In the trend of a few of my recent posts, I wanted to go back to talking on a topic I started before. Heck, in this one I even said I was going to talk more about it later and so I figured I'd bring it up here. Only this time, more focused on the gaming aspect of bad luck instead of the story and gaming aspect of it. So pull up a chair, and lets get back to talking about Bad Luck and your campaign.
Now, I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this, but despite my previous post on bad luck I tend to hold off on hitting my players with it. If they do prep, I like to make the answers true (they rolled for them after all). I feel like with the dice coming down, and success being rolled for that I have entered into a contract with the players. I am not supposed to lie, I am supposed to tell the truth. The mechanics came into play after all. In general, this isn't a view I have problems with, but I also hold off on bad luck elsewhere in the game too.
The reasoning behind this is simple, I'm afraid. I'm afraid that by handing out some bad luck I'm going to go too far and ruin the enjoyment of the game. I'm afraid that it will come across as just doing too much. I'm afraid it will come across as railroading, and even if it doesn't that I'm being malicious and just want the players to fail. Most of all, I'm afraid that it will be that extra bit needed that gets a player killed. Why? For no reason other than I thought it'd be amusing to have a bit of bad luck hit the player at a bad moment. Even with my view on why you should pull the trigger on a PC, doing it via some arbitrary non-mechanics based event that just happened seems low.
So, the question is then what does avoiding doing this cost your game? Generally speaking nothing. The game goes as it should and would normally. The players find an objective, hit an obstacle, try to over come it and either succeed or fail as they are want to do.
How about if you don't avoid it? Well, if you do it wrong you will kill the fun of the players, or just flat out kill the players. If you do it right though, you add a bit of spice, you add additional challenges and really add some flavor to the game. I've seen it done, I've even pulled it off once or twice (despite the fear) and it has always added a lot to the experience I feel.
So, as much as this is me trying to urge you to give it a shot, this is also me saying I'm going to do all I can to overcome that fear. I will balance and I will measure, but there will be bad luck for people in my games. Little things, a broken step, a crumbling plank of wood. The exploding vehicle coming towards them from the blast. Little things, common things, but they will be there.
So what about you? What advice would you give on over coming the fear of handing out bad luck? Any great stories for it? Reasons you avoid it? Reasons you do it? I want to know!