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Murphy’s Law – RPG edition!

Written by Maikl - Published on May 6, 2008

Most DMs know (from experience) Murphy’s Law.  It states that if anything can go wrong, it will.  These Murphy’s Laws of roleplaying games are brought to you by Maikl of RPG Thoughts, and confirm the inevitability of some things in RPGs, as suggested by yours truly (Immutable D&D Laws) and Stupid Ranger (Some things are inevitable).

  1. The time you spent on preparing a  scene is inversely proportional
    to the time it will last during the actual game.
  2. Players stupidity raises proportionally to the number of hints you give them.
  3. The players will remember all the in-game mechanics as long as they
    are not invented by you.
  4. There is always at least one pencil, dice or character sheet missing.
  5. If nothing is missing, one of the players is going to be late.
  6. The chance that someone will forget about a session raises with the
    number of reminders.
  7. No reminders does not guarantee everyone will be present.
  8. Players will always try to kill the friendliest NPC.
  9. If the game goes smoothly and without any problems, it means you
    have lost some of your notes.
  10. If a fight runs smoothly it means your session is not going the way
    you planned.
  11. In the room you are playing it is always too warm or too cold.
  12. All the mechanics seem quick and simple until the time they are used.
  13. The rulebook is full of useful hints, rules and tables except the
    ones you are looking for.
  14. The number of great props is inversely proportional to players’
    involvement in the game.
  15. GM’s involvement in the session is inversely proportional to
    players’ involvement.
  16. Players’ opinion about the session has nothing to do with the
    quality of adventure and storytelling.
  17. Players’ opinion is based on number of XP and chips.
  18. There are two kinds of gaming tables you can use: too big and too small.
  19. You can never sit in a way to see all the players.
  20. Changing the way you are sitting only makes the situation worse.

How has disaster struck your gaming sessions?  Leave a comment!

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22 Responses to “Murphy’s Law – RPG edition!”
  1. Adrian says:

    One for those of us doing long distance gaming… Skype will always drop out at the most inopportune moment.

  2. greywulf says:

    Excellent stuff. All very true! :)

  3. Yax says:

    I especially like the “if the fight runs smoothly you’re in trouble”. It’s so hard to guess the difficulty of an encounter sometimes.

  4. Johnnay says:

    What about this one: A DM who plans only for the worse – because of the murphys law – will see his game run smoothly, which he is not prepared for.

  5. Mrs L says:

    The only person with a house big enough for the group will have a pet that someone in the group is deathly allergic to.

  6. Micah says:

    For the session when you plan a very personal adventure dealing with one particular PC’s backstory…he will call and say he can’t make it…at the last minute.

  7. Sandrinnad says:

    nice! and true…. especially #2 & #18 :D

    can I add: The players wil engage _everyone_ in conversation except the person with the information….who they will kill.

  8. Maikl says:

    Glad you like them. Keep more laws coming!

  9. Hoss99 says:

    If there is a empty cave with nothing of interest players will spend hours exploring it for hidden doors or traps. While if the cave is important and full of stuff they will skip it all together.

  10. Yax says:

    @Hoss99: So true. It hurts.

  11. Windwaker says:

    I was in a game at my friends house and we searched for a Holy Sword in purple worm puke, as opposed to the sacred altar directly behind us. The DM got frustrated and just stuck the sword in the puke. :)

  12. Kane says:

    “you spend hours coming up with a very cool “hook” to introduce a new character/player into a long standing group, only to have this person never show up again for your game.”

  13. Michelle says:

    our past session went like this:

    character camp out for the night. one pc goes for more firewood on his first shift night watch, only to disturb a badger in the process (note: all char. are 1st lvl.) that PC tries to fight off the 1/2 CR badger only to have his ass totally handed to him (thanks low rolls) and reduce him to 1 HP before nailing the badger. the following day….all 3 PCs disturb a family of wild boar and badger boy gets killed in the ensuing battle..

    ….didnt see THAT coming ;P

  14. Yax says:

    Badger and boars. Gotta love the first level experience!

  15. Maikl says:

    I enjoy Orcs’ 1d12 axes on lvl. 1 :)

  16. Yax says:

    Enjoy? You must be an evil DM!

  17. jdFritz says:

    “The implausible red herring inevitably catches more attention than the realistic, straight forward clue.”

  18. Nash Knight says:

    lol I wrote something like this a looong time ago when I was a yang and happy DM. Note that we played 2nd Ed.

    1. No matter how much time you spend creating the session, you will forget something.
    2. No matter how detailed your map is, the players won’t understand something.
    3. To 90% of the adults AD&D is a “satanic ritual”.
    4. There’s 90% chance that one or more players won’t be able to come to the session.
    5. If all the players come to the session, the DM won’t come.
    6. If all the players and the DM can come, they won’t have the place to play.
    7. If all the players and the DM can come, and they have the place to play, one of them will have to leave early.
    8. There’s no such thing as “enough dice”.
    9. No matter how much snacks and drinks you buy, there will not be enough.
    10. No matter how much snack you eat, you will still be hungry.
    11. If the drink is spilled, it’s spilled on the character sheet.
    12. You always have to go to the toilet in the most important moment.
    13. If the die rolls off the table, it will roll high.
    14. …and the DM will not accept it.
    15. When you roll your prime perquisite statistic, you will roll the minimum value (so you don’t re-roll), but not a point more.
    16. 90% of all critical hits actually do only 2 damage.
    17. No. 16 doesn’t apply on enemy critical hits.
    18. No matter what level you are, the bartender/blacksmith can always kick your butt.
    19. If you wear heavy armor, the campaign will be set on a boat.
    20. “Hide in shadows” fails only when you are directly behind the enemy.
    21. Climbing checks fail only on the last 10 of 100 meters of the mountain/wall.
    22. All the NPCs you try to steal from are actually retired 20th level adventurers.
    23. …and they are broke.
    24. Although you can disarm the trap, you cannot take it with you (or at least one part of it).
    25. All skeletons in the world are animated.
    26. All corpses in the world are animated.
    27. One good deed deserves a prison.
    28. According to players around the world, there at least 1000000 abandoned temples in Forgotten Realms only.
    29. Same for abandoned castles.
    30. No matter what non-weapon proficiencies you chose, the DM will make them useless.
    31. Animal training is not as cool as it sounds.
    32. Wizard’s of the first 5 levels only use is to add color to the party.
    33. Dragons and +3 items are non-existing during the first 10 levels, and then they tend to appear everywhere and all the time.
    34. Quarterstaffs are good firewood.
    35. …and that’s about their only use.
    36. Sewers are a natural habitat to 90% of all evil beings.
    37. According to DMs around the world, most rangers don’t actually like forests.
    38. 90% of all bandit groups consist of at least one ogre/bugbear/giant.
    39. Even after 1000 years, all traps in a dungeon are still functional.
    40. Priest robes make good bandages.
    41. …and that’s about their only use.
    42. There is no such thing as “one goblin”.
    43. Same for orcs.
    44. Actually, that applies to 90% of evil creatures.
    45. Caravan’s primary use is to attract robbers, so you can rob them.
    46. If it contains three or more gems, it’s cursed.
    47. If it’s a scull and it contains three or more gems, you are dead.
    48. There’s no such thing as “treasure heap in an empty room”.
    49. Enemies have unlimited supplies of ammo.
    50. If it does 1d n damage, it does 1 damage.
    51. Except when used by enemy.
    52. If it heals 1d n hps, it heals 1 hp.
    53. Except when used by enemy.
    54. Female player’s character advance much slower then male player’s character.
    55. Except if she’s DMs girlfriend.
    56. Magic resistance works only on beneficial spells.
    57. Everyone end up in the Abyss sooner or later.
    58. Gods aren’t immortal although they believe so.
    59. Fireball and lightning bolt are more harmful than useful.
    60. Wizards need several years to learn no. 59.
    61. …and it’s usually when they kill themselves with it.
    62. Wild mages live shortly.
    63. Psionic is a cool class, especially if DM doesn’t know much about them.
    64. Elves have pointy ears, dwarves have pointy spears.
    65. Vorpal sword are cool, until you make a critical miss.
    66. Female AD&D players are rarer than gold dragons.
    67. Female AD&D DMs are fictional beings.
    68. 90% of female characters end up being raped.
    69. …50% of them by an ogre/bugbear/giant.

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