Brett throws some Advanced Dungeons & Dragons at his home group and realizes how it is turning his game into something different. This isn’t to talk about the rules of AD&D, but to offer insight into how the game provides a different experience for his game group and how Brett runs the fantasy rpg.
Cory Welch up to some good (audio)
DM Cojo, Failure is ALWAYS an Option
There are two main reasons why I tune into your podcast week in and week out:
- Because you always have topics and discussions that make me reflect on myself as a gamer…
- Because I am always excited to hear how Sean pronounces “2020” each week!
Your recent conversation about failure in RPGs got me thinking. First off, I respect that all gamers will not like the same style of gaming, and that is great. This note is in no way meant to judge how other people play…but to explain my thoughts on it.
Personally, I feel that failure is an important part of the RPGs that I like to play. Even if that failure is due to unlucky dice rolls, I feel that it is important for myself and my players to embrace that failure is going to happen…and that it can still be fun!
Of late, I mostly run convention one-shots and for games for my kids. In con games, failure isn’t seen as a big deal, because it isn’t a campaign. For my kids, I have set the expectation that there will be nights when things go badly in the game, and that is ok. PCs will die, tears will be shed, and the story marches on.
When I previously had gaming groups that I was running campaigns for…failure was not considered unpleasant…because my players and I had that expectation set in session zero. If I rolled up a character with a strength of 3…I embraced it and made that an interesting facet of their personality. When a player rolls way too low on their “to hit” roll, I narratively describe how inept their attack was, and make it a fun part of the story. If your character fails a “save or die” poison saving throw, I describe how they bravely saved their comrades from a gruesome death, and died heroically. I don’t see failures in the game as a reason not to be having fun.
Basically, failure is ALWAYS narrative in my games, because that’s how I describe it. That way, failure is never seen as a boring “you miss”, “you miss again” affair. Even the misses are fun! Therefore, I want failure to be a part of my games…and I tend to avoid games where failure is rare (the exception is FFG Star Wars…although I do wish that game was more lethal for PCs). I also always discourage power gamers from playing in my games. I don’t like to run for players who want to optimize their characters so as to prevent failures. That kind of gaming drives me nuts…but I know many players enjoy that. Recognizing that, I have always told players that if that is the type of game they want to play…my table may not be the best fit. But if you want a game where failure happens, often in spectacular narrative fashion…then I’m the GM for you!
Keep on keeping on,
Kyle commented at us on Bookface
Since you seemed to enjoy the last dispatch from my current campaign I thought I would update you on the outcome of the encounter and also propose a topic.
After being shamed into fighting a forest fire with no rest and little spell power left, my PCs found themselves, as predicted, fighting a powerful warlock of yeenoghu, and his demon minions in the middle of a raging fire. The battle involved a druid polymorphing into a giant gorilla and flinging a demon into an inferno, and the warlock plane shifting out to fight another day.
The big twist, however, came when a mob of treants arrived after the battle to help subdue the fire. After everything was under control A Dozen treants decided to have words with our heroes. A thoughtful discussion ensued regarding their fate. The wise, ancient forest protectors decided that, since the fight that caused the fire was a result of the pc’s bringing their enemies into the woods, the easiest solution would be to rip the PCs apart so the demonic forces would have no reason to come back.
An impromptu trial occurred with the PCs bribing, begging, and bluffing their way out of being dismembered. Meanwhile, a group of “refugees” were arguing that the PCs had actually set the fires with their recklessness. These refugees, were, of course, the Jackalwere henchman of the warlock in their human forms.
The PCs managed not to screw up and avoided being torn apart by Treants, but they wound up being kicked out the
forest, like punk kids at a club with a fake ID. The forest, incidentally, occupies about a third of their home region and borders the boundaries of their stronghold on 3 sides.
What this had me thinking about was how to use “friendly” monsters as adversaries. A lot of real estate in monster tomes is taken up by “friendly” creatures and they often get glossed over. I’m interested in how other folks work them in.
Thanks for all the work and thanks also for turning me on to Mothership, although my first attempt to run that game is a fiasco for another day…