Day 13: Describe a game experience that changed how you play.
Growing up, D&D was much more of an adversarial game — DM vs Player, sometimes Player vs Player. It wasn’t necessarily how I ran my games, but there was a bit of that element to sessions I orchestrated. It was the Gygax style. The modules were designed that way. That type of thinking was fostered and encouraged.
I slowly tried to edge further and further away from that mind-set, but I recall a session in the late 80s that was a tipping point for me. I found myself punishing players, often times for performing perfectly reasonable actions, for no other reason than it was ingrained into my way of thinking.
This one particular night, eight of us were crowded around the small dining table in our basement apartment. We were in the thick of a campaign, inspired quite heavily, to be honest, by Darkwalker of Moonshea.
The adventuring party had traveled overland, on horseback, when they stumbled upon a cave. Tying their horses up, they entered, exploring the complex and battling a fair number of underdark denizens.
Upon returning to the surface, all their mounts had been killed by goblins.
There was no reason for me to have done that other than to be cruel, to punish them for… what exactly? For daring to own a horse? For going into a dangerous lair, and survive, only to be stranded without transport.
One player in particular had roleplayed her ass-off with her horse — naming it, taking time to feed it, bath it, brush it. And I killed it.
That game was the last straw for me. I felt bad for weeks afterward. that session killed the last smidgen of adversarial DM that lingered in me and I am thankful for it.