I know it looks like I’m talking to myself, but the players in my campaign do actually give me live feedback even if they don’t comment here. The feedback I got after the last post is worthy of further comment.
I was told that perhaps the party doesn’t follow hints, or suggestions by NPCs, because the last time they accepted an invitation by an NPC it resulted in the deaths of half the party. That’s certainly an understandable concern. In retrospect, what was at the bottom of the dungeon under the thieves’ guild--and I won’t reveal what it was--probably would have killed them. The fact that players are thinking about this is very encouraging to me. It measn that they have enough invested that they want to preserve the lives of their characters even at the risk of missing opportunities. This is a good start, but I still have a long way to go as a DM.
Something I want players to realise is that it doesn’t matter to me which course of action is pursued. As I said, every time we don’t use something, it goes onto the shelf where it might provide inspiration for something else in future. There is simply no way the party is going to enter or even find every dungeon I design, and no one should expect them to. If I were to allow my attachment to a particular locale or character to force the party to interact with it, this would be tantamount to railroading. In the game as in life, there will be missed opportunities--either for riches or destruction, or both.
I was asked how the party are supposed to know if a particular character or event is important. The answer is that they can’t. Even I don’t know.
One thing I understand but am slow to implement is that there might sometimes be a facile victory. You might even find a cache of treasure in the woods and be able to pick it up with no physical or legal consequences. It is possible, but it’s as improbable in the game world as it is in the real world, which is why it hasn’t happened yet...at least as far as I remember. But it might.
The dice fall where they will, the world is vast, and when you take up the job of adventurer you must cast aside all illusions of safety. Dig deeper and you find more. What’s there is there; the DM does not balance encounters. The world may be your urinal, but it is not concerned for your security. And yet it possesses untold glory for those brave enough to seek it and cunning or lucky enough to survive.
Think about it.