Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Failure is Fun

Christian wrote a great blog a little while ago about The Value of Failure. I always say that it starts with your group. Who you play with and why. You know who in your group will throw a tantrum if the dragon eats their horse or fails a save vs. a fireball and becomes a smoldering pile of ash. It happens and its a game. But we know who can take and who can't. I'm not going to cover convention gaming groups because that is usually a one shot deal and if someone is being a dick you can tell them to sit down shut their yap because you'll probably never see them again.

Our group has through the years seen its share of people who just could not handle failure. It becomes a personal issue and is no longer a game. Oh, the drama. Hopefully you have one person in the group that can smooth out these times. I tend to be that person in our group. Because they are my friends I can tell them to stop being a wank, you had a bad roll your character is dead roll up a better one next time. Hell, I'm on my third.

To me failure is the best part of the game. Recently during a game, my character being an ultra stealthy elf type rolled a '1' during a recon mission. So not only did I slip down the hillside causing a minor avalanche , I landed in the middle of the gigantic orc encampment I was supposed to be 'quietly' observing. Alone. I laughed my ass off as well as the other players. Did I survive? Well kinda sorta, but it doesn't matter because I had fun. The failure made something predictable into something I wasn't expecting. The GM also knows I'll go with anything. Failure is okay with me. If my character gets killed I'm okay with it. Its the dangers of being an adventurer.

Those who take it as a personal insult probably shouldn't be playing the game or playing a different game. You can't be heroic without having to climb out of some pool of crap and surmounting horrible odds. Failures make your characters better...if they survive. If they don't survive hopefully you have a great story about the death. If not, lie. All my character have died heroic deaths in fictional sorta way.

Take a look at the group dynamics and see where your problem areas lie with the players and even the GM. Especially the GM. Cause if he ain't happy he's gonna make sure everyone else ain't either. Players who have problems with failure need to be taught (and I do me taught) that its fine, its fun and its a game to be enjoyed. It takes time, and if you he a friend or relative then its time wells spent. Be patient and lead by example.

Is this where I say, "Thank you, Captain Obvious"?

PS. Added note. Since I am getting Black Ops after work today I am prepared to fail thousands of times and be 'owned'. I do suffer from Turrets Syndrome when I play CoD, but it's all good in the end. :)


  1. One extra large fireball, coming up.

  2. I feel the Same. It's supposed to be dangerous. But I'm practically alone in my group with this point of view. Two enjoy kicking ass and hate hate hate defeat, one will grab his sheets of paper and declare he might as well be going home right now, etc. I don't think they can be taught to enjoy failure. It's just not the game they like and a constant source of friction.

  3. It's tough to have a good game when you have someone like that in the group. I'm a fair GM, but won't tolerate tantrum throwers. Has anyone asked him to go home when he says things like that?

  4. 1- Was running a low level magic camp. and had a freinds friend start to play. Did not know he was a power gamer as well as one who did not like to fail. I had a encounter set up with a stone gaint to get information from him. well he being a power gamed fighter " I'll slay him and hang his head abouve my fireplace" away we went sword-a-swinging. Well 2 misses and a crit and a normal hit from the gaint and he was dead. Have you ever seen it when you take away some little boys favorte fire truck? WHAAAAAAA!!!

    2- I was playing a halfling wizard when we were ambushed at our camp that night. A fireball came rolling into camp and I took alot of damage. My GM asked me on my turn " so, what are you doing?"
    I quickly replyed " I stop, drop and roll, I'm ON FIRE!!!" so i passed on my turn for role playing. lots of fun

  5. I asked a player to leave the game when he accused me of having it out for him. The man simply could not separate what happened to his character from what was happening to him. It was really bizarre.

  6. I have several players like this. In fact, half the group, Every time something doesn't go their way - bam, dice throwing, wailing and gnashing of teeth. I can't tell them to go home. We play at their home :D

    Much as I want to form a "no tantrums" splinter group with the other members, there is just no other viable venue.

  7. I was lucky with our personal games that we didn't have anyone who would have a flip out moment over a failure. We liked the fails in fact. The only think I didn't like out our games was that the DM was kind of tending to his Girl-Friend and lessening the blows of her fails.

    As for death stories, in my first game ever My best friend (who was a bard) messed up badly and ended up pretty much becoming a pile of acidic goo. The DM at the time liked to roll a d100 to determine how epic your death would be. He rolled a 100 and decided to declare that "He rises from the goo not as a Bard, but as a Barbarian". Best Death ever.

  8. Good post...something I've been trying to say in so many ways lately over on my own blog post.

    You know, it's funny...when I play and kill my PC, I generally blame my own stupidity or lack of imagination...not the DM. I look for players with the same attitude; it makes for a better game.
    : )