My character is standing on a dirt road some five miles from town, late in the day. It is overcast, with gray skies, and my party expects that we're going to come into town after dark and soaking wet. But now comes along a cart, driven by a poor peasant. The DM tells us the peasant is quite obviously poor, as he is wearing worn clothes and seems to suffer from a rash on his face. The cart is empty. I step forward and say, "My companions and I would like to rent your cart, sir, to reach the town across the valley. We will give you a gold piece for your trouble." The DM rolls a die. "No," says the peasant. "I better not." But why? I ask the DM. The DM looks at me and shrugs. "He just doesn't trust you or your party."
My character and the party have done well. We have gathered a retinue of 25 men, we now travel upon wagons in style, we wear fine clothes and we are quite clearly wealthy. As we approach the city gate, we are stopped by the guard. They ask for a sum of money to enter that we consider hardly worth noting, so we are prepared to give him three times the amount out of a desire for largesse. However, the chief guard tells us we cannot enter the city with our weapons. "But we are clearly not ruffians," I tell the guard. The DM does not roll a die. "If you carry weapons, you cannot enter." But why? I ask the DM. The DM answers, "Those are the rules."
Our party's ship draws up to the quay, having been granted permission to dock. Several crew jump off the ship and proceed to tie the lines to the cleats. The harbour master approaches and calls up, "Who are you, and where have you come from?" We answer back that we're nationals, but we will only give the name of the captain. The DM rolls a die. He says the harbour master calls a contingent of the guard, that soon arrives on the dock. We're told, "We will not let you disembark without fully identifying who you are!" We answer back, "We will leave port first." The DM does not roll a die. "Go then!" shouts the harbour master.
I tested these out yesterday on two of my players to see if they would notice if anything was wrong in the above. They didn't up front; once I had explained what bothered me, they understood, but on the surface the 'problems' presented for the party seem perfectly fine.
The above is a big reason why I have no interest in playing D&D in someone else's world. Yet I know, too, that it is a problem that completely escapes most people. It is similar to disconnects I have with people over movies. While they're worried about where the actor's hands are from shot to shot, or the vague reflection of a camera truck in the shiny car door for a fleeting moment, I am bothered by the above.
I'm not concerned about minor technical errors. I know how hard it is to film a movie, I know the insurmountable problems and why fixing continuity becomes a zero sum game. The actor holding the tool in the wrong hand in one shot out of seven is going to cost many thousands of dollars to fix, even if we notice the error the day of shooting. That has to be balanced against the expectation that fixing the continuity will make a difference at the box office. Most of the time, it won't. For those people who find this sort of thing annoying, however, because it takes them 'out of the film,' I'm always curious why the uncomfortable theatre seat does not do likewise. But I digress.
Writing, unlike film making, is easy to fix. Its, it's, which, that, I hurriedly walk, I walk hurriedly . . . takes two seconds, and any high school A-student knows how to fix those things. They are mistakes that get made because the writer is concentrating on the content and not on the detail, and because much of writing is muscle-memory coupled with a strange sort of onomatopoeia that accumulates over time. I move to write they're mistakes, the brain couples the sound with a word, the fingers (that have typed every version of every word thousands, even millions of times) slam out the word that sounds like they're and the sentence reads, their mistakes. That is what editing is for. People who make a big deal of the error when they see it are quite silly; they have no idea what content is, nor why it consumes a writer apart from fiddly little details, or how little regard a writer has for fiddly details that the reader can fix if need be. But I digress.
Some readers are, just now, wondering what's wrong with the above three examples. At this point, however, I'm going to be most inconsiderate. I'm not going to say. I will remove a few possibilities. It is a writing failure. It is not an error in the words or the phrasing or anything having to do with technical aspects of writing. At any rate, its only writing on the blog - in a game, it would be descriptions and speaking. Nor is it something the DM is doing deliberately. The DM is doing their best to run the game as the DM sees it.
There is a fail, however. A big one. It is not the sort of fail that bothers most people, because people are willing to accept this fail all the time. Just so long as it isn't a failure that hits home with them, because of a personal connection to the circumstance. Then it will drive them absolutely crazy.
Worse, it is that the fail is something the DM is unlikely to recognize as a fail, even once it is pointed out. This is in the realm of how a retailer will react when it is pointed out that there is something seriously wrong with the product - a shrug, followed by the attitude of, "I don't see how that is a problem."
Which means, of course, that it isn't, not for most people. The reader, if the reader even cares to, is looking at the passages again and thinking like the retailer. "What's wrong? I don't see anything wrong."
I guess it isn't. But I don't want to run in your world.