The Real Rift - Players and DMs

  • This is something that I've been mulling over in my head for some time now. Throughout the several years that I've played City of Arabel, I've come to know a great many people as this curious branch of friends that this new generation is ushering in - friends I've never met in real life before but find much more entertaining than plenty I'm acquainted with in real life. In the constant process of gaining these friends and sharing vicarious experiences with them through our characters, you tend to pick up on certain syntactical cues, quirks, and peeves much like you would a real life friend.

    Lately, I've been noticing (or perhaps fabricating the notice) of a schism between players and DMs; a wedge being driven between us. I've analyzed this situation for some time now, though I've been meek in my desire to post it for you all to see. I suppose then that I'm running off 3:00am inspiration, which is generally never a good thing, but we'll see where this takes us.

    Do we as players irritate DMs? If so, how?

    This is a legitimate question to ask. Much like we have to deal with annoying customers or frustrating residents in our neighborhoods, so too do DMs have the same displeasure in being bothered by players with certain traits. I've taken the time to note some of these various negative traits. They include but are surely not limited to:

    Defeatism: "The DMs hate me, I never get approved for anything! Ugh, my opposing team always gets everything, too!"
    Elitism: "Clearly I deserve to win this conflict, and I need to have as much OP loot and levels as possible in order to win! I'm obviously the best."
    Depression: "I don't know why I even try, I never accomplish anything and everything just sucks. I should just quit CoA forever, but I'm actually going to come back."

    Hence, players who exemplify these attitudes, I shall refer to as DEAD-beat players. Now, obviously these are hyberbole and not meant to be taken as quoted examples. However, the general concept remains the same: We are here to enjoy a vivid roleplaying experience that a handful* (we'll get to this later) of men and women so lovingly maintain both for their own enjoyment and our own. They are not being paid to do this, nor do they receive tax benefits, social rewards, or intense pleasure (unless you're cyb0ring). This is bordering on altruism, and each DM will likely tell you the same thing: they love the stories it creates. When such a hobby is then transformed into a situation similar to a bad desk job - dealing with piles of complaints coming from DEAD-beat players, their fun is crushed under the heavy weight of player negativity.

    Now let's observe the flip-side.

    Do DMs irritate players? If so, why?

    Again, we'll analyze this much in the same way that we tackled the first question. Dungeon Masters are not gods, nor are they demigods, immortals, cosmic architects, or titanic leviathans of the cybernetic world. They are as human as we are, and they exhibit the same flaws as we do. Since there are significantly fewer* DMs than players, these flaws are harder to peg. However, let's try to break it down.

    Deadly: Sometimes a DM will come home frustrated from work, a personal relationship, or some other part of everyday life, and they might vent on unsuspecting players. This is unprofessional and I have heard of it happening before.
    Evasive: Certain periods of time will notice a sincere lack of DM appearances, particularly the Australian time zones. This is unfortunate, but it's simply a circumstance of life. Not only that, but a lack of response when inquiring with a DM can be somewhat frustrating.
    Absent: Perhaps one of the most debilitating blows a character can receive is when a DM largely running a major plot point disappears for various reasons - sickness, stressful job, school, and/or lack of interest. This last one can be a particularly harsh stab.
    Die-Hard: It can be really rough to interact with a DM when the DM in question has a very strict, flat view on the matter in question, whether it's asking for application advice or trying to discuss possible futures with a character. Sometimes this dutiful approach can leave players feeling jaded and dismissed when it may just simply be the best answer available.

    Just as there are DEAD-beat players, there can be DEAD-beat DMs. One clarification I would like to make here, however, is that everyone has a DEAD-beat moment in their life as a roleplayer. I have absolutely held a defeatist attitude before when talking to a DM, and of course there are days when DMs are feeling particularly Deadly behind the wheel of that DM client. It happens.

    I'm not saying that once you are a DEAD-beat DM or Player, you're always going to be one. Quite untrue - every DM you see today used to be (and many times still are) fun and interesting players that made the server interesting by telling wonderful stories, adding to the collective joy of Arabel.

    But how, then, do we adequately deal with the resounding uprising I've been seeing lately in DEAD-beat attitudes?

    These are my suggestions, as a player, that I think both sides could benefit from:

    1. Greater DM Transparency. It would be nice to see an open mission statement from the DMs, perhaps even a copy/paste from their forums on the exact rules and regulations they are supposed to follow. What standards are there? What is expected of you as a DM to maintain when helping players create stories?
    2. Size Increase. It might be a good idea to start bringing in another DM or two, especially considering the lack of attention the time zone I'm currently writing in gets. It would also help alleviate some of the workload I know you guys are having to put up with in both preparing for V5 AND running plots AND fixing bugs AND having a real life.
    3. Player Pacifism. I think there is an increasing trend towards raging whenever something doesn't go right in the general player collective, and this really ought to stop. Raging and ranting over IRC is not going to fix anything. If you feel so compelled to express yourself, grab a DM who has the time or another player friend and privately discuss the issue. Publicly broadcasting your woes only leads to global negativity, and no one wants that. ALSO, if you feel particularly slighted, I HIGHLY encourage you grab a DM before spreading news of your plight, ESPECIALLY if it involved a DM in the first place. There are some who are more than willing to listen to your concerns and try to iron out the issue.
    4. Profiling. Arguably, this is already done via the forum account profile on this site, but I think it would be exceptionally neat if there was a sub-forum or an allowance on the Playing Times forum for a slot where players AND DMs could jot down a list of different roleplaying styles, stories, and interactions they enjoy most when playing CoA. For example, I could list my love for dark fantasy elements, combat-heavy quests, and pauses between combat that allow for detailed emotes. The "Know Your DM!" topic does this wonderfully, and I think this should be an option for everyone to pursue.

    Agree with it or set it ablaze, these are my observations. Take them as you will, but thank you for reading all the same.

    tl;dr = Friendship is Magic!

  • Well done, my apprentice.


    On topic though, good stuff. The raging is high these days!

  • The raging has always been high. We just have fewer people now and many are on IRC so its more visible.

    I've found myself being DEAD-beat many times, but I think my recent progress has diminished that somewhat. Learning to plot and realising that your death doesn't matter helps. Lack of deep emotional attachment too.

  • I will bring up a view points on this, not answering everything I am sure.

    1. Making new DM's. Everytime a new DM is made a good player is taken from the playerbase. If everyone is DM's who is left to play? The DM team aren't that thin on the ground at the moment, in certain Timezones perhaps but it has already been looked at. DM's are not made for their timezone but rather what they can bring to the team.

    2. What happens IC stays IC. You didn't bring this up but I think you should. DM's often get a lot of flack because players are unhappy about something that happened IC. They chose to complain rather than deal with it IC which is so frustrating for us because there is a world of possibility out there to vent your IC motives! We have had examples recently of players coming to DM's rather than dealing with it (As they should) IG. More often that not it is this kind of thing that makes DM's lose interest in plots. If your character is knocked back IG don't take it out on DM's.

    3. Rules for DM's. The rules for DM's are the rules for players. We have to be fair, respectful and create fun. If you think a DM isn't following the rules a player should then you can speak to the team and we will discuss it. We're not a faceless organisation of terror! We were/are players who love this community and want to see it thrive. We have arguments and bicker just like any community would but we all want to have fun at the end of the day and make sure the players do as well.

    Very well written post Neo, with good points and backing of your arguements. I just hope responses follow the same trend and this doesnt end in a lock. DM's are not there to screw you over, or to stop you having fun. If we throw you a curveball to see how your character deals with it don't take it as punishment. We will be far more impressed and willing to run anything for you if you're always positive and easy going. For example (Sorry Citizen Bane) A Sheriff who started doing loads of brutal law enforcement and kicking ass left right and center might well get a telling off from his superiors and threatened to be fired if he doesnt clean up his act but that is an IC response to IC actions. Is that a punishment? I love what the Sheriff is doing I throw Rp exp on him whenever I can. but actions (Or inactions) have consequences. It is important to enjoy the up's and the down's of playing CoA. It is a game afterall. I look forward to further points about this, bringing us all closer together is only a good thing.

  • Sorry for what? Sexy sheriff is sexy!

  • @Stooge:

    2. What happens IC stays IC. You didn't bring this up but I think you should. DM's often get a lot of flack because players are unhappy about something that happened IC. They chose to complain rather than deal with it IC which is so frustrating for us because there is a world of possibility out there to vent your IC motives! We have had examples recently of players coming to DM's rather than dealing with it (As they should) IG. More often that not it is this kind of thing that makes DM's lose interest in plots. If your character is knocked back IG don't take it out on DM's.

    Actually, this is the same sort of behavior that makes me lose interest in plots too. I don't like having to "play" CoA on an OOC level, nor when someone else steps out of the game to try and plead a particular case OOC. If one person does it and the other doesn't, it feels like shooting yourself in the foot to not give your side of the story properly - and before you know it, you're caught up in it too.

    I still can't stop myself, too often, from voicing a particular gripe, but at the very least I avoid complaining about something that affected a character of mine while I am still playing that character. I am fine with giving feedback after a character is done, but not immediate feedforward that attempts to change events that have only recently happened, or "counter" them with some favourable turn of events (but most often will just demoralise others by trying to alter their playstyles).

    I personally think the server would be better if OOC-level bargaining was left out of it when it concerns a character you are currently actively playing. It detracts and distracts from handling a situation ICly. So if you are fighting SuperVillain_X and think he is way-too-strong/has-too-many-perks/is-favoured-of-the-DMs, keep it to yourself and if the situation still seemed grossly unbalanced by the time your character ends, bring it up for discussion. Don't spoil what story is being built by walking off the stage to have a discussion with the producer about why your character is being used as a piñata.
    The very worst thing you can do as a player is threaten or otherwise pile on OOC pressure to change something you do not agree with while it is happening, if it is a story or IC event.

    You can either shut yourself off from the OOC boulevard and be riding this ship:

    Or you can strike the fear of upsetting/losing CoA's playerbase into the DMs (and indeed other players) and ride this ship:

  • Lizard provides an excellent support as usual.

    And Stooge, I very loosely covered that in a vague sense when I was describing the overall negative characteristics of players - I just never bothered to boil down to the IC/OOC disparity (likely because this was written in the wee hours of the night!)

    Invariably, what we see many times is a "Ask your Mother/Ask your Father" scenario when it comes to players who feel neglected/overthrown/overpowered/overwhelmed by DMs and/or the opposing side. XxXWhineyPlayerXxX will then go to DM_Y_Button and ask for advice on how to better trump his/her enemy, when really they probably ought to be seeking means of conquering their foe ICly.

    Let me just make this statement from personal experience. A DM will almost -always- help you out if you're seeking a creative, fun way to inspire conflict, especially if it doesn't end in FD. For the sake of this topic, though, I'd appreciate it if we did not bring up PvP or FD any further. This is about interactions between players and DMs, and we have several topics on PvP already.

    In counter to that, though, I would argue that some things REQUIRE a DM before going forward. You can't avoid it - someone needs to be manning the client while you do this. For example, if you're going to create a fabrication of the Golden Relic of Trom, then curse it so that the paladin in possession of it next will grow a wart on his left cheek, you REQUIRE a DM to make that item.

    There is a nice way to contact DMs for storyline progression, and then there's the not so nice way. Use common sense. Be polite.

  • Good points in these posts. It hopefully will cause many players, including myself and even some DMs, to re-evaluate attitudes and play expectations.


  • My philosophy is: cherish what you got, dont whine. Be yourself a player or a DM.
    Stooge words are my own.


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