When you look for tips and advice as a Game Master it is often best to look at the strategy’s used by great story tellers. In the realm of storytelling, Pixar is a giant. They have their fingers on the pulse of how to tell a story and make a wide audience become invested in the story’s they are telling. So when Pixar lays out their 22 rules, it would be a good thing as a GM to look them over and see if you can apply any of their rules to your game. Today I will look at Rule #1 and offer some thoughts on how it can apply to role-playing games.
#1 You admire a character for trying more then for their successes
So how can we apply this to the games we run. First we have to understand that our characters can and will fail. Next when they fail we need to address their failures. If you hand wave every failure you are left with failure only carrying the weight of math and bad dice rolls. If failure comes with cost then characters can find growth even in failing in your games.
We play RPG’s for a several reasons. Number one being they are fun. But deeper then that it is because they are a challenge. The characters journey to overcome obstacles laid out before them is what makes a game memorable. If the path is too easy and if there is no danger or chance of failure we rapidly become bored with the story. If the story is too difficult we become frustrated. So as a Game Master we need to strike the balance between the two and create a challenging environment for the story to be told in. While providing the opportunity for character development and growth at failures instead of hand waving them and moving the game along.
Why is this a good rule to bring to our table? It is our job as Game Masters to tell the story of the world around the players. It is the players job to play their characters in the world. When you put that player in situations where they can fail you give your players agency to develop their character. Give your players any and all opportunity to develop their characters. After all if you are playing games like D&D they might be stuck for several sessions in a dungeon crawl and have limited chances for character development.