Sunday, April 3, 2022

Noping Out on an Adventure (Again, but this time it's different)

Noping Out on an Adventure (Again, but this time it's different)
I try not to re-tread old material, as it were, but after my Saturday home game I got to thinking about my post from two weeks ago about pulling the plug on an adventure. My main course of thinking then, and I wasn't really thinking about it too much, was about quitting an adventure as a player.

At the risk of sounding completely like, well a quitter, last night's game we had a good opportunity to pretty much nope out on some of the adventure in-character. Now this was a relatively minor deal. We had cleared the entire first floor of a "dungeon" except one room. We've been playing this adventure off & on in between another adventure for month now and this one room....well for some reason we "remembered" there was some bad juju about this room and it really wasn't worth the trouble....

....and of course the GM kept trying to guide us to clear the level 100%. "Ah....no thanks...".....

....and then of course we ended up checking out the room anyway when my PC got teleported into said room due to a magical trap. I was able to get out ok, thankfully.

Now that was the 1st level. The second level was rather small (?), but there was a doorway with a short hallway extending into darkness, magical darkness. Our efforts to dispell the darkness failed. Of course the GM asked us a couple of times if we wanted to continue on that level, and he even threw in some good-natured ribbing.

"Ah....no thanks"

Now personally I'm not scared of the dark, and my so-called one-off pregen (technically not a pre-gen, but close enough) isn't afraid of the dark, but the magical darkness after what we just went through....time to nope out to the next adventure.

This time though I'm thinking about how this time, even though it's basically two times in as many weeks, this time we're wanting to cut short and adventure in-character instead of as players (although there was maybe some OOC knowledge). 

This isn't the first time I've done that, noped out in-character. I'm sure I've done it multiple times before, but mostly because when I play I kind of assume that other GMs run their games like I do....and I have no problem putting PCs in over their head. Now I won't sucker punch the party....they'll have a fair opportunity to nope-out, but if they aren't bright enough to do so, well that's on them, not on me.

I do remember this one time, and I'll make it short, this one time I went to play in an online tournament adventure and the whole she-bang started out with the PCs basically in a sensory-deprivation tank. No sights, sounds, taste, nothing. We were in Limbo for all my PC knew. What was supposed to be a four-hour tournament lasted all of 10' because....as far as my PC knew he was dead. Major nope-out.

One thing I have consistently noticed in newer (AKA non OSR) games, and in many ways I get it, is that they are....for lack of a better term, balanced. Parties should have a clearly defined level of difficulty progressing through an adventure, but it should be not only doable, but highly manageable. If you need something special to succeed, fear not, the adventure shall provide.

Nothing wrong with this per se, it would be a bad idea to set up the party for out-right failure from the get-go. Now if the party screws things up and makes it so that they cannot succeed, well that's on them. If they bite off more than they can chew....on them. As a GM it's my job to give them the opportunity to succeed or fail, when that doesn't happen....well that's on me.

I guess I like the general idea that the world exists outside of the party and doesn't cater to it. An occasional over-their-head encounter they have to run away from or get thoroughly smacked down by is a good thing. Learning to guesstimate whether it's worth fighting, parleying, or running like hell is a useful skill at the table (in and out of character). I like to think this is really an OSR thing you don't see in newer games. Well "newer" editions of D&D maybe. Overkill is part of the game with DCC to the extent that in a 0-level funnel you get multiple PCs 'cause one hit will kill one off..... 


  1. Hmm. To a point. And I guess everyone will see things slightly differently. From my perspective, a DM gets frustrated when players make a habit of just skipping over things he's worked on. Not if it happens every now and then, not if it happens when there's clear warning of a foolish move. But a dark corridor? Really? Here's a clear warning: You look out of the cave mouth and see the valley packed with an army of orcs. Players: "Maybe we just go back into the cave and look for another way out."
    I've had a few recent incidents in a game I DM that come to mind. 1) The party fought a purple worm sort of thing that burrowed into a dungeon corridor. They blew it into chunks and moved on. A few weeks later they were sorta lost and came back to that section without quite realizing it. There was an eldritch glow coming from within the worm's burrow. They shrugged their shoulders and passed on without even *looking* inside. I had a whole little pocket environment worked out for them and they arbitrarily tossed my work into the trash. 2) I had the party passing through a series of teleport gates. They had a short walk on each plane to get from one gate to the next. I had a huge giant pig statue (a one-page dungeon) half-buried in the sand. They looked at each other, said "Trap," and passed it up without even approaching it. These are explorers? 3) I had the party on a quest that had taken them many sessions, plumbing the depths of a dungeon towards a very specific goal. Out of nowhere one player started up with "You know, we have no idea what's been going on back home. We should go back to the surface and find out." He wouldn't give it up, and finally quit the group. Thank goodness.
    So, my feeling is that a clear warning that something is over your head is one thing. But if you're just going to start randomly skipping rooms, I'm going to get pretty frustrated. And the "magic protection from whatever you'll definitely need" whatsis is gonna sit undiscovered in that room you arbitrarily decided has "bad juju."

    1. Well the room we were avoiding, a couple of us swore (when the GM stepped away from the camera) that this was *the* room he was laying it on pretty thick about, and it was just after signs of something big & bad eating a guy whole in the next room (IIRC). Clearly we were wrong, but there was plenty we'd been up against.

      Now to be fair to my GM, I'm pretty sure if he had a whole side-thing worked up he'd have let us know before hand. We generally play along as expected, but that's because we know what we're generally signing up for.....

  2. As a player, I set goals. For example, "Let's clear 5 rooms and reevaluate." Because there have been too many times when "one more room" leads to death.

    As a DM, if a party wants to nope-out, that's okay. There's plenty of other things I can do. I've got a good wandering monster chart for the journey back to town, I've got a great city-environment table for urban stuff. Or, heck, nothing happens. That's fine too. Some days it's just a game session to kick back and talk about our week. Which is fine because the bad guys are still moving forward with their plans! In fact, it gives me carte blanche to advance the bad guys a notch or two ahead (if appropriate) because the party decided to take a breather.

    The real world doesn't cater to us, and my game world doesn't cater to the players. I will, and I will offer opportunities that seem in line with their current goals, but the world marches on.


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