OK, this might be a weird one, but I would like to know how to help our DM to be more impartial in our game.

I'm playing a campaign of D&D 3.5 with five friends. They're almost all new to RPGs and one of them, Bob, voluntereed to be the DM. We all get along pretty well, except for some tension between Bob and a rule lawyer, Steve. As Bob is beginning, and I had already played a bit, I help him to find and choose monsters for his campaign.

On our last session, a city was ravaged by extraplanar creatures far above our levels, and we were supposed to flee. Nonetheless, I wanted to try something epic. Thus, with the Barbarian, we decided to stand and fight — and managed to take out a Bebilith. At level 2. We had a strategy, baited him, lured him, and trapped him. We were really lucky on the rolls, and barely survived. It was indeed epic, but Bob slightly helped us, placing items we were looking for on our way.

Earlier, as I am the only human in the party, he gave me an item to help me see in the dark. He tried to balance it, but it still a magic artifact, wich must cost around 1k gold.

He is way more severe with Steve, as the player tends to look in the book every two seconds. (i.e. creatures attacking him or his pet before attacking others in the party - wich is fun for us, but not for him).

Now, I'm not complaining, but I'm afraid that we're beginning to abuse his kindness. I don't mind if my character dies because of a bad decision: it would be my fault. But he may be letting his feelings lead the story.

How can I help him realize this, and make him understand that our mistakes should not be handled by his interventions?


2 Answers 2


First off, you should talk it over with him. Tell him how you feel about this situation, what you've observed, and why you dislike it. He might recognise his partial behaviour and want to change himself.

In my opinion, what he did during the battle with the Bebilith was a good thing. From what I can make out of your story, the village was overrun with the creatures, and you managed to take out one. That would barely have any impact on the situation, while it probably was an epic battle worth remembering. The only risks you would have as DM if you do this, is that the players start feeling overpowered and stop taking this game seriously, and I don't think that has become the case here. I think the most frequent thought right after that battle would've been: "Awesome! We got that thing down! Now, let's get the heck out of here before- OH MY GOD IT'S ANOTHER ONE!"
Correct me if I'm wrong.

The magic item he gave your character to even him out with the party is not a bad thing; the DM can and may even out some unevenness in the party. However, if you think he hands out too many magic-items, you can simply tell him you think so. Apparently, he's new to DM'ing, which means he's most likely still learning his role. If he's open for criticism, tell him about this. If he's not, you still want to casually mention this, as it could become a serious balance-problem later on.

Now, I feel slightly bad for Steve. No one likes rule lawyers, but you're bound to come across one when you start this new hobby with five people. You should tell him what kind of impression he's leaving on you guys, and why that's bad. Tell him to have some more faith in the DM, and pay more attention to the session itself instead of the rules behind it, because, as many people believe, the D&D rules are merely guidelines.
However, the way your DM is treating Steve is still unfair. I am not certain if this has roots in their social lives outside of D&D, or if it's because Steve's been annoying with his books. In both cases, talk to the DM. Tell him you'll be talking with Steve about his lawyer career, and that he should become a little less strict. But also tell him that you also think the treatment Steve gets is unfair, and that he should pay attention to his own behaviour, else he might upset Steve and lose a player.

TLDR; Talk to your DM. Talk about everything you might be upset about or anything that you feel bad or different about, and talk it over.
Also talk to Steve, and tell him to not be too strict, as the rules are often taken simply as guidelines.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I must admit to being some kind of rules lawyer myself; I can't help it. However: (1) I do not look-up rules in the middle of a session, (2) if as far as I know a player or the DM is not following the rules, I may ask "Are you sure?" if I feel it matters, but try not to, (3) the DM is always right. When I think that some stuff was weird and it's important, I research it off-line and discuss it off-line with the person(s) involved. Interrupting a session and letting 4/5 persons waiting is just rude. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 31, 2015 at 12:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MatthieuM. I find that extemely considerate of you, and want to thank you on behalf of anyone ever playing with you. :) However, I'm afraid that there are some people that rather interrupt everyone to proof that they're right, instead of just rolling with it and simply have fun. Still, I'm very glad you made me remember that by far not everyone fits that description. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joninean
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 14:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, more than looking for praise, I intended the comment more as a guideline for other "rules lawyer". They may just not realize that they are spoiling everyone's fun, or that there are other moments to talk about rules than right in the middle of the session (or fight). \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 31, 2015 at 14:55

Although there are many different schools of thought on what makes for a good game, I would argue an impartial GM is a key asset. It can be tempting to fudge rolls and inject impromptu circumstances that assist the players, but I find this is difficult to do without the players being aware, and that leads to a sense of stealing their opportunity to solve conflict and achieve goals with their own wits and means. It's also tempting to reward or punish out of game behaviour with in-game consequences, but again, this will take away the players' sense of challenge or fairness. Being impartial, even to the point of total party kill, can lead to a more fun and exciting gaming experience.

In the end, the degree of impartiality depends on the group dynamic and expectations. The way to solve the problem is to get everyone on the same page, or at least understand what page everyone is on. I would say the answer is not simply to talk to your DM; he's already laid out a playing style and expectations. If the two of you get together and change that, it will only lead to more confusion. However, if the group discusses this (and at least ideas from the same page tool), expectations can be clear and you'll have a much better chance at the group having a good gaming experience. Good luck.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This seems to be musings on the situation, without giving any answer to the question. Do I misunderstand something? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 30, 2015 at 5:28

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