Sometimes you think that the situation you’re setting up is painfully obvious and impossible to screw up. I could present my players with an open window to enter through, and they’d end up blowing up the building instead. It’s a common theme in most DnD games where players will throw endless curve balls at the DM, but I’d like to tell you about a more recent example of their… “creativity.”
One of my players has chosen to be a thief, but more of a Robin Hood figure than some common criminal. Sure, that sounds great. Recently he found that some rich folks were throwing a party on the top floor of a manor. Guards wouldn’t allow him upstairs because they’re good at their jobs. Denied access, he decided to scout around to see if there was a point of ingress. “You see a man in a suit, visibly drunk, stumble his way down the stairs from the fancy party, and into a room that says ‘gentlemen’ on it,” I said. “He is roughly your same build and almost looks identical to you, except he’s got a cool mustache,” I continued on, hoping to see some Hitman styled shenanigans.
Before I go on, I’m not trying to dictate what my players do. I just like putting these opportunities in front of them in case they found themselves stumped.
“I’m going to head into the bathroom,” he said. Great, this is gonna happen, I can’t wait to see how this goes. “I’m going to get into the stall next to him,” he continued on. Okay, not what I was expecting, but yeah, this could work. What happened next will bewilder me till my last gasping breath.
He decided to fashion a fishing hook out of string (just the string, no actual hook), and try to fish something out of the man’s pocket. The dice rolled, and like the pro fisherman he apparently is, he snatched up a pocket watch out of this pooping man’s pants. “Not sure how that helps you get into the party upstairs, but okay,” I said, remembering that he was supposed to be this altruistic thief.
Then he just left.
He skulked his way into the kitchen where a dumbwaiter was, and used that to get upstairs, where he got into even more nonsense. Things involving beating up a chef, stealing HIS clothes, and talking to a character who is now apparently a big shot in my world, about plot points I haven’t written.
My player might be the biggest moron in the world, or some mega-genius who is thinking 10 steps ahead of me at all times. I really don’t know anymore. The moral of the story is that if you’re going to be a DM, learn how to improvise.