I’ve invited my best friend Big Joe to be a guest poster on this blog. I’m already very excited by what I see for his first post. I know he will help make DiceMechanic.org a quality site. So without further ado, I give you:
From behind the battlement, or how I stopped throwing rocks and learn to love the players.
So I have been gaming for nigh on 20 years now and for the majority of that time I have been dungeonmaster, gamemaster, storyteller, referree, whatever. I am usually the guy that doesn’t play a character and drops boulders on the other folks at the table. At an early age I formed an adversarial relationship with my players, it seemed like my job was to ruthlessly and efficiently gut and massacre the players as swiftly as possible. Fast forward to my early twenties and I realize “when they die, the game is over!” so I started coddling my players along, over rewarding treasure and xp so the precious story could unfold, although usually my players had become so overpowered that my hand crafted masterminds and potent horrors were childs play. There is a delicate balance that has to be struck between ease of play and reward and it is easy to muff it up.
One of my recent DnD 3.5 story arcs left my players with a large estate, moderate income and status in the gentry of the country, where was the motivation for them to sally forth and jack up some baddies? I promptly had them kidnapped and dragged to a foreign land where, upon escaping their captors, they had to learn a new language, a new social structure, and re-equip from almost nothing. It is challenges like these i have found that are just as rewarding as bashing goblins without the tedium of grinding combat. Now I love me a good dungeon crawl, but even I get sick of rolling up initiative for three hours straight.
I will get in depth on different things in subsequent articles, so I want to sum this up by saying your players are helping you realize a vision, they are the threads you are weaving into a tapestry of a story that can span years and worlds, so even though it can be fun to nudge boulders off a cliff onto their pointy heads, don’t do it ALL the time.