Bad Dungeon Master Stories

Bad Dungeon Master, Bad D&D Player, or Other

D&D Ideas -- Blood and Bone
Dungeons & Dragons Spell Effects: Arcane Fury and Divine Might by WizKids

DMing ain’t easy Yo! Maybe your Dungeon Master could use a little slack, maybe they are a problem player, or could it be they just had an off day. 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons has become super popular and we could use as many Dungeon Masters as possible. Part of that is making the idea of being a Dungeon Master welcoming.

Bad Dungeon Master, Bad D&D Player, or Other Video

Bad Dungeon Master, Bad D&D Player, or Other Video Transcription

Dave: “Ted. Forget that game we’re playing right now. I got a whole new idea.”

Ted: “Bad DMing!”

Bad DMing

Dave: “Sweet! 3rd level spells Leomund’s Tiny Hut here I come.”

Ted: “I’m sorry Dave, but I don’t allow that spell in my game.”

Dave: “Bad DMing!”

Bad Dungeon Master

Ted: “All right I got my brand new 1st level character an aarakocra archer ready to go.”

Dave: “Ted, there is no freaking way I’m allowing a 1st level character to be able to fly.”

Ted: “Bad DMing!”

5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons

Dave: “You walk into a smoke filled tavern. The bartender looks your way and yells from across the room. What will you have?”

Ted: “What No funny voice? No interesting character? No description? Are you even trying?”

Dave: “It’s just how I do it Ted.”

Ted: “Bad DMing!”

D&D Player

Dave: “ Today we asked the question”

Ted: “is it just Bad DMing?”

5e D&D

Dave: “Welcome to Nerdarchy , for nerds by nerds. I’m Nerdarchist Dave . and today as always I’m joined by this nerd.”

Ted: “Nerdarchist Ted.”

Dave: “Hey, maybe this is your first time hanging out in Ted’s basement with us. It’s a place where we like to share as news, views, and home brews for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons. Sometimes we talk about other role playing games.”

Ted: “If you don’t want to miss a single video, don’t forget to crit hit that subscribe button and attune to that notification bell.”

Dave: “All right this video is actually inspired by an email that came in. So Ted, you want to read that That uh, that question.”

Ted: “Sure. So it says I am new to playing D&D in my and in my current D&D game, the DM is changed the campaign seven times in two years. We play every other week. I feel like this is bad DMing because he is, he has changed the game without the players concern.”

Dave: “All right, so there’s a bunch of stuff in here that we can kind of unpack. But the biggest thing a lot of times what comes up in you on the Internet, on social media, even your own comments and our own videos is you know, this accusation of bad DMing we see it happened really quick. I feel like at first of all, I just want to say that anyone that goes to the other side of the screen and takes the initiative to run the game for other people. You know, I think they deserve a little bit of leeway instead of just accusing of a bad DMing let’s remember that there’s other players at the table as well. So we’re going to unpack that a bit in this video.”

Ted: “Absolutely. First I’ll jump in and say that you know as, as you say, it’s, it’s a lot of work to be on the other side of that table and unless you’ve done your share on that side, you got to pull the reins back on the on the bad DMing because it, it’s, it’s really challenging, especially when you’re, when you’re new to that side of the table and if you’ve got no other options, then just keep your mouth shut.”


Dave: “Like for this particular question I would say instead of saying, is that bad DMing have you had a discussion with your GM to try and unpack and understand why he keeps restarting the game Is it something the players are doing, you know, whereas games are constantly being derailed. Is it that he’s overworked as the DM and is getting burned out Maybe, you know, maybe you guys are playing every week and it’s only one person that ever DMs, you know, maybe they want to actually be a player in the game at some point as well. They want to play their own characters and not just DM, but they’re the only person willing to DM. And you know, there’s a lot of things that we don’t, we don’t know the answers to. But that being said, whenever there’s a problem at the group, the group should come together and discuss it and talk to each other and hopefully, hopefully you’re playing with people that are your friends and you can work through these problems as friends, you know, and, and with any kind of relationship, it can be complex, but communication is key.”

Ted: “We’ve had, uh, you know, questions, comments come in over the years and even prior to us doing Nerdarchy , you know, we’ve had issues at our own tables and always the go to thing is, have a conversation, ask questions and try to resolve it away from the gaming table. I think you could do it there, but not while you’re gaming, you know, talk about it and see how you can seek a resolution. Uh, because that is the first and foremost response to any problem is talk it out. And if you can’t seek resolution there, then you have to go in other directions.”

Dave: “Now you know, before we go any further, you know, it might not always be a bad idea to start a new campaign. There is a Kickstarter free can’t new campaign going on right now that has my eye and it would be really hard not to jump in to that.”

Ted: “So we’re gonna segue over into the awesome sponsor for this particular video. And that is the Kickstarter for Humble Wood from the people at deck of many. And there’s a lot of great stuff going on in that kickstart. The world in this Kickstarter is ever den and it’s primarily based off of, you know, animalistic or anthropomorphic and no animal races. In the, in the main book you get five birdlike races that you can be able to play with. There is new magic items and there is new monsters. There’s an adventure designed for low level pcs and you know, if you want to just take this and put it in a section of your world or just use the races and magic items and monsters for your game it’s a great source of material.”

Dave: “If they hit the stretch goal, they’re going to even unlock another five races. The humble folk.”

Ted: “The humble folk. Now there’s a lot of great add ons, you know, for this, for this Kickstarter. So if you don’t want to get the big bundles, you can still find a way to either get the dice, the pins. There’s minis that you can get for these uh, specific races. I know I got my eye on it because it looks really awesome.”

Humble Wood

Dave: “ So do us a favor help out the channel by checking out the sponsors. You can find the link down the description. All right, back into bad, DMing. And we mentioned like even in some of our own videos, you know, we catch some flack, but because we bring up conversational pieces that we want to talk about, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we eliminate these things from our games. And we like to compare them oftentimes to previous editions.”

Ted: “You know, there’s, there’s times that, you know, we, we ourselves, as much as you know, people really enjoy watching our games. There’s Times that we slip into, into some old habits because we’ve been playing so long. I know I’ve had times where someone wanted to do something, it was part of the story and I still had them make a roll that’s bad DMing right there because of it. You know, what happens if he fails, you know, the story gets held up because of a roll was there, you know, so you just need to move on and you know, go through the situation and you know, as, as players be a little bit more lenient when these kinds of things come up.”

Dave: “So as I mentioned, there was a couple things that, you know, a couple of videos that we’ve done more recently that I want to point out, overpowered race feature wrecking your dungeons and dragons game. And that’s where we talk about darkvision and how it really eliminates some of the, the creepiness from the game. And there’s definitely, you know, some cause of bad DMing that for anyone that might have a problem with darkvision. So we, you know, we’d like to do those kinds of videos to discuss some of these things that could come up in your game and different ways you could deal with them. And you know, just because a particular GM has an issue with dealing with this problem, it doesn’t make them a bad GM oftentimes, you know, as gms are making rulings on the fly and they have to figure this out without disrupting your game and keeping things moving. And you know, sometimes you, like Ted said, a bad call can happen or they react really fast so they don’t have time to think about it. And like Ted said, maybe you should just cut him a little slack when that happens.”

Ted: “I know sometimes we like to do videos where we want to get, you know, the inspiration flowing. We want to get, you know, the, the seeds of conversations started and you know, that that whole darkvision thing that that was, that was one of them, you know, because some DMs had been playing for so long and back then most races didn’t have the ability to see in the dark. And you know, you only had a fair few that are like, oh well I can do this and I can do that. You know, and it’s, it’s changed the scope of the game and you know, sometimes I want you to be like, oh well here’s a problem. How do you deal with, how do you deal with it We know what is the solution and the, these are fun video topics to, to go on and it gets a lot of, you know, awesome interaction and comments from your great viewers out there.”

Dave: “Yeah. At this point in 5E it’s more rare for a race that not have darkvision that it is.”


Ted: “So we also had the magic made easy button ruining D&D and that was, you know, there are so many spells that are out there that just change life in the world of dungeons and dragons and things like, you know, create food and water. But like, yeah, there’s no need for a survivalist game because I got a, you know, a cleric in the group and first level spells solves that problem. No big deal. So these were things that it’s another topic of well how do you get around or how do you deal with this kind of a question.”

Dave: “ Yeah. A lot of the utility spells in 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons can completely shut down the exploration pillar. Right And so we, we thought it was a good topic to point out. Man in that one. So many people were really quick to say, Oh, if you can’t get it with that as a dungeon master, you are a bad DM. And I just wonder how many of those people are actually dungeon masters themselves that make that claim. And, you know, so as we talk about these things and we bring them up because for the most part, Nerdarchy really limits virtually nothing at our table when we actually play, you know, so to us it doesn’t matter that much. But when we’re talking about these topics, we’d like to bring them up and discuss them because other dms might need a hand and they might want to think about these things when they come into their game and how they deal with them. And oftentimes too, there’s really helpful a gms and players that gives suggestions in the comments too to help these dms. And that’s ultimately what we’re always looking for. Instead of just going to accusing, you know, the DM of being a bad DM because maybe they don’t know how to deal with a particular problem that comes up in their game.”

Ted: “ And you know, Nerdarchy likes to, to help with advice and there’s loads and loads of players in jams out there who do come to Nerdarchy and watch our videos, uh, to, to build themselves up, you know, within, within the game. So while you might make that call as, oh, that’s bad GMing or you know, I, I already know how to deal with this problem. You know, this video is not for me. And that’s fine. There are some times and video might might not be specifically pointed to you, but other dms out there might need that advice. They might not have as much experience.”

Dave: “You know, also it might just be a great opportunity for that GM or that person who doesn’t think there’s videos for them to help out those other gms to weigh in and go, you’re like, well, this is how I would do it in my game. Or this is how I look at problems like that. So they can, they can take part in the conversation and, and help you know members in the community. It might be that might be struggling with those problems.”

Ted: “That’s a really great point there, Dave.”

Dave: “All right, so let’s start dissecting things a little bit. First of all, bad itself, that word is kind of a problem. Because bad can be very subjective.”

Ted: “Uh, what, what some people might consider, oh, this was a bad call or you know, that is bad DMing is exactly how some other other players might be seeking the game.”

Dave: “I know I’ve gained for all types, you know, that, you know, there’s three different pillars of the game. Mine, mine tends to focus more heavily on role playing our social and exploration, not so much on the combat. And I’ve, I’ve had loads of players are coming to my table and they are combat heavy players. So it’s like, oh, you know, they’re sitting there and they’re, you know, falling asleep or they’re rolling their eyes and it’s like they just want the action and I’m like, it’s not always my focus. You know, what are you going to do So now in that case that that player might feel what I’m doing is bad DMing.”

Ted: “You bring up a great point because I remember another game that was played in where the GM actually apologized because there was only one combat that happened at the very end of the gaming night.”

Dave: “ So, but that’s fine because it’s just a different style. There was nothing to apologize for. That’s how the game played out and some people just want that. It’s not a big deal.”


Ted: “ That particular session changed my whole, my whole viewpoint on DMing because that combat was literally around and a half long happened in less than 10 minutes and I’m like, wow, we play for four hours and you know, so much of it was just role playing and you know, this was before I started watching any stream games or any of that kind of stuff and I’m like, Huh, I can do a lot more with, you know, my time at the, at the DMs seat then just let me put out combats.”

Dave: “There’s three pillars. Why not explore them all, sure. Next stuff, ted, let’s talk about the elephant in the room here. Right. And that is the gaming group itself, the table itself and how many players are actually at the table.”

Ted: “That does make a difference.”

Dave: “You know, if you have a GM and five players, how many players are at the table It’s a trick question because you know, some people view this two different ways, right Some people will tell you there are five players and a GM.”

Ted: “Right.”

Dave: “Some people will tell you there are five players and a GM, right Someone else might tell you, no, there’s six players at the table and we lean heavily in. There are six players at the table category.”

Ted: “You know, this is one of those things that it is a really, you know, it’s uh, it’s a big problem out there because a lot of players are like, well that person is to, you know, choosing to GM and they’re here to entertain me. And as, as crazy as it sounds like, I’m sorry you, it is a group game. It is a group storytelling, you know, adventure game that everybody has to have fun. I as a GM, I am taking time, you know, while you’re off doing other things, I’m going to have to be preparing material, thinking about what I’m going to do for tonight’s session or next week’s session. You know, we’re, whatever you’re, you’re, you’re not having to do any, any work. You might have to level up a character. Oh, I gotta plan magic items. I’ve got a plan encounters I got to make NPCs, you know, some gms go all out. They, they paint minis, they make terrain and they prepare an adventure that that’s there for you and if you’re not willing to consider them a player after that are doing all of that. I’m sorry, but that’s a problem.”

Dave: “It absolutely is Ted, and you know not, not only that, it puts all the onus on one player at the table. You know the other players are kind of getting off easy because they’re just going to sit back, play the game and then at the top it off. If you’re just willing to to willy nilly called the GM a bad DM for whatever reason. Sure. There are instances when there are definitely instances where bad DMing happens at the table, but it’s not really bad DMing most of the time. Most of the time it is just bad behavior from a player and just so happens because this player is the DM, you know that the onus of you, it’s the DM, but it’s usually not the problem. A lot of times the problem is the player and you have a problem player anywhere is at the table. Obviously it affects the game more when it’s the DM. But problem players are well problems.”

Ted: “So this is going to bring up a really, you know, a big point. And if you feel that, you know, all right, well the person who is just being a bad DM or in your case that player is not doing well for the game and they are the GM this asks a big question, does it change your willingness to DM?


Dave: “Well, and that’s it. So when you have a lot of people that want to point their finger and accuse someone of bad DMing, does that stop other players from stepping up Because now they’re intimidated. What No one wants to be called bad at anything, right No one wants to get caught out. But at the same time we need new players to take that seat behind the screen and run the game. So if we are more encouraging and forgiving on our gms, perhaps more people will step up and go to the other side of the screen.”

Ted: “So from that point, I know that one point in time I was reticent to step behind the screen. You know, these, these, uh, you know, the other guys I was playing with Dave and you know, very a former GM, Steve, you know, they’re like, look, we want to play and we want to play together because they were friends, you know, before, you know, the, the group was put together and I didn’t want it, but Dave was like, all right, I’m just going to show you in the chair, you know, kick you, kick you into it and be like, look, I don’t care how good or bad you do your DMing.”

Dave: “ Well, here’s the thing too, like really important that I need to interject. That is before the Internet, that was much right. Imagine, imagine if every time you went online, you hear people accusing these new gms or gms in general as being bad gms. And then all of a sudden maybe you didn’t even think about, oh my God, I’m going to be a bad GM. Or you’re just nervous about sitting behind the screen for the first time. But now you’ve been on the Internet for years and years and it’s like, oh my God, you’re like, you’re like a, you know, the kid from Home Alone. All of a sudden.”

Ted: “All of a sudden, this was before the gaming industry really had any kind of settled presence, you know, on the Internet, you know, more than 15 plus years ago. And you know, I’m, I’m glad that I was thrust into it because it’s something that to this day I really enjoy doing. Um, you know, I get to be the one to kind of create and share these awesome stories, but it’s, it’s, I only get to create, you know, starting points and that as we all tell the story together, as we all come up with stuff, you know, great things can happen. And the creative aspect of it is, is just, you know, you know, such and such a love that, that I’ve developed over the years.”

Dave: “So I just want to say, you know, as a DM, as a player, as someone who really loves bringing new people into the hobby and likes to see this hobby grow, I think as people we should come together. And we should support DM ‘s more. And when you want to accuse someone of being a bad DM instead, first, why don’t you examine what they’re doing and decide, one, are they bad DM or are they just being a bad player, right. A bad person at the table two, can this be resolved with just having a conversation Can the group come together and talk it out and discuss what they like and what they don’t like. Uh, openness I find in any kind of relationship is key with, with being very communicative towards one another”

Ted: “In that, you know, in that communication, you know, if it’s a bad instance, a bad call, you know, as a player there was no there, there shouldn’t be a harm and asking say, Hey, can we do this instead You know, instead of saying, look, you know, you know, all right, you won’t allow me to play an aarakocra because you don’t allow flying. You know, I want to play it because I liked the concept of the race. I don’t want the powers, can I be an aarakocra and have my flying be replaced with something else? So there’s ways to have a given a taken and do it through a conversation. If things can’t be resolved, well then, you know, I apologize. Um, you know, and then in relation to you saying, well, that’s a bad call. If you don’t have a solution that’s better than what the DM is saying, you’re not willing to step behind the screen. Then just pull back on the reins and you know, maybe it’ll be better next session.”

Dave: “So with that, what do you folks think? What do you think makes a good GM or a bad GM? We can discuss it down in the comments below. Do you encourage new GMS at the table? Have you taken up the GM role yourself? Or are you still a little hesitant? Let’s discuss it down in the comments. Why are down there Don’t forget to like share and subscribe.”

Ted: “On the way down there. Don’t forget to stop by the description and check out the link to the awesome Kickstarter for Humble Wood.”

Dave: “Until next time.”

Both: “Stay nerdy!”

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Follow Dave Friant:
My name is Dave Friant I've been gaming off and on for over 27 years. But here is the thing it's always been a part of my life I've kept secret and hidden away. I've always been ashamed of the stigma that gaming and my other nerdy and geeky pursuits summon forth. Recently I decided screw it! This is who I am the world be damned. From now on I'm gonna be a geek, nerd, or however folks want to judge me and just enjoy life. Currently one of my greatest joys is introducing my 13 yr old son to table top RPG's.

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