Ask Angry time again! If you want to ask The Angry GM a question, send an e-mail to TheAngryGameMaster@gmail.com and put Ask Angry in the subject. Remember to tell me how to credit you. And be brief. Get to the point. I’m the wordy one.
Frank P asks:
How would you recommend that a DM deal with a player that continually plays in essence a clone of the same character over and over again regardless of what system you move to; and encourage them to try something new.
The best way for a GM to handle this situation is to wait until the player generates a new character. Then, take the character sheet out of his hands, rip it into pieces, throw the pieces on the ground, and jump up and down on them yelling “stop having fun wrong, stop having fun wrong, stop having fun wrong, stop having fun wrong.” And then, if there are any players still left in the room, generate a character for the player and say “you play this because I said so.”
Do you hear what I am saying?
This is a non-problem. But it is a very standard sort of non-problem that lots of GMs try to solve. It’s the problem of “comfort zone.” GMs have this idea that their job is to shove people, kicking and screaming out of their comfort zone “for their own.” GMs think that when players limit their experiences, they are missing out on all sorts of wonderful things and denying themselves all sorts of fun. But the truth is, some people just like to stay in their comfort zone. Some people like the familiar. They enjoy it. Those people often like to play the game just to relax and turn off their brain and do something familiar and easy. And there is nothing wrong with that. That’s why some people play MMOs or turn-based RPGs or whatever.
If the player is having fun and enjoys playing that character, leave them alone and let them play it. Or better yet, build games with that character in mind. It’s actually kind of nice for a GM to have some motherf$&%ing constancy to plan around. Eventually, the player may get bored and start branching out on their own. Eventually they won’t.
As a side note, the player may be trying to tell you change systems and games too often. Some people like to get into a character for the long haul. You may be denying the player a satisfying character arc if you change systems and campaigns frequently. And you might want to check to see if other players feel that way too.
Lord Dipeshyte asks:
Lord Angry, God King of Gaming,
I’m currently GMing my first ever campaign, and am currently three sessions into it. As you might expect, I fucked up here and there. Not so much with the story, but all the more with the mechanics. Everyone on my table had very little experience playing D&D, and even less actually DMing it. When I asked for advice from more experienced DMs, it boiled down to ‘Just homebrew it, man!’ which has led to me doing everything based on my feeling, from monster stats to loot to prices. Now, I can always change the stats of monsters, and the fact that this setting has a completely different monetezation system is something I can work with, but the loot is an issue. In the first session, I have given my players what turned out to be immensely powerful items. I do not wish to turn my game into an arms race, but I -do- want to correct my mistake and make my PC’s a bit less OP. What do I do?
You may credit me as ‘Lord Dipeshyte’. I am not kidding.
I left that last part in just so everyone would know I wasn’t making fun of Messer Dipeshyte.
First of all, yes, I totally expect every GM who isn’t me to f$&% up their first campaign. No one is good at something the first time they do it. I’d be shocked if someone DIDN’T f$&% up something. I would also find them and eat their heart so that (a) I would gain their strength and (b) so they would never try to challenge me for the title of best damned GM in existence.
I’m also going to say those other GMs gave you s$&% advice. Stop listening to people who aren’t me. Remember, everything is easy to an experienced GM and most GMs are too dumb to realize that. ‘Just homebrew it’ is TERRIBLE advice for a first-time GM. But, okay, how do you fix it?
Here’s the thing: there are some mistakes that are really HARD to fix because they persist from game to game. Magical items, skills, feats, powers, and spells; basically, anything you GIVE to a character sticks around and keeps f$&%ing things up. And any way you try to fix it other than the honest way is a screwjob.
Now, I don’t f$&% anything up ever. But some of my best friends are f$&%-ups. And from watching them, I have determined what I would do if I ever f$&%ed up anything like that, which I will never have to do because I never f$&% up and I’m not totally speaking from experience right now because I never certainly ended up giving out some really overpowered blessings and powers in a religious-crusader type game because they seemed like really cool story ideas and only later did I realize how utterly broken they made everything. That never happened to me. Which is fortunate. Because a really awesome campaign would have been at risk of being completely broken and ruined.
What I would do (hypothetically) is admit flat-out that I f$&%ed up. I f$&%ed up big. And the only solution is to remove the f$&% up OR start over. Because the campaign was going to rapidly spiral out of control if I didn’t take a hand in fixing it. And then I would just retcon the stuff. I might (hypothetically) swap out the offending powers or gear or spells or whatever for something similar but far more balanced. Or give some sort of consolation gift.
Now, since you are a new GM and I assume your players know that, you should have no problem saying exactly that. And apologizing. And fixing it.
Now, here’s the thing. I always advise new GMs to run a one-shot or short adventure as their first game. No matter what, no matter how cool, you end the thing in a session or two and then start over. And I advise that for exactly this reason. Because new GMs are going to f$&% things up and that mandates that you clean the slate once you get the big f$&% ups out of the way.
And, if it’s possible, my advice to you would be: start over. If that’s at all possible. Start a new game. And before you start tweaking all the stuff in the setting, use that stuff first so that you understand why it’s there and what it effects. Changing the value and availability of various items seems cool, but that sort of thing can ripple through the game, as you’re now discovering. A rock dropped into pond can grow into a tidal wave after a few miles or some s$&% analogy like that. So, if you can manage it, scrap it and start over. Homebrew a little less and get to know why D&D works the way it does before you make big sweeping changes. Maybe target a mini-campaign. Agree to play a simple D&D game for three months by the book. And then revisit building your own game and world. Get the players to buy-in to that plan.
Otherwise, own the mistake, confess it, and fix it through the magic of retcon.