Wednesday, 13 April 2016

My response to Facebook post "I am a horrid DM"

In Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition group at Facebook Douglass Tanner posted this:

"I am a horrid DM.

  1. I use a screen.
  2. I fudge dice rolls (both in favor and against the characters, to promote more strategy)
  3. I don't give them details they did not look for.
  4. I use encounters that are under them, over them and in range of them.
  5. I give few magic items out, and when I do its random.
  6. I give out lots of $ and allow them to try and find an item or buy one. With % roll that it even exists in the city/town they are in.
  7. i do not use modules, I use a home made world every time.
Here's what I do, based on those seven points:

  1. I use a screen to cover things that players are not supposed to see, like my notes, modules, and things like that. I do not use screen as a wall between me and my players. We all play the same time, it's just that I got information players shouldn't see to keep things interesting for all of us.
  2. I do not fudge die rolls. I roll open always except when player characters don't know the outcome (surprises and such things). I keep things fair, players play by the rules with their characters and they don't fudge, so I don't fudge. There is extra danger and flavor in decisions to make, when they see how hard the enemy hits them, for example. And if the damage kills the character, they know that dice decided it, I did not.
  3. I give them details they did not look for, if their character for a reason or another should reasonably find those details. I do understand, that players cannot know everything their character knows. Dwarves have natural sense for certain things, like elevations of a dungeon, so I do give them that information. They don't have to ask it every 10 feet they explore. Also the player might not always know what his character is capable of, so I give them information, because their character know it for sure. This also in many cases helps the game not to be stuck when players don't "find" something they need to advance. Naturally, sometimes they don't find it, but if it is logical for their character to "find" it, I'll give them the information.
  4. I too give them encounters from easy to extremely challenging. The world around them doesn't revolve around them. There are things they are not meant to conquer. Sometimes they just need to know when to run fast, or try diplomacy. If they knew that every encounter I presented was in range of their characters and they knew that 1/4 of their resources would be used in every encounter, the game would be dull. No surprises, no awe, no fear.
  5. I give what magic items are in a module I run, as I have chosen to run that module. I do give other magic items also, but they fit the campaign most of the times. Sometimes, if someone's character sucks a lot and she doesn't find the game fun because of that, I might give a magic item that helps her enjoy the game a bit more. These occasions are rare. Magic items are not a resource you are supposed to collect to match the campaign world. Magic items are special.
  6. I prevent to give lots of $ to keep the game interesting and challenging. Also I want them to have at least one motivation, if nothing else: wealth. Sure, if the campaign I run is around building a stronghold or a kingdom, that is a different story. Also money is not an automatic power boost, wealth has consequences.
  7. I run my games usually in homebrew settings, because I am lazy to learn the setting someone else wrote. I also don't want player's meta data be greater than mine ("that's not how it was in sixth book chapter eight!"). I love world building, and what's better way (for me) than build the world during the actual play! I write necessary details, otherwise I am scarce. I let players join the world building ("you asked about this village what it's like if your character is from there, you tell me what the village is like. What kind of religion would your Cleric want to be a devotee of?"). I do use modules, I just pick those which fit my campaign the best, or I modify them to fit it. It is great fun for me as a Game Master to use something someone else wrote, and make it my game. I also make adventures myself, and also go with the flow without preparations to make things interesting and surprising. Random tables are always a fun addition to make something new and unexpected easily! Keeps Game Master's mind sharp.
I found this picture from http://meeplesgames.com with Google picture search.

There!

Now it is your turn to answer these questions based on that Facebook post. How do you run games? You can write your answer in the comments, or make a blog post of this topic. Remember to link your response, wherever you write it, to the comments, so I and my readers can find your answers.