Giving up some power

This week I received an email from one of my players and I have decided to share a line from that email with all of you. The majority of the email was him explaining that he had accidentally played his character with an item which he had planned on purchasing but had not actually done so. Really that does not bother me at all and it’s not the point of the is post. What did catch my eye was at the very end of the email and it said “Describing some of the action tonight (Ashar’s ritual) as a mini-DM was kind of fun.  : )”

Everyone enjoys a good ego stroke and I like to be told that I am doing a good job as much as the next guy, but that also isn’t the focus of this article. “What is the point?” you might ask. His enjoyment of the control I gave him over a scene involving his character as the main protagonist.

What happened? I set the scene, I brought the NPCs and the players into a setting and described it with moderate detail and then pointed to the player and said “since it’s your character you tell me what happens”. For the next five minutes or so the player described what was taking place and the interactions his character had with the NPC and the environment. If a skill check was needed I would stop him and ask him or someone in the group to roll. Once the scene was complete I took over and resumed DMing the game.

One of the best parts of being a DM is being able to influence the world in which the characters play. Getting to be creative, not just imagining a story but sharing it with other. Sharing that influence is a great way to enhance players enjoyment of any RPG. How can you do this while still maintaining continuity and story flow? Here are a few suggestions on how you can share some of your DM power.

#1. Skill Check hand off: When a skill check is needed give your players the chance to describe what failure or success means. As the DM moderate to make sure what they describe is plausible and add small details but allow them to decided what happens when they fail a diplomacy check or if they crush a stealth check.

#2. Scene control: If there is a scene in the story which focuses heavily on one or two players let them narrate the scene. Start them off by describing the setting and give them what ever important information the NPCs might give them and then let your players run with it.

#3. Consequences of Action: If your players do something which could have wide spread consequences for the world at large ask them for input as to what it should be. Did the party topple an evil king? Who steps in to take his place? Perhaps your players might enjoy the kingdom collapsing into chaos, or the installation of a kind hearted young queen. Did they destroy an evil necromancer who was raising an army of the undead? What happened to his army? Are they free to roam the world and wreak havok? Do they start their own undead civilization? Let your players decide.

#4. City Building: The Dresden Files RPG has a great deal of good ideas for gaming, one of them being cooperative world building. This is a really useful way to get your players more involved and interested in the world in which they play.  Asking each player to create a place of interest and an NPC which the other players don’t know about can be very rewarding to the players. This gives each player a little inside knowledge about the city which the others in the group don’t. If each player creates one of these places of interest they will have have some special information they will enjoy sharing with the party, or using to their own advantage.

#5. NPC control: Often players will take a special interest in NPCs who they feel an affinity for; perhaps they enjoy something quirky about the NPC or they just think it’s funny. The DMG2 has some great rules for creating a companion character for your players. Taking an NPC your players like and turning it into a companion for a while gives them a bit of constant control over their world. Allow them to determine their companions reactions to situations and stimuli. Let them write some of the back story for the NPC if they want.

Creativity is at the heart of role playing games, and sharing the ability to be creative with your players is a great way to allow them to shine and enjoy their game even more. Even control freaks and evil DMs can benefit their games by allowing players to have some creative control. Giving them some rope with which to hang them selves can always be fun.


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.
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