Friday, February 17, 2012

Is the DM equal to the players?

Is the Dungeon Master just another player?
The debate seems to be raging as 5E slowly rears its its all encompassing eye over gamerdom. The cries of players yelling for rules and controls over DMs seems to me like the cries of the French Revolution, "Off with his head"! Equality for all in an RPG cant be achieved. If the DM is equal to the players then you force one player to lose every fight. One players must always defere to the group. One player will never get to win. DMing like that will drive the few good DMs away.

For every good Dungeon Master there is probably 4 or 5 bad ones. The masses who post on WotC's boards seem to think that with the right set of rules they can control a bad DM and make a perfect game. Bad DMs are like unto a force of nature. No rule or system of controls can constrain the train wreck of a bad DM. I understand finding good DM's is hard but you can not fix a bad DM. The only thing you can do with a bad DM is leave the game.

I was originaly curious about 5E. But i come to realise. It can not encompass all past types of D&D. The differences between editions are too great. To keep the new edition players it will have to power creep. The old edition players dont want any change, which there will have to be to unify the editions. The dream is actualy the ravings of a madman.

5E wont work. It will only further splinter the player base.
The only one benefiting from a unified D&D all playing the same game is Wizards of the Coast.


  1. Other than Bad DMs per se, there are also many Good DMs believed to be Good but aren't... thus you have more Bad DMs, because having a good speech isn't a plus.

    Anyway, giving more power to players it's not a matter of winning or losing (because D&D is not such a thing) but a matter of equalizing the creative authority.

    DMs usually have control on the world, but often they have control also on player's actions: if a player wanna die like Boromir, in D&D (and other traditional games) he can't because of the rules.

    With the right rules you can just give the player a greater control on the outcome of his character's actions without railroading everything according to DM's personal taste (something even worst than so-called Bad DMs).

  2. Sorry to reply so late...

    Hamel i dont understand your first paragraph at all. Is English your first language?

    Your arguement seems more like a call for a rules light system. If a player who is mechanicaly dieing, wants to make a valant last stand trying to deffend his charges...thats called role playing. You dont need rules for that. You need a creative player and a DM with a sense of drama.

    From your statements you are making the same flawed arguement that with enough rules you can control a bad DM. (good luck with that)

    Lastly creative force in a D&D style game is not equal, and thats a design feature. The DM makes the world and everything in it. The players make characters and interact with that world.

    Railroading is a bad DM/adventure writer skill. Once again you cant make rules to stop this.

    Overall i suggest you try a rules light game. The extra freedom that comes from a lack of constraining rules might be what you really want.