January 21, 2014
Special Little Snowflakes
Player characters are really entitled sometimes, right? I mean, they are often the ones chosen by destiny to stop some great and terrible evil. They are the ones who just happen to be the only people able to stop a threat to a town or village that they just happened to stumble across. They are the only ones who can disrupt the villain’s master plan. They are the ones who happen across the ancient magical relics or discover the lost secrets of the world. They are just the special little snowflakes, aren’t they?
Of course, they are. The player characters are the stars of the show. They are the main protagonists of your story. They are who the adventure needs to circulate around and who need to be the most important people of the entire campaign, and yet we Gamemasters all-to-often tend to forget that.
There is a tendency of Gamemasters to downplay the importance of the player characters in a game, not to belittle them or to make them feel less important, but because we tend to think they already get enough attention and we need to remind them that the world does not revolve around them. Unfortunately, Gamemasters can do this so often that we forget to actually do anything that encourages the thinking that these are the most important people in the campaign. We can take the spotlight away from characters who might not have ever actually felt that the spotlight was ever on them in the first place. We have a random NPC’s stumble across legendary artifacts that we could just as easily have the players stumble across themselves. We have NPCs experience prophetic visions when we could easily have the players experience them. We have NPCs discover that they are the long-lost rulers of a long-forgotten kingdom when this could just as easily be true of a player character, and in fact, should.
This is something I notice both when running a game myself and when playing in one; it is a trend I think only really continues when we are not aware that it is actually going on. Having a good reminder of the player’s characters being the central figures of our story can go a long way in making a good campaign become a great one. Downplay the importance of NPCs. Do not be afraid of allowing your players to know what it is like to be the chosen ones of legend. Let them feel powerful, important and, most of all, let them feel special. After all, we do not play these games to know what it feels like to be any other regular “Joe.” We play these games in order to experience what it is to be legendary.
All too often it feels like I might be wagging my finger at players in these articles. Well, this time the finger wagging is aimed directly at us, the Gamemasters. Remember your player characters and their players. Remember that, in these games, they are the most important characters. They are the chosen ones. They are the heroes. They are the special little snowflakes.
As always, I thank you all for reading and wish you all good gaming.
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