Adventurer Guilds are much on my mind these days. That’s because my long-running megadungeon campaign just created one.

The circumstances that lead to the formation of the Delvers Union were bizarre, and pretty dang unforeseeable. My players had encountered a tribe of cave-dwelling hill giants down on level 10 of the dungeon, and wonder of wonders they decided to negotiate rather than fight. They proved themselves to the tribe, traded favors with them, and the gnome alchemist even became godfather to a hill giant infant (he named him ‘Stinky.’) When they returned several sessions later to find their adoptive tribe massacred, they put one and one together and realized it was the anti-party that did the deed.

Furious with their ‘friendly rivals,’ they confronted them at the local inn back in town. Taken aback, the rival party responded with, “Well how were we to know? They’re evil bloody giants then, aren’t they? It’s not like we have badges to identify ourselves to one another’s allies.” And that throwaway line caused a light bulb to pop on over my players’ heads.

After four years IRL and 12 levels of play they finally looked at the anti-party, the various low-level parties running around town, and the increasingly hostile town council (“Monsters followed you back to town and wrecked up the place again!?”) and realized they needed to organize.

It was weirdly satisfying watching the players run their own session. They invited the various NPCs to the table, laid out a dues system, and began plotting ways to get their own representative elected to the town council. They even began to talk about designs for membership badges. It was one of those sessions with zero combat and much talking, and I haven’t seen my players so energized in months.

As a GM, I sometimes like to think of myself as a storyteller. That’s not exactly right though, because the campaign isn’t exactly my story. I watched my players get an awful lot of joy from creating something for themselves, and I was proud that I helped to set up the circumstances that lead to that kind of enthusiasm. The longer I play, the more I realize it is the job of the GM to provide an interesting situation rather than tell an interesting story. As it turns out, the story is what happens when the players pick up the narrative and begin playing with it for themselves.

Question of the day then. Have you as a player ever created some original story element that managed to surprise your GM? Perhaps it was an organization, a new spell or magic item, or maybe even a homebrew race or class? What was it?