Dungeons & Dragons Online

What’s the deal with players thinking they need to “beat” the DM?

Hello everyone. I hope you're all having a great day.

I had this particular situation happen to me last Saturday and I thought it was an interesting anecdote to share. Especially if someone can actually explain me this insane mentality. This is probably going to be a long post, so thank you for reading it.

I've been in a campaign as a DM for the past nine months. This is the first homebrew campaign I'm running and honestly I really enjoy the role. Regardless, this group I play with are "veterans" in DnD having played since 3.5e, while I started in 5e. They are friends of mine from college and we play every other week through online platforms on Saturdays.

The party has 5 people excluding myself, but the focus of the story is two particular players. I'll call them P and Z to avoid recognition. Now, I understand I might have made some mistakes along the way but I'll try to make everything clear.

First of all, I do not understand the idea of Player vs DM. As a DM isn't my job to make sure everyone have fun? I'm not here to be against anyone. I propose the challenges, but I'm not an "invisible force" that they are fighting against. I want them to succeed, so I really don't understand the adversarial mentality. They are my friends and honestly, I want to have fun and tell good stories. That's the most fun part for me. I understand the need to challenge and I do give them plenty, but I try to balance things well enough for them to be able to beat the challenges or evade them if needed.

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However, I've come across this two players who apparently don't think like that. Both, Z and P are players that have a very particular taste when it comes to DnD. They want to do massive amounts of damage and steamroll through everything. They aren't happy if they aren't killing everything without any challenge.

Now, I can understand people who like to play that kind of thing. I just find those stories boring. Thus, I put challenges that they will need to overcome. They don't particularly have a lot of trouble since they are pretty experienced players. But it happened more than once, that they got particularly upset when things didn't go their way. Not because of my doing, but because they didn't think of other alternatives to deal with the situation.

Now, here's to the situation at hand. Both Z and P have through this nine months campaign, change characters more than once. P doing it about four times now. I don't mind a player changing characters, it's fine. We're here to have fun, if they aren't feeling their character, they are allowed to change. But I realized that they don't change because they don't like their character. They change at the first sight of hardship. But hey, I don't want to judge so it's fine.

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This Saturday we had a session in which we introduced another of P's new character. It was all fun and games and they arrived in a combat encounter. Which I had made a while ago and I balanced mainly thinking of their last character, not this new one.

That being said, P steamrolled the combat. It was actually a good thing for me as I got a better grasp of his new guy's abilities. But as soon as the combat ended, the horror show started. P started to actively say "YEAH! We destroyed you." "Your encounter was nothing! This was trash, we cleared the floor with you."

Now, they weren't saying the mobs. They said me, and that kind of bothered me. I told them what the hell where they talking about? I mean, we're playing together, I want them to do well, that's kind of obvious. Things got out of hand, with them saying that I should just take my "loss" and accept that I was beaten.

I ended the session there and honestly, I'm still baffled by this. Why is this mentality so ingrained in TTRPG players? Why can't we all just play and have fun? I mean, I'm not their enemy, not sure why they see it like that.

Well, this was an anecdote I wanted to share. I'm sorry if it wasn't as entertaining as it could be.

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TL;DR: Players don't like challenge and actively think they need to "beat" me to play DnD.


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