Who cares? You’re the GM, you don’t need to be fair. Your job is to keep the game interesting (ie, something which holds the interest of your players) and enjoyable (ie, something that your players look forward to participating in every week), not to run a fair game. Fairness is useful and for the most part the rules should be used, but in no way are they a necessary part of a good story. Was it fair when Frodo got stuck with that damn ring? Was it fair when Harry first had his parents killed and then got to be plagued by the most evil wizard of all time for 7 straight years? Was it fair when Aurthur’s house got bulldozed out from under him to make room for a new bypass? Not remotely. All of those things were interesting though and produced enjoyable results.Here are the tricks to being enjoyably and interestingly unfair: 1. Be on the PCs side. See things from their point of view rather than placing yourself in opposition to them. That way, when you decide to be unfair about something you’ll be doing it in their best interest. This is probably the most important trick so I’d advise you to read it through a second time and keep it firmly in your head. You and the PCs are on the same side. You should be succeeding vicariously through them. You’re the GM, if you’re in opposition to them, you can win any time you want to. Uh… duh… You control the rules. Being on their side though means that when they win, you all win together. It’s a better rule of thumb to follow. 2. Don’t roll for things that make sense when you should just give them to your PCs. There was a horrible murder and eventually the PCs would have made their way to the graveyard anyway because they already know that’s where the creature’s been hiding out. So don’t make them roll a perception to see the terrifyingly misshapen, bloody footprints heading in that direction. Just pick the person with the highest score or with the most interesting way of relating info to the rest of the group or who has some kind of special ability in this direction (getting mileage out of abilities which cost XP is always a good thing) and just give them the news. Honestly. I’ve never heard of a rulebook objecting to this before. 3. If you’re going to be unfair in a way that will disappoint your PCs, compensate them. The evil genius got away in his teleporter, but on the bench next to it they see an odd device… almost like a portable readout for a tracking device… and it’s beeping… If a disappointment is immediately replaced with new hope, the comparison immediately reduces the disappointment factor and increases the hope factor. I didn’t even have to say what the device was tracking and I’m sure each of you who read that line had your brain light up with possibilities. That’s just how people work. 4. Let the PCs win more often than they lose. This may seem like a repeat of #1 but it isn’t. This a conscious recording of your PCs’ wins and losses and keeping the count solidly (but not solely) in their favor. Doing this should communicate to your Players in a tangible way that you are employing trick #1 and believe me, Players feel you’re on their side will give you the benefit of the doubt even when things seem to not be fair in their favor. Sure you may have to cheat an NPC or two out of a victory once in a while (they dropped a clue here, no roll, they just did it) but much like in #2, I’ve never heard of an NPC complaining about this sort of treatment. That’s because they’re not real people. Your Players are the real people here. Keep that in mind. Now I’m not advocating Monty Hall GMing (the giving out far too much XP, money, success, or any other kind of gain), but I honestly feel that’s a topic for another day. Short post today folks. Have a good weekend 🙂
That’s not fair!