As nerdy as it may be to talk about D&D this seriously, I am about to anyway. My Friday night campaign reminds me about everything I hate about humanity, and every week I go it gets more depressing. This was the third week I went, if that says anything about how quickly it got horrible.
Basically, there are now 6 people in the campaign: the DM’s girlfriend and her weirdly close friend, a guy who’s never played D&D before this campaign, an experienced powergamer who just started in our campaign this week, an out-of-practice rules lawyer, and me, an impatient cynic who’s in it for the math and hates roleplaying. The DM is a hardass who designs encounters to be difficult, drawn out, unbalanced, and uninteresting. Let’s look at this one person at a time.
First, the DM’s girlfriend. She always has her laptop open, ostensibly to look at her character sheet, but she pays next to no attention to the game. Often she will begin her turn out of her initiative order before being corrected by her boyfriend, likely due to his aforementioned drawn out combat. As the DM’s girlfriend, she often feels the need to make the rest of us uncomfortable, and kicks ass at it. She rarely abuses her control over him but doesn’t really need to because he helped her create a fairly unbalanced character in the first place. Her actions are as follows: look up from laptop, verify (often incorrectly) that it is her turn, take her turn in the initiative order, deal significant damage, and return to the laptop. On the rare chance that it is not combat, the attack will be replaced by an overly emotional remark or action in the situation, often appealing to morality despite the fact that her character is not good-aligned.
Next is her friend, who has died twice in the campaign so far (3 weeks, remember). She often rushes into combat only to be completely overwhelmed and killed, showing that she is completely useless. Her class is something of a moot point, because she has never fulfilled that role in the party, much to our chagrin. Of course, I can’t blame her much because she’s often dead due to the DM’s campaign design. More on that later. She is oddly close to the DM’s girlfriend, refusing to sit anywhere except directly next to her, despite the fact that they hardly interact at all in the course of a session.
Beside her is the powergamer, who began just last night. Also a very powerful character, he has proven capable of being an asset in combat at least, although he doesn’t roleplay very well (read: he’s annoying). His conscription into our adventuring party was one of the worst ‘hey here’s a new PC’ entrances I’ve seen, although admittedly I’m still fairly novice. He at least doesn’t make the campaign worse, so that’s a plus on his record.
Next to him is the new guy, who started D&D those 3 short weeks ago. He is mostly a combat character, fulfilling that role decently due to his high AC. I can’t complain much about him either because he’s new and generally helps and doesn’t hinder. I do wish he’d be a little less inept but he’s new, so what can I say.
Besides him is the rules lawyer who hasn’t played D&D in a couple of years (until last month). That is so much worse than it sounds. He often tries to cite rules that aren’t real or just cites real ones incorrectly, and needs to verify everything, more often even than the new guy. His character is somewhat complex, so he often needs to re-add everything multiple times, remembering new bonuses each time. He is the kind of rules lawyer who argues not about the rules of the game, but about everything else. Generally these arguments take place with the DM and involve weaponry of some kind. On occasion he will get aggravated, although he is the most involved character, so there are not many complaints. Otherwise nothing would happen.
Then there’s me. I get really impatient with everyone, due in part to the fact that we congregate 4-5 hours before we can start, because several players can’t arrive until then. I always expect this time to be enjoyable, but it’s generally a huge annoyance. When we are all finally sitting around the table, no one starts doing anything for about half an hour, instead talking about god knows what. The DM has continually refused to take action in these periods, despite the fact that we are basically waiting on him. He seems to think that we’re doing something in this time, but really we just need some input. I’ll occasionally ask ‘what’s going on?’ but he’ll generally just tell us to figure it out. I want to say ‘just set the fucking scene or something, dammit!’ but I don’t.
Honestly a lot of my energy is spent trying not to get angry. I will readily admit that this is due to my impatience and mathiness. Roughly three-fourths of everyone else’s rolls cause them to spout out multiple numbers as they fail miserably to add up the bonuses. I think this annoys me because of my fervent desire for universal math literacy, but something about waiting on the two girls to add 9 and 13 just pisses me off more. I guess I feel like we never stop wasting time, and it’s hard not to feel that way when I have to waste time in all the parts of my life. Plus, their rolls are much better than mine, so that doesn’t help.
Anyway, my character generally fills a lot of needs weakly. I feel like my character has been unduly weakened by the DM in his quest for game balance, although his own girlfriend is way more powerful (grumble). I am weak in combat, my spells are weak, and my other class features are made useless by his DM style. In short, I am rarely useful in combat, but sometimes I can have a stroke of success. I roll like shit, so I’m useless on that front as well.
Now, the DM. He plans encounters that he would probably call “challenging,” but by his own admission is a huge dick. Basically he’ll throw something at us that our party (several divine casters and archers) can’t handle, like something that is only vulnerable to bludgeoning weapons and non-elemental magic. Last week we were facing undead with one bludgeoning weapon among the 5 of us and a cleric with no charisma. Anyway, these battles tend to drag on due to his design and the players’ style. Effectively, we spend the whole combat failing miserably to score hits, cause damage, cast, or defend. As players, we argue, roll poorly, and make futile attempts to add small numbers. Plus, he crits on every 3rd roll, so we generally lose a ton of health and get angry.
Basically the campaign is an inept party facing poorly fit encounters that each take 3 hours. It’s a nightmare. It has cause me to realize that D&D is just like communism, in that it seems like a good idea but gets fucked up in practice. Rules lawyers are my least favorite thing in all of gaming. I think that it shits on everyone else’s fun in seconds flat. If you have two at once, just give up. I’m so tired of it I want to scream. I’ve decided next semester I’ll have to DM something and try to make the campaign fit the characters. And I refuse to waste time, or I’ll get pissed off really fast.
The social problem I’ve faced because of this is the realization that I don’t like two of the players. I really want to like both of them, but they constantly show themselves to be flighty, shallow, and giggly despite the fact that they are not funny in the slightest. I am almost constantly uncomfortable in this group, due to the DM and these two players. What’s more, because the campaign is so bad, I’m miserable because of that too. If I at least got along with everyone, I could deal with the shitty campaign, but I have to settle for opening my own laptop when it gets to be too much. At least I get some homework done.