I am the Labyrinth Lord, or Dungeon Master, or Game Master or what have you, of two games. I have one player who responds to every situation this way. They know who they are. On the one hand, it’s gratifying that someone is so immersed in the world you’re creating to ask so many questions. The drawback is that exploring and fleshing out these world-building elements can make creatures you were trying to make unambiguously evil more sympathetic. There’s a reason why we don’t see Stormtroopers’ faces, why they wear those big impersonal helmets. It anonymises and dehumanises them, in a good way. Because a stormtrooper on screen is not supposed to represent a character, they represent an idea: fascism, the forces of evil. The audience feels good about the heroes mowing them down because they’re not people at all. You don’t, you’re not supposed to, think about an individual stormtrooper’s dreams of asking Jaina in magnetic shielding out on a date, of settling down and having kids, retiring on planet Byss and maybe starting that restaurant he always talked about. The genre is fun action-adventure, we don’t want to think about these details because it’s a real bummer. But in a tabletop roleplaying game, where every player can go anywhere, do anything, ask any question, talk to anybody, things can drift into some moral grey areas pretty quickly. Everyone wants to fight an owlbear, nobody wants to find the nest of owlbear eggs afterwards. The solution is as straightforward as it is difficult: reward the players for doing what you want them to do, don’t reward them for things you don’t want them to do. Answer every question but put more details into the answers that help to paint the world you want to create, give the game the tone you want it to have, be it morally grey and ambiguous, swash-buckling adventure or action comedy.

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