Sunday, February 12, 2012

DMing: “Always Say Yes”

This is the first rule of group improvisation and it needs a little explanation.

“Always say yes” does not mean that you literally always say "yes" to whatever your players ask. If you have people begging you to give them +5 sword of ungodly awesomeness to start the adventure, you can (and probably should) say no.

What “always say yes” actually means is that you should make a habit of accepting what players bring to the story and use their actions as the base upon which you build the story forward.  To frame it in the negative, this rule says: “don’t shut them down”!

If they want to make a pass at a queen? Let them. If they want to kill an NPC? You can offer resistance through the NPC, but you can't stop them from trying. Heck, if they want to spend two hours trying to head butt their way through a brick wall, you can have an NPC warn them against it, or you can have them roll to see how many points of intelligence they lose (and whether, by some miracle, they actually break through).

But remember: while success is never guaranteed, players should always be able to try.
If your players are at all decent to work with, even their most crazy intentions contain some thread that you can weave into the tapestry. 

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