Pencil and paper role playing games are (in my opinion) the best and most satisfying games to play around. I’m not trying to ruffle fan-boy feathers. Console, PC, and mobile games all have great examples of satisfying game play. But nothing can top the adaptability of a real-life human Dungeon Master (DM) for creative players.
No game on the market today accounts for players going outside of a level’s design. When most unplanned player behavior in video games become known as “Exploits” or “bugs”, outside-of-the-box thinking in a table top game can be rewarded or punished on the spot by a DM. A “good” DM is flexible enough to take a players idea to a logical conclusion. Example: I throw my torch at a creature I covered in flammable material, Result: the creature lights on fire (for extra damage) or explodes (on a really good roll). Another example: During a fight, I throw and climb a rope to a higher platform that an enemy creature has fortified. Result: the enemy cuts the rope off of the platform causing my character attempt to recover gracefully or receive bunch of fall damage (on a poor roll).
The goal, when making a world for players to venture through, is to keep things open-ended enough for players to make meaningful choices. You’re job is to supply the obstacles, rewards, the terrain, etc. In general, a DM is a supplier of nouns-of-adventure where players choose which verbs they want to apply to those nouns. The key to all of table-top fun is in the player’s ability to choose. Having a sense of agency through choice lets players attach to their characters, care about a narrative (even not-so-good ones), and seek closure. If you want to keep playing, never give players closure. Provided you don’t wear them out with bad pacing, they’ll want to keep playing indefinitely. I suppose it also helps if you act out battles, voice the characters, and make detailed drawings and miniatures…
Anywho… Here’s some art I’ve made for a Dungeons & Dragons campaign (4th edition):