This character was a hit with the other players primarily because I played it like some kind of Baltimore doesn’t like you either baltimore Maryland shirt wood golem version of Abathur from Starcraft 2. It was focused purely on improvement; acquisition of new magics, acquisition of new schematics for articulation of joints or wood treatment processes to increase hardness of its blade hands, acquisition of political capital with those who had the resources and connections to provide further insight into how to self-improve, etc etc etc. This is why it was a rogue, after all. Assassination-for-hire can be lucrative and connect you with all of the right people. It was entirely indifferent to the plight of every living thing except: 1) Druids, as it maintained a deep and abiding affection for the druid that it had spent its first two centuries standing guardian over, 2) other Awakened creatures/plants, as it knew the pain and confusion that comes from being Rebirthed as a sentient object even when the Father-who-hath-Wrought-You is loving and kind, and 3) domestic house-cats, because it thought tiny fuzzy unstoppable murder factories were hilarious in concept and adorable in execution.
A trick I use to respond to these surprise actions by my players on the Baltimore doesn’t like you either baltimore Maryland shirt is to build up a library of narrative templates in my head. You do that by reading, watching and enjoying tons of fantasy shows and storylines. And even non-fantasy ones. I can’t count how many times I ripped off the dialogue and characters from an anime, a K-Drama, video game or an American TV show to retrofit into the campaign on a moment’s notice. Keep watching, reading and playing tons of fiction, it will build your DM Vocabulary greatly. A huge benefit to this approach is that you don’t spend dozens of hours designing an encounter and a boss enemy, only for the players to derail it through clever thinking or extremely lucky dice rolling, and watching all your hard work go up in smoke.
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Now, not every game need be a grand epic. I have another buddy who runs “beer and pretzels” games, which are high-octane, simple but fun plot games. But we’re still in charge of the Baltimore doesn’t like you either baltimore Maryland shirt , we just know what we’re likely to be presented with. Listen to your players. Solicit feedback after each session to see what’s working and what isn’t. Early in my current game, my players weren’t happy with how the game and I handled overland travel, so I wrote up an new way to handle it, specifically trying to give them as much control as possible, and we’re all happier with the new method.
The family has moved into their own home now, an older home (still nice, but no high ceilings and not many elf hiding places!), and the children have both multiplied AND grown older, taller, and Baltimore doesn’t like you either baltimore Maryland shirt. The Elf game is now the bane of the mom’s existence. Hiding it is a task. Several times this year, the Elf hasn’t had to go back to Santa because the kids were SO good the day before, thus explaining why he remained in the exact same hiding spot as the previous day. One evening, the mom is flustered. She finally hands the Elf to the dad and says, you hide the #%)(#^# elf today, but hide it high, because Big M is testing the waters and going to touch the #%(^#^ thing.” Dad’s answer is less than ideal – not only is the perch precarious, but it’s easily within reach of at least the oldest child, if not the second oldest as well. And it’s possible the elf is also judging the thermostat temp, which is an ongoing passive aggressive battle between mom (who sits at home and freezes all day) and dad (who pays the bills, but also works in his nice warm office all day).