Game Mastery

Game Wrap – If I could take back any one mistake…

by on Sep.01, 2011, under dnd4e, observations, self improvement

As I’ve mentioned, one of the themes of my last game was trying to break my own rules.  Early on in game planning I came up with a crazy idea for a backup scenario.  If a certain overpowered boss fight wiped out the party, the only idea I had for fixing it was to declare that the world had lost.  The bad guys were too powerful.  And the players would have to go back in time to slow them down, before things got so bad.  The idea only got more over the top from there.

Time travel is one of those red flags that most GMs are afraid to touch and with good reason.  I damn well know better than to go for it, but since this was the rules breaking gaming I did it anyway.

I felt a little bad about it too, because the whole time travel plot happened in the final session.  I was happy that I got to throw one big last twist at the party, instead of giving them the boss fight they’d seen coming.  It bothered me though because I basically told them the world was screwed, here’s how you fix it, here’s how you go back in time.  Given more time to play out the game, I’d have loved to let this be their goal for epic tier.  Oh well.  On the other hand, by wrapping it all in one session, there wasn’t room for time travel shenanigans or timeline divergence or anything.  They got in and out with surgical precision.  At least it’s easier to GM this way.

Anyway, the time travel went surprisingly smoothly.  I think it played out kinda like Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, where there’s so much epic shit going down at such a fast pace that the players/readers never stop to make sure it makes sense.  In that sense it worked.

In the sense that it utterly failed, after the game I asked for feedback.  One of the players told me he didn’t like the time travel.  He felt that by saying the world is screwed over and you have to go back to fix it, I undid all the achievements of the players so far.  They’ve invested the last 20 months saving the game world and I just told them it didn’t count.

I could argue against that but I won’t.  Given a week to think about my arguments, I can come up with reasons why the player’s actions were still valid.  But I won’t.  What matters is the way the player reacted to what happened.  I put something in the game and he felt that it devalued his character’s contributions.  Even if I explained why their efforts were worthwhile after the fact, what matters is that my story made a player feel as though his actions were worthless.  He should never have had that reaction.  Period.  End of discussion.

No comments for this entry yet...

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...