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The Divide, Mojave Wasteland
Just a student trying to make it in the world. His hobbies include tabletop gaming, video games, trading card games, writing and programming

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

DM: Story Decisions

The thing that makes D&D really powerful is the ability to create an environment that can have events as powerful as Romeo and Juliet or action as awesome as Die Hard. However none of this is possible if your players or you as a DM refuse to make story decisions.

Now what exactly are story decisions? A story decision is any decision that you as a DM or a player makes that has an adverse effect on the story. For example, if your campaign is taking place during a time when the gods are in an uproar, having a cleric getting cut-off from his god could have an extremely powerful effect on the course of that character's life and on the rest of the game. From a player's perspective a story decision is a decision that a DM might not expect, such as defying the terribly powerful and corrupt king of a country, doing so might allow your character to join the resistance or become outlaws fighting for what they believe in. These decisions add a whole new level of depth to games and make players either feel powerful or helpless depending on the decision.

Now some players are sticklers for rules and probably one of my favorite approaches to this is stated in The Gamers II: Dorkness Rising, where a player is complaining to the DM about his breaking of the rules and how this creates a problem. The scene goes a little something like this:
Gary: I didn't even know it was possible to cut a cleric off from his god.
Kas:It's not at least not in the core rules it isn't
Lodge: It fits the story.
Kas: It doesn't fit the rules.
Lodge: Story trumps Rules!...Which would you rather have an original fantasy world with its own mysteries and pitfalls or just another cookie cutter setting with no surprises.
Kas: You should have told us that in your world a cleric can get cut off from his god.
Lodge: Why should I have told you that?
Kas: Gary would you have played a cleric if Lodge was going to shut him down?
Gary: Hell no.
Lodge: That's player knowledge not character knowledge. It's something you know but your character wouldn't.
Kas: That is so cheap, cheap cheap cheap. It's not fair to allow a character to advance that far and pull something that huge on them.
Lodge: It was supposed to be a nasty surprise. Something you weren't expecting.
Kas: And because it was so unexpected the party died. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!
Lodge: MAYBE THAT IT WOULD FORCE YOU TO ROLEPLAY!
So that happened. Just if you're playing a game keep in mind that the story is more important to the rules. It even says that in the DMG that the rules in the books are just a guideline. So if your DM makes a decision, don't question it...ever.




Don't know whats going up tomorrow. But if you haven't seen The Gamers II, go watch it. It's funny in its own quirky, low budget, nerd humor kind of way.

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