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Losing the feel in playing/GMing Dark Heresy (and maybe all role-playing games)


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#1 Hexagono

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 11:11 AM

Hey everyone,
I am posting this topic because I am having trouble GMing my own Dark Heresy campaign. I have been GMing most of our group's campaigns (Warhammer Fantasy, Deathwatch, etc.), though I am beginning to resent it given the level of hostility that could result. Part of this involves me having to argue with other players about specific rules and how players tend to exploit certain aspects of the game though I try to disallow it. One of these instances includes a player being able to disarm an Ogryn who was wielding a power-fist. Though there was no specified rule on this weapon being removed, I was skeptical by the fact that he should have been able to achieve such a feat. Another incident had been where players would just roll dice and then declare exactly that they were going to do once the roll was favourable. This sometimes involves players rolling dice without me looking at the result and become suddenly offended when I want to see. Some incidents had shown that one of the players had a bomb detonate in their hand and they casually rolled without declaring and then suddenly re-rolled to show a less damage result. I know this is just a game and is meant to be fun, but it gets kind of old when a player suddenly succeeds on all of their tests despite their ability being at a low level. Another incident had been where players would complain that I make certain scenarios too hard (though it had been their fault for failing each objective leading up to the final conflict). Even the character personalities tend to create barriers as players would be at each other's throats because of some small incident.
It seems to me that this has made me not enjoy directing campaigns as much as I used to. Though these games are meant to be enjoyable, people take offense to when certain rules are unfavorable (whether I decide them or not). I do read the rules on several occasions to refresh myself on the combat dynamics etc. Another huge issue is that I am not as well versed in the 40k lore as some of the members and this often creates other complications revolving around hierarchy between the Mechanicus and Inquisition.
I thank you for your time in reading this and would like some recommendations on what audiobooks I could listen to in order to grasp a better idea of the sci-fi world. I am just running out of energy in creating this campaigns or even GMing them.

 

 



#2 Lynata

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 12:40 PM

Whew, this sounds like a harsh case. And if things are really as bad as you say, the only advice I could give would be to begin looking for other players before this group saps all your fun. There is, of course, also the option to talk it through, but personally I would not expect anything but an awkward situation and defensive arguments of it. Some people just have a different understanding of how things should be done, and this may result in a "lack of compatibility" to enjoy a common hobby.

It really sounds as if these players are deliberately exploiting both the rules as well as the level of leeway you grant them in order to achieve their goals. It must seem fun to them, but obviously not to you.

Disarming a power-fisted ogre is something where I would expect a GM to go "hahahaha … no!" and leave it at that simply out of common sense, or at best improvise and allow a player to roll for some sort of sabotage where he can pull a cable out of the weapon, thus disabling the power field and turning it into an improvised melee weapon ("metal boxing glove").

Anyways, my impression seems to be that your players did not deserve you putting so much work into GMing their games, and you did not deserve being treated this way by your current players. Cutting the game is a drastic step, but ultimately I think you will be much better off with a different group of people. :/

Alternatively, you could also try out the Deathwatch RPG - it's not exactly a solution to your problem, but characters are fully intended and expected to act much more heroic and badass there, having lots of special rules and abilities to help them stomp the opposition, so that perhaps they will not feel tempted to cheat unless pressured. Not sure how much fun you'd have, though, as it will surely be tricky to hit the right balance between having those players feel comfortable as well as keeping things interesting.

 

Hexagono said:

Another huge issue is that I am not as well versed in the 40k lore as some of the members and this often creates other complications revolving around hierarchy between the Mechanicus and Inquisition.

This is a bigger problem than you might think, as even if you have read a lot of sources, the franchise is not consistent. There is no proper "canon", and depending on its origin one book may give you a completely different answer to your question than another.

People are usually prone to stick with what they "grew up" with and thus may not like having other interpretations of the setting being pushed down their throats even if everyone is knowledgeable - at least this is how I feel when reading contradictory fluff. As such, this just seems to be a matter of sheer fortune … whether or not the level of overlap of the various players' knowledge is sufficient to have them act in a common vision of the 41st millennium.

There are some common themes which are usually respected in the various works, it's just a lot of details where individual authors disagree on.

Take your question on the Inquisition vs Mechanicus, for example. Personally, I'm always going by GW fluff first, which means Inquisition > All (explained in their own Inquisitor RPG, even including an example), but I am quite sure that at least some people on this forum will disagree, and not just out of personal preference but because they've probably read some novel that simply gave a different impression on such things.

Often, such apparent conflicts can be resolved by the cop-out of most things in the Imperium being "a matter of circumstances" (like: individual Inquisitors do not all have the same level of influence and political pull, regardless of official law), but there is still a ton of questions where you'll be stuck with an either-or-choice.

Ultimately, we all end up with a personal interpretation of the setting, influenced by whatever we happened to read.



#3 Noctivagent

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 05:18 PM

 Oh man… I know this feeling. Honestly, I have to agree with Lynata, this group is not for you.

Sounds like the players are not giving you any respect, and that is the sure sign of a mismatch of GM/players. Don't let anyone ruin your game. Next time someone breaks the rules or ruins your fun, kick them out of the game. If you made things too difficult, but have justification for it. GOOD! Let the players screw themselves, but don't let them say it's your fault. If they claim you're to blame for making the game "too hard" or whatever, then seriously tell them that they ****** up. It's their fault that they did things wrong. Examples: I've had DnD players NOT bring light-sources into a dungeon, and blame me for not reminding them. I've had DH players blame me for having combat be too difficult, when they used absolutely no strategy. Don't put up with it. You spent your time preparing this game. How long did the players spend on the game? The drive and the time spent at the table? Exactly. **** that. And if they're not even putting in the effort to succeed on a mission? Lack of effort = BAD PLAYER.

As much as I advise against it, if you have to make it work with this group, try to identify who the biggest contributor to the problem is, take that player aside and address the issue. If the problem persists, give them the boot. Otherwise, the type of players you've described are going to turn from disrespectful to gamer bullies. And those types of players destroy GM self-esteem. They need to be kicked out of the RPG hobby altogether, in my opinion. 

Maybe I have an elitist attitude, but it is not fair for you to spend your time preparing a game just to be disrespected by the players. Your best option: Find a different group.



#4 Hexagono

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 06:20 PM

 The thing is that I know quite a bit about both Fantasy and 40k. However, I have players that are usually pretty aggressive when they are confronted by something whether it is concerning role-play or video games (very competitive people). They aren't in the wrong or anything, but it seems like the games run based on their rules and I have little say in the matter. I do appreciate their role-playing abilities and how they perceive their character, but players just seem too involved. I had one player give me the death stare when he wasn't able to use dodge against a grenade because he didn't declare it, so I made him roll it again. Most times I have to argue with other players who usually ***** when their character gets mortally wounded because the GM wouldn't help him out. Most players want to play "the hero" and simply kill everything quite easily. Though some players are fine with the rules I declare regarding critical injuries, they suddenly turn 180 when something bad happens to them. It seems to me that either I don't know my stuff (though I have read all Eisenhorn, Horus Heresy, etc.). I don't know whether I am taking things the wrong way when I talk with the other players, but it seems like I can't get control of the campaign. Some will goof off or look up stuff on their phone. It is just getting irritating, but I don't want to seem like I am the bad guy.


Another thing that our group is notorious for is the fact that sooner or later the players will turn on each other. This often involves someone stating that they can't recover from a shock weapon though the other player would be able to resist or that they wouldn't attempt tests if they failed right away.

 

 



#5 IdOfEntity

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 03:26 AM

Hexagono said:


Another thing that our group is notorious for is the fact that sooner or later the players will turn on each other. This often involves someone stating that they can't recover from a shock weapon though the other player would be able to resist or that they wouldn't attempt tests if they failed right away.

 

 

This was the line that sold it for me:

Get a new group.  Do not GM for them anymore.  If you want to be nice you can go a couple more sessions to close out the story, but do not let these people drag you through  the ringer so that you lose all enjoyment of the game.  You do not have to suffer so that they can have fun.

If you're going to keep hosting games for them then I would advise this:  Tell them what the rules are.  Don't be arbitrary with them, but if they have a problem with your ruling you can inform them that they are more than willing to accept such a course of action when they GM a session.  If they don't like it, they can pack their #$&! and leave.  You can be more diplomatic about it, but push comes to shove don't let them walk all over you.  You are doing them a favor by GMing, after all.



#6 Hexagono

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 11:03 AM

 I think I will just finish the campaign we have going now.  No sense in pushing this further.  I will look up some campaign ideas, so they can reach a higher level.  Perhaps I am just irritated from lack of sleep or my work.  However, this game is not helping.  The flare of GMing or even Roleplaying has lost its touch for me.  The players have a good attitude about Roleplaying, but sometimes they give a condescending attitude. I will finish the game, so I don't burn bridges.



#7 Radwraith

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 02:57 PM

Hexagono said:

 I think I will just finish the campaign we have going now.  No sense in pushing this further.  I will look up some campaign ideas, so they can reach a higher level.  Perhaps I am just irritated from lack of sleep or my work.  However, this game is not helping.  The flare of GMing or even Roleplaying has lost its touch for me.  The players have a good attitude about Roleplaying, but sometimes they give a condescending attitude. I will finish the game, so I don't burn bridges.

It is sad when a devoted Gm is treated like this. I must respectfully disagree with you about your players though. They do NOT have a good attitude toward roleplaying! No good roleplayer routinely pushes their GM to the point where they no longer want to play! Disarm a Power fist? Playaa please?! It's strapped onto the wielders arm! Argue over fatalities? That's what fate points are for! I agree with the others; Ditch this group and go find another! Your local game shop should be able to help. Alternatively, you could decide to play rather than Gm. Whatever you decide remember: Rule one is that the GM is always right! You must strive to be fair and to understand the rules (Including your house rules) but you are still the final arbiter. 

In My campaigns I have always had a house rule called the "one minute F-you!" . What this is is that if you as a player feel I miscalled a given situation you have 1 minute to convince me through empirical evidence (The RAW) that I am wrong. Otherwise my ruling stands (It's usually a bad sign if I'm looking at my watch!) If after the game you can convince me that I'm wrong than I will try to make it right. Some scenarios will be easy, Others less so ! But in all cases, Stupid is painful and often fatal! 



#8 Jeans_Stealer

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 12:05 AM

…I didn't even have to finish reading the paragraph, because I spotted the poignant phrase:

This is not enjoyable for me.

Right. 
Simple answer: Tell them you're not GMing their games anymore. Go find another group and GM, or be a Player for a while, see the other side of the Screen. Get to save the day. Or take a break from Playing altogether (you'll be on a break while you look for a new group anyway.)

The complicated side of the answer: The Players will want to know where their GM has gone… you will need a watertight answer for them. "I am not enjoying myself" will likely suffice, but expect "why" and Whining. Don't lose faith. Don't play something you don't enjoy!
Finding another group is hard, sometimes. But be persistant and vigilant - use your contacts and friend networks to find one. Check out local clubs, forums, internet sites, hell the Yellow Pages and the Thompson Local (Why not.)

My Answer: Get out now. Use the Boost to get through. Good luck.



#9 Zenoth16

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 07:08 AM

My gaming group had a similar issue with a player during a Vampire: WOD game. The GM knew this one player would always cheat so he raised all of their difficulties. But even then it was still getting out of hand. So he grabbed a munchkin box lid and made a new rule: all dice have to be rolled in here and only when I tell you to; if you can’t hit the inside of the box your character can hit their enemy.



#10 Darth Smeg

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 08:30 PM

If you, like me, play RPG with your friends, then "getting a new group" is not really an option.

If you want to salvage the situation, then Communications is the key. Tell it straight, like adults. "Lads, I'm not having fun. Someone run a game the way they think, or lets talk about how to run a game in such a way that is fun for all". 

Accusing people of cheating, power gaming etc, is not fun, and should not be done :) The solution is to simply state the ground rules, and the system with the dice tray is something I've done myself (for exactly the same reasons).

If combat really was too hard, or you screwed up, well, they have Fate Points. Give 'em another as a reward for surviving, acknowledge that it was "too much", and move on. 

If it is mechanical and rules issues that cause your headaches, then look into other systems. There is much less room for whiny discussions about whether one can disarm opponent a or resist Stun from b in a light system like Apocalypse World, for example. A great system, and it can be used to run 40K games without much work.

I think it might be a good idea to try a few different game(systems) to see what you like, what works, what doesn't. If nothing else, it might make things clearer for you and your group what it is they enjoy, and what they don't. Then adapt your current campaign to suit.


Tarald - The Dark Lord of Smeg

You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on

 

My House Rules for using Only War (and more) for Dark Heresy games


#11 Macharias the Mendicant

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 04:46 AM

Darth Smeg said:

If you, like me, play RPG with your friends, then "getting a new group" is not really an option.

If you want to salvage the situation, then Communications is the key. Tell it straight, like adults. "Lads, I'm not having fun. Someone run a game the way they think, or lets talk about how to run a game in such a way that is fun for all". 

Agree 100%. The people we game with are often our friends when we're away from the gaming table. These relationships are not worth scuttling for the sake of a game. However, those same relationships should offer you the leverage needed to make your voice heard and respected.

Make sure that they understand that you're not having fun: maybe they never realised that the 'fun' of making all of their rolls by cheating was ruining your fun. Ask them if there's something you can do to help them make better tactical choices so they have 'legal' ways of stacking the deck in their favour. Ask them WHY they feel the need to fudge and cheat.

As Darth Smeg and others suggest, why not have one of them take a crack at running a game? I'm sure that after spending a few nights behind the GM screen their perspective might change.

If there's no satisfactory answer, I think the solution to have everybody roll in the space, where everyone else can see the results, is a fair ruling. After all, if your players don't agree to that, they've told you everything you need to know about how much they respect your game and respect you as a GM.

If none of this works, then you'll need to decide how important of an issue this is for you. Maybe you can 'overlook' their cheating if the alternative means no gaming or not gaming with your friends. But I'm sure it won't come to that.

Good luck!



#12 Skeletor

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 06:09 AM

Basically anything I could have said has been mentioned here, so I'm just gonna say good luck sir (or ma'am. never know on the forums!). I know your pains from the gming stand point and I too have alternatively had to take some of the suggestions added here by our fellow posters.

I will mention that Smeg's solution is one that has been the most successful for me in recent times. Though I do still have to crack down from time to time and just be the hard line arbitrator of my own rules with a "like it or get out" attitude.






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