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My Girlfriend is AC 100

A recent TT forum thread on bad GMing [1] got me to thinking about this one — see if it sounds familiar:

Suuuuure it did.

So what’s at work here — why is this a classic example of crappy GMing?

In a nutshell, it’s bad GMing because it brings out-of-game considerations into the game in a way that negatively impacts the other players. (And it doesn’t matter if it’s the GM’s girlfriend, boyfriend, wife or older brother — the principle is the same.)

There are good ways to involve out-of-game considerations in-game, like not having monstrous spiders in your campaign if one of your players is deathly afraid of spiders. This — favoritism — isn’t one of those. All it does is make the other players resent the favored player, and by extension they’ll resent you as well.

And the thing is, it’s easy to fall into.

Back in high school, my girlfriend at the time had AC 100 on more than one occasion. Partly I felt bad about harming her PC — it was almost an unconscious thing, and I just slipped into that mode. Partly I think I just didn’t want to piss her off (and since she turned out to be batshit insane, that may have been a pretty good instinct).

So it seemed like the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do at the same time, which was weird, and it was a pretty uncomfortable situation overall.

That was 13 years ago, and I’ve matured a lot as a person and as a GM since then, so I don’t think it’d be a problem now — but I’ve never gamed with any of my girlfriends since then, so I suppose I don’t really know for sure.

How about you — have you played with GMs like this, or been one yourself? What do you think causes this behavior? If you’ve done this yourself, what made you do it?

6 Comments (Open | Close)

6 Comments To "My Girlfriend is AC 100"

#1 Comment By Crazy Jerome On April 12, 2006 @ 5:20 pm

I had the opposite problem, trying to hard to avoid the AC 100 thing. I was too hard on my girl friend, because I wanted to make sure that I didn’t play favorites–or even seem too. It did help that there was some other dating going on in the group at the time.

Of course, I’m not sure that did too much damage. We are approaching our 16th wedding anniversary, and have been gaming together for almost two decades. 😀

My advice is play fair with everyone, and let everything take care of itself.

#2 Comment By Ian On April 12, 2006 @ 6:13 pm

I fear I might be heading down that same path. Browsing my FLCS (comic store which also happens to carry a small assortment of games), I saw a really old issue of Dragon with stats for playing metallic dragons as PCs. I snapped it up, thinking my fiancée would love the idea (and I was right). She’s been playing a druid which she doesn’t really like and commented on wanting a new character. So now I’ve got a pretty good plot hook for how a baby dragon is going to end up in the party’s care, played by her.

Assuming the magazine’s on the ball, she shouldn’t be any more powerful than the other PCs are, but power considerations aside, she is PLAYING A DRAGON in a party that will afterwards consist of a dwarf, an elf and a half-elf.

On the one hand, I’d like to think that if any of my players asked for something unique and interesting I’d work with them to make it happen in a fair and balanced way. On the other hand, she didn’t ask for this. I found it and suggested it to her.

One of my players (who tends to ask for… “silly” things, like naming his character Zero (after the megaman character) and such) asked if he could be a ninja. Luckily for him, I had just recently read about the Ninja class in Complete Adventurer, and I said what the hell and let him use that (he had no idea such a thing existed), so maybe I’m just being paranoid.

#3 Comment By Pythor On April 13, 2006 @ 6:15 am

The reverse is also a problem. One of the best campaigns I was in as a teenager ended awkwardly when the DM’s love interest started dating one of the other players. Suddenly, that player’s character became the focus of all enemies, and the bad guys absolutely would not die until the character was dead. TPK occurred in 3 consecutive sessions, and we gave up.

#4 Comment By lebkin On April 13, 2006 @ 6:16 am

“I had the opposite problem, trying to hard to avoid the AC 100 thing. I was too hard on my girl friend, because I wanted to make sure that I didn’t play favorites–or even seem too.”

I completely understand. I currently DM one game in which my girlfriend plays and another in which my brother plays. In both campaigns, I am almost certain I am often harder on them then on other players. It doesn’t help that they are both the best players in their groups, which also has me raising my expectations. I have to make a concious effort to be fair.

#5 Comment By Rick the Wonder Algae On April 13, 2006 @ 8:57 am

Bah! You’re just not thinking hard enough! The DM’s girlfriend never gets hit? That’s AWESOME. Here’s the four-step program to deal with it:

1) Strip her character naked. Why do they need that +5 platemail of immunity and the cloak of protection +5 that the lovesick dope let her find in an unprotected hoard in a solo adventure (from which he came back with a hickey) when she’s never going to get hit or fail a save anyway. Pass them on to whatever other characters can use them. Same goes for her +5 holy avenger. She can kill an ancient dragon at 50 paces with a butter knife.

2) Make her tank. If she’s the best at avoiding damage, she needs to be ON THE FRONT LINE. ALL THE TIME! I don’t care if she’s a mage. Get her out there. Make sure she has the alertness feat, boots of striding and springing, and max ranks in spot, listen, and bluff (for taunting the monsters to attack her instead of her party members) ASAP, so she always get the drop on monsters, can always move to intercept them, and can make sure they stay on HER instead of the rest of the party.

3) Concentrate the rest of the party’s resources on DPS (damage per second) and keeping the DM and his lady love’s relationship going smoothly. You’ll be raking in the EPs and magic items like it was Christmas.

4) Once your characters are epic-level and loaded down with enough magic that they blind any mage foolish enough to cast “detect magic” in their presence, slyly break up loverboy and his girlfriend. Now everything’s normal again except that your characters are completely boss.

#6 Comment By Martin On April 13, 2006 @ 8:54 pm

CJ: You mentioned the opposite problem (“my girlfriend is AC -100,” perhaps?) — I’ve done that too. It’ll probably be one of this weekend’s posts, and it’s another fun topic.

Ian: It sounds like you’re worrying about nothing — keep an eye on it for a couple of sessions, then re-evaluate. Or just ask one or more of the other players if they feel like you’re playing favorites (my bet is that they won’t feel that way).

Rick: That’s the spirit. 😉