In my previous post about my Dragonlance campaign fail, I did not touch on the most important thing: what I learned from the experience. Failing is fine, it gives experience. Thus, I left the experience as “JP level 2”.
How to avoid repeating the fail?
As a player Be open and create a character that will work and be opened to doing strange things. YES, you have your background. YES, you have your own goals. YES, you are more important than the others. But there are other people in the game. They have their own goals, their own story, their own interest, and their own abilities. And that only covers their characters!
THE GM IS IN THE GAME ALSO. Don’t fight him every step of the way when he’s trying to take you someplace. Keep fighting him non-stop and you quickly end up without a GM. All that background, all those goals, all your importance end up being for nothing. Work with your GM to create something.
When you create your character try to figure out ways to integrate with the others. You don’t have to like everyone in your party, but don’t be a dick about (too much). Use your background as a story catalyst to move you forward, not hold back the party. Though once in a while, that’s okay too, creates intra-party discussions and talks. That’s fine. If the party has to convince you to do anything more than once a game session, you are hogging the game.
As a GM You have to create a game where the players are free to evolve on their own. It is acceptable to have a small level of railroading (especially in the early stages of the campaign), but the players must always have the impression that what they are doing is of their own will and desires.
EVER assume or pre-plot a conclusion to an encounter based on player’s motivation or goals. You always end up with bad results. In that Dragonlance campaign, I assumed the PCs would care or at least be interested in the fate of the refugees. They weren’t. Worse, the more I tried to get them to care, the more they fought not to, and it turned into a game for them. See how they could break anything I came up with. That got me even angrier. So I gave up on the campaign. I just gave up. Result: I had no more game.
take the following situation and see if that is a situation you could your group – or some in your group. It’s scary.
What the GM planned : The PCs are walking in a forest when they hear a female voice call for help. The PCs charge through the woods, kill the bandits and rescue the girl. She is a local peasant without any clear tie to the story the PCs are doing now. As she thanks them with a kiss, she waves goodbye and leave.
What Group 1 did : They heard the cries, but since they were on the big quest decided to press on, rationalizing it as “this is a trap”. Then forgot about the girl and the incident altogether.
What Group 2 did : They heard the cries, charged through the forest and beat up the bandits. When she offered to pay them with a kiss, they began to threaten her because "they wasted 12 charges on their wand to save her, so she’d better pony up the 12*15= 180gp or she was gonna be sorry". The next scene sees the PCs walking into the slaver’s office with the poor girl on a pole. The dialog simply reads “She’s yours for 200gp.”
What Group 3 did : They heard the cries, then the super-feminist character throws a fit because of the damsel in distress, begins accusing the male PCs of living out their fantasies and makes so much noise as the party gets into an argument that the bandit gag the girl and leave. When finally the PCs go they find no one. Like group 1, they rationalize that it was a trap and leave.
What Group 4 did : Like group 3, but they find a dead girl. They begin arguing again and putting the blame on each other. Finally they rationalize that the GM is trying to guilt-trip them and leave.
Did that ever happen to you? Could it happen? I’m SURE you know more than a few players that would lead your party into one of the above group.
The final lesson Sometimes a game just isn’t for you and your group. And I’m talking on both sides of the gaming equation. I played some games for long periods that were just goofing-off sessions, trying to see who could fire the most ammo clips into tents or mass-bombing aliens and see their civilians run and cry. Ahhh… that was funny. Brutal, stupid, testosterone-fueled, macho as all hell, but funny. I do not count those old Rifts campaign in my favorite or most intense gaming experiences… It was fun but really all I took away from that campaign is that I had a sick mind, and my friends were even more sick and twisted.