An interesting topic came up the other day when I was speaking to a few gamer friends as they complained about how their GM was really controlling and basically started being a "dick" as they called him.
After speaking with them, and having them give me examples of his style of running a game, it appeared it was a new GM, just over his head. The GM often flipped flopped on rules, and always paused the game to find a rule, which he had to know, because he didn't believe what the group told him to be the truth.
My first piece of advise was to give this guy a break from GM'ing for a few weeks to get his composure and then sit down as a group to define how things will be handled.
1. Rules will be looked up, but not take longer then a few moments as to not "ruin the mood".
2. A ruling can be made by the GM during the game to fore-go looking up rules, but it must stay the same through out the session that night.
3. Various house rules
4. Various different ways people like things handled
5. Break time
Those are just to name a few, and I am sure there is a 10000000 more things I could list, as I told them they don't have it as bad as a few people that had been in my face to face group.
Then I told them the "Story of Michael the DM", how he was a guy who had not played in 20 years and started to pick it up and run the game as written. Which is fine, some like to run it as written, no problem there.
The problem was this guy was a know it all type person, who thought he knew the rules, but really did not.
Example of this was during a game, two players who had not played in 20 years themselves, asked if they can use a charm spell on these wolf like creatures, and instead of looking it up, he said, "yeah sure, you can do it.." I knew this was not the way to use the spell, but its not my game, and I don't like being "that guy" who tells the DM how to run his game...So these players used the beasts to their advantage and used them to protect themselves.
Also during the adventure the group was picking up various things, such as old swords, shields, pieces of armor to sell and make some money. Yes they wrote down all encumbrance, made sure it was all legal. The night ended, and fast forward a week we meet up again, and the DM has a prepared speech!!
The sum of the speech was that, the players took advantage of his lack of knowledge, and thus will not be awarded any gold or any experience for last week's adventure. Also, this game is not about going out picking up everything you see to sell for profit, its all about exploring and figuring out puzzles/traps, and thus those who picked up everything, those items are lost. He also went on to say, that its not his job to know everything little thing in the game, and should be able to trust the players, even when he makes a judgement call. Going forward, the Charm spell no longer exists in my campaign.
Half the group walked that day. This game we play is to have fun, if we make mistakes who cares. The game is what we make it, not what one person believes it should be.
What he should have done, was walked in, and admitted his mistake on the spell and said going forward it can not be used that way.
After hearing that story, these people decided to give the newbie GM a fair chance, sitting down with him, talking things out.
What do you think?