That was Rob’s advice for dealing with the Tyranny of Yes, and as always it’s spot on the money.
See, I like failure. I think it builds character and the sense of heroic effort. Probably the most memorable chain of events in my gaming life was kicked off by a colossal failure of judgment on the part of the PCs (okay, truth be told, it was entirely my poor judgment and I somehow convinced the party to go along) which led to a whole mess involving a chaos god and releasing an ancient nether drake and…you know what, let’s just draw the curtain on the whole sordid affair and simply say it was eventful and never again discuss whose fault it was.
ANYWAY yeah, failure that is just failure is stupid and a bummer and grinds play to an unsatisfying halt . Failure with consequences is awesome story fodder. This isn’t a new insight – Paul Tevis had a bit to say on the topic recently, and so has pretty much anybody who has written anything about setting stakes and good use of Skill Challenges. A failed skill check or challenge should never be a “no” or a “try again in 10 minutes”. Unless it’s an absolutely ridiculous request I try to never say an outright “no” to the players but instead to always use the “yes, but.” Again, nothing new here. (more…)