Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Less is More

I was discussing a game I had run with some friends about how the party had been surprised by a statue coming to life and nearly murdering them.

"Who doesn't know every statue is going to come to life and murder you?"  (or a similar sentiment)

Which made me realize I don't often advertise the intentional hard limits I place on myself as a GM.  A common one is that (despite the obvious temptation)  I will not have statues animate to kill players in more than two locations in a campaign.   I will make sure that the number of piles of skeletons that animate to unlife after the party passes is less than one for every four that are just inanimate corpses.  There will be beneficial random encounters and beneficial treasures in haunted shrines.

This is not because I don't want players to die at the hands of murderous statues or suffer cruel curses from treasures looted from the shrines of demon-gods.   Its because I do.

If every statue is murderous,  players will react accordingly and never be surprised by them. Even if a minority of statues are animate, that is enough.   But if they are almost never animate?   Well people will start to act that way,  causing even more problems when they do things like tie off ropes to them to rappel down somewhere.

If treasures from a demon's hoard are usually cursed, no one is touching them.  If there is a good chance its a powerful boon?  They will.  And one of those times it won't be a boon.    People are greedy.

NGR helps with this by goading people on to take dangerous risks.  Making the amount of physical time used up in exploration also encourages recklessness.  But they don't mandate recklessness, and that is key.  The option to be careful must be there,  it just has to be countered by greed and avarice.  It has to be a conscious choice to take risk.  That is what shifts it from being a killer GM toying with players to being an impartial GM with players who kill themselves by trying to defy the odds  (or having cool stories of beating them).

No comments:

Post a Comment