Ashly Burch asks how can we encourage conflict without derailing the story? Tabletop tips from an anxious GM

How do you stimulate conflicts within a party that do not derail the story or lead to hurt feelings? There will almost always be character conflicts, and that’s because people are different by nature. Everyone has their own personal compass that guides them, and no compass is exactly the same. It’s no different with fictional characters. As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression—a combination not ideal for a journalist or game master juggling seven different players in a six-hour Dungeons & Dragons game—it’s hard to put yourself out there, especially if you’re risk hurting another player outside the game.

I had the chance to interview Ashly Burch (Aloy in .) Horizon Forbidden WestTiny Tina in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands), and I couldn’t pass up the chance to talk about D&D and TTRPGs. In this week’s column featuring tabletop tips from a fearful GM (all of which can be found on our Do not disturb tips hub), I’ll answer a question from Ashly Burch herself.