Tuesday, May 21, 2013

And now for a moment

I've copied and pasted todays article directly from "Until the Next Encounter The Dungeon Master Experience".  I think its a great article with good advice (although, I'm fully planning to violate number 6, by providing a meal to my players, that is themed to the country that the players are visiting.  No pepsi and doritos here).

began writing this column two years ago, at the urging of friends and colleagues who felt I had a lot to say about DMing. Turns out they were right. The trick was to find things to say that (a) haven't already been said ad nauseum in books, blogs, and other works, and (b) foster intelligent discourse on the art of Dungeon Mastering. By pulling examples from my home campaign, I've tried to share the lessons I've learned from my own successes and failures. Having now written over one hundred articles on the subject, I feel the time is right to highlight several key bits of advice — things I consider important above all others — for readers who don't have the wherewithal to read every installment of The Dungeon Master Experience that has come before.
Without further adieu . . .

Lessons Learned

Here's my Top 10 list of DM tips in no particular order.
1. Honor the social contract. If your players are behind you and behind the game, do them the service of running the campaign fair and square.
2. Forget what the rules say about building encounters. A rollercoaster needs peaks and valleys to be fun. Design encounters that you think your players will enjoy. Easy encounters can be just as fun and memorable as hard ones, and a TPK doesn't have to spell the end of the campaign.
3. Look to storytelling giants for inspiration. I'm not talking about other DMs, but rather actors, writers, and directors with a gift for storytelling. In previous articles, I've shared several of my great inspirations. What are yours?
4. Think of three big stories. Make them the pillars of your campaign. Let the PCs' actions and decisions determine which of these stories becomes important, but keep the other stories moving forward to make your world feel alive.
5. Record everything that happens. If a player says something clever, write it down. If you name a tavern or NPC on the fly, write it down. If the session ends with one character lying face down in a pool of blood with two failed death saves, write that down, too. Don't trust your memory; it will betray you.
6. Let the players bring the food. You have plenty of other things to worry about.
7. Do what you must to keep the campaign alive. Sometimes that means swapping out players from time to time. Surround yourself with supportive players, and they'll keep the campaign alive for you. Other times that means ditching storylines that aren't going anywhere and taking the plot in a new direction.
8. Lighten up. It's a game. If you and your players aren't having fun, you're doing something wrong. Don't let the campaign get too dark. D&D offers a welcome reprieve from the doldrums of the real world — or at least it should.
9. Don't forget to roleplay. It's a roleplaying game. Get into character. Practice your funny voices. Usually I urge people to be themselves behind the screen, but don't pass up a chance to be someone else for five minutes.
10. Don't be afraid. Tell your story, let the players tell their stories, and make the most of it. Pull out the big guns, aim high, and don't let up. Not everything will be perfect, but every game session is a new chance to get it right. The only thing you have to fear is running out of ideas, and that will never happen.
There you have it.

1 comment:

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