Friday, August 13, 2010

Screw the Box!

Ravi here, with a story that my sister and brother-in-law LOVE. Ehehehe, this is a good one.

See, at one point or another, you're going to run into a DM that either hates the players in general, hates female players, or just hates you or is on a powertrip and wants to drill home "I'm the DM so my rule is law", which is true and understandable. If the laws are fair. Otherwise, as with a tyrant king, there will be a revolt. And it will not be pretty. You know, the guy who won't let you do anything, but tries to pigeonhole you into a place where you're practically just a useless observer. If you haven't been there, trust me, you will (might, not necessarily) be eventually. A little outside-the-box thinking will help you avoid having to throw up your hands and quit, and will show everyone else that you mean to roll with the best. *rimshot*

About a year ago, I was desperately searching for a new group. I didn't have anyone to play with In person. We were playing over video chat, and I REALLY wanted to play a game. Well, lo and behold, the guy who sat next to me in one of my classes had a character sheet sticking out of his folder. I pointed to the sheet and asked him, "Is there a group on campus that would let me in?"

Like most guys, he was a bit shocked, because a girl was asking him this question, then he proceeded to inform me that, yes, his group was going to be starting a game next week and I'd be welcome to join. I followed him after class to meet the DM and listen to any house rules and such. The DM started with telling me there were no house rules, but as I started to ask what the other people were playing and what I was allowed to play, I started to get the idea that this guy was a total edited to keep the rating Thank you, Ravi.

I prefer physical, straightforward characters. Ranger, Beast Heart Adept, Fighter, Barbarian, these classes make sense to me, and the party only had one hitter and one tank (it was an eight or nine person group), so I figured another hitter would be okay. I was immediately told that, no, I could not be a hitter, I had to be a caster. Okay, fine. I asked if I could be a dread necromancer, which was met with "no necromancy in the campaign." Okay, that's a universal rule, I can live with that. I asked if my caster could be a lich, to which I was initially told no, only good-aligned characters in the campaign. Well, we have a few evil aligned characters in the group, but okay, no big deal. When I asked him about good liches, the DM told me that was acceptable if I could make a convincing backstory for it, but he doubted that I could. Around here, I started to get irritated. I asked what starting gold and items were. I was told 200k starting gold. For a level 21 character. For those of you less familiar with the game, a level 21 character is supposed to start with OVER ONE MILLION GOLD The starting gold for a character is meant to cover everything they could have gained while in an adventure with normal treasure. A level 21 character starts with 1 million gold because they have been doing this a long time and would have gear, weapons, and armor strong enough to handle combats that could threaten them. 200k starting gold is enough to outfit a level 12-14 character. The DM either intended to not give them any form of threatening combat, or kill them all in the first game. At this point, I'm starting to realize, this guy is either a phenomenal jerk or he really doesn't want me in his campaign.

Nevertheless, I was determined. I plopped down in front of my computer and consulted with a few friends who knew what they were doing. I pulled out Libris Mortis, and decided that the Evening Glory diety would be a good starting point for my backstory. Indeah's husband who has been playing since before 3.0 and has almost encyclopedic knowledge of the game pointed out to me that Malconvoker was an excellent class for what I wanted to do. Finally, a couple of us put our heads together and figured out the gold issue.

So, I had a good lich Malconvoker who had become a lich because she and a Shiradi (read: beefy elf angel, immortal and all that jazz) fell in love and he was terrified of losing her after a close call. The process of becoming a lich fulfilled Evening Glory's ideals of eternal life through undeath, and Malconvokers are summoners... they are good summoners that summon evil creatures then bluff them into fighting for the good guys. In short, I could do everything the evil guys could now.

But, this little adventure into getting around obstacles gets better. To solve the money problem, we simply bought fourteen scrolls of gate. In short, I could summon two genie-type creatures, each of which could grant me 3 wishes. For each scroll. And while there's no wishing for more wishes, you can always wish for more scrolls of gate. INFINITE WISHES! It's a good thing this was for another game. Ravi would spend all the wishes on beer.

Finally, Indeah's husband decided to do a fun thing for me. He made the stats for my character's supposed lover. Basically, it was a 40+ hit dice creature that could ruin any boss the DM could possibly throw at us and completely rules-legal. I could summon him at any time using the scrolls of gate, and, even though a named creature does not have to pass through a gate, he had no reason not to because he begged my character to become undead and therefore immortal in the first place. It was beastly, and its challenge rating was listed simply as "oh god what."

After we had had our fun, I turned in a copy of my character sheet as well as the Shiradi's sheet and a list of my possessions. After reading "one set of clothes, one phylactery, fourteen scrolls of gate," the DM actually called the first player I'd been introduced to, begging him to let me know that I would be given 750k extra starting gold if I removed the scrolls from my inventory. I informed them that I liked my current setup better, and asked if he'd read my backstory yet. The group received an email a few days later saying that the game had been called off.

I couldn't game with that group anymore, but, after being treated the way I was, I really didn't want to. Never let yourself get pushed around by a bully DM. D&D is a game, you're supposed to have fun. If the DM is making it impossible to enjoy, then it's not worth your time. Besides, I had proven a point: girls can still be as beastly as the guys, even with obnoxious restrictions. Granted, I had a little help... which I am eternally grateful for... but I was rather pleased with the outcome.

Happy rolling.

1 comment:

  1. This story’s fun factor is hellacious if you were directly involved in it (not for the turbo-nerd trying to suck all the fun out of his game before it even began, though). It also provides a good excuse to share a DMing tip.

    Even if you're not the kind of DM who lets their players get away with too much (shut up. I'm usually laughing too hard to stop them), try to avoid telling your players "no". It's never a good idea to let them get anything they want at any time, but flatly denying them the ability to explore the game that YOU invited them to play isn't a very nice thing to do and can breed resentment and disinterest. If they want something that's powerful enough to unbalance your campaign as it is, give it to them in an incomplete state and make them work to attain their goal over time. This is a great way to add extra plot or subplot content to a campaign, and if you do it neatly enough even a blatant sidequest can become fun and memorable. If they want to create a custom-made magical item or a whole new character option - a new prestige class in D&D 3.5, for example - sit down and work with them on it so that you can lend your expertise to their efforts (and subtly steer the creative process so that things don't get out of hand). There is no better way to increase your players' enjoyment in a game than to get them involved, and conversely the best way to make sure that things head South in a hurry is to cut them out of any decision-making. It's not a good idea to railroad your players' characters along an unbending plot arc, so don't railroad the players themselves with an unbending, stagnant ruleset.

    Even in spite of your best efforts to avoid trouble, there is the occasional situation where something should just not be allowed to happen. As the DM, you're going to be expected to make some tough calls, so remember that you are the final authority in these matters. However, if you're a GOOD DM, you're unlikely to run into a situation similar to the one that Ravi and I inflicted on the bad DM mentioned in this story; not because the player CAN'T use the rules to (figuratively speaking) flip over the table and set it on fire, but because they don't WANT to.

    As an accessory to this tip, it's important to remember to never ever play chicken with someone who's got a better knowledge of the game than you do. Rocks will fall, and your campaign will die.