Myself and a few other people are in a Pathfinder group where our original DM was wanting to play. So he gave the DM duties to one of the players. That player turned out to be a controlling, mean DM who basically does whatever he wants. He almost made another player to want to quit the campaign. Luckily, myself, another player, and our original DM convinced the player to stay (because otherwise we wouldn't have had a group).

Myself and the other player are really getting mad and frustrated with this new DM. When we told him to give the reins of the campaign back to our original DM, he just laughed. How can we make him stand down from being the DM?

Additionally, one of the other players wants to kill the mean DM's character in-game. I don't know if it's the right thing to do though. Please help.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In regards to this question, could you give some examples of mean things the new DM has done? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 1 '15 at 21:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Did you only tell the mean DM to give up his game, or did you and your group explain that you weren't enjoying his style and provide suggestions about how he could improve? \$\endgroup\$
    – RayB
    Feb 1 '15 at 21:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, really needs more details on the specific "mean"ness (not giving a monty haul campaign?), how he is "controlling" (he's the GM, you know) and what exact actions that he "does" that are whatever he wants. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 2 '15 at 8:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ What did this DM do exactly??? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 2 '15 at 15:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Put on hold - can you unpack this a little more in terms of what the offending DM is doing and what y'all have done to address it so far? It just reads like "DM mean we no like" in which case "talk to him and/or leave" is as good advice as anyone can give. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Feb 2 '15 at 16:24

All of you should leave and continue playing without this person. Someone so unreasonable as to laugh when everyone says they don't want them to DM anymore is not going to agree to anything that improves the situation by reducing their power over the group. So take the power away by doing something that doesn't need their cooperation: walk away and leave them by themself.

You can play without them, or their character. You're never a DM's prisoner. Show them that they don't have any power that you don't give them, by taking away the power you give them. Then forget them, and start enjoying roleplaying again.

If that seems socially wrong or scary, remember that when you tell them you're not playing anymore your task is not to judge them as a person, your task is to communicate that you're choosing for yourself how you want to spend your leisure time. Done with diplomacy and self-assurance, leaving a group or DM does not have to involve burning any bridges.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems a bit hasty to jump straight to the nuclear option like this with so little information. \$\endgroup\$
    – AgentPaper
    Feb 1 '15 at 21:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AgentPaper The "nuclear" option of remembering that one is not a helpless prisoner of the GM is always an option, and hardly nuclear. Besides, a nice simple "woah, just walk" answer is a useful choice to offer voters. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 1 '15 at 21:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ As far as I am concerned this is not nuclear at all. People seem to forget with RPGs that you are under no obligation to play with a particular group or person. Assuming that the player(s) have tried to reason with the GM and had no luck, then walking away and playing without them seems perfectly reasonable \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Feb 1 '15 at 21:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Please take discussion to chat. Feel free and improve this answer given this feedback. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Feb 2 '15 at 14:39

Here is a simple idea, and it should guide all of your gaming:

Play games you like, with people you like.

Don't play games you don't like, nor play with people you don't like. There is no reason to stay with someone you aren't having fun with. Notably, based on what you've described, he has no interest in meeting any of you halfway or trying to make it fun for the group. Anyone who isn't trying to make fun for the group, shouldn't be in the group.

You have other people who you enjoy playing with, one of whom can DM (really, with practice, any of you can) and you should do that.

Have fun, it's what games are for.


The last thing you want this to turn into is a power struggle.

Dungeons and Dragons is a game fundamentally built on trust. You, as the players, need to be able to trust your Dungeon Master to not abuse his power, just as the Dungeon Master needs to be able to trust you accept his rulings and not completely derail the campaign.

The problem you're having here, is that this contract of trust is being sorely tested, if not outright broken. There are two ways to resolve this issue:

1) Work on your relationship with the DM. Explain the problems you're having, and try to understand why he's acting the way he is. Is he the only one to blame, or have you breached the contract of trust as well in some way, and his actions are retaliatory? Perhaps the issue is rooted in something outside of the game that you can resolve? It's hard to give specific advice without knowing more details, and ultimately it's up to you and their social skills to accomplish this.

2) If this can't be resolved, make a clean cut. Tell him you are no longer interested in playing with him. Don't make threats to replace him as DM, as that will only lead to more bad feelings and DM versus Players mentality. If you decide that this is your only course of action, then just do it, and sooner rather than later.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What do they do after telling them they're no longer interested in playing with him? (Go elsewhere?) \$\endgroup\$ Feb 1 '15 at 22:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Go elsewhere. This sounds like a DM from the depths of hell... \$\endgroup\$
    – Shalvenay
    Feb 1 '15 at 22:25

Others have pretty well covered the "The DM is a jerk" aspect of this, so I am going to give the alternate answer.

You cannot make him want to stand down, nor should that be your first option.

It's hard to know what this DM has done (if you could edit some details into the question that would be great), but I suspect that most of the problems are because this is their first time DMing.

DMing is hard, sometimes very hard.

If the DM is being controlling, that is likely because he put effort into design a specific scenario or general campaign, and the players are wanting an open world. It can be hard to improvise interesting content if the players depart from your prepared script too significantly. If the DM hands a quest to you in a tavern, it is polite to accept the quest. If you go to another tavern and ask if there is any mercenary work, you had best expect that a suspiciously similar alternative quest will be the only one available.

If you are planning something that will derail the campaign, announce it at the end of a days DnD, not the start. i.e. you slay the bandits and rescue the princess. The DM calls it an end to the session. If you're planning to ransom the princess back instead of freeing her as you were meant to, announce it immediately. If you wait a week and announce that in the opening minute of your next session, the DM will be more likely to railroad you.

If the DM is making fights too hard, then consider this helpful tactic. Don't name your character. The tragic death of Sir Loucious the 4th, defender of the faith is a lot more hurtful than having to erase the character sheet of a generic 7th level paladin. In some campaigns, characters die. Deal with it.

If the DM is not giving out as much exp as you expect, then this may be something you have to grow accostomed to. A lot of DMs write a campaign, they know what level you start at, what level is appropriate to be at for the final section, and level you up accordingly to fit that trend. Maybe he wrote too long a campaign, but he doesn't want epic level characters fighting off the pesky bandits that stole 2 oxen and a goose from the local farmer. Again, deal with it - some campaigns are slower.

If the DM is 'cheating', then you should accept that most DMs cheat. Whether to move the plot along (yes, your spot check worked), to make things more interesting (you fell asleep on watch I'm afraid), to keep you alive (damn, the boss just happened to miss with all his attacks), or just to adjust stats on the fly if the encounter calls for it.

And of course, if the DM being a jerk means insulting players, picking on someone's character for personal reasons, etc, then just leave.

And above all else, decide on this. Is this DM trying to play a game where everyone can have fun? (work with him to make DMing easier for him and help) Or is he just deliberately being a jerk? (follow seven sided die's advice)


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