Keep ’em guessing

In any story, the twist of the unexpected is what makes for great entertainment, and a story created through a Dungeons & Dragons adventure is no exception. Since most dungeon masters and many players are well-read in the fantasy genre and equally familiar with fantasy films, it is usually safe to assume that even the newest players seated at your gaming table are aware of the various tropes and story devices common to fantasy stories; experienced players have the added memories of how various plots and battles unfolded in other campaigns.

One way to maintain player interest in your game is by periodically placing something in your game that doesn’t match what they expect. In some ways, this post expands on my prior thoughts about managing player expectations by embracing tropes for many aspects of your game, and deliberately breaking a handful of tropes in believable ways. Continue reading


Managing Player Expectations for a D&D Game

The first time I saw the film The War Lord starring Charlton Heston, I remember feeling bothered by the writers’ apparent disinterest in historical accuracy. The film was set during the time period most would ascribe to the Dark Ages, but the film featured costumes, armor and fortifications that weren’t to evolve until hundreds of years after the story was reportedly happening.

Upon further thought, though, it occurred to me that I was something of an unusual viewer; most people viewing such a film wouldn’t have my interests in Medieval and military history, tabletop wargaming or Medieval fantasy role-playing, all of which are niche hobbies at best. I came to the conclusion that the writers were doing what the best storytellers do: take the images and preconceptions in a listener’s head and build upon the details that were already there, making the story more real to them in the process. Continue reading