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D&D New DM help


Transcendence

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Hello everyone, I am in need of some tips that will help put me on the road to becoming a good DM.

 

I would like to say that this is my first time being a DM for D&D (paper pencil), though my I have DMed for a computer game called NeverWinterNights and did a really good job, though I am aware that DMing on a computer game and Paper pencil is drastically differnt.

 

Essentially, I just need some basic and some advanced tips on DMing, and would appreciate it if anyone could provide a lot of in depth info. I have the 3.5 corerulebook, and am going to buy the DM guide, though I would really like some knoweldge right sooner on it.

 

I am really anxcious to start my own adventure, and want the people I am DMing (personal friends of mine that are also playing D&D for the first time) to have a great time. Basicly the tips I need most on are...

 

Creating enemies - (low leveled, level 3-5)

How to best describe areas -

How to make use of the PC's abilities -

Things to NOT DO as a DM

Things Encouraged as a DM

 

Thats about it. And thank you for even bother to read this :blink:

 

 

 

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My campign information

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Well incase anyone is curious............ I basicly want to have a campign that revolves around the Undead Typical Zombie and Dungeon. To put it simply, the PC's were traveling and they all happened to come to the same town. When they get to this town there will be talk about another town that no one has heard anything from for a while, and even the mayor (or whatever they are called back then) is worried. The mayor is worried because he has sent people with trade goods (this town trades with the other) to this town, but none have returned. He wants people to go and investigate and report back all findings. There will be a reward of some kind.

 

Character Level - 4

 

ewie typos...too tired...i'll fix them later :o

Edited by Transcendence
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This is my basic advice for a typical "no-brainer" D&D dungeon crawl, people can and have written books on the subject so Ill try to be as brief as possible.

 

 

Creating enemies - (low leveled, level 3-5)

 

D&D's challenge rating system makes this very simple, just pick undead creatures from the books whose challange rating code doesnt say theyre too hard for the PC's.

 

More seasoned players might complain if theyre facing opponents that are too simple. If youre basing your EXP handout on what the PC's have killed you need to watch out aswell, they wont get much from low-level opponents.

 

 

How to best describe areas

 

There the moody version "the chamber is lit by a single torch, mold clings to the walls like rust on some ancient machine.."

 

Or the quick and concise version for impatient, action-hungry players "the room is about 10x10meters with doors to the north and west"

 

you could use a drawn-up map and grid system too if you like it but then it will be more like youre playing warhammer than an RPG

 

 

How to make use of the PC's abilities

 

Adapt the adventure to them, make sure you create obstacles they can use their abilities to overcome. Try and make sure every PC has something to do and a usable function to fill. Let the rogue sneak, the wizard read the ancient runes and the ..well, the fighter is always guaranteed to be occupied in a dungeon crawl adventure.

 

 

Things to NOT DO as a DM

 

Dont actively try and kill the players, the game is supposed to be fun for everyone and the death of PC's makes noone happy.

 

Accept that your villains are there for the PCs to defeat. Dont feel bad when they find some quick way to dispatch of the evil mage you spent 4 hours making up stats for.

 

Its not you vs. the players. Youre telling their story, not your own.

 

Dont be rules lawyer, improvise.

 

 

Things Encouraged as a DM

 

Try to be original and unpredictable in planning your adventure, FedEx quests always become boring the third time around.

 

Adjust the adventure after the players to maximise their fun.

 

Improvise, improvise, improvise.

 

 

 

That was a lot shorter than I had planned but Ive got to bugger off and pickup a parcel.

DISCLAIMER: Do not take what I write seriously unless it is clearly and in no uncertain terms, declared by me to be meant in a serious and non-humoristic manner. If there is no clear indication, asume the post is written in jest. This notification is meant very seriously and its purpouse is to avoid misunderstandings and the consequences thereof. Furthermore; I can not be held accountable for anything I write on these forums since the idea of taking serious responsability for my unserious actions, is an oxymoron in itself.

 

Important: as the following sentence contains many naughty words I warn you not to read it under any circumstances; botty, knickers, wee, erogenous zone, psychiatrist, clitoris, stockings, bosom, poetry reading, dentist, fellatio and the department of agriculture.

 

"I suppose outright stupidity and complete lack of taste could also be considered points of view. "

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I would add that it behooves all Game Masters to prepare beforehand.

 

The top three rules are:

  1. Plan,
  2. Plan, and
  3. PLAN.

Once you have planned all sorts of "accidental" content you will be in a better position to react to players' behaviour; stuff that might only appear if the party / a particular PC acts tangentially to the main quest, for example.

 

In other words, if you are playing a pre-baked campaign, read it all the way through first. Understand it. Find it's weaknesses and strengths. Add some spice and your own particular flair to bits, if you like (I always do). If you are DIY, then balance is going to be your primary guide: too easy and people get bored and too difficult and people get angry and bored.

 

Once you have prepared the campaign, improvise as your party plays; if they do something ingenious, reward them in some way (a shortcut or easier method to circumnavigate a major challenge in the campaign, perhaps, or the old favourite of a random magic item.) Likewise, if they do something completely inane or deliberately stupid, don't disapoint them: make easy situations harder and tough battles nearly impossible.

 

Then the players will feel that the game is interactive: it follows their moves and gives appropriate feedback.

 

Lastly, remember to have fun, too. It should be just as fun for you to tell the story as it is for the players to be in it.

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OPVS ARTIFICEM PROBAT

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Well, good luck. :(

 

One other thing to bear in mind is that for the first few adventures, you should try to keep a good balance of role-play and combat, along with obstacles that require the players to think their way out of or around a problem.

 

With this advice comes the even stronger advice that you have to observe your players to see what they like. Once you know what your players want, you can let them have it as the major part of your campaign, reducing the importance of other parts such that they stay interesting without boring your players because they'd rather not do it.

Hawk! Eggplant! AWAKEN!

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Just read some of Hades_One's posts. 

 

He is pretty much the most experienced and bestest DM ever!

 

Um... No, I am not.

 

Transcedence, the only advice I can give is:

 

Plan: Plan your encounters and do the research necessary for the adventure.

KISS: "Keep It Simple Stupid" philosophy works wonders. Only devise on what you are going to use.

Improvise: Be ready to imrpovise on the fly because players can be a unpredictable lot.

Challenge: Make sure your player characters are properly challenged. Nothing ruins a game than an easy win or unfair opposition.

Kid's Gloves Off: Don't be afraid to kill PCs if they do something stupid or a NPC happens to get lucky. There are risks in adventuring and also consequences.

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I have a question for you DMs:

 

what do you do if one of the characters is isolated from the group and (for example) ambushed. Do you rely on the players' mighty rectitude to keep out-of-character information from their game playing, or perhaps take the person who is playing the character in question aside and DM them one on one for the encounter?

 

I ask this because it was the cause of an enormous fight for our group: the DM had a doppleganger ambush (and kill!) our party's Ranger (pride and joy of my friend) and then re-infiltrate the aprty and surprise attack them.

 

We were all more than a bit peeved to have the DM rolling endless dice behind the little screen and then pretend nothing had happened until the bizzaro-Ranger attacked the rest of us ... my friend was particularly pissed that he didn't get to determine the character's fate ..!

 

Any thoughts?

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Ive come to the conclusion that although it is unrealistic, I will never split the party if I can avoid it. This is simply because it isnt fair to the other players who have to sit and wait while mr fancypants goes solo.

 

 

But if I had to do it then I would do it in front of the other players. It may be logical to keep them in the dark but as we are allowed OOC info when we atch a film f.ex, so should players be allowed to find out whats going on even though their characters dont.

 

Theoreticly it can be used for great dramatic effect but players will know something is up and be prepared so it will most likely fail to make an impact regardless.

 

 

 

I bet your DM thought he was being quite clever with that Doppelganger, but what did he really accomplish other than a dead ranger and a huge argument? The doppelganger switch is a classic but its something you do to an NPC, never a player. You play RPGs to have fun and its not fun to have your char die just because the DM wants to play a trick on the other players.

DISCLAIMER: Do not take what I write seriously unless it is clearly and in no uncertain terms, declared by me to be meant in a serious and non-humoristic manner. If there is no clear indication, asume the post is written in jest. This notification is meant very seriously and its purpouse is to avoid misunderstandings and the consequences thereof. Furthermore; I can not be held accountable for anything I write on these forums since the idea of taking serious responsability for my unserious actions, is an oxymoron in itself.

 

Important: as the following sentence contains many naughty words I warn you not to read it under any circumstances; botty, knickers, wee, erogenous zone, psychiatrist, clitoris, stockings, bosom, poetry reading, dentist, fellatio and the department of agriculture.

 

"I suppose outright stupidity and complete lack of taste could also be considered points of view. "

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The DM was another good friend, but he was totally annoyed, perplexed and annoyed by our inextinguishable thirst and continual seraching for wandering monsters, so it was more a police action than a clever tactic for the sake of the game ... still, it did lodge itself deeply in our memories and D&D psyches ... :D

 

I don't think we were too good at seperating the out-of-character info from our role playing, anyway (which probably annoyed the DM even more), so I can kinda understand his annoyance.

 

Still, we were having fun ... (it always seemed like a competition between us, the players, and the DM's interpretation of what was fair in the AD&D world, though).

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I bet your DM thought he was being quite clever with that Doppelganger, but what did he really accomplish other than a dead ranger and a huge argument? The doppelganger switch is a classic but its something you do to an NPC, never a player. You play RPGs to have fun and its not fun to have your char die just because the DM wants to play a trick on the other players.

 

Depends on how you work the switch. There was a pretty nice one in the latest Dungeon magazine where one of the characters is mugged by a doppelganger and captured. The character isn't killed because it takes awhile for the doppelganger group to make a soul gem type thing to store his memories.

 

Later on when the party infiltrates their lair they stumble into a room full of duplicates of themselves all tied up to chairs. One by one they free themselves (except for the one character which was the one that was replaced) and attempt to convince the party that the one travelling with them is actually the copy.

 

Seemed like it would be a pretty neat adventure to run actually. They article did say that this part should only be run if you can get one of the characters to agree to it before hand. :cool:

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Is that like a trip to the headmaster? :shifty:

 

Well, if the headmaster in your school would bring you into his office to describe a horde of undead clawing their way across a rickety rope bridge towards you while the stone door through which you came slams shut with no way of opening it, then yes. :-

Hawk! Eggplant! AWAKEN!

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Prod.

kirottu said:
I was raised by polar bears. I had to fight against blood thirsty wolves and rabid penguins to get my food. Those who were too weak to survive were sent to Sweden.

 

It has made me the man I am today. A man who craves furry hentai.

So let us go and embrace the rustling smells of unseen worlds

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Guest Michael Chu

Here's some things you could learn from playing with some of the worst DMs ever (which I certainly have):

 

1. Don't change your strategies or react to the players' table talk. For example, don't take advantage of weaknesses in characters or their strategies that would be impossible for your baddies to know about.

 

2. Be careful not to make rules decisions that favor the NPCs but then do not allow your party to take advantage of it.

 

3. Don't render a successful strategy of the party completely impotent after they destroy you with it the first time.

 

 

And here are some positive suggestions:

 

1. Give your players handouts or some other thing to chew over between sessions.

 

2. Look out for players who are being under utilized and try to give them something to do. Be careful about the players who take over and want to do everything.

 

3. Roll in secret. ;)"

 

4. You're supposed to make a lot of rolls for the player, but I think it's more fun to let the player roll for themselves, even if it gives them extra info.

 

5. Home rule to change the -10 = dead rule of 3.5. It really sucks. Scaling it by level is a big improvement.

 

6. Use funny voices (if you're good at that sort of thing, otherwise don't).

 

7. As much as you can, let players be cinematic and do what they want. That means a lot of making up DCs on the fly. Hope you can calculate those probabilities off the top of your head.

 

8. Use some sort of method to keep track of initiative order. They make special cards for it, but little Post-It notes, index cards or other things work just as well.

 

9. Plan out your turns in advance.

 

10. Find out when a player is having a bad day, then brutally and irrevocably murder his character. :ph34r:

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As for -10 being dead I changed it in my game to mirror that of Arcana Evolved. You reach dead equal to your Constitution Score in the negative and you don't go unconsciousness and bleeding til you hit your Constitution Modifier in the negative or zero (which ever is less).

 

Such as if you have a 16 Con you are dead at -16 and unconscious and dying at -3. If you are 0 to -2 you are considered disabled and any strenuous action makes you lose a hit point.

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Some things off the top of my head:

 

You might want to keep your Paladins/Jedi in check, as sometimes those might appoint themselves as undisputed leaders of the party, even to the extent of restricting the roleplaying of the rest, especially if it's not very experienced players you're dealing with.

 

Splitting the party is a Bad Thing.*

Pitting the players against one another is a Bad Thing.

Allowing any of those to happen even if it's not your doing is a Bad Thing.

 

*Unless your intention is to create an abduction/rescue scenario, and even then, don't overdo it.

 

Don't be afraid to use your own rules for situations you didn't expect. The system is quite flexible and lends itself well to this. Know the ruleset, but don't be a rules lawyer.

 

Don't allow your players to bully you. Be reasonable, and they will not have a reason to question your every decision, but keep in mind that you are the ultimate authority in the game.

 

Keep metagaming to a minimum. Don't allow your players to use OOC knowledge to gain an advantage IC. Otherwise, the carefully planned balance you created could easily be blown to hell. Also, it prevents a game in which the players know more about the setting than you do from becoming a total nightmare.

 

Err... I think that's it... :blink:

Edited by 213374U

- When he is best, he is a little worse than a man, and when he is worst, he is little better than a beast.

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I don't like to generate mistrust between the players. And considering that D&D is strongly party-oriented, PvP fights are usually bloody and short, and hence somewhat anticlimactic, especially if one of the characters had a chance to prepare and the other(s) didn't.

 

Definitely not something I'd recommend for a starting group. :blink:

- When he is best, he is a little worse than a man, and when he is worst, he is little better than a beast.

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