Friday, October 3, 2014

Punch Buggy Magic Missile

Since D&D spells in general and magic missiles in particular are so open to aesthetic interpretation, I usually encourage players to tell me what form their magic missiles take. The best interpretation I ever got was in a random game I ran this summer for five people, four of whom had never played any kind of RPG before. Yup, VW Bug shaped magic missiles! Why not? Everyone at the table loved the idea, the player got to contribute something memorable to the game, and no mechanics were harmed. 

That also speaks to something that I'm recognizing more and more that I really enjoy about DMing. I do like prepping and setting up dungeons, adventures and situations before hand, but I also want to be surprised by the game. I want players to surprise me with their creativity and scheming and cleverness and dramatic flair, and I want the game itself to surprise me through the situations and conflicts that emerge unpredictably. 

I've been leaning this direction for years, but more and more I think that the way to make that happen is lots of random charts to work with, which are basically ways that a DM can ask questions of the campaign world. When the PC's decide that the dungeon isn't worth it and are more interested in interacting with the NPC's in town (as happened in this summer one-off game), what will I learn about those NPC's? When the PC's decide to take sides in an NPC conflict that I just learned about myself, I need ways of asking the campaign setting what the details are- then it's my job to referee what the game tells me. 
The description of this characters' death, on the right side of the page, is great.