There are a couple of “gotchas” in the Essentials Starter Set choose-your-own-adventure – non-heroic options that lead you only to a reprimand. If, during the goblin attack, you choose to hide, the game tells you that “hiding from danger is not the sort of thing that most characters in heroic fantasy do!”. If, during the alignment section, you choose evil, you’re told that evil characters can “disrupt the adventuring party and, frankly, make other players angry at you.” If you opt not to accept the merchant’s request to recover his goods from the goblin, you’re reminded that
When you’re playing in a group, your Dungeon Master will often present adventure “hooks” to you very much like this situation. The DM has an adventure planned, and is looking for a way to draw you into the adventure, to get you to the dungeon where the adventure will unfold. If you willfully walk away from those hooks, you’re making the game less fun for everyone, including yourself.
Each of these admonitions puts me in mind of times I violated these rules. I’ve played cowards who flee adventure. I’ve played in evil parties. I’ve gone off the rails. Each of these has led to some great game sessions.
This is a starter set, though, and these three pieces of advice are totally appropriate here. Playing cowards, villains, and disruptive characters can be fun, but that’s something to explore after you’ve played some straight-ahead adventures. First things first: let’s save the world.