RPG Gaming

Tough, Not Terminal

By Marcus Pan

One of the hardest tasks of a Dungeon Master is not controlling monsters, or stocking dungeons, or creating adventures. The absolute hardest job a DM faces is being fair. Imagine this:

A first level character runs into a black dragon, and is melted beyond recognition within weeks of his creation.

Now imagine this:

A first level character runs into a single orc, kills it, and walks away with a treasure hoard that should've belonged to that black dragon who melted our poor first character.

Both scenes are quite ridiculous. The first can upset players. It is simply too hard to deal with, and could discourage beginner players, and possibly advanced players if it happens once too often.

The other situation is far too easy. It would even bore a beginner player to death. That is the main problem DMs face. To keep an adventure tough, but not terminal. To make the players use their skills to achieve goals, with the thought of death always lurking in the shadows.

An adventure should be geared as close to the character's levels as possible. A little bout with death is enough to keep players on their toes, but an impossible fight can discourage even the strongest of wills. If a group of low-level characters decide to go into a high-level dungeon and get killed, that is not your fault. The players were stupid in this regard, and should accept the consequences that come along with this stupidity. But if a good player comes upon death by a lucky hit roll against him, or some other similar circumstances, even though he has played to the best of his abilities, do not be afraid to overrule a dice roll. Do not feel you are breaking the rules by doing so. Remember…you're the DM, and you make the rules.

The above item may have been edited by the author since its first appearance in Legends No. 3.