it on the player/s and have it appear as something else. Make them do small things that will add up to much larger things, the small things of course being a byproduct of the spell, but the players take it as everyday normal events.

As far as swiping a spellbook, I know of no better way to get ahead on your spells (esp if your character is low on morals). Not all mages are good, and if you swipe a spell book, maybe you can learn more spells...or use that as the hook needed to get the players into your adventure.
22nd-Nov-2005 06:21 am (UTC)
4. The invincible town guards. The pc's decide to cause trouble and of course the town guard arrive to quell it. All 40 of them. All with +1 crossbows. And 1 in 10 is a wizard. Of 16th level. Then reinforcements arrive.
22nd-Nov-2005 10:05 am (UTC)
I couldn't bring myself to pull that one, so I had all the towns the PCs had caused trouble in pitch in to hire elite mercenaries.
23rd-Nov-2005 06:01 pm (UTC)
-I couldn't bring myself to pull that one, so I had all the towns the PCs had caused trouble in pitch in to hire elite mercenaries.

*LOL* Omg that's great. What happened?
24th-Nov-2005 01:30 am (UTC)
They challenged the PCs and were overcome after a great struggle, how does any great encounter end?

Hopefully the PCs learned to keep their down and dirty on the down low, but the campaign didn't last too much longer after that due to player flakiness.
23rd-Nov-2005 04:27 am (UTC)
oh god I love that one.
What makes this better are the DMs/GMs who don't keep track of the 40 guards HPs.
22nd-Nov-2005 12:22 pm (UTC)
-PC's are the only competant people: What annoys me is when the PC's have met high level NPC's, seen other NPC adventuring parties, and generally know for a fact that there are plenty of other people running around just as good, if not better than they are and trying to accomplish the same goals...but those goals can only ever be accomplished by the PC's.

Some people might say that this has merit, since it allows many adventure options for the PC's...but it's totally unrealistic and makes a player feel like making one choice is forsaking the rest of the world (and it is). PC's shouldn't feel that the weight of the entire world is pressing them down. This is not to say that their quests cannot be important, or even that they cannot try to save the world, just that the entire world should not revolve around the PC's and should be its own free-standing universe with the PC's somewhere in it.

-Time against the PC's: I'm one for danger, that's no secret. However, the campaign that I've been playing in for about 2 years now has been non-stop fighting. If we ever get time off, it's for a few hours of rest and then we wake up to plunge back into combat. Where is our free time? How can we be expected to use our Craft/Profession/Perform skills? How are we supposed to be do -anything- that doesn't involve a gigantic group of adventurers on an adventure?

This is also unrealistic. Granted, in this scenario the world is essentially going to shit and everybody is going to die, but there should still be a -small- amount of time to take care of things without having to worry what happens if you decide to actually take that time (ties into my first point). Rarely should there be constant action that doesn't afford the PC's proper time, and not just to craft/etc, but simply to live life and -age-.

A level 20 wizard at age 26 is entirely unrealistic.
22nd-Nov-2005 02:40 pm (UTC) - lvl. 20 at 26? well yes and NO...
Personally, I think the only way to truly convey a prodigy at a young age is in situation like that, sort of trial by fire. Inevitably, wih any apocalyptic, world ending scenario the adventurers of the world therein will either be higher level for there age than expected, or dead. Frankly the ay i always conveyed te difference between a young high level party and an old high level party was that of maturity and options. When I play a young upstart mage of 10th to epic levels I usually keep him at around 2-4 spells known of any given level, or the spell i give him ar enot neccesarily the most tactically inclined. the older wiser magi whom has studied for 50 years, knows every spell from here to faerun and back...
...But thats just me.
22nd-Nov-2005 02:36 pm (UTC)
The point about spellbooks is a good one - but I think it applies equally to other pieces of equipment the PCs value. If you wouldn't swipe the wizard's spellbook, then don't steal or sunder the fighter's sword, or smash the bard's magic lute, and so on. Sometimes there may be reasons for doing any or all of the above, but the players are going to feel cheated and upset, especially if they paid to have the item crafted, or got it as a result of a particularly nasty battle. Realistic? No, not at all. Still, it just makes running the game more comfortable for me, and my group seems to like it that way. Of course, I'm also careful about what equipment I let them have access to at any given time. I'd rather be cautious about what I give them in the first place than have to fix a mistake later.
22nd-Nov-2005 06:21 pm (UTC)
In every adventure module I have written there is a point very early on where a situation that presents the plot is stated. Guy begs adventurers to help, or they witness a crime etc. and the text then reads:

If the characters choose to act, roll initiative/man responds etc.

If the characters choose not to be involved, this module is over. Roll Credits.

Its a choice. It has to start somewhere. The players have the right to involve themselves or not.
23rd-Nov-2005 04:22 am (UTC)
I once was in a game (VTM not DnD) where my character spent a great deal of time building up powerful contacts, henchmen and even a business so I had the money I needed.

Then one night we find out it was all "A dream" created by a more powerful vampire and I had to start all over because none of those people really existed. In a game where everyone if fighting for power there are a lot of ways this could have come about (I pissed off enough powerful NPCs in the game) that I would have been ok with.

That was the last time I played in that group with that person running.
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