RPG-a-Day 13: Flood

Today’s prompt for RPG-a-Day is ‘Flood’.

Once, way back, I was GMing and improvising the scenario for a group of fellow computer science students — people from different parts of the country, who all ended up in Nijmegen at the university. I told them that they came to a river, and they started to plan how to cross it. I made the mistake to not clearly communicate the situation (even if the players don’t ask, the GM should always provide any pertinent information that their characters could see, and I didn’t) so they started working from their own images of what a river would be.
To me, a river is a small affair of a few meters wide, like in the village I grew up in. With a few long sticks you could build a makeshift bridge and cross. Most of the players were doing exactly that. But one guy was totally not on board with any of those attempts, and he blocked the progress quite decisively. Until one of the players expected something was up, and asked how wide the river was.
That’s when the one guy stopped the game, and told me: “Hey, you said ‘river’. It’s great you grew up in a village with a river of only a few meters wide, but I grew up in Nijmegen. To me, when someone says ‘river’, I think of the Waal!” The Waal is the busiest river in the Netherlands, and is about 425 meters wide at Nijmegen…
I learned a lesson about being a GM that day!

3 thoughts on “RPG-a-Day 13: Flood

  1. Haha, nice! You could also assumptions like that quite playfully, I’d wager. There’s quite a difference in saying that there is a hairy four-legged beast with sharp teeth who’s brought his head low to the ground, eyeing you directly, and saying that you see a dog, wagging its tail and doing a play-bow to you.

  2. It could be interesting to play with the characters’ perception that way, if they had a pre-existing phobia for dogs, for instance (though they probably would recognize a dog if they saw one).
    In general, the players are dependent on the GM to experience the world. I feel very strongly (after many lessons learned…) that the GM should be immediately forthcoming with any information that would be immediately apparent to the character. Worst case is that the information is behind a skill check (“You notice herb X growing here, which probably means…”).
    I mean, who has time for passive-aggressive bullshit games that make mundane descriptions a ‘gotcha’!?

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