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I'm a very new but very eager DM. Me and my friends have long been wanting to play and as always we had no DM so I took up the reins.

My players are very extremely creative and I want them to be able to do whatever they want - however - I at the same time feel like they completely do not care for the story, world, or characters that I'm trying to show them.

We've only had two sessions, but after each session, players would talk about how excited they are to create their own campaign and what they'd do in their story and universe - which is great! I would love to be a player in their campaign!, however it hurts my feelings because I feel like they're highly uninterested in what I have done, the work and thought put into the story I'm trying to make, rather wanting it to be done and over with.

The campaign is following Matt Mercer's Taldorei setting and using gestalt characters, because I think following a set campaign would be less info to keep straight in my head, and gestalt characters for a more rounded party. (3 of the 4 wanted to be rouge, instead of waiting to multiclass - gestalt allowed healers in our party and me to craft harder encounters)

Another one of the players keeps insisting on a set background and key development points he wants to have for his character - he's adamant about his character getting cool weapons and like 'a magical sniper's eye so he can see farther and shoot better' - and while again I'm so happy for him to be thinking about the game and development, I feel like he's insisting on what should happen and becomes upset when I'm like 'maybe' and wants to either do a different item or work it in differently in the game, or even not telling him for spoiler reasons, to put it simply. The 'Hero' player wants to become a Lich - again, I like the creativity and anything can happen - but I feel like he's being a glory hound and stealing the spotlight from other players.

This particular player, "Hero", has imagined a very skilled and in depth background - which is cool (and works with the change to gestalting) - but at the same time it doesn't seem to allow for much development in the game, he's suppose to be starting at level one but his character has been on adventures, and has companions, and x and blah. Really my issue with him is, the player seems to be thinking he's the 'main hero' of not only the story but the group. Whenever I veto something of his, he becomes childish and 'okay' and pouts while being like 'I'm not having fun playing this game' - but then I'm also like it's not just you playing the game.

I don't want to stifle their creativity but I feel that they're not trusting me with letting me run the campaign and create adventures and cool discoveries for them rather that they're telling me 'hey you should do this bc I thought it and it's cool and better than anything you could do'

I don't think any of them is doing this maliciously or to try and overrule me as a DM - but it still hurts and feels bad when I've worked very very hard in trying to be a good DM. I don't want to be too rude to them, so what I'm really asking is, should I just not be so upset about it or is this really an issue about the players?

We've talked about using a rotating GM, problem is: everyone has their own world setting, no one is familiar with the other's. We've also talked about me and 'Hero' player being co-dm, with him creating the setting of the story and the narrative, and me being the technical side. I feel he would be at risk of railroading and wouldn't know how to be a dm, he hasn't read any of the books, not even the player's handbook.

For the time being I've stopped being a DM for the group because I truly don't want my sour mood to ruin their game or experience of it, I'm genuinely uncertain if this is something I just have to suck up or something I need to have a conversation with them about, or how to go about that conversation.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! Take the tour. As stated, this really needs a system tag. Further, so that answers can be precise, can you explain what sort of talk you had with your players about the campaign? That is, did you explain the world, offer advice, set any limits, or make any house rules? Also, this sounds like it may have to be broken up into several questions—can this question be isolated to one problem that's foremost? Thank you for participating and have fun! \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 8 at 16:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ possibly related: How do you deal with a player who always wants to be in the spotlight? \$\endgroup\$ – G. Moylan Feb 8 at 16:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't know if it's worth making part of my answer, but if it makes you feel any better, even after about two years of regular DMing, I spend the hour or two after the game ends going "AUGH" at regular intervals as I realize all the things I could've done better. \$\endgroup\$ – Blue Caboose Feb 8 at 17:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a valid question and a good example of a question that can be answered using Good Subjective guidelines. New GMs often struggle with these things and our site can help, and we have experience and techniques that make this question not opinion based. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Feb 8 at 17:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ You are talking about group dynamics, but it seems you are using the pronoun "they" to describe a single person while also using "they" to describe the group at large. Could I convince you to edit and use a different pronoun for the single person? . "They" is for multiple people, of late it's been used as a gender neutral pronoun for single people, but that is only confusing here. Feel free to use an artifice,e.g. I might say "this one player, call them Boo" and refer to the person thereafter as "Boo". But whatever floats your boat. \$\endgroup\$ – Harper Feb 9 at 23:41
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The campaign is following Matt Mercer's Taldorei setting and using gestalt characters.

If you aren't an experienced DM, don't try to be Matt Mercer

Grow into your boots as a DM.

We have some other answers about this, but the advice remains the same. Since you are a new DM, play it straight for a few sessions until more of the people at your table have a good feel for the game. Then, with that foundation built, go wild and try Matt Mercer's house rules since now you know what they are a variation on.

Also note that Critical Role is a show made for a particular reason, and is peopled by professional actors. His house rules come from his experience of the RPG game form.

As to "am I acting reasonably" ...

You are going through a normal small group dynamic

You are in the forming and storming stage of the four step "Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing" process that is common to small group activity(RPGs being such an activity).

Don't give up, work with the other players to come up with the set up that gives you all the most fun. It doesn't matter if you are the DM, or if you rotate as DM.

After each session, talk to each other.

It is healthy at a table when the DM listens to the feedback of the players, and when the players give constructive feedback to the DM. (Don't forget this when you are a player). In general this is covered by addressing:
What went well?
What didn't go well?
What did I like?
What didn't I like?

With that in mind, discuss all of that and then agree on what will we do differently in the next session? (If anything).

Play. Have fun. (It's why we play).

About that "magical sniper's eye" the player wants

A general theme in D&D 5e is that power upgrades can come through items and new abilities, and that they have to earn upgrades either by level advancement or by finding treasure during their adventures. Your group started at level 1. The game does not start with people owning magical items. This published uncommon magical item fits that player's desire:

Eyes of the Eagle
Wondrous item, uncommon (requires attunement)
These crystal lenses fit over the eyes. While wearing them, you have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight. In conditions of clear visibility, you can make out details of even extremely distant creatures and objects as small as 2 feet across. (DMG, p. 168)

The player needs to, in character, find or trade for this item. Or seek one out. Ask the player how they intend to find one.
As the DM, you can use this item as a plot hook for an adventure that requires the party to overcome a monster, or do a wizard a favor, or overcome some other challenge with this item as the pay off.

What he wants to do with it can be addressed with a feat. (Feats usually cost a choice at level up (foregoing an ASI) but there are some tables where the DM starts everyone with one feat each. Your call as a DM).

For longer range shots than are in the standard weapon's range, a player can choose the Sharpshooter feat. That costs the player a choice, but if chosen, the player has a 600' range with the longbow rather than 150' range (without incurring disadvantage); partial and 3/4 cover are negated, and in some cases a bonus damage feature can be chosen. That's a sniper, D&D 5e style.

The Sharpshooter feat (PHB, p. 170) says:

  • Attacking at long range doesn't impose disadvantage on your ranged weapon attack rolls.
  • Your ranged weapon attacks ignore half cover and three-quarters cover.
  • Before you make an attack with a ranged weapon that you are proficient with, you can choose to take a -5 penalty to the attack roll. If the attack hits, you add +10 to the attack's damage.

In D&D, in this edition, magic items and abilities like what he wants are usually earned, or are paid for with a choice or an opportunity cost.
Explain that to the player, if need be.
Uncommon magical items are typically found during Tier 1 adventuring, which is between levels 1 and 4. If he wants that long range magic eye thing, let him earn it through adventuring. That's part of the fun of this kind of adventure RPG: increases in capability through playing using the core mechanics of level ups, class features, feats, and DMG controlled magical items.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Feb 10 at 13:46
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Being a DM is all about balance, both in the short and long term.

Not really "game balance," that's the least interesting part of the job. But you are quickly finding out the opposing forces that you have to balance to some degree when you run a game.

On the one hand, a RPG isn't about you telling others a story, they expect agency and for their characters to be the heroes and make choices and all that. On the other hand, the DM is a player too, and has their own things they want to get out of the game. In addition (the third hand?), players have to respect the other players and not outshine them/steal spotlight time. Similarly, good DMs (and people in general) take feedback, but also people who give feedback need to understand how to do it respectfully.

It sounds like you know all this already which is good for a novice DM, but you're having trouble finding the balance between these that seems to satisfy you, the hero player, and the other players.

Setting Expectations

I will point out that no one's expectations are "wrong" here. There are a lot of folks getting into gaming from online freeform gaming, which I might describe as often being "wish fulfillment gaming," where if you want followers and a magical sniper eye and all that well sure, you just get it. Old school Gygax era D&D DMs would already have had a 'blue bolt of lightning' come from the sky to discipline this knave for daring to want something other than what you put in a dungeon chest for him. And there's a broad spectrum in between those two extremes that people come from and have as default expectations.

I find the best way to do this is have a discussion with the group about what everyone wants. And it's ok to take into account that you're novice, and to remember that not every DM has to be the same and not every campaign that DM runs has to be the same. Be honest and humble, but stick to your guns about what you need.

An example approach you could say "Hey all, let's talk about what we want out of the next game. I'm just getting started DMing so I'd like to do my game by the book, with you all being new adventurers just getting started. If your backplot has followers or is rich or is the king of England or whatever you need to figure out why none of that is around and you're out grifting for goblin gold with these other people. I'll be using magic items from the books and handing out treasure using the rules, we can get more wild in later campaigns. What would interest you all to see in the game?"

If anyone doesn't like that, hear them out, but you can say "well, that's what I plan to run for my next game. If you don't want to play in it, maybe someone else will run something more to your tastes." You can all collaboratively discuss the setup, but in the end just like they don't have to play in it if they don't like it, you don't have to run it if you don't like it. Your game, your rules.

Try Something Else When You Want To

Another approach is to embrace it and play a different game. D&D 5e is pretty traditional in structure. There are more indie/story-games that operate more on the "everything makes up whatever they think is gorilla vs shark level cool." You don't have to run that, or you can run it and something more traditional, in alternation or at the same time. I often "mix it up" by running short freakier games between longer campaigns of traditional games, people get the different experiences and also get the wish fulfillment more out of their system. You don't really even have to not play 5e to do this, you just have to take a different approach and not care about the rules. My first game of D&D was in cars going back and forth to Scout camps, we didn't have dice. We all got our various desired weapons (multiple people had Whelm and Blackrazor from White Plume Mountain, one person just had a crossbow but it was just as deadly) and we spent most of the time fighting each other with the DM just making up results. Sounds more like what hero player expects, you could try it on for size.

But the important thing to teach everyone is that they should explicitly discuss and agree on this kind of game mode, and that anyone's next game can be totally different. "Next game everything will be so by the book it hurts and you'll all be super poor and scraping by in the gutters of Waterdeep and if you look funny at a guardsman they'll beat you to death. Go!"

Playing Nice

A final word on taking criticism. They are hurting your feelings, and any time folks are getting hurt feelings the answer is usually a mix of people talking nicer and people thickening their skin. When they say "ooo when I run a campaign it will be all gnomes and dumplings" or whatever their deal is, they're not criticizing you (and it sounds like none of them have lifted a hand to DM yet anyway so they're kinda talking out of their you-know-what). If you've set a game tone with them per the above, when they complain "I wanted a magic sniper eye and you're being a meanie" you can remind them "Hey, you agreed to how this game was going to go." And it's also fair to express to them "Hey, it hurts my feelings and causes me to consider not running the game if all I her from y'all is how you'd do it different and how I'm doing wrong. I'm learning, please be supportive or keep it to yourself." That's absolutely fair.

And urging people to have mutual respect is a basic interpersonal thing that people struggle with, it is brought to the fore when RPing because it's a close and intense activity (if someone disses your clothing at a party you can just wander into another room, but at a D&D session you are all expected to closely interact the whole time), work on that but don't sweat it. Some people are raised by wolves or spend too much time learning how to interact with people from the Internet and they aren't good at it, so it's OK to say you expect to be treated respectfully but you also should ignore more of their unintended slights.

TL;DR

In conclusion, keep at it. Try different things, both to spread your wings and so people get their various itches scratched over time. It's your game, you don't have to be a dictator but you can be confident about running the game you intend to run and take player feedback into account in your own way. Give and demand respect, that's good for your life not just your game.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Another thing is that the "hero" player mainly establishes this in conversations outside of the game - since we've only had two sessions they haven't gotten much chance to do this in game and I dread for when it truly rears its head in game, re-analyzing everything after reading more posts and yours, I think for them they want a different style game from the rest of the players (who may be more shy) and so they come off more demanding. I think your advice with feeling out different things and setting expectations will really help our group, thank you. \$\endgroup\$ – Julian Feb 8 at 17:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not sure if you've posted this, or much of this, on your blog, but this whole post looks like a really good "before you DM, read and consider this" piece of advice. If this were a forum, I'd suggest putting a 'sticky' on this answer. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 10 at 16:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, that’s a good point, I guess it’s free posts if I repurpose long answers more! \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Feb 11 at 1:16
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Ask two questions: one of yourself, and one of them. It is up to you how you go about it as you know your friends and I don't.

  1. Ask yourself "Am I enjoying this?". If not you are breaking the first rule of D&D which is "this is supposed to be fun". You might want to think about what a game that you enjoy would look like.

  2. Ask your players if they are enjoying the game you are running and would they enjoy the game you want to run in the context of the answer to the first question, as neither you nor anyone alse will run a game very well if you don't enjoy it. (You might also ask them whether they would enjoy the game you want more or less than the present one.)

Then you need to talk to your players about the answers to these questions and get their buy in to the game you want to run, modified by the game they want to play. If there is no making these things work together then you should face that fact, and not beat yourself up trying to do something that isn't going to work out for you. Otherwise you can hold them to what you have all agreed, use it to ask them to modify their behaviour when it isn't working.

The advice by Korvin is excellent. Learn the Julian way to run a game. The fact that you are being so thoughtful about it suggests that you are/will be a good DM, just don't tie yourself up in knots about it, it's a game and it's for fun.

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    \$\begingroup\$ When putting my issue on this website I didn't expect such in detail and effecting comments and advice from everyone. As sappy and odd as it sounds, I'm very touched by what you have said and you've given me a new outlook on this and I hope to create something that I and others enjoy. \$\endgroup\$ – Julian Feb 8 at 17:16
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First, I wholeheartedly second everything KorvinStarmast and mxyzplk said, but I think they are omitting some things and underemphasizing others.

The main point is fun for everyone at the table.

The other answers suggest this, but I think it is worth emphasizing because I think it is the core of the answer. The goal is for everyone to enjoy the game and everyone should be working cooperatively towards that.

I want my players to enjoy the game, so if they say they want something crazy, I will generally start working to make sure they have opportunities to get it fairly quickly unless that something would hamper the fun of the game. If a player wants something that would make them significantly more powerful than the other players that will probably interfere with the other player's fun so you should not make that thing available right away. But the answer could also be to give the other players something equally powerful.

Of course, you have to also remember the balance against the challenges. If you make any, much less all, of your players significantly stronger it might mess up your balance against the challenges the characters face. But talk to them. They might be implicitly suggesting they want a higher powered game and the answer may be to just up the challenges equally. Or it might be to let them have what they want, but only when they reach a power level where it no longer creates balance concerns.

And while I am freely advocating largely giving the player's what they want, that only applies if it does not interfere with your own fun. If what they want destroys your ability to enjoy the game, then feel free to say no, just make the decision based on what seems most fun for everyone rather than some conception that you have to play the game in a certain way or even because of what the rules say. And I would feel free to explain it that way. When appropriate, don't hesitate to say that a certain request would interfere with the plot so it isn't appropriate, at least not yet...

Remember, it is equally valid to play a gritty game where the players risk death at every turn and an almost super-heroic one where the players are larger than life and many other options. The key thing is that everyone needs to have at least compatible conceptions of which of the many valid play-styles is in use and everyone should enjoy the chosen style.

Remember that games and shows are different

I'm not a huge follower of Matt Mercer, but I know enough of his work to know that he is highly conscious that he is creating a show for entertainment with a group of players that personally have skills geared towards creating shows. He has a different focus than you do (unless you also have an audience).

Of course Matt Mercer and his group want to have fun, but they often do things for the sake of making a better show rather than only worrying about fun and they have a highly skilled group doing it.

Generally, especially as a new GM, it helps to stick more closely to the rules than his show does or than similar shows do and you will have different motivations when you do modify them. By all means, use house rules if they help you (I do all the time), but chose your house rules based on what is most fun for you and your group of players, not because they make for a more entertaining show for an audience or just to speed things up (unless your group decides together that they want to speed things up).

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    \$\begingroup\$ For me I wasn't having fun, and from reading everyone's responses I think it was because I was allowing the players to do what they wanted without communicating I wanted something more bare-bones, starting from nothing, and eventually building to more powerful. And I think what you've said about CR is something I definitely need to keep in mind, that I need to be more conscientious of this being a simple game for me and my friends and not a show, that we're all new at this. Thank you for emphasizing this. \$\endgroup\$ – Julian Feb 8 at 18:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ A better series for beginning DM's is the Matthew Colville's DM channel which focuses on help for new DM's, youtube.com/… \$\endgroup\$ – John Feb 11 at 4:01
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I've found that this is a pretty normal experience in new D&D groups. Adapting to being a team and not having players decide that there's something they want their character to become is tough, because it requires a completely different type of "writing" than normal. I think the important thing is to remain firm on rules; the players are likely pushing you as you establish new norms in the group.

If you don't want the problem player to keep pushing, keep using your gentlest and firmest "teacher voice" to say no. I would be willing to bet that after a bit more gaming, they'll figure out what the standards are at this table and settle down. (If not, you may need to outright tell them to cut it out.) You may also want to peruse the responses on this question (which you may notice I asked, while in a similar sort of pickle regarding players with a lot of backstory; the response was overwhelmingly "chill out, some people would kill to have this kind of player involvement", which I've tried to take in stride).

Additionally, I believe firmly in what KorvinStarmast recommends, which is out-of-game communication. It's been absolutely vital to every game I've ran. In general, I've found my players to be much more trustworthy with metagame information than I expect them to be. Obviously, this is table-dependent, but if your party has the same level of story buy-in as you see with the cast of Critical Role, giving them more chances to get involved in shaping the story and knowing where it's going can get great results. I have a number of players who actively set their characters up for rough situations, or even outright failure, because they have a sense of where the story is going, and they want to create more drama.

Finally, D&D with new groups is a kind of a trust fall. It reminds me of a video of a guy trying to convince a little dog to jump off a bed and into his hands. Starting out, your players will likely have a hard time committing to the jump, because they're not sure if you, as the DM, will let them fall. Coaxing them into that rhythm is difficult (and, in one case, required the judicious application of madness traits). Give them time to trust that you'll create interesting things for them to do-- and then make sure you do it!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I actually had read your comment first!, hence me feeling okay posting my own. And yeah, I think as you've pointed out.. I need to be willing to trust my players more and establish communication. Reading through your own question made me realize how similar our situation is, hopefully it ends up the same \$\endgroup\$ – Julian Feb 8 at 17:25
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Start a new campaign with your own setting

In my years as a DM, I've learned the following lessons which may help your situation:

1. Give the players what they want—within reason.

In as far as the game rules and treasure guidelines allow, give your players the gameplay experience they want. This will keep them happy, which is ultimately the DM's goal.

This doesn't mean to simply hand over everything the players want up-front: their requests may form the basis of a quest or adventure, which gives them a goal.

Does the character's backstory explain that they are an experienced veteran, even though they're only level 1? That's fine. That's just background lore, so it's not game-breaking. Level 1 characters are already exceptional and often have years of background and training.

Do they want an item to make them better at sniping? Perhaps they have to quest for it. Their military unit had one, but it was stolen and they have to find it to take it back; or they have to find a wizard who can create one, and do him some great service in exchange for the item.

2. Invent the setting as you go along to meet the game's needs.

Your players may not be as interested in Matt Mercer's campaign setting as you are. A big mistake I've made in the past is to assume my players are as interested as I am in a particular campaign setting. To paraphrase Matt Colville, the setting is not the game.

Invent the setting as you go along, based on the needs and requirements of your players.

Does someone want to be from a certain guild, background, race, family, or organization? Add that to your world. Does the next adventure require a city? Now there's a city. Let the players' backstory inform your game world.

Does the player have an idea for a major campaign feature? Take it under advisement, and even consider incorporating their creations into the world. Remember that while you're the ultimate arbiter of your world, there's no reason your creative players can't contribute.

The only real restriction I'd recommend is that you shouldn't let people directly create campaign concepts that empower their character unreasonably.

3. Don't use gestalt. It's overpowered.

I recommend against using gestalt character rules. It defeats the division of character roles which can help to make sure that every character feels useful and important. It makes your characters more powerful than intended and the game becomes increasingly about victory through character optimization rather than player skill.

This would mean that you need to start new characters from level 1, since players will find it unfair if you nerf their existing guys. Perhaps let them carry over any XP they gained from their old characters.

4. Different players want different things, and that's normal.

The Dungeon Master's Guide, p.6, ''Know Your Players'', describes different categories of players who each have different motivations. It's okay for one guy to want to explore a lot of lore, while another wants to build the most powerful character.

In particular, the guidelines describe a Storytelling player type, who enjoys using their character's background to shape the story of the campaign, and the Optimizing type, who wants to make the most powerful character they can. The guidelines give you some good advice on how to appeal to these players.

5. Study the Dungeon Master's Guide

Read the Dungeon Master's Guide thoroughly. It contains the distilled knowledge of decades of DM experience and will serve you well as you run a game.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I would love to do this, but I felt that following a concrete world would allow me not to worry so much about creating lore on top of trying to keep the story and action flowing. Im afraid of what little I could improvise just going off what I'd need - but I guess I could still do the same prep just with my own info? And the reason for gesalting characters was to have a more rounded party - three of our four wanted to be rouge so instead of waiting to multiclass, I allowed gestalting and we now have healers within the party instead of just glass canons. I could craft a rouge only campaign tho? \$\endgroup\$ – Julian Feb 11 at 17:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Julian The disadvantage of a campaign setting is that instead of inventing new things, you have to spend energy learning existing lore, and DMs can often feel constrained by that lore. It can also restrict the DM's willingness to incorporate player ideas about the world, which sounds like a problem with your current group. If you invent your own world you can still incorporate ideas from existing settings. \$\endgroup\$ – Quadratic Wizard Feb 11 at 19:24
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Julian,

I'm a really new DM as well, I kind of assumed the mantle for similar reasons. A DM we had lined up didn't work out so I discarded the character I had created with the group and jumped in as DM. I also chose to use published adventures/settings for the same reasons you mentioned. Apologies if I am off-track, but it sort of seems like you got the DM title without the respect for the role from your players. Sort of a "we want to play this kind of a game, if you're the DM, make it happen for us". I would suggest the following (In my humble opinion)

  1. Scrap the gestalt characters. This has been mentioned repeatedly so I'll just echo it. If they all want to play rogues, then either have them multi-class or play a rogue based campaign
  2. Establish a clear guideline for how decisions and progression will be handled. I told my PC's from day 1 that I would be using strictly encounter/resolution XP to mark progression, sure they whine a lot about not being level 2 already, but I stick to my rules and in this way, they won't be OP Godlings facing Goblins and Kobolds in this level 1 adventure.
  3. If someone is habitually stealing the limelight, steal it back and shine it on someone else. Pick the least engaged RP or encounter player at your table and throw a little something in a session designed specifically to entice them to the front row.

At the end of the day, there's much better advice here than what I am giving, but just stick to your guns.

TL;DR:

Don't gestalt, start over, establish your personal rules for the table and stick to them.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah I think so too, I think for me since we're all friends I have trouble pulling them in and getting the 'respect' you talk about. I think we're definitely gonna scrap gestalt and just have more potions or pcs to balance their lack of health. I don't think there was any problem with the amount of progress just them not understanding that they're like suppose to level up, but i think what you said will help. I will definitely follow that, we (myself included) can tend to be very shy and specifically crafting will help overall. Thank you tho \$\endgroup\$ – Julian Feb 12 at 1:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Totally understandable. You don't have to a dictator either though. I found that spending some time putting my basic rules into a word file and printing it on an 8x11 handout showed that I was not only committed to running a good game for them, but that I was running the game when it came to rules and adjudication. Again, don't have to be a tyrant but just give them the impression that you've got something up your sleeve and by adhering to the rules of balance and fair play, they'll reap the rewards. \$\endgroup\$ – DarkWolf Feb 12 at 13:51

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