Some of you already know what the Payoff is. It's that moment where there is a stillness in the air, where nobody is really breathing, where nothing is really happening. It's that moment where all of those days (or weeks, or months even) of planning finally come to fruition. It's that moment where your players are stunned for a moment, but then start to grin and nod their heads. One will mummer "cool" and another will give you that approving nod. The Payoff is an odd combination of surprise, plausibility, and all-around coolness. The Payoff is that moment where you've committed art.
Okay. I have to admit. I wasn't that impressed with Moloch when I first met him. In 1988, some friends and I found ourselves in the possession of Monster Manual 2. Much to Tipper Gore's chagrin, this handy little accessory had the low-down on all sorts of demons and devils. We, however, were elated. The time had come to include devils into our campaigns. So, my friends and I pored over their stats and fantasized about taking our low-level halfling rogues on a quest through the Nine Hells. We were beguiled by Belial. We were impressed by Amon. And we thought Mephistopheles's whispering wind speech was ultra cool.
I've been intrigued by the Githyanki ever since I saw my first Fiend Folio (the year was 1988). I've always had a fondness for warrior races. I like Klingons. I like Luxans. I like Cimmerians.I like Githyanki.
Well, you've done it again. Another successful night of stewarding your players through trials that would make Hercules cringe is behind you. The foul beasts or cunning evildoers are dead or dealt with; the princess is safely back in her chambers amongst fine linens and Britney Spears posters. The players have divvied up the loot, jotted the new experience totals on their sheets and reveled in the acquisition of that shiny new sword, devastating spell or twenty second century thing-a-ma-widget. They hold your story-telling skills to be about a half a step shy of Tolkien's. It's Miller time, yes?. . . Nope. You've got work to do Bubba. The next few minutes can be some of the most useful time you have available to help you maintain a vibrant, stimulating and connected campaign.
The title says it all. . . are DM's capable of cheating? After all, we are mere mortals, and the dice never do any wrong! Never! The rules are the final say in any aspect of the game, and doom on you if you forget that!. . . Or so say some, outlandishly detailed by yours truly.
DM's are usually a different kind of person. They like to plan. They like to create. They like to scheme. Most of all, they like to set all three of those together, get with a couple of players, and tell a great story. Nothing is better than setting something in motion and seeing it bear fruit. When it goes right, it is wonderful. The players are happy, the DM is happy, and one hell of a story is being created.
So, your gaming group gets together and the newest D20 supplement is making the rounds. Your players are practically drooling over all of the new and interesting things in the book, and they look at you with looks that would put hungry puppies to shame. Someone shoves the book under your nose and points "I want to be one of these! Can I?"
It's another lovely Insert-Name-Of-Weekday-Here night, and your favorite gaming group has gathered for another session of your campaign of choice. You, the GM, have been looking forward to this session for weeks. The players have spent hours of game time following your carefully-laid-out plot toward a single goal. Finally, after overcoming all the obstacles you've set before them, they find themselves approaching the final challenge that will put a heart-pounding climax on your lovingly constructed plot arc. You know this session will be the one where they finally charge forward and accomplish what they've set out to do.
Kerek drained his mug and stood. As much as he liked the food, atmosphere, and company in The Frothing Otter, he could not laze about the tavern all day. His slender fingers reached into his belt pouch to fetch a silver crown for the tab, and maybe another for buxom Lucinda behind the bar. But all his hand encountered was hard leather. He scrabbled in the pouch, not believing his senses. Where were his fat gold crowns? Where had all his silver gone? Had he not even a filthy copper penny to his name, for all love?