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

Right but not realky. Fun is subjective, so you have to manage expectations. But that's for you as a DM and your players to work out. What works for Mercer or paid dms may not work for me you.

Absolutely true, but that doesn't mean a given GM has to just come up with everything ex nihilio. Chances are, invidual group or no, the issues you're having are not things that never came up before, and finding how other people handled them can be useful.
 

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p_johnston

Explorer
So I will preface this by saying I really enjoy critical role, just as I really enjoy a lot of streaming D&D games. I have also stolen ideas, stories, and parts of my GMing style from both it and other games I have seen streamed.

In many ways watching Critical Role is just watching a bunch of friends having fun playing D&D. However Particularly by seasons 2 & 3 It seems (at least to me) that the main focus is on presenting an entertaining product rather then just having fun playing D&D. That doesn't mean they aren't having fun, it doesn't mean they aren't really playing D&D. It just means that they have a different focus then a group that isn't streaming.

a couple of specific examples that sticks out the best for me. The first is the first episode of season 3. After the game starts it takes 30 minutes before the second set of characters are introduced. It takes roughly another 30 to introduce the next 3. It takes over 2 hours to introduce the last character. Now these character introduction bits are fun and make for great viewing. But in a home game I would highly advise against having you players sit on their hands for the first 1 to 2 hours of the first session in service to telling a story.

Another example is in season two when Molly dies. It takes 1 1/2 sessions roughly to get his new character into the group, because it made for a better story. In a home game I would, again, highly advice against this and suggest you just find a way to introduce the new character a soon as possible even if it makes for a weaker story.
 
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Oofta

Legend
So I will preface this by saying I really enjoy critical role, just as I really enjoy a lot of streaming D&D games. I have also stolen ideas, stories, and parts of my GMing style from both it and other games I have seen streamed.

In many ways watching Critical Role is just watching a bunch of friends having fun playing D&D. However Particularly by seasons 2 & 3 It seems (at least to me) that the main focus is on presenting an entertaining product rather then just having fun playing D&D. That doesn't mean they aren't having fun, it doesn't mean they aren't really playing D&D. It just means that they have a different focus then a group that isn't streaming.

a couple of specific examples that sticks out the best for me. The first is the first episode of season 3. After the game starts it takes 30 minutes before the second set of characters are introduced. It takes roughly another 30 to introduce the next 3. It takes over 2 hours to introduce the last character. Now these character introduction bits are fun and make for great viewing. But in a home game I would highly advise against having you players sit on their hands for the first 1 to 2 hours of the first session in service to telling a story.

Another example is in season two when Molly dies. It takes 1 1/2 sessions roughly to get his new character into the group, because it made for a better story. In a home game I would, again, highly advice against this and suggest you just find a way to introduce the new character a soon as possible even if it makes for a weaker story.
Are they playing D&D? Yes. Are they acting/ roleplaying for each other? Yes. Are they doing it for an audience? Yes. Is it a job? Yes. Are they having fun? Certainly seems like it.

I don't think any of these are mutually exclusive. You mention the character intros (which they did for campaign 1 as well). In a home game it wouldn't be a half hour intro in my experience there would be a lot of back and forth, chit chat about who was going to do what, do the PCs already have relationships and so on. Much of this may go back and forth on message boards and texts over the course of weeks while also discussing some campaign outlines. That kind of stuff wouldn't be entertaining to watch.

But their skipping all that and just doing presentation also seems like an exception, not the norm.
 

Of course that's a big "if" in your second sentence in your second paragraph. The world is full of games where things aren't entirely working for GMs and players are sometimes having fun. Trying to figure out how to rectify those qualifications is often what GMs go on a search about.
I would disagree with this. From my observations, most tables are having fun. Heck, if you look at these forums, 90% of the people who post here have perfect games. Now, a table full of strangers or young kids might be a little different. But, in my experience, even most of them still have fun.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
a couple of specific examples that sticks out the best for me. The first is the first episode of season 3. After the game starts it takes 30 minutes before the second set of characters are introduced. It takes roughly another 30 to introduce the next 3. It takes over 2 hours to introduce the last character. Now these character introduction bits are fun and make for great viewing. But in a home game I would highly advise against having you players sit on their hands for the first 1 to 2 hours of the first session in service to telling a story.
That really didn’t work for me and I have to say C3 has mostly been a bit of dud, except for Marisha and Travis‘s character work. The totally random character choices and a city that has turned out to be basically the same as every other city in a DND campaign is wearing a bit thin.

Would like to see things get moving. So if they’re looking for entertaining then they’re heading in the wrong direction, which I guess proves that they’re not doing this to necessarily please an audience. :)
 

I would disagree with this. From my observations, most tables are having fun. Heck, if you look at these forums, 90% of the people who post here have perfect games. Now, a table full of strangers or young kids might be a little different. But, in my experience, even most of them still have fun.

[citation needed]

Less snarky, even if you believe everyone's press about their games--and aren't overreading into the fact that people who have things that generally work don't have problems--forum discussion cannot be viewed as meaningfully representative. Among other things, people prone to posting on forums are probably people more likely to have sought out solutions they had early on.

And note my qualification about "some of the time". You can be having fun more often than not, and still have significant problems that crop up with some regularity.
 

[citation needed]

Less snarky, even if you believe everyone's press about their games--and aren't overreading into the fact that people who have things that generally work don't have problems--forum discussion cannot be viewed as meaningfully representative. Among other things, people prone to posting on forums are probably people more likely to have sought out solutions they had early on.

And note my qualification about "some of the time". You can be having fun more often than not, and still have significant problems that crop up with some regularity.
I get the need for evidence. But, in this case, there is no evidence - for either side.

That said, there is a representation to be had via eyeballs. And if we don't trust those, then how about sales. D&D is growing, showing higher numbers than any time in its history. To me, we can infer that means the majority of people playing are "having fun." Complications that a handful of people find are so few and far between, they are irrelevant.

And if I may add, I highly doubt anyone has ever found a solution to a "table problem" on any forum. Sure, they may find a solution on how to glue minis together or how to use a specific spell. But fun is subjective, and no one increases their "fun" by asking questions on a forum.

But I get it. Your statements were vague, yet declarative. The italicized words entirely and sometimes (and "some of the time" leave it obscure enough to always have an out. It's a fair enough way to state things, until you place the burden of proof on someone, like you did @carmachu . Once you disagree with someone, it is expected they rebuttal. It's hard to rebuttal something that can change shape like a cloud.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I get the need for evidence. But, in this case, there is no evidence - for either side.

That said, there is a representation to be had via eyeballs. And if we don't trust those, then how about sales. D&D is growing, showing higher numbers than any time in its history. To me, we can infer that means the majority of people playing are "having fun." Complications that a handful of people find are so few and far between, they are irrelevant.

And if I may add, I highly doubt anyone has ever found a solution to a "table problem" on any forum. Sure, they may find a solution on how to glue minis together or how to use a specific spell. But fun is subjective, and no one increases their "fun" by asking questions on a forum.

But I get it. Your statements were vague, yet declarative. The italicized words entirely and sometimes (and "some of the time" leave it obscure enough to always have an out. It's a fair enough way to state things, until you place the burden of proof on someone, like you did @carmachu . Once you disagree with someone, it is expected they rebuttal. It's hard to rebuttal something that can change shape like a cloud.
Just a quick aside, but I managed to increase my fun a good bit by asking questions on a forum. Or rather, I think it started by being asked questions on a forum....
 


That said, there is a representation to be had via eyeballs. And if we don't trust those, then how about sales. D&D is growing, showing higher numbers than any time in its history. To me, we can infer that means the majority of people playing are "having fun." Complications that a handful of people find are so few and far between, they are irrelevant.

This is still based on assumption that needs more support. That assumption is people will only keep playing a game if they never have problems or struggle with things. That doesn't describe anything people do in any other part of human life, why should it be true here/

And if I may add, I highly doubt anyone has ever found a solution to a "table problem" on any forum. Sure, they may find a solution on how to glue minis together or how to use a specific spell. But fun is subjective, and no one increases their "fun" by asking questions on a forum.

I have.

But I get it. Your statements were vague, yet declarative. The italicized words entirely and sometimes (and "some of the time" leave it obscure enough to always have an out. It's a fair enough way to state things, until you place the burden of proof on someone, like you did @carmachu . Once you disagree with someone, it is expected they rebuttal. It's hard to rebuttal something that can change shape like a cloud.

If you don't understand the difference between not overly universalizing, and being vague, that's not my problem.
 


Just a quick aside, but I managed to increase my fun a good bit by asking questions on a forum. Or rather, I think it started by being asked questions on a forum....
Ditto, I've definitely gotten good ideas about running games from this and other forums.

I don't doubt that people can find ideas on a forum they find beneficial. It might even increase their "fun." What I doubt is the fact they needed a forum for it. They could have come up with it on their own - and it might have been better. In my opinion, it probably would have been, not just better, but more fun.

And like I said, a quick solution to something, yup. That happens. A "table problem?" No, I doubt it.
 

I don't doubt that people can find ideas on a forum they find beneficial. It might even increase their "fun." What I doubt is the fact they needed a forum for it. They could have come up with it on their own - and it might have been better. In my opinion, it probably would have been, not just better, but more fun.

And like I said, a quick solution to something, yup. That happens. A "table problem?" No, I doubt it.

Then doubt it. But they were absolutely ideas I wouldn't have come up with on my own. Sometimes you seriously need outside ideas to get you out of your own personal biases and ruts.
 


South by Southwest

Incorrigible Daydreamer
Would you mind me asking for an example of a "table problem" you did have that was solved by a forum?
Sorry to interject, but I have had a bunch of my table problems solved by this very forum and advice I've received from people on it. It's one of the principal reasons I keep coming back here day after day. And no, I do not think I ever would've figured these things out on my own.

As much as I so hate so much of the internet and what it's doing to us, I really have benefited from it in this respect.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I don't doubt that people can find ideas on a forum they find beneficial. It might even increase their "fun." What I doubt is the fact they needed a forum for it. They could have come up with it on their own - and it might have been better. In my opinion, it probably would have been, not just better, but more fun.

And like I said, a quick solution to something, yup. That happens. A "table problem?" No, I doubt it.
This is an odd claim. I mean, sure, discussion here wasn't the only possible way that an idea could be had, but this is just proposing a counterfactual. I could say that had life started and grew on Mars no one would be coming to this forum but one one Mars instead. I mean, so?

Then the claim that a different idea might have been better is kind of the same thing. I could say that an idea that you had for your game on your own might have been better and more fun had you gotten it from here.

And then directly saying that people that have claimed they've received help in thinking here are deluded and/or liars? Weird flex, bro.
 

I don't doubt that people can find ideas on a forum they find beneficial. It might even increase their "fun." What I doubt is the fact they needed a forum for it. They could have come up with it on their own - and it might have been better. In my opinion, it probably would have been, not just better, but more fun.

And like I said, a quick solution to something, yup. That happens. A "table problem?" No, I doubt it.

You can add me to the list of people who have benefitted from discussion here (and elsewhere).

My RPG experience was largely limited to my specific group and the specific games we played. Primarily D&D of one form or another, with some other games mixed in here and there over the years. And it was that way for pretty much a couple of decades.

The combo of doing something that long with a very small group of people and playing a very select few games meant that although I felt very experienced, that experience was actually pretty narrow.

Talking to folks here helped me realize that a lot of things I assumed to be universal were in fact not so. And my understanding of how RPGs function was actually primarily “how D&D functions”.

I joined here about when 5e came along. This was following a period of frustration with gaming that I’d had. I wasn’t enjoying it and was looking for something else. The timing was i teresting because 5e was a step in the right direction for me, but it wasn't long till I realized I still wanted something else.

Talking with folks here helped me realize what I wanted and what I no longer wanted in RPGs. It made me branch out to new systems and games. It made me research games that were being discussed. It helped me broaden my experience with gaming.

This has in turn spread to members of my longstanding gaming group. We’re now playing more of a variety of games, and focusing on different elements. Additionally, I’ve now also played with more people because of this site.

So yeah, speaking to folks here has significantly impacted my enjoyment of the hobby. I don’t think I would have come to the same place without the site. Certainly I wouldn’t have met and played with folks who are members here, which in itself has been a blast and is enough reason on its own to consider my time here well spent.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
I don't doubt that people can find ideas on a forum they find beneficial. It might even increase their "fun." What I doubt is the fact they needed a forum for it. They could have come up with it on their own - and it might have been better. In my opinion, it probably would have been, not just better, but more fun.

What an odd claim!

The game I ran last night (1 shot turning into a 2 parter) was lifted directly from a discussion from this forum. Could I have come up with something else? Probably, but thanks to this forum, I didn't have too - and boy did my players have a blast with it!

Seeing as the person who came up with the adventure and how to structure and execute it lives in Australia and I'm in the US (thanks @Flamestrike ), I sincerely doubt it would have happened without access to a forum!

And it's been a goldmine for other concepts and ideas as well.

And like I said, a quick solution to something, yup. That happens. A "table problem?" No, I doubt it.

Why? This forum contains the thoughts of many very experienced DMs and players. Table problems are rarely unique. Having an outside perspective on them Is a big boon.
 

Ok, heard loud and clear. All of you had table problems, be it with problematic players or problematic DMs that were solved from these forums. And they were solved with solutions you could have never come up with on your own.

I take what all of you say as truth. My bad for overestimating people's problem-solving skills.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Ok, heard loud and clear. All of you had table problems, be it with problematic players or problematic DMs that were solved from these forums. And they were solved with solutions you could have never come up with on your own.

I take what all of you say as truth. My bad for overestimating people's problem-solving skills.

So rather than acknowledging that you made an overbroad statement you respond by making an even more ridiculous and overbroad statement? Ok.

I mean how is it the least bit controversial to state presenting an issue to a large group of like minded and experienced people may come up with solutions you yourself may not have thought of?
 

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