[RPG] Am I acting unreasonably or do I rein in the players


I'm a very new but very eager DM. Me and my friends have long been wanting to play and as always we had no DM so I took up the reins.

My players are very extremely creative and I want them to be able to do whatever they want – however – I at the same time feel like they completely do not care for the story, world, or characters that I'm trying to show them.

We've only had two sessions, but after each session, players would talk about how excited they are to create their own campaign and what they'd do in their story and universe – which is great! I would love to be a player in their campaign!, however it hurts my feelings because I feel like they're highly uninterested in what I have done, the work and thought put into the story I'm trying to make, rather wanting it to be done and over with.

The campaign is following Matt Mercer's Taldorei setting and using gestalt characters, because I think following a set campaign would be less info to keep straight in my head, and gestalt characters for a more rounded party. (3 of the 4 wanted to be rogues, instead of waiting to multiclass – gestalt allowed healers in our party and me to craft harder encounters)

Another one of the players keeps insisting on a set background and key development points he wants to have for his character – he's adamant about his character getting cool weapons and like 'a magical sniper's eye so he can see farther and shoot better' – and while again I'm so happy for him to be thinking about the game and development, I feel like he's insisting on what should happen and becomes upset when I'm like 'maybe' and wants to either do a different item or work it in differently in the game, or even not telling him for spoiler reasons, to put it simply. The 'Hero' player wants to become a Lich – again, I like the creativity and anything can happen – but I feel like he's being a glory hound and stealing the spotlight from other players.

This particular player, "Hero", has imagined a very skilled and in depth background – which is cool (and works with the change to gestalting) – but at the same time it doesn't seem to allow for much development in the game, he's suppose to be starting at level one but his character has been on adventures, and has companions, and x and blah. Really my issue with him is, the player seems to be thinking he's the 'main hero' of not only the story but the group. Whenever I veto something of his, he becomes childish and 'okay' and pouts while being like 'I'm not having fun playing this game' – but then I'm also like it's not just you playing the game.

I don't want to stifle their creativity but I feel that they're not trusting me with letting me run the campaign and create adventures and cool discoveries for them rather that they're telling me 'hey you should do this because I thought it and it's cool and better than anything you could do'

I don't think any of them is doing this maliciously or to try and overrule me as a DM – but it still hurts and feels bad when I've worked very very hard in trying to be a good DM. I don't want to be too rude to them, so what I'm really asking is, should I just not be so upset about it or is this really an issue about the players?

We've talked about using a rotating GM, problem is: everyone has their own world setting, no one is familiar with the other's. We've also talked about me and 'Hero' player being co-DM, with him creating the setting of the story and the narrative, and me being the technical side. I feel he would be at risk of railroading and wouldn't know how to be a DM, he hasn't read any of the books, not even the player's handbook.

For the time being I've stopped being a DM for the group because I truly don't want my sour mood to ruin their game or experience of it, I'm genuinely uncertain if this is something I just have to suck up or something I need to have a conversation with them about, or how to go about that conversation.

Best Answer

The campaign is following Matt Mercer's Taldorei setting and using gestalt characters.

If you aren't an experienced DM, don't try to be Matt Mercer

Grow into your boots as a DM.

We have some other answers about this, but the advice remains the same. Since you are a new DM, play it straight for a few sessions until more of the people at your table have a good feel for the game. Then, with that foundation built, go wild and try Matt Mercer's house rules since now you know what they are a variation on.

Also note that Critical Role is a show made for a particular reason, and is peopled by professional actors. His house rules come from his experience of the RPG game form.

As to "am I acting reasonably" ...

You are going through a normal small group dynamic

You are in the forming and storming stage of the four step "Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing" process that is common to small group activity(RPGs being such an activity).

Don't give up, work with the other players to come up with the set up that gives you all the most fun. It doesn't matter if you are the DM, or if you rotate as DM.

After each session, talk to each other.

It is healthy at a table when the DM listens to the feedback of the players, and when the players give constructive feedback to the DM. (Don't forget this when you are a player). In general this is covered by addressing:
What went well?
What didn't go well?
What did I like?
What didn't I like?

With that in mind, discuss all of that and then agree on what will we do differently in the next session? (If anything).

Play. Have fun. (It's why we play).

About that "magical sniper's eye" the player wants

A general theme in D&D 5e is that power upgrades can come through items and new abilities, and that they have to earn upgrades either by level advancement or by finding treasure during their adventures. Your group started at level 1. The game does not start with people owning magical items. This published uncommon magical item fits that player's desire:

Eyes of the Eagle
Wondrous item, uncommon (requires attunement)
These crystal lenses fit over the eyes. While wearing them, you have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight. In conditions of clear visibility, you can make out details of even extremely distant creatures and objects as small as 2 feet across. (DMG, p. 168)

The player needs to, in character, find or trade for this item. Or seek one out. Ask the player how they intend to find one.
As the DM, you can use this item as a plot hook for an adventure that requires the party to overcome a monster, or do a wizard a favor, or overcome some other challenge with this item as the pay off.

What he wants to do with it can be addressed with a feat. (Feats usually cost a choice at level up (foregoing an ASI) but there are some tables where the DM starts everyone with one feat each. Your call as a DM).

For longer range shots than are in the standard weapon's range, a player can choose the Sharpshooter feat. That costs the player a choice, but if chosen, the player has a 600' range with the longbow rather than 150' range (without incurring disadvantage); partial and 3/4 cover are negated, and in some cases a bonus damage feature can be chosen. That's a sniper, D&D 5e style.

The Sharpshooter feat (PHB, p. 170) says:

  • Attacking at long range doesn't impose disadvantage on your ranged weapon attack rolls.
  • Your ranged weapon attacks ignore half cover and three-quarters cover.
  • Before you make an attack with a ranged weapon that you are proficient with, you can choose to take a -5 penalty to the attack roll. If the attack hits, you add +10 to the attack's damage.

In D&D, in this edition, magic items and abilities like what he wants are usually earned, or are paid for with a choice or an opportunity cost.
Explain that to the player, if need be.
Uncommon magical items are typically found during Tier 1 adventuring, which is between levels 1 and 4. If he wants that long range magic eye thing, let him earn it through adventuring. That's part of the fun of this kind of adventure RPG: increases in capability through playing using the core mechanics of level ups, class features, feats, and DMG controlled magical items.