No RP?!? Shame on me!!

I’m all about the Dungeons and Dragons encounters program. I know it is not for everyone. I’m sure there are tons of people who are not down with it, or just out right hate the thought of a one shot program. I’m ok with that, I think the game has different hooks for different people and this hook is not your bailiwick. This post is for those who do enjoy the Encounters program.There will be some spoilers for anyone who has not run the week two encounter so be forewarned.

I have read a few reviews of DnD encounters and many of them say the same thing; role play is either a secondary thought or not a thought at all. While running the last session I encountered this lack of RP first hand. As the party picked up from the last week they had descended into the well and were immediately thrust into battle. For many people this was a hang up, the fact that the players didn’t get to engaged any form of non combat interaction. I thought it odd so I took some DM privileges and rewrote the entire encounter. I’m not going to post the whole thing here but I will give you a general idea of what I did.

I had the encounter set up so the party would meet with the group of NPCs at the bottom of the well and have a chance to interact with them. I had the changeling hiding with the human minions, and the guards with the scorpion were to do the talking. As they interacted the NPCs were to tell them that Fayen their patron had hired them to guide the party to the entrance of the newly uncovered wing of under mountain. The NPCs would request that the party hand over the map they were given, as they would require it to guide the party. If the party handed it over the changeling would have grabbed it and began to run for the rope harness heading to the tavern. This would have begun the combat in which the party would have a goal other than defeating the NPCs; they would have to retrieve a very important item for their quest.

If the party had not given the map to the NPC perhaps they had made an insight check and found the guards were lying or a perception check and figured out there was a changeling in the group of humans then the guards might have offered to buy the map from them and pay the group to give up their quest. This of course would have been a lie and the party would end up in combat again. Either way the group would have had some role play interaction and the combat might have been a bit more interesting.

All that fell by the wayside quickly. After reaching the bottom of the well the party made perception checks and realized they were surrounded. “I shoot the scorpion with my bow” one of the players exclaimed; and with that all of my writing and planning hit the grinder. I had no plans for RP after the fight. I didn’t want to inject an NPC into the adventure due to the fact that they could play next week with a different DM and major alterations to the story could really mess the whole thing up. So RP flew right out the window, but not with out a fight from me!

Why did this happen? I feel like I share the some of the blame. Though I think there is just a mindset which leads to encounters of this sort. I sometimes think nothing short of a paradigm shift will correct this issue. Why was it partially my fault? To build up the scene of being lowered into the well I made the players decided who would have to go first, and I made it seem to carry weight. I did this to build suspense, and make those who went first feel very vulnerable  while all alone with out the rest of the party. I think that put the party of edge and got them ready for a fight. Something akin to mood music right before a big action scene. What part of the problem wasn’t my fault? Everything else; huge cop out I know. Really I find the problem is the mindset built on this kind of program. The players don’t really think about role play, or character development because they are playing throwaway characters. They know that in a matter of weeks they will walk away from these characters and never use them again. This often leads to the “Shoot first then shoot again” mind set. Conversation has no place in a world lacking in long term consequences, and the encounters world lacks just that. last week a few of my players left before they got their loot. A rational move when you know you won’t need gold to buy gear for your next adventure since there won’t be a next adventure.

How do we fix this? Perhaps making encounters look more like LFR with persistent story moving through different tiers of play. Giving people incentive to bring characters back for the next season. I notice next season will be in Atahas which makes me think encounters is more of a prolonged game day. Wizards might be using it as a prolonged advertising tool for their new products. This is fine, but I feel the role play aspect of the game will continue to suffer until these issues of consequences are resolved.


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.


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.
Subscribe to Comments RSS Feed in this post

One Response

  1. Pingback: AaronNo Gravatar

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *