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I have recently joined a game and there were several instances where the dungeon master just shot down any idea that didn't fit her plot.

We were supposed to have this encounter in this forest with a bear and the druid cast animal friendship, but the game master just ruled that since we were in the bear's territory it was going to keep attacking us. But she ruled that Animal Handling was enough to distract the beast so that we could escape.

In another case we were suppose to find a doll for a girl and we found it with severe damage. I thought of casting mending, but she told me no, saying that the damage was too high. However, she allowed our local healer to use her medicine skill since it included sewing up torn parts.

There were other cases like this, and it is starting to get on my nerves as I play as a spellcaster. In most of the cases, she gives a rather reasonable excuse, like in the mending case the damage being too high, and in the animal friendship case the bear is not going to stop attacking something in its territory even if it believes they don't pose a threat.

The fact that she shoots down the ideas of me and the local druid is not the problem. Rather, my problem is whenever someone tries to accomplish what me and the druid tried to do via a skill check, she allows it to happen.

The setting is that we are a group of adventurers in a village that is mostly cut off from the world, solving problems for the village by doing quests posted at the local branch of the adventurers' guild.

How can I reason with my game master so that she allows me to be something more than a combatant with a fancy hat? I have not talked with my game master yet. I am not sure how to approach her about this issue without sounding accusative and angry.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @TristanKlassen Mending isn’t a healing spell, it’s for repairing damaged objects. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 2 at 18:52
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There's no solution apart from talking to your DM.

Your DM apparently likes to solve things in a more mundane way and if this was accorded between the DM and the players it would be no problem at all. However, you said there are 2 spellcasters in your group and their magical solutions have been shot down with no apparent reason. You could argue that the spells were made exactly for that, solving problems quickly, usually a limited number of times per day (don't try saying "the rules" allow you, often pisses the DM and the DM is "the rules").

Ask why the DM didn't let both of you solve the problems with your spells that were proper for these situations and try to convince the DM that solving problems with spells is exactly what a spellcaster is made for. Nothing will be solved without you talking to your DM.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this is a good start, but I think the only way for this advice to be helpful for OP is by giving experienced-based advice on how best to do this discussion. What strategy should they take, what should they say or not, etc. If you have been in a similar situation I would use your experience as a basis. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Dec 29 '18 at 21:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose I used the only argument I have since I don't know the DM; quick, limited per day solutions are what spells are. It's a starting point for argumentation. \$\endgroup\$ – Aguinaldo Silvestre Dec 29 '18 at 21:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ This seems to be a case of arguing versus playing ... \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Dec 30 '18 at 1:54
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That can be rough. As folks have said, the GM can like the mundane but letting in spellcaster without telling them ahead of time there may be limitations in place can be frustrating. By allowing these characters in, the GM has decided, however tacitly, magic users in the world exist and perhaps abound. You sound poised, reasonable and well meaning in your above post, having thought out how your approach could be perceived by said GM. As others have said, a direct approach, 1 on 1 or with the druid, if they feel the same, can be the way to go if you feel the GM is approachable. If the druid is with you and you have a more open forum, this can strengthen your point of view, but if you feel like this could be viewed negatively, maybe each of your voicing your concerns at a different time might be less harsh. As folks have said, the GM may never know there's a perceived issue if it isn't known. In that vein, maybe you can rummage about a bit:

Try asking how the GM views magic in the grander scheme of the game. Magic can be the ultimate plot device, so how does you GM see it affecting the world and what its role is, from mundane things, to grander designs. Ask them about specific instances. Is this cloistered town you're in unaware of magic? That's something you, as PCs, should be aware of so you can temper how you approach the plot. Finger wiggling among superstitious folks could bring about sticky situations. This could allow you to gain her perspective on your role as a magic user without being perceived as accusatory and give everyone a better idea of how the world works with magic in it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour and get a nifty badge. This will help you to help us to maintain the quality of questions and answers around this SE. \$\endgroup\$ – Aguinaldo Silvestre Dec 30 '18 at 8:00
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One thing that I haven't seen addressed is the Knowledge of the GM in terms of spells. Perhaps the GM is unaware of the spells being used, or the players describing them are not correctly explaining them [miscommunication].

Without knowing how the spells are worded I could see a new GM or one that is not familiar with 5e or magic users could rule against the uses of certain magic based on name alone.

My suggestion is that you continue play and when attempting to use one of your spells you:

  1. Clearly name the spell
  2. Read the full spell description and describe how you intend to use it.
  3. Ask for clarification from the GM/DM if what you are trying could be possible.

Once you have done that and there is still a problem, then you can attempt to address it then and there without bringing up old examples that might have been forgotten or remembered differently.

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Re-frame the problem to be cooperative instead of confrontational

In my experience, one of the best ways to handle a disagreement / confrontation with someone is to start by finding common ground. What is a way to re-frame this issue as something you both want to change or improve? That can change the context from a you-vs-them feeling to a cooperative discussion where you are working toward a common goal. This generally makes it more likely you'll be able to come to an agreement, compared to simply trying to convince someone else to accept a solution thought up without their input.

To that end, I would suggest you frame your thoughts about this problem so that it isn't merely about magical solutions and whether or not they should work in certain situations. Instead, generalize it to the more fundamental problem you can both agree on -- in this case, you're experiencing some frustration and not enjoying the game as much as you'd like. That's something both you and your GM should be able to agree isn't ideal.

Articulate for yourself what it is you like about playing RPGs or this game in particular, as well as what appeals to you about your current character or character class. From what you've said, it sounds like one possibility is that you expected to enjoy playing a character who has a "toolbox" for solving problems. Or perhaps it's the "magic" that's the key for you -- being able to do impressive things that most people can't. There might be more than one thing, so give it some thought. Then, given that context, think about what has been getting in the way of that, and how.

Then, talk with your GM

  • Open the conversation by explaining that you've been feeling a little frustrated in the game lately, and you'd like help figuring out how to have more fun. This frames the conversation in a cooperative way, where you are making a request of her that she will want to fulfill.
  • Then, explain to your GM what it is you want to get out of this game/character, and that you sometimes (often?) feel like you can't do that. Make sure it's a two-way conversation -- wait to see how she responds to that. She might ask for examples, or she might already know what you're talking about. Or, she might get defensive -- in that case, you'll need to put extra effort into getting things back into a cooperative context.
  • Once you're on the same page about what's happening, try to get on the same page about why it's happening. There might be reasons for her decisions that are not what you think; for instance, meta considerations like trying to be sure all the players are engaged and all characters get a turn to shine. It's easy to make assumptions that may not be correct, which is why this is an important step; unfortunately it can be a little tricky.
    • You don't want her to feel like you're forcing her to justify her decisions. Try really hard not to get into an argument about whether any given decision she made was "correct". She's the GM, so in most ways, her decisions are correct by definition.
    • Don't get distracted by the details of any particular instance; you want to understand the underlying motivation or priority that leads her to make the sorts of decisions she does.
    • Depending on how introspective and articulate she is or isn't about her own thought processes, you may have to read between the lines here. If she can't or won't answer beyond the specifics of the examples you bring up, just try to get the best feel you can based on what she does say.
  • Then, work together to figure out a solution where you will have more fun, while taking into account relevant priorities or motivations on her side -- i.e. look for a solution that will work for both of you.

This approach leaves the conversation open to a wide variety of possible solutions (rather than just the one you already have in mind), and is tailored to avoid an argument if possible.

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