A lot of my early gaming experience — and based on anecdotal evidence, a lot of other folks’ early gaming experience — conspired to teach me this lesson: When in doubt, hit it.

It’s amazing how often this works, partly because players have learned that it works, and partly because GMs have learned that it works (sometimes as players, in fact).

And because it’s often more interesting than the alternative (talking to it, for instance).

For example:

  • When you can just tell that NPC is going to betray the party, do unto him first (just in case).
  • Not sure that strange creature you just spotted is hostile? Hit it anyway.
  • As prisoners, those orcs will just slow you down…
  • Unknown blip on the radar screen? Warm up the photon torpedoes.

Sometimes this approach fits the game perfectly, and sometimes it doesn’t. In the latter case, I’ve seen games bend to make it fit (and bent games to make it fit myself), which generally isn’t a good thing.

The fact that it’s commonplace often makes certain types of games tough to run well, and some genres much trickier to pull off than they should be.

At least to me, it looks like a vicious circle. The question is, as a GM, how much of that vicious circle is your responsibility?