DM Wisdom?

October 25, 2006 at 10:13 pm (RolePlaying)

Taken from “The DM of the Rings” web comic, to be found here:  http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=613
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 Remember: That which does not kill you was simply not permitted to do so for the purposes of the plot.

 On one hand, it makes no sense for the monsters and encounter areas of the gameworld to come pre-stocked with loot. It also makes no sense for feral beasts and the shambling undead to walk around carrying fabulous cash prizes.   On the other hand, gold coins are shiny and make a fun jingling sound when you have lots of them.

 Remember, nothing will spice up your campaign quicker than long descriptions of NPC’s doing spectacular stuff while the players sit around and watch.

Even more reviled than a typical roleplayer is a roleplayer who insists on roleplaying. When the dorks need to feel superior, this is the guy they denounce as a dork. Honestly. The only person worse than him is the DM himself.

The DM will do a lot of talking, but if he’s not rolling the dice then what he’s saying is probably not important.

It’s great that you took the time to come up with “Count Devron Masuvius Beldamor the III, High Magester of the Realms of Greeenwood”, but you need to realize that the players are just going to refer to him as “that wizard guy”, or simply, “Mister fancy-pants”.

If you send along a high-level NPC of great majesty and power to accompany the party, you need to realize that the players will treat this character like a bazooka: The NPC will become a weapon used to solve a problem in the bloodiest and most expedient manner possible, and then discarded without ceremony.

This is, of course, the most pervasive problem in D&D, and one which the rules have never addressed. The tension of many battles has been ruined by some smart-alec suggesting they use the Holy Hand Grenade. No fortress – no matter how impressive or dangerous – will ever seem foreboding after one of the players points out that, “It’s only a model”.  My own suggestion for the 4.0 edition rules: Anyone who quotes Holy Grail during a session should be made to eat their own character sheet.

D&D is a sort of simulation. A simulation of living in a fantasy world where fearless heroes and dreadful monsters clash daily in spectacular battles. A world where you are a great champion, and the creator of the universe is frequently disorganized, highly distractable, and alarmingly vague on the rules of the universe he’s trying to run.

No matter how difficult or absurd you make a puzzle, your players will find an even more impossible and preposterous way of solving it.

Nothing adds excitement to a campaign like hours of detailing room dimensions and doorway placements. Remember, if you can’t keep them engaged, you can at least keep them busy. Well, one of them, anyway.

Never provide a dungeon without treasure. The longer they search and find nothing, the more your players will be convinced that the treasure is bountiful and exceptionally well-hidden. If left unchecked, they will eventually dismantle and excavate the entire site in their search for loot.

Ask any fighter: A hammer is just a really heavy set of lockpicks.

This happens all the time. No matter how epic the battle, once begun, the thing sounds more or less like a bingo game: People shout out numbers and other people get excited about them.

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