Monday, March 19, 2012

Reverse Dungeoneering #16 - 101 DM Tips (Part 7)


61) Learn to hold back your best.
If you utilize all of your best ideas in one campaign then you have no steam to go on for anything after that. Sometimes it's better to save amazing ideas for the right moment rather than be wasteful.

62) No need for the kitchen sink.
This goes hand in hand with trying to burn yourself out with tossing all of your best ideas. Not every campaign needs to have everything in it including the kitchen sink. Sometimes just running off of a single theme can easily be enough to generate an entire massive campaign.

63) The dice are not the law.
Don't get so wrapped up in what the dice tell you. You're the DM. You can make exceptions. I've literally rolled five 20's in a row before. If I didn't botch that on purpose, my players would all be dead thanks to luck rather than their skill as gamers. The same goes for the dice your players are rolling. I've had a player roll five 1's in a row. Don't make it a habit but you're allowed to change the outcome of what the dice tell you.

64) Mix elements.
There is nothing wrong with mixing two different aspects of the game to create something interesting. For example, what if you mixed puzzles and a powerful creature together to create a puzzle boss? It certainly worked out for Shadow of the Colossus and Legend of Zelda so I don't see why you can't do the same.

65) Hand them the microphone.
There are times when you simply need to give players their own moment or time to shine. Even if it's something as simple as letting them describe their own cutscene when they kill an enemy or something as elaborate as getting their own story-arc in the campaign.

66) Backstory is less important than you think.
You could have pages of backstory on a particular character and it wouldn't make them anymore interesting than a blank slate if the character didn't have an interesting goal, personality, and/or view on life. It's not the backstory that makes the character, item, or location. It's what you do with that backstory and how it affects the current state of that person or thing.

67) Play with genres.
I have to interrupt myself and mention that we use the term genre incorrectly but for the sake of understanding what the heck I'm saying, I'm going to use it the way we're all used to. Want to run a horror campaign? Maybe a mystery? A romantic comedy (yeah it's possible, trust me)? Go for it.

68) Play with expectations.
Maybe the dragon doesn't actually want to eat the group. Perhaps this ogre is a brilliant scholar. Maybe fighting your way out of this battle just isn't the way to go and you could talk things out. Maybe the heartless villain turns out to have such a legitimate reason for doing what he's doing that the group decides they should just help him out instead. Play with your group's expectations.

69) Actually read the DMG.
90% of the questions I get asked I've been able to answer by referencing a section in the DMG. Now given, this may be edition specific as I personally feel that the 3rd edition DMG was pretty awful and useless whereas the 4th edition DMG is incredible in comparison. You'd be surprised how many people play D&D without touching a single book.

70) Learn from other games.
You can learn a ton from other games and gaming systems. You won't always be able to utilize what you've learned but they can at the very least give you a fresh perspective. When you are able to utilize what you've learned then those can form some truly golden moments.

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