Unless I’ve been reading the wrong kind of fiction my whole life, it’s my job to battle against the odds. As one of the big damn heroes of the multiverse, I’m supposed to man the walls of the Hornburg, drive straight through those bastards from The Citadel, and hold the hot gates no matter what. Sometimes though, when the goblins have rusty knives and I’ve got the weapons of the gods, it begins to feel a bit unfair.

This came up recently in my dragon riders game. The gold dragon PC–ostensibly a creature of purity and justice–had managed to get herself into a duel with a treacherous nobleman. There was a great deal of concern about whether or not the nobleman would try to cheat, applying fire resistance and similar buffs. As I sat there watching my honorable musketeer-type PCs spying, preparing to dispel enemy magic, and generally plotting ways that they could cheat without cheating, I began to feel a little sympathy for the devil. I mean, when you’re a dragon wearing a cloak of resistance, an amulet of mighty fists, and a custom breathe-fire-more-times-per-day necklace, things begin to feel a bit stacked in your favor.

Maybe it’s just my ludonarrative dissonance acting up, but I’m beginning to get the feeling that, when the odds are actually stacked in my favor, I’m something less than a hero. I may just be a self-righteous bully. What’s the alternative though? If you design a 50/50 chance for the PCs to lose any given fight, I don’t think your game is going to survive for long. Still, I’m pretty sure that this brand of are-we-the-baddies? unease is not the sort of thing game designers are trying to make me feel.

Do you guys ever worry about this? When you’re loaded down with buffs and weapons and special abilities that make you mechanically superior to the opposition, do you ever struggle to maintain that sense of heroism? Or am I just navel-gazing here? Let’s hear it in the comments!