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Ruling for a Better World!
Well I can say I've been playing 3.5 D&D for a very long time. I've DMed, 2 campaigns, and actually played 2 characters, Wallace of course, and a human rogue named christoph. I feel like I've reached the level of mastery I had with 2nd edition, and speaking of that, I've played 1st edition, 2nd edition, and researched pathfinder pretty heavily this year.
My conclusion is that 3.5 is a great game, but like all versions of D&D it has it's flaws. It has always been the job of the DM to find the flaws in the game and create patches as best as he could in the form of "house rules"
One of the great reasons way D&D is the best game is the old tradition of DM's being able to change things that simply were not right for their gaming group, or to nix rules that conflicted with the flavor they were going for. Dm's were always told in the dungeon masters guides, "Here's the game as best as we could make it, but feel free to change it, create your own rules and races and classes, toss out what you don't like, tread lightly, but own this game, create it for you and your group"
There have really been very few games that put so much variety and flexibility on the table than D&D.
I see our group progressing into those dangerous levels where things can get really out of wack. Some of you have played D&D long enough to see a campaign get ruined. It's hard to relate how this is if you haven't seen it first hand, but it does happen, and it sucks, and it usually happens right around 13th level. So why does a campaign get ruined, well, simplest way to put it is, the people in it get burned out. That's the bottom line.
Usually if it's just one player, it can be fixed as long as the DM and him can talk about it. Sometimes it's as simple as taking a new class, or retiring a character that just does not make them happy anymore and rolling up a new one. That usually easy. So we are good there.
What sucks is when several people get burned out at once because of interpersonal issues. Luckily, we seem to have transcended that and though we have our moments, no one here is hating the fact they'll be gaming with someone else at the table. So we are good there.
What absolutely torpedoes a campaign is when the DM get's burned out. Why do DM's get burned out. I've run 5 multi year campaigns not counting the one we're in now, 2 ended in total party wipe-outs, and all of them ended in burnout. So I have a lot of experience with this.
Here are the reasons why a DM get's burned out:
1: The Players he's running for wear him out with general bad behavior. This could be a lot of different bad behaviors coming from all the different players at different times that just adds up over time to frustration and aversion, or it could be a specific problem from 1 bad apple. Here's the type of stuff I'm talking about
-Players who always ignore the rules for their character that don't benefit them so the DM has to constantly stay on top of them
-Players that constantly show up late or suddenly have to leave early
-Players that constantly challenge the DM's ruling during the game, especially when it's petty things that are not even life or death
-Players that antagonize the DM
-Players that talk a lot during crucial DM explanations or NPC monologues.
-Players that don't role play or interact with the world much.
-Players that min max every damn thing all the damn time
-Players who cheat when they role
-Players who view the NPC's as tools and people to die in there place.
These are all bad behaviors that can pile up over the course of a year or two to the point where the DM is like, you know what, fuck this, I'm over it. We are pretty good in this area, so I'll move on.
2: The characters just don't appeal to the DM anymore. Imagine watching a movie where you hate all the characters. You'd probably turn it off or not watch it again. Now imagine putting a bunch of work into creating a story for D&D. Then you hand over the staring role in that story to 4 or 5 people and they make these characters you just end up hating.
-They could be assholes when what you really wanted were heroes
-They could behave like sociopaths when what you wanted were people who would care about the world
-They could have animal companions. I hate animal companions. I know veteran players who can't even keep track of their horses, and you know what, niether can I! Hats of to Deb for getting pretty damn good at it towards the end, but I'm still entitled to my opinion.
-They could pick some stupid class that does not fit the story just to be different I guess...you want an oriental campaign and they role up a paladin, you're doing for a city ting and they do a druid. It's hit and miss, sometimes it's cool, but it makes the list because sometimes it really drags down the story.
-They create a min maxed uber optimized character that constantly out shines everyone else's characters.
-They are good aligned characters but they act evil or cruel towards the DM.
-They are so paranoid/us against the world that they don't interact with the NPCs or add a lot of love to the story.
When a Dm does not like the show playing out in front of him, like any normal human being, he wants to change the channel. We are pretty good here as well, so I"ll move on
3: The game itself begins to lose appeal to the DM.
-Sometimes the players get so powerful the kinds of encounters the DM wants to run are no longer challenging. The players destroy every encounter with resources left to spare, and to add injury to insult, usually have acquired various ways to recharge their abilities between encounters. The amount of ridiculous shit a DM has to challenge this starts taxes his mind, and more importantly, kills the creative integrity. Simply put, He has to constantly come up with ridiculous challenges , and those challenges make his world feel like a ridiculous joke. You start longing for the days when you 10 orcs was a tough fight...easy to prepare, evocative, and you could use simple tings like terrain to make it more challenging or interesting. Shit, you used to be able to challenge your group with a snow storm, now an ancient dragon is an easy task.
-Sometimes it's the sheer amount of record keeping and work outside the game that wears a fella out. Being a Dm is hard work, but it's really fun work...until it isn't. There comes a time when the equipment lists get long, the stacking bonuses get insane, and playing into the previous point, the bad guys get so complex, that smoke starts coming out the Dm's ears. He gets exhausted!
-Sometimes it's the rules of the game itself. He let a character do something or take some powerful feat or spell that's constantly annoying now. Maybe there's a rule that get's used often and it just does not feel right and keeps coming up and blowing the Dm's buzz. I could be that the game system itself is difficult to run, or has broken elements that don't start to become obvious until after 10th level or so.
This category is where I see potential problems arising. The great thing is, this is an area where a DM can make the most difference. The DM is the judge, editor, and creator of rules. He is also the one that taketh and givith away. With these tools, and insight in to what is starting to go wrong, he can reach in and make minor changes to the game to save it. IN this case, he's literally doing this to keep himself from burning out. There is a level of selfishness, but at the end of the Day, playing lots of great games stems from having a DM that's stoked to come to the table.
The easiest, and simultaneously the hardest thing to do is to move on to a new system. This likely involves starting over with a new group, so it's not really fixing burnout, it's more like an acknowledgement that it's time for something new. I don't want to start this group over, and no I don't want to change over to Pathfinder. Let me take a moment to explain my views on Pathfinder in the simplest terms possible:
1: Pathfinder is just a reboot of 3.5. It did not fix the biggest, most DM/campaign killing things about 3.5,though it did address a couple things in a cool way, and it did fix some minor things, and for that reason, I'm open to adopting some pathfinder rules. I like what they did with some of the classes, but honestly, there's noting inherently "pathfinder" about the changes they made. At any point, if I want to use a pathfinder version of a class, or make my own alternate version, that's super easy to drop right in to a 3.5 game.
So to reach my long winded point, it's time for me to step in and create/define/modify. I will be making some house rules and adding them in. I've already done this in the past so it's nothing new, but I do want to hear some input from you guys. Here's what I'm looking for.
1: Are there some rules to this game that make so little sense, or are so complicated that they literally blow your buzz every time they come up. I'm not talking about annoying rules, I'm talking abut rules that blow your buzz. These could be rules specific to your character or another, or general game type rules.
2: Are there rules that you feel get in the way of teamwork and fun?
3: I list a bunch of things above that mess with the game, from player behavior, to character behavior, to DM getting burned out with the general nature of the game itself. Do you think any of these are becoming a problem in our group? No need to name names. Just, do you see some problems on this list, or ones I haven't thought of that could use some addressing.
4: Most importantly, do not over think this and take a week to reply. This is a forum for a reason. You don't have to answer all of this at once. I hope we can go back an fourth on this in lots of small chunks over the weeks leading up to our next game. I hope this can be a discussion that gets added to by at least one person daily that keeps us engaged as we wait to play. I will create another, more story oriented thread as well for this purpose. There are six of us, I've started a conversation, so I charge you thus: Lets talk about D&D!
- 6 years, 6 months ago
- Ruling for a Better World!
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