Just say, "Yes!"

The Power of "Yes" in Role-Playing: Elevating Your Game to Legendary Status!
Dungeon Mastering advice from Ben Loomes the creator of Syrinscape

DM Advice from Ben Loomes

Ahoy, Dungeon Masters and fellow tabletop tacticians! It's time to delve into the secret arsenal of gaming mastery, and I'm not talking about a new set of polyhedral dice (though that might be nice too). I'm talking about the simplest, most powerful word in your vocabulary: "Yes." To "Just say, yes" isn't just advice; it's the golden rule for generating the stories that will have your players reminiscing for years.

Picture This: You're around a table, the air thick with anticipation. You've got everything worked out. You know which way the adventure is going to go. You've prepared fully statted out monsters, NPCs with solid descriptions, everything ready. Then partway into the evening's play, a player's eyes sparkle—they've got a wild, cinematic idea that's so 'out there', it just might work. It might, in fact, cheat you out of your plans, head the adventure off in a whole direction you never planned. What do you do? I say you embrace it. Just say, "Yes!" Sure, you can toss in a twist with a "Yes... but!" or a dramatic "Yes... and!" Even a cautious "Yes... and are you really, really sure?" But the point is, open the door to the possibility your player might have just had the most awesome idea ever.

Why a "Yes" Can Change Everything:

  • Collaboration: Remember, role-playing games are a team sport, a blend of minds that can outshine any solo act. Five minds thinking creatively together are almost always going to come up with better ideas than just one alone.
  • Narrative Control to the Player: giving your players (at least a degree) of narrative control in the story will help them to feel invested, responsible, appreciated and included in the story you are all telling together.
  • Creativity: When players know their ideas have wings, they soar. The creativity multiplies, and soon, you're swimming in a sea of narrative riches.
  • Memorable Moments: Saying "Yes" crafts tales worthy of the bards, the kind that cling to the heart and spark laughter years down the line, and more likely than not the players will still give you the central credit for the way things turned out, even if it was one of their ideas that really made things sing!
Ben says Yes to Murray of the Dicestormers

How to Harness the Yes in Your Campaign:

  1. The Cinematic Yes: Player pitches a stunt that screams epic? Drop a "Yes" bomb on it. If it doesn't derail the train, let it ride the rails directly to glory. No dice roll needed—if it's cool, it works. Seriously, let me make that clear... do NOT make them roll. Just say, "Yes!" Your players will think you are the best Game Master ever!
  2. Yes with a Side Serve of Consequence: Sometimes, a "Yes" needs seasoning. "Yes... but!" adds a dash of spice, a challenge to sweeten the victory, or maybe a complication to set the stage for future adventures. It will also help to remind your players that they can't just bypass every challenge you set with something simple and silly.
  3. Yes as an Improv Tool: Just like in the spotlight of an improv theatre, "Yes" can help to keep the narrative flowing. Ask for more details. Get the player who came up with the idea OR another player to narrate the results. If you've managed to build enough respect and trust at the table, you'll be able to rely on your players to blend the idea properly into the story as everyone currently understands it. Everyone builds on the foundation laid before them, weaving a tale richer than any pre-written script.
  4. The Player-Driven Plot Twist: Embrace it when players throw you curveballs that even you didn't see coming. I love nothing more than when I have set up a whole lot of clues which I THOUGHT led somewhere fairly obvious, and suddenly a player's eyes light up and they, "Oh. My. God..! X is actually X's X and has been hiding it the whole time?!?! Right?!?!?!" Even though that was NEVER my idea in the first place, if it actually makes more sense than what I HAD planned, it actually probably IS something that leads more logically on from where everyone has found themselves. Not only will the story be better, but the players will be patting themselves on the back for working our your dastardly plan for ages!
  5. The Self-Inflicted "Yes": If you give your players enough free breaks from their good ideas, before too long, you'll be able to rely on them to come up with their character's trials and tribulations as well. Good stories aren't just made up of the lead characters winning easily all the time, and if it's clear everyone is responsible for creating the best story possible, pretty soon your players will be on board crafting an epic legend with you, with a good dose of trials and tragedies built in.
So there you have it, the not-so-secret ingredient for a truly immersive and collaborative experience. When your players look back on their quests, they won't just recall the dragons they slew or the dungeons they plundered. They'll remember the moments you said "Yes," and how it helped to transform the game into a true adventure.

So, Dungeon Masters, next session, lean in, listen, and liberally lace your responses with "Yes." Then, watch as your tabletop tales grow into something truly transcendent. And when your players tell stories of their escapades, they'll say, "That campaign? It was legendary, in no small, part because our DM said 'Yes.'"

Benjamin Loomes is the CEO and creator of Syrinscape:
Embrace the heart-pounding echoes of Syrinscape, the quintessential tabletop RPG music app that scores your stories with unparalleled auditory flair.

"Syrinscape not only heightens my gameplay but has enveloped my gaming group in a soundtrack that feels like it's ripped from the pages of our adventure—truly transformative!"