This past weekend during my home 5e game, I threw something in a dungeon I never had before: a deva. Depending on your game and edition of the game, this is an angelic outsider or celestial. It was standing in the room with a curtain for a door. The characters listened at the door and (somehow) the cleric got the highest roll. I described the sound of large, feathery wings. The barbarian peaked around the curtain; before she got a description of what she saw, I terrified the group by making her roll a Charisma save. She passed and I described it as her being able to hold back the tears of joy for seeing such a calming and wonderful sight.
I put it in there to give them something different: hope. All too often, we gamers just see problems in the next room. Literally, I’ve heard players cringe before opening the next door. Everything is doom and gloom. New horrors are behind every single door. So this time, I gave them a reason to hope. He healed their wounds and spoke some kind words to them. But mostly, just seeing that there is good still in the world was a breath of fresh air to the players.
This wasn’t just for the characters but also for the players. We’ve been living under quarantine for a year now. Playing in a regular D&D game has helped keep us connected to other people and kill evil things. However, it is easy to get discouraged and see nothing but doom and gloom. So I added the deva as a way for them to offer them rest. The group seemed to relax when they first saw it. There seemed to be a tension break at that moment. I think it helped their characters as well as the players.
How Can You Use That in Your Game?
The short answer is put in a non-combat encounter that doesn’t want or ask anything from them. Monsters need killing. Innocents need rescuing. Masses need rescuing. Everywhere the characters go, something is asked of them. Instead, let them role play with something that not only asks nothing of them but also gives to them. And I’m not talking treasure. Give them a reason to hope.
What are some examples? Well, you can steal my idea and have them talk to an angel they’re sworn to protect a location. If they’re in a ruin, perhaps they find a fountain still flowing water that heals those that drink it (1/person per day) that also keeps evil creatures away, affording them a safe place to rest for the night. Maybe a forgotten shrine to a deity one of the character’s worship that is other than the cleric.
Add in a moment of happiness to your game.