The effect of player character failure on the world at large.

About thirty years ago, I  played through several of the Dragonlance   modules, usising the book characters .  My regular  group became  very frustrated , as the illusion   of player agency  was poorly maintained . Every time we ran into Fewmaster Toad, we killed him, and the blasted hobgoblin would be waiting for us in the next chapter, the only proof of our actions being the small amount  of xp we had earned for killing him.

Plot protection  is annoying. If something has a stat line, it can be killed. There are of course well written   exceptions to this; Art of the Genre’s Folio adventures  have set encounters that respawn, but remember your last interaction  with them.

The first system I evr heard of that had a mechanic  for effects of  PC actions on the world at large was Mayfair Games Underground, I never played it, but I liked the idea of the quality of life of the common folk being affected by the actions  of the heroes.

+Peter V.Dell’Orto discusses the independent  progression  of the game world frequently   in his excellent  blog Dungeon  Fantastic. From his GURPS Dungeon Fantasy retooling of B2, where inhabitants  of the caves not bashed by his PC’s joined up with the BBEG as undead minions, to the looming overpopulation  of orcs in Felltower,  created by PC negligence  and collusion .  The orc issue became so dangerous, that the PC’s risked a TPK by an army of trolls rather than face them directly .

The next time his players  were in a situation  where they only  partially  cleared  an area of hostiles, they knew that would be the last time that the enemy would be that unprepared , that the fight would only be in easy mode one time.

Recently, fellow gamer +StephanieBryant proposed  a setting where not getting it right progressively  made it things harderon the PC’s, and I have begun to illustrate  this for her.

First iteration of tavern

First iteration of tavern




2 thoughts on “The effect of player character failure on the world at large.

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