Thursday, 24 March 2011

Right then you pesky mice, I’m about to stuff up your plans!

The one thing I really miss about paper and pencil RPG, that’s not Rocket propelled grenade, that would be silly! Aside from the social side, sitting down with a few good mates stuffing your face with pizza and cola, is the chance to completely mess up the hard efforts of a good DM. The way I see it is this; as a DM it’s my job to keep the players on their toes and to challenge their ingenuity, keep them guessing and do my best to finish off their characters. If they survive a campaign then they deserve to be rewarded, primarily with XP but also with fame and fortune in the universe the game takes place, for D&D it was usually the Forgotten Realms, I was never a harsh ref, if I could avoid character death I would, botching a hit roll so that a PC is badly wounded rather than killed outright is not uncommon as is fumbling a save roll so that a PC lives rather that suffer an excruciating death, it’s incredible how players get attached to something that is, effectively, a series of numbers and letters. I’ve seen players weep at the death of their level 9 cleric, I’ve seen players storm off in an angry huff because their Dwarf couldn’t dodge a crossbow bolt whilst climbing a drainpipe in full plate armour, you know who you are!

I also know players who throw their characters in front of every monster in the game in hope hope that the PC will meet with it’s untimely and and they can set about making up a new character. I like character generation but I like to see how they progress. us gamers are an odd bunch.

Then comes the role of the player, in actual fact most DMs hate the players, it’s true, they spend weeks writing a campaign and creating the bad guys, they consider all eventualities and encounter outcomes, and then a player comes along with a well aimed crossbow bolt or a very succesful backstab, I love rogues! and poof, it’s all over! the campaign ends prematurely because the ref wasn’t expecting a player to to do something as mundane as attack the bad guy. oh no, he’s expecting a battle, spells being thrown and minions rushing in to defend their dark master, and it’s all ruined because he forgot that he’d earlier given one of the player a ring with three wishes bound to it and that the player in question is a high enough level to cast permanent illusion, oh how we laughed. There’s a lesson to be learned here though, as a Dungeons and Dragons DM who’s prepared to wipe out an entire party, never ever go to the toilet before the big battle, players will conspire against you, you know who you are too!

DMs and players go through a kind of posturing, as players we get all cocky and confident that our characters are immortal with high armour saves and Vorpal Swords, as referees our job is to find nefarious ways of setting the player character up for a mighty fall, as players it’s to out think and out roll the most devious NPC that the DM can throw at us, and that’s why I enjoy gaming, it can be very frustrating at times but it can also be such good fun, especially when the DM gets all crest fallen because he didn’t plan for the rogue to be using an F type poison on a concealed wrist blade.

That’s the thing I love, when you finally get to meet the sadistic so and so that laid waste to a whole village, enslaved the children, murdered the men folk and enrolled all the totty into his harem, The ref prepares his best “I’m so bad I eat puppies” speech and one of the players looses an arrow, rolls a natural 20 and oops, it’s all over, we didn’t want to hear your stupid speech anyway. now we free the women and children and take all your valuables to pay to rebuild the village, minus our 20% of course, I may be lawful good but I’ve got to eat!

One day soon I shall play again and I will once more hear the familiar clatter of my dice on a books hard cover and pray to Randomonia for a twenty, she won’t listen of course, she never does. All I need is three other players and a ref!