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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    Our (relatively novice) DM has a habit of explaining what our PC's are thinking or feeling and the descriptions can often become elaborate to the point of saying the PC moves or does something physical in response. Personally I find it annoying and my kneejerk reaction to it is to ask in response to "you're thinking..." is "am I?". Hopefully this was a one off but in our last session he asked all the PCs to roll a reflex save to avoid walking off the large elevated walkway we were all on because all of us were distracted looking at the lights in the eyes of statues that lined the walkway sporadically and lit it up. The drop off the side was a fatal one into pitch darkness. Although none of us fell off the scenario bothered me because it made all of our characters do something outrageously stupid, if not out of character for all of us considering we're old hands at dungeoneering being roughly level 18 across the board. We had also discerned earlier that the lights in the statues were nothing more than harmless dancing lights.

    Is it normal for DMs to take control of PCs in this way and to determine what they're thinking or feeling rather than the players themselves?

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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    Saying "You get the idea that this guy shouldn't be trusted" is fine. I mean, that's what Sense Motive's there for. If an enemy has an attack which specifically distracts, stuns or controls you, then fine, you're distracted, stunned, or controlled. But in general, no, it's not normal and it's the sign of a bad DM.

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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    Depends on the circumstances I would think.

    Something minor like: "You get a feeling this guy shouldn't be trusted" As Jormen stated is probably not a big deal.

    Also, if the GM sees your character going totally against the "feel" of the world your characters inhabit without good reason (eg. I play Dark Heresy, and I would expect my GM to remind us that our characters hate and despise anything non-human if we were to interact with it).

    The last one is through external effects from someone. Like if someone was actually altering your character's thoughts or planting ideas, then obviously it's totally cool for the GM to say: "Your character starts thinking that he really likes this guy and wants to help him."


    Apart from those three though, no, it's probably not a good idea for the GM to be telling you what your characters are thinking or feeling.

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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    I agree with what has been said by the others above me, though I would argue that the system used is also an important circumstance. Some of them give characters sanity or more vague willpower scores, and fully expect the DM to tell his players that their characters are scared of something, thus losing their 'mental hp'.
    Always look for white text. Always.
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    You don't win people over by beating them with facts until they surrender; at best all you've got is a conversion under duress, and at worst you've actively made an enemy of your position.

    You don't convince by proving someone wrong. You convince by showing them a better way to be right. The difference may seem subtle or semantic, but I assure you it matters a lot.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    It depends strongly on how it's done.
    Certain things invoke certain emotions, and a DM can occasionally get away with saying this sleezy street vendor leaves a bad taste in your mouth, or the sultan's palace inspires awe. There's also the chance that you could encounter something with a magical aura; an extremely evil artifact might leave someone feeling dread as they approach it.

    It sounds like this is crossing a line, though - almost to the point of deciding how your characters feel about certain things, and how they should react. This is not good, as this is a sign that the DM views it as more of a storytelling exercise than a cooperative game. It's definitely something you should bring up, as there's a pretty good chance the more it goes unchecked, the more liberties he'll take (and the less you'll have!)
    That's all I can think of, at any rate.

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    The system is D&D 3.5 just to be clear. I wish it was simple sense motive/magical compulsion effects! I'll give you an example off the top of my head of what it's like. Seemingly benign yet diminishes player agency to define their own character:

    DM: "You all walk outside and look up into the sky and see a massive floating airship. [Roentgen] you stagger backwards in awe and you're thinking "What an amazing airship. I've never seen anything like this.""

    At this point I'm thinking "Am I staggering back in awe? Do I think it's amazing? Have I never seen anything like it?" I feel for that moment the agency of my character was taken away and it annoys me. Sometimes the DM may be right in guessing how my character would react to something but even then it still makes me bristle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Strigon View Post
    This is not good, as this is a sign that the DM views it as more of a storytelling exercise than a cooperative game.
    This is definitely accurate. The DM has often said he views the game system as a framework for telling a story.
    Last edited by Roentgen; 2015-12-19 at 05:52 PM.

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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roentgen View Post
    The system is D&D 3.5 just to be clear. I wish it was simple sense motive/magical compulsion effects! I'll give you an example off the top of my head of what it's like. Seemingly benign yet diminishes player agency to define their own character:

    DM: "You all walk outside and look up into the sky and see a massive floating airship. [Roentgen] you stagger backwards in awe and you're thinking "What an amazing airship. I've never seen anything like this.""
    Yeah this isn't cool. I'd be a little annoyed if my GM did that, as that can totally ruin some concepts of certain characters. If you're trying to play the cool, collected guy that doesn't get his feathers ruffled by anything, then having your GM have you gawk at this big flying ship would definitely be an annoyance. Or hell, if you're running a character that hates flying, or has any number of reasons NOT to be impressed by the airship. That's totally your call on how your character feels unless the airship literally has a spell on it to MAKE everyone who sees it be incredibly impressed with it. Which I doubt is the case.

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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roentgen View Post
    The system is D&D 3.5 just to be clear. I wish it was simple sense motive/magical compulsion effects! I'll give you an example off the top of my head of what it's like. Seemingly benign yet diminishes player agency to define their own character:

    DM: "You all walk outside and look up into the sky and see a massive floating airship. [Roentgen] you stagger backwards in awe and you're thinking "What an amazing airship. I've never seen anything like this.""

    At this point I'm thinking "Am I staggering back in awe? Do I think it's amazing? Have I never seen anything like it?" I feel for that moment the agency of my character was taken away and it annoys me. Sometimes the DM may be right in guessing how my character would react to something but even then it still makes me bristle.
    This sort of example is the time where you say firmly "no" in a polite fashion.

    If compulsion effects are in play, then maybe, but always asking if it is one and rolling a will save can probably be seen as passive aggressive...

    Feelings on the other hand are really a whole can of worms. Since again it depends on wheter it is an Ability (i.e. fear aura, or some sort of field of dread or similar) or if it just is the mood he wants to set (The fighter has a non ability non saving throw aura that basically just scrambles your emotions a bit and makes you feel wary or somesuch).

    Your initial question is quite true for some dm's. Since they don't know how to handle player agency in any meaningful way, yet. Sometimes they learn after a few kneejerk reactions or a "lengthy" talk about it... some won't even bother learning. But talking, discussing is often times the only way for them to do it.

    Always remember to use constructive criticism instead of just bashing, which can happen really fast if one were to assume a defensive position. Maybe he just doesn't realize.
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    Krazzman

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    Putting aside this particular GM, is there really a way to have emotion-affecting mechanics that don't come off as contrived and annoying? If my character got hit with a spell and the GM doesn't let me (the player) know my character got hit with a spell, but just tells me 'you feel really good about this guy', I wouldn't even stay at the table for one second.

    I can deal with "this item radiates an aura of dread, make a Will save to avoid the Staggered condition", when it's used very sparingly. Otherwise, not really.
    Last edited by goto124; 2015-12-19 at 06:26 PM.

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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    Quote Originally Posted by goto124 View Post
    Putting aside this particular GM, is there really a way to have emotion-affecting mechanics that don't come off as contrived and annoying? If my character got hit with a spell and the GM doesn't let me (the player) know my character got hit with a spell, but just tells me 'you feel really good about this guy', I wouldn't even stay at the table for one second.

    I can deal with "this item radiates an aura of dread, make a Will save to avoid the Staggered condition", when it's used very sparingly. Otherwise, not really.
    I think it's fine if it's clear (to the players) that it's some kind of spell or ability that's making you feel this way. As a personal example, my GM's been toying with emotion-affecting abilities lately, and over the last three session's he's hit our characters with supernaturally induced depression. We've not been too bothered by it, because everytime it's been involved, we know /why/ our characters are feeling this way, and know that it's not that he's taking control of our characters, but that our characters are being afflicted by something within the game itself, to make them feel this way. Perhaps more importantly though, he lets US decide how our characters react to this sort of thing. He merely informs us that our characters suddenly feel as though the most terrible thing they could possibly imagine just happened to them (providing such examples as: "The way you feel is as though your wife and son just died in front of you because of YOUR failure"), and then lets us decide how our characters actually DEAL with this emotional shift.

    The difference in OP's case though is that the GM is arbitrarily telling him how his character feels about something clearly NOT magical or supernatural, AND how he reacts to this. That's the problem.
    Last edited by Chijinda; 2015-12-19 at 07:13 PM.

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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    Quote Originally Posted by goto124 View Post
    Putting aside this particular GM, is there really a way to have emotion-affecting mechanics that don't come off as contrived and annoying? If my character got hit with a spell and the GM doesn't let me (the player) know my character got hit with a spell, but just tells me 'you feel really good about this guy', I wouldn't even stay at the table for one second.

    I can deal with "this item radiates an aura of dread, make a Will save to avoid the Staggered condition", when it's used very sparingly. Otherwise, not really.
    Triggering passive checks is always a tricky situation. Personally, im in favor of the "dm makes the roll" approach, as having the players know something bad/suspicious is happening but unable to do anything about it breaks immersion far more than the DM feeding you unusual information.
    “Evil is evil. Lesser, greater, middling, it's all the same. Proportions are negotiated, boundaries blurred. I'm not a pious hermit, I haven't done only good in my life. But if I'm to choose between one evil and another, then I prefer not to choose at all.”

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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    This is always a gray area with RPGs.

    A player does not know 99.9% of the things their character would know. And it is almost impossible for a player to play a character in a game world where they know almost nothing. And it is impossible to give a player a lifetime of character memories and knowledge.

    So RPG's just wing it, and have some rules so the players know some stuff......and have the DM fill in all the blanks. And it works, most of the time.

    The first big problem comes up by the players that don't role play. Far too many players act like ''a modern day fast food worker'' and not ''a savage barbarian''. The game gets really dull when Zorda the wizard of the white wastes says things like ''yo, dudes we should go eat some pizza, yum!''. And it is the same problem when Jord the barbarian has no reaction to seeing something wondrous to his world view, as it is something that does not impress the player.

    The second problem comes from the players that don't act. A character that sees something wondrous, or horrible should react, but most players won't even bother to do so much as even bat an eyelash.

    And the third problem is that comes from players is that they don't do negative things.

    So you have a DM, creating all sorts of things for the game world that are wondrous, or amazing or whatever....and the most players can do is just sit there and say ''whatever''.

    So a lot of DM's end up forcing their players to role play, act and do negative things.

    And then enter the gray. Most players are just fine with a DM telling them what their character thinks and feels...right up to the random second when they are not. Where is the line? No one knows...

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    MindFlayer

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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Most players are just fine with a DM telling them what their character thinks and feels...right up to the random second when they are not. Where is the line? No one knows...
    I've had problems with this. My regular players are pretty awesome, all things considered, but it's easy to see their differing expectations. One is in it for the story, and it only enhances his enjoyment when I include callbacks to his backstory and his actions have realistic consequences. Another would love an 'Unstoppable Cool Guys VII: Never Say Die Hard With a Vengeance' type of game and will often dispute any action or result of his action that ends up leading to failure. He's getting better about this, but he'll probably be pretty grumpy after next session, where he plans to 'spy' on the bbeg before the final showdown by tearing a magically-warded wall down in the caverns the guy's holed up in. Alone. I'll be mentioning a lot of 'bad feelings' his high-WIS character has, I suspect.

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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tetraplex View Post
    I've had problems with this. My regular players are pretty awesome, all things considered, but it's easy to see their differing expectations. One is in it for the story, and it only enhances his enjoyment when I include callbacks to his backstory and his actions have realistic consequences. Another would love an 'Unstoppable Cool Guys VII: Never Say Die Hard With a Vengeance' type of game and will often dispute any action or result of his action that ends up leading to failure. He's getting better about this, but he'll probably be pretty grumpy after next session, where he plans to 'spy' on the bbeg before the final showdown by tearing a magically-warded wall down in the caverns the guy's holed up in. Alone. I'll be mentioning a lot of 'bad feelings' his high-WIS character has, I suspect.
    Its scenarios like that where you bring out the voice in the back of your head that sounds like your mother. Everyone knows when that voice comes out, youre doing something dumb.
    “Evil is evil. Lesser, greater, middling, it's all the same. Proportions are negotiated, boundaries blurred. I'm not a pious hermit, I haven't done only good in my life. But if I'm to choose between one evil and another, then I prefer not to choose at all.”

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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    Yeah, that is a pretty normal red flag. ... Well depends on how much, with what and to what degree. I've seen it come up in the worst player thread (deserving that place) a couple times, your DM isn't that bad it seems to be enough to be a problem.

    It can be used well, one to translate mechanical (not always magical) effects to the players without saying all the mechanical terms. This includes everything from a really persuasive speaker to the high wisdom example, however in these cases a player could just do these themselves.

    Another is it can be used occasionally for dramatic effect, a kind of once off version of the above. For instance I played a game when we found "the city" and DM had us will save vs. awe, because it was that epic. You could say it was heavy handed but I refused to roll and said I failed because (from my character's perspective at least) it was that epic. This one should be used sparingly.

    If you want to take back control of your character... I would recommend just doing it. Not super aggressively but if you can bring up a previously established aspect of your character and use it to justify having a different reaction. This means you will have to both establish some of your character traits and think about them a bit, but if you are into the character building anyways that shouldn't be a burden. Say the character is a dwarf in the airship example: "Um... I'm playing a dwarf. The main though going through my head is 'those people are lunatics for going so far away from the ground.'"

    I think describing the character's reactions might be some sort of story telling crutch. Unsure on how to evoke a certain reaction, they just say the reaction is evoked.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tetraplex View Post
    He's getting better about this, but he'll probably be pretty grumpy after next session, where he plans to 'spy' on the bbeg before the final showdown by tearing a magically-warded wall down in the caverns the guy's holed up in. Alone. I'll be mentioning a lot of 'bad feelings' his high-WIS character has, I suspect.
    One trick I've picked up from one of my GMs is to ask the player to make a wisdom check - or another appropriate roll - and then only tell them they think it's a bad idea if they pass a DC. As a player, I found that made it feel more like extra information your character realises because stats rather than the GM arbitrarily declaring what your character is thinking. And if they fail the wisdom check, that can be fun too (In a game I was GMing, my players were trying to sneak into a goblin stronghold when the ninja decided she wanted to crash through the roof to get in. I had her roll a wisdom check, and she got a 1. Only the quick reactions of the Cryptic she was carrying at the time in disintegrating a hole in the roof for her to fall through saved them from alerting the entire stronghold!)

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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    Quote Originally Posted by goto124 View Post
    Putting aside this particular GM, is there really a way to have emotion-affecting mechanics that don't come off as contrived and annoying? If my character got hit with a spell and the GM doesn't let me (the player) know my character got hit with a spell, but just tells me 'you feel really good about this guy', I wouldn't even stay at the table for one second.

    I can deal with "this item radiates an aura of dread, make a Will save to avoid the Staggered condition", when it's used very sparingly. Otherwise, not really.
    That's when you throw in phrases like, "For some strange reason" and "Oddly" and "You don't know why but...".

    Regarding the original issue, I've heard that phrased as "powerposing", and it's usually frowned upon for the reasons you've mentioned. Instead of saying, "You're awed", you say something like, "It's by far the biggest airship you've ever seen. The amount of ammo on there could probably lay waste to a small country, and it probably needs that many people just to man the damn thing."
    Last edited by LnGrrrR; 2015-12-20 at 08:49 PM.

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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    The real secret is the DM needs to craft things for the players, not the characters.


    Joe, who works at the Circle K should be the target audience, not Rogar the barbarian. Unless Joe is a spectacular role player. But most of the time Joe is just ''normal''.

    And a flying ship just does not impress Joe.

    But Joe can be impressed, of course. Though you often just need to crank the fantasy up. Like ''Overhead floats a ship made out of pure nightmares...there horse-like bodies flowing around and together to make the body of the solid looking ship. A couple of individual nightmares float down from the ship and slaughter a couple of innocent by standers with their hooves, leaving bloody messes in the street.''

    See that is much more impressive then just a flying ship.

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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    The real secret is the DM needs to craft things for the players, not the characters.


    Joe, who works at the Circle K should be the target audience, not Rogar the barbarian. Unless Joe is a spectacular role player. But most of the time Joe is just ''normal''.

    And a flying ship just does not impress Joe.

    But Joe can be impressed, of course. Though you often just need to crank the fantasy up. Like ''Overhead floats a ship made out of pure nightmares...there horse-like bodies flowing around and together to make the body of the solid looking ship. A couple of individual nightmares float down from the ship and slaughter a couple of innocent by standers with their hooves, leaving bloody messes in the street.''

    See that is much more impressive then just a flying ship.
    True. However sometimes you don't want to awe Joe, of Circle K. You want to awe Rogar the Barbarian. Because the NPCs don't know about the players controlling their reality and aren't going to go out of their way to be as over the top as possible when their regular flying ship is already awe-inspiring to Rogar the barbarian.

    Yes, a flying nightmare ship of doom is much cooler. You are also straining the game world when that becomes your standard "That's cool" moment. Sometimes Rogar is awed when Joe is not. And that's OK, because Joe is not Rogar.
    “Evil is evil. Lesser, greater, middling, it's all the same. Proportions are negotiated, boundaries blurred. I'm not a pious hermit, I haven't done only good in my life. But if I'm to choose between one evil and another, then I prefer not to choose at all.”

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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Keltest View Post
    True. However sometimes you don't want to awe Joe, of Circle K. You want to awe Rogar the Barbarian. Because the NPCs don't know about the players controlling their reality and aren't going to go out of their way to be as over the top as possible when their regular flying ship is already awe-inspiring to Rogar the barbarian.

    Yes, a flying nightmare ship of doom is much cooler. You are also straining the game world when that becomes your standard "That's cool" moment. Sometimes Rogar is awed when Joe is not. And that's OK, because Joe is not Rogar.
    But this goes back to the problem of Joe, who is controlling Rogar is not impressed, is bad at role playing, can't act, does not care, is lazy and so on. So, sure, a ''normal'' flying ship should impress Rogar, but Joe will never play the character that way.

    And that is where you get the DM stepping in to say ''Joe, Rogar is impressed and amazed when he sees the flying ship''.

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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    Actually I will say that given the amount of fiction I have read I would probably never be awed by any "epic" thing you could throw at me. Entertained yes, amused yes. But in the end I realize that the DM/writer can say anything they want so it is hard to impress me as someone outside the story world. However I can understand and appreciate how someone in the world could be awed by something. But maybe that is just me.

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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Actually I will say that given the amount of fiction I have read I would probably never be awed by any "epic" thing you could throw at me. Entertained yes, amused yes. But in the end I realize that the DM/writer can say anything they want so it is hard to impress me as someone outside the story world. However I can understand and appreciate how someone in the world could be awed by something. But maybe that is just me.
    It is a bit much to say you can't be awed by anything. Have you never read any fiction that awed you? Never?

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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    Quote Originally Posted by LnGrrrR View Post
    That's when you throw in phrases like, "For some strange reason" and "Oddly" and "You don't know why but...".
    That works well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Another is it can be used occasionally for dramatic effect
    Rephrase it!

    Quote Originally Posted by LnGrrrR View Post
    Instead of saying, "You're awed", you say something like, "It's by far the biggest airship you've ever seen. The amount of ammo on there could probably lay waste to a small country, and it probably needs that many people just to man the damn thing."
    Essentially, don't say "you are awed by the ship", say "the ship is awe-inspiring". I personally would even changed "the biggest airship you've ever seen" to "this airship is even bigger than [largest ship characters have witnessed]" or "even a whale would be smaller than this airship".

    Needless to say, the players will start calling the airship "Giant Space Whale".

    So, don't try to "amaze" the players. At least, not with going crazy on the description of an airship, or trying to mind-control their characters. It doesn't work anyway.
    Last edited by goto124; 2015-12-21 at 04:24 AM.

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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    A lot of this I think is down to how good (or how good the DM thinks) you are at role-playing

    Examples
    Air-Ship

    Its up to the DM to advise if air-ships are 10 a penny or this is the 1st you have ever seen (and indeed heard of) one

    As a DM I give XP for Role-Playing

    If air-ships are unheard of then I would expect role-playing that encompasses the PC’s character traits.
    Those that just go “Whatever” who aren’t playing someone who is unfazable just wont get as many XP at the end of the adventure (it may only be a few but it adds up over time)


    Charm
    Here I will let someone save v Charm but might have to “nudge” the PC and remind them what they are feeling “This is your friend and you want to help them etc”

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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roentgen View Post
    Our (relatively novice) DM has a habit of explaining what our PC's are thinking or feeling and the descriptions can often become elaborate to the point of saying the PC moves or does something physical in response.
    Red flag. Outside of magical or other rules effects, the player has agency over the PC, not the DM. Full stop.

    Quote Originally Posted by Roentgen View Post
    Our (relatively novice) DM...
    There's the problem, inexperience. Talk with your DM about it. Hopefully it will be a learning experience and your DM can become better given the chance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Roentgen View Post
    ...our last session he asked all the PCs to roll a reflex save to avoid walking off the large elevated walkway we were all on because all of us were distracted looking at the lights in the eyes of statues that lined the walkway sporadically and lit it up. [snip] We had also discerned earlier that the lights in the statues were nothing more than harmless dancing lights.
    The dancing lights in the eyes of the statues don't have the ability to forcibly transfix or distract the PCs. The PCs probably don't have anything in their background that would make a simple dancing lights effect extraordinary. A no-magic world would push a magical dancing lights effect into the realm of extraordinary, thus presenting a possible reason why experienced characters could become distracted.

    Quote Originally Posted by Roentgen View Post
    DM: "You all walk outside and look up into the sky and see a massive floating airship. [Roentgen] you stagger backwards in awe and you're thinking "What an amazing airship. I've never seen anything like this.""
    It is still up to you to decide to have your own character stagger backwards in awe, not up to the DM. With the assumption that the DM knows your character's history, it could be something your character has never seen anything like it and can still be described as such but it still the player's decision on how their character reacts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Actually I will say that given the amount of fiction I have read I would probably never be awed by any "epic" thing you could throw at me. Entertained yes, amused yes. But in the end I realize that the DM/writer can say anything they want so it is hard to impress me as someone outside the story world. However I can understand and appreciate how someone in the world could be awed by something. But maybe that is just me.
    It goes back to the unwritten rule that you are not your character. You might not be in awe, for whatever reasons, but is your character? Your character might be completely awestruck and would naturally and logically react in that fashion. Why not play it up?
    Last edited by snacksmoto; 2015-12-21 at 05:18 AM.

  26. - Top - End - #26
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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    It all depends on group style and individual preferences. I've flat out had players ask me how they feel, or who just don't act until given explicitly direction. I've had players who even balk and told someone an NPC is "Pretty" because obviously that's subjective and not what their character thinks (I personally find this kind of insufferable). I find most folks fall at happy medium.

    They're content with rolls to know if something is scary, tasty or smelly. They'll gladly accept something like "Impressive" or "Forgettable" in a description. I even find players tend to resolve things themselves with rolls or the like rather than insisting they have perfect knowledge of their character's feelings.

    Exchanges like this are not at all totally uncommon:

    "They serve you a meal: Oats with vegetables and onions"
    "Is it any good?"
    "I don't know. It's got a pretty firm texture compared to something to normal oatmeal but still a porridge. Slightly salty, the vegetables are very earthy - think collard greens but more so. The onion flavor is pretty fait they on ly used a few - What would you character think of that?"
    "Hmmm." *pulls out a d6* "I guess if I roll a 4 or higher, my character likes it otherwise it's kind of gross"

    As are ones like this:


    "They serve you a meal: Oats with vegetables and onions"
    "Is it any good?"
    "Well, yeah. It's rich and earthy, with plenty of salt. A hearty mean if you're into that sort of thing"
    "Actually, I think that sounds gross" -or- "Neat. I take seconds"

    You can of course substitute the food here for anything a character might have an opinion on or feelings about. Not everyone's the same. Of course it's probably best if GMs that like giving more in depth narration and RP queues are matched up with players that prefer to have their actions be a bit more guided, and players that want more freedom and dislike GM "intrusion" are paired up with GMs that enjoy that too. It doesn't make anything right or wrong here.
    Last edited by Mr.Moron; 2015-12-21 at 05:40 AM.

  27. - Top - End - #27
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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    I think it's more because of the relative novicity of the GM. I used to do that when I started GMing years back then as well. I learned not to do that anymore.
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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    Obviously rather complicated stuff.

    I would say that it is indeed 'normal', but the catch is obviously in details.

    Characters are living, sentient beings similar enough to 'us', that they don't have complete control and understanding of their emotions and thoughts.

    Describing everything so painstakingly that player, may, or may not feel or understand it can get impossible.

    So while saying 'your character's woe is so great that he leaps into the gorge' is unacceptable, informing player that some strong, uncontrollable feeling is trying to urge them to act is OK.

    Ideally it should obviously be connected to actual storytelling and information, so the player can imagine and understand why could the character feel that way.

    Giving some penalties/modifiers to certain activities, after a failing throw, informing player that character 'finds it hard to stop gazing at ______" can be done well, I think.

    Informing player that character straight out fails at something, or that it actually won't stare at anything else save______ is trickier and should be avoided.

    Although plenty of systems have mechanics working quite like that - failing saving throw to not look at Basilisk eyes in D&D 3.5...
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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    I think that a DM can suggest feelings and thoughts as long as they are general impressions that are not definitive and that each player can elaborate.

    If a party of good pcs enters the Great Temple of the Super Evil God, a place build using titan's bones as pillars and dragon's ribs to make the ceiling, with horrible statues alla around, the DM has the right to suggest that the group "feels overwhelmed by nature of the place and intimidated (not the condition, just a generic sensation of unease)". That would be the "human" reaction upon seing the place that each player would then elaborate.

    The player who plays a paladin could say that since his PC is immune to fear he acknowldges these feelings but will use them as a push to strike harder on the High Priest of the Super Evil God and to better protect his fellows. The player of the sneaky rogue could say that his character enters in a paranoid state and starts to look for traps everywhere. The wizard could be so bold and overconfident in his magic to ignore the feeling and instead to focus his attention on which type of dragons were used to build the temples, and so on.

  30. - Top - End - #30
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    Default Re: DM telling players what their PC's are thinking and feeling. Normal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roentgen View Post
    Our (relatively novice) DM has a habit of explaining what our PC's are thinking or feeling and the descriptions can often become elaborate to the point of saying the PC moves or does something physical in response. Personally I find it annoying and my kneejerk reaction to it is to ask in response to "you're thinking..." is "am I?".
    This is a textbook "Don't do that" rule for DMs. (It can be done very carefully if you know exactly what you are doing).

    Hopefully this was a one off but in our last session he asked all the PCs to roll a reflex save to avoid walking off the large elevated walkway we were all on because all of us were distracted looking at the lights in the eyes of statues that lined the walkway sporadically and lit it up.
    Bwuh? Wait, what?

    You can sometimes, carefully say "Roll will to avoid jumping back" - but a distraction? First that's a will save anyway. Second, walking of your own free will when you know about the edges? nonono.

    Is it normal for DMs to take control of PCs in this way and to determine what they're thinking or feeling rather than the players themselves?
    It's not uncommon for brand new or inept DMs - but it doesn't last long. Either they learn better or someone else DMs.
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