Piestar
 member, 758 posts
 once upon a time...
 ...there was a little pie
Mon 2 Nov 2020
at 20:57
How gentle should a DM be?
Yeah, never once occurred to me I could stop someone from rage quitting, I was just wondering how common it is.

I tend to create situations that seem more dire than they are, and players have, on occasions, panicked and quit without even trying to deal with it.

The weirdest indeed was when several players left just because I stole a monster from an old ERB book, and the description creeped them out. That seemed a bit excessive to me.
Ski-Bird
 subscriber, 124 posts
Mon 2 Nov 2020
at 21:17
How gentle should a DM be?
Piestar:
... Another fell apart because the players, as a result of their own actions, ended up trapped in a city for awhile.


It could be that the players felt stymied (particularly, right or wrong, if they felt a decision was arbitrary).

It might have felt like a railroad.

In my experience, when hosting a game, the answer should never be a 'no.'  It's likely to be received better if it's a 'no, but ...'

I have no idea if this is how your particular situation played out, let's just pretend the following is a random example:

Player:  Can we leave the city, we'd really like to?
DM: No you cannot.  You are trapped because you didn't X, Y, and Z when you could have.

-or-

Player:  Can we leave the city, we'd really like to?
DM: Well, it's going to be real tough ... sauntering right through the gates is right out of course because X, Y, and Z didn't happen.  But, after you guys put your heads together ... it turns out one of you recalls that the League of Rats is known to be operating in the area.  Perhaps one of you could contact this thieves' guild ... contract them to use their smuggling network?  And of course, failing that, there are always the sewers.  No one goes down there for fear of wererats and other malign beasties ... but I suppose it makes sense that the labyrinthine tunnels beneath the city would have to dump out into the bay eventually?  It might not be pretty, or easy, and it will certainly cost you ... What did you guys want to do?
Ski-Bird
 subscriber, 125 posts
Mon 2 Nov 2020
at 21:26
How gentle should a DM be?
^^ When I DM, having the story not go the way you planned is half of the fun.

It's an opportunity to turn every new twist and complication into something to remember.

Maybe there's an airship they could steal?  Might frustrate the griffon-riders that defense the city ... but them's the breaks.

Or maybe the wizard's tower is rumored to have a teleportation circle?  Of course ... they'd have to sneak in and figure out how or even if they could use the darn thing.

Opening oneself up to 'no, but ...' only helps stories in my opinion.

</off soapbox>
Piestar
 member, 759 posts
 once upon a time...
 ...there was a little pie
Mon 2 Nov 2020
at 21:34
Re: How gentle should a DM be?
Ski-Bird:
Player:  Can we leave the city, we'd really like to?
DM: Well, it's going to be real tough ... sauntering right through the gates is right out of course because X, Y, and Z didn't happen.  But, after you guys put your heads together ... it turns out one of you recalls that the League of Rats is known to be operating in the area...


See, those are the kinds of ideas I like to leave to the player, I feel they should search out the options.

Me giving them all of that seems like it should be less satisfying. As a player, I prefer to survive through my own machinations, if you catch my drift.

I don't want to give too many details, then it sounds like I am calling that player out, and I don't want to do that, I am just trying to get a general sense of things...
Piestar
 member, 760 posts
 once upon a time...
 ...there was a little pie
Mon 2 Nov 2020
at 21:34
How gentle should a DM be?
In reply to Ski-Bird (msg # 8):

I go one further, I usually don't even have a way I expect things to go, I find it too constricting.
engine
 member, 799 posts
 There's a brain alright
 but it's made out of meat
Mon 2 Nov 2020
at 21:47
How gentle should a DM be?
In reply to Piestar (msg # 10):

That's what I try to do. Since I don't have a way I expect things to go, I can ask the players for their input: what kinds of challenges do they want to face, what is the mayor of the town like, etc. That way, they can get more of what they want and less of what they don't. Or, if they don't express a preference, I assume that they're OK with whatever I do.

I suppose that's seen as "coddling" and "ruining the surprise," but I've seen players ask for worse challenges than most GMs would put forth on their own, and I've seen players more surprised by something they themselves have just suggested than by anything a GM has ever tried to surprise them with. And, as you've recounted, not everyone enjoys certain surprises, which makes those surprises of questionable value anyway.
facemaker329
 member, 7266 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Tue 3 Nov 2020
at 04:34
How gentle should a DM be?
Personally?  I think a GM should run the game any way they want.  Feel like coddling players?  Great.  Want to really push the players to their limits?  Go for it.

My experience is that no matter how hard you try, you're not going to appeal to everyone.  Do what you do best, and you'll attract players who groove on that sort of game.  But you also need to be objective about what you're doing...

As an example, I had a college buddy (and later, roommate) who ran a Marvel Superheroes campaign for several years...X-Men, since that was the one group from the Marvel Universe that most of us knew with any level of familiarity.  But he had been a comics geek for years, and he would routinely put us in situations where we were struggling just to stay alive, much less have any idea about how we should defeat this latest obscure villain that he dug out of the archives.  And he commented, a few times, that he was baffled that we were having so much trouble dealing with something that should be so easy.  It was only when we reminded him that he had...oh, say, a decade more experience with the X-Men than any of the rest of us...that he realized just how far into the deep end of the pool he'd wandered.

So, you may see the situation as minorly inconvenient...and they may see insurmountable obstacles.  I'd say, if you find yourself in a situation where players quitting on you becomes a regular thing, you probably need to reevaluate what you're doing...or how you're doing it.  But if it's just an occasional thing?  *shrug*  People aren't going to like everything they face.  Some people are more determined to deal with challenges than others.  Some have played with you long enough to have faith that getting through this particularly detestable scenario will have a payoff that will be worth the trouble, while others will lack that faith.  Sometimes it won't even have all that much to do with the game...it's just that whatever happened in the game became the proverbial last straw and they felt like they had to walk away.  Unless they've explicitly told you why they left, all you've got is educated guesses...and sometimes those guesses are wrong.  Don't restructure your technique over unknown issues.
Cubist
 member, 91 posts
Tue 3 Nov 2020
at 05:00
How gentle should a DM be?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question "how gentle should a GM be?"

It very much depends on what sort of "chemistry" the GM and players have going with each other, and what expectations the players have for the campaign, and a few other factors.
Starchaser
 member, 758 posts
Tue 3 Nov 2020
at 11:42
How gentle should a DM be?
This is an interesting topic but I can see a lot of this discussion has more to do with how to deal with difficult players than how gentle you should be as a GM. I think in any case communication is the key. I've run free form games where I've involved some players quite heavily in the main plot and others not so much. As the game progresses you get a feel for what the players want and adjust accordingly. In those sort of games gentle nudging of players works better than railroading them, and sometimes they take the 'bait' sometimes not.

That's free form games, however. In System based games there is usually more structure to play and the toughness of the game is really dictated by the system and setting. Also the rules apply to all so you can't really go easy on one person and then make it harder for another. The only system I have a huge amount of experience in running, however, is Call of Cthulhu and its pretty  much a given that enemies will be hard and that the players are likely to fail.
Piestar
 member, 761 posts
 once upon a time...
 ...there was a little pie
Tue 3 Nov 2020
at 12:00
How gentle should a DM be?
I take in all the comments to one degree or another, no matter how close or far they are from the topic, but I do appreciate your noticing.

I don't really think railroading is, or has ever been the issue, not in the sense that I understand the word. Players never have to stick to a plot or story line, the path they choose is their own. I do expect them to live with the repercussions of their action, they can't treat people like dirt then demand to be beloved.

Some times the party or player is just thrown off because an encounter looks tougher than it is. I guess it makes sense to be concerned, but if every encounter is three one-legged kobolds again a party of eighth level characters, where is the fun?
engine
 member, 800 posts
 There's a brain alright
 but it's made out of meat
Tue 3 Nov 2020
at 22:00
Re: How gentle should a DM be?
Piestar:
Some times the party or player is just thrown off because an encounter looks tougher than it is. I guess it makes sense to be concerned, but if every encounter is three one-legged kobolds again a party of eighth level characters, where is the fun?

That implies a false dichotomy, though. Just because someone agrees that having nothing but trivial encounters wouldn't be fun doesn't mean they'd agree that every other option would be fun.
Piestar
 member, 762 posts
 once upon a time...
 ...there was a little pie
Tue 3 Nov 2020
at 22:08
Re: How gentle should a DM be?
What are the other options, between encounters that look easy, and encounters that don't? Seems like a pretty realistic dichotomy to me.
donsr
 member, 2096 posts
Tue 3 Nov 2020
at 22:20
Re: How gentle should a DM be?
 as   Facemaker  mentioned a few times, in other  such  threads  like this. How  tough or easy a game is, doesn't matter, its how the game is run, and how the  players , play.

 Some of the best times i have  had, was  a player thinking out of the box, and finding something that is plausible, that changes the whole flow of an event.

 the pendulum swings back as well, when players  mess up badly, and things become overly hard.

 ::shurgs::  " being gentle"  or  'tough' isn't the point. Keeping the story/game goign  is...If a problem player  whines?..perhaps  its best if that player moves on.. if  some one is having a hard  time, the GM should talk in PMs  about it.

 Run the game as you see fit. as i say often? None of us ( including Admins) are getting paid to be here...so run the game for  your own enjoyment, and those of your players, let malcontents walk.
Piestar
 member, 763 posts
 once upon a time...
 ...there was a little pie
Tue 3 Nov 2020
at 22:31
Re: How gentle should a DM be?
In reply to donsr (msg # 18):

While all of that is true, I never stop trying to improve my abilities as a DM, and often the best way to do that is ask others how they do things, what works for them and what doesn't. I take in what I like, and ignore the rest. Never gonna say the way I do it is the end all, be all...
donsr
 member, 2097 posts
Tue 3 Nov 2020
at 22:37
Re: How gentle should a DM be?
again? with a Nod   to Facemaker,there is no right way or wrong way... if your  game thrives, and players enjoy it..'that's the right way"

 nothing  wrong  with  sampling  your peers to get  an idea of what they do.
engine
 member, 801 posts
 There's a brain alright
 but it's made out of meat
Wed 4 Nov 2020
at 00:32
Re: How gentle should a DM be?
In reply to Piestar (msg # 17):

The hypothetical you gave isn't "easy" it's "trivial" in the sense of "annoyingly boring." Above that, there's a range of encounters that are easy, but still fun, or at least quick.

For encounters that don't look easy, there are ones that look like they could be easy if everyone pays reasonable attention, if everyone pays close attention, if the rolls are lucky, if everyone pulls out all the stops. And there are even encounters that are hopeless.

You put it in terms of "look." For some reason.

I should ask, though, instead of assuming: do you believe that players who aren't okay engaging with an encounter that looks impossibly difficult would only be happy with onr that looks utterly trivial? Do you believe that players might be up for a cballenge, but not for just any challenge?
facemaker329
 member, 7267 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Wed 4 Nov 2020
at 07:33
Re: How gentle should a DM be?
To clarify, or perhaps expound on what I said earlier...

I've been in groups where the party got itself into situations that had even the GM shaking his head and asking how everyone was going to get out.  And they not only got out, they practically walked away, completely unscathed, because they came up with some really bizarre and outrageous ideas that the GM looked at and said, "Y'know...I can't see any legitimate reason why that WOULDN'T work...so, yeah, roll the dice and let's see where it goes."  And the dice were very favorable.

I was in a Star Wars game with a woman whose character seemingly couldn't shoot her way out of a cardboard box...I've never seen anyone so consistently miss dice rolls to attack.  But only until her character was stunned, or wounded, and had a dice penalty.  Where she couldn't hit anything with all of her dice, once she had a penalty, she could shoot the wings off a fly at fifty yards.

I've been in groups where the GM had carefully set up an encounter that was supposed to be an extended battle that would last for hours...and one person, using one magical item in a way the GM had never anticipated, ended it before the first attack rolls ever got made.

I've also been in groups where nobody ever seemed to be able to get anything to work properly.  The dice didn't like us, or the skills people had taken just didn't mesh well with the situations we found ourselves in, or we were just far enough out of sync with each other that every time someone got the bad guy on the ropes, nobody had a follow-up ready and he had time to recover.  I played in a D&D group where everyone seemed to have something useful to do except my assassin, who had absolutely nothing that was useful against the giant animated raven statue he ended up tangling with...the only thing he could do was take a tumbling dodge to try and stay behind the stupid thing and hope literally ANYONE else in the group finished with their bad guy and could come rescue him.  And he made an incredible showing for himself...I think he dodged the stupid thing for seven consecutive turns before the dice failed him...and he took a beak right through the chest that killed him.

I was very briefly in a Firefly game on here...briefly, because the GM brought my character into the game just in time to be arrested on suspicion of mutiny.  He was the only one on the ship, had no idea what happened to the crew (had no idea who the crew was, even), and no matter how the situation was explained, the officer that arrested him was determined that he'd done it.  So, three days after my character joined the game (two of which were over the weekend, when I was working fourteen-hour days and didn't have any time to be online, much less posting at length in a game), he was executed.

I've had a pretty broad array of levels of gentility from my GMs...

How gentle should you be?  Well, that depends on the group.  The DM for my assassin was incredibly gentle and actually repeatedly fudged the dice rolls to give the rest of the group time to heal my assassin enough that he wouldn't die.  The GM of the aforementioned one-item-takedown of the bad guys was set up to be incredibly cut-throat...this was supposed to be a battle that would push everyone to their very limits and might actually kill a couple of characters, he told us afterwards.  But the group was ready for that kind of action.  I'm still trying to figure out what the GM of the Firefly game had in mind, and that was close to a decade ago...

You have to exercise your best judgment, based on the players and the situation in which they find their characters.  And there's a broad range of options between one-legged kobolds and ancient dragons...don't get sucked into the trap of thinking it's gotta be one way or the other.

As mentioned, there is no good one-size-fits-all approach to it.  And, yes, you may misread your players and make things too difficult and they quit.  You may only make things LOOK too difficult and they lose their nerve.  Or you may get things too easy and they get bored.  But life doesn't just give you super-easy vs. mega-difficult options...not every encounter the group has needs to be ratcheted up to one step harder than the one before.  There's something gratifying about occasionally facing off against a horde of orc raiders and coming out of the encounter looking like the Angel of Death just had a field day with your help...there's also something satisfying about facing a problem that you weren't sure you could handle and getting through it.  Sometimes, you need to be gentle.  Sometimes, your players aren't at their best, and while I don't think you should ever coddle a player unless they're involved in their earliest role-playing experiences, if you sense that the players are a step or two off their stride, you'd be well-served by dialing back the lethality of the challenges they face until they find their legs again.  But there's not a clear formula for when to do it, or how much to do it, or whom to do it for, etc.  That depends on you, the players, the game, and the immediate situation.
Ski-Bird
 subscriber, 128 posts
Wed 4 Nov 2020
at 07:54
Re: How gentle should a DM be?
Ahem ... fixed it for you.  :)

Quote facemaker329
I was in a Star Wars game with a woman whose character seemingly couldn't shoot her way out of a cardboard box shot like a stormtrooper.  But only until her character was stunned, or wounded, and ... once she had a penalty, she could shoot the wings off a fly at fifty yards bullseye womp rats from her T-16 like she was back home.
Westwind
 member, 85 posts
 "[Sad] is happy for deep
 people" - Sally Sparrow
Wed 4 Nov 2020
at 13:16
Re: How gentle should a DM be?
Playing online is hard. No body language to read, a lack of tone or inflection in the written word, players from around the world with their own cultural point of view. These limitations (and more) practically guarantee miscommunication. A DM would be wise to set out in as clear language as possible the type of game he/she expects to run, and then make sure that potential players express their buy in before being accepted. But even then, who knows what you'll get?

There was a thread not too long ago about games that use pre-gen characters. One of the nice things about using pre-gens is that they already fit in the DM's world. This will give you a greater degree of control over the makeup of the party and how they work together (or don't, if that's the game you're looking for). Consider using pre-gens and let the potential players know what is canon and what is open to their interpretation. Generally speaking, it is better to make background information canon and let the player develop the personality.

The last bit of advice that I can give is to be prepared for turnover. It appears to be the one constant in any RPOL game.
donsr
 member, 2098 posts
Wed 4 Nov 2020
at 14:42
Re: How gentle should a DM be?
you said it Westwind.... that is the nature on PBP.

I most active game  will hit  10 years in January..i have one charter member left from the 6  who started.

of the  8 players i have, 2 of them have around  7 years in..all the rest are  less with a couple who joined this year.

RL pops up, players  'get bored", and sometimes you have to bounce a player who is givign other folsk a bad time.

In the end? You just do what you can to keep the game  fun, and keep it moving..slow games die.
Yaztromo
 supporter, 399 posts
Wed 4 Nov 2020
at 14:49
Re: How gentle should a DM be?
There have to be also the DM side in this discussion: how gentle should the players be to convince the DM to keep playing on?
facemaker329
 member, 7268 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Wed 4 Nov 2020
at 16:39
Re: How gentle should a DM be?
In reply to Ski-Bird (msg # 23):

Well...you're close.  She actually shot WORSE than a stormtrooper, while unscathed.  But the fixes are apt.  *grin*
ladysharlyne
 subscriber, 2889 posts
 You get out of a game the
 effort you put in it !!
Wed 4 Nov 2020
at 18:30
Re: How gentle should a DM be?
We can go on forever about the GM side of things.  A GM/DM wants their players to be considerate of them and of others, understanding, patient, cooperative and it goes on.

But, yes here it comes, a player needs to be treated with the same respect, consideration of rl problems taking them away at times, we all have real lives don't we?  They need to be friendly and helpful to the other players as well as the GM.

It all goes hand and hand.  GMs if you have a troublesome player with a bad attitude ... hit the ejection button!
Players if you are feeling you are being mistreated by either a GM or a player to the point of losing interest then the best you can do is LET THE GM KNOW that you are leaving.  Its a two way street.

We come to write either freeform or system to enjoy it, as a pleasant escape, as a place to make friends.  I know if I had a lot of negative problems with players or GMs then I would also leave this site but that is not the case and those that are spiteful smartarse GMs or Players will find they won't last long.
bigbadron
 moderator, 15961 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Wed 4 Nov 2020
at 19:35
Re: How gentle should a DM be?
IMHO: A GM should be as gentle, or as harsh, as is required to ensure that the game is the most fun for largest number of participants possible (including the GM).  Exact levels of gentleness/harshness will vary from group to group.
donsr
 member, 2099 posts
Wed 4 Nov 2020
at 19:46
Re: How gentle should a DM be?
and? there is is...!!!  I have said is much, but in a more  round about way!..Thanks BB.