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Thread: Full-time DM, Part-time Prep
Monday, 9th January, 2012, 03:16 AM #11
Lesson 9: Keep notes during play.
This is going to seem obvious, but it is really important for a consistent, long-running campaign—especially one light on preparation. When you make up something (like an NPC's name) or something happened that you need to remember, write it down! Don't write down everything—just the important things. Make sure you keep these notes organized with the rest of your campaign after the game is over.
The time you save not having to remember things could astound you.
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Monday, 9th January, 2012, 03:19 AM #12
Lesson 10: Don't use weird names.
That last lesson leads into this one. Don't use weird names. Just, don't. Seriously, how are you going to remember Xian'thrak'halitosis when you need to without looking it up? That's just wasted time. Bob's no good either, because it tends to break player immersion, but at least you can remember it.
Try simpler (even, occasionally, real) names and, especially, titles. Not lame titles. Evocative ones. What's the difference? Well, that's just something you'll have to figure out for yourself.
Monday, 9th January, 2012, 03:24 AM #13
Lesson 11: Most battles should be skirmishes.
If your players want to grind out combat after combat, you should seriously consider letting one of them DM, or pick up a published adventure, because combat prep requires time and lots of combat prep requires lots of time.
Therefore, battles should fall into two categories: minor and significant. Minor battles should never be long, overly complex, or unavoidable. Use weak enemies, sparse (but interesting) terrain features, and multiple ways to succeed or to bypass the conflict.
Significant battles, on the other hand, should be significant. Use difficult enemies, complex terrain features, and awesome imagery. Give these combats the love they deserve; they should be the focal point of the session, after all.
The minor skirmishes leading up to such a battle should be easily forgettable, but should serve an important function—they highlight just how epic the major battle is and help it be all the more memorable.
Monday, 9th January, 2012, 03:29 AM #14
Lesson 12: Listen to the players.
I don't just mean listen when they're talking to you (although, obviously, you should). Listen when they're talking among themselves.
Listen to their conjecture. Incorporate it into the story (with some twists, of course). This will give the players a sense of satisfaction for being right, and gives you access to a valuable resource: other people's ideas.
Listen to their plans (when they discuss them openly). This will give you an idea what you need to prepare for in the near future. Don't use this information against them (much), or they'll just stop talking in front of you.
Listen to their conversations. This will give you a better understanding of what the PCs want out of the game, and what the players want. This, in turn, will help you focus on what preparation you ought to be doing and what isn't so important.
Last edited by Rune; Wednesday, 25th January, 2012 at 04:29 AM.
Monday, 9th January, 2012, 03:35 AM #15
Lesson 13: If the question is, “Can I do [something that's cool],” the answer is “Yes!”
Simple, right? But it is the most important lesson. You've got enough work to do, let the players bring the Cool. They'll be energized and excited about the game, and all you have to do is let it happen.
If it's cool, find a way to let it happen.
Monday, 9th January, 2012, 03:39 AM #16
Monday, 9th January, 2012, 04:18 AM #17
Defender (Lvl 8)
- Join Date
- Jun 2003
ø Ignore scourger
Good advice. I had to DM Omega World d20 and Savage Worlds to really get some of these ideas, but now I spend much more time thinking about the cool story of the game than mechanically preparing the next inevitable combat encounter.
Monday, 9th January, 2012, 05:01 AM #18
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
- Join Date
- Sep 2004
- Brainerd, MN
ø Ignore Alarian
What I took away from it was we added limits to how much could be awarded at any given time as well as a maximum bonus you could receive based on the levels of other players.
Monday, 9th January, 2012, 12:30 PM #19
Monday, 9th January, 2012, 12:35 PM #20
Last edited by Rune; Friday, 3rd February, 2012 at 11:41 PM.