May 122010
 

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We try, we really do. Those of us who spend the majority of our time in the GM’s chair, by and large, do our best to be creative, and really make sure that our players are getting a well thought-out adventure with heaping doses of verisimilitude, fleshed-out, well-voiced NPCs and great plot-lines. However, in spite of our best efforts, we need help sometimes. We need to make a map in a hurry, we need an NPC ASAP, and we need to get the story moving. Sometimes, we just need a cheap trick.

So, if that’s you, if that’s where you find yourself, then read on. You’re about to get some cheap tricks to add to your toolbox. (Author’s Note: These tricks are to be used sparingly. The writer of this article, and Troll in the Corner are not responsible for any shootings, stabbings, pranking, maimings, tantrums, player death, character death, hot flashes, nausea, rectal discharge, pregnancy, in-law visitations, imprisonments, dead batteries, milk spoilage, llama bites, nudity, electric scooter use, howling, drunkenness, blindness, deafness, dice-throwing, hair growth, hair loss, changes of hair color, shadowboxing, incense burning, pillow throwing, rains of frogs, plagues of locusts, boils, or deaths of your firstborn that excessive use of these tricks may cause.)

Kidnap Someone

This one is as old as the hills, and is especially useful if you have a player miss a session. Yours PCs have obviously made many someones mad throughout the course of their adventuring career, and mad enemies don’t always play fair. So, kidnap someone. If it doesn’t make sense to kidnap a member of your party, then have a family member of their become kidnapped. All of their family are dead, you say? Then kidnap a friend. You say that all of your characters are loners with no friends, relations or other connections to anyone in your campaign world? Well, then you need to move on to the next trick.

Hit Them Where it Hurts

Even if your PCs make Grey Oozes seem pleasant and sociable, there has to be something that they hold dear. In many cases, those things are the items they carry, many of them magical. If you have a low-level party (or even a higher-level one), a Rust Monster can become the bane of their existence. One quick zap and you can say goodbye to that shiny, metal, magical item. Also, remember that the Fireball spell does damage worn and carried items. Most people ignore that part of it, due to the complexity.

If you’re feeling really, really saucy, then toss a Disjunction spell of some sort at them and watch their magical items, of any type, become nothing more than useless lumps of material. Please take a good, long, hard look at that list of things that we are not responsible for if you over-use these tricks. Stronger people than you have been killed for less than using a Disjunction spell on their party. You have been warned.

(Un)Natrual Disasters

Your PCs are now standing there, weaponless, armorless, and are lacking any social connection to the world around them. They claim that they are ascetics and have no need for worldly goods. Fine and good. Bring the world down around their ears. The campaign world, nearly any campaign world that exists has a lot going on that the PCs never find out about. Surely in the pages upon pages of notes that you have on your world, there is a Deity or Greater Power that has some reason to cause flood, fire, famine, plague, volcanic eruption, earthquake, or any combination thereof. If not, it’s your world, the PCs just live in it. Make up a close-to-plausible reason and tear down the house. I am all about working with your players to create a good campaign, but sometimes your best efforts in that direction are not enough.

In closing: If, after all of that, your PCs are blithely standing there with mocking grins on their faces as the world burns around them, then screw it. It’s time to go find a new group.

[tags]RPGs, roleplaying games, GMing, tips[/tags]

About Tracy

I love games, and I love to write about games. Hopefully when I write about games, you'll find something to like. I actively play Pathfinder and Savage Worlds, but am always willing to give something new a try. Follow me on Twitter, and check out my openly developed campaign setting for Pathfinder, Savage World, and Fate: Sand & Steam.

  2 Responses to “Cheap Tricks”

  1. Good idea for the kidnap. That’s a great way to utilize a PC that the person running him is not present. I’m going to save that one to use someday.

  2. Thanks, man. I’ve used that one to good effect before. The trick to pulling it off is this: during the next session, when the players of the kidnapped PCs are present, you have to find a way to include them in the session. I had them begin breaking out of the bonds they were in, and eventually they met up with the rest of the party. It worked well.

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