It would seem like it would be a good idea to be the good student and do your homework. And to a point, yes. You should have some idea of your characters background. On the other hand, too much detail can be a huge detriment.
For some reason, there’s this notion that having long campaigns makes them epic. Sometimes people go even so far as to assume epic is synonymous to long. Well, this is not true. Epic is about celebrating the great deeds of heroes.
I don’t know how long I’ve actually done this, but I’ve noticed this recently.
Maps. Most roleplayers (that I know of) like them. Some (like me) are even fascinated by them. In my opinion they make many situations in games easier to handle and might even inspire the players. Last night while playing Eldritch Sigils the group explored the subway tunnels under Berlin and I happened to draw a map I was exceptionally contended with. This made me think about mapping while playing in general and I decided to share a few of my thoughts.
I get it. You have a tool (the system), so you want to use it.
None of these subjects are simple, but this is more problematic than most, although I think the line is pretty far from what many traditional GMs consider a good place.
One of those mistakes I’ve made plenty of times myself.
There are groups out there who have been playing campaigns for decades. They get together when they can and go on one more dungeon raid, where they pretty routinely move from room to room, emptying them from threats that just sit there, waiting for them.
My mistakes have been in the completely other direction.
I was once in a game where the GM had somehow gotten in his head that he could require as to make harder rolls, because everyone in the group had been playing for so long. So what’s the assumption here? Experienced players get luckier? Experienced players have learned how to get away with cheating? I’m not sure. Sure, we might be able to use the resources we have more flexibly and in different ways, but we still have all the same limitations as the beginning playes.
… actually, I think experience is often a hindrance.
Okay, so, there’s thief in your group and they want to infiltrate the tent of an officer from an opposing army. Its in the middle of the camp and you want to make it hard, but from your point of view, it would be a good thing if the thief was able to do it.
So, lets suppose the player rolls 2d6 and has to get at least 7 to succeed. They get +2 from their.. skill. Whatever. First, you want them to roll for moving into the camp. Then you want them to roll for moving through the camp. Then you want them to figure out where the tent is and roll for that as well. Then you want them to roll for entering the tent. They’re pretty good at what they do, so this should work, right?
I’ve heard all sorts of reasoning. “Not everyone is equal in real life.” “It doesn’t matter how good your character is, there’s always something to do.” “Its in the rules.” “I want to push the players to do something different.” Well, these are true. I can’t argue with that. What I can argue with is that these aren’t very good reasons. There are a lot of things that are true, but you wouldn’t really want it that way.