Note: This post originally appeared in 2010 here. This will never not be true. Players are animals. Do you have this problem? I’d love to hear your take in the comments!
It’s a frequent problem I’ve experienced in games I’ve run and, from actual play posts and podcasts I’ve seen around the internet, a problem seen elsewhere as well: that of the PCs destroying everything they lay eyes on.
You’ve seen it: the players going around breaking open every box in the basement of a manor because they’re sure there’s some “sweet lootz” hidden somewhere, knocking over chairs and tables in a castle as they fight a monster without regard for the fact that that chair was over 3000 years old and was priceless, or even, as above, tearing up tapestries to take down enemies just because “it would be so cool!”
In my own games, the worst offender would be Bridget. Originally playing an Eladrin Wizard, she was a big fan of “Thunderwave” and always described it when she would attack as buckling the cobblestones and tiles as the wave rippled forward, smashing apart everything on its way to taking down a group of Kobold minions. She would also often steal chairs to fit into her Bag of Holding so she could pull it out in any fight and stand on it to gain combat advantage.
Dale was also pretty bad. He would use almost any piece of furniture in a room to take down an enemy. Nothing not nailed down (and some things that were) was safe from his Minotaur’s crushing grasp.
Even in games of D20 Modern I’ve ran it’s been a problem. A magic shop in Seattle? Every ancient book was destroyed as they hunted a wary goblin. A goblin!
It’s funny, because our group is careful not to accidentally kill innocent NPCs. Bridget and Samaira would get very upset when peasants held at knife point would get killed by violent orcs.
And yet they never cared about the destruction of personal property, or the fact that, very likely, them destroying a merchant’s shop would probably leave him destitute and living on the street.
How about you? Have you ever had an issue with your PCs destroying all they survey?