Perceived Inconsequentiality (Part 2)
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This is part two on my brief series regarding Perceived Inconsequentiality.
If you haven't read Part 1, please click here.

In the last part, I discussed a few examples of Perceived Inconsequentiality. Here, I will discuss what types of players are more at risk.

Bluntness warning!

Alternate title: "Listen up, Snowflake."

The types of people who come into tabletop gaming run the gamut from seasoned tabletop veterans like myself and Fox to inexperienced new players. Of course, new players are more at risk in the current era of falling into the trap of thinking, "I can do anything I want, and there's nothing anyone can do to stop me!" This comes from an overexposure to video games. In a recent discussion I had with Fox, he expressed the following:

You know, I try my hardest to make the world as realistic as possible, right down to the point that the world is alive around the players. This doesn't just mean that certain NPCs follow scripted schedules to be at certain locations at certain times, but I mean really alive. Think of it this way, if Skyrim were a tabletop game, most players would still be fucking about in Whiterun and just running around doing fuck-all while Paarthurnax is like, "Well, I guess my Chosen One is a lazy fucker. Oh well! I guess I gotta fly my ass down from my holy fucking mountain and take care of shit myself, and if I see that little bastard, I'm gonna eat him. Alduin, here I come!"

It's unrealistic that fucking questlines wait for the players! Take GTA for example. You fail a mission, you get to restart the fucking mission! There's no punishment there! No penalty! If this were real life, I couldn't jump out of a plane at 41,000 feet without a parachute, make a decent crater, and be fucking fine after a day in the fucking hospital. Fuck that! Or take Skyrim again for example. These catastrophic battles just appear when its scripted to the player's actions, not the game's internal timeline.

There's one game that actually did it right. In the game Albion, if you waited too long, even by a margin of seven days in-game, the plot moves forward without you and makes the final predicaments much more developed and difficult. There is a point where it can become downright impossible!

In my games if someone commits a murder, there's a chance that the investigation will lead right to the party, but it would take time. That's the kind of realism I'm talking about.

The thing is that newcomers to tabletop gaming are usually quite heavily influenced by video gaming, and the mentality of that is quite hard to break. So, when something happens in a tabletop game that is realistic but wouldn't happen in a video game, these players will resort to the mentality of, "It's not fair!"

No, you're thinking unrealistically.

Video games tend to reinforce the Snowflake mentality. What I mean by that is making every player feel special by allowing them to make their characters into these god-like beings who become, essentially, unstoppable, rewarding the player's every action (Achievement Unlocked: You've watched the opening cinematic! Feel special now, because it's all downhill from here, you lazy bag of crap!), or doesn't actually punish the player for their negative actions (Achievement Unlocked: You've slaughtered an entire village, but we're going to give you a fucking cookie anyway!).

Gamers from the video gaming world will never fully get used to the fact that things actually happen. Realistic things happen. That golden dagger that you found lying at the bottom of a cave pond? Yeah, that was actually someone's bonded weapon and the pond was a material component to a warding ritual. Conglaturation, dickbag, you've just given a serial killer his dagger back. The following is an actual exchange between myself and one of my Monday Night D&D players:

Player: But you didn't tell us that it was for a bad guy!
DM: You wouldn't have known that.
Player: Well, if you didn't want us to have it, then why'd you give it to us in the first place?
DM: I didn't. It happened to be where you were because of its own circumstances, such as who it belonged to, what the owner did with it, how it was handled by whoever took it from the owner, and other circumstances that led the dagger from being in Kibarth to this specific cave six days north of Kibarth.
Player: Then why didn't you indicate to us that we weren't supposed to touch it?
DM: Because you wouldn't have known that.
Player: But that's not really fair! You presented it as a treasure of some sort! You even mentioned that it appears to be made of gold with a glistening diamond embedded in the center of the crossguard!
DM: Actually it is fair. By its description, you assumed that it was a treasure, magical item, or something of high value. I presented it as your character would have seen it. Golden dagger. Glistening diamond. Bottom of a pond in a dank cave.
Player: But that sounds like a treasure!

And so on…

That player was then convinced that it was an important quest item and halted everyone's story progression and forced them to search for the wielder of the golden dagger with the diamond in the crossguard. They went all the way back to Kibarth and searched every single person they could find. Didn't find it, though. The players got pissed off at him, he got pissed off at me, and I just wanted to move the story along.

The guards attacked his character for harassing an entire town about something so inane. This player was booted from the table after accusing me of being an unfair DM and continuing to argue about me giving him something and taking it away. We walked his character according to our established rule:

You quit the table or get booted for violating our rules, your character becomes possessed by Lithraz (Goddess of the Lost. Neutral Evil.), gains a little extra power, and fights the party.

The last thing he said to me on his way out was, "This is why I fucking play Skyrim! This sort of shit doesn't happen in Skyrim!" Then enjoy your stagnant story, Snowflake.

Thank you for reading Part 2. In the next part, I will discuss how to break away from the god-mentality and, thus, break the cycle of Perceived Inconsequentiality.


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