D&D General Matt Colville on adventure length

Not everyone has the benefit of playing under a good DM. And no one seems to have any idea on how more people can become good DMs.

Have you considered hosting an online game so that people here can experience what playing under a good DM is like??? Or taking an apprentice??
I never claimed to be a good DM myself, or to know how to create them, any more than I know how to create decent human beings.

But I do know “more rulz” isn’t a solution.
 

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I have solutions but no one will listen to them.
You should become a politician then, that’s the most important requirement: an unshakable faith that you know the simple solution to all the world’s problems.

Show me someone who thinks they know the solution, and I will show you someone who has failed to understand the problem.

There are no simple solutions.
 

Hussar

Legend
I never claimed to be a good DM myself, or to know how to create them, any more than I know how to create decent human beings.

But I do know “more rulz” isn’t a solution.
I'd agree that "more rulz" isn't a solution. If it was, games like RIFTS would be the best games around. Or Role Master. Or GURPS. Obviously that's not true.

However, I will say that having clear, easily applicable rules with clear intent and transparency are FAR preferable and a huge aid to creating better DM's and GM's. When you can point to a rule and say, "We do it this way because we want this and that result. This and that result will help because this and that result feed into these other things."

We don't make better DM's by throwing them in the deep end and hoping they don't drown.

One thing where the old Moldvay Basic set absolutely glowed about was that it laid out, very clearly, very concisely how to create an adventure. None of this world building nonsense, at least, not for the neophyte DM who is just getting started. Just, "Here is a town, don't worry too much about the town right now because the town isn't where the interesting stuff is. Here is the dungeon, that's near(ish) the town. Here's how you make an interesting dungeon that will entertain and engage your players. Once you have mastered these basic steps, then you can move on to the Expert set and we'll expand things."

The DUngeon Master's Guide, outside of maybe the 4e DMG, for every edition has been absolutely crap at teaching DM's how to run a game.
 

I'd agree that "more rulz" isn't a solution. If it was, games like RIFTS would be the best games around. Or Role Master. Or GURPS. Obviously that's not true.

However, I will say that having clear, easily applicable rules with clear intent and transparency are FAR preferable and a huge aid to creating better DM's and GM's. When you can point to a rule and say, "We do it this way because we want this and that result. This and that result will help because this and that result feed into these other things."

We don't make better DM's by throwing them in the deep end and hoping they don't drown.

One thing where the old Moldvay Basic set absolutely glowed about was that it laid out, very clearly, very concisely how to create an adventure. None of this world building nonsense, at least, not for the neophyte DM who is just getting started. Just, "Here is a town, don't worry too much about the town right now because the town isn't where the interesting stuff is. Here is the dungeon, that's near(ish) the town. Here's how you make an interesting dungeon that will entertain and engage your players. Once you have mastered these basic steps, then you can move on to the Expert set and we'll expand things."

The DUngeon Master's Guide, outside of maybe the 4e DMG, for every edition has been absolutely crap at teaching DM's how to run a game.
I wouldn't want to suggest that "less rulz" is a solution either, that has it's own issues, but I do find that the shear size of the DMG makes potential DMs say a hard "nope".

Especially compared to playing D&D, which is easy to pick up without reading anything at all. You need to know more rules to play Snakes and Ladders.

Of course, you don't need to know the DMG* to be a DM, and the starter sets try to do what the old Basic Set did, but simply knowing the DMG exists is off-putting, and these days, very few people seem to start playing D&D with a Starter Set. I suppose because they more often join established groups than have an everyone starting together situation.

And running D&D, I sometimes find myself scrabbling through rulebooks for an obscure rule. This is bad for the game - as any teacher or entertainer knows, this sort of interruption can cause you to loose the audience (i.e. the players). Ideally, the DM should know all the rules in their head, but my brain simply does not have than much capacity.



*As an example, the DMG spends a lot of time on world building, and I agree with you, a new DM does not need to bother with that at all.
 

Hussar

Legend
I keep nodding while reading what you wrote @Paul Farquhar . For all it's faults, the 4e DMG really is the gold standard here. Yes,yes, I know. Don't skip the gate guards and all that. But, the point was, it actually TAUGHT a DM how to run a game. And, like any teaching, you realize pretty quickly that once you get the basics, then you can start breaking the rules and experimenting.

I honestly think this is one of the reasons that the "campaign in a box" approach of 5e and Pathfinder has been so popular. It makes DMing so much easier. Sure, if you run, say, Hoard of the Dragon Queen straight out of the book it might not be the greatest game ever. Sure. But, it will be good enough.

And, I daresay that anyone who actually starts out with 5e, runs something like Hoard or Rime or whatever, and gets all the way to the end with a group, will certainly master the basics for going off and doing their own thing.
 

GrimCo

Adventurer
DMing is skill. And like any skill, you get better with practice. Try, fail, learn from your mistakes, do better on next try. Only problem is, you need group that is willing to go through learning process with gm, give good constructive feedback when shtf situations ocur ( like unintentional tpk). On top of that, gm and players need to be aligned about their expectations from the game and what play style they want.

Back in a day, my first few attempts to dm were abyssmal. Tpks, railroading, DMpcs stealing spotlight. Good thing is i played with friends and we were young enough to have lots of free time to play ( every week for about 6-8 hours on saturday, every other week extra 4 hour long session during school week). If you are working adult and you play with people you are not really familiar, i get it that you dont have lots of time to suck.

Someone mentioned failiures other than death. Imho, they aren't realy more interesting. Loosing all your hard earned stuff sucks. Level drain sucks even more. Loosing limbs? That one is my personal worst. Happened to my second ever dnd character back in 3.5. My helf barbarian lost a leg due to failed save on trap. Mechanical penalties made him very hard to play. First thing i did when we got to town was sell all my magic items, open a bar and retire. Why would i continue adventuring after getting crippled?
 

DMing is skill. And like any skill, you get better with practice. Try, fail, learn from your mistakes, do better on next try. Only problem is, you need group that is willing to go through learning process with gm, give good constructive feedback when shtf situations ocur ( like unintentional tpk). On top of that, gm and players need to be aligned about their expectations from the game and what play style they want
I.e. learn to play with FRIENDS. It’s what I did too.

I do think internet pick up groups are a problem.
 

Gus L

Explorer
There is of course the other side of that discussion where a player or party feels like they can take anything and charge into a pointless death at the hands of deciding the gm was bluffing when even the most basic level of risk acceptance & self preservation efforts would have avoided it.
Absolutely - I think the story from Blackmoor illustrates this sort of attitude and I've noticed it when running older style games for players coming from newer play styles.

For example, when I was play testing Tomb Robbers of the Crystal Frontier my group included 3 new players that had only played very standard 5E before and 3 players that were more experienced with my games. In the first session 2 of 3 of the new guys died ... because they insisted on charging an owlbear under the assumption that they were "supposed to" and that it was the "mini-boss" of that part of the dungeon. It was not. It was a 4+HD predator that the random encounter table indicated was attracted by the sound of the party hacking gold inlay from the walls.

The funny thing was that the new players had gotten my email describing the distinctions between newer and older style games - and they had warnings from the other players. The positive side of the story is that it led to the game becoming about monster hunting - they did ultimately kill the owlbear, and the new players stayed on and enjoyed the knowledge that poor decisions had consequences for their PCs.

So the solution I would suggest to these issues is that one needs both a non-antagonistic referee (which is not hard really) and to understand player expectations. Some of the conflict I see in this discussion to some extent seems to around the idea that certain sets of player expectations are correct or better then others. For me the truth has been that when player expectations align with mechanics and play style one has a good game. The nice thing about high lethality systems is that those expectations can be reinforced or set quickly in game without disrupting the fiction. If a player doesn't want to play in tomb-robbing low powered dirtbag antihero world ... then they don't have to, but that's a different game.
 


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