Every good Dungeons and Dragons campaign starts in a tavern. No wait! Every good D&D campaign starts in a tavern, and requires you to fight goblins. No sorry, hang on. Every good D&D campaign starts in a tavern, and has goblins who have kidnapped a princess. Wait, I’ve got it! Tavern, goblins, princess, seemingly trustworthy non-player character with a goatee who turns out to be the real villain. And he’s secretly a demon. Demon/vampire.
Every good Dungeons and Dragons campaign contains myriad clichés and tropes; it’s inevitable, and as a Dungeon Master, I’ve been known to liberally lace my campaigns with clichés, if not outright base the campaign on one. By and large, these tropes are so classic that to not include them would be a shame – starting your campaign in a tavern serves a practical purpose, that of an environment to introduce yourself, as well as almost being a tradition. Other tropes, though, are so outdated that whenever I come across them I have to quickly have a lie down in a darkened room, before rewriting the campaign to no longer include a useless, distressed damsel in a tower.
So at what point, then, does a trope go from “classic and campaign enhancing” to “tired and campaign ruining”?