Saturday, March 10, 2012

Reverse Dungeoneering #13 - 101 DM Tips (Part 4)

31) Remember that there are other rewards beyond money.
It's easy to get used to just handing out experience points and money as the only rewards in game but there are plenty of other options. Giving titles, land, companions, items, events, etc. can all be other useful things to hand out as a reward to your players.

32) We're standing on the shoulders of giants.
Don't get so wrapped up in trying to be too original. It's okay to borrow good ideas. Much of what human society has become is thanks to standing on the shoulders of giants or else we wouldn't have progressed to where we are. That goes for works of fiction as well. You didn't invent the Dragon but you can utilize that concept in a nearly infinite number of ways. Remember that borrowing is part of good game design as well.

33) Don't plan too far ahead.
Imagine this scenario: you planned way in advance for all kinds of outcomes so that you would be ready for several gaming sessions in a row. You're so glad that all of that work is out of the way because you spent hours upon hours on it. Things are all going according to plan and then your players do something completely unexpected. They did something so out of left field that you're not only unprepared for that outcome but all of that hard work is now garbage because it won't come up in the game at all. Hours of work just got flushed down the toilet. Don't plan that far in advance so you can avoid that kind of nightmare.

34) Reward roleplaying.
It's pretty standard practice to reward the Fighter after he's decapitated a goblin with experience points but what about other aspects of the game? Don't miss the opportunity to reward roleplaying but be careful how you hand out your rewards because that leads to the next tip...

35) Don't reward based solely on the performance.
You don't want to create a prima donna that tries to steal the spotlight. You also don't want to fail to reward roleplaying that isn't seen. For example, let's say you have one character who is casting fantastical spells of glowing energy and describing their powers in detail and then another player at the table is roleplaying an assassin who is the exact opposite. They don't show off and everything they do is quiet and efficient. They're roleplaying their character perfectly and yet I imagine that many Dungeon Masters would accidentally ignore the efforts of the assassin. If they're playing their character the way they intended then that's all that matters.

36) Stick up for your players.
Some players think outside the box and some simply don't. Neither approach is wrong or superior to the other. Both are rather necessary but some players get picked on for what they might be attempting or for a choice they made. Defend your player's choices or else they might be afraid to make a decision in the future.

37) Don't stick to a script.
Never stick to a script. It's great to have an outline of things to keep track of since not everyone has the best memory in the world but if you get too involved in a script of what to say as an NPC then you're going to be lost when a player's character interrupts that NPC of yours or asks them a question. You won't have a line prepared to save you and you're going to have to improvise.

38) Utilize the tools that are out there.
I've mentioned some tools that I utilize in other Reverse Dungeoneering posts but it's useful to know what's out there and what might work for your group. There are initiative trackers that also keep track of status effects and other specifics of each individual character so you don't have to. There are power cards for players, DM screens, and a laundry list of other useful things that just make life easier and gameplay faster.

39) Prepare ahead of time.
Is there a map that needs to be drawn? Then draw it before showing up. Are there multiple floors in that dungeon? Then draw all the maps and lay them on top of one another. Do the monsters need initiative rolled? That can probably be rolled ahead of time. There are tons of things you can be doing before the game even starts that can make things run much more smoothly.

40) Set up ground rules before you begin.
If there are any houserules or simple etiquette rules you want to impose on the game then discuss it before you get the group together to sit down and play. People need to know these things in advance and you may have to deal with the fact that they might not like a particular rule you have set in stone. It's probably a good idea to also be a little open-minded about discussing these rules or even rules that the players themselves want to implement.


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