How A Favoritist DM’s Fetish Destroyed Our Games

An old friendship is destroyed by a DM's unwillingness to table personal bias .

2 points

This story takes place over the course of multiple campaigns, most of which were only one or two sessions long.

The DM was an old friend of mine I had met online a long time ago on World of Warcraft. We were both introduced to DND at the same time. She suffered from depression, and I did my best to support her. She was pretty cool at the time, being the model of a friend and confidante.

When she decided to try her hand at being a DM, I jumped at the chance to join and see what she had to offer. It was our first time using the Pathfinder system, and found it was to our liking. The first few sessions were good, full of plenty of traditional quest hooks, but during the campaign she began to make life-altering decisions that he projected onto his campaign.

She was a furry. We knew, of course, and were supportive of her personal tastes, as long as she kept the more personal stuff private. She got a girlfriend that was also a furry. That's great, I thought. She could use a significant other who shared in her interests. She introduced her to the campaign, and allowed her to make a custom 'race': a gold dragon that had been cursed to be medium sized forever. This was the first decision that put us on edge as a group, but we trusted her and her girlfriend. Over the course of the campaign, we'd relax a bit as the dragon proved to not overshadow the party or gain any special attention over anyone else.

There was one incident in this same campaign, however, that would test my faith in her as a DM. A villain from our gunslinger's past responsible for killing her husband had come and kidnapped us for some unknown plot and my character, a Chaotic Neutral barbarian, had him at her mercy. My barbarian wanted to kill him immediately to avenge the wrongs he had committed against us and the gunslinger, whom she had grown close to.

"No," the DM said, "you find that you can't do it. Your character feels it would be wrong."

This was the first time she had ever tried to dictate how my character felt about a situation. It wasn't the result of a roll or anything like that. I was just being told how my barbarian should feel and act. "Why would I want that?" I asked her. She fumbled to explain, and after several flimsy excuses she ultimately said that she just liked the villain and wanted to reuse him in the future. Ultimately, she relented, somewhat resentfully, to allow my barbarian to deal the remorseless killing blow, slamming her earthbreaker hammer over his head and nailing it into his torso. I pointed out that if she had wanted to make him a reoccurring villain, she could have given him a ring of teleportation or maybe a hidden patron who could revive him at a later time. She brushed off the feedback and decided to keep the campaign going. We ended the session feeling strange. Maybe it was just an off day for her, I reasoned.

Fast forward to a new session where her girlfriend decided to try her hand at DMing. She chose an adventure path to run featuring the town of Sandpoint in Pathfinder's universe. I rolled a Neutral Good human sorcerer who strongly believed in treating everyone with respect. My friend, the DM from the other still-running custom campaign, rolled a kitsune rogue with kleptomania. I could already tell I would have to be the moral anchor that kept her from alienating us from society and was willing to put up with it.

The adventure started with a festival that we were all attending. The kitsune rogue immediately got to work, stealing from a vendor whom she thought had tried to price-gouge her. My sorcerer notices this and steps in, demanding she put them back.

Then the DM introduced her DMPC, an extremely gorgeous woman with gold hair who identified herself as a gold dragon. The kitsune greeted her with a kiss. I was instantly put off by this, but decided that I should stay in character because I did not want to ruin it for everyone. My character, at first awestruck to meet a gold dragon (even in disguise) tried to request that she talk some sense into the kitsune, who had tried to steal from an innocent vendor. The gold dragon just laughed, stating that such actions were beneath superior draconic morality, effectively establishing that not only was the gold dragon ok with putting a hard-working individual in financial straits for the sake of indulging the kitsune's mania but also that the dragon's opinion made it an act of goodness. The game did not last long after that, and everyone in the chat, all of them old friends of ours, agreed that we would not continue this. The fact that the girlfriend lost all interest almost immediately after proved our point as well.

My friend went to try out a Jade Regent campaign. I jumped in, along with the girlfriend. I rolled the same sorcerer from before, and she in turn rolled up a monk who was a custom race based on the Pandaren from WoW. She had a charisma of 8, which for those who know of Jade Regent's NPC romance mechanics know it meant she would be unlikely to make anyone actually interested in her, at least as far as mechanics were concerned. I had my own dislike for this bias, but it would not stop me from feeling disappointed in what happened next. My sorcerer, who had a charisma of 20, was interested in one of the NPCs and did his best to court her, but the DM twisted every attempt as building up a rivalry instead since the character in question is a bard and determined that my magnetic personality was competing with her own. She poured her affections to the pandaren monk instead, who conveniently was also a childhood friend. Eventually, I caught on to what was happening and frustratedly decided to let it go and just enjoy the campaign instead of its gimmicks.

Combat-wise, this campaign was pretty fun and engaging, but things really took a turn for the worst when we reached a certain point involving a tower dominated by a witch that could control the weather. At the beginning of that session the DM postulated a new rule: blinded characters needed to roll a d8, and if they moved, they would move in the direction of the die, starting with south on a 1 and moving clockwise from for each number. This was allegedly to simulate blindness' disorientation. I found it weird, but whatever. I could cast blindness/deafness, so this was a buff for me. First fight of the tower was a moon flower, which could blind people. Ironically, the first person to be blinded was the pandaren and she made a huge show of enjoying the new mechanic. None of us were very pleased with the trickery. Then came the fight with the witch. The arena was a mess, with horrible winds that only the witch could fly in and a large 200+ foot drop in the middle of the spire's top where the elevator once was. The witch immediately blinded my character and I had to contend with the bothersome blindness rules. She cast call lightning and the DM deemed that she could use it as a swift action every round to affect a 10-foot square on top of whatever the witch cast that turn. A quick look at the spell showed this was a lie, and we were shushed from complaining by DM fiat. Lastly, she used command on the kobold gunslinger, whom I had come to like both in and out of character, and made him jump into the aforementioned elevator shaft. He survived by jumping and landing on the second floor 100 feet down, taking 10d6 damage, but would fall to a call lightning strike when he had returned to join the fray. My character, blinded, had a wand of cure light wounds and enough ranks in use magical device to use it, so he desperately looked for the body to try to stabilize him, having heard the lightning strike and suddenly silenced cry of pain just a second ago despite his blindness. I succeeded on the insane d8 roll to orient myself toward my dying comrade. I was then told I needed to make an attack roll against his body, despite having it cradled in my arms, to properly touch it with the wand. Blind and with poor attack bonuses due to being a spellcaster, I failed and the gunslinger dies like a bad joke for a deaf audience, cradled in my sorcerer's arms. We kill the witch and are forced to bury the kobold. She deflected any criticism the same way she had before, with hamfisted DM-is-always-right nonsense. I was furious with my friend's irreverent treatment of us, which I realized was done to satisfy her introspective archetype of being a fox trickster to her girlfriend. I should have walked away then and there, but we had been friends for so long that my loyalty kept me in place. Jade Regent would continue until the end of our friendship, which would come from another campaign we ran simultaneously (we had a lot of free time at this point in our lives.)

The last campaign I played with her was Skulls and Shackles. My friend would be the DM again and I desperately wanted to see her do well. Nevertheless, I wanted to throw moral stigma to the wind and try my hand at playing an evil character. This was a pirate campaign, and I was going to be a ruthless scourge, so I rolled up a Neutral Evil alchemist worshipper of Urgathoa who had once been raised at a temple of Pharasma but decided to turn against her because he had found a forbidden scroll prophesying his death. There was also a kobold barbarian and a human gunslinger, both of whom were chaotic and/or evil. The girlfriend of course rolled up a kitsune, as dragons and fox people were her and my friends' preferences. Her alignment? Neutral good.

I decided we would let it play out. I want to avoid spoiling much from the campaign, so I will leave only the surrounding details. The first warning signs were that the kitsune was fully embraced by the ship's crew, to which we had been press-ganged, over the other characters. My alchemist became apprentice to the ship's cook, since his devotion to Urgathoa had pushed him to learn about culinary practices to appease the goddess of gluttony and undeath. The rest of the party did odd jobs such as hunting down rats and cleaning the deck. We eventually reach a point where we need to go into an island and fetch water because the stores were running low and the captain didn't trust magically created water. We go, do the business, rescue some friendly NPC crew members, and make it back. We are greeted by the captain, who decides that we took too long and need to be punished. It was time to spring a mutiny, as we had been fomenting dissent and gathering allies. The battle was won, and we now had to decide on a ship's captain. The two other members of the party voted on my alchemist, stating that his brilliant forward-thinking and cutthroat attitude were what was needed.

The DM stated that the entirety of the crew wanted the kitsune instead. We were all outraged at this blatant display of bias and went against it. In-character, my alchemist ultimately made a deal with the kitsune: as long as she was allowed to be the one to drive the ship (her only real desire out of all of this), she would allow my alchemist to be captain. It was an embarrassing rise to power, and most of us agreed it felt like we were being played for puppets.

Next session, we then ransacked an innocent village off the coast to get a feel for how to go about things and despite committing a lot of murder and looting as pirates would, the kitsune – who actively participated in the act – remained Neutral Good, completely consequence-free. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. Everything came crashing down for me and the rest of the party. Our campaigns were just vehicles for them to play out their own fantasies, devoid of respect for us as players, our characters, and the world we were in. A big fight ensued, in which the girlfriend was outraged that I would feel this way despite allowing me to become captain 'out of the goodness of her heart'. The DM defended her every step of the way.

I walked out on both of them then and there, cutting all ties to the toxic relationship.

The party reconvened under a new DM, but in the process we had our characters kill and skin the untrustworthy kitsune and turn her fur into a coat, a dastardly act of cruelty we relished in. Skulls and Shackles would continue for a long time, during which we scaled back the evil a bit as our characters grew to bond with the ship and crew. The new DM, another old friend of mine, did a fantastic job but eventually dropped the campaign since he grew frustrated with the power creep and lack of challenge for the party. We all amicably ended it and still play together for this day. I have not heard a word from the DM or her girlfriend since, but I still remember when she and I were friends and sincerely hope she learned from the lost friendship. I don't doubt it was the right decision, but I do feel sad that our mutual hobby became such a battleground for projecting our ids. Thankfully, this has never again happened and tabletop games remain a major hobby my friends and I enjoy.


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