Gaming Clichés to Avoid

We covered one of Dungeon and Dragon’s biggest clichés, starting your adventure in a Tavern, in one of our recent blogs.

Adding well-worn roleplaying clichés to your game can do more harm than good so we thought that In this blog we’d look at five-character clichés that you might want to avoid in your campaigns.


1) Good vs. Evil

The good guys fight for truth, justice, and honour; the bad guys fight for greed, self-gain, and the general misery of others.  The good guys want the world to be a better place for everyone and the bad guys want the world to bow down and do your bidding.

Characters that are too one-dimensional, rather they seek to make a positive impact or negative impact on the world, just don’t stand up well during the course of a roleplaying campaign. They can quickly become boring and players will lose interest and respect for them quickly.

Even the most righteous and honourable characters will have experienced moments of weakness and doubt in their past and gone astray.  Oppositely, even the most despicable and devious of characters may have acted as a constructive force at some point. 

Keep your heroes and your villains flexible and diverse.


2) The Villain Has No Back Story

This is Mr. Villain and he is the worst person alive. He is never going to stop until he has the fate of the world in the palm of his hand, and all of you are dead. Why is he doing this? Because he’s the villain, that’s why!

It is important that just as much work and effort should be spent on the villains as the players put into their characters.  Motivations are a big part of that. How did Mr. Villain get to where he is? Did someone he love die? Is he being forced to do it by some other person or power?

The more time spent making Mr. Villain richer and more detailed will make your players respect and perhaps even fear him more. 

And even you, as the DM and creator, might find that your character is quite who you supposed him to be. 


3) The Heroes Win, Again

When the heroes ride into battle everyone they fight dies and the heroes emerge victoriously. 

The words defeat, setback, loss, retreat, withdraw, and failure have no meaning for them because they are heroes.

If your heroes never experience a serious downfall, how can their final victory have real meaning? Heroes of both fiction and reality only become great after suffering tremendous loss. It is precisely because they are able to achieve great things despite their setbacks that they are great and this same rule applies to roleplaying characters. 

If you never temper your heroes’ victories with hindrances, you are essentially taking away the satisfaction your players will experience when the moment of victory arrives.


4) Never Break Up The Party

“Never break up the party” is a cliché of roleplaying. There is strength in numbers and dividing the group makes them all easier to kill. 

Yes it can get complicated if two players are drinking at the inn, while two others go off to purchase horses, and two others decide to start a fight with some street thieves, and multiple side quests can make it difficult to untangle situations. 

But to not allow a bit of separation from time to time is confining and can cause the players to feel less empowered in a game where choice and freewill are supposed to be a high priority. Allow separation to happen when it seems natural and don’t be afraid of putting a few players “on pause” while you deal with individual quests.


5) All’s Well That Ends Well

We know that no matter what happens everything will work out in the end. After all, heroes always win; see #3 above.

This is probably the hardest cliché to break. No one wants to end their adventure or campaign on a sour note-- who wants to put dozens of hours into a game that you’ll eventually lose?

It’s almost inconceivable that the story should end any other way but consider it!  There are ways this could be done. What if, after a devastating loss, the sons, daughters, and relatives of the fallen rise to avenge their deaths? What if the defeat and death of a group of heroes lead to the creation of villains to take their place or vice versa? Or perhaps it might be possible to pull some kind of twist ending in the vein of “Lost” or the “The Sixth Sense”.

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