Posting mode: Reply
Password(Password used for file deletion)
  • Supported file types are: GIF, JPG, PNG
  • Maximum file size allowed is 3072 KB.
  • Images greater than 250x250 pixels will be thumbnailed.
  • Read the rules and FAQ before posting.
  • ????????? - ??

  • File : 1259807889.jpg-(92 KB, 750x600, 1245988523183.jpg)
    92 KB Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)21:38 No.6975776  
    Hi, /tg/.
    I'm going to DM soon.
    D&D 4ed, Fantasy Grounds 2.
    I have zero experience in this (though I played 60% D&D-related games). And I never DM'ed before.
    I'm looking for guidance. FAQs, manuals, tips, anything.
    All I've got right now is all core books for 4ed and some "how to be a dm" stuff.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)21:42 No.6975824
    -You don't need to roll for everything. If some is say, skilled in Religion, just allow them to identify religious symbols they find.

    -Do not fudge to keep PCs alive. This cheapens the whole experience for the players.

    -Include some encounters that are too difficult for the party, so that they will learn when to run.

    -Make NPCs interesting. This can be done easily by giving them the personalities of other people; try no to be to obvious. For instance, a mayor who acts like Lord Vetinari.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)21:44 No.6975840
    Read the 4E DMG.
    Then read the 4E DMG2.

    Then download the Spirit of the Century PDF, and read the advice on how to run games at the end of that.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)21:46 No.6975865
    -Don't just run the party through fight after fight. Include traps, puzzles, and social challenges.

    -Do not force your players to follow a "plot". You aren't telling a story, you're playing a game.

    -Make treasure hard to get; if you do, the players will be more happy to get it.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)21:46 No.6975876
    Ignore what this anon said about SotC; the game is an abomination.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)21:49 No.6975908
         File1259808559.jpg-(104 KB, 750x600, 1245986869330.jpg)
    104 KB
    >social challenges.
    Elaborate, please?
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)21:49 No.6975909
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)21:52 No.6975954
         File1259808779.jpg-(39 KB, 274x317, kotbstart.jpg)
    39 KB
    For instance, in the module "Keep on the Borderlands", in the beginning, the players come up to a guarded fortress, and this advice is given.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)21:53 No.6975956
    >Elaborate, please?
    Well, you know. The PCs have shit to get done. And sometimes, ripping through and killing everyone isn't an option. That's when they have to get all TALKY about it.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)21:54 No.6975963
    The part where you should treat OOC comments like they're IC is bad advice.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)21:56 No.6975983
    No it isn't. The character's aren't telepathic; they have to speak to communicate to each other.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)21:57 No.6975998
    >No it isn't. The character's aren't telepathic; they have to speak to communicate to each other.
    Yes. And the players also speak out of character, as people are wont to do at games, and pulling a HURR YOUR CHARACTER SAID THAT BECAUSE YOU DID AND I CAN'T TELL THE DIFFERENCE thing is retarded.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)21:59 No.6976022
    The module doesn't say that the DM should take off hand remarks as in character statements. It says that the players should decide what their characters are going to say, rather than reducing it to a Diplomacy check.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:01 No.6976045
    What? No, it--

    >whatever they say--as a speech or relating their actions--will be
    >as a speech or relating their actions
    FFFFFFF. You're right.

    Although I think there's room for the occasional "I TELL HIM TO GO FUCK HIS MOM" "Really?" "No".
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:01 No.6976046
    Ok, I get it now.

    Can you also point the obvious/grave errors to avoid?
    I know that I'm gonna suck at it until I get to the level 3 of DM, at least. But still, I want first games to be at least "bad", not "horrifying".
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:02 No.6976051
         File1259809326.jpg-(46 KB, 462x312, tipsforplayers.jpg)
    46 KB
    Make sure your players know that they game world is dangerous. Give them this so they have an idea of what to do to survive.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:02 No.6976056
         File1259809338.jpg-(67 KB, 750x600, 1245970485384.jpg)
    67 KB
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:04 No.6976073
    >Can you also point the obvious/grave errors to avoid?
    DON'T have a DMPC.
    DON'T railroad them.
    DON'T use solos of a higher level than the players, especially soldiers.
    DO hire hookers to blow everyone under the table while you play.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:06 No.6976095
    >early D&D advice for modern D&D

    >you're in the dungeon to find treasure-rich lairs
    Oh, yeah. DON'T use an actual dungeon for an adventure.

    DON'T make "wandering monster rolls", either.

    DON'T make them "test floors before stepping", because that's retarded. Also don't go "you didn't say you looked at the ceiling so you don't find the macguffin, lol".

    The magic-user isn't necessarily the nuke.

    Hirelings are for OD&D/AD&D, not 4E.
    >> sage 12/02/09(Wed)22:06 No.6976099

    Except definitions of railroad can vary from person to person and group to group.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:07 No.6976110
    Some of the books (draconomicon 2, for example) have pre-made plot arcs you can swipe and then flesh out yourself.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:08 No.6976118
    Don't make them feel like they're being railroaded, then. Some groups need a little more structure, some groups chafe at it.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:08 No.6976121
    -DO NOT introduce what is called a "DMPC": a character more powerful than the party that handholds them through the adventures. This a boring for the players, because what they do ceases to matter.

    -Be creative with adventures. While there's nothing wrong with dungeons, not every adventure needs one. For example, have them explore a forest, or a ruined city.

    -Give the players more than one thing to do. If they don't feel like exploring the cave, give them something to do in town.

    -Use "wandering monsters". When the party lingers to long in a dangerous area, roll to see if any creatures show up to harass them.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:09 No.6976125
    My DM keeps railroading me into getting a blowjob from a hooker under the table.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:10 No.6976139
         File1259809828.jpg-(49 KB, 449x231, mingvase.jpg)
    49 KB
    >> sage 12/02/09(Wed)22:10 No.6976145
    Important advice for starting DM:

    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:12 No.6976156
    >-Use "wandering monsters". When the party lingers to long in a dangerous area, roll to see if any creatures show up to harass them.
    Why? Random meaningless encounters are bad for the game, unless your players fucking love random combats.

    >-Be creative with adventures. While there's nothing wrong with dungeons, not every adventure needs one. For example, have them explore a forest, or a ruined city.
    -Give the players more than one thing to do. If they don't feel like exploring the cave, give them something to do in town.
    Yes. The "dungeon" is passé, and the best way to give a sort of sandbox-y feel is to vaguely flesh out a number of options and then have various incentives and disincentives to do each one, letting them do what they want.
    You'll learn to think on your feet and adapt material prepared for one situation to another eventually, too.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:12 No.6976162
         File1259809962.jpg-(38 KB, 448x270, moosehead.jpg)
    38 KB
    Don't reduce dungeon exploration to Perception checks. It is far more entertaining for the players to develop methods for searching for traps, treasure, etc..
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:14 No.6976188
         File1259810072.jpg-(67 KB, 453x302, resourcemanagement.jpg)
    67 KB
    Resource management adds another layer of depth to the game.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:14 No.6976192
         File1259810099.jpg-(77 KB, 750x600, 1256036670603.jpg)
    77 KB
    Very nice.
    Thank you.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:15 No.6976200
    >Don't reduce dungeon exploration to Perception checks. It is far more entertaining for the players to develop methods for searching for traps, treasure, etc..
    That just reduces dungeon exploration to verbal pixelbitching.

    Remember: you WANT them to find shit. You don't want them to miss the plot hook because one of them didn't think to say "I check under the carpet".
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:16 No.6976209
    Why are you giving advice on how to run OD&D to a guy who's about to be running 4E, a game with a very different intended feel and intended playstyle?
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:17 No.6976221
    That would be so unbelievably painful to play.

    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:18 No.6976230
    If you feel comfortable with the mechanics of the game:

    Try to avoid looking up rules in game, unless they are core mechanics you MUST have accurate to continue. If the exact mechanics of a certain ability aren't relevant to the plot or the character, feel free to make something up on the spot with the addendum that it may change next session. This, in theory, speeds up play and prevents an immersion breaking five minute search through a book or two.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:18 No.6976233
    This one is important: listen to your players. As shit happens, they will naturally talk to each other about what's going on and why.
    What they come up with can be insane. It can also be a lot better than what you actually had in mind.
    A good DM can cherrypick ideas from what players talk about, and then use it later and go "JUST AS PLANNED" and they will be all "woah, epic foreshadowing, broceratops."
    >> sage 12/02/09(Wed)22:20 No.6976255
    Read about Gabe from Penny-Arcade's game of D&D, he puts all of /tg/'s bitchiness about edition wars and rules lawyering to shame with genuinely interesting and cool dungeon/encounter ideas.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:20 No.6976257
    -Magic items are special. Make getting them tricky, and don't be limited to the book when placing them: you can make up whatever magic item you want.

    -Don't play monsters dumb unless they actually are dumb. http://www.tuckerskobolds.com/

    Thats... underhanded to say the least.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:22 No.6976273
    >-Magic items are special. Make getting them tricky,
    What? No. Magic items are an assumed part of the game (and a part of game world) Every adventurer past level 1 has a couple of them, basically. They can't be too special.

    >Thats... underhanded to say the least.
    If by "underhanded" you mean "totally pro", then yes. Yes, it is.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:24 No.6976288
         File1259810640.jpg-(9 KB, 225x172, neutral.jpg)
    9 KB
    Let me get this straight: are you advocating making magic items uninteresting?
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:26 No.6976322
    >are you advocating making magic items uninteresting?
    hahaha, oh wow.

    Let's look at this another way:
    "Metal weapons are special. Make getting them tricky."
    "What? No, that's stupid. Unless you're playing Dark Sun, metal items are the default."
    "Are you advocating making metal weapons uninteresting?!"

    I hope my flawless analogy has clearly explained to you why your viewpoint and statements are stupid and also wrong.
    >> sage 12/02/09(Wed)22:29 No.6976358

    The assumed magical items thing has never sat well with me. I've never liked the idea of players going, "Ok we're in town, I'm going to go buy a +2 cloak or resistance as well as a +1 flaming sword because I've calculated they will cost x and I have z amount of precious stones and coin on me."

    I (and my players) prefer magic items to have a little more personality than a jRPG type weapon upgrade at whatever generic fantasy town you're in.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:29 No.6976362
    >Magic items are special. Make getting them tricky
    This is what people who argue on /tg/ ACTUALLY BELIEVE!
    >> sage 12/02/09(Wed)22:30 No.6976373

    Are you saying that if metal weapons were rare they wouldn't be interesting?
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:31 No.6976377
    True, metal weapons don't need to be uninteresting. However, the real world has metal weapons, but it doesn't have magic ones. A good DM should make the most of this.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:31 No.6976384
    >Are you saying that if metal weapons were rare they wouldn't be interesting?
    They could be, I guess. And yet, it's pretty obvious tht metal-rare settings aren't and shouldn't be the default. See what I'm getting at?
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:32 No.6976394
         File1259811171.jpg-(84 KB, 315x649, describingtheworld.jpg)
    84 KB
    You are your player's connection to the game world.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:34 No.6976413
    Artifacts are interesting, and should be tricky to get. Magic items are generally (and have been throughout D&D) pretty bland - they have a function, and sometimes that function is handy. They're hardly riddle boxes of fun, though.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:36 No.6976435
    I'd suggest you reduce monster hit points by 25% or even 50%, and increase monster damage by the same amount. One of my major beefs with 4e as a veteran DM is that combat takes far too long with monsters being far too durable. With a hit point decrease and a damage increase, you can make combat take less time and yet still be as dangerous.

    You might want to run a single test fight before implementing these rules, however, to see if you have the same problems that I occasionally do.
    >> sage 12/02/09(Wed)22:36 No.6976440

    That whether or not something is interesting depends on the setting and a setting could be one wherein magical items were rare and powerful and therefore more interesting than one where the magical items were as common as regular swords?


    Should I throw insults at you know or what?
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:36 No.6976441
         File1259811416.jpg-(6 KB, 200x150, philkensebben.jpg)
    6 KB
    >They're hardly riddle boxes of fun, though.

    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:37 No.6976452
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:42 No.6976500
    -Precalculate XP awards and pre-roll initiative for monsters.

    -Keep records as the campaign goes on. Sometimes, an event that happens months ago can become important.

    -Keeping the game moving at a brisk pace is important to maintaining interest. Ignore rules that slow down play unnecessarily.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:44 No.6976518
    >a setting could be one wherein magical items were rare and powerful and therefore more interesting than one where the magical items were as common as regular swords?
    Yeah! Clearly, every setting should be magic-item-low, for greater interest! Likewise, every setting should have rare nonhuman NPCs, rare metal, rare women, and rare EVERYTHING! This will be so much more interesting!

    >reduce monster hit points by 50 percent
    Don't be an idiot.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:44 No.6976520
    If you are running Keep On The Shadowfell, grab this cheatsheet:

    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:46 No.6976536
    A simple rule of thumb: If you're designing a mystery for your PCs to solve, you should include at least three clues for every conclusion you want them to reach. More often than not they'll miss the first clue and misinterpret the second, but the third will do the trick. (And sometimes they'll spontaneously jump to a conclusion without even being given a clue, which is always a pleasant surprise.) If you further design the adventure so that they can complete it even if they don't reach every single conclusion that you want them to, then your adventure is probably robust enough to withstand actual play design.

    This design methodology not only sidesteps the common problem (where the PCs miss or misinterpret some vital clue), but it also leads to a more robust scenario: All those clues give you a much firmer and deeper understanding of what's happening, making it much easier to improvise on your feet if the PCs suddenly go haring off in a random direction.
    >> LogicNinja !AZlS3./ex. 12/02/09(Wed)22:47 No.6976551
    OP: common important advice is "say yes." This doesn't mean you should let players do whatever retarded thing they want all the time, but in general, you want your responses to player ideas to be "yes" or "yes, BUT..." rather than "what, no!"
    This helps a lot with the "don't railroad" thing you've been getting. It also ties into what >>6976233 said.

    Often times, the impression players will get, or the idea they'll have to solve a problem, won't be anything like what you had in mind. They'll latch onto some irrelevant detail in something you said as though it's important ("he mentioned a moose head on the wall! LET'S DICK AROUND WITH IT FOR HOURS"), or come up with a completely off-the-wall solution to a problem. Learn to roll with it. If they're dicking around with the moose head on the wall, it's probably a good idea to have it be significant. If they've fixated on using the stream outside the cave to harm the bandits inside, even if what you really MEANT was that the stream is a fair ways away from the cave and the bandits have another water source anyway, then go ahead and roll with that.

    Also, yeah, read what >>6975840 told you to.

    This is D&D. I wouldn't recommend a first-timer DM to use an alternative-rewards scheme (much less deal with the numerical pains that the lack of magic items creates and that the alternative reward mechanisms are meant to deal with).
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:47 No.6976552
    If you're GMing a roleplaying game, you should never prep a plot.

    Everyone's tastes are different. These matters are subjective. What works for one person won't necessarily work for another. Yada, yada, yada.

    But, seriously, don't prep plots.

    First, a definition of terms: A plot is the sequence of events in a story.

    And the problem with trying to prep a plot for an RPG is that you're attempting to pre-determine events that have not yet happened. Your gaming session is not a story -- it is a happening. It is something about which stories can be told, but in the genesis of the moment it is not a tale being told. It is a fact that is transpiring.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:48 No.6976567
    Don't prep plots, prep situations.

    A plot is a sequence of events: A happens, then B happens, then C happens. (In more complicated forms, the sequence of events might fork like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, but the principle remains the same.)

    A situation, on the other hand, is merely a set of circumstances. The events that happen as a result of that situation will depend on the actions the PCs take.

    For example, a plot might look like this: "Pursuing the villains who escaped during last week's session, the PCs will get on a ship bound for the port city of Tharsis. On their voyage they will spot a derelict. They will board the derelict and discover that one of the villains has transformed into a monster and killed the entire crew... except for one lone survivor. They will fight the monster and rescue the survivor. While they're fighting the monster, the derelict will have floated into the territorial waters of Tharsis. They will be intercepted by a fleet of Tharsian ships. Once their tale is told, they will be greeted in Tharsis as heroes for their daring rescue of the derelict. Following a clue given by the survivor of the derelict, they will climb Mt. Tharsis and reach the Temple of Olympus. They can then wander around the temple asking questions. This will accomplish nothing, but when they reach central sanctuary of the temple the villains will attempt to assassinate them. The assassination attempt goes awry, and the magical idol at the center of the temple is destroyed. Unfortuntely, this idol is the only thing holding the temple to the side of the mountain -- without it the entire temple begins sliding down the mountain as the battle continues to rage between the PCs and villains!"
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:49 No.6976575
    Many people are intimidated by the idea of prepping without a plot. It seems like a lot of work. If the players can do anything, how are you supposed to cope with that?

    The dirty secret, though, is that it's actually a lot more difficult to prep plots than situations.

    To understand why, let's take a closer look at our example of a plotted adventure. It's a tightly-knit sequence of events that, when broken down, looks like this:
    (1) The PCs pursue the villains. (What if they don't?)
    (2) The PCs have to choose to follow them by ship. (What if they decide to ride down the coast? Or teleport?)
    (3) The PCs have to spot the derelict. (What if they roll poorly on their Perception check?)
    (4) The PCs have to board the derelict. (What if they just sail past it?)
    (5) The PCs have to rescue the survivor. (What if they fail? Or choose to flee before realizing the survivor is there?)
    (6) The PCs have to question the survivor. (What if they decide not to pressure an injured man?)
    (7) The PCs have to go to the central sanctuary of the temple.
    (8) The assassination attempt on the PCs has to play out in a very specific way.

    What you're looking at is a chain of potential points of failure. Each of these points is heavily designed with a specific and expected outcome... and if that outcome doesn't happen the GM is left to railroad the players back onto the tracks he's laid out.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:50 No.6976580
    By contrast, let's look at what we need to design this same adventure as a situation:

    (1) The PCs have to pursue the villains. (This is the hook into the entire scenario. It's a potential failure point shared by all scenarios. If the PCs aren't interested in going to the red dragon's lair, it doesn't matter how you prep the lair.)

    (2) You need to design the city of Tharsis. (Where is it? What's it like? What can the PCs do there? Et cetera.)

    (3) You need to design the derelict ship.

    (4) You need to design the Temple of Olympus.

    (5) You need to stat up the Tharsis navy, the villains, and (possibly) the survivor.

    (6) There needs to be a way for the PCs to know the villains are hiding out in the Temple of Olympus. (In the plot-based design, this is one of the failure points: They either question the survivor or they have no way of knowing where to go next. In situation-based design, you would use the Three Clue Rule and figure out two additional methods by which the PCs could reach this conclusion. This can be as simple as making a Gather Information check in Tharsis and/or questioning the captain/crew of the ship the villains took.)

    Here's the dirty secret: Take a closer look at that list. With the exception of #6, those are all things that you also needed to prep for your plot-based design. (And even #6 is one-third complete.)
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:50 No.6976588
    >But, seriously, don't prep plots.
    Oh, c'mon. Having an overall idea of where you want the game to go, even if it's flexible, is a great idea. Don't script everything, of course, but have something in mind.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:52 No.6976613
    >the alexandrian
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:52 No.6976615
    Remember that the players have a short attention span. If you try to give them the entire history of Lord Such-And-Such in a single sitting, they will tune out.

    They'll partly tune out because they don't want to listen to a three minute monologue about some esoteric piece of lore that doesn't mean anything to them. But they'll also tune out because it's actually not that easy to process and remember all of that information. Maybe if they were taking notes... but taking notes isn't particularly fun for most people.
    We'll be delving into more specific methods for actually delivering the information. But regardless of the method you end up using, you need to focus on giving out small bursts of detailed information. This doesn't mean that everything in the game needs to be simplistic -- it just means that the players are more likely to process, remember, and care about complex ideas if they're delivered in smaller and more comprehensible pieces.

    Slowly revealing the big picture piece by piece is usually far more interesting than having McLecture the Scottish Elf explaining it all in a big lump.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:53 No.6976625
    The one time you're guaranteed to have everyone's undivided attention at the gaming table is the moment when you're opening the goody bag and getting ready to distribute the goodies.

    Want them to know about the ancient dwarven empire that ruled the surface world aeons ago before the Dragon War forced them to retreat into their mountain citadels? Then let them find a cache of ancient dwarven coins with the Imperial motto "All that the sun shines upon shall be shaped by our forge" written upon them. Place the forgemark of the Greatfall Armories on the next magic sword they find.Give them a treasure map leading to the ancient ruins of a dwarven palace.

    Sometime knowledge itself can be the treasure: Lorebooks, diaries, and the like can all be looted.

    And sometimes you can use knowledge to boost the value of the treasure. For example, they might find a very nice tapestry worth a few hundred gold pieces. With a successful History check, however, they might recognize the tapestry as being a famous depiction of the Battle of the Firebane. Find the right collector, and the value of the tapestry has quintupled. Now the Battle of the Firebane isn't just a bit of fluff text -- it's the reason they're earning the big bucks.
    >> Making Magic Items Interesting Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:54 No.6976634
    Nobody remembers Magic Sword #3419. But if I say "Sting", you probably think Frodo. And if I say "Stormbringer", you probably think Elric.

    Naming an item immediately makes it unique. It also gives the item an identity, which means that the item will immediately begin accumulating lore to itself -- every time something interesting or memorable happens involving the item, it has a name that can be latched onto that event.

    There are basically two ways for an item to gain a name:

    (1) Lore. Like Glamdring or the Ruby of the North, the item may have been given a name before it ever comes into the hands of the PCs. This lore-born name can be imparted to them in many ways -- perhaps the ogre wielding the weapon cries the name aloud; or the item whispers it in their ear when they first claim it; or a loremaster identifies it; or they were questing for it; or they know it themselves (from a successful skill check).

    (I just made up the name "Ruby of the North", but it made you wonder what it was, didn't it?)

    (2) New. Encourage the players to name items that are important to them, or seize opportunities to immortalize memorable events in the game by naming the items responsible for them. When a sword becomes Gnoll-Render because of the PCs ripping out the entrails of the gnoll chieftain... well, that's pretty awesome.
    >> Devilist 12/02/09(Wed)22:54 No.6976639
    Thread tagged and saved for situation-prepping.

    Scripts are usually stifling to player creativity.
    You don't want to have a small novel in your head.
    That leads to frustration as that thing called "free will" tears away at your "plots" chapter by chapter, killing your kings and bartenders, raping your orc women, and eating kobold armies rather than turning them in for ransom.

    Your players are living random elements, and as major portions of your game sessions you must account for that.

    "Sandbox it" works for me. Make a sketch-list of NPCs, their level and best abilities, a random encounter chart for monsters, a series of vague town maps, and a landscape.
    You'll be good to go.
    >> Making Magic Items Interesting Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:56 No.6976652
    If magic items look generic, then they'll be treated generically. If +2 longswords just look like every other sword (or even if every +2 longsword just looks like every other +2 longsword), it doesn't matter how rare they are -- they're still going to be treated as nothing more than a stat block.

    For example, several months ago one of the PCs in my campaign went down to the local magic shop to buy a magic sword. What could be more generic, right?

    When they first arrived in the shop and started talking about weapons, the shopkeeper showed them several magetouched weapons that had recently been recovered from the depths beneath the city. But when it became clear that they were seeking something a little more notable, he smiled enigmatically and went into a backroom.

    He emerged with a long, slim blade. The steel was filigreed with gold and the hilt was of finely curved silver. He ran his hand gently down the length of the blade, as if caressing a lover. "The markings here upon the blade are not merely gold, but taurum -- the true gold, mined from the Mountains of the East. And there is a thin core of it in the heart of the hilt. The enchantment worked upon this blade sings from the taurum, and its name is Nainsyr."
    >> Making Magic Items Interesting Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:56 No.6976659
    At the word, blue lightning sprang from the hilt and rang along the length of the blade -- crackling with a vicious smell of ozone.

    "It's an elvish word. It means, 'Let there be lightning.' And, indeed, the blade is old. It shows the marks of an elvish craft that I have rarely seen."

    It's a +1 shock longsword. And it was bought in a store. But it's his sword. The players remember who they bought that sword from. They remember the first time the PC used it in combat.

    Another example from my campaign is a bag of holding elegantly crafted from black velvet that was given to the party as part of their payment for a job well done. This unique little touch might not seem like much, but not only do the players distinctly remember receiving that payment, the player who carries the bag of holding has actually passed up the opportunity to get larger bags of holding simply because they like this one so much.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:57 No.6976667
    >(2) New. Encourage the players to name items that are important to them, or seize opportunities to immortalize memorable events in the game by naming the items responsible for them. When a sword becomes Gnoll-Render because of the PCs ripping out the entrails of the gnoll chieftain... well, that's pretty awesome.
    I want a system that actually makes regular weapons into magic items/powers up magic items when you do awesome shit with them.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:58 No.6976673
    =Give the players the Sun and make them fight for the Moon=

    Give the players almost everything they want and them put them through a thousand chinese hells to get everything else. Put the PCs on the throne of Aquilonia, if that's what they want, then have ten-thousand angry Cimmerians invade, intent on burning their capital to the ground. Not because you're a sadistic asshole, but because fighting off an army of Conans is one of the cool things kings get to do.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)22:59 No.6976687
    >fighting off an army of Conans is one of the cool things kings get to do.
    Pfft. If the Conans are also Nazis, THEN we're talking.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)23:00 No.6976705
    Ever seen a game of Plinko? Imagine a starting point. The chip can fall three directions -- good bad, or indifferent. At the end of the board is your destination. Any combination of events is likely to bring you to within striking distance, so it creates the illusion of not being scripted, and makes you seem like a goddamn genius when that clue you mentioned 4 hours ago comes back up relevant even though they, in their minds, did EVERYTHING THEY COULD to ruin your game.

    Stock the world with beleivable NPC's and you can convey ANYTHING, whether it be a sign hanging, a passerby talking, someone looking in a particular direction. Continue your descriptions when they're yakking, it gives the impression that things WILL happen no matter what they do (even if the things seem unrelated).

    And above all else...never...EVER...be a moron and throw in a 'player character' as the DM. Have your fun with 2-6 NPC's, but don't EVER make one of them 'your character'.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)23:01 No.6976709
    When a character fails, emphasize it. Magnify it in the game world. Demonstrate that the character is having an impact, even if it’s not the impact they wanted. A missed energy blast doesn’t just vanish, it stitches a line across the building down the street, shattering windows and sending clouds of pulverized masonry into the air. The pirate doesn’t just jump and miss the rope, the entire boom snaps, sending rigging and sails cascading down on the deck of the ship and sending people running.

    Big failure can leave a character more disadvantaged than a “let’s just pretend that didn’t happen” failure, but it puts the focus of the game on that character, which is what most players really want. Yes it’s a setback, yes the character is in a really bad jam, but the character gets the spotlight. Forget about hit points or equipment: the only resource that matters in a game is play time.

    The same applies to bad events the players have no control over like taking damage. When a character takes a critical hit don’t say “ooh, crit, 26 more damage, sorry dude” say “the wolf savagely rips into your arm, tearing at you with big sharp pointy teeth — take 26 damage” Part of that is just interesting description vs no-description, but part of it is emphasizing the bad instead of trying to gloss over it. Don’t apologize. The bad is the challenge. The heroes have to step up and deal with the bad. That wolf is going to freaking eat you man! You better do something!
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)23:02 No.6976719
    The players will embrace the idea of being afraid and impressed by a threat when they brought it upon themselves. The players will reject and scoff a threat when it was put upon them arbitrarily, which is to say, by the GM.

    If the cunning thief decides to scout the caverns solo, and then bumps smack into a fire breathing dragon, the player knows the foot that was stuck in it was their foot, and the sticking was done by them. They will go “eep” and scurry.

    If the same character is just walking down the road, and the GM says “out of nowhere a terrible dragon swoops out of the sky – it's terrifying!” the player is likely to stare at the GM blankly before uttering an “allll-right.”
    >> On Traps Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)23:04 No.6976742
    Traps fall into two basic categories: zap traps and interactive traps. The difference isn’t the kind of danger, it’s how they work in play.

    A zap trap is over as soon as it starts: it inflicts immediate harm on the intruders (zap!) who don’t really get to do much more than make a roll and hope they don’t get hit. The unfortunate victim steps on something or touches something and then something falls on them or stabs them gasses them or whatever. Done, move along.

    Making zap traps is easy. Just think of what is going to do the messy bit (darts, gas, jets of fire, crushing blocks, whatever) assign the damage, saves, etc. You can litter a dungeon with them in minutes flat.

    They’re easy to make but they’re also bad gaming. Zap traps are wandering damage with a pretty description, a hit point tax for walking down the hallway, or (if you prefer) a very short fight where only one side gets to do anything. Just like Action Shticks, if you can’t really make any decisions–if you don’t interact with the situation–it fails the “is it a game” test. No choice, no game.
    >> On Traps Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)23:04 No.6976748

    Which conveniently leads us to the alternative, the interactive trap. The interactive trap creates a situation the characters have to react to. They’re trapped in something or being threatened by impending danger or carefully navigating through something, but no matter which it is they get to make decisions about what to do.

    Even the humble 10′ pit can be a minimal form of interactive trap, since if you survive you probably have to figure out a way of getting out of it or around it, but really juicy interactive traps have things like arrays of idols that shoot different beams out of their eyes when you step on certain squares, mazes of scything blades, etc etc.

    Interactive traps are often really puzzles, even if the riddle the players are trying to solve is just “how do we get out alive.” Like any puzzle, it can take quite a bit of thought to design an interactive trap that is challenging but still solvable, not to mention stylish.
    >> On Traps Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)23:06 No.6976760
    Now let’s say you’re the GM. You’ve worked very hard to make a complex interactive trap. It’s a work of art. You’ve figured out how water slowly collecting in cisterns floods the chamber but then drains hours later after the intruders are dead and even raises the fallen block that sealed the room — because any serious trap has to be able to reset, right?

    Along comes the rogue. Rogues are supposed to be the guy that finds all the traps and helps the party avoid all that damage. Lo and behold, the rogue can make a roll to find the trap and a roll to turn the whole thing off. Crap.

    No GM wants to put all that work into something and then have the whole thing get cancelled by one roll, particularly if you were counting on it to fill play time. It’s like skipping a major battle you prepped because someone made a diplomacy check (oh sure, you all have anecdotes about that one time that happened and how cool it was — sheesh, it was one time!).
    >> On Traps Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)23:06 No.6976773
    So you subtly sabotage the rogue. You make it too hard to find the cool trap or you fudge the roll, and even though you are being a rat bastard GM your instinct is correct: making a roll to skip a whole encounter isn’t good game play (being clever and skipping an encounter, maybe, but just rolling clear is lame). If the encounter was interesting, you are skipping the interesting. It’s a little like rolling to skip the adventure.

    But now you have guilt. You’re taking away the rogue’s whole thing. Hmm, better give the rogue something to do. Better put in a lot of zap traps in the rest of the dungeon so the rogue can be useful. Now the rogue can remove all the lame hazards that you shouldn’t have included to begin with. It’s rogue busy work.

    The other option is to play it straight and you let the rogue bypass the trap you put spent all that time on. What does that teach you as a GM? Not to waste your time building cool traps. Next game you just put in more fights instead.

    Welcome to Bad Trap Syndrome. But there are ways to avoid this.
    >> Devilist 12/02/09(Wed)23:07 No.6976781
    >And above all else...never...EVER...be a moron and throw in a 'player character' as the DM. Have your fun with 2-6 NPC's, but don't EVER make one of them 'your character'.

    Ehh.. as with all RPG advice this too can be subjective.

    You CAN have a DMPC, but ONLY if ALL players have no problem with it.

    Friends and I set a few rules for our "rotating DM" setup:
    1. You can't give items to your DMPC, create something PC-specific while you are DM to give, or allow NPC (self)gifts without group approval
    2. They can't 'lead the party'
    3. They can't initiate or finalize contact with NPCs, or do anything concerning information exchange unless asked by PCs

    It takes an experienced DM to get DMPCs to work right.
    Consider it "RPG hard mode".
    >> On Traps Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)23:08 No.6976792
    Option #1

    To make more and better interactive traps we would need a language for traps. D&D has a complex language for combat and critters, but traps just borrow a little piece of it, usually to make more zap traps.

    A complete trap system would include building blocks for making multiple step interactive traps the same way the rules let you build elaborate types of monsters or characters, along with a subset of the combat system specifically for traps. What are the species of traps? How do you link these building blocks together to easily construct unique interactive traps? What kind of actions are appropriate in each? What can you do each round?*

    The other rethink is to change how rogues or anyone else interferes with the trap. If the trap becomes a complex system like combat then the rogue can serve a prominent role during the interaction without stealing (or canceling) the show. Much the same way as a big armored fighter can protect other characters, the thief could weaken elements of the trap even while the party is in the middle of it. Poison darts strafe the party as they thread the idol maze, but because of the rogue’s warning everyone gets a bonus to their save. The rogue doesn’t prevent the water from filling the room, but his quick actions partially block the spigots giving the party more time to escape before the room fills up.
    >> On Traps Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)23:09 No.6976815
    Option #2

    Make all the traps easy to spot. The players might not know exactly _what_ the trap is, but it is always pretty clear there is something dangerous. It might be the remnants of past victims (a litter of half-melted bones scattered in front of one unusual door…) or some particularly suspicious detail (why is there an open spiked pit at the bottom of that staircase?).

    Part of it is just game world logic: if there are monsters and other people tromping around, the only trap that would still be a hazard is one that resets, which means other things would have been killed before and their remains would still be there.

    The interesting part is that removing the surprise and basically announcing there’s a trap (for anyone who’s paying attention) completely changes the dynamic of play. Instead of being a hit point tax for walking down the hall, it becomes, well, a game. The players huddle, they have their characters look around, they brainstorm possible dangers and ways to get around them. Even zap traps become interactive because the players are interacting with them before they go off.

    Sure, even with all the time in the world and all the evidence to examine sometimes they come to completely incorrect conclusions about how the trap will work and walk smack into the buzz saw anyway (”it’s not a door, it’s a grey ooze pretending to be a door? Crap!”), but even when that does happen the players are engaged rather than turned off.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)23:11 No.6976825
    Rolling dice is not supposed to replace your brain. Making Perception checks all the time is just a lame way of saying “well, you haven’t asked anything that would really tell me if you would notice this or not, so we’ll just roll and let the dice decide.”

    And if the information you may or may not notice is pertinent to the plot, it is asinine-by-design to decide whether to reveal it with a die roll. Scene from a GM lynching: “well if you had rolled better you would have seen that the tribe had red banners instead of black and that whole game would have probably made more sense to you, but hey, you failed your Perception check…”
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)23:21 No.6976959

    Meh, in my years of experience it has never once led to anything productive. I've played in more games with one than I care to count, and seen other DM's use them. Much better to use NPC's joined with the party but don't give your players the idea that its your character. Its not hardmode to use a DMPC, its infodump mode most often or, worse, powertrip. Regardless of how it starts out, it won't end well or, at the best case, useful. YMMV.
    >> Anonymous 12/02/09(Wed)23:23 No.6976991
         File1259814205.jpg-(58 KB, 750x600, 1228086380415.jpg)
    58 KB

    Delete Post [File Only]
    Style [Yotsuba | Yotsuba B | Futaba | Burichan]