December 30, 2019

The Importance of Consequences in Tabletop RPGs

Today’s #newbieTuesday post is all about the nature and importance of consequences in tabletop role playing games (TTRPGs).

TTRPGs are a vehicle for people to play stories, to be able to be characters who live and participate in a vibrant story world. The ups and downs, the trials and tribulations of stories are their beating heart. The struggle is part of what defines the protagonists, antagonists, antiheroes, and the flock of peripheral characters. Each choice, each action carries weight; some small and others massive.

Would you read a book or watch a movie where choices had literally no meaning? No consequences good and bad (unless that was the whole point of the story)? Even One Punch Man, a story of a man who is so powerful he can defeat any foe with a single punch, is a story with consequences.

Players, new and experienced, should be seeking TTRPG stories rich in choice and consequence. We should be challenged with those choices and their consequences given weight to give those decisions meaning and purpose. If we receive rewards/treasure/loot, it should most oftentimes be a byproduct of great play, great decision making, and maybe even some great dice rolling.

Players who have their characters act in a story world as if they were gods with no repercussions for their actions confuse me. If you want a “God Sandbox” world that’s fine; but I can’t imagine the vast majority of TTRPG players truly want worlds where nothing bad could ever happen to them no matter how ridiculous their decisions and actions.

Depth, nuance, and investment in a story stems from the characters’ struggle. So new players, my advice this week is: don’t expect the world to be handed to you on a silver platter; instead, enjoy spending time with your friends in another world as you find a way to accomplished whatever it is you set out to do!