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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Troll in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default So that's what it feels to have a lame campaign? it's nowhere near as bad as i feared

    Ever since I picked up again D&D in my adult life, i've had a single group of good friends with very healty, functional dynamics, and I've been quite lucky. I would periodically read horror stories of bad dm and disfunctional groups in this forum, but it's always been very theoretical. I didn't knew what it was actually like.

    Well, now I do. A couple months ago, one of my buddies saw a chance for an online campaign with strangers, and proposed me to play too.
    well, i will premise by stating that the dm is not a bad person; he has enthusiasm, and he's actually good at recitation.
    however, he triggers pretty much every! single! red flag! commonly discussed in this forum (excepting those related to personal abuse):
    - the campaign is a complete railroad, every attempt to try and explore different avenues is randomly stifled
    - he put a high level dmpc with us. he's incredibly stronger and better than the party at everything; he won't partecipate in our fights, but he'll do any cool thing that we're not allowed to do.
    - lately, as we got (obviously) imprisoned by dm fiat and the dmpc escaped, i thought that maybe we'd be on out own for a while. Instead, all of our attempts at jailbreak were railroaded into failure (a colossal guard monster arrives. you don't get any check to see it or evade it. it uses a breath weapon. no saving throw. you all fall asleep and you wake up back in your cell); and then a second dmpc comes and free us
    - pcs aren't allowed to do anything not pertaining the railroads. at the beginning i told the story of how my wizard took a vow of poverty because he wanted magic to advantage the common folk, which it can't do if it's ridiculous expensive; and how he would like to first gather enough money to free his parents who were made debt slaves for financing his studies, and then try to open some free wizarding academia for everyone who wants to learn. and i explicitly asked if such a character was ok in the campaing. despite investing heavily in diplomacy, every attempt i made to pursue my personal plots had been swiftly dismissed.
    - we weren't given a single magic item, not even a potion or scroll. every single time we tried to loot defeated enemies, we were forced to flee somehow. Near level 5, the whole of out loot consists in 100 gp each. that were then confiscated when we were railroad-captured. On the plus side, my vow of poverty is paying off big time, i'm the only one to have some kind of boost
    - the encounters are completely unbalanced. at level 3 we faced a thing with 200 hp, +20 to hit, dealing 3d8+12 damage. At level 2, we were "ambushed" by a group of level 3 bandits, more numerous than us and with archery support that was basically some autohitting attacks on us every round. when the odds are too desperate, though, the dm suddenly let us win by having the enemies start fighting as total morons. No, he's apparently not trying to rob us of any sense of accomplishment by making it obvious that he's handing us our victories. it seems he genuinely believes we won't realize what he's doing. which makes it even more insulting.
    - the worldbuilding is completely fickle and inconsistent. there is this prison that's supposedly the most inescapable ever. yet there is nothing (except the obvious railroads) to prevent anyone from leaving by flight, teleportation, burrowing, or any other vaguely non-mundane mean. And by the way, I was looking for stuff to improvise as material components, and i discovered there isn't a single spider in the whole prison. nope, can't cast web. not that it would have helped me against the railroad guardian monster. the labyrinth has the sun standing still overhead, like it's some kind of flat world with a fixed sun. except the rest of the world has normal day/night cycles. when asked to clarify this, i wasn't given any straight answer.
    - another player is taking every chance at downtime to create messes for everyone. as in, every single time we stop at any kind of town, he goes into the tavern and tries to start a brawl. without anything to gain and with everything to lose. then he suddenly quit the game after a few sessions

    Judging from all descriptions, it would seem an awful, miserable game, yet i'm still having a fun time.
    Oh, of course i dropped any pretence that i would ever have meaningful character arcs, or be able to do anything that wasn't preordained by the dm, or accomplish anything on my own.
    i'm now approaching this campaign in the same way that an estimator of b-movies would approach sharknado: let's have some fun at how dumb and poorly conveived is all of this. The whole campaign has basically devolved into an unwitting comedy. it's still a fun way to spend two hours.

    I am not looking for advice. besides, i know the advice for similar situations is basically always the same (talk to the dm; if things do not change, quit the group). no, i'm fine as it is, and if nothing else, the whole experience make me appreciate more my main, functional group.
    i just wanted to share, and hope it will bring some inspiration to those of you who are in similar situation and aren't taking it as well
    In memory of Evisceratus: he dreamed of a better world, but he lacked the class levels to make the dream come true.

    Ridiculous monsters you won't take seriously even as they disembowel you

    my take on the highly skilled professional: the specialized expert

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Telok's Avatar

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    Default Re: So that's what it feels to have a lame campaign? it's nowhere near as bad as i fe

    Ah, the Mystery Science Theater 3000 approach to gaming. Yup.

    Been there, done that. Like ditching a party oriented melee assist character for a space walrus character that could stealth & speed-climb without feet, faster than a jetpack because land speed boosts stacked when norhing else did. The game didn't say anything about a two ton space walrus being a super ninja acrobat. It just made the character a super ninja acrobat, who happened to be a flipperey walrus with terrible fashon sense.

    Some times you're a good team player with a backstory and hooks for the DM to use. Some times it doesn't matter so you may as well enjoy the clown show and scenery along the railroad tracks. And some times... Some times there's a wooden railroad bridge, a plot hole the size of an army, and you've got a wand of fire and an army.
    Niven's Laws, #5
    If you've nothing to say, say it any way you like. Stylistic innovations, contorted story lines or none, exotic or genderless pronouns, internal inconsistencies, the recipe for preparing your lover as a cannibal banquet: feel free. If what you have to say is important and/or difficult to follow, use the simplest language possible. If the reader doesn't get it then, let it not be your fault.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: So that's what it feels to have a lame campaign? it's nowhere near as bad as i fe

    Judging from all descriptions, it would seem an awful, miserable game, yet i'm still having a fun time.
    Oh, of course i dropped any pretence that i would ever have meaningful character arcs, or be able to do anything that wasn't preordained by the dm, or accomplish anything on my own.
    that right there is why you're having fun. So many players want Tolkien quality and get disappointed. Set the bar low and enjoy what you can.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Tanarii's Avatar

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    Default Re: So that's what it feels to have a lame campaign? it's nowhere near as bad as i fe

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    - pcs aren't allowed to do anything not pertaining the railroads. at the beginning i told the story of how my wizard took a vow of poverty because he wanted magic to advantage the common folk, which it can't do if it's ridiculous expensive; and how he would like to first gather enough money to free his parents who were made debt slaves for financing his studies, and then try to open some free wizarding academia for everyone who wants to learn. and i explicitly asked if such a character was ok in the campaing. despite investing heavily in diplomacy, every attempt i made to pursue my personal plots had been swiftly dismissed.
    This character background would raise all sorts of red flags that it was intending to eat up table time on what should generally be personal downtime stuff. Have you tried telling them this stuff can all happen between session, your character just needs reasonable downtime between adventures? None of it needs to take up table time. Maybe that's the DMs concern.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Default Re: So that's what it feels to have a lame campaign? it's nowhere near as bad as i fe

    The idea of enjoying low quality stuff is honestly rather refreshing to see.

    i know the advice for similar situations is basically always the same (talk to the dm; if things do not change, quit the group).
    I feel the line has been drawn way too often, so apprentice DMs such as myself (who are willing to learn) are either abandoned in body (when players leave) or spirit (when they half-heartedly play while on their phone, or a single two sentence post in a week in PbP) when we are too just learning.

    We are people with day jobs too. And not every DM has writing their campaigns as their only hobby. We are video gamers too, we like card games, maybe we even do a bit of sports or art on the side. Ignoring the obvious overhyped voice actor-DM-elephant in the room, we are surely not professionals (in the sense that we are paid for it). I would do nothing else in a week than prepare en epic campaign if five people paid me a liveable salary for this (but judging on today's job prereqs I would probably need a master in writing and at least a 300 page portfolio for that).

    The game didn't say anything about a two ton space walrus being a super ninja acrobat. It just made the character a super ninja acrobat, who happened to be a flipperey walrus with terrible fashon sense.
    Ah yes, the favorite response to bad campaigns. Design a character so utterly ridiculous, yet within the guidelines of the rules to just antagonize and infuriate the DM. I assume your intent of this idea was to highlight to roll with the ridiculous rather than to make fun of bad DMs by introducing obviously lore-breaking characters.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Batcathat's Avatar

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    Default Re: So that's what it feels to have a lame campaign? it's nowhere near as bad as i fe

    Quote Originally Posted by Spore View Post
    I feel the line has been drawn way too often, so apprentice DMs such as myself (who are willing to learn) are either abandoned in body (when players leave) or spirit (when they half-heartedly play while on their phone, or a single two sentence post in a week in PbP) when we are too just learning.

    We are people with day jobs too. And not every DM has writing their campaigns as their only hobby. We are video gamers too, we like card games, maybe we even do a bit of sports or art on the side. Ignoring the obvious overhyped voice actor-DM-elephant in the room, we are surely not professionals (in the sense that we are paid for it). I would do nothing else in a week than prepare en epic campaign if five people paid me a liveable salary for this (but judging on today's job prereqs I would probably need a master in writing and at least a 300 page portfolio for that).
    There is a lot of truth to that, but a lot of bad GM behavior expressed in this example doesn't really have anything to do with skill or preparation. The only thing necessary to not have Mary Sue DMPCs tagging along is to not have them and the only thing necessary to let players have some agency in the story is to let them do what they want (yes, an inexperienced GM forced to improvise because the party did something unexpected might not tell the best story, but I very much prefer it to a better story where I can't make any meaningful choices).

    That's not to say a railroady game can't be enjoyable, I like computer RPGs and even the most sandboxy of those would qualify as rather railroaded from a tabletop perspective.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Goblin

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    Default Re: So that's what it feels to have a lame campaign? it's nowhere near as bad as i fe

    Iíve played games that didnít feel like the game I signed up for, or which felt like my characterís tactical actions didnít matter because all of the enemies had no clear motivation and had whatever stats the DM wanted ó who also had a vague understanding of the rules he was winging. I donít remember if I was the first player to leave that table, but it dissolved quicklyÖ and half the table are now playing in the game Iím now running.

    I think the calculus on whether itís worth playing a bad game depends on whether there is travel time for commuting players, how many players are your close friends, and how much enjoyment you can wring out of it. Iíll also say that I have definitely run lacklustre games in the past and, FWIW listening to those highly-produced actual play podcasts has made me a better DM.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: So that's what it feels to have a lame campaign? it's nowhere near as bad as i fe

    Lame gaming can still be better than no gaming at all, because just plain gaming is good. Good gaming is even better, though, and outright bad gaming can be far worse, because you can feel like you wasted precious gaming time on something that wasn't even lame.
    Last edited by Jason; 2021-01-19 at 08:31 AM.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Imbalance's Avatar

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    Default Re: So that's what it feels to have a lame campaign? it's nowhere near as bad as i fe

    In the immortal words of the great philosopher:

    "See, you need, like, stuff that sucks to have stuff thatís cool."
    ~Butt-head

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    JNAProductions's Avatar

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    Default Re: So that's what it feels to have a lame campaign? it's nowhere near as bad as i fe

    Bad gaming is gaming where you're not having fun, or worse, are actively feeling bad about it.

    This is not that-you're having fun, even if it's not necessarily the fun you signed up for.

    Could the GM improve? Certainly.
    Could the game better? Definitely.

    But ultimately, so long as you're having a good time, enjoy yourself. Keep on having that good time.
    I have a LOT of Homebrew!

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  11. - Top - End - #11
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Telok's Avatar

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    Default Re: So that's what it feels to have a lame campaign? it's nowhere near as bad as i fe

    Quote Originally Posted by Spore View Post
    Ah yes, the favorite response to bad campaigns. Design a character so utterly ridiculous, yet within the guidelines of the rules to just antagonize and infuriate the DM. I assume your intent of this idea was to highlight to roll with the ridiculous rather than to make fun of bad DMs by introducing obviously lore-breaking characters.
    Weirdly enough, no. Pazio's Starfinder is very much "Guardians of the Galaxy via modded Pathfinder" and includes a large amout of disconnected fluff/mechanics. The race was: large, reach, 20' land, 30' swim, resist cold 5, hold breath x2. The fluff and fiction was a 2 ton space walrus with flippers instead of legs/feet. Everything else was just standard Operative class stuff, the swim speed just saved buying an armor mod and only came into play once.

    It was not the weirdest character in that game.
    Last edited by Telok; 2021-01-19 at 02:20 PM.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: So that's what it feels to have a lame campaign? it's nowhere near as bad as i fe

    Simply put, the fact that you can enjoy a bad game says more about you than it does about bad games. That is, not everyone enjoys B movies, not everyone enjoys cheap pizza and cheap beer. Similarly, not everyone can enjoy that particular type of bad game.

    Some people can. Yes, as you pointed out, it requires you to change your approach and expectations. But it also requires that to be something that you even *can* enjoy.

    In other words, you probably wouldn't appreciate going to a fancy restaurant and being served cold pizza. But you might be able to enjoy it at home - if you aren't lacrosse intolerant, gluten sensitive, or just don't enjoy cold pizza.

    So, saying that you got served cold pizza, and you're enjoying it says more about you than about cold pizza.

    Pass the cold pizza, but, personally, I'll pass on that kind of bad game.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2021-01-20 at 03:17 PM.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Troll in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

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    Default Re: So that's what it feels to have a lame campaign? it's nowhere near as bad as i fe

    Good people make all the difference.

    Bad DM but good person helps you enjoy the time. Even better, if you like the group you can keep it together and to other campaigns with other players taking 9n the mantle of DM. It's a good investment.

    I would say have fun and enjoy it for what it is, but it seems like unneeded advice. Glad you are having a good time.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: So that's what it feels to have a lame campaign? it's nowhere near as bad as i fe

    Reading back through, I think my post came off a bit more negative than I intended - which, given that I didn't intend it to come off as negative, but as neutral, means I should probably clarify.

    I like cold pizza - not as much as hot pizza, but I recognize it as food, and as an experience with the capacity for forming positive memories. From this, one can conclude some things about me, and that cold pizza is something that can be liked.

    However, one should not extrapolate from this that all food is enjoyable by all people. What particular subset of bad food - bland, burnt, soggy, stale - you enjoy or tolerate says more about you than about the food.

    What is interesting is what it takes to enjoy such food - or, well, games - and goes beyond just "expectations"into things like "8 kinds of fun".
    Last edited by Quertus; 2021-01-22 at 08:32 AM.

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