Thanks for stopping in! This week, I wanted to talk about tabletop gaming. Being that most of the people reading this are fans of the fantasy genre, I think it’s a safe bet that we are familiar with tabletop gaming. If you haven’t played before, I highly recommend it. If you need a group and are in the Augusta, GA area, let me know, and I got you.
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Personal Philosophy on being a DM
I love tabletop RPGs. I started with Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, played a little 4th edition, went to Pathfinder, messed around with a bunch of other games and home-brews, and am now solidly in the 5th edition camp. While the title of the post seems to focus on the Dungeon Master—or Game Master depending on what you are running—I think it is equally applicable to players.
TLDR: Tabletop Gaming is the best when players are able to do what they want.
I know there are plenty of DM’s out there who are lighting their torches as I type. Hear me out. Tabletop games are a cross between storytelling, board games, and video games. In every group I have ever played with, the first of that list is the most important. Storytelling.
Now there are probably some players sharpening their pitchforks. Anyone who has been playing tabletop games for long enough has likely encountered a dungeon master who had “an amazing story” that they railroaded the party into. It didn’t matter that the plot didn’t jive with the character’s motivations. It didn’t matter that the party was pretty much supporting roles to a DMPC. For the sake of story, the party just needed to go with whatever the DM wanted them to do (Man, apparently I have a bit of salt about this issue).
Back on topic. Storytelling is the most important aspect of tabletop gaming, but the key element is that tabletop gaming, by nature, is a shared experience. This aspect can be something that is easy to forget. Players do not play in order to be a passive audience. They play because they love telling part of the story.
Part of being a DM is planning encounters. Sometimes this is combat based Others are social, and everyone has tried their hand at a good puzzle. When it comes to the party overcoming these encounters, it is almost expected that they will think of every logical solution then do something completely off the wall.
These are the times that make memories.
A few years back I had a group of players there were supposed to fight some vampires. Cue the wizard that encircled the party with fog, and then their cleric came in clutch with a bless water. While I had envisioned a straight out combat encounter, they overcame the challenge by driving the enemy away. The teamwork and spontaneity of this has made it a staple of the group to this day.
Had I said, “Those spells don’t really work like that.” It would have ruined an amazing moment.
I write all this as a plea. If you’re a DM, and you have a player actively trying to think outside the box, consider letting them knock whatever challenge you had prepared out of the park (Given the dice gods allow it). Obviously, they shouldn’t be able to one-shot a boss they’ve been working towards for twelve sessions, but if you ever have a chance to make one of those amazing gaming moments, tell them to go for it.
Thank you for stopping in and reading! Check back next week for another post here on The Bard & Books. If you haven’t hit that FOLLOW button, please do so. And please share any awesome gaming moments you have.