When should you script a scene? #dnd

Scripting in D&D can be summarized as the creation of text used to set the scene and action for a group of players, or to progress or discover additional plot data.  You can use script blocks when describing the beginning of a battle or an area that the players have just entered into, this is commonly refereed to as ‘Flavor Text’.  Scripting is also very often used when developing a plot line, such as:

The burning village glowed a hellish red against the stormy night sky, plumes of grey smoke adding to the already turbulent sky.  A crash of thunder crackled through the night and a flash of lightning illuminated a solitary figure standing in the road.  With a groan the figure falls to the ground near your feet, their clothes still smoking from the inferno.  In a whistle of breath from burned, cracked lips they gasp out “O-orcs…” and extends a trembling hand clutching a scrap of bright blue cloth.

So, now we know that the village was burned by orcs who wore a blue uniform, and it’s up to the party to hunt them down.  Now, again, that is just one example of scripting and in this instance it is used properly.  Now and improper use of scripting would be using your DM storyteller powers for evil, such as those fantastic moments in action and sci-fi moves where the villain is engrossed in their monologue and the protagonist just stands there and listens.  That is improper scripting.  Unless your players are actually powerless, never make it seem like they cannot interact with a scene.  If you get stopped in the middle of your Emmy-worthy diatribe about how evil this awful person is because your wizard throws a fireball at their head, well that’s what happens.  Roll initiative.

Now there are also times when you want to make something cinematic and only flavor text will let you do it.  That’s fine too, just be careful not to deus ex the game by forcing your players to sit through something like a main NPC being killed or a ritual coming to fruition.  Once you’re in the game, it no longer is just a bunch of words, but a living, changing story.  Save your scripting for narratives and landscapes, not boss fights.

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~ by darkpatu on September 20, 2011.

3 Responses to “When should you script a scene? #dnd”

  1. great blog! thanks for the follow. pipes, scotch and DMing are my 3 favorite things ever. good job.

  2. My very first 3.5 game was ran by a DM, who I felt had nothing but scripted events and the non interacting kind either. It only added to the feeliing that my character was more of a npc than a main character in a story. I have come a few people who are very similar styles. They wonder why people don’t stay long in the campaign…

    • Those kinds of DMs are the worst. you enter the room and see the villain with his sacrifice tied to a table. “You’re too late!” He cries, holding his dagger high. “The stars are aligned and my power shall soon be complete!” He strikes with the dagger and yadda yadda you lose the adventure You could have killed him five times before he did shit the way he was talking. Regrettably some people think this makes the game more ‘dramatic’. In other words ‘the-way-they-want-it-to-go’.

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