By Shadomain Staff

TTRPG Random Thoughts is an occasional feature that collects some ideas and opinions about role playing games – things that don’t warrant an entire article but are still worthy of note. Here’s our thoughts for today:

GM anxiety

Many GMs, especially at the start of their careers, are afraid they will “mess up”. Here’s the catch: you can’t mess up, if your goal is to tell a cool story and have fun. You can diverge from the rules, and a minor goal for later might be to diverge less, but if you had fun and told a cool story, you didn’t mess up.

Random numbers

There are many cases in RPGs where you need a random number, often between 1-20 or 1-100. In situations where the higher the number the better the result, the target number is obviously the maximum number so you’ll need to roll a die. Whenever possible allow the player(s) to roll that die, as it helps put the game in their hands.

In situations where you need a number that corresponds to the results of a random table, there is no desired target number. You can increase player agency by not asking a player to roll, but instead ask them to choose a number in the range. There’s no tactical advantage to this, but it puts the entire choice in the player’s hands, or really, their head. This is not an earth shattering concept but it is something which can add some fun to the game session.

Keeping players engaged when their characters have died

“This is an ex-PC!”

Paraphrased from Monty Python’s “The Parrot Sketch”

Player character death is at least (possibly) a part of most fantasy TTRPGs. There are some gaming tables where PC death is common, but others where the rarity of it gives it extra drama when it does happen. We’re not going to suggest that either of these styles of play are superior, but instead we’ll look at what a game master can do to keep a player engaged with the game when their PC dies mid session.

Paraphrased from Monty Python’s “The Parrot Sketch

The best advice is to allow the player to bring in a new character as quickly as possible, even if you have to bend the story to make that work. There are times when this isn’t ideal – if character creation takes a while it may be best to do that between sessions, or the dead character may have a chance at being resurrected at a later time. Keep the player engaged by finding roles that match their interests. Some suggest the player could track initiative and health points, but unless this is something they’re interested in that might not capture their interest. If there’s an NPC (or several) with the PCs you can allow the player to take those roles. You could also allow the player to play the role of monsters and other adversaries. If this is the best role for the player you could improvise an NPC, perhaps a captive freed by the PCs’ latest successful battle, or a minion who defects during a battle and professes they had been trying to escape. 

What do you think, do you have any ideas, or other topics you’d like to see us tackle? Let us know in the comments below!

Leave a Reply

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