View Full Version : DMing for one's significant other

2007-11-01, 03:10 PM
So it just occurred to me as I'm concluding the (extremely silly) epic Disgaea campaign I've been running since last school year and am gearing up to start another (possibly two) more serious campaigns, this could present some kind of problem.

I started dating one of my players earlier this year, and she's going to be in probably any of the games I run. I don't think I'm the type to favor her over the others in game, but I've never been in a situation where it might come up so I can't say I know how I'll react.

How does one typically handle this? Ideally, I just want to run the game as normal, and it may end up happening naturally anyway, but knowing good ways to deal with this situation are definitely a plus.

2007-11-01, 03:14 PM
Easy. Don't favor her. Make sure you discuss the rules of the game before hand, make sure you are both clear on it. If you cannot do this, and cannot uphold these rules, you really should not be DMing.

2007-11-01, 03:19 PM
Ah ha ha.... this makes me think of my current gaming group. One of the players is married to the DM, and as such is WORSE OFF than the rest of the party.


Because the DM can confer with her, knows more about her character and her past, and can screw with her significantly more than he can the rest of us.

Tor the Fallen
2007-11-01, 03:21 PM
Be careful not to disfavor her.

2007-11-01, 03:21 PM
Two classic problems in this scenario:

a) DM favors significant other.

Only you can prevent this, but just make sure the individual in question doesn't expect favors. Also, it might help to consider, after each session, whether you have been fair to each player in that session. This will also help to act as a guard against the reverse problem of unfairly singling out one player to avoid the impression that you are favoring them.

b) Other players believe that a) is true.

Communication is your friend here. Overly paranoid players may deem this to be the case any time their character (or their friend's character) is worse off/less effective than the character of the player in question. Other than avoiding players likely to think this, I can't think of much.

Note that these apply to any case of DM favoritism (real or perceived). I've seen favoritism in action, and even if present, it was not a fatal blow to the game. There were enough other things going on that were interesting enough that the other players were willing to put up with it, which can be said for the perceived failings of any DM (if your players are having enough fun, they will forgive any fault, if not, even perfection from fairness and rules standpoints will be utterly insufficient).

(edit: ninja'd how many times?)

2007-11-01, 03:23 PM
Given my nature, my significant other's character is at a greater risk of being killed rather than favored, but the same rule applies to either situation (and, in fact, my DMing in general). NPC's are people, and behave like people. They do what is in their best interest given the information they have available. The dice are random, and such randomness is part of the game. I don't fudge to hurt or save her character. Just focus on being fair and impartial, and such things aren't a big deal.

If you don't think you can be fair and impartial in this way, don't DM for her. Just state that you're not sure you can be totally impartial and let someone else DM, it's no big deal.

2007-11-01, 03:41 PM
She's an experienced roleplayer (although her experience is more with LARP than tabletop) and doesn't expect any favors. I don't think I'll favor her over anybody else, I'm mainly interested in knowing if anybody actively does something to prevent it or if there's some common pitfall that can happen. I definitely want to avoid going the opposite direction and being really harsh with her character, that's not exactly a way to endear yourself to someone. I tend to fudge dice to save people from stupid bad luck, so it looks like what I have to look out most regarding that is doing it for her more than for anybody else.

2007-11-01, 03:51 PM
I suggest you kill her character off a few times just to drive the point home. Seriously though just treat her, as much as possible, as just part of the group. Assuming she takes an interest, understands or learns the rules it should all pan out alright, hopefully, maybe.

Regrettably my sole experience with this involved the DM's SO who we found, after several sessions didn't really care about the game and as such made for some extremely awkward situations.

2007-11-01, 03:53 PM
Ditto on what everyone has said already. I've seen the favoritism swim both ways, both in terms of making things "easy" for a significant other and in terms of singling out a SO in an attempt not to seem too lenient with them.

When I was in a game with my husband (then boyfriend), I played a dagger-wielding fighter/rogue (only one level of fighter). In his campaign, there had been no hint that undead would be a strong plot element (and in truth, they weren't -- the real threat was monster-type things). Still, for a long time in the beginning of the campaign I hardly got to sneak attack because he kept throwing undead (especially the skeletal sort) at the party/putting us in combat situations where it was virtually impossible to flank. It took my character (in a moment of desperation at the utter futility of using the daggers) pulling out his shovel and using it as an improvised weapon to make him realize that perhaps meatier things should start trundling by us. I don't hold this against him, and I know it was important that he seemed a fair DM to everyone else. But in his rush to be fair, he deliberately engineered a string of encounters that rendered one character practically useless.

I guess what I'm saying is that, while you should definitely be an impartial DM, don't be afraid to let your girlfriend's character stand out. I'm a firm believer that every character needs at least a few awesome actions to get the rest of the party's attention and be welcomed as a valuable member of the group. It doesn't matter if they do combat, spellcasting, skillmonkeying, or whatever else. Everyone's happiest when they've can remember That Really Cool Thing that they or their buddy did that one time. When you're building your campaign, try to make sure you have at least a few circumstances for each character to really shine. It helps the whole tone of the game tremendously.

But anyway, good luck with your campaign! You're concerned about possible problems and seeking out second opinions, so I have great faith you'll do well. :smallwink:

2007-11-01, 03:56 PM
I've seen the favoritism swim both ways, both in terms of making things "easy" for a significant other and in terms of singling out a SO in an attempt not to seem too lenient with them. Sometimes it's not about trying to avoid looking lenient...sometimes the DM is restraining a sadistic streak and doesn't feel the need to hold back as much with a SO :smallamused:

2007-11-01, 04:05 PM
...sometimes the DM is restraining a sadistic streak and doesn't feel the need to hold back as much with a SO.

I suppose that's sometimes the case, though I wonder why DMs like this don't just decide to rock out with their sadism and beat up on everyone. :smallconfused: There are plenty of good systems (Cthulhu comes to mind, though any horror-inspired campaign will do) that openly encourage making the players' lives miserable. As long as the players are expecting it, the masochism can actually be pretty fun. :smallbiggrin:

2007-11-01, 04:09 PM
I suppose that's sometimes the case, though I wonder why DMs like this don't just decide to rock out with their sadism and beat up on everyone. :smallconfused: There are plenty of good systems (Cthulhu comes to mind, though any horror-inspired campaign will do) that openly encourage making the players' lives miserable. As long as the players are expecting it, the masochism can actually be pretty fun. :smallbiggrin: Sometimes that's exactly what happens, and sometimes the group wants to play with a little twist rather than a short-drop-sudden-stop. It can still be fun for the DM when he's "going easy on them", as long as other aspects of DMing are fun to him, so it's not an either/or proposition :smallsmile:

2007-11-01, 04:29 PM
If you're actually asking this question, you recognize the potential problem and are probably fine. Just play fair, like everyone else has said.

2007-11-01, 05:08 PM
hahaha, the noble posters before me have given you some good solid advice there.

I gave her what she wanted and reaped the benefits in my personal life, but thats just me. :P

2007-11-01, 06:01 PM
I have absolutely no experience in the matter, but I'd think she'd appreciate consistency. Thus, don't favor her, but don't be hard on her either.

2007-11-01, 06:54 PM
I am a player in a group led by my husband. When I started we were just friends, so it wasn't a problem. But over the course of the last 6 years we have gotten closer and have been married for a little over two years.

What I have learned from watching my husband is this, when you make a decision that isn't spelled out clearly in the rules explain why. Especially, if the situation seems to be similair to a previous situation where you ruled differently.

Some people will notice the differences and be fine. Others won't and they will think that you are treating your SO differently. There have been times when he hasn't explained and I have gotten upset with him because I thought I was getting either preferential treatment or treated to harshly.

You might make some mistakes, but the fact that you are aware of the potential problems and are looking for ways to avoid them, will make it easier to do just that.

2007-11-01, 08:24 PM
I am DMing for my very close significant other. I successfully finished a campaign and now am on to another. I've had absolutely no problem being neutral.

The only problem that it ever presented is that while she is the best role player we have, she can sometimes get frustrated easily when it comes to solving problems and think the worse of what would be about to happen. She would then try to use Out of Game persuasion to gain an edge or find out what she wants to know. In the end, I wouldn't do anything that I wouldn't do for any other player that felt the game was being unfair and none of the other players thought so either. She would half-joke about the argument leaving the table and entering others spheres, but it never happened.

2007-11-02, 11:02 AM
in my game my girlfriend happened to create a character with high diplomacy, 1st time she ever has.
thus she has had a significant ability to progress the plot, as it is an election rigging plot and diplomacy is useful. she's not maxed out or anything but only one other player has any ranks at all.
in previous campaigns she played a rogue and the plot already had large quantities of undead so she was less useful there.

it is easy enough to be impartialin my experience. although my main difficulty is that the other players defer to her for ooc reasons (she is a decision making person amongst a load of 'yeah whatever' players so...grr)
i think she finds this more annoying than i do!

2007-11-02, 11:23 AM
My boyfriend and i agreed that I will not play in any game he story tells(he story tells V:tM). we are both players in another guy's DnD campaign though. Even then certain favoritism occurs, like dropping the mission a hand to save each others ass. Despite the fact that he is a half orc barbarian(who died saving me, lolz) and I am a whispergnome scout/ranger with no apparent romantic connection. He is now a female human knight, but we still cover each other's backs unnecessarily.

Sometines, It can't be helped.

2007-11-02, 11:48 AM
I've DM'd for my wife, and three others for a couple years now. It's been real easy avoiding favoring/unfairly treating her characters - once the game starts, she temporarily ceases being treated as my wife, and commences being treated as one of my players. So far in my campaign, we've had 2 PC deaths - her cleric has been one of them, and only because she threw herself between the squishy archer and the green dragon. Not because I tried to prove a point.

The key is that you just need to make it clear that as DM, she'll be treated like any other player. If you're doing your job, your other players will never accuse you of treating her differently.

2007-11-02, 03:53 PM
I must agree with a (far) earlier poster that the real problem is with what the others perceive...whether or not it exists.

Case in point - my wife recently rolled into a game I am running for a relatively inexperienced group all ECL 2. She spends a day reading up and trying to understand how templates/races/classes really fit together (she is brand new to it all but wants to learn). The others still have not really bothered to READ and learn the rules.

They are all lvl2. A mix of rogues, warriors, druids, and the like...not optimized at all because they simply do not know the rules. Our bard does not even know how Bard Music works despite 3 sessions and me trying to explain basics and urging him to learn of his own.

Then in comes my wife....as a Large Half-Minotaur Rage Cleric variant with the War and Wraith domains ECL2. Her stats are obscene (she rolled really high but did so in front of everyone) with the half-mino template she reaches upwards of 30str and then rages...

Is it a little munchiny....sure....but its RAW and she learned and discovered it all herself. She even came up with a great backstory involving a demonic were-cow and she - the innocent young nun milkmaid.

But the other guys are so confused they think it is all me.
Now it is almost daily that one of them asks to become a dry lich, or a terror vampire....or a beholder....at ECL2. Their lack of breadth and grasp on the rules make the whole situation difficult.

2007-11-02, 04:07 PM
I did this once. Treating her like everyone else works fine. The smart ones recognize that life and game aren't the same thing and that you can kill her character and then go make out after the session is over.

2007-11-02, 04:55 PM
Sounds to me that just the fact that your worried about making it fair, means you WILL be fair. If you didnt ask or didnt care, then I'd be worried.

I agree with others who said its more a problem with other people's perception, and may be doubly so if she's actually a good player. I dont know about you, but I tend to favor my good players over bad ones... particulary in the RP sense. So be mindful of that and make sure you have logical, snappy comebacks to the whiners in your group who feel like nothing is ever fair to them, regardless of your relationship status... if logic is on your side, there's nothing further to be said.

Azerian Kelimon
2007-11-02, 06:27 PM
DM'ing for a significant other is not difficult, s'long as neither you nor your mate go for the rock 'n roll route. Heck, I played my usual DMPC/normal PC and DM'ed for my party, in which my GF was participating (she usually plays with her own group, but we crossovered. She is tremendously knowledgeable, so she knew them dirty tricks.), and there was no problem. Since my group is accustomed to me, they know I don't have favoritisms, so everything was swell.