Friday, August 20, 2010

Theory: Be Consistent

T, my G.M friend is a great scholar and generally an OK G.M. , however he has one big flaw. A lot of his games fail do to inconsistent GMing

A classic example.

D&D 3.5 "The Lost Greeks in the Swamp game"

I want to play a God Touched Warlock with some survival skills. The concept is approved and is going well till I make a simple request "look can my guy have a proficiency with a machete as a simple weapon. I'll use the stats of the sickle minus the trip so its balanced."

He answers "No. The rules say it needs to be short sword " This is annoying but I shrug, go Ranger 1/ Warlock 1 (we always start at L2) and the game commences.

About half an hour into play we have an encounter with a gator and proceed handily to kicks its green leathery buttocks. This is fine and good till T, deciding that we are winning to easily starts making arbitrary not supported by the rules rulings to make it more challenging.

The annoyed the play group so much, the game collapsed a session or two later and we never revised it.

What we not wrong here is lack of consistency.

There is nothing wrong even in a more rules rigorous game like 3x or Pathfinder with a "rulings not rules"approach but if you are going to do that be consistent and rule in ways that increase the fun. More importantly, don't call onthe rules when you aren'tr going to bother using them anyway. Its hypocrisy .

I generally advise being generous as well with changes in the appearance of things, especially when such changes fit the game. Fluff is never after all imbalanced.

How I would have handled the request

T "Well my concept is a swamp wise Warlock. I figured I'd take cosmopolitan as a feat and take survival "

Me: "OK Cool"

T "Say can I take a machete as a weapon. I'll use the stats of the sickle minus the trip attack. Its one less than a short sword."

Me: "Sounds Fine" or alternately if the flavor is more important "Uhm, Short Swords are kind of important to the flavor of the game, this being Greece and all . How about a long knife you can slash brush with . Treat it as a slashing dagger."

How would I have handled the encounter? By the book. Besides if I think the players need more chakllenge, the gator can always have a mate .. Heh heh heh...

This I think would have annoyed the players a lot less and lead to a lasting game.


  1. There's no excuse for being inconsistent when DMing. It's not even about presenting a fair world, as much as not being capricious and mean when not "winning."

    See: Killer DM. ;)

  2. Yep. Nothing worse than a killer DM

    As petty as it was I admit I was kind of pleased when the Greek game collapsed.

    The issue with the desert game was understandable, it was a just a naturally ungenerous GMing style (not my preference but understandable) combined with poor communication.

    The Greek issue OTOH was one of basic fairness which was a much bigger problem.