Friday, October 21, 2022

Rookie Mistakes

 Yes, I have plenty of years of DMing experience as you probably already know if you've followed or poked around this classic blog.

You would think that would be enough to avoid a couple of DMing rookie mistakes.  After years being absent working behind the screen I guess even mad skills can get a bit rusty.

Now, my DMing experience has always been running Old School games. I've been wanting to run a 5e game for quite a long time and, in fact, have just recently been a player in a couple of sessions that my friend Brian started running.  On the surface, 5e is not much different than any other classic version of the game with some rules even being very large improvements.  This was enough to loosen that arrow and get a session going.

Taking my baby steps into running the world of 5e, it was obvious that I would run the Lost Mines of Phandelver. 

Now, I was going to give the game rules a good try and play it as it was intended. Of course, I'm going to try to push the boundaries of the sandbox concept of this adventure and blend it with the Dragon of Ice Spire Peak to keep the campaign going

I had some rookie players and thought I'd start with a brief role playing encounter with a boy and his lost dog. Meeting the boy the party attempts to find the trail of the lost dog and the Ranger attempts to find the trail. Skill test rolled and...... failure.  Now this is me setting up encounters as the game intended.  Well, what the fuck is supposed to happen when the skill check fails when it was really needed to be made to keep the adventure going? True, I never planned for that because it was never intended for the player to 'fail'.

As I processed this adjustment in real time, the game continued with the players somewhat mystified by this lost dog.

Next came the infamous goblin encounter which went fine. As the characters did exactly what they were supposed to do and look for the goblin trail, the skill check was rolled and..... failure! Another failure on a significant plot point.  Again, I let the roll stand and pondered what the hell else to do to keep the game going. 

At this point, in my mind, the game kind of derailed and I had to scramble to keep things going in a sensible manner. Thank the gods I was able to wing it and they had some 'unplanned' adventures around the town (which involved yet another failed roll which I ended up fudging because.... seriously).

The game wrapped up and I was slightly disheartened as I expected batter of myself behind the screen.

Why did I let skill check die rolling derail the game I intended?

Why are players rolling dice for checks that they shouldn't know if they failed or succeed?

By default, I always try to play a game or cook a recipe as intended and the game seemed to intended for players to roll dice for checks they shouldn't know the results on major plot points.  Sure you can play it that way but there will be some bad game play as players know they failed a check yet keep rolling to until they make the success that they and the DM need them to make.

I had to make some adjustments and pretty much got rid of dice rolling things that the players obviously would or should succeed in. I also had to 'hide' some of those rolls from the players.  In other words, I needed to run this modern version of the game just like I would any old school sandbox game. I let go of the ridged grip on the rules as, I think, WOTC intended and work and mold 5e into something that made much more sense with how I prefer or think the experience of the game should go.

I made those adjustments and session two was much more magical.

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