D&D General What is YOUR GM style?

1. Prep enough to be ready but not too much as to be rigid (Sly Flourish: Helping Dungeon Masters run great D&D games.)
2. Share the spotlight
3. Provide good balance of exploration, social interaction, and combat
4. Give motivations to the NPCs
5. Play hard but root for the PCs
6. Roll in the open
7. Know the rules and make quick adjudications
8. Encourage action so the PCs Get Stuff Done
9. Work PC backstories - and other things important to the players - into the story
10. Laugh
 

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pogre

Legend
Start on time, yes.

End on time? What is this foreign concept you speak of? Play 'em till they drop, says I, and leave 'em wanting more! :)
I would love to do that, but I have a few players driving in from a long distance. It is important that I get them back on the road in a timely manner. If we are heading towards a big encounter at the end of a session will pull them aside and ask if they want to go an extra 45 minutes or if they need to be on the road on time. That's pretty rare though - I usually time it to 4 hours on the dot.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I would love to do that, but I have a few players driving in from a long distance. It is important that I get them back on the road in a timely manner. If we are heading towards a big encounter at the end of a session will pull them aside and ask if they want to go an extra 45 minutes or if they need to be on the road on time. That's pretty rare though - I usually time it to 4 hours on the dot.
This.

And also, I find it keeps a long-running game running smoothly if you and your players non-gaming responsibilities are not interfered with by the game, thus, for example, no one's partner (like my poor non-RPG playing wife) grows to resent the game because it goes overlong too often or whatever.
 

Retreater

Legend
1. Always down to try a new system - though I usually come back to D&D.
2. I prefer a faster paced game where something is happening. (Doesn't have to be fights. I just don't like spending time shopping or things like that.)
3. I love tactile elements. Puzzles to move, nicely painted miniatures, 3D terrain. (Joke's on me since moving to VTT, all that is useless now.)
4. I love it when a good mystery comes together - though it's hard to pull off.
5. I have a reputation for being a Killer DM. I guess this is largely because I think in terms of scenes and not fights. Players don't like to run away - I should remember this.
6. A weakness of mine is that I don't include all players equally. A more direct player gets more attention. I should work on this.
7. I have a hard time saying no to character concepts, using splats, or even when players disagree with rules interpretations. I prefer to just let it go.
8. I get bummed when I don't run encounters to their fullest.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
1. I'm a medium prep guy. I prep threats, and bits and pieces like small dungeons and encounters, but I don;t sew them up into a narrative. That;s what the players do when the make decisions with consequences.

2. Fast is good. Fast makes people make decisions in the moment. It's not always a tactical thing.

3. Tactical is great though. Yes. Players should have to think. Maybe quite hard.

4. Mysteries are tough. I have my own approach there.

5. I don't kill PCs, players kill PCs.

6. Weaknesses? My expectations of narrative brilliance on the part of the players qualifies. It's probably unfair.

7. I have no problem saying no if it doesn't fit.

8. Not getting engagement does suck, yeah.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
Quantum Ogres: My prep style could be argued as containing quantum ogres, however the way that I do prep work they really aren't.

For example, if you have two roads through a forest you can take I may preassign road A as being the rocky trail and road B as the river trail but those ogres are on a list of encounters I am going to use whenever I need something to happen, which is then edited to fit the situation.

If you encounter the ogres on road A they might be ambushing you from a cliff rolling boulders at you and on road B they might be fishing in the river with nets.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
There's a big difference between there may be ogres in either direction due to random encounter rolling and there will be ogres in either direction because that's the next encounter. Quantum ogres is the latter, while the former is just random encounter generation. If they area has ogres it has ogres. Some roll rocks. Some fish and drink beer in big row boats. Nothing wrong with that.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
There's a big difference between there may be ogres in either direction due to random encounter rolling and there will be ogres in either direction because that's the next encounter. Quantum ogres is the latter, while the former is just random encounter generation. If they area has ogres it has ogres. Some roll rocks. Some fish and drink beer in big row boats. Nothing wrong with that.
I was not super clear in my example. My campaigns have little prep work on details and lots of jotted down ideas. So ideas are assigned locations on the map occasionally ahead of time (this demon lives in a house in X city) and other times as needed (the players are getting bored so I'm gonna grab an encounter from the idea board....oh look it's picnicking gnomes attacked by small giant ants).

What I never do is reuse an idea the players bypassed. So If I introduce the picknicking gnomes running around screaming and the PCs shrug and ride away...then that's it for that encounter.

I have semiquantum ogres in that I don't design many details for places not travelled but I do have a vague idea what sorts of things from my idea board might be in any area.
 



Yora

Legend
My approach to running games is to be a facilitator. I am not there to entertain the players. I am there to enable them to entertain themselves.

I am fundamentally opposed to either the GM or the adventure telling a story. RPGs are not a narrative medium, they are a performative medium. The whole point of RPGs is that the players control the protagonists and make all of their choices, and that the presence of a GM enables every conceivable choice to be translated into game terms, and the game world being able to react to any possible form of input by the players. To make the players act out a written play for which they don't even know the script is a complete waste of the medium. It is possible to tell a story to the audience that way, but any kind of narrative medium is better suited for that purpose, and it keeps the special possibilities that are unique to RPGs and are their whole selling point unutilized.

As a facilitator of the players' adventure, you need to be disinterested in the outcome of any action or scene. Don't interfere with the players' choices and the rolls of the dice to create outcomes that you prefer. The players are supposed to succeed against the game world, not succeed into convincing the GM to give them what they want.

If in any way practical, rolls should be done in the open. Also, the target number for the roll should be announced to the players before the roll. This makes it clear to the players that the fate of the characters lies entirely within their own hands and the random chance of the dice, but you don't give them either success or failure.

Leaving events entirely open ended and up to the players means there will be a great need for improvisation. And the key to improvising is to be prepared. Improvising is not making something up from nothing on the spot. It's to apply ready tools and techniques that can create results for a wide range of situations very quickly. Random tables are a fantastic tool for that. Many random tables simply list a bunch of stuff you could just come up with yourself on the spot. But when you're under pressure to make something up fast, you usually pick whatever comes to mind first because it's the obvious or typical thing that happens or appears in a given situation. That's the path to content that is generic, stereotypical, and ultimately cliched. Random tables allow you to think of many options in advance while you have all the time you need, and then establish a system to make the selection for you in a given situation. And being disinterested in the outcomes of events, making a random roll, rather than picking from a list, avoids the temptation to just alwsys go with what would be the easiest and least disruptivel But disruptions are where life, action, and chaos enter the game.

A super imortant part about being a GM is that the players have no perception of the game world other than what you tell them. The GM is the eyes and ears of all the PCs. The players have no way to tell if they misunderstood what has been described to them, and they end up with a quite different impression of the situation. They have no ability to notice if there's any error in the communication of their characters' perception. But as GM, it's actually not that hard to notice if a player might not be on the same page with you. Almost every time a player describes an action that is nonsensical, pointless, or suicidal, it's a an action that makes perfect sense in the situation that the player is imagining. Any time that happens, you have to make sure there is no mismatch between the situation in your mind and the situation in the player's mind before determining the outcome of the action. The player has no way to tell that the action seems weird or nonsensical, but the GM does, so it's the GM's duty to spot and resolve the problem. The best method I discovered is to simply ask what a player is hoping to accomplish with a described action. That usually sorts out any misunderstandings on either side very quickly
 

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