That "no in-town adventures" boundary came about as a result of adopting Ben Robbin's "West Marches" campaign style. I bought it whole-cloth, including the "You must begin/end in civilization" and "No in-town adventures - civilization is boring - wilderness is exciting!" themes. I'm extremely up front about that in my player handouts and game introductions.
|No capes! And no in-town adventures, dah'ling! Too ordinary!|
Someone asked me "why" the restriction and it's a fair/good question. The best answer I can come up with is that I find them incredibly boring.
"But Michael!" you may gasp (and I've been asked in same emails). "What if the players want it!? What if they DEMAND it?!"
Simple. I would say "No."
Well, why I would do something that I have absolutely no interest in? Why would I waste their time and mine? Why is there the expectation that the DM is someone who simply supplies entertainment on demand (I really wanted to put "is supposed to be a whore?" here, but figured that would distract some. Wait, I did it. Oops...) to the players who are within their rights to expect whatever they want.
Crazy, right? I see this all over the place though - DMs who think that they have to do XYZ, or that the player's fun should come at the expense of the DM's fun. Bullshit.
Now I am clear and up front about what I will and won't do. I don't bait and switch and even if a long-running player got pissed and threatened to leave unless I provide an in-town adventure.. well... sorry man, thought it would work out, hope you find a game you can enjoy. That's not to say that I don't appreciate player input, that we don't discuss rules, that I ignore player requests or feelings. At the same time, I've got my own ya-yas. I've got what works for me and I know what doesn't work and trust me, an intrigue-filled, plot-rich mystery of Lord So-in-so who may be a vampire in the Enonian Keep zzzzzzZZZZzzzzz... huh? Wha'? Let me know what's beyond the woods over to the east in the wilderness. I may spend 10 days hex wandering, but by god I'm filling in my map and making plans for my keep to go there, my village to go there and I'll move those goblins right the fuck out! See? I'm cursing and getting all excited about the prospect. (Now you know why I needed 29,000odd hexes...)
Look, this isn't a post about why in-town scenarios suck. It's a post that says you as the DM have every right to run, to enjoy, to demand a game that you like as much as you try to provide a game that other people like. I know that in Chicago, I am extremely lucky to have a big population and lots of opportunties. I have a pool of players that enjoy the kind of game I run, that enjoy the way I do things. Not everyone has that... but in consideration, if I were in a player-poor environment, I still would not run in-town scenarios. Why would I play basketball if I suck at it and don't like it? Answer, I wouldn't. I'm not a masochist, emotional or otherwise. I'm not doing this to be of service to everyone else. I'm doing this to share what I do enjoy, to be with like-minded people and to have awesome games doing it.
So it's OK to say "no". It's OK to tell the players "you can't" and it's OK to set limits, boundaries and edges. Just be up front, be clear and be consistent. Be prepared to wow them with what you CAN do, with what you WANT to do and let the love of THAT shine through and you won't get asked for the things you don't want to do.