The Most Important Word in Gaming

What is the most important word in gaming?

Yes.

Most of us already know that if the group or one of its members comes up with some improbable plan and asks if it’s possible, the proper answer (unless you have Very Good Metaphysical Reasons Why It Cannot Possibly Work) is yes. Granted, it’s yes with strings attached, a lot of strings, but it’s still a yes; they’re more interesting than just saying no.

But there are other uses, or should we say other yeses?

Want to avoid a line of questioning? Take that whole “Do you know…?” or “Can you tell me…?” or anything of that sort—the kinds of things that are intended to bring on a proper answer, and respond, “Yes.”

And with “X or y?” questions, whatever they happen to be. “Which one did you mean?” “Do you want this or that?” “Are we dealing with one of these, or one of those?”

“Yes.” Extra credit if the question was about Something Bad Happening.

What about tempting fate, with questions like “He’s standing behind me, isn’t he?”, “She’s still alive, isn’t she?” and “We’re in trouble, right?”

Yes. Where else would they be?

It doesn’t always have to be to their detriment, even if it’s more amusing watching them squirm. “Do we get to find out more about this story element?” “Are we ever going to see this character again?” “You think I might be able to explore this hook point I left dangling from the character so conveniently so you’d take it and run with it?” “Does anyone in this city try to talk to me?” “Is there a chance that I could find someone who could teach me to do [insert Really Nifty Thing here]?”

Yes.

Then there’s the prosaic. “Does this roll make it?”

Yes. (Assuming the roll actually does, anyway. Not that certain systems don’t occasionally let you succeed anyway and just make the rest of life awkward for you.)

And knowing when to stop at yes has its own power. Someone asks a question that’s heavily loaded with potential trouble, something they’re bound to want supporting explanation on, to expect it, but all they ask is “Is this happening?” or the like. Sure, what they want to hear is a full-on explanation. But what’s all you need to say?

Yes.

It’s a word for every occasion, one with every meaning, helpful and frustrating and a relief and a cause for concern all at the same time. It’s almost as short as they come, but can say far more than should fit into one syllable. And no matter who they are, all GMs should keep it in their vocabulary.

Have you had any other uses for the word?

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