D&D 5E 9 Things "Pro" DMs Do That You shouldn't

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Some of the ones I've watched have the DM say what the characters are doing and that's a habit I see a lot of DMs pick up. The player will say something succinct in terms of their action and the DM will tack on a lot of description to it, going so far as to say what the character thinks, does, and says. It's like, you already control most of the game as DM, can you please leave something for the player to do?

Yeah, you see that with the player saying something like "I search the room..." And the DM (to make it more flowery or descriptive) do a 5 minute add lib on how the player searches the room with thoughts, actions and reactions to the room.

When really, if the DM wanted all that - just ask the player to be more specific and/or give THEM something to react to - don't do it for them.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
Sure, I'll give my hot takes on these:

1. Long Monologues/narrative descriptions/cut scenes;
This honestly depends. I've had mixed results with doing this myself, and find they work best when providing exposition for the players without their characters present. I know some folx on here will cry heresy about meta-gaming but I've found players appreciate having background information and that it also doesn't impact the way they play their characters (other than the players themselves being more engaged). You can definitely go overboard with it, and it never works when PCs are actually present.

2. Focus too much on NPC talks;
Yeah this can be a huge pain, because it's also basically inevitable anytime the PCs are in a room with multiple NPCs. As long as the entire conversation remains interactive (ie not a "cutscene") you can get through it well enough though.

3. Wait for the "perfect" moment to introduce a new/replacement PC;
I can get on board with this, honestly, though the likelihood that I am to see a PC death in the middle of session is rare enough on its own (my sessions are relatively short as it is). If the beginning of a new sessions isn't the "perfect" moment though I don't particularly care. I don't want somebody sitting on the sideline for however long. Especially since I also occasionally have spotty attendance from week to week.

4. Plan for Three hour long fights;
Unless it's a season finale, definitely not. That said, I've found the Dimension 20 model of "big combat set pieces" vs multiple smaller encounters works so much better at the home game level. It eschews big dungeon crawls and the resource management game but frankly I see that as a feature and not a bug. And before you say "if you don't care about resource management game you shouldn't be playing-" look I know I KNOW. My hope is D&D is the gateway drug. Like with actual drugs, however, I've learned it doesn't really work that way.

5. Putting the story before the game;
This is a personal preference thing, but the story is the point of the game. We roll to add tension and uncertainty, but the collaborative storytelling is the end. The dice, the stats, the game? That's simply the means.

6. Have temporary characters that are planned to be killed off;
Naw, this can be really effective, especially if your player is the one that comes to you with the idea. The most reason season of Dimension 20 also sort of does this and it's great.

7. Allowing PVP or truly high tension Player moments;
Again, personal preference. I don't personally allow PVP actions; my PCs do not roll dice against either. Intraparty conflict plays out through role playing, period.

8. Letting characters talk endlessly;
I have yet to meet a DM who hasn't told at least one story about how they didn't have to say anything for like a half-hour/hour and it was one of the best moments they've ever had. It's a beautiful thing. That said, I guess it can also be a personal preference thing, I guess. But I can't imagine the DM who after twenty minutes of the players chatting/arguing/plotting in character is super antsy to put the kibosh on it and get the show on the road.

9. Setting expectations too high.
Sure, I guess?
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
It's this video:


Wow, that was even more cringey than anticipated!

Takes on the video:

If your going to keep using the phrase "begging the question..." Maybe learn what it means? Yikes.

Two middle aged white guys whitesplaining racial offense - yeah that was terrible. How can you possibly not understand the difference between 1 short reference (Thaco) and thousands of pages along with decades of history (ex. Orcs). Yeesh.

And as bad as their take on Thaco was, their take on Monsters of the Multiverse was worse! I can see how you now have trouble taking this guy seriously!
 



I think all these things make for great streaming!

But I agree many of them are features I don't enjoy in play. More and more as a DM I'm trying to put more control of the story and content in the hands of my players.
Ironically I try this and my players are indecisive and get all squirrely. I have even had a couple of them ask me to railroad/guide them a bit more in the past at times. They are a weird but loveable bunch misfits. 😅
 

Some of the ones I've watched have the DM say what the characters are doing and that's a habit I see a lot of DMs pick up. The player will say something succinct in terms of their action and the DM will tack on a lot of description to it, going so far as to say what the character thinks, does, and says. It's like, you already control most of the game as DM, can you please leave something for the player to do?

Matt Mercer is guilty of this. He also needs to learn a second adjective. "Heavy" does a lot of heavy lifting in his monologues.
 

Ironically I try this and my players are indecisive and get all squirrely. I have even had a couple of them ask me to railroad/guide them a bit more in the past at times. They are a weird but loveable bunch misfits. 😅

Yeah, the amount of control over game direction that be given to the players is very table dependent. Some players don't like it. Some GMs don't do it well (failing to give players sufficient understanding of the world being a very frequent source of of problem from what I read here and on other forums.)
 

He's actually got some good advice in his videos, but I think he can be a bit full of himself. And that whitesplaining video was borderline dogwhistling.

Wow, that was even more cringey than anticipated!

Takes on the video:

If your going to keep using the phrase "begging the question..." Maybe learn what it means? Yikes.

Two middle aged white guys whitesplaining racial offense - yeah that was terrible. How can you possibly not understand the difference between 1 short reference (Thaco) and thousands of pages along with decades of history (ex. Orcs). Yeesh.

And as bad as their take on Thaco was, their take on Monsters of the Multiverse was worse! I can see how you now have trouble taking this guy seriously!
 


Yeah, the amount of control over game direction that be given to the players is very table dependent. Some players don't like it. Some GMs don't do it well (failing to give players sufficient understanding of the world being a very frequent source of of problem from what I read here and on other forums.)
Oh for them it's more about decision paralysis. I have to be cognizant to not overload them with too many sidequests at once or they start having issues following the plot, so to speak.
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top