Monday, 15 October 2012

A DM's Dilemma

So in the recent Polish Resistance Session 7 I encountered the following dilemma:

The players had been arrested and brought to the police station.  Andre knocked out the police inspector, then set-upon a convoluted plan for trying to shift the blame to the innkeeper who had originally had them arrested.  My assumption was that in the time it would take them to secure the innkeeper, the unconscious inspector would already be found and they players would be met by pistol-wheeling policemen upon their return to the station.

Not liking the plan, but wanting to enable the players, I hung the issue on a LUCK roll which the players succeeded in making.

Now, in retrospect, I think the Andre's player may have wanted the gun-battle with the police.  There wasn't much action during Session 7, a point about which he had complained about earlier in the session.  So maybe I should have just had the players walk in-on a station full of pissed-off police officers!

Anyway, I'm bringing-up this episode because it gave me insight into my DMing style.  On one hand I think that one of the DM's roles is to enable the players to make and implement awesome plans, and not just shoot-down their ideas as "implausible".  On the other hand, a DM can fall into the trap where they twist reality to help players succeed in everything they attempt.  The game ultimately suffers from this type of DMing since players lose the sense of danger and immersion/agency.

So in the example above, my compromise was to put it down to a LUCK roll.  Another alternative would have been to just ask the player about the weaknesses in his plan.  He would then have to either argue why his plan WAS plausible, or formulate a better one.

In any case I don't think it would be fair to just let him go ahead with the unrealistic plan and then have it fail by DM fiat.  Players rely on the DM to help them understand what is possible in the game-world so I think the DM has a responsibility to give that information even when not explicitly asked.  Also, these discussions about plausibility help to make the Campaign World a real living setting for the players.

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