Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What elements does it take for someone to be a good DM/Game master?

This was posted on Facebook so I thought I would provide my thoughts on what makes a good Dungeon Master or Game Master. 






I have been a Dungeon Master since I was 12 and have honed my skills over the years and have gone through the usual phases:

1: Beginner, clunky and the dungeons were all about fighting, no sense of placement, treasure was           haphazard and rolled on charts  ...
....Every game starts in a tavern

2: Me against the players - Player kills was valued and you threw random monsters at players
 ..Every game starts in a tavern

3: Monty Haul -  You now gave out tons of treasure and regularly fought gods  
..Every game starts in a tavern

4: Adventure over random dungeons - You begin to put thought into the adventure as a whole 
    ..Every game starts in a tavern

5: Building a world - you have a great handle on the rules, you now try to challenge the players rather than kill them. Death happens but it is random
..Every game starts in a tavern 

6: It is not about the combat.. you go to great lengths to drop clues and puzzles into the game. Role playing playing and interactions become just as valuable as slaying monsters
..Every game starts differently

7: Design Junkie - You have all the tools to write adventures for any level and genre. You now are comfortable running games for any group of players. People start to invite you to run games for their group 
..Every game starts Differently

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SO, now for the skills needed to excel at running Dungeons and Dragons and any other Game systems

I am going to break this down into 2 areas..  Skills and Practicals

First, you have to love to read. This is the foundation above all else. If reading is not your thing, do not try to run any games

Second, the ability to soak in material, I am referring to Memory and recall... Reading is good, but if you have to go back to look up anything or read a passage a few times during the game, you bog down the game.

Watch lots of movies, does not matter what genre and time the movie was made. This especially helps in timing and suspense during the game. Knowing when and where to use these is crucial

Improvisational skills:  You will need to react and redirect as needed and plans always shift

Creativity... players want something they have not seen before... it needs to be different or appear different

Balance ... being able to use rules and set what is occurring, having a logical interpretation of the rules as needed

A Firm hand when needed, not allowing someone to be a rules lawyer if they are disrupting the flow of the game and at the same time allow creativity

From The Dungeon Master's Guide, 1st Edition

“It is the spirit of the game, not the letter of the rules, which is important. Never hold to the letter written, nor allow some barracks room lawyer to force quotations from the rule book upon you, if it goes against the obvious intent of the game.... You are creator and final arbiter. 

By ordering things as they should be, the game as a whole first, your campaign next, and your participants thereafter, you will be playing ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS as it was meant to be.”

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Running other games:

Know your setting:

Understand the dice rolls for the game you are playing

I have run over a dozen systems.. some have specific dice, some use only D10 or D6

They may have dice pools that are built by skills

Practicals of Play
  • Be organized
  • Bring Extra Pencils
  • Bring Extra Dice
  • Bring note pads
  • have all you notes and handouts ready and accessible
  • Separate table for Roleplaying and for miniatures
I find that if the players are on your side from the beginning, they will accept anything you throw at them or do to them. If I am running a Role Playing intense game, then I usually reserve killing for a bone headed move... 

I have no qualms about killing players, I prefer providing a tough challenge where they may be killed...Players stupidity is the leading cause of death in my games

During the Game
  • Know the Material !!!
  • Be Organized
  • Be Energized
  • Dig deep, be unique
  • Don't be afraid to try it
  • Don't Dream It, BE IT !!!!!
The more you bring the game to life, the better your players will respond. I use lots of different vocals and hand gestures... many people can attest to my horrible Jamaican accent and my equally well done other accents... 





Game flow is important, anything that stops the action or pauses for too long is not helping the players to enjoy the game



Games I have run 

Dungeons And Dragons
Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 1st and 2nd Edition

Vampire the Masquerade

Dream Park

Dangerous Journeys

James Bond 007
Top Secret SI

DC Heroes
Champions

Gurps

Killer

Battletech

Firefly


TOON


The Toon Commandments
1.      FORGET EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT ROLEPLAYING.
2.      ACT BEFORE YOU THINK.
3.      KNOW THE RULES - CHECKING RULES IS SLOW. SLOW IS BAD.
4.      KNOW YOUR CHARACTER AS YOURSELF.
5.      IF YOU WANT TO DO IT, EXAGGERATE IT.
6.      IF IT'S SIMPLE, COMPLICATE IT.
7.      IF YOU'RE IN A JAM, DO WHATEVER YOU CAN TO MAKE IT WORSE,
8.      WHEN IN DOUBT, RECAP.
9.      WHEN YOU CAN'T RECAP. MAKE SOMETHING UP.

10.  WHEN YOU CAN'T MAKE SOMETHING UP, CHEAT.














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