We’re only human and sometimes we make mistakes. DMs might muddle up initiative order or something just as easy but more serious like forget to act as a helpful NPC or confuse the effects of aggressive magic. It happens.
As a rule players are generally good at coping when the DM fesses up to a mistake, but not always, and when it happens it may threaten the suspension of disbelief. The question therefore becomes ‘What do you do as a DM when you realise you’ve made a terrible call?’
That was discussed in this RPG group with lots of responses. I’ve tallied up the responses, paraphrasing all the comments into roughly grouped themes and adding up all the agreements. Is this what you would have expected?
Roughly speaking the responses can be grouped into the following categories; offer a total retcon, talk to the players, agree a solution and promise to do better next time, roll with it and see where it goes, have an NPC do something nifty or an event to pull bacon out of the fire, fudge future dice rolls to balance the game, stick by the call as much as I can but admit I messed up and laugh it off.
I don’t think there is a wrong answer here but this sometime-DM is surprised that the straight out retcon comes so high up. It’s been my experienced that most unexpected twists can be fixed and explains but perhaps we’re now into debating what a ‘terrible call’ might be. The DM’s response may also vary depending on how combat heavy or linear the game is.
Which would you pick?
Image by Blazie Panda.