Part of the reality that we weave around ourselves when we play D&D is accepting the consequences of bad decisions or mistakes. The “Golden Gods” moment is a moment in the playing of a session where a person forgets the limitations imposed on the world by the rules. The act according to instinct or make a rash decision because it’s just make believe.
The best way to remind player’s of their character’s mortality is by enacting the consequences of these moments when they happen. For example, in my last campaign my character, Aleera, faced one of these moments. The party and a small group of children had been trapped in a windmill belonging to a trio of evil hags. They were plumping up the children for their magical cakes. We were at the top of the mill and a fire was raging in the floors below, slowly climbing to the final floor.
The escape was pretty much set up. A rope was tied off to allow us to climb down and other means were being used to get the children down. As the last of the hags was scrambling to catch us my turn came up. Instead of thinking and using the items at my disposal, I made Aleera jump out of the window of a three story mill. As if I could survive that. We were pretty low level, having just started the campaign, and I did not have the health points necessary to survive a thirty foot drop.
This was a moment when, in the heat of battle, I just blanked and did the most instinctual thing to do. In times like these the consequences of our actions can really be made clear to the player. I was rendered unconscious when I fell and could have died if the damage had reached a certain threshold. You have time to think in these situations and keeping a clearer head can help you avoid making these mistakes.
“Golden God” moments can be helpful for growth, reinforcing the reality of your world, and encouraging players to treat their characters more like people in a real world. I’ve written about how the reality of the world makes the game more immersive for the players and this is just one of the mechanics that help shape the reality of the adventure for the players.
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