[RPG] How to handle players that don’t care for the rules I put in place as the DM and question everything I do


I am DMing a game of dnd 5e or close to it. It's a homebrew campaign. We are mostly new to D&D with the exception of 2 players that play with other groups.

I have 2 players that seem to question everything I do as a DM and make the game hard to DM. One of the things they question is cantrips.

I had one of my players call my ruling stupid and log out. To put it into context I make my players roll to see if they can land the cantrip. 2 of my players have recently questioned why they have to roll at all and why it just doesn't do what they believe it should do. But there is nothing in the rules about rolling and cantrips.

It was a cantrip called "mend" and he was trying to use it to repair his armor which had been broken. I made him roll to see how well he repaired it and he got a 2 so it didn't repair much. He went behind my back and spoke to another player about how it was stupid and "that's not how cantrips work" even though he was able to cast the spell, just not well.

I don't want to just put my foot down and say "I'm the DM, what I say goes" but they won't listen to my reasoning and just keep saying I'm wrong. How do I handle this situation? It's getting to the point where I am considering stopping DMing all together.

Best Answer

Here is what Mending spell does, by magic:

This spell repairs a single break or tear in an object you touch, such as a broken chain link, two halves of a broken key, a torn cloak, or a leaking wineskin. As long as the break or tear is no larger than 1 foot in any dimension, you mend it, leaving no trace of the former damage.

By RAW (Rules as Written), no roll is required. If there are several broken parts, several castings of Mending may be required (taking one minute each), and you can rule that an item is beyond repair ("this is not an armor any more, it is a piece of scrap metal, beyond any repair").

What you did was to add a so-called house rule to your game: Mending cantrip requires a roll. This takes away power of the cantrip, and if player had known this beforehand, they probably would have taken a different cantrip. So I originally would have said you are in the wrong here, as you are altering the rules in a way that hurts the players. However, based on comments, the whole rules situation in your table is somewhat messy, and you may be playing different games, so... nobody is necessarily at fault, instead you have to come to a solution together.

Fixing a case of DM altering the rules willy-nilly

First, say you are sorry for handling this house rule situation poorly. You are a new DM, so you can "promise" similar things will happen again. This is normal.

Then, there are some alternatives on how to proceed:

  1. In future Mending will work as written, no roll required.

  2. You want to keep your house rule about rolling for Mending. Offer the player a chance to switch the cantrip, latest at the start of the next session, so they have time to think what they want to take.

  3. Very not recommended: Put your foot down and tell the players, when you are the DM, it is your rules, which you can change as you wish.

As a final word of advice: as a new DM, try to stick to the RAW. While playing, don't get bogged down with rules, make a quick ruling (neutral or in favor of the players) if you are not sure. But then between games do some research (like ask here), and next time tell how it is (eg. "hey, last time I let you make a called shot for the eyes to blind the target, but I looked it up, and that's not something you can succeed at, so it won't work from now on").