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I play AD&D 2e and we rotate DM's every few months. Each one runs a different campaign. When we reach a good point we pause one campaign and switch to another and eventually come back to the previous. They all take place on the same world or worlds with direct access to that world. Some of the older players wanted it like that so they could continue using their older characters. Because we rotate we have all experienced alot of different DMing styles.

All but one of our DM's has been liberal with player decisions about their characters. Players come up with their own backstories and invent and develop character personalities themselves. How they got where is up to them and what they do in the off time if the game picks up set a few weeks or months after we left off is up to the player too.

The problem is that one of our DM's is really controlling. He gets upset if we want to use our characters in another game on the world. He tries to tell us how our characters should act and what their personalities should be like. He doesn't let us decide what our characters were doing in the off time or how they ended up where they are and instead tries to make up his own scenario based on his perception of what he thinks their personalities should be. He's claimed once or twice that he owns the characters even though they are supposed to be our characters.

Its got me wondering just how much control a player has over their character or if we're all just glorified NPC's. How much or what parts of a player's character does the player get to control? How do you deal with this? More over, how do you deal with this from a person with a short temper?

Our DM is perfectly capable of adapting to unexpected situations. In fact, he claims to love having curve balls thrown at him in a game. He's pretty flexible with plot, just not with characters. For example, he thinks you can't be a rogue if you don't want to wear disguises and trick people. Not all rogues do that. Some are more stealthy and stick to the shadows instead. Not all fighters use swords. Not all mages are arrogant jerks. He's got it in his mind that they have to be those stereotypes though and when that view is contested he won't let you play that class. Another thing is the fact that he gets upset and wants to change decisions he made. We've all made races for our campaigns and we like it when people use them, but he gets upset if somebody doesn't play one of his and does everything in his power to change their character race to one of his despite saying he would let us play any race we wanted. We don't use psionics, we don't interact with gods and we don't use 9th level or higher spells when/if we get to a high enough level to use them. Those are our compromises already.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "Another thing is the fact that he gets upset and wants to change decisions he made." Is that correct as-is, or do you mean "change decisions we made"? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Aug 27 '17 at 11:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener No. I meant decisions he makes. I have an example up there. "We've all made races for our campaigns and we like it when people use them, but he gets upset if somebody doesn't play one of his and does everything in his power to change their character race to one of his despite saying he would let us play any race we wanted." I'll reword it. At the start of the game he made several new races but told us we could play any race we wanted, not just his. Then he gets upset if we play a race that is not his creation and actively tries anything to alter that character's race. \$\endgroup\$ – Loki Laufeyson Aug 27 '17 at 20:02
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Have a session 0

There's no cool neat trick for your issue, you're just going to have to sit down, with everyone, and talk this out. Get on the same page.

However, some things I want to talk about:

Your DM isn't "Wrong"

Your DM's style isn't wrong, its unpopular, and more notably, not something your group enjoys. While it might seem(despite being true) like I'm splitting hairs here, this is VERY useful for talking to your DM, who's going to argue with you over "your DM style is wrong", but he has no business arguing with "we don't really enjoy your DM style".

Your DM might have better reasons for what he's doing than "I want to".

I can't know for sure, but I've known DMs who ran HIGHLY curated games before. But part of the reason for this, with my most recent experience, is that he just wasn't a good DM. He couldn't improvise at all, and every story was highly curated and pre-imagined, to the point where I was sure that if I did something completely "off the rails", he'd just break down. He ended sessions early because he simply didn't have anything else for our team to do that session. But there's a challenge here, because as DMs, its often hard to talk to players about the real reasons you're doing things.

In your situation, it may be as simple as "the adventure I next want to run can't accommodate that character if he gains too much XP before the story starts".

Ask yourself, how much of this is a problem, really.

While your questions seems quite confident that this is "a problem", its fairly important to examine that assertion in detail and assess, for yourself, what you're willing to compromise on and what's actually a dealbreaker.

To give an easy example, I don't like Pork Chop or cooked Mushrooms. If my room-mates did rotating cooked dinners, and one room-mate just made what HE wanted, without discussing it with any of the rest of us, and constantly that was Pork Chops and cooked Mushrooms. Well...I can eat Pork Chops just fine. I don't like them, but I can do it without hurting my evening. Cooked Mushrooms? Those are a deal breaker for me, and something I'd insist he'd accommodate me on.

What solutions are on table?

  1. Are you willing to kick this person from your playgroup?

  2. Are you willing to revoke his DM privileges?

  3. Are you willing to just enjoy his Cooked Mushroom DMing style?

  4. Are you willing to make compromises? If so, what are they?

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