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I'm GMing a game right now, and I've run across a bit of a trilemma. It also is an example of different valid approaches to how to play a role-playing game, and I thought there might be some interesting discussion.
Here's the situation (simplified and modified for the boards): The PCs have been tracking down a Magic MacGuffin that generates monsters. They've come across the building which houses it.
They've decided to rest for the night before going in.
This means that monsters will be generated during the night. [The monsters now being generated are intelligent and organized, so they won't wander about randomly, waking up parties of PCs that happen to be nearby.] I need to decide how to handle it. Here are the three choices I see:
- Keep the encounter exactly as I had planned it in the first place.
- Use the game mechanics of the system, and the information I have sketched out for the MacGuffin, to determine how many enemies come out.
- Decide based on fun (including what might make a better story) how many enemies come out.
The main advantage of the first is that it's less work for me. But it leaves me with the feeling that I'm making the players' choices not mean anything.
The main disadvantage of the second is that the result will be unpredictable: it could end up much more dangerous that what I had originally planned, even unbeatable, or even slightly weaker than I planned.
The main disadvantage of the third is that trying to determine what would be the most fun is very difficult. Also, it feels artificial if I make sure the final result is something they'll be able to handle.
So, what should I do? Make it easy on myself and not change anything? Use the rules previously decided and let the dice fall where they may? Carefully craft what I think will be the most entertaining experience for the players?
I know people will have differing opinions on this, and I'd like to hear them all. I also know that there's no wrong way to go. But I think seeing a variety of viewpoints on this will help me make a better decision.