View Full Version : DMs, girlfriends, and general awkwardness

2007-08-26, 11:58 AM
Sorry if this is off topic for this section, but I really have no idea where this sort of thing belongs.

After a campaign went wrong in a spectacular manner it seemed that our DM had lost interest for a time. Without a proper DM, a friend and I resorted to running silly little one-shot adventures and such, just so we could goof off and have fun with random character ideas. It was fun and even though neither of us proved to be terribly good at running things, we both improved slightly as players.

Just yesterday our DM came back and we had a session and sort of caught up on things. Apparently more had happened in the time we were out of touch than expected. We found out our DM has a girlfriend and I am happy for him. She was unable to come to that particular session, but what we learned about her made things seem awkward. At the end of the session, when the DM had to leave, he got a phone call from his girlfriend asking if she could join our session that day. The DM said it was already over and quickly ended the conversation. As he hung up, my friend suggested that we could help her make her character and run a little practice session for her so that next session she would be ready to play. It was an innocent offer since he had already told the DM he had no interest in this particular girl, but the DM became hostile towards him.

Now my friend feels that when this girl shows up at a session, if there is another session, he will be unable to talk to her for fear of angering the DM.

In case things are over between the DM and the rest of the group I feel that I should learn to DM. The problem is that I have no idea where to start.

So I pretty much have two things I need advice on, how to deal with a DM with a girlfriend, and how a totally inept gamer might be able to become a DM.

2007-08-26, 12:04 PM
Sounds like your DM has some issues with his friends trying to steal his girlfriends, eh?
Seriously, thats weird. He should be mature enough to allow his friends to meet his girlfriend (and vice versa) and mature enough to understand that people of different genders can talk and have fun together in a non-romantic fashion...

2007-08-26, 12:07 PM
Why did your friend tell the DM he has no interest in his girlfriend? Is that some sort of veiled insult or Alpha Male tactic (i.e. "but if I did...")? Not really the kind of thing likely to come up when my girlfriend joins our games...

2007-08-26, 12:08 PM
Sounds like the DM in question is quite insecure with his relationship (the gf) and would rather keep his romantic life and gaming seperate. If she wants to join in, it's more of a problem for him then for you (he might not want to appear to be to love struck in front of you). His hostility towards one or both of you lends credibility to the insecurity theory and other letting just letting it go (forget it and move on), there's not much you can do.

2007-08-26, 12:19 PM
Thank you all for your rapid responses. Reading them helped me think more about the situation, beyond my initial response.

The reason my friend had to establish that he was not interested in this girl was because a year or so ago he tried asking her out and she turned him down. After finding out that the DM was dating her he felt it best to make it clear that there would be no jealousy on his part. Thinking more about it, I guess this might be the source of some of the tension.

And looking at the way some of our sessions go I can understand why the DM would not want his girlfriend there.

I guess I should start studying how to be a DM, just in case things fail to improve. Any advice there?

2007-08-26, 12:24 PM
As far as the whole social aspect of this, I'd echo those who have posted before me - he seems to be very insecure about his relationship. Is there any past history that would shed some light on this, or would that be sharing TMI?

In the last campaign I ran, my then-girlfriend (my wife 3 weeks from now :D) and one of my best friends (who's going to be best man) were both playing. Over the course of the campaign, their characters developed a strong romantic bond. I had no problem with this, because we were all mature enough for things not to get akward.

On the subject of learning to GM, learn by doing. I'd recommend getting together a small group of mostly experienced players and running a campaign. Experienced players will make a lot of the mechanical stuff go much more smoothly, and they can often make helpful suggestions if you make a mistake. This goes double if one or more of them has a good amount of GMing experience.

2007-08-26, 12:25 PM
I guess I should start studying how to be a DM, just in case things fail to improve. Any advice there?

The only advice I can give is: Less studying, more doing :smallbiggrin:.

Viscount Einstrauss
2007-08-26, 12:36 PM
To DM- get a basic understanding of the system. Now, make up a very basic story. Add in some memorable NPC's, villains, and locations. Now, come up with an opening hook- and try to avoid "Everyone meets in a bar". Put everyone together, and you're ready to go. Let the story naturally evolve according to the actions of the players. It'll become convoluted, interesting and distinct all on it's own.

2007-08-26, 12:45 PM
Over the course of the campaign, their characters developed a strong romantic bond. I had no problem with this, because we were all mature enough for things not to get akward.

Holy crap how can that not be akward :smalleek: ? Atleast you can say "you hear the sound of goblins attacking the tavern!" if they go too far. :smalltongue:

2007-08-26, 12:56 PM
Well, I would feel unbearably awkward in that situation. Be kind to the GF, as it is not her fault the DM is edgy. If he gets mad at you & your friends, explain calmly and ratonally, that you do not fancy his girlfriend, as just want to play with your mates.

As for teaching, as long as you're supportive, thorough and nice while explaining, I am sure she'll pickup quickly. :smallsmile:

2007-08-26, 01:23 PM
So I pretty much have two things I need advice on, how to deal with a DM with a girlfriend...

That should really be, "how to deal with a socially inept, emotionally insecure DM with a girlfriend". Not to be mean, but that seems to be the issue here, and the answers to the two questions are rather different.

My advice is always the same when there are people problems: talk about the issues with the parties involved, figure out if there's going to be a problem, and if it seems like there will be - talk about it and do something about the situation before it happens.

From the sound of it though, it seems the best solution may be for the DM to realize that his girlfriend should perhaps not be invited. Obviously that's not something you could suggest, though.

2007-08-26, 01:25 PM
Well, sounds like your buddy is a bit, what's the word? Possessive, do I want to use that? Generally it stems from a feeling of low self worth. Though that's just an impression from a guy on the internet, not a person there. Ultimately that's your call. :smallamused:

As for being a good DM, practical experience is very good, in the mean time, pick up a book or two about writing novels or the like. They're remarkably similar. That'll teach you how to build plots, and good characters. In the end, it's experience that teaches you how to weave everything together, so don't be afraid to slog it for a while.

2007-08-26, 01:42 PM
I feel a bit better about things now, especially if I end up needing to DM. Anything involving writing should come easy enough since I like to write in my spare time. All that has me nervous is the number crunching aspects, but I guess those aspects will make more sense once I start things.

Again, thank you all.

2007-08-26, 01:54 PM
Wait, so the guy has a girlfriend that wants to play D&D and he's stopping her?


I'd be dancing in the streets in a situation like that.

2007-08-26, 03:43 PM
It sounds to me like this is a plain jealousy issue, and has nothing much to do with gaming really.
I hope the lady joins your group - just don't try to have your character get it on with hers! Just get on with playing.

My fiancee is a player in my games - never been an issue. She doesn't get any preferential treatment - in fact, I have to be careful not to be extra mean to her just to make up for any presumed bias.

2007-08-26, 03:48 PM
I have seen some nasty things happen with ingame romances. Not nice at all.

But thats of topic, in this case, sounds like your DM is running scared, because he feels he is not good enough for his GF, or is scared that his GF will leave him. Not much you can really do.

However, as for DMing? best way to learn is jump in at the deep end.

Just remember.

rule 2. a Dm should know the system he is running.

rule 1. a Dm should feel free to change, bend and brake any rule for the sake of the game.

2007-08-26, 05:43 PM
I have seen some nasty things happen with ingame romances. Not nice at all.

C'mon dude! This is the internet, so just out it so we can all hear about it.

Or PM me...I'm curious.

2007-08-26, 07:12 PM
Well we had a similar problem but with roles reversed. Our DM asks this girl out. Girl says yes. DM gets addicted to online gaming. Girl dumps DM 2 days later. OK maybe not that similar but now anytime he insults me for not having a girlfriend I can just bring this up. Repeatedly. And tell random strangers about it.

2007-08-27, 12:07 AM
For the GMing, are you more worried about coming up with plots/adventures or about actually running the campaign in a way that will be fun and keep the players' interest? For plots, I found it enormously helpful in the last campaign I ran to have my friend co-GMing with me to bounce ideas around. Alternatively, this forum would also work. On the actual running aspects, I'm clueless myself (that's where the campaign fell apart :( ).

2007-08-27, 12:30 AM
I'd say start with something simple. Keep to lower levels where casters can't do quite as many things to get around barriers (of any kind). Try running with a smaller group, so that you can be more acquainted with the individual characters: less things to juggle in your head, easier to try and keep everyone involved and having fun.

If you aren't so strong on the mechanics, than make the hardest challenges either straight brawlers or something that doesn't involve combat: traps/puzzles/social encounters.

Remember: Parties don't generally remember the mundane. They remember the bard that tricked them into doing his dirty work. They remember the funny. They remember the epic. They remember something that is different than simply, "I slash it with my sword and he burns it down with scorching ray" over and over again.

My personal best ever was an insane sorceror who used joke homebrew spells on the PC's. Crazy spells that didn't harm them but kept them in stitches for almost half an hour. Memorable, but didn't require any huge knowledge of the system.

2007-08-27, 01:08 AM
With all due respect towards your DM (Which, by the way, is not much.), tell him to grow up. Yes, he can be insecure. Yes, he might think that no other woman will ever fancy him again in the history of (hu)mankind. Yes, he might, as a result, act territorial. All that doesn't excuse treating both his friends and his girlfriend like that. You're all human beings and deserve to be treated with a little more trust and respect.

Does he really think so little of his friends, that he automatically assumes you'll swoop in like a pack of vultures and steal his GF? And does he really think so little of his girlfirend that she'd actually go along with that? She has a mind and will of her own, I'd wager. Not to sound rude towards him, but unless he can accept the facts that A) she has chosen him for a reason, B) you're his friends and wouldn't make a move on her, C) she's still able to say "no" even if you were, D) men and women can, against common preconceptions, actually be friends and interact with each other without sexual or romantic tension, he's going to end up mucking up this relationship of his. And likely the next one too. And the one after that.

As has been proposed, if anyone in your group thinks they can just get him to listen, it would be good for you all. He has to understand that we have already descended from the trees and don't have to fling poo at each other when we feel threatened. Besides, distrust and hostility aren't exactly the best building blocks of a relationship. Neither for the friend- nor the romantic kind. If you can make him ask himself the question, would he rather be aggressively jealous or have friends and a girlfriend, it might help put things into perspective. That is, ultimately, the choice he makes. This way he's only driving both away from himself.

Sorry for the rant... I just know first hand how destructive possessive behaviour can be in all social relationships. Not to help things, we're almost culturally expected to be that possessive. It's insane, I tell you. How can anyone have a balanced relationship in those circumstances?

Did it again. Shutting up now.

2007-08-27, 04:23 AM
about the GM and his girl. I say take all advice here with a grane of salt. keep in mind that peaple might be reading to much into your discription of your delema.

that being said....

The lady should join. I dont think any group should avoid having new members unless there is a good reason. like the person is a well known jackass. just ask your GM honestly why he might have a problem. play afew nights with the new member and see if there really is a problem. If there is talk about it.

ok running a game.

start small. start off with stories for 1st level characters. Do simple plots. save the neglectful kings daughter, I lost my kitten please go get it ect ect.
have an out line of your story. and have notes for encounters you want to party to have. with two variations one for what you hope the players will do and one for when they do cause the plot to go off track.

DO NOT be afraid to look silly, or dumb. your learning. this is the hardest to do and it always causes me to crash and burn. Ive only GMed one adventure all the way through and it was just me and a friend in a one night game.

creat some reusable npcs. get some 3 by 5 note cards and create some premade genaric npcs. afew fighters and thievs a wizard a specalised wizard ect. a fighter higher level than your grunt fighters. now you can have a generic card for almost any incounter. thief number 3 could be a begger informant now and a theives guild spy in the next incounter.

DO NOT be afraid to adlib. with some npcs created as above and one or two antagonist characters witch could just be higher level generic npcs with names. have a small adventure you run off the top of your head. key though again keep it small. dont worry about being epic. you can always think of a bigger idea and say hay remember that kobald pursnatcher you captured well it turns out......

Emperor Demonking
2007-08-27, 04:27 AM
I think I can see where the DMs coming from. He has a friend, A, and a girlfriend ,B,.

A wanted B.
A year later: A is very defensive of not wanting B.
DM's thought: A still wants B
A wants to have some alone time with B.
A wants it in private.
A wants some rugby fun with B

Even if I'm wrong, I still think the player has nothing to worry about as long as he or his character doesn't do anything to suggest wanting to have some fun with the girlfriend or her character.

2007-08-27, 05:14 AM
What he said.

And that line of thinking means the said DM does not, and at worst will not, trust his girlfriend. Even if he has no reason to, it's still besides the point. No sane woman will commit to a relationship where she is continually under suspicion. And no matter what he may mutter about it not being about her but rather his friends, it still extends to her. Barring actual assault on the friend's behalf, she will have to give her consent for anything to happen.

And yes, we may be reading more than is actually the case from a very limited amount of information. It falls on to those involved to determine if any of this is actually useful or accurate...

2007-08-27, 05:37 AM
Ok, well enough people have sounded off about your DM and his apparant lack of social grace so I'll leave that alone.

Regarding improving as a DM:

1. Do it. A lot. Fearlessly. You know the rules as the DM. If you don't, you STLL know the rules as the DM, at least for that session. Houserule on the fly if you need to and table discussion about the rule until after the session. If (2) is followed, the players will be having a good enough time anyway that you will have to remind THEM to discuss it afterward and set the future rules in order.

2. Good NPC's have already been mentioned but they bear mentioning again. DMing isn't all that diffrent from being a player if you make some solid NPC's and villians. Just think of it is playing all of those characters too, except most of the time you are playing them offscreen and in your own head. Your NPC's and villians should have goals of their own. Whatever the PC's do in your world, if they get wind of it, should be something they react to and the rest of the time they are, offscreen, pursuing their own goals. Just let the PC's hear about the effects of their plans too.

3. If you really want source material, as much as I am loathe to endorse a WotC product given how ticked off at them I am at the moment DMGII has a good amount of sound, simple and clearly written advice. There is also a decent and pretty small (good for a starting DM) campagin setting in there.

Kurald Galain
2007-08-27, 07:13 AM
DMGII has a good amount of sound, simple and clearly written advice.

Er, what? No it doesn't. It contains nothing that isn't trivial, entirely redundant, so obscure you wouldn't use it anyway, or otherwise stating the obvious.

You don't learn DM'ing from a book, anyway. You learn it by doing. If you're uncomfortable about writing an adventure, grab a good prefab. Also, find your own style, with feedback from the players, of course.

2007-08-27, 07:41 AM
I would explain to the DM that we were all planning on sharing her, and that it is just rude for him to get bent out of shape about it, because we'd give her back afterward...

Honestly, that is what I'd do. I think the best device to use is sarcasm, because rationally and sensitively (sp?) talking to the DM is pretty likely to validate his "fears". Making fun of him is pretty likely to make me laugh a lot him question the maturity of his fear. If he really thought the group was gonna try to snake his girlfriend, why is he with the group? Does he really believe that the girlfriend has so little control over herself that she will be wooed at the first clattering of the d20 by his gamer friends?


2007-08-27, 07:47 AM
You don't learn DM'ing from a book, anyway. You learn it by doing. If you're uncomfortable about writing an adventure, grab a good prefab. Also, find your own style, with feedback from the players, of course.

QFT. The point is finding a way of DM:ing that both you and your players are comfortable with. D&D gives you the options of making everything from scratch, or having everything handed down and pre-made. Your personal preference will likely fall somewhere in the middle-ground, but the only way to know is to experiment. Just have fun and see what fits you best. DM:ing is a living process that takes time and experience. So just grab a few players, roll up the characters and start gaming. You'll grow into it eventually. :smallsmile:

2007-08-27, 07:53 AM
Er, what? No it doesn't. It contains nothing that isn't trivial, entirely redundant, so obscure you wouldn't use it anyway, or otherwise stating the obvious.

You don't learn DM'ing from a book, anyway. You learn it by doing. If you're uncomfortable about writing an adventure, grab a good prefab. Also, find your own style, with feedback from the players, of course.

Wow, I suppose you like to argue then... please note number 1 of the three things I mentioned: do it a lot. That's where you find your own style and how you get feedback. Sheesh.

Regarding DMGII, a lot of it is stating the obvious, but sometimes, especially for a new DM, stating the obvious is good. I, personally, found the sections relating to how to handle each style of player quite helpful in that it spelled out kinds of players and good ways to deal with them. I knew most of it already but it was good to have it confirmed and it gave me some suggestions on moving things along that I hadn't done yet. If it was obvious to you, bravo! You clearly have a very lucky gaming group.

2007-08-27, 10:08 AM
Alright, I do believe that when the need arises I am ready to DM. I have a simple enough adventure idea that I can change at a moment's notice depending on what the rest of the group is in the mood for. It should work for a good stress relief session where we just fool around and enjoy ourselves. After the last session stress relief is going to be necessary.

For when things need to get more complex and I am feeling more adventurous I have a nice assortment of notebooks which I will begin to fill with information for later gaming sessions. Since as summer ends the amount of time between sessions will increase I should have plenty of time to get things in order.

2007-08-27, 10:49 AM
Alright. First off, having significant others in the same roleplaying game is fine. I've run games with players who were dating and I've played under a GM who was see a player. It works just fine. The only time I felt awkward about it was when a GM gave my character an in game romance plot with his real life girlfriend. It turned out that he wanted to make her feel that her character was wanted and all the other players at the table had had real life crushes on her, so I was the only safe one, but it was still awkward at the time.

Anyway, as everyone has pointed out it sounds like your GM is having issues with his relationship. I think that you need to make it clear that his girlfriend is welcome at the game, but their relationship problems aren't. If they're not capable of playing with you guys without their problems getting in the way, then they need to work out their problems on their own time and leave the game out of it. If they're not capable of doing that, that means that someone else should GM or the girlfriend shouldn't be playing in this game.

2007-08-27, 12:29 PM
Gaming and Grilfriends...

Can get tricky, but don't le that stop you.

I recommend grabbing a small basic adventure from one of the online sources or Dungeon and run that. It will get you into the feel of being the DM. You will learn about handling all of the parts, with having main sections of the story predone and hopefully pretested.

Find a group of people who know youa re a new DM and are willing to give you a try. Ask for feedback and have fun.

2007-08-27, 12:38 PM
Your DM needs to relax and lighten up. There is no way he can have a relationship if he is going to try to hide her from the world. I bring my girlfriend to my games whenever I can, and since I am DMing its always fun to watch her interact with the people I trust mosts, my friends.

As for DMing, just have fun and remember its not all about the rules. If you can't remember one just make a decision and stick to it, better than taking an hour trying to find the rule in the DMG, PHB, and what not.

2007-08-27, 02:34 PM
what about a "no offence but (imaginary flaw here) is terrible! ewww" or maybe ask him about his insecurity/paranoia, idk.

edit: OH DMing advice... well the occasional hour spent on evil storylines the occasional cliche (if they are VERY rare its forgivable, just enough for players not to rule them out) dont forget published adventures... including the free ones on wizards website, and dont be afraid to occasionally piss off your players. or kill them (at a high enough level) my favorite campaign that im in right now a player has died every session for 3 sessions in a row (one was skinned then true ressurected, and since hes a sacred fist im having monk weapons made out of his body for him, one walked through an instadeath portal, and one got the crap beat out of it by archers and was saved by close wounds [or maybe revivify, i dont remember])

2007-08-27, 03:37 PM

After the session take quick notes about what happened, and also note any unresolved issues that are left hanging at the end of the adventure. This can help you set up adventures in the future.

As for your DM, my advice varies: I would need to know the ages of those involved. Situations change.