WISH 47: Lessons Learned

Another WISH (WISH 47: Learning Your Lesson) has caught my attention:

Name one lesson you learned in gaming that you will (hopefully) never have to learn again.

I guess I’ve been fortunate; I’ve never experienced the kind of interpersonal conflicts that others described in their responses…

Instead, my biggest lesson has been a game-playing one. In many cases, combat means you’ve failed; all that’s left is damage control. Sure, sometimes you’re there to clear all of the monsters out of a dungeon; hack and slash away in those cases! But sometimes the opponent is bigger/better/stronger than you, and combat will get you killed (or worse, locked away by the city guard :-). With a good game master, shrewd negotiation will get you a better prize than death and destruction. Besides, it’s more fun!

My first experience with this was in my very first adventure, over a decade ago. The party was a group of (low level) outsiders recruited (conscripted?) to solve a murder; since some of the town officials were suspects, the local lord needed outsiders.

The local town council had been around for a long time, and they all knew and trusted each other. We had managed to figure out which ones were guilty, but didn’t have enough hard evidence to convince the others. However, we’d managed to spook them enough that one of the perps attacked us.

During the ensuing melee, the town guard showed up. One of the party turned and fired at them. We were slaughtered.

The DM told us later that if we hadn’t dragged the guard into the combat, they would not have interfered. We would have survived; they would have combined our findings with the evidence they already had, and arrested and convicted the bad guys.

Ever since then, I’ve had a bias towards shooting last, instead of first. You might notice this if you read Adanflaen Nights Alex tends to try to talk her way out of situations. She did that last week when she jumped out of a tree unarmed, instead of shooting from concealment. Of course, she’s not stupid; she never drops her guard, and is perfectly willing to remove someone’s throat when negotiation has failed :-)

posted at 8:36 pm on Tuesday, May 20, 2003 in WISH | Comments (2)


  1. Ginger says:

    I’ve also found it very interesting that so many people have posted meta answers. I didn’t intend for things to go that way despite the fact that I posted a meta lesson myself (and one that encapsulates several other lessons I’ve seen posted).

    I’m glad to see that some people are posting character/play-related lessons.

  2. Arref says:

    That’s a good answer.

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