I have been playing D&D 5e for a number of months now, just with a group of friends of varying experience, and I'm running into problems whenever one of us DMs. I suppose you could say that I like powergaming, and because of it, the DM feels he needs to do stuff like the following to keep me in check.

Here's are some examples from our first session (hopefully of many):

  1. We are making our characters.

    Me (Power Freak): "Are we rolling for our stats? or using the point/buy system?"

    DM: "You're welcome to roll, but you're not allowed to keep anything above 16."

    Me: "What's the point of rolling then?"

    DM: *shrug*

  2. Our party has two players with the ability to provide food if the land provides.

    Using our rations is the only way to feed our party, and we're only allowed to forage when we're setting down for the night.

    If we do find anything, we can't cook it immediately, instead it has to be stored for a day to 'turn into rations.'

  3. I made a level 1 rogue.

    Our group had just bought cloaks that when worn, make everyone have disadvantage on perception checks made against us.

    We are in a combat with 6 goblins and a goblin boss.

    Me: "I'm going to sneak away from the group a ways to stealth."

    Rolls a 16 + 7.

    DM: "The goblins never knew you were there."

    Other PCs take their turns.

    Me: "I'm going to go in for a sneak attack with my dagger on the big guy."

    Rolls a 6 + 3.

    DM: "Before you hit, the big goblin reaches out and grabs one of his minions, using him as a shield."

    Me: "How did he know I was there?"

    DM: "He doesn't have to, it's a game mechanic."

Unfortunately, with this being the fourth or fifth time we've butted heads, I tune out and stop listening to the DM, and on my next time I ditch the party. (I am fully aware that I'm prideful and a sore loser, but I can only take so much.)

After the combat I looked up the ruling on the boss goblin, where it states that the boss needs to see the attacker, but since the combat is over, it's too late.

So, my question is, What should I do to eliminate these problems since I disagree with the DM's rulings?

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    \$\begingroup\$ To me the problem of this question is that apparently you already "solved" the problem (by leaving), and so your question doesn't seem relevant anymore. Is there something I am missing? \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme Jul 19 '17 at 7:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ because I don't want to walk out, I have in fact re-joined, and things are going well so far, I wouldn't mind if this question were closed. \$\endgroup\$ – Spencer Cornwall Jul 21 '17 at 16:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your last comment should be part of the question \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme Jul 24 '17 at 8:03

Straight answer: Find a DM that's more compatible with your playstyle.

When I first started playing D&D, there was a player in our group who would butt heads with our DM in a similar way. This being 3.5e, the player would make super powerful optimized characters, and the DM would struggle to reign him in. This DM was more flexible with the rules, and was generally less interested in technicalities. This conflict led to situations exactly like the one you describe, down to the player petulantly sitting out during sessions.

Later, as our group evolved, we switched to a different DM. Unlike the first DM, this second one welcomed powergaming, and even encouraged it. The kind of game we played was far more focused on the rules and the maximization of combat power, and that was reflected in the plot of our campaign and the encounters we faced. As you can imagine, the powergaming player described above thrived in that situation.

Basically, you're incompatible with your DM, as far as D&D playstyle goes.

Frame Challenge: Change your thinking about the game.

As time passed, that player became less focused on powergaming and more interested in role-playing an interesting character. As we've moved through more DMs, he eventually explicitly gave up powergaming.

Now, some of your DM's rulings seem pretty weird (especially example 2), but the DM has final say over everything in the game, and can make rules as they see fit. If something really does bother you, you can bring it up with your DM, but repeatedly butting heads with your DM is not very productive, as you show. Additionally, I have yet to see a DM (myself included) that doesn't make strange rulings on the fly that don't stand up to later scrutiny.

Still, I'd suggest that you consider the viewpoint that the game is less a jumble of rules and more of a mutual social experience. Weird things will happen, and things will inevitably seem unfair to you, but if you focus more on the fun at the table and let go of specific rules squabbles, then you will have a smoother experience. Of course, this requires buy-in from the DM, and is subject to the social dynamics of your table, which we can't really address here.


Avoiding powergaming is nearly impossible unless you apply restrictions to the game, or manage to convince them not too. I'm going to on an example by example basis.

Ex 1: The way to avoid that in this case is to simply use the point based system.

Ex 2: That's just an odd rule, I don't believe that is anywhere in the PHB or DMG.

Ex 3: This isn't power gaming but an example of a bad DM. They should have instead related it to your stealth. For instance, the goblin hears you coming and dodges out of the way.

To fix these problems, talk to the group, explain your problems and how you think you can fix them. If they are open to trying to make the experience more fun for you and your friends, then great! If not, it's up to you what to do then.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Ex 2 was a house-rule, and talking with this DM led to an argument that ended with "Because the DM said so." Which is why I left the party. \$\endgroup\$ – Spencer Cornwall Jul 18 '17 at 16:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ I refuse to accept defeat so easily \$\endgroup\$ – Spencer Cornwall Jul 18 '17 at 16:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BigboBiggins It's not permitted to use posts on this site to insult anyone, including non-site-members. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 18 '17 at 17:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie What insult? Criticizing a DM's bad habits (poorly designed house rules, forgetting game mechanics, and unfair/inconsistent rule enforcement) is a valid complaint. \$\endgroup\$ – MikeQ Jul 18 '17 at 21:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MikeQ The ones that were in comments deleted for name-calling. No worries, we don't leave that sort of thing around after asking for it to be avoided. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 19 '17 at 5:11

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