Make the Boring Stuff Fun

Taking the advice from past issues, I have switched sides of the screen. I will still be gaming twice a month, once as GM and now once as player.

We had our first session two weeks ago. It is a D&D 4E game and I am playing a wizard. Our characters are members of a special guard force called the Red Sashes, and we operate in an eastern setting based on Turkey.

The game opened with us getting sent to the city of Rask and assigned to an agent there. Upon arriving he greeted us with hostility, telling us to go back and leave the city alone.

We were steadfast though (it was a cool roleplaying challenge) and we squeezed an assignment from our reluctant handler. He told us to investigate reports of tentacled creatures near a town about two days away. Well played, GM, as it got us to leave the city anyway. 🙂

We journey to the town and roleplay some info gathering from residents. We learn a few things, choose a direction and head out. Our destination is the crash zone of a Far Realm object (meteor).

At the site we spot a hole in the earth the object made when it impacted. Cautiously we enter and encounter numerous chaos creatures. The battle is a good one, with the creatures using crystal growths to recharge and a deep stream for physical separation and tactics.

Our new group learned a few ways to work together, and we finished the session with victory over the warped creatures. Great pacing.

A side quest we picked up along the way was to discover the fate of an elven lady’s father, a merchant who had gone missing en route to this area. Unfortunately, we discover his body in the cave, half eaten by the creatures. We give the body a proper burial and then head back to town.

It was great to be playing again. The one thing I noticed was how much players are willing to meet a GM halfway (or more) on details when those details are still uncertain.

As a first session using a game system we haven’t played in a year in a new homebrew setting, the GM did a great job thinking on his feet. Especially when we did some investigation. As a player, I was content with meta answers like, “I do not know, but your character receives a few facts that are not pertinent to his quest.” And at other times, I was pleased to offer details and have the GM decide to use some of them.

So GMs, I think we should give our players more credit and give them honest answers instead of blocking answers. We should also be good listeners and take what players offer us, instead of bearing the tough burden of having to create everything ourselves all the time.

Poor:

“The trees before you are impenetrable. There’s no way you can travel further in this direction. And to the north is a tall mountain range – do not even think about going there.”

Good:

“I do not know, but your character receives a few facts that are not pertinent to his quest.”

Great:

“I do not know, but your character receives a few facts that are not pertinent to his quest. Please write a few ideas for me on this index card.”