Content of the article: "DM’s suddenly vague narration is leaving players unsure of what to do next"
This is a question from a player to DMs about an issue I'm having with my DM. If this is not the appropriate Subreddit for this, I'm happy to delete it and move it to the correct one!
My group is trying to understand something bizarre that has started happening with my DM of 4 years, but we're ironically having difficulty getting him to explain it.
For some context, I have a tight-knit D&D group of 5 players that have been playing together every weekend for 4 years. Our DM (a good friend of mine) has been acting as our DM more-or-less for the whole time. He's not a perfect DM but has generally been a good one and has always been pretty receptive to feedback.
But let's cut to the chase: out of left field, for the past roughly 2 months, his DM narration has become bafflingly vague, oversaturated with misdirects, and impossible to make heads or tails of. And it's consistently leaving us unsure of what to do next until he begrudgingly deus ex machina's something onto the scene to save us from our confusion!
This can all be summed up by the following incident: we're exploring an abandoned temple and go into a side room to look around. Before we can really say anything, our DM asks the Wizard for an investigation check, on which he rolls a 23.
"You don't find anything… Or do you?"
No one has any idea what's happening, but we do our best. We use Detect Magic. We use Divine Sense. We look for traps. We ask about specific things in the room. We rifle through our notes. Nothing. No luck. No more information. No idea what's going on.
I legitimately asked my DM if our party had been cursed with confusion or doubt at some point and if there's an in-game reason for this vagueness. Finally, he caved and told us that it's not anything in-game affecting our characters. But we've spent an hour trying to decipher this vague clue to no avail, so we decide to move on and it's never relevant or mentioned again!
Another time, one of our characters had a bird statuette that they were carrying around. One day, a few weeks ago, our DM tell us that he's retconning it and that figuring is actually of lizard now. Weeks have happened since and this has never been relevant, but you can be we've mentioned it… every. session. since.
"Is there a group of Lizardfolk nearby that we're forgetting about?""Is there a Lizard god someone mentioned at some point?"
And now he describes everything, no matter how seemingly insignificant, in excruciating detail. And every once in a while, one of these mundane details will be critical to what we're doing, so our sessions have slowed to a crawl as we're all scribbling notes on the fact that one of the plates on the table has a chip on it and another one of them is ivory while the others are all porcelain.
None of us know what's happening in this arc anymore because we're all so confused and can't keep anything straight. We often end up stuck and waiting for him to eventually rescue us as we're lost at sea, metaphorically adrift.
And he's getting frustrated that we can't keep up. And we're getting frustrated because it's hard not to feel stupid during this!
So we sat down as a group of friends yesterday to talk about this and explain that it's getting in the way of us having genuine fun in a game we all love with a group of people we all love. He wasn't offended at all, but he was adamant that it would all pay off if we'd just buckle down, pay closer attention, and read between the lines more. The problem is that none of the players believe that…
So my question is sort of an either/or of the following:
- Is this a regular thing in D&D that we're not aware of and our party is just being dense?
- Or how do I get my DM to understand that this style isn't working and needs to come to an end?
- Exhausted DM unsure to continue a long-term campaign
- Frustrated DM lost his group
- Players struggling to define who their characters are and I need a strong central tension in this pirate campaign to get them motivated. Will take any tips or advice!!
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