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Jedi Master Antilles
26 March 2002, 10:02 PM
i'm sure all of us have had our experiences with bad players,but what about bad GM's? has anyone had any experiences with a bad GM? if so lets hear about them..and more importantly how did the players deal with it.

my second question would be how would the players deal with a GM who is using the campaign he is running to only further his NPC/ former PC's status and goals and always insists on the PC's doing whatever he wants them to do...wether they want to or not? I.E. being told they have to go somewhere and no is not an option...or the GM insisting the players travel with the GM's NPC..even if the PC's have their own means of travel and the players know outside the game the gamemaster is only making them do this because he has a certain vision and is trying to accomplish his NPC's established goals from when he created the character before as a PC.

translation-the players know the gamemaster is trying to have his NPC acheive the goals he set for himself long before when he was a regular player character and knows that he is GM so he can accomplish them and no one can stop it.

Example-smuggler character that used to be a PC in another campaign under a different GM is now a NPC under the former Player/ now Gamemaster's control and has decided long ago his character would be a succesful smuggler ...so now in the current game his charcter is in charge and insisting that everyone help him smuggle spice ..even though they have their own ships and their own goals they want to reach,which have nothing to do with smuggling spice or smuggling period.

how would you as a player handle situations like that? and have you ever been in those situations while gaming?and most importantly .would this person be considered a bad GM?

Krad-edis
26 March 2002, 10:52 PM
Originally posted by Jedi Master Antilles
i'm sure all of us have had our experiences with bad players,but what about bad GM's? has anyone had any experiences with a bad GM? if so lets hear about them..and more importantly how did the players deal with it.

Yes it happens, and the only real way to walk away from all of it happy is to walk away. You cannot go against a GM's rulings, and doing so is not exactly what you would want done to you if the situation was reversed. If you leave, others may follow and then that GM will have no game....he or she may realize this and be more responsive and aware of character needs and frustrations,...however based on the following example, sometimes people never quite learn.

Sometimes they just don't learn at all. Here is bad GMing at your finest.
- Characters- not made by players, but by the GM.

I found this one out when I asked to borrow the GM's Core Rules to create a my character (for Heroes Unlimited). Sounded kind of odd, but I didn't want to hurt my friend's feelings, so I listened to more.

- Backgrounds- not made by players, but by the GM.

When I said that I wanted my character to be the soft spoken type, the GM was happy because according to the background he created for me, I was part of an organization of assassins that was so secretive, the members had their tongues cut out in order not to betray the organization. I decided to be a good sport and listen to more, I guess more out of shock than anything.

- Non-player characters- Usually nine or ten levels above PCs made by GM. (Basically like having Bart Simpson versus all the keepers of Hades)

While trying not to laugh, I asked what our missions would be like. Basically he wanted to have several non-superpowered or minor super powered individuals to go against some of the real psychos who escaped from a mutant maximum security prison....very dangerous high leveled mutants, experiments and cybernetic constructs.

Basically what I realized was he wanted us to play his characters against some of his villains knowing that we could not possibly win. The object of his game would be that of bowling. Knock all the pins (PCs) down all at once with your giant force of superbaddies (NPCs). We all politely said we were not interested, and said it over and over again. This was nearly four years ago, and I haven't talked to him in three. I am betting that he still has my character sheet and the villains he made up in case I change my mind......not very likely to happen.:D

But to try and answer your question, a GM should not have a power NPC in charge of a group. There is nothing worse than the Jedi Master stepping in and deciding everything for the Padawn or the Wing Commander always showing up the PC fighter pilots at every turn. Having advice provided, and possibly the occasional saving is fine, but if it happens more than player characters are allowed to act, then there is a problem. When a GM makes the descisions for the group, the group will soon lose interest. In that case, talk to him or her, and then if it fails, leave, because after all, it is there game. They can just go play solitaire.

horn1974
26 March 2002, 10:54 PM
anwers quite simple .let him know u know what he's doing and ask him to tone it down or its someone elses turn to gm.unless hes using that character to create more adventures in that case his character should almost neverbe the one to defeat the main adversary thats the pcs job.

Mathis Kharr
26 March 2002, 11:28 PM
I know the person Master Antillies speaks of. My solution is simple. We shall talk politly with him the nextt gaming setion. We hvae cool characters I do not wish to loose and i have bveen Gming so long i want to Role Play hard to do as a Gm. So we will try and salvage it if not I will just take over ..

Seems like the only logical thing to do

Let me elaberate on this GM that Master Antillies is refering so everyone can get an oppinion

1: This man has an age issue when it comes to letting palyers make a Character. meaning he won't let them make one over the age of 15 and even then he grips if they do. I am starting to think this guy is into young people if you catch my drift. he used to host a game at another shop with nothing but young people and a one other older guy who ran the shop. Now he insist everyone make characters super young. I ask you who wants to run a 12 year old kid?

2: His NPC/PC must train every character, he will not allow lightsabers to be made by any pc without his say so.. Total characters present 8 all around 6th level.

3: Everyone must travel and train on his ship which he modified for trainign Jedi (This guy in game sucks at training I know i gmed him) it was a ship he has been dreaming about sense making his character

4: His NPC/PC he has tagging along and running the pcs is 17th level
he even givs this guy experience in game based on what he considers challenging to him.. Now I ask you what could a bunch of 6th levels get into that can challenge a 17th level jedi multi class.

5: He completly changes his character arround after we told him it was wrong to do so to fit his vison and enable him dispite what he had previously chosen and not trully earned . IE: he drops 2 levels of soldier to pick up Jedi weapons master to make his 17th more bad ass and get him to his presious master jedi class.

6: he has to put his NPC/PC in everything.

7: By the way my 6th level jedi kicked his 17th level multi Jedis but twice in a row, he thought as a leason he would have his character spare with mine in game in front of a buch of other students.. full spare mind you .. I spoke out about him not being special so i was an example. anyhow I beat him twice in a row..lol .. Antillies was there was some funny crap.. he had nothing to say after that
There are quit a few more things on this Gm list but i don't wanna take up all the room on the board lol.

darth maim
27 March 2002, 12:17 AM
Sounds like he sucks... a GM should be there for guidance through NPC not running his PC and letting you guys play a couple of NPC's... basically tell him that he needs to back off and learn to GM or someone else will run a game. If things don't change stop showing up and start going to the other game instead.

Jedi Master Antilles
27 March 2002, 12:17 AM
woah that was kinda harsh dude...but anyways..anyone else have any similar experiences?

Fab
27 March 2002, 03:09 AM
Originally posted by Mathis Kharr
7: By the way my 6th level jedi kicked his 17th level multi Jedis but twice in a row, he thought as a leason he would have his character spare with mine in game in front of a buch of other students.. full spare mind you .. I spoke out about him not being special so i was an example. anyhow I beat him twice in a row..lol

Sounds like your PC should have killed his NPC when you had the chance. Let's see the GM worm his way out of a decapitated ex-17th level Jedi Master.

I'm joking of course, I don't think in game solutions will solve out of game problems. Sounds like you need to talk with this guy, or else walk.

Ghost In The Holocron
27 March 2002, 05:44 AM
Man. The whole thing sounds really bad and sad.


from darth maim:

Sounds like he sucks... a GM should be there for guidance through NPC not running his PC and letting you guys play a couple of NPC's... basically tell him that he needs to back off and learn to GM or someone else will run a game.

Yes. I will echo d.maim: Sounds like he sucks. Looks like all he wants is your PCs for his character's setting trim. Minor props in the stage where he's the star. And, yes, that does sound harsh -- but, from your description, probably not as bad as how he's been treating his players.

I haven't much else to add since the solution seems obvious:It's talk or walk time, like Fab has said. Hope it all works out, though.

Bombaatu
27 March 2002, 05:53 AM
I have to agree with the others, having also been on the receiving end of bad GMs. Quite frankly, if you are tired of being puppeted by this guy, cut your strings and walk. An even better wake-up call would be to have the entire group walk en masse. I know it sounds harsh, but from my experience, harshness is the only way to get thru to someone like this.

Korwin Blade
27 March 2002, 05:58 AM
I have gm/dm'ed for several years with 2 or least players. And during that time i have had a pc/npc character in the game to help out and support what the pc's want to do or nudge the pc's in the right direction or wrong(lol). But i only have an pc/npc there because there is only two players. And last week my character was almost killed. And possible would have been if the sorcerer in the group hadn't use her spells in a great way. This is a 3E D&D campaign. They where in a town and we where roleplaying some stuff and my pc/npc wasn't even there, mostly for support when things get hot. I believe that pc/npc can be good in a game, but a dm/gm shouldn't expect the players character to do what his npc/pc's want to do. period. that's my 1/2 cent of non-sense. :D

dgswensen
27 March 2002, 06:53 AM
I've had some very similar experiences to the ones posted above. Most of my bad GM experiences have been centered around one person.

Mind you, this fellow isn't a great player, either. Mostly, he has ego problems. His characters are always the same. They are aloof, all-knowing, manipulative braniacs, who are always in control, never get emotionally involved in anything, and use their encyclopedic knowledge of the game universe to chastise and lecture to others. Sure, this kind of thing could be interesting, once or twice, but for every game in every genre, it gets tiresome... especially after <I>years</I> of gaming. This player has even said up front that he enjoys roleplaying mostly to enjoy a level of control and competence he doesn't have in real life. The consequence of this is, whenever one of his characters is injured, outsmarted, or foiled, he takes it as a personal insult to him and becomes very angry and petulant out-of-game.

Now, make this man a GM, and what do you have? The last time I played with him was several years ago. It was a D&D game in which I was a 1st level mage. After an adventure or two, he made a companion for me -- a 12th level min/maxed kensai who could wipe out entire rooms full of soldiers in a couple of rounds. I know, because I spent a lot of time twiddling my thumbs as my character stood by and watched him do so. The story was mostly about this kensai, and his angst, and his honor, and his really interesting plot devices that had nothing to do with me -- the player.

What it really came down to was, he didn't trust me with the core of his story, and thus reserved the most interesting parts for the characters and elements he could control. In other words, he was working in the wrong medium. When you can't stand to let creative control out of your hands even a little bit, you shouldn't be GMing. You should be writing fiction and keeping it in a drawer where no one will never have a chance to edit it. Again, all about his ego.

Anyway, that game died, and we didn't play again for a long time. The next game was significantly improved (I got to have an interesting character this time), but it still mostly became about his bad-ass NPCs and all the things they could do that I couldn't. It was still a good game, though, and I had a fun time playing in it -- but his excessive fascination with his own "kewl" NPCs was a serious shortcoming.

He and I still play together -- mostly because we've known each other for years, and he <I>can</I> be a really great roleplayer when he wants to be -- but over the years I've learned to work around his ego problems, which are never going to be solved -- so there are situations I never put him in, obstacles I never put in front of him, and story elements <I>I</I> won't trust him with, because he can't deal with them like an adult. (I told him all this once, when he asked why a particular plot element wasn't moving forward... he was, predictably, enraged.)

Anyway... about this bad GM of yours... cut him loose if you must, but you might consider giving him another chance later on, when he grows up a bit. Time passes... people change. Sometimes.

I would have to say, the only other bad GMing experience I had was a fairly inexperienced GM, who would read in a deadpan voice, word-for-word, all those D&D module "description boxes." That drove me crazy. I hate sitting around while the GM drones on like he's reading a book report, more often than not having no clue what it is he just read. That, and he once pronounced "flaming braziers" as "flaming brassieres" just as his mother entered the room... I think she got some funny ideas about just what kind of game we were playing from that moment... :)

That, and when this GM tried to make his own campaign world, he couldn't be bothered to make up his own names... so he took them from a world atlas. So we were all wandering through the magical land of Moscow, crossing the river Leningrad on the way to the castle of Burbank to fight the evil wizard Kruschev... made suspension of disbelief just a wee bit difficult.

Anyway. Sorry to go on forever... this thread has brought back a lot of old memories...

Ash DuQuennes
27 March 2002, 08:46 AM
Don't y'all just hate it when someone role-plays out their real-life issues?;)

My worst GM experience thankfully has not been anywhere near as bad as what some of y'all have posted. My worst was a GM who just couldn't think on his feet when players took a 90-degree turn from his plot, or attempted to solve his plot puzzle with non-linear logic (I do a good job of thinking "outside the box" and can give a GM a hard time as far as plots are concerned). Basically, ths guy couldn't run an adventure that didn't come out of a written/published module, and if we didn't do exactly what the module said we were supposed to do, then he was lost and would spend the next hour or two thumbing through the module and rule book to see if we could really do what we were doing, "hmmmm" ing and "hawwww"ing the whole time.

After a while, I began to suspect that he was doing this as well whenever we were doing something as PCs that he didn't think we should be doing (it didn't fit the "tone" he wanted in his game), and he didn't have the brass to just come out and say so.

Jedi Master Antilles
27 March 2002, 03:30 PM
Quote:
I've had some very similar experiences to the ones posted above. Most of my bad GM experiences have been centered around one person.

Mind you, this fellow isn't a great player, either. Mostly, he has ego problems. His characters are always the same. They are aloof, all-knowing, manipulative braniacs, who are always in control, never get emotionally involved in anything, and use their encyclopedic knowledge of the game universe to chastise and lecture to others. Sure, this kind of thing could be interesting, once or twice, but for every game in every genre, it gets tiresome... especially after years of gaming. This player has even said up front that he enjoys roleplaying mostly to enjoy a level of control and competence he doesn't have in real life. The consequence of this is, whenever one of his characters is injured, outsmarted, or foiled, he takes it as a personal insult to him and becomes very angry and petulant out-of-game.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

that is exactly how this person is with his character both as an npc and as a pc..you hit it right on the head about how he and his character act.

Talonne Hauk
27 March 2002, 07:00 PM
As a GM, I say we have pity on their poor hardworking souls.:rolleyes: :D

Reverend Strone
27 March 2002, 07:29 PM
Am I imagining things, or are there three threads on the boards at the moment all talking about the same guy here? If he does read these boards, I sure hope he can take the hint. You couldn't get more blunt than what's been said about this player/GM.

One tingling thing does play on my mind reading these posts though, so please bear with me for a moment;

While I sympathiize with you guys on this topic ( I know a guy like this as well) we should really be careful the Holonet forums don't become a tool for personal jabs at people (especially if the said person is known to frequent these boards).

Please understand, I'm not suggesting that is what is happening in this case, but it does establish a dangerous precedent for future grillings of individuals if I'm correct in thinking all these threads are indeed concerning the same, one guy. The forums could be exploited to solicit other users into lending their voices on a topic and unintentionally end up ganging up on someone who reads about themselves getting universally slammed over the internet.

Just a cautious note, and as I said, I'm not suggesting anyone here is doing this on these boards, but we should tread carefully lest we get carried away and end up hurting someone.

dgswensen
27 March 2002, 07:41 PM
Words of wisdom, <B>revstrone</B>. I personally am not talking about anyone who hangs out here, or would hang out here. Is it more noble to lambast them behind their back? :D

Ralzma02
28 March 2002, 09:21 AM
My gaming group an I have only been playing for a bout a year, year and a half. At first i was the GM, we were all just learning the Rules, and began to explore Roleplaying, as opposed to rollplaying. Trust me, all of our characters had 17 or 18 dex. One of our players wanted to GM, so he created a very large indepth campaign. Yet he had a very bad tendency to push us into all situations so that what we did would form into his grand plan. WE were lvl 3-4s fighting with lvl 8-10 npcs at our side. Much of this made me very angry, he did some other things as well, like if i came up with a plan to jump off the top of an elevator stopped mid way between floors onto the next higher floor, immediatly it would become a 20m jump, which only his Jedi NPC could handle. He spent lots of times creating his NPCs and he wanted to use them to their full advantage, I feel that was a mistake. But my largest observation was that Bad GMs made Bad Players, I was always arguing with him, often for changing house rules as per each situation. Now I, and the other players are letting him lead us completly through his campaign as ever he wishes just to get it done, so someone else can fit his position. I recommend that if you are in this situation get the GM out soon if you can to save the love of the game and friendships.

Kobayashi_Maru
28 March 2002, 12:41 PM
I, too, have walked that same path. Not to that extreme, but very close. Let's see if I can sum it up in a nut shell!

I started out a player and that's were my love for RPG's began. As it went on I wanted to tell my tales for the party. So, slowly I began gaming small games within the campaign I played. Eventually I did 1 a month and became sorta assistant gm. Well after a couple of years the GM transfered schools. Summer came we split and met agian in the fall. Only without a major GM. Well I liked GMing in the beginnning, I had a character I would roll up with the party for every new campaign. But the years set in without every actually playing any of these characters I began to drop in storytelling. Eventually I asked certain individuals how they felt about running a game and a few did. In 10 years 7games were ran, with me as a player and not a GM. Then it was all me for the next couple of years. Then I began running more games centered around my PC's and they became the answer to the games, even the game itself. One day we got together and I looked at my notes and thought "what have I been doing?" I scratched my notes and did a different game on-the-fly. Even when I did on-the-fly games then, they were about my characters. 6 hours later the party was buzzing. And for the first time (in what I called an eternity) they said "good game" and ment it. Hell they couldn't stop talking about it. If it wouldn't have been late (I worked early the next day) they would have kept on going. I realized what it was that made it great; it focused on the party as characters not tools for my PCs. That's when I started ending the campaign we were in. Someone else picked up a campaign but it lacked (GM lakced experience) and he too, began to do the same. That's when we decided, no campaign would be completely under one man's control but the parties control. And we used Assistant GM's for such ever since.

Look at that nut shell, what a crazy nut shell! What kind of nut has a shell that big?:D

So, my advise, find someone to do a couple of games to get him rest; see if that gets rid of his GM lag. If that doesn't help, you might want to find another GM!

Jedi Master Antilles
28 March 2002, 01:12 PM
Everyone gave great advice and it's nice to know that everyone goes through their share of mistakes while GM'ng or participating in a game with a GM who has made mistakes..also to address the question of similar posts concerning if we are talking about the same individual on each post..more than likly yes..we are.but this post isnt meant to flame him or demean him or anything of sort in any way..it's just something i needed advice on how to handle before i do something rash like trash the whole game and figured asking the advice of my fellow RPG networkers would be the way to go...plus the fun of sharing everyones past bad experiences .hopefully our friend will read these posts and learn from his mistakes , and then we can have a good RP adventure that everyone will enjoy..also i too have done similar things in the past when i was a starting GM, but i learned that it's the players who have to enjoy the game the most..the GM does as well but his fun should be in throwing the characters into the scenarios he creates and watching his adventure take shape.usually the hardest thing for a GM is getting over the fact that he is running the adventure and not playing in it..his npc's are there as guidance and emergency use.and occasionally to spur the players on..needless to say i rarely GM anymore because i prefer being in the adventure and experienceing it and enjoy the roleplaying aspect of it.

Winter
28 March 2002, 01:39 PM
Worst experience I ever had was with a GM who was hitting on me. I didnt dislike the guy but he wasnt exactly my type. I played ignorant for as long as I could but he finally made it impossible by asking me out. I turned him down as politely as I could but it wasnt good enough. I thought it would blow over so I tried to tough it out but he apparently made it a mission to upset me.

I wont even go over how... but I have never had faith in this guys mental health since...

...ugh... keyboard problems... no peretnthesis and no apostrophes... serves me right for spilling water in my keyboard.

Dr_Worm
28 March 2002, 01:42 PM
As a person who mostly GMs I have to play a little bit of devils advocate. Not so much in support of the individual that this thread is complaining about, but to one grip in particular. My players expect a good story, and a good adventure otherwise what is the point of playing. So if I create an adventure that has a story that is challenging and fun to play I am going to do what I can to keep the players on that story line. If not then it can all go into the can.

Case in point: Many years ago I was GMing a game in which the ultimate outcome was to rescue a Rebel spy. Now, the Empire was keeping it secret, so the characters needed to stumble upon the information by accident. Durring a smuggling job hauling medical supplies to the Rebels the characters decided to sell instead to jabba for a greater profit. So I had to scramble to fix som encounters, and scrap others. They ended up blowing through my encounters and ingnoring all of my clues and redirections. When they got to Tatooine and sold the cargo they looked to me like "Now what?" I told them that the game was over and they complained that it was kinda lame, and didn't have the same flavor and strory that my game usually did. I explained what had happened, and what cool things I had planned for them, and they were pissed that they blew it.

I, as a GM, had the obligation of running the game so that they would have fun. I felt like if I threw to many lame redirections that it would be obvious and amaturish, so I let them play. However I also had the responibility to use my knowledege of events to come to force them in to the story that I had written; in this I failed. My point is that it is a really tough line to stand between enacting the story created, and forcing your players in directions they are not enclined to take.

Sometimes adding NPC's is the answer, but they should never be taking key actions. I have actually had player that abused the NPCs that I had in the game by having them do everything. I would finnally have to say to them "Sure there is no logical reason why this former imperial tech shouldn't be making this security roll, but you are the player and you need to take the helm."

Jedi Master Antilles
28 March 2002, 02:16 PM
exactly!..if it is to preserve the adventure or storyline then yes the NPC should be guiding the PC's and steering them straight..however if it is just so the NPC can gain levels and fulfil his lifelong ambitions at the expense of the players then no..and whats just as bad is players who always look to the GM to solve all of their problems for them..

xerxies
29 March 2002, 11:15 AM
Yo I had a Gm like that at my gaming place called the sages quest, sounds like this Gm that used to run my adventure. For the first one i ever played in it sucked . he had this character named Corrath that used to allway seem to be the center of attention,
he allways wanted things his way and he was super high level. he also had this ship he trained everyone on. He sucked as a Gm allways putting his special Npc characters ahead of us whioch is why we eventually all quit.This guy was sposed to be an NPC. Now i don't know much about the game but i think that if the gm wants to tag along one of his own charatcers it should be equal level (This guy was 15th or 17th or some crap and the highest we got was 3rd level)
insted of using the players to get him xp and his stuff done. crap of all the xp we got his character got half of it. Now thats nuts.

Just my two cent.:?

Mathis Kharr
29 March 2002, 11:39 AM
I will bite my toung on what i said earlier regarding the things Xerxies said.lol I wanna shout them out but for ediquate sake i will hold off.
man I wanna bash bad but this is no place for that so please forgive the flaming.=P

Jedi Master Antilles
29 March 2002, 01:27 PM
Hey Xerxies...do you live in the buffalo N.Y. area? because some of the things your describing like the Sage's quest and a GM with a 17 th lvl NPC who is the main focus of the adventure and always wants to train the PC's aborad his ship and is named Corath....did the charcater corath have a droid named Hacker and a ship called the Jedi Star?if this is indeed who i think it is..then you just gave me a heads up on how the adventure he is running now is going to turn out so thanks for lettin me know...an yo if do live in buffalo an can get to the Niagara Falls area sometimes to play then let me know.

darth maim
29 March 2002, 01:50 PM
Originally posted by Mathis Kharr
Xerxies this Corrath of yours sounds like a Korath we know in our game. Wow the simularites are astounding. Sounds like me ,you and Antillies all play with the same guy.

Xerxies just a friendly warning this guy intends to come back to the sages querst and redo this game, so if you don't like pathetic gms like this then avoid the sages quest. it will only be a matter of time before his dark tainted presence graces that place again.

And if it is true that this is indeed the same person then the guy who runs the place named Ron who lets him get away with all this is just as S****Y a gm/ player as he is. personaly in my game it has gone on long enough and now it's time to either make him stop or cut the damned strings

This is really starting to sound like a gang up and bash this guy session which isn't cool at all. If this is what is going on please take it to pm or email because it shouldn't be long before a moderator suspends you guys for breaking holonet rules.

Just a heads up.

xerxies
29 March 2002, 07:34 PM
Yeshe does have a droid named hacker , his ship is called the Jedi star as well. is your guy named mike? there cannot be two of them

Jedi Master Antilles
29 March 2002, 07:41 PM
Yo Darth...no gangin up goin on here just gettin some info on if it's the same guy..if it's not then thats just another example of Bad GM's and the things they do wrong to spoil the game for others..but if it is the same guy that i occasionally game with then i wanna know so i can be prepared when the situations start happening during my game...as for Mathis Karr...or whatever it's spelled..no idea what he is doin...but yer right flamin is against the rules..now as for another example of bad GM's ..anyone ever have one who would throw ya against extremely high lvl characters and have the players trying to solve a puzzle of some sorts why things are going on the way they are in game..an then when you figure it out..the GM calls it for the night and then the next time everyone games ..the GM says "no..you guys didn't figure it" because he decided to change things..and then to top it off the GM wont even let you kill off the high lvl bad guy..and stops you every time you try. now thats just getting ripped off and making a bad game right there..this happened in a game i played in ..needless to say. i didn't continue the adventure.

Dr_Worm
1 April 2002, 10:02 AM
When I make a puzle in my games I am so delighted when my players actually fugure one out that I would never pull the rug out from under them. Puzzles are tough to make and I tend to overdo it and make them really hard. If anything I am guilty of making puzzles that make my my players mad, and I have to bail them out.

As far as the Wicked Tough NPC goes I am a user of them. I think every campaign needs a Bloefeld or an Emperor, that lasts for many adventures and is a constant thorn in the players side. Now the baddie that they send may be dispatched at the end of an adventure or after a couple. My players just like the frustration and the genuine thirst for vengence that comes with a vilian that gets away. When that villian dies, then they immediatly look to me to provide a new nemisis.