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I've started playing my first D&D game. The group I'm playing with wants me to be the GM, but since I've never played D&D before this I wanted to play as a normal player first.

There was one group member who I hadn't met until we started up a new game and he is the current GM. I don't know him outside of the group--we've never talked or anything before-- but I've seen him at a couple of the Starcraft competitions I go to. At those events, I distinctly remember him being a poor sport, but generally speaking most people just teased him or called him a noob and basically made fun of him for essentially sucking at Starcraft. I've never had extended talks with him since he usually loses in the first round, then makes a huge fuss and leaves. It seemed like he didn't remember me, though. When I was invited to join the group, I asked if we could play a gm-less game so I could get accustomed to playing, and I recall that one of the members in the group said he was "uninterested in noob games", but I didn't know it was the same guy from the Starcraft conventions. We actually stopped playing gm-less games because he was annoyed that the group wasn't starting up a new D&D game.

So we started a new game a week ago. We can meet four times a week (basically Fri. Sat. Sun. and Mon.) but we usually do two per week. But he wanted to meet all four days. The group disagreed and he got upset, so they made him GM to appease him. I can't say whether or not he's "bad", but he's certainly not fun-- he gets upset if I ask questions, which I... sort of have to considering I'm not 100% familiar with the game. He also has a character that has more knowledge than the character should. Like, the character knows if something's been booby trapped when he couldn't possibly know that. If someone points it out, sometimes he corrects it and other times he says "He knows xxyy from prior experiences" which doesn't always make sense. I mean, if we ran across a locked door and tried to open it and it turned out to be booby trapped, would that prevent us from opening other locked doors? Probably not. In any case, he tantrums if someone says he's not being fair, or that he should re-roll, or that his excuse doesn't work for the situation at hand.

Some people in the group are obviously pissed off, but they aren't doing anything. Others aren't doing anything and don't seem pissed off. I'm really, really pissed off at the GM for some sexist remarks he made towards me (that the whole group got pissed off about, but he said he was joking) and I don't want to play with him anymore. I'd prefer playing with the group without him, but he works with a couple of the group's members and they say they don't want to go behind his back, but he would definitely invite himself to games if they told him they were playing a game without him. They say to just tolerate it and that the game will be over soon. From what I've seen at the Starcraft tournaments, though, I can't say I'm particularly enthralled with the idea of tolerating it. I want the group to get together and address his temper tantrums so that we can play normally, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea seeing as I'm the new addition to the group... plus everyone else is just letting it happen. I don't want to ruin whatever camaraderie they have with this guy, but at the same time I don't really want to play with this guy and I'd rather quit if we're all just going to "tolerate" him.

As a new player, should I say/do something? Or should I just tolerate his behavior?

EDIT: Thanks for all your answers! Our group got together yesterday (except for the current GM, who was invited but just... never showed up) to talk. Since a few people were sort of skeptical about not playing with him, we ended up splitting into two groups, but the group I'm in now is willing to continue playing with the others provided they don't bring angry Starcraft guy along with them. And I'll be GM for the first game that my new group is playing!

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I'm not posting this as an answer because I'm still waiting for my first campaign to start so I'm inexperienced. However if you don't think you're going to have fun then I'd advise you not to play. This is a game for fun after all, so you shouldn't put up with disrespect. Otherwise your feelings towards playing the game may be marred by this one player. Therefore I suggest that you don't play with this particular person. –  SolidusVerum May 5 at 21:54
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You definitely should try Gming. There is no direct relation between being an experienced player and being a good GM. Being new could even mean being better because having a new eye, being able to propose new things that a player with 10 years of practice would not even think about.. Most GM do more than their work, but what you merely need to do is choose the setting, the scenario and what you allow or disallow in your game, and you can even play a prebuilt campaign. For everything else, take advice from experienced players and it will work out –  Epeedefeu May 6 at 8:40
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A GM can be bad, a GM can "have a PC", but if he has both flaws, RUN! A bad GM can be mitigated sometimes, and a GM-PC can be tolerated if the GM is good, but a bad GM with his own PC is a recipe for absolute and unrecoverable disaster. Seriously, just run! –  Lohoris May 6 at 10:29
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@SolidusVerum: Your comment would make a fine answer as the 12+ attest. –  Sardathrion May 6 at 13:36
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@Lohoris here is absolutely right. I think only a really good GM can have a PC and not ruin the game. If you're going to keep playing, you should suggest he drops the PC. But I wouldn't suggest you to play with that kind of people. He's booby trapped, I know it for prior experience :P –  Mauricio Pasquier Juan May 8 at 4:04

8 Answers 8

up vote 51 down vote accepted

You're not having fun.

Since the entire point of role-playing is to have fun, you need to do something about it. In particular, it sounds like the character he's playing (called a GMPC) is seriously distracting him from his GM task of running a fun story for the other players at the table.

You have several options, depending on whether you're willing to accept him as a GM as long as he changes, or if you can accept him as a part of the group as long as he isn't GMing:

  1. Talk to the GM about his behavior. Try to be non-confrontational, and don't have this conversation in front of the group; that will just make him defensive and won't accomplish anything. Try persuading him to not bring a character along with the group; he's GMing, not playing.
  2. Sit out the current game, until the GM is done. There's no need for you to continue playing a game you dislike, so take a break until he's done running the game. Then join the next game, that someone else in the group will run.
  3. Take over GMing duties, with the support of the rest of the group. Since they already asked you to be the GM, they'll almost certainly be willing to let you run the game. Talk to the other players about this individually before you try this; if you have enough support, you'll be able to usurp his position as GM, and start an entirely different game. Perhaps the current GM will be a better player than they are a GM. And look on the bright side: you now have some fantastic examples of how not to GM, which will make you much better at this new role! You can also combine this with #2 above: sit out the game until it's over, then be the next GM. (Warning: given what you've described of his personality, the current GM is unlikely to take this well.)
  4. Start a separate gaming group, inviting whoever is willing to play without the problem GM. If some people are unwilling to play with the new group because they don't want to exclude the current GM, then you'll need to exclude them as well. Recruit a few other players from elsewhere if you need to.
  5. Find a new gaming group. If all else fails, just don't play with this group at all. If they're willing to play with someone they dislike, and you can't persuade them to kick out a problem GM, that's their problem. It doesn't have to be your problem.

Note that none of these options include playing a game you dislike with a GM who you hate. He isn't going to improve on his own, unless you talk him into changing or encourage the group to leave him behind.

On a slight tangent, see the Geek Social Fallacies. It sounds like some of the members of the gaming group are suffering from GSF #1: "Don't exclude anyone" and GSF #5: "Failing to invite someone is a deliberate snub."

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+1 for GSFs, so many, many gaming tables have been ruined by them. –  Joshua Aslan Smith May 6 at 1:07
    
Thank you for the GSF! I hadn't seen it before this. I'm skeptical about talking to the GM because he really, really doesn't take criticism well from people as far as I can tell. After looking at the GSF I think that he's probably suffering from GSF #2. Plus he really seems to dislike me... I think I might end up trying to create a new group. It sort of makes me feel like I'm breaking up some weirdly functional being by doing that, though. –  Ice-9 May 6 at 17:42
    
So, is anyone but me getting a Bit Defender warning about Geek Social Fallacies link? (marked as website containing dangeround malware) –  Maurycy Zarzycki May 7 at 11:06
    
@MaurycyZarzycki, I'm not seeing that warning, but I'm using Avast and Windows Defender only (on different computers). It might just be a bad advertiser; there's an ad on the page. –  Paul Marshall May 7 at 17:30
    
+1 The whole point is to have fun, is it not? I have personally been advised several times to avoid a certain group because the GM is far too strict on the game rules (not so much enforcing, but nerfing character growth and activity), forcing the game to move incredibly slowly. As a result, 3 new groups have been created with (IMO) much better games. –  Ben May 8 at 2:50

D&D groups always have intereseting dynamics and there is usually one member with a strong personality or a need for control complex that can and will ruin every game they join if the group lets him. The problem is that usually these groups contain people that have been "nerds" and beat down thier whole life and they are afriad of confrontation. It makes it really easy for someone like your GM to control this group.

You do have some good options as been posted above, just be aware of the common mentality of the group and be careful that when you do confront this person you have good facts and experiences to draw on. It sounds like from your experience above that he will pull the sexist card if you press him and just understand he is a bully and used to getting his way in these type of groups.

One more point, it sounds like you are of the opposite sex of the people you play with. If your group is anything like the other D&D groups I have played with, a female in the group is worth much more than an annoying crappy GM regardless of the friendships already in the group.

Also nobody should ever play and GM at the same time. That is silly. Thats like the author of the book reading it and pretending to be surprised when unexpected stuff happens.

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Where do you get the impression of the asker's gender? –  SevenSidedDie May 7 at 17:23
    
@SevenSidedDie It says, "I'm really, really pissed off at the GM for some sexist remarks he made towards me..." –  Hey I Can Chan May 7 at 17:26
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@HeyICanChan I'd be pissed off about sexist remarks make to me as well, that doesn't imply I'm the opposite gender. If the OP had said "about", then maybe. Point is, anger about sexism isn't limited to "lady-types", and it's ironically a slight (very slight) bit of sexism to assume so. :) –  SevenSidedDie May 7 at 17:33
    
@SevenSidedDie O, I guessed your point. :-) The assumption's not a stretch, though. Throwing a spear toward somebody is different from throwing a spear to somebody, for example. –  Hey I Can Chan May 7 at 17:41
    
@HeyICanChan Yeah, but it's more akin to handing something disgusting to someone, which can be disgusting because it's personally disgusting or can be disgusting because it's a broadly-disgusting thing. –  SevenSidedDie May 7 at 17:57

If I were in the same situation:

Take the GM gig, create a whole ream of random charts in word with different dice rolls and lots of death results. Make all the players role for undisclosed reasons at regular intervals - (a good GM does this anyway). Ten minutes into the game produce a chart that matches his role with the result '-1000000 HP damage' and tell him something believable just killed him. He can stay at the table but he better be quiet. Do this at the start of the every game you GM with the group.

He won't come back.

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Kinda passive-aggressive, no? –  SevenSidedDie May 7 at 15:20

I'd say you have two choice to make: 1) will you tolerate playing in a game that this guy runs. 2) can you tolerate socializing with him on a regular basis.

The first choice will determine whether or not to bail on his games, the second on whether or not you even stay with the group at all. You brought up his bad behavior to the group and they decided to keep him.

It is possible to have acquaintances that you wouldn't normally associate with, but be brought together by a shared activity. With this guy it sounds as though you dislike him, and you don't enjoy gaming with him. My personal suggestion would be that you find a new group. You mentioned that some of the other players are tired of that guy's behavior too, maybe they will come with you.

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Honestly playing a character and GMing at the same time is a bad idea. I did it myself as a new GM and I ended up retiring the character. I've never seen it work well and I don't know any experienced GMs that do it (although no doubt some do exist, after all there is no one right way to run a roleplaying game!).

Note that a GM PC is different from an NPC. NPCs are there to support and enhance the players' characters. GM PCs on the other hand are competing for the limelight while having an actual or perceived advantage in terms of knowledge. If a GM PC detects a trap where was the challenge, you knew it was there. If a GM PC falls in a trap then he did it deliberately, etc. All elements of the unknown are gone.

If you want to sell it to him in a way that will let him save face tell him that his character is too effective, the rest of you just feel like you can't contribute. That does just risk him offering to "stay in the background" for a few adventures though without actually making any changes.

If you do decide to GM then I recommend you make sure you've read the Players Handbook and GM guide. I'd also recommend picking a high quality published module to run first as while designing your own encounter is a lot of fun it does require a certain level of skill.

If you do allow this guy to play then be prepared for trouble. He may be fine but he may also try to undermine you either subtly behind your back or overtly. For example picking holes in rules calls, questioning decisions, arguing about whether monster X would do Y.

In all cases just be firm. It's your game, your rules. If you decide that monster X does do Y then that's because those monsters in your game do that. For complex rules questions a handy trick is to make a ruling on the spot and say it's not final, you'll make a decision after the game but for now that's what applies. Just don't get bogged down in technical discussions :)

Above all though have fun, and remember that it's a hobby and everyone playing should be having a good time :)

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It can be difficult to separate your GM knowledge from your GMPC's knowledge - I find that it takes strict mental discipline. As a GM, I must constantly ask myself, "Would this character know that?", and roll the dice like everyone else when required. It isn't necessarily a bad idea for everyone, just bad for those who can't bring themselves to apply the necessary discipline. It sounds like the GM in this question isn't able to do that. –  Monty Wild May 6 at 23:09
    
@MontyWild It's not just about the reality of the situation, it's the perception. Even if you strictly apply separation it's very easy for players to start thinking you aren't. Additionally as I already mentioned you get issues. If your character blunders into a shrieker mushroom and alerts the goblin horde to the parties presence then everyone at the table knows that you knew the mushroom was there. They are left thinking "did he deliberately do that to sabotage us?". Conversely if you never blunder into the mushroom and your character never makes mistakes that's just as bad the other way. –  Tim B May 7 at 8:21
    
Yes, perception is important. That's why I said "Roll the dice..." In a situation similar to the one you mention, I'd have the PCs roll to see if they blundered into the mushroom, and if they didn't (or the GMPC was the only one in a position to blunder into it), I'd then say "That was to see if any of you blundered into a shrieker mushroom none of you haven't seen yet, now I'll roll for <GMPC name>" In fact, my "GMPCs" are typically in supporting roles, and on the rare occasion that they must take a leading role due to their abilities, I typically hand them off to a player. –  Monty Wild May 7 at 22:21

The short answer is that you should do something. It is a game for fun, not for misery, and this GM seems not only a bad GM but also not a very nice person (to say the least). As such, I would suggest that you won't play with him. There are far better GMs out there, and you can be a GM too, which means that there's a sea of possibilities to continue enjoying the hobby without having to deal with this person. But maybe you don't have a different group, or just don't want to play without your friends, or maybe you're just a little bit shy or afraid of being a GM yourself. For those matters, there are a few solutions:

Talk with your GM

Talk with him privately, and just tell him about the problems that you have with his game. Tell it politely, and before or preferably after the session, and use examples from the session(s). It may seem odd, but through conversations alone he can improve quite a lot. Maybe he just didn't understand till this conversation what were the problems with what he did, or maybe he just was afraid to look. Help him to help himself and it will help you too.

Leave the game

Just stop coming to the game sessions until they switch GMs. It is a really drastic move, but dire situations call for dire routes of action. This will help you in a bunch of ways. Firstly, you won't come back from the session angry or tired of him or whatever, you won't have to think about him, to deal with him, you will be free. Secondly, it is a step that says quite clearly that you don't want to play with this GM, that what he does is quite intolerable and that it is time to stop. Thirdly, it will lead to some questions being asked and will spark a conversation that will hopefully change things for the best.

Talk with your group

Talk with them; tell them that you feel like they've dumped you to deal with this GM alone. It seems t=like they too have some problems with him, so ask them to help you deal with the problems of all of you, the entire group. "It will help you too, after all", you should say, "you want to enjoy the game as much as I do…"

Start a new group without this GM

Maybe you just need to have a group without him, but want the other players with you. Start another group without him, and if you need- be the GM. You know by now how not to GM, so you're in a far better position that you would expect. If some of the people in your group don't want to leave him behind, there are other friends that you can bring to replace them. Use that.

Buy him GMing book

It may seem odd, but giving him a GMing book, or sending him some articles or blog posts about GMing can help you quite a lot. It is a really nice way to give critique ("here, you have a few problems and I wanted to help you correct those mistakes, help you to fix those problems"). Present it nicely, and state that it comes from kindness, and it can do miracles. "A good GM always looks to improve", say to him, "and this may just be the help you need".

Suggest that you will GM a one shot and he will be a player

If you will GM a good enough session, he will enjoy the freedom of being a player, and will stay a player, thus making you the new group's GM. When you will be the GM, it will be much better for you to enjoy, and far better for the rest of the group: A win-win situation.

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If you are sure that your GM is annoying more of the other players than just yourself, then someone needs to do something about it, and if that has to be you, then so be it. Despite your newness to D&D, you have as much right to enjoy yourself as anyone else.

It appears that the GM's GMPC is causing him problems - he's thinking like a player, not like a GM. If you can get the cooperation of your fellow players, you could - in game - have your characters just leave this GMPC behind. Alternatively, your characters could collectively kill this GMPC - "He knows too much - he must be working for the enemy!". Any inappropriate character knowledge (or abilities) from a GMPC could be handled this way - how else would a character gain such knowledge unless he was not what he said he was? If it gets down to a fight with this GMPC, insist on open die rolls and strictly-by-the-book combat. This way, you could teach your GM that his behavior is making you distrust his GMPCs that "don't act right", without totally ostracizing him. There is also a small chance that (if this GM is actually more subtle than your description of him suggests) this assessment of his GMPC is correct - the GM character is working for your characters' enemies.

I would suggest that if your GM isn't willing to listen, or won't change his ways, then play without him - offer to be the GM yourself if there is no other way. Your current GM may be an entirely different player when he's not the GM - he won't be able to use inside knowledge to spoil things. If he is still unpleasant to play with, as GM, you'd be within your rights to ask him to leave.

If the current GM is the type to gatecrash as you say, then a possibility is to play in a place that you control (such as your house, if you trust the other players enough), and if he shows up uninvited, you are within your rights to tell him to go away, and his friends have an out: "Sorry, it was the GM's house, it wasn't my place to invite you. If it was my place, you'd have been welcome to come." If he throws a tantrum at them for going somewhere he can't go, then he's not the sort of friend that they should have either.

If all else fails, use his own tactics against him - calmly (so that you don't alienate anyone else) make it clear to him and everyone else that his behavior has made the experience unpleasant for you, that you'd be willing to play with any of the others, just not him, tell them that you'd like to know when there will be a game that doesn't include this individual, and leave.

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+1 for "He knows too much - he must be working for the enemy!" –  starsplusplus May 6 at 10:07

If you have issues, the sooner you make your issues known, the better.

So, if the player is having an issue with a new GM, yes, they should be telling the new GM.

And a novice GM should be listening to his players. Different groups have different needs and likes; therefore the GM needs to listen; but, by the same token, if one doesn't say anything, the GM has no feedback to modify their own behavior to fit the group and/or rules.

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