The Evil GM – “I’m the DM, My Campaign, My Rules.”

DM Fiat, we’ve all experienced a game where the person running it changes the rules to fit the situation at hand. Maybe you don’t care much about it as long as the game is fun or maybe it drives you up the wall to the fact you’ve moved on from playing with that DM.

Either case, does the DM have the right to say, “Well this is my campaign, so we are going to follow these rules.”

You look over these rules and he is restricting various classes, races and even alignments. Examples of this would be: 
  • No Evil or Chaotic Neutral aligned characters.
  • The following class is not allowed
  • Background type is not allowed.
  • Certain skills can not be used
  • Certain spells are not allowed
  • Whatever other rule is not allowed here.
I’ve done some of these things in my campaigns, but I explained to my group why these things are not allowed, and the option of not playing that game was always on the table, with no hard feelings. No player has ever said, “No I am not playing.”
Everyone seemed to agree and was okay with the adjustments.
But is it truly okay for a DM to remove things that come standard in the rules?
I know most people will argue that if its in the main core rule book of whatever edition your group plays, its considered valid and can be played!
So does the DM have the right to strip things out of the game to fit his campaign world? Does this unbalance the game or its fine as long as its not too much, its fun and the group agrees to it?

6 thoughts on “The Evil GM – “I’m the DM, My Campaign, My Rules.”

  1. I agree with that! If we didn't focus our campaigns and settings somewhat, then everything would just be the same kitchen sink! As I've got older, I've actually got much more into human-centric swords and sorcery style campaigns, where meeting non humans is a big and weird event…. And I'm more likely to feature degenerate human tribes as foes rather than orcs and goblins. Strangely enough, this feels fresher and more natural. Elves, dwarves and halflings, gnomes tieflings and drain-born… Well, I'm not saying they don't exist, but meeting these weird fey creatures will be an unsettling and alien experience. And with all that said, I WOULD let someone play one if they really wanted, but it would have to be very weird and unusual. So if they were okay with that, fine…

  2. I think restricting choice to build a focused campaign can be a very useful tool, I have used it on many occasions. You just need to let the players know early so that they do not have expectations that may clash with what you are trying to set up.

  3. Yes, absolutely, with my primary caveat being that it be something that is discussed ahead of time, not sprung up in play without warning. Even that can work, under the right circumstances – "hey guys, after last session, I realized that Rule X is not working the way I want it to, so I'm replacing it with Rule Y, or eliminating it altogether" can work, for example.

    But there's no reason not to pick and choose rules – Gygax would approve, in theory, even if he'd prefer you not do so with his own rules – to suit your game.

  4. I do that all the time, and as a DM it's my prerogative to do so. For instance, in my new Greyhawk 5E campaign, there are no dragonborn or tieflings; as Glenn says, they simply don't fit into the world. Too, I don't use feats, just because I think they make characters too powerful and don't fit into the style of play I prefer.

  5. As long as everyone is fine with the adjustments and those adjustments are to gain a certain campaign flavor, then it's fine. It could be fun though if the DM had banned something and a player makes a PC that is exactly that. The one exception in the universe could be a huge plot point that drives the entire campaign.

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