Sometimes your group doesn’t work out. Maybe there’s a player in there who just isn’t having fun. Maybe the game you’re running isn’t the one they want to play. Maybe they’ve broken up with their partner and are taking out their anger in the game or perhaps their personality just doesn’t mesh at all with another member of the group. Or perhaps your game is planned for the end of their week and they’re sleep-deprived and cranky.
Whatever the reason, a situation like this means it’s time to have one of the the hardest conversations you can have as a GM. And while this shouldn’t only be the GM’s responsibility, often the task falls to the GM. And that’s what i’ll be discussing here today.
A few weeks ago my sunday D&D group reached 7th level and with 7th level came a whole host of new spells and abilities that gave them several brand new ways of murdering their enemies and taking their things. This also meant that the standard way of providing them with a challenging encounter didn’t quite work anymore so I had to go looking for new ways of threatening their treasure, lives and friends (in that order).
This post, I’d like to take a moment to look at challenging players in the context of their abilities, especially at higher levels. I’ll be going over when to let players revel in their power and how to properly challenge their more powerful abilities.
I’ll admit, I was working on another post when the idea for this one hit me. And I’ll even admit that part of the seed for this one comes from frustration in my own games. That said, there’s some interesting things to discuss with regards to this topic, so let’s dive in!
As you may have guessed from the title and the above picture, this post is about those sessions where a lot happens and nothing ever gets done. It’s about sessions where you spend hours chasing down a clue that leads absolutely no-where and sessions where you spend your hard-earned resources to open a door that leads, you guessed it, no-where.
So without wasting any more of your precious time, let’s dig in and talk about how to avoid wasting everyone’s precious RPG time.
I think it’s safe to say that we’re all geeks here (in our own way).
Or at least, our society is now more accepting of all that is geeky.
With the rise of the internet and with people like Felicia Day, Will Wheaton, Adam Savage, Christopher Perkins or groups like ‘Penny Arcade’ appealing to a broad audience, ‘being Geek’ (or the term ‘Geek’) is now seen in a more positive light.
Hell, its become so mainstream now that people have tried distilling it into a television format (Looking at you, Big Bang Theory….). Even the typical hot girl on the internet would now openly cling to her identity as a geek. Something that the wizards and warlocks of old (70’s-90’s) could only dream of.
(I doubt Gary Gygax would have as many fan girls as George R.R. Martin.)
So we’ve talked a bit about geeks in pop culture.
But what about pop culture for geeks?
The following post concerns a sensitive topic and may discuss unpleasant things in order to understand them better. This post is intended to analyse a trend in roleplaying games and provide some insights into what it may mean for the hobby.
Please keep it civil if you wish to comment.
Racism is still a much discussed topic these days.
In a time where terrorism and virtue signaling are rampant and the word ‘Nazi’ gets thrown about like its going out of style, it’s only natural for some people to get conflicted over the idea of excluding anyone and merely thinking about excluding someone (over prejudice) can get you branded as a social outcast.
So much so, that even with regards to fictional worlds, the idea is floating around that we must include our real life ideals into our games or risk being an outcast at the table.
Example given: In this vid (I normally find his advice to be top notch btw)
So how would that translate to fictional property and worlds?
Let’s break down what that would mean.
We’ve all been there. Morbo the destroyer, the party’s Barbarian, is down. The Cleric is being strangled to death by an animated chain, unable to heal the rest. And there you are, in dire need of a good roll.
You roll a 19 and still you cannot make that critical check.
Meanwhile the GM is giving you the nastiest, shit eating grin you’ve ever seen.
And you start to wonder. ‘When and where did we fuck up so hard that we ended up in this situation in the first place?’
Well, let’s be honest. If you look back, there’s likely to be dozens of things you could have done to avoid all of this. You could have thought about asking your GM about some extra lore about the area. Maybe living chains are quite common here. Maybe you shouldn’t have jumped the gun and grab that floating ruby that was auspiciously left on a central pillar. At least, not without checking it out first. Maybe that group of Orcs just had no way in hell swimming after you in all that heavy armor a session ago.
All good options, surely. But how would you go about this?
Well, some players might simply tell you to ‘Git Gud, Scrub!’.
A good player will tell you that everything depends on your clever interaction with your party and above all, your GM.
So the question can be asked. “How can I, as a player, interact with my GM, in a way that is beneficial to the story and the game?’