GMing and Creating a World: I notice that when I GM, the world tends to present the kind of threats that the PCs can…

GMing and Creating a World: I notice that when I GM, the world tends to present the kind of threats that the PCs can…

GMing and Creating a World: I notice that when I GM, the world tends to present the kind of threats that the PCs can deal with. So, if someone is playing a thief, there will be plenty of traps to disarm. But if there’s no thief, there will few traps, if any.

But should the world work this way? Would it be more fun if PCs saw both the advantages and disadvantages to their party mix?

10 thoughts on “GMing and Creating a World: I notice that when I GM, the world tends to present the kind of threats that the PCs can…”

  1. I think DW at it’s heart is more about the way protagonists react to their world in novels (and the world reacts to them) than the Dungeons and Dragons roots that the game comes from.

    Tarzan’s keen jungle trained senses could pick up a trap just as much as he is able to dive off a cliff and dive perfectly into the river below. The game part makes the drama more intense because Tarzan’s player could roll a 6-… and the peril is ramped up. Yeah, Tarzan avoids the punji sticks but while scrambling up the side of the pit trap, Roman Centurions from a lost civilization suddenly appear and threaten our hero with piliums. Tarzan neatly dives into the river, but crocodiles slip into the water, eager for snack.

    Yes, totally simulation wise, the world should just be the world and the characters interact with it as it comes about. If there is quicksand in that area, there is quicksand in that area. Here be ORcs, here be orcs. But it is more fun, IMO, to tailor the game to what the PCs CAN handle with effort and what the PLAYERS would have fun tackling.

  2. I think hireling rules (including from Perilous Wilds) make it fair game to throw anything at them and expect them to be able to handle it, but you want to make sure the most interesting stuff is tackled by the PCs themselves.

  3. I think the reason I often forget to add elements is that it’s not in my mind without a PC with the ability to tackle it. I’m now thinking I should do a list of things that should appear in all worlds to make sure I’m getting a balance of stuff. Things like:

    1. Traps/locks/sneakiness required

    2. Requires magic (to defeat or understand)

    3. Physical barriers

    4. Requires charisma

  4. Stacey, re-read Fronts again. Fronts can happen in the background even if the PCs don’t interact with them. So, stuff can be bubbling along and really surprise the players because they didn’t heed the warning sides.

  5. Storn Cook Yes, it’s always good to remember Fronts and keep them moving. I really don’t have a problem with that. The issue I’m talking about is making sure the fronts, dangers, and just everyday hazards/monsters are diverse. That traps don’t show up only when someone plays a thief or areas of magic don’t just show up when someone plays a wizard.

  6. Stacey Holiday I feel you!

    Mouse Guard has a nice checklist for missions, where you make sure you’ve got threats/twists in mind from each of four categories. I think they are: Other Mice, Predators, Weather, and Terrain. Having that checklist really helps ensure that the theme’s of the game are present.

    Arnold from the Goblin Punch blog has a nice “Dungeon Checklist,” which includes:

    1. Something to steal

    2. Something to kill

    3. Something to kill you (like, stuff you probably can’t beat)

    4. Different paths

    5. Someone to talk to

    6. Something to experiment with

    7. Something the players probably won’t find

    I think it’s a pretty solid list. It’s oriented on a different axis than the one you suggest (which is very skill-oriented), but I think it gets largely the same results. If you make sure there’s something to steal and different paths, you’ll probably end up with locks and traps. If you make sure there’s something to kill and you different paths, sneakiness will be useful! If there’s someone to talk to, the Charisma/Parley will likely come into play. Etc.

    Full blog post is here:

  7. Remember that one of the GM Moves is “Show a downside of their class, race or equipment”. A downside to every class is that it’s not some other class, so I think it makes perfect sense to have traps if there’s no Thief or dangerous wilderness if there’s no Ranger. Don’t make every threat they run into something that another class would be better at, but offering obstacles that would be better dealt with by somebody else can make their own choice of class feel more important.

  8. one of the greatest joys I find in GMing is when I give the players a problem that I don’t have a specific solution to. they come up with some amazing ideas. the real world is not set on rails so there is never a problem with only one solution. I expect you to kill Smaug with a black arrow, but you end up poison his food, collapsing a cave on him or drowning him in liquid gold? further more the world should be a rational place without the players. if it makes since that the door is locked and traped (maybe a vault door) then it should be. the players have all of imagination to figure out how to deal with it without a theif. cast a spell? find the key? tunnel around it? take the owner hostage? have the druid transform into a tiny insect and slip in through the lock..

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