Monday, January 11, 2016

Do You Fear Failure?

Kind of a loaded topic, huh? When I ask that question - do you fear failure - I mean as a player. When you grab the dice, and the chips are down in the game, do you worry the dice won't come up with a success? Do you take steps to try to mitigate the failure? Do you have that moment of nervousness?

If your answer to that was yes, my question to you - to me, as I feel these things too - is why?

This past Saturday in my housemate's L5R game we had several spectacular failures in the game, and every single one of them made the session a lot more fun and interesting. One PC messed up a roll and launched 5 of us, in a van, off a cliff and behind enemy lines where we didn't want to be. Another PC messed up rolls that kept him out of the fight for half the battle. A third PC messed up on a different roll and escalated what should have been a small skirmish into a multi-army battle that even some gods showed up to interfere with.

What is it about failure for your character that bothers you as the player?

Good RP needs bad roles to happen. I can't think of a story that doesn't feature the protagonists/heroes failing on occasion. Failure creates opportunities for even more amazing things to happen.

So why worry? Why not just cut loose and let it happen?


  1. My fears of failure are on the GM'ing side - when I first saw the post title, I just assumed that's where you were going with it.

    However, your point is well made. Players are far more interesting when they don't fear failure...after all, fortune favors the bold.

  2. As a GM, nothing frustrates me more than player fear of failure, or fear of the ultimate failure, which is PC death. When players are given an obvious cue go act...I mean Sweet Polly Purebred tied to the railroad tracks, dynamite on one side and an onrushing train on the players dither. The fuse is burning, and the train brakes are squealing but it ain't gonna stop in time, so it obvious something must be done, and done soon, yet they still dither.

    "Um, is anyone else around?"
    Why? You got something better to do?

    There are several different game groups/nights in the area, but most of us have known each other for 20+ years. The only characters I ever hear about are the "new" guy's...they always die horribly, but that pales in comparison to the amazing things they did before their deaths. Everyone talks about them, all of them. I think they think they're razzing him, but in reality I think they're in awe. I wish I could get him in my game. He DOES things.

    1. this is something I'm working on in my own games as both a player and GM.

      Seriously, what is the worst thing that happens if your character goes for it? You get a great story and a chance to bring in someone new. That's not a huge deal, and you'll have a lot of fun. Plus, when you pull it off your character gets even better.

      I've had two characters become almost legendary in the game world they were in because they just kept going for it. I did what I could to win, didn't care if I lost, and in the end the dice came out on my side. Now I have a character in a horror game that has single handedly taken out a giant and most of their enemies are scared to mess with them. I literally get to be the Jaime Lannister/Miyamoto Musashi where folks may not like me but they're not going to draw steel because that way leads to death, and it's a lot of fun. Never would have happened if I didn't charge that giant either.

      Maybe you'll die. Oh well. At least let your character live a little first :)