Yesterday I was playing one shot DnD 5e and didn't expect that I become salty.

The Adventure

The one shot start at level 5 and I made sharpshooter fighter and my character was neutral good.

So my character fought alone a bunch of harpies as the entire party was charmed by them, trying to get the harpies away from the group until they could snap out of it.

I lost most of my HP, nobody offered to heal me and I only had one potion and used it.

The next encounter we were fighting a flying beast, I don't remember its name, and the same thing happened: the beast stunned some of the PCs and was going to attack the quest giver NPC. I defended him and ended up carried by the beast by his talons where I had to roll a dex save in the next turn.

So my party, instead of fighting cautiously or doing anything to help me, just throw spells to the beast while he was carrying me and my character lost all of it HP by their damage.

I spent the rest of the session on my phone because my character was unconscious and the party decided to keep walking instead of taking a short rest or heal me.

Their justification was that they all were neutral to me, even after I showed good will by protecting their characters while been charmed.

The Players

One was RPing as a guy like Guts from Berserk and his character didn't care about anybody besides himself.

The other two were Elf brother and sisters that only cared for each other.

One was chaotic evil so I didn't expect anything from him and there was a lawful good monk who was carrying my unconscious body around and didn't have anything to heal me with.

Finally, my character woke up by the end of the session, only to go to jail because one of the other PCs decided to rob the quest giver.

The GM

I asked the DM if there was anything I can do to wake up or anything but he said that there wasn't a thing I could do.

My Problem

Needless to say, I didn't have fun and I was salty. Seriously I wanted to just leave when my character was still unconscious one hour into the session as I wasn't playing. I was just watching the rest of the group have fun but I didn't want to ruin the mood as the guy who took the game far more seriously.

There isn't any group near me that plays D&D and I decided no game is better than a bad game.

I don't know who to blame, myself for taking this seriously or the DM that should have known that I wasn't having fun and should have done something.

In my opinion, he could have said "Welp! your character died, roll a new one and he joins the group by chance." or he could have made NPC have an extra potion and heal me or do something to make the PCs help me.

I can't fault all the Players: some of them were new to D&D and RPGs in general while the DM is seasoned and always tells stories about scenarios he ran and how great they were.

How can I tell him without hurting his feelings?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – mxyzplk Nov 14 at 2:48

11 Answers 11

up vote 126 down vote accepted

I think I'm going to have to Frame Challenge this question. Based only on how you described the combat and outcome, it doesn't really seem like the DM did anything wrong. It seems much more strongly like the players are to blame, because of a collective case of My Guy Syndrome.

Now, the DM has some culpability: to some degree, it's necessary for the DM to evaluate how the game is progressing, and make adjustments to keep the game fun and interesting for everyone involved. But at the same time, if you joined the game expecting that the player characters would collectively support each other and do whatever is possible/necessary to keep other players alive and fighting, and the other players did not play their characters this way, then there are clearly some expectations that were not met, and you need to talk to your fellow players about what their expectations are, and what your expectations are.

What the other Players did Wrong

At level 5, your fellow players should have lots of options for dealing with downed players. Whether it be in the form of Cure Wounds, or some other healing spell, or just in the form of enough Downtime to recover those lost hit points, your players had options for ensuring that your character didn't have to sit unconscious for the rest of the game. The fact that they chose not to use any of those options tells me that their priorities are pretty skewed.

I'm calling this a case of "My Guy Syndrome", but this situation is especially egregious, since there aren't a lot of reasons, even for a Selfish Neutral/Chaotic Neutral character, to prefer letting a fellow player character go down/stay down. So for the rest of your party to collectively decide that it's not worthwhile to send your character a heal implies, to me, that they've each written their characters in such a way as to incentivize that kind of behavior, OR, they've misinterpreted what their (possibly pregenerated, since they're newer) character traits are supposed to impact in the game itself.

Players shouldn't do this unless it's been agreed to ahead of time. There are absolutely games/sessions where players playing characters who are all individually jerks is appropriate, but it shouldn't be a default starting position assumed by players, especially players who don't have a lot of experience with games like this.

What you need to do

You need to have a sit-down conversation with your fellow players about what kind of game you want to be playing. If the players are committed to playing their "Selfish Neutral"/"wouldn't lift a finger to save anyone" playstyle, then you'll either have to leave the group, or adapt to their style—in this case, probably by playing your character more cautiously so that they aren't the one getting singled out by Harpies. Since they're newer players, you should emphasize that Neutral/Evil characters don't have to define their every decision based on some global context: even Evil Overlords will keep their minions alive if it means having a bigger army for conquering with. Likewise, a Neutral/Evil party will still prioritize keeping their own party alive, given that whatever nefarious schemes they're planning are probably going to work out better with allies than on their own.

Hopefully, you'll be able to persuade them to play their characters more responsibly, and with a more keen eye towards helping the party as a whole, rather than falling into the trap of letting party members die/go unconscious because "it's what my character would do."

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    @Zeus This is twice in two days I’ve seen you start an argument in comments under the top answer. Comments aren’t for arguing with an answer. If you think an answer can be corrected, use a comment; if you think an answer is wrong, vote and/or write your own answer. If the former situation takes multiple comments and the author still isn’t convinced, it’s actually the latter situation and it’s time to stop commenting. – SevenSidedDie Nov 13 at 15:03
  • I'd add to this that, in the event you wish to talk to your players, that you can involve the DM in it as well - he might be able to act as a mediator between you and the players, in order to help make sure you all have a good time at the table. – Zibbobz Nov 13 at 18:43
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    @industry7 you've left similar comments on a number of answers--I'm deleting them as they don't obviously seem intended to improve the post(s) to which they're attached, but rather to emphasize something you think needs more exposure. Feel free to write your own answer, just not in comments. – nitsua60 Nov 15 at 19:28
  • @nitsua60 Thanks for the advice. Unfortunately this question is protected, so I can't post an answer :( Is there another way I can participate in the community, other than answering questions or posting comments? – industry7 Nov 21 at 18:29
  • @industry7 I've gone ahead and unprotected this question. (It was protected while it was seeing a lot of low-quality activity, but that has died down.) You're right that answering questions is a major way of participating; others would include posting questions, editing answers/questions, Role-playing Games Chat, and Role-playing Games Meta. – nitsua60 Nov 21 at 18:34

It's not the GM's fault, it's the players'

This is a classic case of My Guy Syndrome, where the other players are saying they have to do it that way "because it's what my guy would do." This is also a problem with making evil characters as PCs and having characters that just don't care about other people. Why are they adventuring anyway?

You should start a conversation with your group

Explain why you didn't have any fun. Maybe everyone could make/remake/adjust their characters to actually have an interest in each other. Even a person who is neutral in real life would be unlikely to throw a grenade in a room with a friendly person, just because there was an enemy in there, and then when they're unconscious on the floor, just drag them along instead of tending to their wounds.

  • 4
    It was interesting reading about my guy syndrome, I guess I don't need to convince them that there's an in-game reason for their characters to heal mine, I should have said I'm not having fun sitting out of the rest of this session--I might as well go home at this point, I will really appreciate it if somebody heal me so I could join the fun. – Medo Nov 12 at 18:52
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    <comments removed> As usual, if you (“general” you) disagree with the core essence of an answer, rather than participate in a long comment debate about it, just write the answer you do want to upvote. That’s where RPG.se wants to see that energy used instead. – SevenSidedDie Nov 12 at 19:53

Ok, there are a few problems here. Some can be pointed to the DM, most can be pointed to the players, and some might be pointed to you.

One shots and "my character does not care about yours" don't merge too well

In a long campaign, the PCs creating bonds and trusting each other might as well be part of the plot of the campaign - it usually is not that problematic to start with a party that is together just for some gold in their first quest and grow to actually care about each other. One shots don't provide the time needed to do that, though. If I was the DM or one of the players in this table, I would probably have asked the others to not create such characters in a one shot, exactly because it will either lead to a My Guy Syndrome, exactly as happened, or because it will force the players to do some stuff out of character or have some creative ways to justify helping someone they don't care about even if they don't see any immediate (or even long-term) gain from it.

As a side note, I don't even think 5e is a good system for new players to play one-shots.

This is a minor problem, though, I just felt it should be approached.

Nobody has a crystal ball

Needless to say, I didn't have fun and I was salty.

Not needless at all. You might think it's obvious that you had no fun, but it is not. Some people don't have a problem just sitting back and watching as long as it makes sense. A few weeks ago we had a player waiting for about 1:30h for us to rescue him, while he did literally nothing, and he had no problem with that. He knew it would happen, he knew it made sense in the story and he was completely fine with it. I have been in that position as well, without getting mad about it.

That said, nothing in your question makes me believe you explicitly told the DM - or anyone else - you weren't having fun or was as salty as you describe in the question itself. Actually, parts of it make me believe that you just expected people to read your mind (e.g. "the DM that should have known"). If you didn't, this is the part you take the blame: you should have told them you weren't having fun and simply asked someone to heal you, otherwise you might as well leave because you are not there to waste your time having no fun at all - or asked the DM to let you roll a new character, as you yourself suggested in the question. Just try your best to not be an entitled brat about it (i.e. don't be like "DO THE THINGS AS I WANT OR I QUIT", because if you do it probably they will just say "bye"), just tell them you are not having fun and you would prefer, you know, having fun or being somewhere else.

Okay but now this is past, what do I do?

I assume that you are asking it because you want to improve the situation of your group and keep playing with them.

First, explain them what is the My Guy Syndrome (I would send them the link to our question - What is "my guy syndrome" and how do I handle it? - the best answer nails it perfectly). It's a common problem with beginners in RPGs and usually just reading about it and realizing they have done it is enough for them to improve.

Second, explain them why you felt like the last session was no fun, recognize you should have said so while it was happening and tell them that, if it happens again, you will speak out during the game - and encourage others to do the same if it happens to them. If they are not okay with that for some reason, well, you have another problem that we can't solve yet.

Finally, don't stay salty. It won't make anything better for anyone.

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    You are right about not speaking out, I just didn't want to come out as salty or throwing a tantrum, I already spoke and said why you guys won't heal me and their reason because their ingame characters didn't care but then again it is a weak justification, I shouldn't have wasted my day sitting on the sidelines not having any fun, there were better things I could have spent my weekend on. – Medo Nov 12 at 20:31
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    I think this, much more than most of the higher-voted answers, is the best answer. However, I worry about recommending that "my guy syndrome" answer, because it also suffers similar issues, assuming there is one sort of fun and failing to draw a line between good roleplaying and asocial jerkishness, which is also the case in this question. – Dronz Nov 12 at 23:26

Provide constructive criticism

You said at the beginning that you want to tell the DM you fault him. Perhaps you weren't being literal, but since that doesn't come across well on a forum like this I'll assume you were. I recommend against telling him you fault him or blame him. It won't help anything and may make things worse. If you think that GM is an irredeemably poor fit for the kinds of things you want, then simply move on to a different group or if you really can't find one, a different hobby.. No RPing is often better than bad RPing.

You can, and should, provide respectful constructive criticism. Point out that just watching was not fun for you. Remember, this is not obvious. Some people do enjoy just watching. For some people, just watching is right for a time even if they plan to transition out. I remember when I was a kid my older cousin would let me join in with his older friends. I nominally had a character, but I was still learning to RP and I mostly watched even when my character was just fine and capable of acting. So, make sure he know you are not someone that wants to just watch and you consider it an issue when you can't do anything for long periods.

He could also consider having the quest giver be a bit more active if the quest giver is travelling with the party. I generally advise against GM PCs, but if a friendly NPC is there anyway, having it produce some healing items in between combats is not going overboard and is a particularly common trope in video game escort missions.

Consider being more proactive yourself

As you describe it, you took many of the right steps, but don't be afraid to go a bit further, especially in a one shot. If your character seems like they are going to be out of commission for a while, especially in a one shot where you aren't worried about the character's long term situation, you can always flatly ask the GM if that character can die and you can introduce a new one.

Consider offering to GM

GMing well is hard. A lot of people won't get it right. If you are actually good at it, or at least think you are better than the current one, consider offering to GM yourself for a while. This means you can't have a GM mess up the game for you, you get to show the others how a good GM should roll by your example, and you give the current GM a break.

On the other hand, if you have never tried it, doing it might give you a different take on the difficulties of getting it right and give you a broader base of experience the next time you play.

Don't point fingers, try to create solutions

Yes, the DM is at (partial) fault. The NPC should have recognized that people blowing you up, and than not treating the wounds they caused as a decidedly evil act. The other players are also at fault for antagonizing you for no good reason. Regardless of a PC's story or alignment, it's not too hard to rationalize a valid excuse to help someone who will make your goals easier.

That said, "I wasn't able to play, so I had no fun" is not a useful argument. It should be obvious to everybody, and it doesn't get you any closer to a solution. If you have no intention to fix the problem, than there is no point having a conversation about it. The only meaningful conversation you can have is identifying the root of the problem, and finding a solution everyone is happy with.

So how does this conversation work?

When having this conversation, it is important to remember that you should focus on indisputable facts, and finding a solution for the future rather than placing blame.

  • "I'm bored to tears when my PC is unconscious an entire session" is indisputable. It's how you feel, and feeling is a raw fact.

  • "You could have healed me", is actually disputable because a player can always come up with reasons (even if they are bad) to not heal you.

    What the other players coulda/shoulda/woulda done is irrelevant to the core reason you are upset (you couldn't play), and so is not actually important for finding a solution. This style of constructive arguing is easier said than done, but it is very strong because it doesn't put anyone on the defensive, and the only viable response is a constructive one.

It's probably also worth mentioning to them that their actions set a precedent.

  • By doing this to you, they pave the road for the exact same thing to happen to them, and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't want to have to sit out a session because the rest of the party was too lazy to heal them.
  • Key point to make: it is also in their best interest to find a solution to the problem they caused.

    However don't try to blame them, try to frame it as "If my situation happened to you; How would you feel? How would you prefer for it to be resolved?". You're all their to work together and have fun. We all lift together.

If the DM and other players refuse to work with you, then it's better to just leave the group. Being exposed to toxic behavior is not healthy (stress), and is not worth any perceived benefit.

First of all, I am sorry that you had this experience. We all experience bad sessions. Let me pull one that I experienced from my hat:

My Experience

In a longer running Werewolf group, we had planned an assault on an enemy base. We forged a plan, forgot to establish some way of communication in the group and set on to follow it: I snuck into the base via Umbra and was tasked to set a distraction. Just I ended up trapped in the umbra when returning, about half an hour into the game. The rest of the evening I sat on the sideline as the others moved to try to get in and then - after like 5 hours, we had to pause for the session. Next session we resumed combat, and I asked the GM about once an hour if/when I finally I could do something. The group ended with me not doing anything again. Totally frustrated I agreed to a short, one on one session in between... which ended up with me needing to make a replacement character for the next real session as my character was captured.

You see I experienced something similar, and even now, years later, I feel still somewhat salty abut appearing for two game sessions and just idling at the sidelines. But I am still in that group. Why? Because the group is still fun. Even as I was at the sidelines, I could enjoy being with my friends and talk OOCly. I could not directly affect the game, but I could still have a little fun, even as I felt somewhat grumpy.

Advice

The first step to such problems is healthy communication. I propose the following, based on what I learned from the experience above:

  • Talk to your GM! Tell him "Hey, I didn't like the last session, because..." and then try to explain as quietly and matter of factly your reasons. Tell him what you told us. Don't accuse him of bad GMming though, just state that you don't feel good about the results. His answer might surprise you! Maybe he even admits that it didn't work out as he thought

But the GM - as I see your story - is not primarily at fault! The other players - as you described - did use you as a solution but did not help you when you needed it. It is to a good degree their behavior's fault. Because this can generate bad blood I propose:

  • Talk to your fellow players! Explain to them why you feel bad about the last session. Try to be cool. Don't accuse them though! Just explain them your feelings and ask them to be more considerate about you next time.

But even you are at fault to some degree! There are two levels of playing a Pen and Paper game: The In-Character level, and the Meta level. Nothing stops you from interacting with your fellow players at the table when your character is KO. You didn't tell us if you tried to ask the other players for a short rest, but if you haven't, you should have. You did tell us that you just used your phone the rest of the evening. That is not how to handle this!

  • Stay in the game! Even when your character is out of focus and can't act in the current scene. Pulling yourself out of the game excludes you! Excluding yourself is not the way to go in such a situation.

But then, there are situations that are not bearable. If you really can't bear it anymore and after trying to talk it out...

  • Decide when to cut losses. If you can't enjoy it, it is not your game. Ask the GM if you can take one point of damage, then deliberately fail your saving throw. Stand up, tell them why you leave, and do so. Take your character with you, if they try to stop you to ask you what they can loot from you, don't respond. Don't wait for the end of the session, do it there and then. A player standing up to leave is a pretty hefty signal to the GM "you effed this up big time".
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    I voted this up, but I have to caveat that I respectfully disagree with the last bullet point or at least feel it requires more explanation. The payoff for roleplaying is generally fun. If you aren't having enough fun to justify the time that is being invested and the occasional aggravation, then something needs to change. Sometimes that really means leaving that particular game. – TimothyAWiseman Nov 14 at 0:01

You may have answered your own question

I decided no game is better than a bad game.

Your first instinct is correct. But there is a way to perhaps move this game from "Bad" to "OK" and later to "Good." The key is to communicate openly and honestly.

I want to blame the DM

That would be a mistake on your part. All you can do is explain to the DM how much fun you didn't have, being treated like that, and ask whether you can expect the same in future sessions.

  1. If yes, you go back to point 1: not good use of your time.
  2. If no, then get the DM's advice on how to work with the group a bit better. Since this DM is, as you say, "seasoned" they may be able to offer you a few pointers for how to get along with this particular group. At least solicit the DM's advice.

Should I blame the other players?

That's up to you. Blame gets the frustration expressed, but then what? Finger pointing rarely gets a warm reception. Do you want to play again, or not?

  • If no, then back to point 1, find better use for your free time.

  • If yes, then you need to have a Session 0 with the other players before the next session. That means a meet up, in chat or in person, to clear the air and see how open the other players are to making the at-table experience more fun.

    It might be that you are saddled with a table full if selfish jerks, IRL, but I'll make the assumption that the group hasn't gone through what a lot of small groups go through before they gel as a team: forming, storming, norming, and performing. (This is a basic behavior in small groups, not just in RPGs). Your group has formed, you are in the storming stage (it's not a very effective group yet) so you need to establish the group's norms (things we agree to do as a group, and things we agree not to do as a group) so that you can perform better as a team.

What do we talk about to make this better?

For the newer players, point out to them that D&D is designed as a game where a team of characters with different talents usually work together to overcome the monsters and challenges that the DM throws their way. Explain to them that it takes all of the team contributing to make teamwork work to everyone's favor.

Then ask them directly: Do you want to play as a team, or are you only interested in how well our character does?

You need to know how they feel about this, as players.

If any of their answers start with a reference to their alignment as an excuse to hosing your character over, then point them to this article by Rich Burlew. Making Tough Decisions. See also what My Guy Syndrome is and explain how that is screwing up your enjoyment of the game. As a fellow player, a character's alignment isn't an excuse to screw over a fellow player... unless you all agree ahead of time that "dog-eat-dog" is how this table plays and gets its fun. If "dog-eat-dog" is the group consensus, then you need to decide if you want to embrace that approach, or not. Up to you.

Find out where you stand

If your fellow players are not interested in having this kind of conversation, about "how we can all get along as players" then we once again return to Point 1: find better use for your free time.

If, on the other hand, at least a few players, like your monk team mate, are interested in working as a team to defeat monsters and find treasure, then you have the chance to create a core team that works together. Focus on that for the next few sessions and see how it goes.

Does the team of adventurers perform, or does it remain a bunch of individuals doing their own thing? The result should inform your decision to stay at this table, or not.

For some related answers on getting a group on the same page, take a look at the answers to this question about the Same Page Tool.

This answer is predicated on my understanding that:

  • There were 6 players including: You; a friend or person known to you who treated your character acceptably; and 4 players who were all unknown to you, playing for the first time, and treated you poorly.
  • The GM is known to you and a friend of yours.
  • This is a one-shot campaign and the window for in-game consequences to manifest is closed.

This is almost pessimal because unlike many answers here, I fault both the other players and the GM. What the GM could or should have done is probably beyond the scope of this question, but it seems from your description that your PC rescued the quest giver, and that the quest giver also did nothing effective on your behalf. Therefore, I think what your GM could/should have done is not nothing. I also think this sounds like a pretty awful gaming experience and I would be annoyed, too.

I am tacitly assuming that you are not so annoyed by this that your existing friendships are already broken past repair and that you'd like to keep them.

I don't see any road to a solution that doesn't run through the GM and doesn't require his agreement and support; therefore, I don't see a way to entirely shield the GM from a criticism of the game. If you think you are sufficiently close to the GM, a simple, "I don't want to play (or won't play) with those guys again: Here's why...." might be enough. The thing is, you have to be ready to have your bluff called. Or you have to not be bluffing.

If you don't think that's going to fly, or if you are more forgiving than I am, you can try to lead your GM to the idea of having something like a Session 0, or even just a good serious laying down of expectations. But that is also something that probably needs to spring from a discussion between you and the GM about why it is necessary. Which will be a recitation of everything you found not-fun about his game. This may or may not turn into a discussion of what the GM can or should have done differently as well-- that is a judgment call to be made in the moment.

But I don't see how you avoid telling the GM that you had little or no fun at his game, which is always hard for a GM to hear.

You can say to the DM: "hey, I didn't have fun in your game because my character was unconscious for most of it." That's a legitimate criticism. You can add: "...so I won't be coming back" if you want, but I'd probably leave that unsaid in case I changed my mind about it later.

It's true that the DM wasn't required to give your character a chance to heal, but a good DM could have noticed the problem and done something to fix it. It's also true that a good set of players would have found a way to heal your character.

I'll note that I once had a very similar experience to yours: I wandered into a game store, joined a table as like the eighth player, and my character quickly went unconscious and nobody healed him. In that case I concluded that probably that table hadn't really wanted an eighth player, which was why they hadn't made much effort to be welcoming. Maybe your case is similar.

Sorry to hear this went badly for you.

Don't Blame, Improve Together

The other answers are all great. Here's the same thing again, with a different focus:

Do talk to them, the whole group, and stay with the facts. You did not enjoy last time, because you couldn't do anything other than spectate (add your own reasons here). Make sure you do not start off by blaming somebody - that is likely to make most persons defensive instead of trying to improve together. And here's the thing: I believe it is somewhat normal for first time players to not work well as a party. And it is possible to become better players in the social aspect.

Get clear on what bothers you. Perhaps, you take issue with the fact that the whole party was charmed and only you could fight. Perhaps you rather have a problem with the fact that nobody healed you. Or maybe the only thing bothering you was when you went out of game, but you would have been happy walking around with low HP if you wouldn't have been on timeout for so long, and died instantly instead.

The DM has one goal: That the players (and the DM) have fun.
If you phrase it right, you can make this a talk about improving the fun for everybody, instead of a blame game.

  • State the facts. Not "It was awful", but "I did not enjoy X and Y because it made me feel like Z". That's something the group can work with and nobody must feel attacked as a person.
  • Consider that you might have done some things wrong too. Ask the others what they would like to be different from now on.
  • If you enjoyed anything, even if it is small, mention it! Because good things make bad things easier to digest, and also because it tells the DM what you'd like to have more of. A DM has to balance fights with roleplay with puzzles with player-interaction with keeping things realistic with keeping things fun ... and the list goes on. Knowing where the players' priorities lie can be a huge help
  • Have some ideas ready, how this could be improved.
    • You could get some ingame reason for the other PCs to want to help you
    • You could decide as Players, outside of the game, that you want to be a Team. (We have had a similar, though lighter, problem when I played for the first time. When I DM'ed for the first time after that, I made sure to tell the players that their characters must be adventurers, have a reason to adventure, and want to stay with the party and work together with them. No assholes to the party allowed.
    • Your DM could decide that death is instant when you fall unconscious and are not revived within some minutes - if all the players agree
    • ... come up with your own. Or together with the group
  • To prevent future issues, you might want to discuss what you know is important to you. You all. Somebody doesn't like PvP? Then maybe agree to disallow it. Somebody is not comfortable with robbing graves? Than it's important the DM knows this before the story is built around exactly that. If you'd like more examples, search for some session zero examples.

Devil's Advocate

Just to play Devil's Advocate here, let's flip the script. You admit you got bored and took out your phone at the game table. How do you think the party and DM felt about that? How motivated would that make you appear to want to play the game?

Instead of questioning what the DM did/didn't do, think about what you could have done.

Know the rules

If you're unconsious and stable for 1d4 hours, you wake up with 1 hp. Otherwise, you could have argued that being unconsious was resting, and asked to use hit dice. Instead you took out your phone.

Grab a PreGen and Keep Going.

Did you think to ask, "since this character is effectively dead, can I start a new one using the official WotC pregens?"

You touch on this, but you don't say if you brought it up at the table.

It is okay to Walk Away

If you did try to get back into the one-shot, and we're denied, and you feel it is symptomatic of a problem with the DM and/or other players, then not playing with them in the future is an acceptable option. You said this was a one-shot you can leave it there easy enough.

As far as it being the only game in town, I've had success in interesting my family and friends into playing.

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