Author Topic: Stories of Terrible Games and Terrible DMs  (Read 3834 times)

Offline ProphetSword

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Stories of Terrible Games and Terrible DMs
« on: February 25, 2015, 10:50:39 AM »
I've got my share of stories about terrible DMs from my past and terrible games I had the misfortune to play.  And I've collected quite a few off of the Internet that I've shared with my players.

I'm sure I'll throw a couple into the ring as we go, but I want to hear about terrible experiences you've all had.  Or terrible DMs that crossed your path (whether you played with them or knew someone else that did).  Let us enjoy your misery!
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Offline ProphetSword

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Re: Stories of Terrible Games and Terrible DMs
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2015, 11:51:17 AM »
When I first moved to the city where I now live, I went looking to be involved with a game.  Met a guy who claimed he ran a great game of Dark Heresy and asked me to join.  The other players would be his wife and his best friend.

I got a copy of the book so I could properly generate a character.  When he found out, he was furious.  He told me not to read anything beyond the first section (character generation section), as I wasn't supposed to know anything about the history of the setting or what was going on.  I figured he had a good reason for keeping us in the dark.

I attend the first game, only to find out that his wife has full access to the book and knows it inside out and his best friend has a stack of books based on the RPG that he has memorized.  I'm the only one in the dark about the setting (I knew nothing more than it was science fiction based).  This will be important later.

The game is slow-paced and boring.  I spend five sessions watching the clock as these six-hour games crawl along (during that time, there was one combat where I was able to fire off a single round of ammunition).  The game revolves around some girl who disappeared from her dorm room at the local university, and we investigate her disappearance...even though the GM is terrible at giving us any clues about where to go (so a lot of time is spent just looking at each other until he relents and gives us an "obvious" clue our characters must have missed).

The character I generated was an assassin.  Why a paid assassin is doing detective work to look for a girl who disappeared is never really explained.  Had I known this was going to be the plot, I probably would have generated something different.  Not that it mattered, since I never really got to do anything...I might as well have played a File Clerk.

As mentioned above, I was completely in the dark about the system setting.  Aside from "it's science fiction," I didn't know what the rules of the universe were.  Were there laser pistols?  Space ships?  Aliens?  I didn't have a clue.  Which made it all the more baffling when the other two players kept looking at me with the expectation I would know what to do next. 

Asking me how we should go about something or how we were going to get somewhere was confusing.  My answer was often:  "I have no idea...what do you suggest?"  And they would just shrug their shoulders.  These people who had access to the setting didn't even know what to do.  It was aggravating.

Conversations like this would happen:

Player 1: We need to get to the factory.
Player 2: What should we do?  (looks at me)
Me: I'm not sure.  Can we take a transport to the factory?
GM: You can't.  There are no transports that run through here.
Me: Can we go where a transport does run?
GM: Where is that?
Me: I have no idea.
GM: Then I guess not...

After about five sessions, when we finally found the girl (who turned out to be the daughter of some high-up noble or politician), we were screwed out of the money owed to us and basically told we were lucky we were going to be able to walk away from the situation alive, and that we should never mention this to anyone.  No explanation as to why.

That night, I told my wife I was never going back to those games.  The GM wrote me an email and said: "I don't think we're having enough fun.  We should generate new characters and start over."  I never responded to that email and moved on with my life (eventually finding two different D&D groups in my area)...and that was 7 years ago...so he's probably still waiting.

Final note:  Sometimes when perusing advertisements for players and GMs in my area, I come across this guy.  He lists himself as a fantastic GM who knows what players want.  I've been tempted to warn people away from him...but seeing as how he keeps popping up on these sites over and over again, I'm guessing he's scaring enough people away himself.

Now, feel free to share some of your stories (I have more to share).
« Last Edit: February 27, 2015, 11:54:11 AM by ProphetSword »
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Offline Milos Gulan

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Re: Stories of Terrible Games and Terrible DMs
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2015, 04:12:43 PM »
I guess i could count my mistakes. I never had a really terrible game and most of the time first time playing was unforgetable experience for me and my friends. We always played Ad&d except few time me running my own system.

First bad thing that happened in our party was when our GM started to play with us :). I don't remember it that well but now I will try to tell the tale. Will post from desktop because it is harder to type on my old laptop.

Offline Milos Gulan

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Re: Stories of Terrible Games and Terrible DMs
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2015, 04:40:48 PM »
So our initial GM was from Belgrade and he was friend of our first GM who brought us 1e books. We used to play at his house and that was real nice place by the sea a bit far from center of town.

He has run for us I think at least 2 or maybe more adventures then he got bored and wanted to play with us. His best friend (younger 1 year, and my age who was one of my best friends and who introduced me to Ad&d) made some adventure (now i don't remember this part so good but i think this is what happened) and we started to play. Our GM played thief CN (he always was solo player doing things he liked, true that he was most experienced, he also like to play CNs because then he could do anything), i played Illusionist, maybe we had another thief or assassin and probably a cleric.

So our inexperienced 2nd GM (my friend) started the story. We met some people who asked us to save some princess from dragon and we just started to laugh (we were 3lv probably), and didn't wanted played that adventure (truth was that GM didn't prepared so good, and our 1st GM just didn't wanted to fight dragon as most of us, though i still feel that we could play it).

I don't remember who GM-ed after that probably that 2nd GM but I really can't recall any details. But here is what happened. Our group gathered some treasure (4000gps probably) and we were thinking what to do. I don't remember why now but I think our 1st GM's thief wanted to buy a house or something like that for himself (or some other reason) and we refused him so he got angry and I think he alone or with help of other thief (or assassin) stole our gold and went to other town. We started to chase them and party fight was about to begin. That is where it ended with a break up of party.

After that our 1st GM started to GM again, he probably was a bit angry but as most of us bored without a good game that has going on for 2 years at that time so we continued from time before conflict and party split agreeing that nothing happened and we continued as party into his adventure. That was our last adventure, we got into a cave full of ogre magis that had lots of tricks (I was Lv 4 or 5 Illusionist at that time) and there was a young dragon with them. And as we were lucky we stumbled into his chamber and we were TKP-ed. Thats how our first Ad&d campaign ended.

To summ it up our 1st GM was really good with a great place we all enjoyed, although we didn't had much book back then he was really good and could improvise and he could act characters much better then I think I ever could. He was talented but also sometime bored with GMing and wanted to play with us but no one could run a good game back then. Then I stared to GM, after our 1st GM stopped and went to Belgrade. He never wanted to GM again, which was really sad, and he didn't played with us anymore except one time at summer.

« Last Edit: February 27, 2015, 04:42:37 PM by Milos Gulan »

Offline Milos Gulan

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Re: Stories of Terrible Games and Terrible DMs
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2015, 04:54:11 PM »
I think my first more serious adventure was Beneath twisted tower that we got with FR Box set. We played it during summer and we didn't finished it (or maybe it was a TPK, i don't remember now :)). Bad thing that happened and it was my mistake is:

We had at least 7 people and in the second session one more new player was about to join. He wasn't liked by many but still somehow he got in and we started to play. What i did is that i entered his character at the entrance of the underground and he needed to find rest of the party. It happened that it was his first time and he being unexperienced went down and found one sleeping character from the party (others went deeper). Now I didn't tell him that it was a party member (just described what he sees) and he killed that sleeping party member assuming that it was some threat. I still feel bad when I remember what happened, but at that time we mostly were playing like that. We would take PC in other room and describe what happened to him if hew wasn't with party or he did something on his own :)

Offline Milos Gulan

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Re: Stories of Terrible Games and Terrible DMs
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2015, 05:13:36 PM »
Another bad thing that happened, probably my biggest mistake ever. It was one shot game during winter after that summer. We started to study and somehow we gathered there was 8-9 players and they wanted to play. I didn't had anything prepared so I made quick adventure for them. We played at one of the new players flat.

Story was about Nirvana (Nirvana was at that time popular https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTWKbfoikeg and I mostly was inspired by that band), i had 1e MM (2nd book) and was reading about leaders of Nirvana. I don't remember how they got there but they was searching for some artifact and they actualy met leaders of Nirvana (2nd or 3rd in command) who told them that they need to prove they worth and the best will have the chance to take the artifact.

The challenge was to fight each other party members till death in the maze, and the winner would be able to get into the chamber with artifact. Bad thing that i did back then is that i didn't offered equal chance to another new player who wasn't liked by many. I just gave him NPC slave with minimal equipment still he fought good and maybe even won against paladin (or he almost did...)

Anyway adventure continued and party members fought each other, final duel was most interesting and oldest player won. After that he discovered secret chamber where artifact was where he was teleported. It happened that he was suddenly teleported to dark room, and he being confused he didn't know what to do. He just needed a light source and to open the chest with a key he needed to find in the room. But he gave up, thinking that it is something harder, so he ended up being there till death.

I ruled realisticaly at that session but later I always returned to that place and was sorry that I actualy didn't helped somehow. He just needed to light a torch, unlock the chest and return to leaders of Nirvana when all party members would be resurected. I guess I could finsih that adventure with happy ending and I always will be sorry for the bad ending that i could actualy turn into party win of othervise good and interesting one night adventure (at least for me).

Later that singer of Nirvana died and well somehow i felt bad about all that even more.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2015, 05:16:33 PM by Milos Gulan »

Offline Vix

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Re: Stories of Terrible Games and Terrible DMs
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2015, 09:09:47 PM »
I don't have any terrible gaming stories, per se.

Biggest would be me and a friend getting a group of a dozen plus kids meeting weekly at the local library to play Dungeons and Dragons back in the early '80's. This was over the summer months, then on Saturday's when school started ... so maybe 4 months total or slow progression and gaining more and more kids (ages 8 to 16). Only to have one religious fanatic mother get it all shut down under the Satanic game scare.  /sigh

Offline Olivier Leroux

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Re: Stories of Terrible Games and Terrible DMs
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2015, 05:30:02 AM »
I don't have any real stories to tell, as I only experienced three different GMs in RL. One was a classmate, and I guess he wasn't were very good, as I don't remember much about the game sessions apart from the players kidding around all the time and the characters not really getting anywhere. When we'd travel from one point to another, time would pass in RL, and when I asked: "So what's happening now?", he'd just reply: "You're still travelling". It didn't feel like the adventures were very structured and the GM didn't really take control of the situation. I guess he'd tell the players to stop kidding around from time to time but to no avail. Then again, we were all just teens with no prior experience of roleplaying.

I also tried to play with people I didn't know once, answering to an ad. I went there two times, first to create my character with the GM, then for the first session, and then I got told the campaign was cancelled. I never really learned why but it sounded somewhat strange to me and I suspected that the GM just didn't like some of the players and wanted to continue without them. I don't think I gave him any reason to dislike me, but who knows. To tell the truth, I didn't feel all that comfortable playing with the others either. I never tried to apply for a game with total strangers again.

The third GM was actually a great one. I already knew him and the group before we started to turn our meetings into pen and paper session, and it was a lot of fun. The custom settings and adventures were well-planned, the GM was flexible and able to react to our characters and ideas, it was never boring. The only thing I didn't like was a situation during the second campaign, which I already  mentioned in that Favorite Spell thread, when he had planned to have the whole group imprisoned, executed and resurrected by a mysterious ally. It was all part of the story he had worked out, but of course we players didn't know that and naturally fought for our lives. The others got captured but my character gave the pursuers the slip and subsequently started several attempts to free the others. The GM played along for some time and it was great, but for some reason or other all my attempts failed. Eventually, he took me aside, revealed what he planned and appealed to me to just let it drop and get captured, too, so he could move on with the story. So I did him the favor, but I was quite disappointed, as it didn't feel right that the execution of our characters was part of a fixed story, I mean it's just a game and in the D&D universe resurrection isn't such a big deal, but to me it was - it didn't want my character to die and get resurrected by a mysterious stranger if I could avoid it, and I did avoid it and could have saved the others from that fate too, if it wasn't for the GM's appeal to play along. Even though, in general he was a fantastic GM, I still feel a GM shouldn't purposefully force the players to die in this way, just for the story. That's kind of a sacrilege.

Offline ProphetSword

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Re: Stories of Terrible Games and Terrible DMs
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2015, 08:08:36 AM »
Speaking of playing with strangers...I've made a lot of friends that way.

Starting with the age of the dial-up BBS, I found two players who ended up being friends for 15 years (a guy named Bill and another named Shawn), and one of those guys played with me the full 15 years before I moved away.  In the last five years, I have met three other people on gaming forums (Sean, Sean and Christopher), and two of them are still in my gaming group (one of them moved away).

So, meeting strangers can be a crapshoot, but if you feel them out first to see if they'll be a good mix, it can work out pretty well.

Usually, if I've already got a group, we just arrange to meet the stranger someplace public with all of us attending.  Then, everyone makes a decision if they want that person to join the group.  You can always tell if everyone has chemistry or not. 
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Offline Olivier Leroux

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Re: Stories of Terrible Games and Terrible DMs
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2015, 11:07:23 AM »
Usually, if I've already got a group, we just arrange to meet the stranger someplace public with all of us attending.  Then, everyone makes a decision if they want that person to join the group.  You can always tell if everyone has chemistry or not.

Who knows, maybe that's what that GM did, too, and for some reason I didn't meet his expectation. I could tell he did get along better with some of the players and not that well with others, I just didn't expect to be in the latter camp.  :o

Offline Milos Gulan

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Re: Stories of Terrible Games and Terrible DMs
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2015, 12:54:24 PM »
I most of the time look to fill the places in the party, if there is more people then I usualy prefer to play with people I played for longer time. If there is more people then one party we usualy choose another DM who coGM other party, happened few times :)

Latest thing that happened to my party was a deck of many things. We played in Mystara, I think some village east of Karameikos. And there was a Kenku with a smaller deck of many things and he charged for every card that was drawn. I was against idea to mess with that but rest of the party was probably just bored and after adventures we started to draw cards. It went good first but then someone got void card (death or lost in some plane), so we tried to save and drawn more hoping to get wish (or limited wish) and save our party member. We all ended up in void except one who got reduced Int to 0.

I was thinking about that yesterday and it would be much better if killed that Kenku at start instead of loosing our 7th lv characters... But at least we had a lot of loughs while drawing cards and loosing our characters XD
« Last Edit: February 28, 2015, 01:00:29 PM by Milos Gulan »

Offline ProphetSword

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Re: Stories of Terrible Games and Terrible DMs
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2015, 07:54:10 PM »
Deck of Many Things = End of Campaign.  Happens a lot.  A buddy of mine recently unleashed one during his 5e game, and one of the characters drew five good cards somehow...now the game balance is a little skewed.

Use it with care.
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Offline Milos Gulan

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Re: Stories of Terrible Games and Terrible DMs
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2015, 04:09:03 AM »
We drew a lots of good cards, my paladin with str 18/90 leveled up, got keep and others got something too, till we got into trouble. But yeah it is just invite to mess everything up. From now on i am considering that magical item evil and it is just best to be destroyed :)

Offline Vix

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Re: Stories of Terrible Games and Terrible DMs
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2015, 10:05:55 PM »
Deck of Many Things

Used it in my last (4e) campaign.

The drunken dwarf battlemind drew a card, got a ton of money. Basically a letter of credit for the gold was found on the same table as the cards, with his clan name as beneficiary. He used the letter of credit to buy a bar in the dwarven hold they were near, married his 9th wife, and set her up to run it. He called it the Pickled Pixie after what happened to the pixie below.

The pixie bard, seeing this, drew a card ... forgot what she first drew, but it was favorable. Drew again, and got imprisoned by the BBEG (a vampire who became an exarch of Orcus) inside a red jewel he wore around his neck. This turned into an entirely new campaign path to rescue her.

The human avenger drew and got a magic item.

The half-orc barbarian did not draw.

The revenant assassin did not want to draw, but he always played it that he did whatever his goddess, the Raven Queen, told him. He felt a strong urge to draw. He drew the one where you are supposed to get attacked immediately, but i made it so it would occur later ... he was attacked by the minions of the vampire exarch to keep them from continuing to find the pixie.

So, in this case, the deck created story and plot and adventure for my group.

Offline Uatu

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Re: Stories of Terrible Games and Terrible DMs
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2015, 03:55:50 AM »
I'd like to tell a terrible DM story... but I was always the DM, and I don't want to tell terrible stories about my own DMing.  Sigh.  I wanted to be a player, to be honest...

My story is a bit like Vix's first up there.  So, when I was a teen, I started playing AD&D with friends at church (we were always stuck there until 6-9 PM or so, every Sunday, with essentially nothing to do, so it was a natural fit).  After a while, our group of 4 or so became a dozen or so kids...  Of course, then the ministers told me that I was practicing deviltry, and had to stop.

Ironically, I was quite religious that time, to be honest - and my campaign's clerics were essentially Christian clerics.  I also noticed the uncanny similarity between Christian publisher "David C Cook" and then-TSR writer "David Z Cook"... but of course they are not the same people.

One reason I sort of went with the end of my gaming group, though, was because one player had become too, well, attached to his character.  He made too many bad rolls, and although I was a very lenient DM, I think his PC died or else lost levels or something like that.  He then started to threaten to shoot me with a little toothpick crossbow or something like that...  That was a bit weird!
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