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Chapter 1: Gamemastery Basics / General Advice / Stakes and Consequences

Failing Forward

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 8
An unexpected failure can bring the game to a halt, particularly during exploration. “Failing forward” means finding a way to progress the story instead of just saying, “That didn’t work.” This doesn’t mean that the group can’t fail, or that the PCs should get what they wanted despite failing. Rather, it means that a failure might still impart more information, reveal a way to improve their chances next time, or even cause unforeseen difficulties. Doing so means the player’s choice to attempt a check mattered, even if the results weren’t what they wanted. Allowing the PCs to fail forward means fewer dead ends and perfunctory checks. It’s important however, not to put unnecessary pressure on yourself to do so all the time. Sometimes you won’t know immediately how a PC can fail forward, and in those cases, it’s usually best to just move on.