How To Ruin An Adventure


GMs are central to role-playing games. They keep everything running, they regulate the rules, they write the adventures. . . so on and so forth. Basically, a lot of the enjoyment of the game comes from them. There are things they can do that seriously ruin the adventure for all involved. Note that I am not condoning these by any means; I am using them as a warning.

GMs are central to role-playing games. They keep everything running, they regulate the rules, they write the adventures. . . so on and so forth. Basically, a lot of the enjoyment of the game comes from them. There are things they can do that seriously ruin the adventure for all involved. Note that I am not condoning these by any means; I am using them as a warning.

  • Not Having The Adventure Ready
    A DM in my D&D campaign was notorious for this. You have to have an adventure ready to go when the players arrive. This DM, let's call him Six, would call us all and say "Hey, we're meeting at my house at 7 tonight for a game. Be ready to go no later than 7:15." So, we all show up, and lo and behold, he isn't ready. The time drags on, and on, and on, until it's 10:30, and most people have to be home soon, and we haven't played yet. Seriously, it's not that hard, just get the adventure ready.
  • Forced Roles
    In said D&D campaign, we were presented with the usual mystical sword, universe in peril, we are the only ones who can stop it, but first we must complete many minor quests and such, etc. etc. Now, pretty much every RPG campaign is going to be like this. That's ok; the players get to decide what they do, and how they do it, right? Well, not so in Six's campaign. The role of leader was FORCED upon one of the characters (whose player really, really did not want it, as leadership roles, even non-real ones, make him kind of nervous), without a vote, or anything. My character (dwarven warrior with an IQ equal to his strength, 17, as I love cerebral smasher-type characters) was FORCED to go straight combat, no thinking allowed. If you're going to run a campaign, let the players fall into their roles naturally. That always, ALWAYS works better than forcing them to be something they don't want.
  • Fairness
    Be fair. Make roll charts for just about everything (who the NPCs attack, who they heal, etc.) It gets really annoying when one character is singled out for everything. Sure, it makes more sense for the monsters to attack the weakest enemy first, like the rogue, but the player being the rogue will eventually get sick of dying the first round of combat every time. Or the intelligent dwarven warrior will get mighty sick of the Town Cleric running out of Heal spells before getting to him each time.
  • Curb The Humor
    Sure, we all love a few jokes throughout the campaign; there's nothing wrong with that, as long as it isn't the main focus of the session. If you spend most of your time letting the players just keeping cracking jokes, there's going to be problems.
  • Too Many/Lack Of Puzzles
    The campaign will get stale mighty quickly if there are not enough puzzles to break up the dungeon crawl. Similarly, the players will get annoyed if before every step they have to solve some puzzle.
  • Making ALL The Players Feel Involved
    Once, we had this great adventure going on. The party had been contracted to find a group of slavers who had been raiding the poor section of a town. We were using all our skill to track them in the forest nearby, and eventually found them in a clearing. By this point, the party consisted of me (aforementioned dwarf warrior), a ranger, and a wizard. The ranger got into some trees, and began sniping the perimeter guards, while the wizard sneaked up (with invisibility cast on himself) and began freeing the slaves. I stood there, waiting for my time to shine. After the slaves were freed, the real masterminds of the slave ring came into play, the Drow. Figuring this would be my point in the adventure, my character began to rush forward into combat, only to be stopped by the DM, who then proceeded to describe, in detail, an NPC rush out of nowhere to fight the Drow. My point here is: get all the players involved, and give them a chance to use their talents. Don't just let a few of them do what they do best.
  • Running Out Of Food/Drink Mid-session
    At least three good sessions I've been to have been ruined midway due to the supply of Mountain Dew running low, and someone demanding we stop everything to get some. Either bring your own, get enough beforehand, or tough it out.

Well, here you have a few things that can seriously ruin an otherwise fun and enjoyable campaign. Please, keep these in mind DMs, or I will be forced to write another, more forceful article, until you learn your lesson.

I think the first one "Not Having an Adventure Ready" is perhaps a little mis named. It should be perhaps just be "Be Prepared" as it is a little dependant on how the DM runs the game. I am DM of a group of veteran players and most of the time they do what they want to and the adventure rotates around them. I often have very little to prepare.

I fully agree with the "Curb the Humor" rule though. Its breaking a few of my games a the moment.

Ok, Be Prepared would probably be a better name for it, but like you said, it is completly dependant on how the DM runs it. If it's going to have a lot of player choice, like yours, then that's more forgivable, since it's necessary. In this guy's case, it was less so, as he would often have 2-3 days to prepare.

2-3 days to prepare? That's actually almost no time at all if your DM is creating original adventures, and a bare minimum for getting familiar with a pre-packaged one. I run a game every other Sunday, and sometimes I feel pressed for time even then, trying to create something unique and fully-detailed in the evenings after work, family, etc.

Your players may decide to space the sessions out a bit to give your DM a break.

whats wrong with jokes? i'm running a GURPS Illuminati University campaign. Don't tell me not to make jokes, ok? Fnord.

Oh yeah, you'd probably expect an explanation for my statement, wouldn't ya? And the reason for not posting it the first time? you're not cleared for that.

But anyways, where i play, we have 2 serious Vampire campaigns, another 2 D&D 3.5e (upgraded) campaigns, where things are taken pretty seriously, and anything that might come close to silly is usually made out to be more serious than it needs to be (true example: the evil characters find 2 little kids in the woods named Jack and Jill, as the nursery rhyme. We harass them for their real names, and Jack summons a mature adult blue dragon (the team has an average ECL of 12, since some characters are monsters, and the GM later admits that Jack was 20th level, and we assumed that Jill was just as powerful.))

so, i run my campaign to give people a break from the overbearing stress of saving (or conquering) the material plane or making depressing melodramatic comments before draining an elder vampire of his vitae. It's still a challenging camapign, where the archdean is a fallen angel who turned away from evil (for money) and the janitor is a retired demigod. My campaign lets people have some fun, and they get to keep their typical roles, such as fighter/tank and supergenious psion, they just get to do it at the world's weirdest university as a Saiyajin and another member of the race as that bird guy from Mighty Max (a free +5 mechanical pencil of cheating if you remember his name). I dont take my campaign seriously, and i play jokers and fools when i play serious campaigns (chaos/evil Yuan-Ti in Thor's temple: what's the problem guys?)

Maybe "Curb the Humor" isn't quite the point of the article. It's just what PirateTheUgly was thinking of when he wrote it. It seems to me that everyone's point here is "adopt a good tone." Don't let things get overbearing, but don't distract too much from the serious tone of, say "Call of Chthulhu."

Yes, if you're running a funny campaign, keep the jokes running. Just don't have too many serious moments, such as learning that the guy they just smited with a rubber stamp was actually trying to stop the torture of little children or something. Because few people like playing a game where the tone is all messed up (at least, in MY experience).

I think you deride the GM too much. Rarely can a GM control every aspect of the game session. A GM can tell the players to start OOC conversations, jokes etc., yet it is dependent on the players to listen and be respectful.

IME, players can be fairly disruptive to a game. They complain that I do not provide enough description of NPC villains, then before I can describe them, they start calling out attack actions.

The article is fairly scewed against GMs IMO. You do not really take the flip side and discuss how players can be disruptive.

The GM has to spend a number of hours in addition to game day to prep the game for the players. Sometimes these players cannot even update their characters until they arrive at the game!

Personally, I could spend the 23+ hours per week (game day+prep), in another way than providing entertainment to a bunch of people who just have to show up and be warm bodies.

A lot of your points are valid, but extremely biased and one-sided.


I've had some trouble with humor as well. It's not that I mind someone cracking a joke, and I really don't want to crack down heavily, but the crosstalk is starting to get on my nerves and I really hate it when, in the middle of describing a tense, exciting scene, someone cracks a joke--usually interrupting me--and the table starts laughing, ruining any sense of seriousness in the scene.

We're nearly at the end of the campaign so I'm not going to institute any big changes now, but players, don't do this. It's very annoying, and if we wanted MST3K, we'd go rent it.

FACM: Turned away from evil...for money?? Isn't *that* an evil trait?... Oh, and his name was Virgil, of course. :>

Rather, I should say, don't crack jokes *at the table*. If your character is a smart-mouthed gnome, or whatever, by all means go crazy. But keep the humor in character, instead of referencing Army of Darkness!

In concerns to the "not having the adveture ready" part of this article, I think the writer was too hard on GMs. It is quite difficult even with a ton of prep time to have a campaign completley ready. I myself have had trouble with this and found a simple way to remedy it. Break your Campaign into chapters. Begin making it and stop at a point you think is sufficient for a good gaming session. Play that session and set the next one one to two weeks in advance so you can properly make your campaign. I've had great success with this method and all of my players are happy. (I've had ONE person complain, and thats because he didn't get his way for how his character was made. He has since left the group)

There's a lot of unstated assumptions in this acticle, not to mention several stated ones, like "pretty much every RPG campaign is going to be like this"... The article assumes there is "one true way" to play, and that any GM who deviates from it is "wrong".

For example, it is quite possible to run a game without a prepared adventure, assuming you can improvise and are willing to do so. In that case, Six's problem isn't lack of preparation, but an unwillingness to improvise. The author doesn't even consider this angle.

Another example: Not all games have a linear, quest-driven plot. Tips for having a linear plot without railroading are useless to a group that plays differently than Pirate's ideal. And again, Pirate doesn't even consider that things might work differently than the usual D&D campaign her participates in.

This sounds less like practical advice on how to run a game and more like "Six's campaign sucked, so now I'm going to whine". And even putting aside that aspect, there are so many assumptions in here (another one: assuming that people will drink soft drinks during the game) that it's utterly useless to a group whose play preferences don't match Pirate's preferences EXACTLY.

Loki, you are right at least about gaming without preparation. I am usually GM and I almost always just improvise and I usually not do any kind of preparation beforehand. Exception: I spare bottle or two of Pepsi Max to drink during session. (We don't drink alcohol, we are absolutists (and I am not allowed to legally drink alcohol in our country))

While I agree with Loki that you need to improv to run a fun game, you must strike a balance between improv and preperation (especially when the game becomes complex) or else all encounters will become more or less the same.

It seems the author and disagree on what fairness is. In my book, some monsters will systematically target the weakest members while others go for the glory of fighting the meanest hero. Randomizing it makes it incoherent with many foes' psychology.
What I would consider unfair would be if all foes regardless of race, class, intellect, etc. always went for the same character (unless that character had a price on its head or a curse...).

Nuff saif 4 me.

Ok, let me just say that my next planned article was on how a player ruins a campaign. That was before this article was posted, just so you know.

Loki, the "pretty much every RPG campaign is going to be like this" is referring to the building up towards a final encounter, and I never meant for it to come across like it did. Also, while I realize that improvisition can happen, and that there are other types of campaigns, it isn't really fair for me to discuss them, as I have never participated in one. Talking about it without having expierenced it is, to me, just as bad as not discussing it. As to the improv stuff, perhaps I should have gone easier on him, but that's because we were told that we would have an adventure ready, at 7:15, and it was not. We even told him to just go with what he had, but he refused. I never once stated that my way is the "right" way to run a campaign, nor that any other way is "wrong." That wasn't my intent, and I'm sorry if you took it that way.

Also, the soft drink thing was meant to lighten the tone a little, and remind you that the whole reason to play is to have fun.

turning away from evil (regardless of how its done) isnt usually considered evil. besides, her ex-boss (his real name is Fred) now moonlights as Dean of Metaphysics, so there are apparently no hard feelings between the two.

Does that mean we can get rid of evil from the world by paying off evil itself? Who wants to find out?

and before i forget: Aubri, the +5 mechanical pencil of cheating is in the mail. The Archdean had your address on file. I guess you're gonna be getting some interesing mail soon.

It is not my habit of criticising writers, especially fellow gamers or new writers. Still, the article, although written well, is plain wrong on many accounts.

First, this is not mean to criticise anyone's playing style or way of DM'ing, but in my opinion the article is quite short-sighted. For example, in the first paragraph the author says that DM's without an adventure do spoil games. Running a campaign, especially a long one can be a serious burden as much time will be spent on writing adventures etc. Many a DM has other obligations outside gaming, and players should understand that when a DM fails to write an adventure this is usually not his choice either. Still, a Dm with a good campaign world and good NPC's often can handle a session or two without preparation.

Forced roles can be quite fun to Role-play, if the player is up to a challenge. I agree that forced roles can be quite a burden if played for an extended period of time, but good role-players usually enjoy the challenge of playing something entirely different. Still, all characters are altered to a certain level by the player who plays them. For example, the dwarven warrior mentioned below does not have to be a fighting brute.... Try playing the character as a dwarf philosopher-wannabe who sadly lacks the skills to do so, or something else totally different from the original stereotype. Characters with high charisma scores are not automatically good leaders, play him (or her!) like a charming guy/girl without leadership. Forced leadership is not a problem if the player does not take her role too personal. If a character fails miserably in leading a party, the role will soon be taken over by a character who thinks he is able. Still, especially new players can have problems with acting a role very different from themselves. Therefore, I would not recommend this for novice players.

The author of the article describes fairness as the DM having to roll dice for everything. This is, in my opinion, the worst things that could happen to a story or campaign. Role-playing is about playing a role in a story, not about a game of roulette, where the chances of losing are equal. If you play a rogue who is always fighting next to the heavy-armoured fighter, you deserve to be hit more often in combat because that is realistic. The dwarven warrior in a human village WILL be the last one to be healed, if healed at all. (unless the village has a culture where dwarves are revered or respected)

NPC's do things for a reason (attack someone, heal someone) and those reasons are what makes Role-playing interesting. The village priest could have a gruesome grudge against dwarves, this is cool to role-play. (especially if the dwarf is your character, the priest is a revered village-patron after all). The drow enslave the people for a reason. If a few not-too dangerous PC's try to rescue them, the drow might want not to kill them, to sell them as well. Role-play comes out of conflicts, that's why most role-players like conflicts.
Maybe with the exception of combat rolls, I think fairness or randomness ruins the game, both for the GM and on the long run for the PC's as well.

Humor. I'm not a great fan of humor, but some games are just created to be funny. And if the players enjoy, why not? (Who remembers 198something Toon?)
Still, for a game with a serious ambiance, humour should be used scarcely.

The author of this article says "The campaign will get stale mighty quickly if there are not enough puzzles to break up the dungeon crawl". In my opinion every game consists of far more than dungeon crawl and puzzles. We are playing ROLE PLAYING games, and role-playing has very little to do with solving puzzles and hacking monsters. It is, as the word says, Playing out a role, or acting. I've had games in which the players did not roll any dice or solve a puzzle for a whole day (say 18 hours of gaming) just by acting in their character. For me, this is the only part of the game worth playing.

I agree with the author that the GM has to make sure that all characters are involved. On the other hand, I also think it is very important for the player to make sure that he/she gets involved with the game as well. The dwarven warrior with no other character than his battle cry will be doing nothing in the majority of my games as well. If he had a solid mindset and well-thought of character and background, the player may be the top player in the whole team. I recommend GM's to look at their characters' interests and not to their skills when writing an adventure. For example, the pixy priestess of Gaia has nothing to be do in a serious city-slicker investigation game, since she does not have an active interest for catching thieves and the thorough search for the city's thieves' guild. Characters have to fit an adventure or campaign, but this is both the responsibility of the player and the GM alike.

As you all see, I disagree a lot with the writer of this article. Why? Because our gaming styles differ a lot. I am a typical "role-player" who does not like combat. The author probably has a very different style, in which these options may work. I guess he had a few bad sessions with his own GM, and wishes to warn other players for it. I hearthly agree that we all should do so, since we can only learn from each other. I do not advocate my style of playing either (although it really is more fun!) but more that things are not always as white-and-black as the author thinks.

If you are not enjoying your games, something is really wrong. To solve this, articles like this one will not solve much. Instead, I'd recommend talking with your DM/GM about what you do not like, and what can be done about that.

Humour is great! Especially if it is done in-game. If the players keep giggling about a word the GM tripped on durring an important speech then that gets annoying really fast. Most times, though, I take that to mean that I, as a GM, am not taking control of the game enough. Characters within the game may screw up words in an important speech, but it's all in how the GM makes that NPC handle that situation. I find that if you show the PCs something about the NPC that lets them make a personality judgment about the NPC then you have a much easier time of having the PCs go where and when you want while letting them think that they are making all of the decisions.
Anyway, the whole point to role-playing is to have fun, and if everyone is having fun then hail to the GM!

Yeah, I agree, this article is pretty short-sighted. I've really had very little expeirence playing games like this, so naturally, that leads to my lack of things to talk about. My articles will probably all be like this, at least until I can get my current group up and running. And Reginald, thanks for the constructive criticism (not being sarcastic here), that's the only way people can improve as writers.

I'm sorry, Reginald, I just have to answer to your posting. In the process of accusing Pirate of having written an article that is "plain wrong on many accounts" and lecturing others on "the one true way of gaming", you talked down to him in a rather arrogant tone.

::First, this is not mean to criticise anyone's playing
::style or way of DM'ing, but in my opinion the article is
::quite short-sighted. For example, in the first
::paragraph the author says that DM's without an
::adventure do spoil games. Running a campaign,
::especially a long one can be a serious burden as
::much time will be spent on writing adventures etc.
::Many a DM has other obligations outside gaming, and
::players should understand that when a DM fails to
::write an adventure this is usually not his choice either.
::Still, a Dm with a good campaign world and good
::NPC's often can handle a session or two without

See, this is where I disagree. What Pirate meant was BE Prepared, Dammit! Is that too much too ask? No-one is forced to GM a long-running campaign. If the wordload is becoming too much, then cancel the game, tell your players you need a time-out of a few weeks or months, or run the campaign at greater intervalls. Promising a good game and then not delivering is not good. When the players turn up, they expect a GM ready to go, and not someone aimlessly paging through books and trying to come up with a plot at the last minute.

It depends on the genre, playing style and personal ability how much detail is actually needed and how much you can "wing it". I have been guilty of making up a lot of plot as I went along, but I know I need to have at least *something* for the players. And in games like i.e. Milleniums End or Conspiracy X, it's absolutely crucial to be well-prepared.

::Forced roles can be quite fun to Role-play, if the
::player is up to a challenge. I agree that forced roles
::can be quite a burden if played for an extended period
::of time, but good role-players usually enjoy the
::challenge of playing something entirely different.

I'm sorry, but that is just... so wrong. What you advocate here is a GM treating players like children or puppets and forcing a character they don't want or care about on them, or, worse, imposing his own interpretation of how their character is supposed to behave on them. If that ever happened to me outside a quick beer-n-pretzel Paranoia or Toon game, I'd quit the group instantly, period.

::(snip) For example, the dwarven warrior mentioned
::below does not have to be a fighting brute.... Try
::playing the character as a dwarf philosopher-wannabe
::who sadly lacks the skills to do so, or something else
::totally different from the original stereotype.

He did say his dwarven fighter had an INT 17, was not the stereotypical "brute". His GM was trying to force him into that role.

::Characters with high charisma scores are not
::automatically good leaders, play him (or her!) like a
::charming guy/girl without leadership.

Thanks you enlightening me on that. I'd have never guessed, you know?

::Forced leadership is not a problem if the player does
::not take her role too personal.

If someone doesnt like to play the group leader, Don't. Force. Him/Her. I've seen players who're terribly tongue-tied or simply cannot lead, and their characters make a totally illogical choice for leader. Other players could take the captain's seat, but specifically designed a character who isn't a leader type because they don't want to act as group leader this time. Respect that. If an NPC comes up to the charismatic character So-n-So and begs him to take command, ok. He can still decline. If an evil NPC forces the renowned So-n-So to command his evil army or an innocent will die, ok. It's an in-game challenge.

But the *GM* handing out roles? No.

::If a character fails
::miserably in leading a party, the role will soon be
::taken over by a character who thinks he is able.

...and in the process embarrassing the poor chap who never wanted to lead but now looks like an idiot. It's like, forcing a tone-deaf character to sing to disarm a trap, and when he fails utterly and someone is horribly crushed by a falling block of granite because of it, Mr. Bard smartly steps in and says "Told you so!"?

::The author of the article describes fairness as the DM
::having to roll dice for everything. This is, in my
::opinion, the worst things that could happen to a story
::or campaign. Role- playing is about playing a role in a
::story, not about a game of roulette, where the
::chances of losing are equal.

You're one of those "storytelling" guys? Roleplaying is not amateur thespianism, or "telling a story together". Spare me. I used to be promote "diceless" or dice-light RPing, story over mechanics and all that (and still do, to some extend).

The WORST thing that can happen in a game is GM arbitrariness. A close second is a GM who is heavily favoring one player, or singling out one player's character for subtle abuse, or dictating the story.

I gamed under such a GM for several years. Took me some time to pinpoint what exactly she was doing wrong. (Yes, the GM was female, so am I, so sue me.) And yes I say "wrong".

- Favoritism - If she didn't like your playing style or your character concept, your character would suffer little "accidents", or be made to look idiotic or a jerk to the other _players_.
- Storyfascism - Using the characters as puppets in the story she was resolved to tell, in exactly the way she had envisioned the scenes. NPCs she loved would be unbeatable or solve the riddle for you.
- Arbitrariness - She would dictate the outcome of actions, or suddenly change the rules. In the end she had me longing to be allowed to throw some dice, just so that my character could actually succeed at what he was *proficient* in, dammit. Thanks to her I started rules-lawyering in self-defense.

With GM diceless arbitrariness you always either end up with a killer GM who kills randomly, or a GM who fudges scenes so that *no* PC ever gets killed without player consent. Which is absolutely ok and part of the genre for GURPS Swashbuckler or Discworld RPG, but can ruin the fun for some people in D&D, and is just wrong for games like Delta Green. Even I, who does not want her characters to die in a random fight by bad luck, even I do not want to have a victory handed to me on the silver tablet of the GM narrating the fight. "Ok, you win."

And rolling dice is not arbitrary. It is an element of chance, yes, but usually only a modifier. If he's talented or well-trained in something, his chances for success or failure in tasks involving that skill are NOT equal.

::If you play a rogue who is always fighting next to the
::heavy-armoured fighter, you deserve to be hit more
::often in combat because that is realistic.

What? "Realistic"? The rogue "deserves" to be hit more often? Why? In the context of D&D, the fighter is armored, thus when a blow "misses" it often means the blow itself hit but bashed the armor, not the fighter, while the rogue dodges blows and thus is not hit at all.

Are you proposing a GM should dictate that the rogue is hit more often because acrobatic dodging and parrying pf attacks is not allowed? Do you watch Jackie Chan martial arts movies? See?

::Maybe with the exception of combat rolls, I think
::fairness or randomness ruins the game, both for the
::GM and on the long run for the PC's as well.

Depends on how you define fairness. "Fair play" is what I look for in a GM.

::Humor. I'm not a great fan of humor, but some games
::are just created to be funny. And if the players enjoy,
::why not? (Who remembers 198something Toon?)

But let's not talk about inherently "funny" silly games, but about the "serious" ones.

::Still, for a game with a serious ambiance, humour
::should be used scarcely.

Well.... depends. Nothing ruins an game atmosphere for me as completely as compulsory seriousness. Of course, if the players are cracking tired old jokes that're not related to the game whatsoever, they should be gagged. (j/k) Slapstick is bad. But good humour, especially morbid or weird humour, spontaneously springs from a scene. The PCs involved might not find funny what is happening to them, it might in fact be grim, but regardless of that the *scene* itself can be so utterly and inherently ridiculous that you have to laugh.

Having a PC or player make a joke and everyone laughing can be a great tension breaker. Even in a gritty or Horror game. *Especially* in a Horror game. I remember a gaming session of KULT. The GM ran a brilliant, tense, visual scenario, part Hellraiser-esque splatter-punk, part eery Poltergeist-type horror, until both the characters *and* the players were literally to creeped out to move. The tension was becoming unbearable. Yes, we knew it was just a game, but still... And then someone made a joke, something completely silly, I don't remember what it was, but it was related to the scene. We all started laughing hysterically and couldn't stop for minutes. When we resumed the game, the eery *atmosphere* was still there.

Same happened in a horror-heavy Conspiracy X scenario. That horrible Country Folk song will haunt our characters forever. But had the GM snapped at us "Don't laugh! It's a serious game!" it would have ruined everything.

Horror and Humour, to paraphrase the British humourist Rowan Atkinson of Black Adder fame, lie very close together. They both depend on incongruities. Unexpected or grotesk things can be either silly or eery, depending on the tone. Sometimes they blend into each other.

::The author of this article says "The campaign will get
::stale mighty quickly if there are not enough puzzles to
::break up the dungeon crawl". In my opinion every
::game consists of far more than dungeon crawl and
::puzzles. We are playing ROLE PLAYING games, and
::role-playing has very little to do with solving puzzles
::and hacking monsters. It is, as the word says, Playing
::out a role, or acting. I've had games in which the
::players did not roll any dice or solve a puzzle for a
::whole day (say 18 hours of gaming) just by acting in
::their character.

You need something for the character to actually do. Some challenge or task. You cannot have character development when there's no outside event forcing the character to react to that. Otherwise the scenario will quickly devolve into soap-opera, with characters acting out the players' emotional desires or annoyingly overacting their traits.

::I agree with the author that the GM has to make sure
::that all characters are involved. On the other hand, I
::also think it is very important for the player to make
::sure that he/ she gets involved with the game as well.

100% agreement here.

::[snip] I recommend GM's to look at their characters'
::interests and not to their skills when writing an
::adventure. [snip]

It depends on the type of adventure you are running.

If the GM runs a short-lived action game, the skills take precedence over any childhood background and interests. If it's the characters' job to investigate or fight something (journalists, policemen, space marines, federal agents), they don't need a personal plothook to get them running.

::Characters have to fit an adventure or campaign, but
::this is both the responsibility of the player and the GM

Say it out loud.

::As you all see, I disagree a lot with the writer of this
::article. Why? Because our gaming styles differ a lot. I
::am a typical "role-player" who does not like combat.
::The author probably has a very different style, in
::which these options may work. [snip]
::I do not advocate my style of playing either (although
::it really is more fun!) (...)

Isn't that advocating your style? Just wondering.

good night

First of all, Mernehunter, you disgust me. You could simply paraphrase to ALL readers what you disliked and sent personal notes to the previous writer by way of E-mail.

Anyway, as to Pirate: if you think you don't have enough experience in roleplaying to write articles well, why write? I'm sure you are capable, only applying yourself from the wrong view, a point from where you are not strong, but if you honestly have no *good* material to put on here, save us the time.

In the meantime, feel free to read what the others write, as well as comment on what has written. If you'd like some tips as to DMing or playering, or what to say to either to get the campaign rolling, don't hesitate to E-mail me with questions. Or many other people. This is a roleplaying community, come for advice, and pleasure, no flames please.

Enjoy ;)

No flames? Didn't you just say that Memehunter disgusted you?

Her post was well thought out and well stated. Did you not like it because it was too long or what?

Pot. This is Kettle. You're black...

Hey what's wrong with criticising a writer's posts? That was exactly what I was doing!


Hey PirateTheUgly,

Don't get too worked up over a little criticism. Your first effort got published, and got people thinking and talking (or flaming) - so you must be doing something right. I enjoyed reading the article, some of it I agreed with, some not. And I kinda liked the mountain dew gag at the end.

I look forward to the player pitfalls article you've planned for your next effort.

Wow. That one compliment makes up for all of the criticism. Thanks, mysterious stranger named John.

Running out of chips/food/drinks is not a reason to stop the game. Too bad you have such selfish players.

Like I said in an above comment, that was more of a joke than anything, although one guy did complain way more than necessary.

Hey Pirate, I liked the article in quite a few ways. I think it made alot of good points. I have played for years and have been under GMs, and myself been one, who suffered from many of those pitfalls.

I have noticed another thing that a DM/Gm will do that can ruin a game. We had a DM, let's call him "Jeff" (because that was his name), who would never be prepared. If he came up with something on his own than it was only half thought out and he would make up moster stats when we encountered tham and roll dice to make it seem as if he knew what he was doing. If he was running a module than he would only read part of it and guess at the rest. His guesswork was horrible.

But I digress about the other ways "Jeff" was a pain in the ass. One of the major things he would allways do is he would make a god NPC and have them adventure with the group. Some examples of his NPCs are a 10/10 Drow Firghter/Thief in a 5th level game, a 25/27 Mage/Cleric in a 15th level game, a 32nd level Ranger in a 20th level game, you get my point. These NPCs were the stars of the game and there wasn't anything they couldn't do. So another DM pitfall would be: Don't make the NPCs shine.

This guy also allways had to have the best PC in a group and would cheat herrendously to get it. He would expect us to believe that he rolled 3 natural 18s. In Hunter once he made a character that was over the alloted freebie points by 73!

I understand why giving the NPCs being starring roles is wrong, but how much is too much? I'm going to start a campaign soon that will have NPCs of higher level than the players, but they should only be present for one particular scene (unless the players just decide to stay with them). I made them more powerful so that certain plot elements would make sense.

The game will be at 5th or so level (by that point), and one of the NPCs will be a 10th fighter, and a cleric at 4th. There's also a monster character allied with the fighter, but it's CR won't play much of a role. (Again, barring player choices.)

Well, Ashagua:

As long as the NPCs don't steal all the action away from the PCs, then that's fine. You've got to remember, though, that people role-play to do heroic stuff. If the NPCs are doing all the heroic stuff, the PCs will feel (rightly) that you have stolen their thunder.

Make sure that, for whatever you have planned, the PCs may have a chance to shine. If you've set up a situation where only your 10th-level NPC can intervene, you may be setting yourself up for a great deal of grief.

I prefer to use higher-power NPCs for conversations only. The uber-NPC shows up, gives the players some information, and then departs with his side-kick. His game stats are irrelevant--unless the players decide to attack him, in which case they roundly deserve the butt-kicking that is exceedingly likely to come their way. But if you play your NPCs well, your party will like them and not resent them.

Hello, PirateTheUgly.

I agree with most all you said.

Not Having The Adventure Ready:
Yeah. Improvisation can be good, but my experience is that few DMs are very good at it. They may think they are, but thats not the same thing. If you do go in for a lot of improvisation, it helps if your DM has a well fleshed out campaign so he always has something to work with and spark off ideas.

Forced Roles:
Again I agree. I can't really see any advantage to doing this. And there are obvious disadvantages to making players play against their natures. In general I dislike playing with any DM who forces the plot, the role, or any action on me. However, this doesn't mean that the DM has to make life easy for the players ! It just means that he should take proper consideration of their preferences and actions in the game. Good DMs respond to players, they don't try to dictate.

I mostly agree. Obviously a DM who regularly cheats for or against the players, will cheapen the campaign and make it less exciting. However, I disagree with one point. The monsters should act in their own best interests, so if this means attacking the thief every time then so be it ! But in practice the DM should not do it because every monster does not act the same. A clever monster will act cleverly, a stupid or chaotic monster may do something else. Play monsters fairly, but according to their natures and the information they have.

Curb The Humor:
Yeah ! a bit of humour is good but it should not be allowed to spoil the integrity of the campaign. For me, roleplaying is about being a hero in a fantasy setting, not about being a buffoon in a world peopled by buffoons.

Too Many/Lack Of Puzzles:
Agreed, although there is no need for puzzles in the traditional sense at all. A situation can be a puzzle without being contrived. I find that the best puzzle is to set the players a difficult goal and let them achieve it however they like. If they do it in a way I haven't thought of, then so much the better ! I give em more XPs.

Making ALL The Players Feel Involved:
Absolutely. Nothing worse then a DM who shows no consideration for his players.

Running Out Of Food/Drink Mid-session:
Do such villains exist ! zounds ! they should be hung up by the whatsits until they repent! Adequate provender has always been an essential part of fantasy, as envisaged from the beginning by Tolkein when he invented the hobbit race.

A good article.

Ashagua, I agree with Cocytus. As long as the high level NPC doesn't steal the show it's fine. The only thing you need to keep in mind is the PCs are the stars of the show and everyone else is a supporting character.

I think one rule has been missed on this diatribe: know your players. Some players can handle all the misfortune you can throw at them, and some can get involved regardless of how little you give them to work with. Some enjoy drama, some enjoy humor. As long as you observe their reactions to what you throw at them, it doesn't take long to get a feel of what your players really want in the game. Of course, if a player is being whiny or disruptive, don't give in to their whims. All players and ST's have different ideas on what makes a game run smoothly...the ST's job is to figure that out for *every* game he/she runs...there is no formula. I've found that the best thing for a storyteller to have is flexibility. With this, you can run games which seem well prepared, let players find their own roles in your world, and promote PC interaction...which lifts the burden off the ST of getting everyone involved. Player involvement can and should apply to snacks as well; better to rotate food fueling if you hope to keep some cash in your wallet.

I have to disagree with the Fairness Point of the article. Making 'charts' and rolling randomly for everything does not necessarily create a 'better' roleplaying experience, any more than randomly generating characters does. When I run a game, I prefer to keep dice-rolling to a minimum - primarily for combat - and make as many rolls as possible secretely. When GMing, my goal is to make sure the players have a good time and if that requires bending the rules a bit so an opponent goes after the healthy PC rather than finish off the one slowly bleeding to death at his feet, so be it.

My own viewpoint is that fairness is a matter of emotion, not substance. If a PC doesn't mind or even enjoys being the primary target of enemies because he 'looks' and 'acts' the toughest, then its not a problem. If a PC's character keeps getting knocked out of combat in the first round and the player has to wait around bored for a half-hour each session, then it is definately a problem. Its only when the player 'feels' the game is unfair and it begins to detract from his enjoyment that there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

Mark Harm - Marketing Director
Rampant Mouse Medieval Latex Weaponry

Can't agree with you entirely Mark. I do agree that the DM may have to bend the rules a little if players are being very unlucky. However sometimes players need to suffer the consequences of their actions, especially if they do something stupid, and sometimes they can even do with sufferring a little bad luck. It adds spice to the game and It should mature them as players.

Pirate, nice article.
It brings back memories best left repressed in my noggin... like the day of the diceless DM, the coke spill that washed away an entire whiteboard Guildhouse, and of course, the random treasure generated "intelligent +2 elvenbane dancing scyhe" that gutted the elf rogue who found it. Good, good times... But (as hopefully you have figured out by now) I have to disagree on the humor. Nothing beats yelling a wisecrack at the evil mage to make him lose his spell, or keeping the dragon laughing while your rogue steals the treasure. Of course, the treasure killed him, but still... ^_^

Good article. I've read all of these posts, and as they usually do, most have degraded into differences of opinion. I think Patrick pulled it off perfectly...Know your players.

in the end all of what you have said in your article is great. absolutely perfect. but that holds true, in my OPINION, for story-oriented games only. The mysterious and elusive 'open-ended game' still to this day baffles me. I've roled tons of games from the south of Arkansas to the north of Montana, and every game that ever went well for me held true to the points you made in your aricle. however, the ones that went the worst did as well. in the end, you have to know your players. The game's that i prepared the most ended up sucking at times simply because the gamers i rolled for wanted me to let them do whatever they wanted. and my crazy, newfangled 'storyline' was aparently too 'prepared' for them.

so good points. Well written article. (And i did laugh when you made mention of Mountain Dew Shortage being a gamestopper. your sarcasm was well played). these guys that are slamming you with complaints are really just open-ended gamers that would rather dungeon crawl than play characters. And that's not bad. it's just different.

now, i will go and meditate on your words of wisdom further...

This proves that a little jab of prefernce can create a cosmic firestorm of attitudes. Go figure.

Serenely yours,


Thanks for a well-written, accurate and brief and to the point article. Your article is shorter than some of the responses! I couldn't agree more. I have been GMing for 25 years and seen many below-average GMs. Most GMs are average because no one gets training to become a GM.

Successful GMs find players that best fit the GM's world and playing style. Mutual respect and trust are as necessary to any successful adventure as imagination and teamwork. I have seen many games (mostly at conventions) where the GM doesn't seem to plan out even basic plotlines or character casting, and the game suffers. Even a well thought out game can be disrupted by a single disruptive or selfish player, so the GM must always keep control over his game. One persons humor can be another's waste of time.

But most important, a good GM can survive a bad player but a bad GM, even with good players, will kill any adventure. And all it takes is a little preparation and effort. "Not all are Huntsman that blow the Huntsman's horn" and not all people that sit behind a screen are GMs.

When I game, we tend to joke alot...not just for the game but because during game time, we're hanging out as friends (we also have regular "gas contests"). Although we encourage good and bad humor throughout the game, Sometime the jokes come at a bad time...

"The woman you've come to know and love with every fiber of your being lays limp in you arms...dead. What do you do?"

"Hmm...I take her pants off and-"


The mood of the players is usually good when we play, unless someone's PC has been paralyzed for the past hour (out of game). I do agree that there is a delecate balance of humor in game and out. And it should be constant, but regulated.


I'll clarify my comments about inappropriate humor in a RP game. First of all, creating a good gaming environment is important, one where for a brief time the players are not all sitting in someone's living room, but where we all believe we are in a dark cave or a noisy battlefield. Creating the proper mood is very important for a GM, so the players can all "get into" their roles.

There are times when a little humor can fit right in, or as a break in tension. This can often be seen in movies where even horror and action films can have moments of appropriate and funny humor.

A big problem with some GMs is that not matter how hard they to set-up a scene, some player (usually bored or just disruptive) keeps cracking jokes. Thus slowing down the scene and destroying the 'mood'. That is when a GM needs to take control of his game.

Another instance is when the GM keeps making jokes while the rest of the players want to get back to a serious battle or role-playing scene. This often happens when the GM doesn't really have much planned (IE. un-prepared) and is trying to stretch out the game.

Of course there are times when impromptu play and humor can increase the enjoyment of a game, but too much of anything can be bad. The best sessions I have ever had (as player or GM) have come when the GM and players are on the same page, seeing the same scenery, and of a like mind. It can be an epic battle, an intense debate, or a touching farewell or death-scene. Those are the brief moments I spend all of the rest trying to find.

I agree...

We use a large white board as our 'game table.' We draw landscapes and anything else that needs visual representation. This helps everyone to imagine the same thing...sorta

Jokes are part of the social experience, but there is a time and place. They frequently occur when a GM is trying hard to establish a mood, but is either over or underplaying it, and the players or player isn't quite in the "vibe".

I have found that playing an appropriately evocative movie or videogame score (not too recognizable) tends to help enhance the mood, while also conveying an external sense of "pace" to the game. Players are MUCH less likely to interrupt your description of the setting, story, or action - even a lengthy one - if it is tied to the music. If you choose and perform well, and your group isn't full of morons - it will work very well.

We ditched the whiteboard and started using large boardroom sized 1 inch grid paper - pre-mapped mostly. It's a real pain to erase, draw, and repeat when the party goes back and forth between two rooms.

How to ruin an adventure.

As soon as everyone's put their characters together, say:

"You're all in a tavern, drinking ale. You look over and see a mysterious, cloaked figure at the bar. All of a sudden the bar blows up. You all die. The end."

It ruins the adventure, true, but they'll never see it coming!

Heh heh. This is the 5555th comment on Gamegrene. I rock. More than anybody.

Heh, it was ruined for me with "You're all in a tavern..."

Talking about ruined adventures

Can I tell you about the most amusing , and shortest adventure I've ever had:

It was around 1986, 7pm, Wednesday Game Club, Students union building, University of London.

I had just joined this club, and entered a game with an established group. To call this lot dysfunctional was an understatement. The DM was weak, not attempting to guide the players at all. They had a C/N fighter who was 7th level and bullied the other players who were of lesser level, small stuff, you know, like 'hand over your magic dagger you miserable gimp'.

Anyway, I started a first level assassin character, and joined the party. The bully extracted my few miserable gp ( which is not the smartest thing to do to an assassin if you mean to leave him alive ) and I fumed quietly vowing to get him back when I could. As it happenned, I didn't have to do anything.

The party found the entrance to the dungeon and then started quarrelling while my character watched openmouthed. They split into two factions, one with the bully, and one rebelling.

I told my DM that my character ran and hid behind a boulder while the others fought. It was a great fight. It ended with the magic user blowing up himself and the bully at the end. The poor sods never got to enter the dungeon at all.

At the end of the fight, my character got out from behind his boulder, assisted any one who was clinging on to depart this mortal coil, and helped himself to an inordinate amount of magick and gold. When he got to town his reputation must have skyrocketed.

One of the most successful adventures I've ever had. And all completely true.

And the unjust thing was, those SOBs blamed me foir what happenned. They chucked me out of their group for not helping their badly wounded characters.

I'm an ASSASSIN mate ! not the bloody district nurse !

Sometimes you just can't do the right thing !


Nephandus, apparently, my new nemesis, If I choose to begin my jokes with 'You're all in a tavern...' and if I choose to reference a joke with the phrase 'And he wears a turbine...' that's my business. Not yours, so back off, or I will kick your black or white ass. So why don't you just f**king do one, yeah? Sat there, dressed like some f**king idiot out of Blake's 7, do you want to get cut up, you idiot? Just leave, Michael, just leave the house... :-)

Chill Olly.

S'cool bro.


Hum... as trained counsellor, I must say you are an intriguing being Olly.

And as far as ruining adventures goes, I guess your complete lack of seriousness on this board, if transposed as consistently to a game, would probably ruin it in no time. Just as too much seriousness, righteousness, combat or drama can do.

My point is that while I've rather enjoyed the funny silliness of you Mo, Mystic Assassin and Shark. I now find it hard to follow discussions of this board with all the pun duels going on.

While I still find it funny, after a while it might get tiresome and make me come here less often.

Just as in a game, a discussion board needs some balance in order to remain an enjoyable read.

I don't mean to criticise or hurt anyone by this, I am just voicing a concern that's been forming inside me for a day or two.

A common misconception, Sam. Considering one is a classically trained actor, when I'm at the gaming table, be I DM or player, I go into RADA mode, and it's all business. There are actually very few jokes in my games.


All my comments above except Nov 26 have been on topic.

But I do agree with you, Its getting a bit off topic on some posts.

I think its worth cooling it a bit

Sam, be careful about not coming here too often. If things go as they have been, it's hard to keep up with all that's going on.

And so that I actually have something to say on topic: one great way to ruin an adventure is to cause interruptions. A month or two ago, we were playing an admittedly not-so-great game of Star Wars. After going through that for a while, the new guy interrupted combat to take a phone call, or go to the bathroom or something. Fortunately, we didn't really need him to be active at the time. Later, after we'd gotten to a rest point, he said he had to leave earlier than other people were going to stay. Our GM was slightly put off by that.

The story ends well though, Friday we took up the story again with some cast changes and a bit of time lapse. It was one of the best games I've been a part of.

That is damn annoying, Ashaqua. I always ask my group if they need to go before we play, because I hate it when people are continually standing up and sitting back down again.


You're saying that players can RUIN a game by needing a piss?

It wasn't just that. The game wasn't very good to begin with, and after he went to the bathroom, he had to take a phone call for some reason. It's been a good while since that game, so I've probably forgotten a lot of relevant facts.

I'm tempted to say that the other problems were bad planning from the DM, but that seems a little unfair to me. Especially since he has pulled off some really great games before and since.

In my experience it just complicates things, if you keep getting up to go to the john (It is an ex-parrot!), and the DM has to put the whole game on hold whilst you point Percy at the porcelain. Which, if you're a bloke is kind of OK, since most guys are in and out in ten seconds, but if you're a lady, it can take a little while, what with skirts, tights, leggings, socks etc. So, I thought I'd give my group's bladders a workout. I let them go before the game starts, but after that, they're forbidden from leaving the game table. (Kind of like a deal with the devil, really, only with less eternal damnation)

Now they rival camels when it comes to saving water!

Well, I haven't had the bathroom problem. Now the PHONE thing can get annoying, especially when its just a social call. On of those "hey whatcha doing?" calls...

I love it when said gamer has to put up the "nobody outside this room knows I game" smokescreen...

Gamer: "Oh, I'm just hanging out with some friends."
Caller: "What are you guys doing?"
Gamer: "We're watching movies..."

*Sound of rolling dice in background, followed by someone yelling, "YES! I rolled a 20!"

Caller: "What was that? It sounded like dice rolling."
Gamer: "OH-uh...we're playing craps also."
Caller: "Sounds like fun. Wait a minute, how can you get a 20 in craps?"
Gamer: "Well, you uh..." *click*

Is there some stigma attached to it? I wasn't aware.

A good term for this type of gamer would be...


Mmmm... Very peculiar.

Some people who game are very mainstream and are into clubbing and pop-music, and they want to bang Britney Spears, etc. For this type of person, gaming is strictly BLACK-OPS and will not under any circumstances reveal to the plastic public that they are dorky in ANY way...

In the UK, there doesn't seem to be this sort of stigma attached to gaming. But then, we all love one another in the UK, regardless of race, creed, colour, shoesize, height, age, eating habits, choice of leisure activities etc...

P.S. I personally never got the Britney Spears thing. To me, she's just a short, blonde, average looking girl with chubby legs. Now, Tina Barrett out of S Club 7, there's a girl worth getting excited about.

Remember Olly,

I am one of the few sane people living in a nation of distorted morals, values, and the ever-ominous 'Lemming' syndrome...

As far as Britney is concerned, she'll be spread-eagle in Playboy in less than 5 years...

She is a deer in the media headlights (spotlights) and like all others before her...she will get run-over, and then she will be gone.

Oh yeah,

Those S-Club hussies of yours all require too many coats of makeup too be considered hot...

That's a little bit harsh, Ass. The fat, ex-Page 3 model Jo O'Meara, yes, obviously, and lad's mag favourite Rachel Stevens. And to a certain degree, Hannah 'The boy-girl' Spearitt. But not Tina, no!

She's a sweet, little, doe-eyed creature, a picture of clean-living. She's tee-total, doesn't smoke, doesn't do drugs, and unlike Titney Spheres (sorry, Britney Spears) this is not a tissue of lies concocted by her record label. If we were to compare the two, Tina would be the equivalent of 'Pride & Predjudice' whereas Britney is more of a 'Debbie Does Dallas' kind of girl. Plus, she's got sensitive skin, and therefore can't wear a great deal of makeup, like her compatriot S-Clubbers. So I believe I've pissed on your chips a bit there. True, she does put on her eye makeup with a trowel, but that's besides the point.

Sorry. Got a bit militant with my opinions there... But Ass had offended the lady's honour, and I felt it was my solemn duty as an English gentleman to uphold the lady's honour, and stand, and fight, and die defending it. Just trying to be gallant.

I am glad I do not live in a nation of distorted morals, values and the ever-onimous Lemming syndrome, but instead, live in the jewel in the crown of Western Europe, the egalitarian utopia that is the UK, where we welcome visitors with open arms, where all is right and honest, and all, regardless of race, creed, colour, age, shoesize, height, eating habits and leisure activities are welcome, just as long as they don't take our women. (Growls menacingly)

Hey, ultimately opinions matter not, you fancy the S-Club chic, I got the stickies for Mandy Moore...everyone's happy, right.

But if you even THINK about pointing you noodle at MY chips...just remember...

I am a dead-eye with these darts.

We shall now change the title of this article to 'How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Bulletin Board Discussion'. Thank you for your attention. Olly, MA: back to you.

Oh boy, Cocytus has brought the knives out again. (Glances across at Mystic Ass) And we were doing so well!

Very well, Cocytus, if you wish to challenge our right to remain silly, then I challenge thee to a duel. Meet me in Trafalgar Square, tomorrow morning. We shall fight, sir. My sword cane thirsts for your blood! I shall win, and that will be the end of it. In fact, whilst I'm at it, Eater, Neph, d'you guys wanna join in.

[Adopts squeaky Liverpudlian accent]

All right den, all o' yer, slags! All together or one at a time, I don't care it's all der same to me!

(Aside, to Mystic Ass) Just... make sure my portrait's kept safe, all right?


Okay, sure...

*secretly getting tranq-darts ready...again*

Actually we ARE on topic...with the exception of the whole "I think ((insert name here)) is hot" part.

I brought up the 'closet gamer' thing, because of the phone calls during game. And I stand by it...just like in the movie theatre...

NO cell phones
NO crying babies
NO smoking
NO talking (wait a sec...scratch that one)
NO Hawaiian Punch on white carpet
NO morbidly-disgusting gas during snack-time

As far as movie theatre ettiquette is concerned, allow me to add...

NO coughing.
NO shagging.
NO laughing at Freddy Got Fingered.

Oh, and Sophie Ellis Bextor is hot... Even though she vaguely resembles a paper plate.

Um, you guys are nuts.

I should know, I'm the resident nut expert aroung here.

Oh, and Bif Naked is the hottest.

Allmost as hot as my girl, Sarah McLachlan.
::sighs dreamily::

Zoe McLellan, she's fit. I even wrote a song about her.

[Sings] Lovely Marina, have you seen her, drinking Ribena, in the cantina, I've never been to keener, to show her my weiner, It's never been cleaner, Oh Lovely Marina, more pretty than... Xena... the warrior princess... with the sword...

Thank you please.

About Bif Naked,

She was the voice for Zoe in SSX Tricky. So whenever her name comes up, I think of the character instead of the real person...

I think Zoe is more attractive than the real Bif anyway, even though she's a 3D rendered animation...I'm such a sicko...heheh

^ Which has absolutely NOTHING to do with ruining an adventure...

*curses silently*

I was baited...

Ah, it was a boring topic anyway!

The Cheeky Girls. They're cute. In a we-don't-speak-a-word-of-English-but-hey-we're-daffy-foreign-girls-who're-probably-right-goers kind of a way.

Ladies and gents of the psychiatric evaluation board.

Look up the last 15 posts.

I rest my case.

PS good call about the closet gamer.
I had friends like that in high school and college. I on the other hand was a dork throughout most of high school and never had qualms about "preserving my coolness). When I suddenly became cool at the age of 21 (which had nothing to do with the fact that I worked out 8 hours a week and was built like a poster for Calvin Klein. No no, it was because I have a witty sense of humour...) where was I? Oh yeah.
When I became supposedly cool, it freaked alot of girls that I was a gamer. For we all know we're supposed to be smelly uggly socially inept toads.

AMEN to the dorks with B.O.

Why is that, exactly? Why do a large percentage of gamers have some type of glandular disorder which makes them inable to use deoderant?


It's part of the gene that urges people to be creative.

I feel for you Sam, I too was dork, wait a sec, I still am. Anyway, I became cool sometime between the ages of 16 and 20, which had nothing to do with my pasty and emaciated physique (more like the CK chicks than Marky Mark). Now when I say "cool" I mean cool in the way that an avid Star Trek fan is, or maybe the way that that goth/punk kid brooding in the corner is. You know, the one that the jocks liked to beat up. Yeah the one that later came back and put three of them in the hospital, wiped the blood off his nylons and went back to reading Arthur C. Clarke. You know the one I mean.

I think I digressed a little there. I'm not sure what my point was anymore. Jeez, and I quit doing drugs a while ago.


Sam, it's unusual that you're built like a model for Calvin Klein. I myself am the very image of Stuart Townsend, it's freakish.

But I don't think that they're anything cool and uncool. Besides, because of movies like Spider-Man, The Matrix, X-Men and Lord Of The Rings, most of what was once considered uncool is now cool, because it has achieved mainstream appeal.

I remember when the only kid at my school who had read Lord Of The Rings was the spotty, pudgy one who we all used to kick up the arse for fun... (He wasn't a Welshman, by the way)

And Eater, Drugs ain't cool. Sorry to sound like a safety campaign here, but they're not. I ask you, who's cooler, the guy with high intelligence and perfect health who never experimented with drugs, or the whacked-out loser with blackened lungs, pasty arms and half a nose, who has no idea where he is?

Well, I've always been pretty.

*sudden traumatic flashback*


Okay, there WAS that time during puberty...

Nobody's prettier than me, I'm the prettiest prettyboy you ever did see. Me, Johnny Depp and Paul Walker all get together at weekends and go to Prettyboy Conventions...

The Calvin Klein look was 10 years ago. Body hair and an office job have ruined that for me.

And to clarify, I don't think looks make you cool, they just appeal more to the masses. It ties in with what Olly said about mainstream appeal.

As for ruining adventures, a GM who's to mainstream can ruin it for ya. Ever play a scenario that reads like a typical american movie with the good guys being purer than pure and the bad guys being almost laughable sub humans. They usually suck because unlike a movie like Matrix Revolutions or T3 where one can get hypnotized by special effects into thinking that the crap they are watching is worth it, a RPG is all in your mind. If the story and the acting is cheap, nothing can make you get into it.

The Matrix was shit in a bun. The first one was all right, but it just got too up it's own arse to be entertaining after that. OK, The Twins were cool, and so was Mr. Hugo Weaving, but all in all The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions were just a cheap cash-in, and sucked harder than an parrot without a beak.

They should've made ONLY one. When the dialogue in the sequel started sounding all 'Evangelion-ish' I said to myself...


Clearly they made it for the money and NOT the story...

bunch o prix


the Animatrix DVD was great

I'm gonna take the controversial step of going back to the original post by PiratetheUgly and discussing point by point:

(1) Not Having The Adventure Ready
Yes, obviously I agree. Are there really DMs that useless ?

(2) Forced Roles
Yes, obviously I agree. Are there really DMs that useless ? Of course there are. They're called control freaks.

(3) Fairness
'Be fair. Make roll charts for just about everything (who the NPCs attack, who they heal, etc.) It gets really annoying when one character is singled out for everything. Sure, it makes more sense for the monsters to attack the weakest enemy first, like the rogue, but the player being the rogue will eventually get sick of dying the first round of combat every time. Or the intelligent dwarven warrior will get mighty sick of the Town Cleric running out of Heal spells before getting to him each time.'

The opposition should always attack in accordance with its nature, thus kobalds may try a sneaky attack from cover, dumb createres will attack randomly, and intelligent creatures will attack intelligently, choosing the target they consider most sensible. It is not for you to make this random in order to avoid getting vulnerable characters hit. Its up to the players to use tactics that shield their weaknesses.

In fact , its not the weedy thief that should be the first target, its always the magick users because they're easy to kill and VERY VERY dangerous.

(4)Curb The Humor
I would phrase it differently. Humour is fine .... until it descends to not taking the campaign seriously. Then the DM should allow the campaign to disciplne the players.

(5)Too Many/Lack Of Puzzles
Too many puzzles are bad, but you can have a perfectly good campaign with NO puzzles. Instead you have situations and goals which the players have to think to overcome. Not with a set solution, but in any way they like, including walking away.

(6) Making ALL The Players Feel Involved
Yeak ok I agree, but the players have some responsibility here too.

(7)Running Out Of Food/Drink Mid-session
Good final thought. You don't want interruptions. To this I add: Switch off mobile phones and disconnect telephones, also warn off non participating partners (except for the purpose of supplying with fresh tea/coffee/snacks).

I always make sure my troupe order a KFC megabucket beforehand, and we just tuck into that as we go. And there's always food in the fridge if that runs out...

Mind you, greasy hands are murder on dice.

Ah yeah the topic...

1) The level of readyness is very variable from group to group. I remember conjuring up my best adventures totally improvised back in AD&D, because I knew all the stats and charts by heart (excepts for XP, which was always calculated between games anyway).

2) Forced roles can be fine up to a point. If the roles are forced upon someone who can deal it can be a nice challenge. But, my friend plays in her ex-boyfriends campaign and he always makes the the main character of all his games (unresolved issues this one has), it usually works fine but now he's made her into this warrior queen (she plays a artsy priestess and hates all the book keeping she has to do to keep the army running). In this case Pirate's tip is a good one, no forced role.

3) Fairness, already dealt with it, said the same thing as Mo.

4 to 6) Pretty much what Mo said.

7) Hum... unplugging the phone? Not in my house you wont. My people know not to call me during a game unless it's an emergency so they don't. Cell phones have rung... 3 times in the last... 5 years (1 wrong number, 1 important call, 1 was not answered).
Food and drinks? Just how long do you game? How much food does one actually need? I mean, if there are some chips, sodas and veggies, you can always drink water after.
Unless you're dumb enough to have your game before and after meal time, in which case you're just a poor planner.

If your games run for 5 to 6 and more hours OK I guess you'll need food and all, plus taking a break will be necessary, just to stretch your legs a bit.

Did I say something about drugs? I must have missed that.

Now, I must defend my honor. ... ...or something that resembles... ...nevermind.

Anyway, I'm clean and have been for close to six years now. I did not mean to advocate the use of drugs. It's not like there's a whole lot left for anyone else after I got done anyway. Does the term Straight-Edge mean much? It's a punk thing.

I said stuff about weird goth kids.

But not drugs.

I don't think.

My brain isn't what it used to be.

Hey I can say something on topic. While stoned morons playing theives who break into warehouses full of sailors in the middle of the afternoon to then be analy raped by said sailors during only the first half hour of play while still maintaining that most pathetic of levels can be funny, drugs and alchohol can ruin a game as well. Trust me, I know. But now that I type it I think somebody allready said that.

"And posting 'Me Too!' like some brain dead AOLer,
I should do the world a favor and cap you like Old Yeller."
-'Weird Al' Yankovic, It's All About The Pentiums

WOw, people are still talking about my little article. I just wanted to say something.

Ok, I should have clarified this a bit in my article. Of course the more intelligent monsters should attack whom they see fit. But it's when one character is singled out EVERY SINGLE TIME that it becomes a problem. Realistic? Yes. Fun? No. But, to use a NetHack term, YMMV (Your milage May Vary).

That's my point, although I always make an effort to have at least two varities, like both regular and SOur Cream&Onion chips. And don't forget to have a little bit of diet soda for us overweight gamers who are trying to cut down.

Unless this is the only time you can game, don't do it. It's not worth the hassle, unless you have a perfect group.

Mr. TheUgly, I agree with you, sir. It's always a good idea to have one foe which one member of your group can defeat on their own. Even in Lord Of The Rings there were individual foes for individual characters.

Gandalf Vs. The Balrog
Aragorn Vs. Lurtz
Frodo Vs. Saruman
Sam Vs. Gollum
Legolas Vs. Goblin #21

And everyone in that film got to be the hero at least once. I like to use this sort of technique in my games.

Oh, and I just know somebody's going to correct me here. I am aware that it was Grima that killed Saruman, not Frodo, but the two did face one another, and Saruman was defeated by Frodo, if not slain. Oh, and the Sam Vs. Gollum thing refers to the constant squabbling between the two characters, rather than actual out and out conflict... but still... my point is not lost...

Yeah that stinker really got to me and mr Frodo in the end.

Never trust anyone who eats raw fish I tell you.

In fact I can't even trust myself since I love sushi so much...

But seriously good point Olly, every player needs their moment of glory, or else they will try to force it to happen and risk mucking things up for the whole group.

Those damn glory-holes...


HOUNDS! Those damn glory-HOUNDS!

You don't want to confuse the two, Ass, trust me, I know...


Sam, I had no idea thou wert a hobbit, and such a famous (if slightly gay) one at that.

Oh, And, just thought I'd tell you, your gut is likely to be riddled with tapeworms from all that raw fish you've been eating. I watched a documentary on it, over seventy percent of tapeworm eggs are found in sushi, because it is uncooked.

Yeah, be careful with the suishi...

Cuz those Purina tapeworm pills taste like dookie.

*looking at label*

( says on the box "lamb flavored")


I'm pretty sure I don't want to get into this.

Glory-Holes and Sushi.

::shakes haed and backs out of the room::


I'm pretty sure I don't want to get into this.

Glory-Holes and Sushi.

::shakes haed and backs out of the room::

Okay, after detailed reading, I find that I DID say something about drugs. But I must reiterate, I was not advocating their use.

Unless is tapeworm pills.

Eater, stop shaking your haed. Shaking your head's much more fun.

Hmm, good point, Olly.
I was thinking of of trading in my old haed for a new one anyway.

"How to Ruin An Adventure"


I think the best way to achieve this, is put all of US in a single game. Lets see if ANYTHING gets done...

I don't know how many times I have to say this...

I am a classically trained actor. When I'm playing I go into RADA mode, and become very serious. Unless the occasion calls for it.

R - really
A - aggravating
D - dim-witted
A - arse

*ding ding ding ding*

Oooh... (Raises handbag)

So Ass, Make fun of my ludicrously expensive acting college will you?

R - Royal
A - Academy of
D - Dramatic
A - Arts

For your information!

One of the first things they teach you at RADA is how to act naked. I did it, fair enough, but I couldn't help thinking the instructor made that up...

...And the lesson after that was how to act like you're being sodomised by a middle-aged RADA instructor...

Actually... now I come to think of it... (Whimpers)

But seriously, kids, if you want to become a classically trained actor, make sure you've read Lord Of The Rings. Otherwise, when you leave RADA (Where it's over £6,000 a term, I might add) and somebody phones up and offers you the part of Faramir in Lord Of The Rings, you won't have read the books, and therefore, will turn it down, and then the movies will be incredibly successful, and after seeing them multiple times yourself, and loving them to death, you'll kick yourself everyday for as long as you live, and you might end up like me... Unshaven, slightly overweight and leaving posts on GameGrene all day and night...

But I'm not bitter...


(Collapses, sobbing)


Why would you wanna ACT naked? Just take off your clothes and BE naked!

I don't WANT to act naked, but we have to learn to in our first year at RADA. For some reason...

Man am I glad I remained an non-professionnal actor. Jeez acting naked, why bother. Honestly that usually has nothing to do with theatre except the weird inner fantasies of the (how does one say "metteur en scene" in english? Director?).

... I seriously thought the instructor was a bit of a perv, but apparently, it's standard practice. Though I did get to see my fellow classmates jugs.

So it was a porno scool? We have those in the US too.

Speaking of naked. I wasted about nine hours of my day today creating a KISS doll of myself to be undressed. I feel it was a worthwhile endeavor. Now anyone can dress and undress me as they please. Of course, this isn't very different than things were before only now I don't have to actually be there.

No, It was RADA, Eater. Quite a famous and renowned British acting college. Ian McKellan went there, so did Oliver Reed.

Porno School, eh?

Hmm...I think the best day would be the day all the females learned "the proper way to receive the money shot"'ll need a partner

Then there's the "Innovate Places To Stick It" lesson. That's one of my favorites.

Ian McKellen never did porno. Did he? It wasn't 'Gods And Monsters' was it, because there were some really weird erotic scenes with him and Brandon Frasier but I don't remember any penetration. Maybe the European release was less edited than the US version. I'd like to see a copy if that is the case.

I'm regretting mentioning that now. And for the last time! It wasn't porno. At all. It was just people walking around, being naked and acting.

Mind you, it's one of the best places to be if you want to see naked flesh. Don't go to a strip club, enroll in RADA... Although the strip club is a much cheaper option, RADA's fees are astronomical.

Oh, and try not to get a... how can I put this... 'underpants obelisk'? There's a lot of er... jiggling going on... and in my group there was a nice lady named Kate, who had massive tats. I don't speak from personal experience, but James, a mate of mine, did, and was very ashamed of himself.

...Although now I've mentioned his name he's probably not my mate any more!

I guess all you can do when THAT happens is hope to find someone with cold hands...

The last few posts answer Gamer Chick's question of "why women won't game"

Sam said:
"The last few posts answer Gamer Chick's question of "why women won't game"."

So true. Unless you find a girl who's more like a guy. One who appreciates boobs and dick jokes as much as anyone. They are few and far between. I count myself lucky.

MAss Said:
"I guess all you can do when THAT happens is hope to find someone with cold hands..."

I have to say that this may just make the problem worse. Other peoples hands on my "obelisk" would do nothing to alleviate the "situation", cold or not. And if someone saw this James, or any so afflicted male, attempting the cold hand trick himself he would have more to live down than just the "obelisk" issue.

Uh-oh, Daddy's home! Sam's getting all serious now. We're about to be told that we're sexist. We're not sexist, we're just havin' a real old laugh, like what we used to.

Honestly, you try to tell people, in a serious manner, what you do at RADA and it degenerates into a series of boob and dick jokes. I hope you're happy, you immature bastards! :-)

Um..... immature? Who refered to a boner as an "underpants obelisk"?

Ya freak.

Well, there are people who are 'politically correct' and then there are people who THINK they are 'politically correct' but are actually just UPTIGHT.


There are the P.C. Then there are the ones who THINK they are P.C. but, they are actually...P.U. HAH!

I'm not sure if I should even respond to that Ass. Really you can do better, that just seemed so forced.

And Olly, you mention nudity to a bunch of closet freaks with nothing better to do with their time than post on an obscure web board. Jeez. What the hell did you expect but a string of nudity jokes? Maturity, please.

Oh and how can we be called sexist when the only smart one around here is Gamerchick?

Just trust me, that does make sense.

*pulling Eater's lips off of Gamerchick's arse*


Nice one, Ass.

Sorry, theres just something about about game girls that gets me all randy.

And again: "why women won't game"

And WHAT would that SOMETHING be, exactly?

The fact that they're IMAGINARY in your life?

In all seriousness my game group has two full time chicks and three others that come and go when they have the time. The male, notice I don't say masculine, element to our group is myself and three full time others and three others that come and go.

And my imaginary chicks are perfect, every single one of them. Of course they all look and act just like Sarah McLachlan. Now that I think of it they all answer to the name 'Sarah'. Hmmm, there might be something to that.


THAT will definately RUIN an adventure.

... I think I was misunderstood.

The two paragraphs of my earlier post was intended to be two seperate thoughts. I swear it's true.

Oh, nevermind.

THATS RIGHT Nevermind...

*Imagines choosing between Sarah or dead-girl*

Have you ever felt the urge to VOMIT out BOTH ends?

I did that the last time I had the flu.

Oh, is THAT her name?


::whips out bludeon again::



*whips out B.A.R. from pants*

Woah, and I was the one banned?

It' a delicate balance, Sharky, one of which you have yet to master...


*Shakes head*

That was...a bloody weird thing to read.



Hear-ye! Hear-ye! I am about to comment on the "Forced Roles" section...brace yourselves...

Well, this is more of an 'add-on' to that section. In addition to being forced into a leadership position, being wooed into a general state of whip-titude by a provocative female NPC, to the point where you have ROLL before doing what your designated seductress wants (OR) doing the RIGHT thing; this can...well, it really sucks. It basically puts restrictions on your actions in much the same way as 'traditional alignments' would. Its like...having an alignment...with boobs (and all the other bits).

I agree there Cap'n. I had a DM who decided these things ahead of time and we allmost didn't even get to make characters. It really took alot of the fun out of it.

And when the hell did you join the military and get your wings?

not MILITARY Captain...PIRATE Captain.

Remember? From the Open Forum 2...ya know?

::coughpsychocough:: Ring a bell?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I posted that one first.

I still stand by my coughing fit.

Pirate the ugly could have made an entire article focusing on his fourth point. It would be grossly appropriate, given the recent absurdities of my associates (offtopicers...shhhhh) over the past couple of weeks. Over the past two years, Dragon Magazine, now under Paizo Publishing, has offered up a few articles on what kills the gaming session, including excess humor. Does anyone remember which articles those were? I'd hate to have dig through the garage for, well, for ANY REASON...

P.s. Has anyone heard from Olly? ... din' thing zo! Bwahaha! (brits got his tongue)

Olly may be on official "Offtopicker" time-out, or he may just be on holiday...

I must say we seem to be doing better...

Or nobody is posting....

and now, 10 months later, There is a post... by a complete stranger!!!

well I have to admit those are good points. Here's my input on those

(1)Not Having An Adventure Ready

when all else fails, go random and wing it! I can't count how many times I've used various tables to get a game going... except that time I rolled up the Tarrask (spelling?)....

oh yeah, tell everyone to arrive 3 hours before the estimated time you want the game to start. after various Magic games or episodes of The simpsons, you'll eventually get everyone organized

(2) Forced Roles

forced roles kinda suck. players create their own characters for a reason. sometimes, for storyline purposes, I'd tell a player "hey, would you mind playing a fighter? the party is kind of weak in the muscle department" but usually thats about it.

(3) Fairness

when it makes sense, monsters attack randomly. when it makes sense, they all attack the muscle. And sometimes, they all attack that REALLY annoying newbie whos the one of the player's little brother who won't shut up about wanting POKEMON!!!! TAKE THAT YOU LITTLE BASTARD!! EAT RED DRAGON BREATH!! MUAH HAH HAH!!..... anyway....

(4) Curb the Humor

when appropriate, smack your players with a good heavy book for making bad jokes.

(5) Too Many/Lack of Puzzles

when you have a fairly intulectual group, give em good puzzles. when you have an IQ 25 group, give em simple puzzles like: "DM: the door is locked. you see a lever to the left of the door."

(6) making ALL the players feel involved

in some situations, one player might not be able to do anything, like when fighting ethereal creatures and one of the players doesn't have anything that can harm em. And sometimes, you can't help non-participation.. like when the group couple decides to make out during the gaming session....

(7) Running Out of Food/Drink mid-game session

go to the Dollar Store and stock up on SHITLOADS of cheap chips,cookies,sodas,popcorn,etc. And if all that runs out, order pizza. that way youcan game and have your food delivered!

or you can pull out your personal stash of Oreos and Milk and eat them in front of your players and tell them the first person who touches your food looses 1000 exp and becomes the opposite sex and alignment. As well as they grow faerie wings and gain an intelligence of 5. Then you give them some nasty disease... like mummy crotch rot.

as you can tell, I'm very defensive of my oreos. noone's tried to take them yet.

now.. I add my own addition.

(8) DON'T BRING YOUR LITTLE BRO/SIS, ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE POKEMON FANATICS. unless of course, they are actually cool, mature little kids that really want to game. Remember, you were a newbie once, too.... Iknow I was... at least I didn't have a pokemon fetish.. sheesh....

NO cell phone use. TURN IT OFF!