Dungeons & Dragons Online

Getting increasingly frustrated with the system

I've run a lot of campaigns in many different systems. I started running a Star Wars campaign a while ago. We play weekly, and we finished our 20th session recently. I'd estimate there are maybe 6 more sessions before the finale.

I hate the system we're using. Not going to go super in-depth about all my issues with it, but I find it immensely un-fun to GM for. It requires a lot of prep work on the GM's part, and if the players deviate even slightly for what the GM prepared then it all goes out the window.

It was a lot more manageable for the first 10 sessions, because the players were all super low level and had very limited skills, so I could easily intuit what they would want to do and how they might do it. But around session 13 they reached a point where they were strong enough where, by the rules in the system, they basically can't fail at whatever they set out for. They're nearly impossible to hit unless I throw nigh-unkillable enemies at them, they each have dozens of different powers, and they know all sorts of strange edge-case usages due to having a mastery of the system for years.

For example, I set up a scenario where their ship crashed in the arctic tundra and they would have to venture a long way to get back to safety, finding many types of enemies and strange encounters along the way. But within maybe a few minutes, one of them pointed out that their equipment pack included an item which allowed them to survive comfortably at -60-degree weather, another pointed out that they could take a 10 on checks to use telepathy and request aid, and another pointed to some obscure rules about Mechanics where they could take 10 minutes per person and modify their equipment to make it insulated for whatever temperature they found themselves in (and the rules explicitly say they only need a regular toolkit to do so). The players felt smart for finding a solution, but it made me want to stop GMing the game when I watched all the content I had prepped go down the drain.

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Last session, I set up a really cool and climactic three-way encounter between the players and the two antagonistic forces (who were also enemies with each other) inside an ancient temple. Instead, the players got right next to the temple and found the Sith's spaceship and one player pointed out that he can use a special ability to just teleport the entire party into the Sith's cargo bay (while the Sith are inside the temple) and they could just steal their ship (it would be completely unreasonable for a ship that size to have particularly strong internal defenses) and let the Sith, now trapped in the temple in the middle of space, to just… starve to death or something. Again, the players felt really smart for finding such an unexpected solution, but now I'm looking at the hours of work I put into that three-way encounter and the anticlimax about to happen as this group of Sith I spent the whole campaign building up are just going to get abandoned.

There are a lot of other little examples of stuff like that, but the common theme is that

  1. I try to set up what I think will be a really interesting scenario
  2. Players (who know the system better than me) point to some obscure ability or rules (which I double-check and yes, have always existed and aren't just being made up)
  3. I'm unprepared to handle that new information, but don't want to just ignore it since that would be unfair to the players, so I watch as the content I spent hours preparing (or months building up) gets walked over
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…And the players are having a great time. They aren't being mean about it or trying to trick me by hiding information or anything. But goddamn if it isn't disheartening.

Again, it's only maybe 6 sessions until the finale. And my players are having a really fun time so I'd feel bad cancelling when they're a little over a month away from the finale. But I'm having trouble staying motivated to run this game when it feels like I do a bunch of work only to be blindsided.

Has anyone else ever been in a similar situation? How did you handle it?

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