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Dungeon Master Induced Paranoia: The Devil is NOT in the Details

How do you feel when your Dungeon Master hits you with one of these?

"You walk up to the door. Which hand do you use to open it?"

As a Dungeon Master, it's my job to lead everyone at the table through the collaborative story-building chaos-festival process of a D&D session. Making sure everyone has a great time will always be my priority, but I will not lie to the internet and say that there aren't moments just for me. The moments that end up bringing me the most undeserved joy are the ones that stop players in their tracks for absolutely no reason. These are the lines that are delivered casually and shouldn't trigger someone's anxiety. However, something about being asked simple questions in D&D makes a person pause and ponder how things can go wrong.

(Why did he mention the seat cushions were blue?!)

Here are a few examples of some of my favorite paranoia-inducing phrases that have given panic attacks to some of my players (in no particular order):

1. You walk into the dungeon and feel a flash of pain wash over you. UNRELATED, what's your happiest memory?
2. Are you handing your money to the shopkeeper in a manner that could be interpreted as "agressive" in any way?
3. You return the child to their mother. As they're walking away you notice that the child looks more scared than when they were held captive by the Orcs.
4. You're POSITIVE no one suspects that you are in disguise. However, there is a very shifty elderly child in the corner that catches your eye.
5. You rolled an 18? Cool. (Rolls a bunch of dice behind screen)
6. Before the king gives you your reward he asks you... "Would you like your payment in the form of MONEY -or- ...SOMETHING ELSE?"
7. Did anyone use more than one blanket during their long rest?
8. The old lady smiles at you...with all of their mouths.
9. Did I say you finished your long rest?
10. The vampire looks at the party, and with a smile says "Who's daddy will I be today?"

Most people play tabletop games to escape from their realities and face challenges they would never encounter in real life. This means that there will be times when the types of decisions player characters have to make won't be as monumental as facing the dragon or saving the town. Sometimes, they just need to decide should we split the bar tab and who's leaving a tip for the barmaid?

What are some of your favorite paranoia-inducing details to drop in a campaign session? Does your DM regularly play with your party's emotions for their own personal amusement? Let me know!

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Oct 01, 2021

Some of these are just evil!

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