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D&D General How to be a Better DM: One Size Doesn't Fit All

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Mercer is a good DM and the players are REALLY game and like to chew scenery - but strip that away and his game is near bog standard D&D 5e.
It's zero to hero, start small (small area, single town) and expand the world from there.
The rules are standard 5e with Nary even a homebrew (he shoehorned in a pathfinder class initially and has introduced more stuff as he goes but mostly classes and items, the rules remain untouched).

This is not a criticism - it's a comment stating anyone who wanted to start their own campaign could use the way he started and expanded his as an easy to follow model.
I have watched nearly no Critical Role, so I'll have to trust your description of the game. When I talk about his table being different, though, I'm referring at least as much to the people around it as I am the game they're playing, as well as the stories that emerge.
 

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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I was perusing the thread by @Malmuria which was a comment thread about a survivor thread set up by @CleverNickName and it made me think about the overall issue of DMing, and why people both crave advice, give advice, and why the topic of good DMing can be so contentious and filled with so much one-true-wayism. Given that I wanted to write out my thoughts more in full, I decided to start a thread- a thread, about a thread, about a thread.

Please note- I am using the term "DM" instead of "GM," because I feel like it, because I'm mostly discussing D&D, and because I want to. Feel free to use whatever your preferred nomenclature is.

1. Why we always argue about definitions.

I love long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me on the internet.

There is a the famous line in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, when Alice and Humpty Dumpty are arguing, and the argumentative egg says, "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean- neither more nor less." While this quote has, unfortunately, taken on a second life as the meaningless "DERP" in political internet debates (somewhat akin to Godwin's law, it is inevitable that whenever a political argument on the internet goes on long enough, someone will cite Humpty Dumpty) the actual debate between Alice and Humpty Dumpty in terms of Lewis Carroll's background in mathematics and logic is more interesting- that terms must be defined and understood to be discussed. This is a point that Carroll raises again in Symbolic Logic:

In opposition to this view, I maintain that any writer of a book is fully authorised in attaching any meaning he likes to any word or phrase he intends to use. If I find an author saying, at the beginning of his book, “Let it be understood that by the word ‘black’ I shall always mean ‘white’, and that by the word ‘white’ I shall always mean ‘black’,” I meekly accept his ruling, however injudicious I may think it.
And so, with regard to the question whether a Proposition is or is not to be understood as asserting the existence of its Subject, I maintain that every writer may adopt his own rule, provided of course that it is consistent with itself and with the accepted facts of Logic.
Id.
p. 166.

This is in contrast to the more common conception we have, pace Wittgenstein, that language is inherently a social construct, and that there is no private language. But that's the entire point- if one person is creating a specified and defined use of a term, either in mathematics, logic, or even terms of art or jargon, then it is incumbent that the defined term be known at the beginning so that others might be able to understand. However injudicious the definition, it is still possible to discuss if it is known!

Whew. Let's make this more concrete, shall we? Two people on enworld are arguing about "railroading." Person A says railroading is always bad, and person B says that railroading is often good. Approximately 500 pages into the argument, person A reveals that they believe that "railroading" means "removing player agency by repeatedly punching players in the face," while person B states that, "No, railroading means discussing what AP to do while eating ice cream." Of course, this being the internet, there will be another 500 pages of arguing about the definition, and then the thread will get shut down ....

This example is extreme, but it follows an established pattern; people argue about some piece of D&D / TTRPG jargon (insert "railroading," or "player agency," or "skilled play," or "story now," or "fudging," or any of a number of abstracted and jargon-y terms, and only later find out that they don't have the same definition or conception of what the jargon-y term means. And then, instead of coming to a general understanding of why those different definitions matter to the discussion, they instead start to argue about whose made-up definition is "correct."


2. Railroads and player agency and fudging, oh my!
I wouldn't say I was the BEST DM. But I would say that I was in the Top One.

When it comes to D&D, there is always seems to be an imbalance between the number of people that want to play, and the number of people willing to DM. Simply put, it is a truism to note than in most places, at most times, there is a greater supply of players than DMs. For example, while there are opportunities for people to make money DMing, you do not hear about many opportunities to make money playing D&D. Which means that the issue of DM scarcity, and the concomitant issue of "how best to DM," often come up on ENWorld.

How to "DM better," is usually addressed in two separate ways; the first is the request for specific advice. In other words, a DM has encountered situation X, they don't know how to deal with it, and they reach out to the community to see if anyone else has any ideas. These are (usually) handled fairly easily because specificity is the soul of good advice- if someone is reaching out for advice on how to make a specific ruling, or how to handle a particular situation (Help! My party killed the BBEG before the adventure really started!!!!), then it's much easier to provide bespoke, individualized advice.

But it's the second type of issue that drives most of the conversations. "Does a good DM railroad?" "How often do you fudge?" "What is most important, player agency or rule 0?" "Is it okay to allow players to metagame?" "Chad wants to play a Bard again, do I kill his character immediately, or kill his character immediately with extreme prejudice?"

By invoking certain terms that are both jargon (terms of art) and laden with connotations, these conversations necessarily invite misunderstanding. Normally, the use of a specialized term, of jargon, is to allow people who are familiar with the term to avoid having to go through the longer explanation for it every time it comes up. For example, in many professions (doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists) you will see jargon used - if doctors are discussing an M&M or a D&D, they aren't talking about candies or role-playing games. It gets more complicated, however, when these specialized terms don't have a widely understood, and generally accepted, definition.

To use two examples to illustrate the point:
Fudging- there are many kinds of fudging, but generally people use the term to refer to the specific practice of dice fudging. Even more specifically, "fudging" generally refers to the practice of DMs changing the results of secret die rolls, as opposed to players changing the results of die rolls (which is usually called cheating). Other than some extreme examples, most people can generally agree on what fudging is.

Railroading. I have seen people adopt positions on railroading that seem extreme to me, on both sides- everything from "Choosing an adventure to run is railroading, since it remove player agency," to "Having players act out their parts in the DM's pre-written script isn't railroading, so long as the players don't figure it out." If you search out definitions on the web, you won't get much farther; here are a few that I quickly googled-
Rrailroading is the act of ensuring the players stay on plot by use of game mechanics.
Railroading is the GM forcing the players on a predetermined path through a story.
Railroading is a GMing style in which, no matter what the PCs do, they will experience certain events according to the GM's plan.
Railroading is when the GM takes any measure necessary to ensure there is only one direction the campaign may proceed — his planned direction.

Notice that "railroading" always carries a bad connotation, but it's unclear what, exactly, it might mean. Given that the use of almost any prepared material (let alone an AP) would fall within the ambit of "railroading," it seems that most discussions of railroading as a general concept would bog down into pointlessness; which they do. Contrast that with fudging; since most people understand exactly what it means, it is possible to have productive conversations about it (do you do it, when, why, do you roll in the open, what effect does that have, etc.).


3. So, what does any of this have to do with being a better DM?
Start every day with a smile so you can be done with it as quickly as possible.

One of the best things to happen to the growth of D&D is the rise of the streaming games; but this is, conversely, one of the worst things to happen to DMs. Yes, there are actual games by actual DMs streamed out there- but the truly popular ones? Those aren't D&D games, those are entertainment. You will learn as much about being a good DM for your home game from watching Critical Role as you would learn to be a considerate lover from watching adult film clips off the internet; it's just not in the same ballpark.

Instead, you will need to learn through trial and error, and through evolving your own style. Remember that what works for some people, may not work for you, and vice versa. One DM might thrive on being uber-prepared, another might prefer more free-form and improv. One DM might like to run Wizards' APs, and another might prefer a sandbox in their own setting. But, with that said, I have found the following to be helpful:

A. Don't listen to players. Not on the internet. I understand this sounds harsh, so I will make it more explicit- you're a DM. You probably have a table with a number of players! Let's say you have Pete, who likes to write 50 page histories for his characters and demands that you read them and find "hooks" for them in the campaign. And then there's Chad, who rolled up a Barbarian named Kronan, and wrote in the same thing for Traits, Ideals, Flaws, Bonds, and History- "Likes to Kick Butt." Sarah is an optimizing rule lawyer, and is living for the moment when she can catch you out in not knowing a rule ... so that it will work to the advantage of her uber-optimized Paladin, Lady Smites-A-Lot. But Jane, who just learned to play the game, is all about having fun and doing fun things with her pet as a Bestmaster. And so on.

Do you think all of those players would give the same advice to a DM on the internet? Do you think they all have the same interests? Do you think the same techniques and cares that some of us obsess over would make the same difference to all of them? Probably not! And if not, why would one of them have more importance to you just because they are on the internet?

B. Don't listen to other DMs. Not on the internet. Look, all of us that give advice, myself included ... we mean well! But we don't know your players. We don't know you. To the extent that we are giving out grand pronouncements ("Don't railroad!" or "Always roll in the open," or "Create a culture of corruption and accept bribes in exchange for favorable rolls") you should feel more than free to ignore them. And you should be especially careful when it comes to those who are telling you about some method or technique or theory that they started using that solves all problems, ever- there is nothing worse than the zeal of the newly converted.

Instead, look to the specific advice that you can use to apply to your game. For example, I know that iserith has put together a number of amazing posts about how he adjudicates specific rules and handles the action economy in 5e which many people find incredibly helpful. That's the type of specific and applied advice, applicable to a particular TTRPG, that DMs should seek out.

C. Run a different game. There is no single "best DMing technique" that always works, across all games, and all tables. Mix it up a little, if you can. Running different types of games will often give you insight and techniques that you can apply to D&D, if and when you run it again.

D. Keep on, keepin' on. There is no magic to this. There is just getting in the reps, and learning from your mistakes. No DM I've ever heard about was flawless from the beginning. More importantly, the DM you are today is not the same DM you will be 5, 10, 20 years down the road (or even next week). You will always be evolving and changing. Things that work today with the game you are running and the players at your table may not work with a different system and different players; it is better to be flexible than dogmatic.


4. Conclusion.
There is nothing more discouraging than the sheer number of people that are shocked by honesty and the paucity of people shocked by deceit.

It is fun and comfortable to argue about metagaming, railroads, and player agency; it allows us to retreat into tired positions, well-tread by prior arguments, and reiterate our righteous outrage that others do not play the same way that we do. But in the end, those discussions are less about helping other DMs find their own way than it is to assert our own preferences. Getting bogged down in jargon and definitions is part and parcel of these arguments. It is far better, and more productive, to look at the specific ways in which your own DMing style can improve or evolve, so that Chad's Kronan can have fun kicking butt while Sarah can shine and smite to her heart's content.
Sorry, how does D work with A? I cannot, at all, agree with your A and B. You absolutely should listen to players, even players from other tables, and a parade of horribles argument just shows that you should consider and choose from what you listen to -- it doesn't say you shouldn't listen. For each example of a horrible you presented, one could find a very clear player with good insights as to what works well for them in interactions with GMs and with play that can very much help you out. This is bunk.

Other GMs as well are very good to listen to. You should do this. And then you should think and filter and take what you want to try. Your D only ever works if you are doing A and B and getting good feedback/listening to advice and stories and evaluating that for yourself.

C is good, but it's more for finding a game that best suits what you want out of RPGs than it is to improve your craft at other games. In fact, trying to naively port what works in one game can lead to pretty terrible results in another game. Ask me how I know this.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
No, you don't! And that's fine. Because it doesn't have to be negative; no one is saying that entertaining people is bad.

Instead, it's similar to Mitchell & Webb's Kitchen Nightmares:


In effect, you're right. It's just a normal home game.

A normal home game where:
A. The players are paid to play.
They were not when they first started, as @jgsugden said, they seem to be the same. Professional basketball players are paid to play, they're still playing basketball.
B. The players are all talented voice actors.
Yep. I agree. People from all lines of work play D&D.
C. The DM's career is based off of the game.
It's hardly the only thing he does and it was not true when they started. See point "A" above.
D. The DM is a talented voice actor.
Yep. He has a career.
E. Effectively infinite resources (in time and money) to prep for games- including making lore and props as needed.
This is probably the only point I agree with. Then again, I've never really been into detailed sets. But some people are and some people drop a ton of money on dwarven forge and related products.
Yes, it is "D&D." But thinking it is the same as your home game is a category error; it just isn't. That's not a bad thing, at all! People can watch (for example) Gordon Ramsay cook and be inspired to cook more food. People can watch the Bucks win the NBA championship and want to shoot some hoops at the Y. But there is a difference.
Nobody else's home campaign is going to look like mine. So?
What is odd (IMO) is the number of people who reflexively assume that those who correctly note that this game is different than most D&D games are somehow besmirching the reputation of Critical Role as opposed to acknowledging the obvious- that viewing this as typical D&D (as opposed to performance, or entertainment D&D) tends to cause quite a few issues. The reason it's weird is because it would be like someone saying, "How dare you note that this Disney Marvel movie is different than what I am doing in my local community theater? How dare you, sir???" No one was insulting Disney for having higher production values than you local community theater- far from it. :)

I simply don't think it's that different. The voice acting is a bit better. Matt's set pieces are better than most, but I've known people who invest heavily in things like dwarven forge that they use. We generally have as much fun as they seem to be having around the table with the same engagement and number of laughs most of the time. But it's not a competition. Although I do think the minis I paint are far superior to the ones he uses as far as I can tell so "neener, neener Matt!".

There's that, but there's also a more fundamental distinction which was implicit in the other factors.

An audience. The presence of observers necessarily changes how you approach things. Most people, the vast majority of people, do not play D&D as a performance or a product. Even when you are performing for the people around you, you aren't performing for a larger audience that is observing you (and, for that matter, directly or indirectly paying you).

But for the limited number of people who stream their games for an audience, or those that play public exhibition games. this involves certain choices that would not be relevant to most tables.

Does it really matter that much? I mean that. If I'm acting in character then I'm acting in character. I'm pretending to be someone else. Just like they do. Some of the CR participants may be better at it, but I don't think most of the people involved would stand out all that much in any of my home games.

While people shouldn't expect Matt Mercer levels of voice acting from their DM and many people would find the level of non-combat engagement incredibly boring, no two tables are going to be exactly alike. I don't see a problem with that, nor do I think there's anything fundamentally different that they're doing.

Maybe I'm missing something. But nobody can ever explain what it is so different other than "they're voice actors". Which, other than Matt, doesn't really have that big of an impact.

In any case, no reason to derail this any further unless there's something concrete other than repeating "they're voice actors" a few times.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Mercer is a good DM and the players are REALLY game and like to chew scenery - but strip that away and his game is near bog standard D&D 5e.
It's zero to hero, start small (small area, single town) and expand the world from there.
The rules are standard 5e with Nary even a homebrew (he shoehorned in a pathfinder class initially and has introduced more stuff as he goes but mostly classes and items, the rules remain untouched).

This is not a criticism - it's a comment stating anyone who wanted to start their own campaign could use the way he started and expanded his as an easy to follow model.
They have a few house rules but not many.

Resurrection is a ritual skill challenge. Potions are a bonus action to drink. When rolling hit points re-roll 1s. They use residuum and the pantheon is based on 4E. Message has a 25-word limit. Matt also homebrews classes and subclasses. But otherwise, I think it’s RAW 5E.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
They were not when they first started, as @jgsugden said, they seem to be the same. Professional basketball players are paid to play, they're still playing basketball.
Yep. Those guys are paid to play, just like those who live stream actual games are playing the game. The Harlem Globetrotters are paid to entertain, which is very different, like Critical Role and other entertainment games.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
You will learn as much about being a good DM for your home game from watching Critical Role as you would learn to be a considerate lover from watching adult film clips off the internet; it's just not in the same ballpark.
Needless cheap shot tbh.
 

Probably the discussions could be better phrased in terms of what makes something fun or unfun. In general we are all collating our memories of adventures-past and trying to generalize about what worked and what didn't, generalization that is difficult not just because it is based on anecdote but because reactions to different play styles varies by the kind of player.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
yes, in many ways I look at it and see similarities to my home game.

Sure, that's fine.

Now, can you recognize the difference between a general piece of advice, and advice personally designed and intended for Oofta? Because, sure, what you are saying is that Oofta is an old hand, and can recognize the differences between the actors and his group. Oofta will be fine if he watches CR, and looks for tips and tricks to take away.

But what about all those folks who aren't as experienced and self-possessed in their Game Mastery as Oofta? Who may be new at running games, and not really get that CR isn't bog-standard D&D, and may not be the best expectation to set for new GMs? Who may not know that the set pieces are hard enough to match that even Oofta probably wouldn't aim for them, say?

Maybe, refuting the advice because Oofta doesn't need it does a bit of a disservice to the advice, and those other GMs...

To say that they aren't playing D&D though, to me, is a bit silly.

I'm not sure who did say that. I'm saying that their performance is perhaps not a great target to aim for at enough individual tables to make for some decent general advice to not use CR as a measuring stick. I'm saying that a lot of the performance they get is hard to elicit from of most gamers, because they don't often have the same skills (and support) as the actors and GM on CR, and watching it may not actually give you the methods needed.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
A. Don't listen to players.

B. Don't listen to other DMs.
I don't think it's that simple. And I think you know it's not that simple, and you're just being provocative by claiming that it is.

The key is to figure out when the players and DMs on the internet are saying something worth listening to, something that's applicable to your table.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I don't think it's that simple. And I think you know it's not that simple, .

Of course I think it’s that simple! Everything else, the stray references to Wittgenstein, the random allusions to obscure literature, the words … the sheer mountains of verbiage… are all just in service to one, perfect, Dad joke.

Kronan the Barbarian.

That’s the prestige! The rest is just misdirection, signifying nothing.
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
A few different issues in the thread..

Here is another. For years now, DMs have been offered advice, often from vaunted and influential sources in the industry, that may make running their game harder and less fun for them--though it may please certain hypothetical players.

DMing is a social and hobby activity. Of course you want to do it well, but you have to do it for yourself in a way that you enjoy. If the bar goes too high, no one will jump over it, except maybe jerks who don't care (and to continue the analogy just walk under the bar).

Hopefully the reputation of the jerks will proceed them, and that will take care of itself. But the rest of us are also doing this just for us.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
Imagine there's no minstrels
It's easy if you try
No bards to annoy us
No lutes for them to try

Imagine all the people
Killin' a bard today
Ah

Imagine there's no troubadours
It isn't hard to do
No valor bards to annoy us
And no lore bards, too

Imagine all the people
Hackin' a bard to pieces
You

You may say that Snarf's a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join me
And all the bards in the world will be done
Only a bard would make such a complete parody of a John Lennon song about how much bards suck. It's clearly just a scheme to smack-down their competitors. ;)
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
If you watch the video of them playing from their home games, before the stream, their style is substantially similar. While a couple of the cast members are audience conscious and adjust their playing to suit the audience (mostly Sam), most of them didn't need to make any adjustments - they're just playing D&D as they did before the stream. Go back and watch the first few streamed sessions. They had a tiny audience and had no expectations. They were just playing ... and it is very similar to what we saw all the way along.

I only watched the home game video and the start of the stream, no time to watch more, but I completely agree that these guys are just playing together as friends, and in the end, apart from the fact that Matt does great voices and one or two have character voices, I have to make an effort to remember that they are voice actors, they look like players to me. Good players who are having fun, but I've seen tons of them over the years.

Not all DMs run a game like Matt Mercer, and not all players play like his group does - but that style is something I saw as far back as 1982. Immersive play is not a fallacy.

Exactly the same for me. The one thing that they do really well, though, is not letting the tension down during play, and I think that's a credit to Matt as a DM, but I also think that knowing that they are streaming also helps to keep up the pressure.

For me, apart from the great voice acting of some, this is the only major difference that I see with the way have been gaming since the end of the 70's, the fact that there is no lull in the game. We have digressions, we have sequences where only a few of the players are engaged, sometimes only one and the DM, sometimes really long in character discussions of options that turn up into endless series of "what if" and end up being really boring even for us, no one would watch that on stream...

Mercer is a good DM and the players are REALLY game and like to chew scenery - but strip that away and his game is near bog standard D&D 5e.
It's zero to hero, start small (small area, single town) and expand the world from there.
The rules are standard 5e with Nary even a homebrew (he shoehorned in a pathfinder class initially and has introduced more stuff as he goes but mostly classes and items, the rules remain untouched).

This is not a criticism - it's a comment stating anyone who wanted to start their own campaign could use the way he started and expanded his as an easy to follow model.

Again, I have not watched much, but I completely agree, so far (I'm only up to episode 5), it's been a nice but fairly standard dwarven town, a fairly classic dungeon and fortress, etc. The one thing that stands out are the NPCs, and for me that would be the one advice to get, make your NPCs interesting, but honestly the way it works at our tables and that I see mimicked in the show is when the NPC is "adopted" by the PC. So maybe that's the trick, find the NPCs characteristics that will make it be adopted by the party, in whatever role makes it the most fun.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
part from the great voice acting of some, this is the only major difference that I see with the way have been gaming since the end of the 70's, the fact that there is no lull in the game.

So, this has been an interesting digression in the thread, and wholly unexpected given that was really a throw-away line. Everyone is welcome to continue conversing about Critical Role, but ... I think I will make a different, more fully-fleshed out post with full thoughts on the subject.

Continue as you will, but if you want more meat on the bones, I should have a full post to attack/discuss shortly, and will allow this to either peter out or get sidetracked into something else. :)
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
So, this has been an interesting digression in the thread, and wholly unexpected given that was really a throw-away line. Everyone is welcome to continue conversing about Critical Role, but ... I think I will make a different, more fully-fleshed out post with full thoughts on the subject.

Continue as you will, but if you want more meat on the bones, I should have a full post to attack/discuss shortly, and will allow this to either peter out or get sidetracked into something else. :)

Sorry, I didn't realize it was such a touchy topic. I do understand that the Matt Mercer effect can be detrimental to some people, but I think people can get a lot of positive from it too. 🤷‍♂️

Does that mean I should actually read your original post and explain why I disagree? So much work! :rolleyes:
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
So, this has been an interesting digression in the thread, and wholly unexpected given that was really a throw-away line. Everyone is welcome to continue conversing about Critical Role, but ... I think I will make a different, more fully-fleshed out post with full thoughts on the subject.

Continue as you will, but if you want more meat on the bones, I should have a full post to attack/discuss shortly, and will allow this to either peter out or get sidetracked into something else. :)

No, honestly, I think I'm done on the subject, I only mentioned Critical Role because others did, as I'm not an expert at all. My take on the thread was that there were things to pick on how to be a better DM, but maybe focussing on NPCs and making sure that the PCs are always engaged.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I was perusing the thread by @Malmuria which was a comment thread about a survivor thread set up by @CleverNickName and it made me think about the overall issue of DMing, and why people both crave advice, give advice, and why the topic of good DMing can be so contentious and filled with so much one-true-wayism. Given that I wanted to write out my thoughts more in full, I decided to start a thread- a thread, about a thread, about a thread.

Please note- I am using the term "DM" instead of "GM," because I feel like it, because I'm mostly discussing D&D, and because I want to. Feel free to use whatever your preferred nomenclature is.

1. Why we always argue about definitions.

I do agree with this. Too often people get caught up arguing semantics, trying to come up with an objective definition for things that are completely subjective. Corollary to this is that because different people have ever-so-slightly different definitions of what something means leads to the the claim that the whole thing is pointless. If you can't come up with a logical argument, obfuscate!

2. Railroads and player agency and fudging, oh my!
Do what works for you and your group. I don't personally use modules because I find them either so broad they take longer to really understand that it's more work than just making up my own stuff. When I do get them, I just pull out pieces for inspiration. Probably why nowadays I prefer PDFs so I can just cut out the important bits into my notes and ignore what I don't want to use.

Fudging can get annoying if it's noticeable, but the DM is always adjusting things for their group either before or during the game. If they didn't, that first level party would be facing ancient red dragons and be dead before the PCs could say "is that a dra...". I don't remember the last time I modified a die roll, but I will adjust planned encounters or use less than optimal tactics.

3. So, what does any of this have to do with being a better DM?
Start every day with a smile so you can be done with it as quickly as possible.

One of the best things to happen to the growth of D&D is the rise of the streaming games; but this is, conversely, one of the worst things to happen to DMs. Yes, there are actual games by actual DMs streamed out
Well, the "[streams] aren't D&D games, those are entertainment." is where we went off the rails. Let's just say I disagree.

But I disagree that you shouldn't listen. I listen to advice all the time. I reject a lot of it, but I still listen. I don't care how long you've DMed or played, you can always improve. Heck, there's some posters I don't block simply because they remind me of what I should not do. Sometimes your purpose in life is to be an example of what not to do. ;)

Of course my game, my advice, may not apply to your game and vice versa. In addition to that, accept that you can't be the right DM for every player. There are some good DMs out there that wouldn't be the right DM for me. This is such a personalized game, there's no way to please everyone and sometimes trying to please everyone means you end up pleasing no one.

4. Conclusion.

Yeah, don't get too worked up about what anyone posts. Agree, disagree, it doesn't really matter. There is no one true way. If you and your group are having fun you're doing it right.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Maybe, refuting the advice because Oofta doesn't need it does a bit of a disservice to the advice, and those other GMs...

Hm. I've been informed that this post came across... poorly. And, for that, I apologize. I have no problems with Oofta, and was, in fact, trying to specifically note that he seems to be skilled at the craft. But I'll own that the construction was a little weird, and that means it could come across badly. Sorry about that.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Hm. I've been informed that this post came across... poorly. And, for that, I apologize. I have no problems with Oofta, and was, in fact, trying to specifically note that he seems to be skilled at the craft. But I'll own that the construction was a little weird, and that means it could come across badly. Sorry about that.

I am aware of the Matt Mercer effect, and that in some ways it can be detrimental for some people because it can set expectations too high.

I do find it useful to watch streams like this because it's given me more confidence to be, well, a little silly at times when I DM. In my last game there was an encounter with giant apes and I went all in on vocalization and acting out the apes. Not sure I would have done that before.

But no one should expect a professional voice actor DM with unlimited dwarven forge budget any more than they should expect a pick-up basketball game to be NBA level. I personally like doing voices and mannerisms and I practice at it to get better*. On the other hand everybody should lean into their own unique strengths.

*So next time you see that guy driving down the road talking to himself? If it's me, it's likely that I'm just trying to repeat the accent or mannerisms of someone that was just talking on the radio or trying out a new "voice". Practice may not make perfect and my "french" accent is still based on Pepe Le'Peu, but if it's something you enjoy practice makes better.
 

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