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I once played in a one-shot at Origins Game Fair that was supposed to be a Savage Worlds game. However, the gamemaster wasn't even close to following the rules correctly.

It wasn't just things like misremembering how grapple works. Oh no. Instead, PCs were being damaged by Fighting rolls (thus making Parry useless), NPCs were mysteriously rolling "dodge checks" to get out of an attack from the players (but the players weren't asked to do the same), and the GM was spending bennies to make players reroll their dice. Players familiar with Savage Worlds will know that these aren't even close to the real rules.

To be honest, I got the impression that the GM saw the rules for the first time 15 minutes before the session, and then just made us stuff on the fly. I offered to help with some of the rules, but he just said "I'm more interested in fun than playing with the rules".

Unfortunately, the complete and utter lack of following the rules made me have a miserable time, as I felt like I was just playing to the whims of the GM.

Is there anything I could have done at the time to make the situation better? If leaving was the best option, how should I have done it? Could I have done anything after the session, like talk to convention staff?

This question is similar to What should a player do if the DM doesn't know the rules?, but seems to be written with a home game in mind instead of a convention one-shot, and the situation I've experienced appears to be even more severe.

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At a convention, playing time is a rare commodity and I generelly recommend not being "that" player who holds everything up with discussions. For the record: I'm from Germany, so my convention experience might differ greatly from yours, all of the following is just my subjective opinion on the matter.

So if what the GM is doing is ruining your fun at a convention game, yet isn't interested in changing anything about that, the main question in my mind is: Does it affect the other players? If they feel the same as you do, I feel it's valid to point out that the way he runs the game isn't fun for the players.

But if they don't seem to mind either, then the path of least resistance is to just get up and leave, be friendly, be polite (the guy wasn't trying to ruin your fun on purpose, after all), try to avoid in-depth discussions on the spot (those tend to get heated and personal quickly and hold up the game for everyone) and just say it's not working out for you. If the GM is honestly interested, offer to talk to him afterwards and calmly explain the matter then.

I generally would only inform convention staff if you feel like the GM was actually trying to ruin the players fun on purpose, I know it can suck if you don't get the game you like, but in my experience, there's a big continuum of styles from "complete freeform" to "everything 100% RAW, all the time, no exceptions", and I don't think it's worth making too big a fuzz about a GM running the game in a different way. Just make it a point to avoid that GM in the future.

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In the moment: If the GM's not interested in running a system "Rules As Written," leave the session and inform them why.

Afterward: Inform the convention staff that the game the GM advertised and the game the GM ran are not the same. Don't name-and-shame publicly, it tends to end poorly.

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    \$\begingroup\$ When you say not to name-and-shame publicly, are you saying don't give my reasons for leaving in front of the other players? \$\endgroup\$ – Thunderforge Sep 12 '17 at 0:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thunderforge, I mean don't drag the GM's name through the mud on social media or a public forum. Don't leave the table and shout "<GM> is terrible at running Savage Worlds!" To answer both of you, I think it's perfectly reasonable to explain that you're not enjoying yourself, outline why, and step away from the table without starting an argument. \$\endgroup\$ – Vandalheart Sep 12 '17 at 0:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Conventioneers do take note of these types of complaints. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadoCat Sep 12 '17 at 0:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan you are saying that if the OP attempts to politely leave the game, he is going to get beat up? \$\endgroup\$ – stannius Sep 12 '17 at 15:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @stannius What? This doesn't happen WA? ;-) Honestly, it was hyperbole, but if an answer can be crafted that provides advice describing how to leave the session after it's started while both telling the truth as to why and not offending the GM, then that answer should probably be posted. Without the leaver passive-aggressively taking all the blame ("It's not you, it's me"), that is a very difficult conversation to get right. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 12 '17 at 16:04

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