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TOPIC: What to do about bad DMs?

Re: What to do about bad DMs? 5 years 3 months ago #121

Lordoftherealm wrote:

bpsymington wrote:

Lordoftherealm wrote: I do not think the mind flayer room was done quite correctly. Which killed us and we did not survive or get our treasure stamp...

Round one: Our monk uses stunning fist (and hits)

Round two: Our Rouge (me) backstabs (With viper set and improved backstab) spins maximum damage on +3 viper fang, bard singing, +CRIT (natural 20).

Should have been 110-112 damage.

DM: I rolled a 1, you missed...

bs.. he was stunned.


That does sound like an error - he should have been stunned and unable to use his psychic blur ability.


I want my token! lol


DM did that wrong. Stun on a monster doesn't allow them any action and -2 AC.
You don't have to outrun the monster, just the guy next to you - The buddy system.

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Re: What to do about bad DMs? 5 years 3 months ago #122

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FiannaTiger wrote:

Ro-gan wrote:

TJRat wrote: Sure - that's what I meant about reacting in the context of the monster's description. Unfortunately for this DM, when asked he clearly stated that he felt the 'monster would perceive the barbarian as the biggest threat.'

How, when the barbarian hadn't even attacked this monster? I've dealt with DMs who check the player card before declaring attacks - looking for the lowest AC or saving throw. In the role playing world, how would a monster be able to detect this information?

Sadly, I believe it's the symptom of a DM looking to kill players.


This is exactly why I like to let my NPC (if I have one) choose who to attack. The NPC doesn't usually know the Character Cards and therefore cannot discriminate. What the NPC does is pick the player that is taunting him/her or pick the person that just hit her/him for a lot of damage.


Yep I've seen this happen, and I quite like it. Salamadar room, Drow room, the DM would ask the NPC and they would say, that one or name the class without information of AC/Saves/etc. I do think though DM's should tell the NPC, that mage just hit you with a spell that hurt like crazy..etc... to let the NPC know who was the big hitter to help determine if they are going to attack via "Village idiot" syndrome (attacking the thing that hurt the most).


I do this. I do want to add that if the module itself says who the Monster attacks first/always/whatever I follow that rule first and foremost set by Jeff.
"It's treason then."



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Last edit: by Ro-gan.

Re: What to do about bad DMs? 5 years 3 months ago #123

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Monsters reacting to taunting or big hits are a staple of our experience. DMs deliberately targeting a player due to low AC, saving throw, etc. should not be.
There's a big white 20-sided die provided on the table right there - DMs should use it when selecting targets in the absence of any guidance in the module or situations listed above.

Second gripe (only because I hope it gets through to the DM): When requiring a player to make a saving throw, tell them what it's for. While trying to keep our Barbie from going full rage, I was constantly called to the table to roll a saving throw. When I asked about the nature of the attack, I was told to 'just roll - save time.'

it's my fault for not putting my foot down, but there's a compelling argument about saving time. However, with an amethyst and a violet prism, in retrospect I believe I might have been able to counter the attack.
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Re: What to do about bad DMs? 5 years 3 months ago #124

TJRat wrote: Monsters reacting to taunting or big hits are a staple of our experience. DMs deliberately targeting a player due to low AC, saving throw, etc. should not be.
There's a big white 20-sided die provided on the table right there - DMs should use it when selecting targets in the absence of any guidance in the module or situations listed above.

Second gripe (only because I hope it gets through to the DM): When requiring a player to make a saving throw, tell them what it's for. While trying to keep our Barbie from going full rage, I was constantly called to the table to roll a saving throw. When I asked about the nature of the attack, I was told to 'just roll - save time.'

it's my fault for not putting my foot down, but there's a compelling argument about saving time. However, with an amethyst and a violet prism, in retrospect I believe I might have been able to counter the attack.


We have the same issue... fighter critically hits... wizard standing there looking through scrolls. DM targets the Wizard (lowest AC) did that three times in a row.

Same dungeon same DM... wizard slides a critical hit, paladin says guarding wizard. DM targets next lowest AC. New players asked "So what is the point of a paladin guarding lower AC when he calls out wizard, you just change targets." Interesting question.

Since we had two wizards DM asked which one are you guarding. He said which one are you attacking. Everyone just busted out laughing! DM picked the Barbarian. hehehe
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Re: What to do about bad DMs? 5 years 3 months ago #125

I have 2 observations.

First, I find a number of players missing the point. If you are paying $52 to get 3 treasure pulls, you would be better off just buying a token pack. I you pay the money to have fun, relax about the treasure pull and have fun. I have met extremely few DM's that can't handle a fun party.

Second, the biggest problem I see with some DM's is that they make the room into a competition between the DM and party. The training clearly emphasizes that the DM is an arbitrator not a participant. Looking for the character with the worst AC or worst saving throw is competitive. Role playing with the NPC or attacking the player that hit the hardest works well and very few players will complain about that.

I have really started to like the sealed deck runs a lot. Much lower stress and we start to have a lot more fun with the DM's and NPC's.

Off soap box. Please resume.

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Re: What to do about bad DMs? 5 years 3 months ago #126

Raven wrote:

Lordoftherealm wrote: Round two: Our Rouge (me) backstabs (With viper set and improved backstab) spins maximum damage on +3 viper fang, bard singing, +CRIT (natural 20).

Should have been 110-112 damage.


Not sure how you're arriving at that damage total (tho I agree it should have been a hit, if Stunning Fist was effective the previous round)... Are you doubling the Sneak Attack damage? Remember, that doesn't double on a crit (unless you're using Nightshades Shortsword) or did you somehow outfit yourself with +30 to damage?


Sneak attack damage can be doubled on Viper Strike Set too, if the Rogue had all three items equipped - still sounds possible though. 11 from weapon + 20 from backstab + 2 (Ring of Frost) + 2 (Bracers of Fire/Frost)+3 Boots of the North Wind +2 (Draco-lich Charm) +2 (Brawler's Mug) + 6 STR bonus (Gloves of Brute + Rod 5 + Ioun Stone) + 4 (Bardsong max) = 57 x 2 = 104 max dmg.

What a damned shame, that would have been an awesome hit.

I too have an issue with how DMs meta-game their targets. Some are excusable - the Undead Bovine went after my Cleric because duh. But I've been in multiple dungeons where the DM goes down his or her list and says things like "Okay, let's see who has the lowest AC or HP..." I'm sorry, but the monster shouldn't know that. Okay, maybe a monster could see by looking that a wizard was standing there in his or her robes and therefore shouldn't have high AC. But I've been in groups where my Rogue got targeted because the wizard(s) had higher AC than me (my gear used to suck, leave me alone :P ).

Saves are especially a pet peeve of mine because nothing should indicate to the monster that I have a low Will save until he or she lands the first spell against me versus that save. Yet I've been targeted specifically for that before too. Uncool.

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Last edit: by Joshua Baessler. Reason: Rogues don't get poison bonus on a crit, that's Monk only for Viper Strike set

Re: What to do about bad DMs? 5 years 3 months ago #127

Cranston wrote: I have 2 observations.

First, I find a number of players missing the point. If you are paying $52 to get 3 treasure pulls, you would be better off just buying a token pack. I you pay the money to have fun, relax about the treasure pull and have fun. I have met extremely few DM's that can't handle a fun party.

Second, the biggest problem I see with some DM's is that they make the room into a competition between the DM and party. The training clearly emphasizes that the DM is an arbitrator not a participant. Looking for the character with the worst AC or worst saving throw is competitive. Role playing with the NPC or attacking the player that hit the hardest works well and very few players will complain about that.

I have really started to like the sealed deck runs a lot. Much lower stress and we start to have a lot more fun with the DM's and NPC's.

Off soap box. Please resume.



Cranston hit the nail on the head. If the DM becomes the adversary of the players, impartiality is lost and the room is no longer fun. I didn't see very much of that this year compared to past years but it sounds like others did.

I will note that as a druid with the dragon scale set and the ROSEC (together 20 resistance to fire), I tried to taunt the salamander into attacking me and the DM would have none of that. I didn't consider that adversarial so no big deal, but an explanation of why she was ignoring me as I taunted her with motions immediately in her face and insults would have been nice.

On the issue of treasure pulls, it is annoying to miss a pull because you didn't solve the puzzle to the satisfaction of the designers even though you survived the room. This I think is a perspective issue. If someone is paying $52 to run a dungeon, and they are going to leave sad or angry for missing a treasure pull or two, is it such a big deal to let room survivors have the treasure pulls? I don't think so. The value of having players happy at completion far exceeds the cost of one or two treasure pulls. Keep perspective.
Of all the traits of humanity, there is only one we do not share with other species, which sets us apart and makes us unique <br />-- the ability to imagine.

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Re: What to do about bad DMs? 5 years 3 months ago #128

TJRat wrote: Our experience involved a DM who repeatedly targeted one player. He tried to justify by saying that the monster recognized the threat the player posed. Unfortunately for this 'theory,' the player hadn't slid against the monster at all.

A similar incident (or perhaps it is the one you were referring to) occurred during True Grind when I was DM'ing on Friday. I ended up killing a Barbarian, whose player was not very happy at all. This was either the Friday 12 PM Flyingdingus run or the Friday 7 PM Quip run.

At least in Grind, there are several ways that the monsters can determine if a player is a threat.

1. Some are obvious like a giant hulking Barbarian with massive, rippling muscles but wearing nothing but a loincloth. Or a squishy, frail looking Wizard wielding powerful magic.

2. At least in Grind, monsters can learn from each other's mistakes. Monsters can communicate with each other (Undercommon?) just like players can. And oftentimes, monsters may be observing prior Grind combats before jumping in the fray.

3. Sometimes the boss monster is behind everything. I liken this to a lot of video games and movies where the waves of monsters are meant to weaken the heroes and test their capabilities - all orchestrated by the boss. In this year's WYC Grind, the Marileth was designed to be acting as a general - observing all of the prior rooms and coordinating and giving tactical commands to the lesser monsters. I even had provisions allowing it to cast some helpful spells during the earlier rounds (though I never ended up doing this). This year's GenCon had the Son of Smoak as well as the genius-intelligence, telepathic Aboleth observing and communicating.

After a particularly brutal series of 'hits' on the player, the DM asked 'how many hit points you got left?' That's when I intervened and asked the DM how he (as the monster) would know this? Sadly, two more players will not return since they feel they wasted their money.

I recall an incident like happening, so I suspect the situation you are describing was with me.

Well, a monster should be able to determine the relative state of a player. Just like how players normally are able to determine the relative state of a monster.

If a player asks about the monster, I won't tell them the exact HP it has, but I am happy to describe whether the monster appears relatively untouched, bloodied, or on its last legs.

Similarly, a monster should be able to determine how hurt or unharmed a player is.

Secondly, player HP is supposed to be publicly displayed information shown with paper clips on the Character Card. But between the dark setting making it hard to see, paper clips getting lost, and players using their own HP counting devices instead (like those on the thumb), DM's are sometimes not able to access this public information.

Thirdly, since player HP is controlled by the player, there is a high potential for cheating or accidental mistakes. There have been times when players have not informed the DM that they are dead (and their dead corpse gets attacked). There are plenty of times when they make mathematical mistakes and end up with the wrong HP. There are plenty of times when they misapply damage reduction items.

I recognize that DMs should have full control over the reactions of the monster, within the bounds of the description. But shouldn't they consider rolling a die to determine who gets attacked if no character makes an 'impression' upon them?

No, random flailing at a random character is very rarely a good or logical course of action, even for low intelligence or instinctual monsters, let along clever ones or those following orders.

Sometimes, for the sack of simplicity or for the sake of fairness I might introduce some randomness (say, if I have a deadly attack).

Having the monster's attack be completely random is bad because it can be easily metagamed and removes a lot of the challenge. With this type of system, players legitimately argue that "AC is useless since you only have a 10% chance of being targeted anyway" and this leads to less diversity in builds. Not to mention certain effects like the Cloak of Shadowskin make such random tactics a complete joke.

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Last edit: by Incognito.

Re: What to do about bad DMs? 5 years 3 months ago #129

Incognito wrote:

TJRat wrote: Having the monster's attack be completely random is bad because it can be easily metagamed and removes a lot of the challenge. With this type of system, players legitimately argue that "AC is useless since you only have a 10% chance of being targeted anyway" and this leads to less diversity in builds. Not to mention certain effects like the Cloak of Shadowskin make such random tactics a complete joke.


While I agree with the random attack method, but every DM always attacking the lowest AC gets old. Then if the Paladin announces he is guarding said play, the DM switch targets because of the guard. Which makes Guarding a skill that isn't worth it.

Cloak of the Shadowskin just negates the first attack... which I can understand why you are saying the random tactic is useless. (Only if the player remembers they are wearing it! Hence my death in grind... I forgot! Which means to me the room was fun!)

There should be a way that the Paladin writes down who they are guarding so the DM does not pick a different target to avoid the guard.

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Re: What to do about bad DMs? 5 years 3 months ago #130

TJRat wrote: Sure - that's what I meant about reacting in the context of the monster's description. Unfortunately for this DM, when asked he clearly stated that he felt the 'monster would perceive the barbarian as the biggest threat.'

How, when the barbarian hadn't even attacked this monster? I've dealt with DMs who check the player card before declaring attacks - looking for the lowest AC or saving throw. In the role playing world, how would a monster be able to detect this information?

As mentioned in my prior post:

1. Monsters can see the difference between a fleshy unarmored target and a tin can of plate mail. For Reflex saves, they can see which characters are nimble and quick versus clumsy and slow. They can see which ones are massive and muscular and which are puny.

2. Monsters communicate with each other (just like players) and might be observing prior combats.

3. Monsters might be getting orders or advice (sometimes telepathic) from boss or sub-boss monsters.



So in the Friday 12 PM Grind, it was a TPK (but I think the Barbarian died earlier). And in the Friday 7 PM Grind, the Barbarian also died (Elf Wizard died but was brought back). Looking at the Party Card

Friday 12 PM
Melee +Hit / Melee + Damage / AC / Class

12 25 16 Barbarian
08 08 30 Bard
07 05 34 Cleric
13 08 34 Dwarf Fighter
03 06 17 Elf Wizard
14 19 30 Fighter
17 19 22 Monk
10 04 37 Paladin
15 15 28 Ranger

So you have this massive, hulking Barbarian with the largest damage bonus, unarmored and wearing nothing but a loincloth. (He is less armored than even the Elf Wizard). A cursory analysis by most monsters should indicate that this glass cannon is a high priority target. After watching the Barbarian in combat (with any of the other monsters), it should quickly become apparent that he hits VERY hard! But he is also fleshy and unarmored!

Friday 7 PM
Melee +Hit / Melee + Damage / AC / Class

12 28 21 Barbarian
14 09 34 Bard
02 02 29 Cleric
10 14 28 Druid
18 10 40 Dwarf Fighter
13 17 21 Elf Wizard
13 16 36 Fighter
08 10 32 Paladin
12 09 21 Rogue
03 00 22 Wizard

So the Barbarian is another glass cannon with a damage bonus about twice that of most other character but tied with the lowest AC. And it is another case where the monster would see this massively muscular character wearing just a loincloth. Why bother attacking a heavily armored turtle or rhinoceros when there is a more vulnerable target who is more dangerous?



So that is how I perceive it in terms of monster/game logic.

But of me wonders - do players who min/max such glass cannons really expect to NOT get attacked? When you go into the monster den with a build with such glaring vulnerabilities, what do you think is going to happen?

Bear in mind my goal is not to "punish" min/maxers per se, though I do want to reward creativity, encourage diversity, and prevent exploits.

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Re: What to do about bad DMs? 5 years 3 months ago #131

When I'm DMing Grind, my first attack is usually pretty random - often at the player standing closest to the combat board(for the practical reason that my voice gets worn out over the weekend, and it's just easier on the vocal chords)

If that's the Wizard (and it often is, because I just crossed off one of their spells) then the Paladin shouts out a reminder, "Guarding the Wizard!" and my attack roll rarely hits the Pali AC (except that nice 20 which I rolled Thursday? eve) ... But that's all it takes for the monster to realize that an armoured tank is guarding the squishy Wizard. There's no way a smart monster will keep bashing its head against a wall, so my second attack is more carefully chosen. Often along the lines of, "Seeing that its claws didn't even dent the Paladin's armour, the Umber Hulk looks for easier prey, and takes a swing at the Rogue which snuck up behind him."

Alternatively, the Umber Hulk might make a second attack at the Pali, "Angered by breaking a nail against the Paladin's hard shell, the monster raises its fist against him a second time, but as he brings it down, he makes eye contact with his target instead...Pali, make me a Will Save vs Confusion!"

Smart monsters are (in my opinion) part of the challenge - and the appeal - of Grind.
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Re: What to do about bad DMs? 5 years 3 months ago #132

Raven wrote: When I'm DMing Grind, my first attack is usually pretty random - often at the player standing closest to the combat board(for the practical reason that my voice gets worn out over the weekend, and it's just easier on the vocal chords)

Smart monsters are (in my opinion) part of the challenge - and the appeal - of Grind.


You DM'd our Grind with Incognito... was a total blast fun and fair combat! Even though I died, I forgot I had my Cloak of Shadowskin on. Which means as I said in another post it was fun!

Dorn ran a great combat room, many groups coming out of combat was happy even when it was a TPK!

I think the issue is the inexperienced DMs.

I explained the issue with the wizard and paladin guard. Another one was when our dwarf fighter critically hit x3 in a row. The Paladin guard the dwarf after the first crit, the monster kept attacking the low AC people.

I think just experienced DM is the key. Some DM's get better over time!

This is why I started the "What about the good DMs" I like to hear about them too!
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