Why I Love TTRPGs

I’ve started running a 4E game using my Crusade Beyond the Door. The original campaign idea was to turn Stargate: Atlantis in a campaign framework: using magical gates the party would jump to a new world each week fighting the Nephilum menace some weeks while others solving local issues. Using the 4E build in power levels over time they would rise to challenge the Nephilum and save Creation Beyond the Door just as SG-1 defeated the Goa’uld and the Atlantis gang defeated the Wraith.

But my players got to the first world, defeated a party of nocturnal elf slavers (negative image drow: pasty white skin, black hair), secured the people in a new village, and defeated the revenge party of slavers. They also recovered the alternative Genesis that splits when the Nephilum lead the people beyond the Door and a second set of control rods (my DHD analog). They were all set for my expected end and returning to the city of giants.

But they didn’t.

Instead they decided they were protect the worlds beyond the door and they will protect this world. Instead of returning they have decided to build a castle at the local door (on the hill with the chalk horse carved into it) and train the locals to fight the slavers.

Oh, and in the grand tradition of the crusades a bunch of second sons are now going to have their own fiefs.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I play TTRPGs and not MMORPGs, CRPGs, or write my own fiction (well, I do the later but you get the idea). I had 30 levels of 4E mapped out roughly and now they won’t happen. While my events will happen in the background and change the world they may later go on to interact with for now we are playing a very different game. All because four people not the DM decided this was the way to play in my creation.

Right now I love my players…because even if their idea wasn’t mine I suspect the game will be more interesting because it is ours and not just mine. It is my world but their story.

I wouldn’t want it any other way.

2 thoughts on “Why I Love TTRPGs

  1. I think this gets to the very heart of the balancing act that all good GMs have to engage in when doing game prep and running sessions. Yes, it is your world, but yes, it is their story. How do you prep for a story that isn't written yet? How do you prep enough to not get caught with your drawers down while not prepping so much that you end up wasting tons of work if things go in a different direction? Or worse still, prepping so much that you force your players to do it your way even if they don't want to.

    I suspect this is why some people do become enamored with the computer-assisted campaigns that have become increasingly popular lately. It may not be so much about the inability to create your own campaign rather than simply buying a prepared experience, but may rather be a risk-benefit move to avoid the catch 22?

  2. I think you're onto something about the risk-benefit.

    That said, it's sad and to me another sign that we're afraid to be really creative. I've gotten DMing wrong much more than right but even most of the wrong times I learned something. I usually created something too. Plus, like any skill I can balance that better now than even a year (much less 30+ years) ago.

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