It’s Complicated

One of the hallmarks of any D&D game that I have run, and most every story I have written, is that there seems to be an awful lot going on. It is never a straight-forward quest or simple endeavor. Players looking for a “let’s go kill an ogre” style game are instead subjected to “let’s go kill an ogre, uncover a smuggling ring dealing in illicit undergarments, find out that there is a mad wizard contolling the ogre, get chased into a halfling ambush, and then stumble across a haunted coin purse” adventure. And on top of it all at no point is it ever revealed that the adventure is shifting from one goal to the next because things appear to be connected even when they aren’t. The fact that the orc warrior outside of town is wearing pants, and the mayor of that same town is also wearing pants, does not mean the two fellows are in cahoots. They might be, but the players will have to have more evidence than pants.

In a video game this is solved easily because the clues are practically color coordinated. To kill the lich, follow the green clues. To defeat the dragon, follow the yellow clues. To spawn endless hordes of goblins in order to make easy money, then follow the orange clues. This is why D&D is superior in all aspects to anything computer driven or designed. New stories can be added in, mixed about, and red herrings sprinkled about with glee. Simple stories can be resolved rather quickly, but they do not offer the rich texture and amazing stories that a more complex story can offer. So, I choose complicated narratives. I might befuddle my players every now and then, but nobody spends much time complaining about nothing interesting happening. When you can spend three and a half hours exploring the denizens of a seedy bar, and get no further than one additional upstairs room, you’ve got something going for you. Just keep an eye on anyone wearing pants.