On Wednesday, Matt Coleville started the MCDM D&D stream with the first episode of The Chain. During the session a thing happened that sparked a lot of debate in the community. It didn't take long before you started to see the full verdict from numerous people whose only interaction with Matt, or his players, was watching them on the stream. Things like "I'd never do this" got phrased as "you should never do this", and that is to keep things polite.
Along with the accusations of things done wrong were the assurances this player felt awful, was pissed about what happened, and had been completely shafted and treated unfairly. The fun thing is, from a conversation Matt Coleville posted after, that couldn't be further from the truth.
Ultimately it boiled down to two lines of dialogue:
"I would be so pissed if this happened to me in game."
and the response.
"That is why I would never do it to you if you were at my table."
It's the second line that is key here. One of the big problems with online RPG advice - including this blog - is we can only tell you what works for our games and our players. I believe strongly in social contracts to help ensure everyone is comfortable all the time at the table. I have had new groups laugh at me and tell me to get that shit out of the game, because I was never going to offend them.
We can give you best practices, things to consider, things to keep in mind, and pitfalls to watch out for. That is the majority of this blog. But I can't promise it will be fun, or even claim this is the right way to run the game because your table will be different.
I know a guy who has been nice enough to let me play in 2 or 3 of his games. One was a lot of fun. The other two weren't for me. The difference was the first game was the first game he ran in a system/universe. The other two were established universes. And with his established universes a lot of things were set in stone and immutable. Ultimately it meant the PCs had no ability to change things and were kind of along for the ride. Not for me. But he had another group getting the exact same experience that loved it so much that when he tried to end the game they all showed up for the next session anyhow and demanded more.
Everyone has fun differently. Everyone is looking for different things from the game. As a GM you do well to figure out what your players are looking for, and what they're willing to play into or run with. Things you can get away with with one player may not work with another. But knowing that means you can target the move to still get the effect in game you need, without curbing the fun of any of your players.