I'm on a blog-question-answering spree. Let's do this.
1. What's in the abandoned pantry? Mouldering bread, some fuzzy pickles in a revoltingly-colored jar, and a very large centipede.
2. Magister in the morning? He's still in bed with his husband. If the players were to wake him, he would draw the bedsheet around him and furiously point out that he has business hours in the coutrthouse, and the importance of following the gods-be-damned PROCEDURE for once instead of interrupting his home life.
3. Blue hair? I'd ask them why they want it, and work out a solution from there. Is it a motivation to emulate a pop culture character? A cry for individuality? Are they an artist who would find that fun to draw? Whatever the source of desire is, we can address it directly.
4. Description? When I describe things at the table, I tend to go for more "novel-esque" sensory detail in my description, leaving out some details to be discovered in play.. As the mid-afternoon sunlight filters through the verdant leaves, you see a vine-choked marble structure gleaming in front of you. The angular blocks imply dwarvish architecture, but the flowing dome and compact size show the structure to be a shrine. In the center, a small basin is filled with crystal clear water. Standing in front of the basin, wielding a massive golden spear, is a serpentine figure, flames curling off of its crimson scales. The salamander doesn't seem to have noticed you, what do you do?
5. "It's too tough"? If they need something in it, I remind them of their objective. "How badly do you want the Orb of Aggimoto?" Or some information they're forgetting. "Remember, you can get up to the balcony if you have a way to avoid the Ropecutter Hawks, and make your way around the basilisk den." If they're in the dungeon without a clear idea of purpose, I'd let them leave and explore other things. Usually my players don't back down- when you use the Timer Threat Treat method, you usually introduce enough variables into every combat for players to make sense of it all and triumph in the end.
6. Speak with Insects? In the moment, I defer to the player who wants to speak to the spider, because that sounds reasonable to me, and I'd rather reward them using their creative/roleplay abilities than hamper them with rules. I'd set the protester to look up the rule for next time to see what the book says, but I'd be willing to override it for the good of the table and that player's fun. Rules serve the game, not the other way around.
Try your hand at the Orthodoxies, and see what patterns emerge. Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.
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