What are you, a child?
I remember when this originally ran there were dozens of comments from people pointing out all of the holes in Chuck’s plan. Their GM instincts were kicking in and trying to yank Chuck back into line.
The real problem is that Casey here is slow on his feet. (A fatal flaw in a GM.) Sure, a decent GM would just say the Goblins have a back door, but Casey is not a decent GM. He doesn’t have “backdoor” in his notes, so he doesn’t have one in the world.
This is actually a common problem even for good GM’s: The players do something you didn’t intend, and you fail to adapt. Then hours after the game ends you suddenly realize a half dozen ways you could have better handled the situation to make it more fun or more interesting.
It really is hard to stay ahead of four other people all the time, even with the world-shaping GM powers at your disposal.
Not much to add, except I’m fond of the last line.
Also, everyone’s backseat GMing took the form of, “The Goblins would have a back door!” First, I don’t think that’s necessarily true. It’s certainly a possible scenario, but it’s also true that maybe the goblins have built their home in a cave system that dead-ends. Or maybe these goblins aren’t hard-working and forward-thinking enough. Or maybe they just moved in and haven’t finished excavating their backup tunnel. If you didn’t write down that the goblins have an escape tunnel, then poofing one into existence because the players caught you flat-footed is just as much of a cheat as what Chuck is doing.
My suggestion: Ask yourself what percent of goblin tunnels are dead ends. Just take a random guess at the odds for what feels right, then roll some dice and live with the result.
If the players come up with a plan and you reflexively negate their efforts with your world-creating powers, the players will notice. Over time, they’ll notice how every NPC seems to COINCIDENTALLY have exactly the right tool to foil their plans, the guards always anticipate their moves, and ambushers will always know where where to find them. This is really bad for the world because it replaces the in-universe player characters vs. villains conflict with the real-world players vs. GM, and that’s when it stops being fun.
Railroading them into doing all the fights you have planned isn’t any better than railroading them through the story you have planned. If they’re routing around your fights and then getting bored because of the lack of fights then yes, maybe you need to do a little cheating to save them from themselves.
On the other hand, if the players enjoy two weeks of imaginary camping and are having a good time, you don’t need to punish them. People are having fun. Mission accomplished. Don’t mess that up!
Grand Theft Auto Retrospective
This series began as a cheap little 2D overhead game and grew into the most profitable entertainment product ever made. I have a love / hate relationship with the series.
Batman: Arkham City
A look back at one of my favorite games. The gameplay was stellar, but the underlying story was clumsy and oddly constructed.
A look back at Star Trek, from the Original Series to the Abrams Reboot.
Trashing the Heap
What does it mean when a program crashes, and why does it happen?
A Star is Born
Remember the superhero MMO from 2009? Neither does anyone else. It was dumb. So dumb I was compelled to write this.