Feb 25, 2014

Describing What Is In The PCs' Hands At the Start of Encounters

My experience has been that one small point of tablecraft that is often forgotten is asking the PCs what each of them is holding in their hands at the start of encounters, and then at the beginning of each round of combat. Though it seems minor, even trivial, it actually serves to define the immediate tactical options available to the PCs. e.g. whether someone is holding a light source or not, or whether they have their weapon drawn, will tell you some important details about how the round could develop. Asking this question establishes a shared understanding of the conditions which avoids further disputes or confusion later on, as well as making the scene more vivid and easily imagined.

My suggestion to you if you do not already do this is to experiment with doing so (in an orderly manner) in a few sessions and examine the results.