D&D 5E Dirty Secrets?

My dirtiest secret?

My players have no idea that I run narrative combat. They think the monsters have HP, but I make them die whenever it's dramatically appropriate. They think the monsters roll to attack them, but the monsters hit whenever I feel like. They think I roll damage, but the monsters deal whatever damage I think is reasonable. They think the monsters roll saving throws, but I have them succeed or fail based on how good party morale is. Sometimes I roll dice and nod meaningfully at them. It doesn't mean a thing.

What is your dirtiest secret at the gaming table?
 

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wedgeski

Adventurer
Great thread! Welcome to the board, but OMG you're gonna get lynched by the various factions from the Fudging threads. :)

I think the dirtiest secret I keep is the extreme stress that DM'ing sometimes causes me. When I run shoddy, badly-prepared sessions, it can put me in a bad mood for days on end.
 


Chaosmancer

Legend
I'm not sure if it is a secret, but I'm often totally unprepared for a session. I've had quite a few games where I show up and have no idea what we're going to do at all.
 


Li Shenron

Legend
My dirtiest secret?

My players have no idea that I run narrative combat. They think the monsters have HP, but I make them die whenever it's dramatically appropriate. They think the monsters roll to attack them, but the monsters hit whenever I feel like. They think I roll damage, but the monsters deal whatever damage I think is reasonable. They think the monsters roll saving throws, but I have them succeed or fail based on how good party morale is. Sometimes I roll dice and nod meaningfully at them. It doesn't mean a thing.

If it works for you, just keep going :) Usually I am skeptic of such approach, because I don't generally think that anyone is skilled enough to make railroaded drama be actually 'better' than random. On the contrary, it risks being more predictable and thus less thrilling (at least for an oldie like me who's seen the same dynamic in thousands of movie, and now rarely enjoy action movies anymore...)

What is your dirtiest secret at the gaming table?

Probably the fact that I let players think I have secrets, while in truth I don't have any :D
 

Ezequielramone

Explorer
My secret is that I love when my cat suddenly attacks my player for no reason and without warning, like a sneak attack. It brings stress to the table. This bring us to my second "not so secret" secret: I don't want my players to have a "funny" time, I want them to suffer, to be stressed, I want them to fear for their character's life. Having playing Dragon Age taught me that real adventures are dangerous and deadly. I have fun only with real adventures, "funny" is not fun for me, pain and despair are.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
My dirtiest secret?

My players have no idea that I run narrative combat. They think the monsters have HP, but I make them die whenever it's dramatically appropriate. They think the monsters roll to attack them, but the monsters hit whenever I feel like. They think I roll damage, but the monsters deal whatever damage I think is reasonable. They think the monsters roll saving throws, but I have them succeed or fail based on how good party morale is. Sometimes I roll dice and nod meaningfully at them. It doesn't mean a thing.

What is your dirtiest secret at the gaming table?

This is by and large my style as well; I use die rolls as guides, but the ultimate call is mine. This is why I play D&D instead of video games. I can make stuff up and make it work - I am not limited to what another writer could think of.

My dirty secret: like many others here, it seems, I rarely prepare much for a session past having a general outline of events.
 


ad_hoc

(he/they)
My dirtiest secret?

My players have no idea that I run narrative combat. They think the monsters have HP, but I make them die whenever it's dramatically appropriate. They think the monsters roll to attack them, but the monsters hit whenever I feel like. They think I roll damage, but the monsters deal whatever damage I think is reasonable. They think the monsters roll saving throws, but I have them succeed or fail based on how good party morale is. Sometimes I roll dice and nod meaningfully at them. It doesn't mean a thing.

What is your dirtiest secret at the gaming table?

Deceiving people like that is a pretty :):):):):):) thing to do.

Further doing it because you believe it to be in their best interest because you know best is condescending and arrogant.

There is nothing wrong with playing Magical Tea Party and there are plenty of games designed around that. Why not remove the deception and play one of those games?
 


ChrisCarlson

First Post
Mine is that I try to present a front to my players that I am a cool cucumber with everything under control and that I know exactly what I'm doing. Oh, how wrong that usually is.
 

GameOgre

Adventurer
My dirty secret is that I really like the player characters and do not want them to die. I keep the illusion going that I like to kill PC's as if It gives me DM Creed with my fellow DM's. I run the game as slightly antagonistic while in reality I am a pushover and love to see the pc's beat the crap out of my favorite npc's and villains.



I really love it when they are in a (unbeatable) situation and then they think outside the box and find that one thing the godlike genius 5,000 year old lich didn't think of and trash him. I like to look stricken and flip through my notes in frustration (like I really have pages and pages of things the lich did think of)and disgust and then weakly try and negate the idea with a weak reason why it wouldn't work and see that gleam in their eyes and let them provide work arounds and reasons why I am wrong.
 
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Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
My dirty secret is that I really like the player characters and do not want them to die. I keep the illusion going that I like to kill PC's as if It gives me DM Creed with my fellow DM's. I run the game as slightly antagonistic while in reality I am a pushover and love to see the pc's beat the crap out of my favorite npc's and villains.



I really love it when they are in a (unbeatable) situation and then they think outside the box and find that one thing the godlike genius 5,000 year old lich didn't think of and trash him. I like to look stricken and flip through my notes in frustration (like I really have pages and pages of things the lich did think of)and disgust and then weakly try and negate the idea with a weak reason why it wouldn't work and see that gleam in their eyes and let them provide work arounds and reasons why I am wrong.

Ultimately, that should be the dirtiest "secret" of them all: we are all on the same team, looking to tell a good story.
 

AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
I think the closest thing I have to a dirty secret is that I don't care when a campaign stops - I've got (sometimes literally) dozens of other ideas in mind for other campaigns and for a variety of game systems, plus a shelf full of board and card games for the rare occasion that I can't just toss the players some fresh character sheets and start up something else should a campaign end.

I've been intentionally eliminating all my secrets as a DM for about a decade now because I realized that not one of the typical DM secrets was actually doing anything for me.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
My dirtiest secret as a DM is that I lay pipe and throw out clues all the time and a lot of the time I have no idea how I'm eventually going to use it. Big campaign arcs I start with ideas but it's not until the campaign has been going for a while that I have a stronger feel for what the players and characters are actually interested in (which can vary from our pre-campaign talks) and things will transmogrify around the story the players are interested in. Then I can really tie in those early bit on what they "actually mean".

For example I ran a seven year 3.5 campaign with a lot of mythic overtones including a strong "the land is the king / the king is the land" sort of Fisher King / Tim Power's "Last Call", with a seemingly political pawn used to reunite a split empire actually being an ancient doppleganger-type that was born before the gods but since was "unfinished" never received any gifts. It saw all of creation as it's rightful domain. But in addition to that when they found the millennium-old king from the lost lands they had come from, trapped in the faerie courts and transformed into a jester, one of the player got him lucid and his blessing as heir and went on to assume responsibility for all the peoples of the land to become king. So the campaign took a turn in a place I never expected as the players explored this, doing things like freeing the lesser giants from the fist of the fire giant overlords in order to protect them as people, etc.
 





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