And the answer is an emphatic yes!

Both D&D encounters and World Wide Game day taught me a really solid lesson. At both I learned that the answer is “yes”, but what was the question? It doesn’t matter because I need to say yes more and not worry about how it affects the story I have built. Just as the old quote goes “No plan survives contact with the enemy”; no story ever survives contact with the players. I’ll get back to that point later, but first.

At both encounters and game day I had extremely creative players who came up with really great additions to the story, and amazing flare in combat. No only did I have enthusiastic and creative players but I had other DMs there who were very encouraging about letting the players explore the game, and not saying no. I think the on site support from other DMs really helped me learn this lesson. It is a suggestion in both published materials and on many game blogs. But reading and practicing are always very different experiences. I have found that experience is a great teacher and re-enforcer of things we hold to be true.

What is wrong with no? Thanks for asking, I’ll tell you the problem I have with the word no. Dungeons and Dragons and many other games of its ilk depend heavily on story, and who are the main characters in the story? They players, that’s right! So what kind of story would you have if the main characters never did anything heroic, or extra ordinary. Where would young Odysseus be if he had not come up with the plan to put out the eye of the cyclops and instead had to fight it out with him round for round? Even if there was no earth shaking combat in that situation there was still an amazing story. Every great story has creative moments where either the mundane or the extraordinary could have been accomplished; just as every game has moments where inspired players could make a choice which might alter the story for the better. I would be willing to bet that the extraordinary makes for a much better read. So my problem with the word no is the fact that it is stifling to the creative process, a process which should include a group not just one person.

The DM is the author of a story, it is true. The DM should author a story line and flesh out characters in the time he spends preparing for the game. Once a DM invites players into the story the DM should understand that the players now share authorship, and rewrites are bound to occur. When I was in management I learned that recognizing great ideas could be as important as having them your self, and just because you are not the author of every great idea does not mean you have failed. Just the opposite, a DM should be on the look out for great ideas, and if DM does I think they will find the story will be greatly enhanced.

Saying yes can happen in many different ways. If a player has an interesting idea for a character combo but requires some rules to be edited or bent; or if a player has an idea for an attack such as bringing a bridge down on an enemy below. These things add flare to the game and create a much more interesting experience for the players. These are also very easy ideas to work into the story. Where I have had problems in the past are player choices which carry the threat of destroying the story line. If the group decided to use a ritual to protect them from an attack I wanted to happen, or if they decide to not help the people I wanted them to help. These are hard to say yes to, I guess only because it makes more work for me as the DM. Sadly it is a really bad reason to say no, and the most common reason I have.

So from this day forth I have decided to answer yes more and see where it takes me. Perhaps all my games from here on out will fail and end horribly, but I sincerely doubt it, I would even be willing to bet a cookie that they will be much more enjoyable.

T.


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.


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About Thadeousc

Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.
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