Dungeons & Dragons Online

DMs, turn the bad guys’ “Save or Suck” spells into a storytelling opportunity.

Content of the article: "DMs, turn the bad guys’ “Save or Suck” spells into a storytelling opportunity."

As a DM, I've hated having monsters and NPCs cast Save or Suck (SoS) spells like Hold Person on the party because I felt like I was destroying the players' fun. I feel like I've finally figured out a fix.

The problem: SoS spells are great tactical play. They let the bad guys shut down a dangerous ability and force the party to react creatively. But for the player who gets shut down they are massively unfun. Just got an awesome magic greatsword? Nevermind, you're just standing there captivated by a Hypnotic Pattern.

The solution: Turn SoS into storytelling opportunties. Suppose the evil archmage casts a spell that robs a PC of their next action. As the spell resolves I tell them "The entrancing patterns of the archmage's staff force you into a reverie, reliving a long forgotten memory that becomes suddenly compelling, feeling even more real than the floor your stand on. On your next turn you're going to tell us about the memory you're caught up in." Then, instead of their next turn just being "Whelp I guess I can't do anything." they get to give us an insight into their character's past. They're out of the fight but that doesn't mean they need to be out of the story.

Examples abound. Banishment? Tell me about the pocket dimension you find yourself in. Polymorph? What is it like to be a bat? I feel like it's even fine to reflavour spells to enable this. Hold Person, say. Maybe it doesn't physically lock down all your muscles. Maybe your mind is filled with a horrifying image that makes you unable to move. What is it and why are you so afraid of it?

Read:  One of my PC’s has never killed before, and they want me to use this against them. How could I mess with them?

I've been really excited trying this out with my party, and I think they've enjoyed it too. The core insight that players who are out of the fight should get extra storytelling responsibilities seems quite generally useful as a way of keeping everyone engaged and having fun without limiting the DM's tactical toolkit.

Source: reddit.com

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