Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Losing like a winner

The DMs job basically ensures he or she is the biggest loser at the table. At every turn, the players are set up with the chance to succeed, which means the DM “loses.” Sure it isn’t really losing, but sometimes it can feel that way, particularly when they just kicked the crap out of the thing you were excited to display. In those stunned moments that follow, it is hard to be on your best DM-game. So below are some ideas to start a crib-sheet to make sure you can always lose like a winner.

One caveat: So obviously this is all intended in fun, but there are some times that the DM should lose like a loser. By which I mean there are some times you should make sure not to try and interfere with the limelight. A hard fought victory should be savored and not diminished by a throwaway joke. At the same time, a one-in-a-million critical at the perfect moment is exciting and is not really “losing” for the DM; just enjoy the awesomeness of the statistical improbability. But the rest of the time, go ahead and lose like a winner.

The players are overly boastful…
  • Awful big words for someone who has only gained six levels in his first three months of adventuring…”
  • Flip a coin at their feet. “You must have left that at the brothel because no one actually remembers you being there.”
  • I know you’re used to fighting kobolds and rats, but real heroes typically have a sense of decorum.”

A particular player keeps hitting…
  • I bet you’re already planning away, aren’t you? ‘Dear diary, today was the best day ever…’
  • Keep this up and your friends just might give you a full share of treasure.”
  • Where is this coming from? I don’t understand why they all call you The Tickler behind your back.

The players just figured out someone was lying…
  • You know, dogs can tell I’m evil, too.”
  • Here’s another lie: you’ll live to see the morrow.”
  • Strange. Women lie to you all the time and you never figure it out…
  • And yet somehow you still think your companions like you.”

A particular player is overly verbose…
  • To the rest of the party: “Whatever happens here today, can we all agree this guy talks too much?
  • To the rest of the party: “Can any of you deafen?
  • To the rest of the party: “How have you not pink frosting’d this guy yet?

The players just beat your NPC in a diplomacy duel with an audience…
  • I earned my place in this chamber by the word and years of service while they earned entry by the blade. We both came here today to plant the seeds of an idea in your minds: they that we should [summarize their idea in a poor light] and mine that we [summarize NPC’s idea in a good light].  Apparently my bullshit is not as rich as theirs and so it seems that their seed has taken hold in this room of malcontents. So we will follow their path and let the idea grow that we might soon enjoy of its fruit, but should it prove poisonous and foul, we will not forget its progenitor.”
  • The most perfect prose will not change the fact that you suck.”

A particular player delivers the killing blow…
  • Huh. Even death is prettier than you.”

The players just routed a complex trap…
  • Shortly thereafter, they find etched into the wall: “Elric was here. Age 6.
  • Just around the corner they find a skeleton riddled with arrows, partially crushed, and burned. A skill check can reveal that it is a fraud intended to imply an even more challenging trap exists. Time how long the players spend worrying and feel great solace in the number.

The players kill an animal/pet belonging to the NPC…
  • Doesn’t matter. It was my ex-wife’s.
  • You kill my dog, I kill yours.” Then attack a new character.

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