Have you ever been in this situation? The campaign is going OK. Your GM is a generally tolerable dude. However, that one thing bugged the crap out of you. Maybe there was a bit of light railroading. Perhaps the rules lookups are getting out of hand. At long last the ostensibly ‘hilarious’ fumbles are becoming too much. Whatever that one thing happens to be, you’ve decided to put on your +1 big boy pants and to hash it out with the guy behind the screen. Good on ya.

As we all know, GM egos are easily bruised. That’s why it’s important to offer your critique as delicately as possible. Here are a few dos and don’ts to get you started:

  • Use the compliment sandwich method.  For example you might say, “Hey DM! I’m really digging this game. Your worldbuilding is on-point. I’m just wondering if we could write out the DMPC soon. You’re good enough at improvising that we don’t need him to keep us on track.” You should avoid faux compliment sandwiches: “Hey DM! I just wanted to say that your neckbeard is coming in nicely. However, your self-insert DMPC sucks girallon dong. Also, your BO is less noxious today.”
  • Focus on the situation, not the person. The point is to fix an un-fun element of the game, not attack your buddy. When you focus on the person and not the situation, the message can get lost. Unless of course the message is that your GM terrible in all respects, not just for their in-game fuck-ups.
  • Give recommendations on how to improve. Advice like “fewer random encounters would improve the pace of the game” is helpful. Advice like “die in a fire” and “delete your campaign notes” is not.
  • Be specific with your feedback. If the aforementioned DMPC is the problem, say so. Letting your GM know that “everything about this campaign is stupid” will effectively convey the severity of the problem. However, it wont improve matters. The point of a critique is to fix what’s broken, not to vent.
  • Make sure to give feedback, not instructions. Identify the problem rather than trying to fix it: “Listen, giving Bob a free dragon companion makes my ranger’s badger feel a bit useless.” This identifies the problem without telling the GM what to do. The ball’s in his court now, and the two of you can work on a fix together. When you try to go into a sensitive conversation with all the answers in your back pocket, you risk coming off as a bossy jerk. For example, explaining how switching back to your favorite edition would fix the dragon issue—as any idiot could see—is probably not going to change any minds. It may, however, get your badger killed by falling rocks.

A lot of the above seems self-evident, but I’ve seen enough people balk at the talk to them about it like an adult part of the flowchart that I thought some specific advice might help. These conversations can be awkward, and going in with the right strategy is a good idea.

What do the rest of you guys think? Have you ever had to give your GM some constructive criticsm? How’d they take it? Let’s hear it in the comments!


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