Ι am struggling to find helpful information about when it is appropriate for a player to challenge a DM's decision.

There was a recent question which triggered this "old chestnut" for me: Does a Swarmkeeper lose their swarm if they die?

If a DM decides that a Swarmkeeper Ranger permanently loses his/her swarm when they die for the first time and there is not a way to recover the swarm, then -in my books- the DM has gone too far with their "it's my way or the highway" attitude. And, this is not in the spirit of the game.

I've had other experiences similar to this, where the DM removed the soul of my PC -because he didn't like it- and, when my PC "died", he said "sorry unresurrectable" by any means. Yet, everyone else's characters were resurrected many, many times.

On another occasion a DM specifically targeted one of the other player's PC by a mob with CR that was enough to wipeout a five-person L15 party, yet the player's PC was only one level 10 character. The reasoning: the mindless mobs had a thing for Gnomes! The player was really upset and it ruined the session.

I have been myself a DM for donkeys' years... and I allow my players to contest certain things. ...I may even backtrack at times if what they explained makes good sense or there is not a RAW/RAI rule to fall back on. It might even become a house rule after that at the table.

It would help to have some guidance on this. D&D is a game that is meant to be fun for the DM and players alike. Yes, with fun dramatic moments, but these examples are not in the spirit of "fun". In none of the examples I gave did any of the other players think those rulings were fair.

So, is there any guidance in the D&D literature about how to resolve these sort of disputes, other than "The DM always has the final say!"?

I would appreciate answers from any of the D&D editions and/or concrete examples from experienced DMs.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a similar question with an answer that seems well suited for your question: How do you handle a difficult DM in D&D? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 22:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also look through this search for more related questions: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/problem-gm \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 22:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ So, is there any guidance in the D&D literature about how to resolve these sort of disputes, other than "The GM always has the final say! that varies widely among editions - so what are you looking for in an answer? See also the various answers on this Rule 0 question. Yours may also be a dupe of that. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 23:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, please read this: How has D&D's guidance to DMs on when to extrapolate from written rules and when to improvise changed over time? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 23:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ This question is way too broad in its current form. It's vague and rambly and the examples given aren't explained well. The question could be addressed better if you narrowed the focus to one category of disagreements (e.g. in-game vs out-of-game, or RAW interpretations, or objecting to narrative events, etc), or re-framed the question from either the GM perspective or player perspective. For example, if you proposed a framework for letting your players contest GM decisions, and you asked how that might affect your games, then that could be answerable here. \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeQ
    Commented Mar 16, 2021 at 19:31

1 Answer 1



The GM is the final arbiter of the rules. It is never appropriate to contest them, and you cannot really win such a contest. What is often called Rule 0, that the GM makes the final call, is in the rulebook, at least in some editions and it is basically understood in the others. There is no way to trump that and trying is confrontational and almost never productive. As discussed more in the linked question and its answers, the only real constraint on Rule 0 is what players are willing to tolerate as a group, and the only way to enforce that constraint is to leave en masse.

The one possible exception is organized play if the GM does something that might affect you in later sessions. But I assume this is not organized play and even in organized play the times it is appropriate are few and far between.

BUT....there are ways to politely request they reconsider

While I explicitly say you should never contest a GMs ruling, that doesn't mean you cannot persuade them to reconsider.

But that is just it, you are persuading them to reconsider. How to go about that depends on the GM in question. That is a separate question and would likely get answers similar to this one: How do you handle a difficult DM in D&D?

But the very short version is, politely and in the spirit of making sure everyone has fun. If you approach it that way and make your best argument, you may well get the GM to reconsider. If they don't reconsider or if they are not polite about it, then you may want to decide whether it is worth accepting it or looking for a different table. No RP is generally better than "bad" RP, and for purposes of that sentence "bad" RP can mean bad for you and not necessarily objectively bad in any way. Some people just have incompatible play styles.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks - this makes sense. Would you be abel to add Korvin's suggestion of: Is there a limit to Rule 0? into your answer as well (as you mention rule 0). I think this would answer my question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Senmurv
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 23:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Senmurv Lightly expanded to link that question and very briefly summarize the top voted answers. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 23:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Tipp for any player: if you want to have a discussion about a DM's decision, talk to them out of the game. That way both of you are emotionally not as involved anymore AND it's not annoying/boring for the other players \$\endgroup\$
    – Hobbamok
    Commented Mar 16, 2021 at 9:18

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