Letting your party build their own world #dnd

Part of the enjoyment most players get out of playing a roleplaying game is how their characters impact the world around them. They save a village from goblins, a town from the evil baron, the keep from pirates, the city from the lich.  Before they know it they’re heavyweight superstar celebrities who can’t get an ale without being mobbed by fans, rivals and admirers.  The players shape the way the world works around them, for good or ill and it’s up to the GM to let this happen.  While we game and dungeon masters might slave away for hours on our games, by the end of it they never stay just ours or even remains the world that we built.  Mind you, this is exactly what we want.  If the campaign didn’t change the world, it wouldn’t be much of an adventure, would it?

But how can you allow the party to change the world you have created without letting it get to a point where you no longer recognize it or letting the players have too much control?  Of course take all party decisions with a grain of salt and allow only what you are comfortable with.  Now with actual gameplay and roleplaying decisions the world should balance itself out without too much trouble, as there are quite a few different mechanics that are in place or can be implemented to prevent your party from becoming the next emperor of Helrion by overthrowing the current regime.

However, that’s where things get tricky.  How far is too far and when should the invisible walls fall into place?  Many would say that there should be no hard lines of can and can-not in these games, that there should only be the dice.  While this does work and I honestly support the fates when it comes to over the top thinking and attempts for extra adventure in gaming, some things will really mess up the story that you have built. All in all, make sure you have a sound backup plan if your players are the kind who enjoy bullrushing themselves into a story like a teenager trying to parallel park, and always try to think on your feet, even with a more somber group, as they’ll be the ones who surprise you in the end.

Whatever happens in your group, DO NOT BE A BITCH.  If your players destroy that glorious plot-line you built and hammer their own out of the shattered pieces, SO BE IT.  That’s what they’re there for, adventure and fun, and if you can’t roll with their punches, then you need to get out from behind the screen.  Yes, you control this world, but without players, all you’re doing is writing a story, so build this world, populate it, put it in peril and let them save or destroy it as they see fit.

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~ by darkpatu on September 6, 2011.

2 Responses to “Letting your party build their own world #dnd”

  1. I would love it if my players attempted to overthrow a kingdom and install themselves as the rulers. I would either end the game there and have them roll new characters who have to live in the world where their previous characters now rule a nation. Or, if I was feeling bold, I might try to zoom the game out to work on an international scale, rather than an adventuresome one. The PCs might be able to fight off 20 normal soldiers each, but can they train up their soldiers & militia to fight off an invading force from a more powerful nation?

    As for invisible walls…I try to avoid them, but they do come in handy now and again. I cannot deny.

  2. That is not only a fun sounding way to run a campaign but also some great advice. And yet, the advice is not readily apparent to new DMs. Lord knows I made a lot of those mistakes when I first started, and sometimes I still do. Great post.

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