Ask the Game Master: My players yelled at me. What should I do?

Got a gaming question? Ask the Game Master to make a ruling, provide advice or referee your gaming troubles. Send your questions to critforbrains@gmail.com. This week, we’re talking absent players and those board games you never seem to play.


I’m running a D&D game and managed to pull a TPK. My players went nuts.

They started yelling, and they haven’t stopped complaining ever since. I gave them a few options to continue the campaign including to be resurrected by a god, each of them with some sort of deficit or flaw from the resurrection. I also offered them to roll new characters and resume the campaign.

They’ve refused all of those options, and they said my game is too hard.

I don’t run a draconian or sadistic campaign. There’s moderate challenge and I expect my players to be smart about how they play. But I guess they don’t really want a challenge. They want things easy, the game to be brimming with treasure and magic items and everything to go their way. In short, they want me to restore their characters and continue on down the story.

What should I do?

You have a few options.

Chief among them: Drop the players and find a new group. Seriously. Being a DM entails a lot of work. If these guys can’t respect the fact that you’ve poured a lot of time into this, then they’re not worth playing with.

If staying with this group is your only option for continuing to game, maybe you ought to step down from being DM. If they’re that adamant about not playing your game, let them play the game they want with someone else at the helm.

Here’s your other option: Give them another way to stay in the game and keep their characters. But their characters shouldn’t just wake up the day after the TPK with a mild headache. Maybe the bad guys they fought captured them and took them as prisoners, and they no longer have their equipment (including weapons and armor). Maybe a powerful wizard happened upon them and used resurrection spells to revive them, and he considers the characters indebted to him (I imagine the wizard will have sinister intentions). Maybe the bad guys mistakenly left them for dead, and they’ll have to face a more prepared enemy (the same encounter as before, but a little harder).

But here’s what you absolutely have to do: You need to discuss with them exactly what everyone wants out of playing D&D.

Some people want tough, methodically thought-out encounters. Some people want to breeze through everything and have a few beers as they play. Some people want lots of combat. Some people want lots of roleplay. So talk. Explain that you want to present them with a campaign that’s fun and at least a little challenging because there’s no feeling of accomplishment if everything comes easy.

Good luck.


A guy at my table plays a rogue with a really, really high stealth modifier. That’s all fine, but in combat, he seems to think he can roll a stealth check to hide no matter where he’s standing.

I think he has to have something to hide behind.

Who is right?

You are. Take a bow! Nicely done.

There are a couple exceptions (we’ll get to those shortly), but generally speaking, he has to have something to hide behind.

If you’re playing D&D 5th edition, the rules explicitly state, “You can’t hide from a creature that can see you.” So if you’re standing in the middle of a clearing, you can’t hide there.

If you’re playing Pathfinder, the rules similarly state, “If people are observing you using any of their senses (but typically sight), you can’t use stealth.” So same deal.

You need something under which to take cover or somehow conceal themselves.

But that all changes if he has the hide in plain sight ability, which exists in one form or another in Pathfinder or D&D.

In 5e, it’s a 10th level ranger class feature, and he can use it to hide by pressing himself up against a solid surface. He also gets a +10 to the check if he doesn’t move. So he’s hidden as long as he doesn’t go anywhere.

In Pathfinder, it’s an advanced rogue talent. The rogue can pick a terrain and can use stealth to hide in that terrain even while being observed. So in that case, he can hide wherever he’s standing if he’s on his favored terrain.

 

 

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