One thing I’ve noticed as a DM…

Is that I tend to be a lot more forgiving than I initially told myself I’d be.

But most of the “forgiving” comes in the form of balancing encounter strategy. I’m still ready to punish stupidity, greed and evil when the scenario calls for it.

Against a particularly tough encounter, I will fudge monster strategy so that they don’t just unload all of their most powerful attacks on the first round. I fudge damage rolls to prevent characters from being taken below -9 (that elf should’ve been vaporized by a 6d6 lighting-bolt, instead I put him at -8). The story-driven post-2e gamer in me may be surpressing my OSRness.

Yet if any of the players spring the obvious trap, make the obvious bad choice or do the obviously evil thing, I’ll let the dice fall where they may. So maybe I’m not a total loss as an OSR DM. I’m ready for a shake-up of the party makeup now, too, since a few level 0 characters are now named and have ‘taken the call’ so to speak.

7 responses to “One thing I’ve noticed as a DM…

  1. It can become tiresome, “punishing” PCs for bad or stupid behavior. I tend to be forgiving right up until my patience runs out — at which point I transform into either the “kill ’em all” GM or the “whatever you want, I don’t care” GM.


    • Well, by punishing I meant that when the room description upon opening the door is 4 towering obsidian statues of angry skeletons with a treasure chest at the far end of the room, and the thief says “I open the chest” you’d better believe he’s getting all 8 of those living statue attacks directed at him.

      • Imagine that you set up situations like that, and different PCs triggered the events every. Single. Time. It reaches a point where you aren’t so much creating a causal relationship between triggers and events, but you’re scripting the entire campaign from beginning to end.

        “If x, then y” gives way to “then x happens, then y happens…”

        It got super tedious for me, and since then I’ve been working really hard on creating random tables so I rarely have to make another decision — if my players are going to spring literally every trap I devise, I’m going to outsource my bloody traps so I don’t burn out… again.


      • Well, at least in the game I’m running, things aren’t necessarily on the scale yet where I have to worry about that. Yes, there is an impending doom coming, and there’s nothing that can stop it. It’s on no time table other than when I’m ready to flip the switch and when the players are somewhat ready to handle it. But there aren’t enough hornets nest ready for my players to poke to create a cataclysmic situation where all things end up in motion at once. It’s more like that one Ayleid ruin with the two fighting goblin tribes; if you show up and watch them start fighting, one side will eventually kill the other, but they’re not going to kill each other until you actually enter the area. It’s a local event that’s happened, one that doesn’t affect the world at large, but gives at least the illusion of a dynamic world.

        So maybe that is to say that I’m creating the illusion of a dynamic world rather than a dynamic world. I’d originally considered a party of rival adventurers, but that would’ve meant either making the world big enough for the both of them or actually having a truly dynamic world (which would’ve been a lot of trouble).

    • Whether he means to or not, the thief in our party has born the brunt of just about ever surprise set-piece encounter in the modules I’ve run for my group so far.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s