So last Friday I'm running my D&D session and the party of PCs is having an encounter with a very large, very grumpy Cloud Giant.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?" demands the giant.
Aaaaand every single player says something different. Mostly it's smart-alecky nonsense that people say to get a laugh, but don't actually intend for their characters to say. (That's INTENSELY annoying for a DM to deal with, but more on that later.)
"We're here to kick your butt in."
"We're here to fight the evil cult"
"We're here to sharpen our blades on your bones."
"I have no idea."
"Who are you?"
"I'm just here for the beer."
Yadda yadda yadda. Then they players start to discuss, among themselves, what they should do. Mind you, this game is happening in real time so the giant is literally standing there waiting for them to give him a coherent answer. Unsurprisingly, he quickly becomes impatient and attacks.
What the players don't know is that killing this giant results in the entire dungeon, a floating castle, to crash into a mountainside. There is an opportunity to negotiate with the giant, who is actually opposed to the same enemies the PCs are. (the evil cult.) But that, of course, assumes that a fight doesn't ensue.
Now, once they become aware of the fact that the giant's death triggered the castle to start falling, and that they could have recruited him to help, they start griping at me. "Hey! We told the giant we were here to fight the cult." (We?) "Yeah," says the guy who said something about fighting the cult. "I told him that." and nods, knowingly. The rest of the party joining in.
Okay let me explain something to all of you PCs out there who do this kind of garbage to your DM. You aren't clever by tossing out a dozen different statements and then crying foul when the one correct answer didn't work. It's like no matter what the correct response was, as long as SOMEBODY randomly tossed it out there these people expect it to count in their favor.
No. That's lazy. That's hedging bets. For starters, it isn't my job to pick out the one right answer from the wave of noise as every smart aleck in the party tries to play Evening at the Improv at every opportunity for a comedic one-liner. It's also not my job to warn you when you're doing something stupid.
So the castle hits the mountainside and, predictably, the party doesn't react well when their characters are suddenly in mortal peril. "But wait!" Every body shouts. "The Wizard cast Feather-Fall on the whole party!" Well, no... He didn't. He said he was going to if necessary, but he didn't actually cast the spell. "Yes I did." Insists the Wizard. "I said it as soon as the castle started falling." Well, that MIGHT be true, (more on that later as well) but how can I know that when all the amateur comedians are lunging at the chance to do one of two things, all simultaneously:
- Make wisecracks about the castle's insurance policy
Start whining about why the castle shouldn't be hitting the mountain so quickly.
Some do's and don'ts for good RPG gaming:
DO: Keep your mouth shut when the DM is telling you what's going on, describing a room, or answering someone's question. It's rude to talk over someone, but it's also annoying when the information has to be repeated back to you because you weren't paying attention the first time. If you find the game that boring, don't play.
DON'T: Treat every conversation in-game as a chance to show of your keen wit in front of your friends. The DM is trying really hard to set a particular mood, and you ruin it, taking people out of the game, by your wisecracks. You may be the funniest guy in the world, but the other gamers didn't show up to listen to your stand-up routine. They came to play D&D.
DO: Make your character's actions clear to the DM. Let the DM know what, exactly, your character is doing. It is not the DM's job to anticipate what you plan to do or react as if you did. On a related note:
DON'T: Say you're preparing an action and then just assume that it got done. If you tell the DM "I will cast Feather-Fall if the castle starts to drop" that's great, but players are CONSTANTLY changing their minds about what they want to do, so just telling the DM what you INTEND to do is NOT the same as telling the DM you're actually DOING it.
I'm to the point where I'm so frustrated by this nonsense I'm thinking of taking a break from DMming for a little while and asking one of the players, who is also a DM, to take over so I can just play.