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D&D 5E What will it take to be a good DM in 5E?


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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Being a DM will probably require the same things it always does: Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma, and maybe a little Constitution.

I'd also would have added 'Strength' to that list for lugging around that huge backpack full of books... but these days there might be a good chance all the book could be bought on e-readers... so STR might no longer be necessary. ;)
 

Blackbrrd

First Post
DM-ing 5e will probably require a bit more fast thinking, because it does seem like the system does encourage out-of-the-box thinking and simulation, rather than the gameist feel the 4e had. It also looks like more will be up to the DM and less to the dice, so it will be even more important to create a story together with your players, and not playing against them.

With a bit less focus on combat, it also requires a better story and more interesting characters to have a fun game.
 

A

amerigoV

Guest
What will make a DM good in reference to 5E?

Here are a few things that will be required knowing what we know from articles and the play test:


  1. They will need to be able to do Quadratic Probability Equations ...
  2. ...the DM will have to be able to outsmart all of the players every time by coming up with story reasons why they can't fight once or twice then rest for 24-48 hours to get spells back
  3. The DM will need a photographic memory - ... or have players that get their 'verisimilitude' hurt. They will seem arbitrary and be mistaken as showing favoritism when they are not.
  4. (Optional) Be a master at Rock, Paper, Scissors - This depends on how the spells are done, but just from Sleep, Hold Person, and Charm Person we can see that the previously broken spells like teleport and scry will probably make it back in and force the DM to line every dungeon with lead and have anti-scry spells on every BBEG.
What else will the DM of 5E need to be 'good'?

Now you know why the Tarrasque was introduced in 1e. Lets take it point by point:

1. Tarrasque don't care if you have advantage. He will crush you anyway.
2. Tarrasque don't care if you nova and leave. He will destroy your civilization while you sleep
3. Tarrasque cannot spell "vermultisisdmtude" so is completely unconcerned about it
4. Tarrasque is immune to such puny spells.
;)

What it comes down to is the questions of how to develop GMing skills. I cannot speak pre 1e, but 1e was a poor framework for GM to learn. In some places, no real help at all. In other places, mind numbing detail (Grapple rules). 3e and 4e provide so much structure (and in the hands of the players) that once you know what you are doing the rules become a handcuff. In my own experience, I learned the balance side of the trade via 3e and now feel very comfortable making rulings in less structured rulesets (Savage Worlds).

I do not know if there is a solution to this in the same system. One can talk of modularity (have strong structure for newer GMs, less for experienced ones), but when a PC's life is on the line you can be sure the players will be pulling out any obscure rule to give them that last +1.
 

delericho

Legend
What will make a DM good in reference to 5E?

The same things as for any other RPG ever - an ability to make and enforce rulings fairly, quickly and consistently; the ability to manage the half-dozen disparate personalities at the table; a decent knowledge of storytelling; and a strong imagination.

Here are a few things that will be required knowing what we know from articles and the play test:

Oh dear...

They will need to be able to do Quadratic Probability Equations in their head - Due to Advantage and Improvisation the DM will need to be able to calculate relative success and failure chances when handing out Advantage and Disadvantage as well as when setting DC's for improvised actions.

Hardly. For setting improvised DCs the DM will need three numbers in mind: an Easy, Medium, and Hard DC.

For determining advantage/disadvantage, he needs to consider the question: "is this significant". If it's a significant advantage, he grants advantage. If it's a significant disadvantage, he imposes disadvantage. And anything that's not significant just gets ignored.

That's actually much less to juggle than any edition previously - there's no micro-tracking of minor modifiers, there's no stacking rules to worry about, and the "bounded accuracy" system means that the DM doesn't even need different DCs per level (as in 4e and SWSE) - he just needs one Easy number, one Medium number, and one Hard number.

As for the rest of your complaints:

The DM will need to be a master story teller...

The DM will need a photographic memory...

(Optional) Be a master at Rock, Paper, Scissors...

Alternately, the DM could stop fighting against his players, and work with them to create the adventure together. They may actually find that they have more fun that way.

I've long since concluded that there's a reason I've never had an issue with five-minute adventuring days; with constantly having my rulings questioned, argued and mocked; or with the old scry-buff-teleport trick.

What else will the DM of 5E need to be 'good'?

Mature players.

Not having pre-judged the system a year before release might help, too.
 

Nagol

Unimportant
What will make a DM good in reference to 5E?

Here are a few things that will be required knowing what we know from articles and the play test:


[*]They will need to be able to do Quadratic Probability Equations in their head - Due to Advantage and Improvisation the DM will need to be able to calculate relative success and failure chances when handing out Advantage and Disadvantage as well as when setting DC's for improvised actions.

Easier and more intuitive than calculating the probability of a skil challenge being successful. If that's the most obfuscated math it's an improvement.

[*]The DM will need to be a master story teller - Due to the way Vancian casting can be abused and the 5 minute work day, the DM will have to be able to outsmart all of the players every time by coming up with story reasons why they can't fight once or twice then rest for 24-48 hours to get spells back.

A common designer-skill -- no different than any pre-4e edition of the game (or many other games on the market). It's not a matter of outsmarting the players as much as having sufficient ability for the situation to evolve in the absence of the PCs -- or failing that letting them go ahead and play safe. After all, if the group is raiding a tomb that hasn't been opened in centuries and wants to take a few days doing it, who's hurt? So the PCs have a slightly easier time with the challenges, whoop dee do!


[*]The DM will need a photographic memory - Due to the way improvisation works the DM will have to remember every single ruling over the course of a 20 level campaign (months or years) or have players that get their 'verisimilitude' hurt. They will seem arbitrary and be mistaken as showing favoritism when they are not.

No different from many styles of campaign. I track ruling precendents and try to be consistent as possible in multi-year campaigns. Though I get the players to help with that too.

[*](Optional) Be a master at Rock, Paper, Scissors - This depends on how the spells are done, but just from Sleep, Hold Person, and Charm Person we can see that the previously broken spells like teleport and scry will probably make it back in and force the DM to line every dungeon with lead and have anti-scry spells on every BBEG.

So, in other words, pretty much like every edition of D&D at higher levels? If I want a different experience, I play a different game.

Gee, making a version of the game that feels like previous versions -- it's almost like they're trying to remain faithful the core experience rather than publishing an entirely different game.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
]They will need to be able to do Quadratic Probability Equations in their head - Due to Advantage and Improvisation the DM will need to be able to calculate relative success and failure chances when handing out Advantage and Disadvantage as well as when setting DC's for improvised actions.

Naaah. You just need to know two rules-of-thumb:
1 - DC's higher than 10 get progressively tougher.
2 - Advantage won't help you hit a higher number, but it will save you from bad rolls.

#1 is already in the playtest docs. ;)

The DM will need to be a master story teller - Due to the way Vancian casting can be abused and the 5 minute work day, the DM will have to be able to outsmart all of the players every time by coming up with story reasons why they can't fight once or twice then rest for 24-48 hours to get spells back.

The playtest already includes guidelines for monster reinforcements and advice along the lines of: "The party can't rest safely here in the midst of all these monsters."


The DM will need a photographic memory - Due to the way improvisation works the DM will have to remember every single ruling over the course of a 20 level campaign (months or years) or have players that get their 'verisimilitude' hurt. They will seem arbitrary and be mistaken as showing favoritism when they are not.

#1 from above works fine. Peg how tough you think it might be. Don't sweat the small stuff.

(Optional) Be a master at Rock, Paper, Scissors - This depends on how the spells are done, but just from Sleep, Hold Person, and Charm Person we can see that the previously broken spells like teleport and scry will probably make it back in and force the DM to line every dungeon with lead and have anti-scry spells on every BBEG.

Charm Person and Sleep and Hold Person already display that the nerf bat is well in place for magic, in comparison to their older versions. Given that the game is designed to be modular, I can't imagine they'll require one rules element in order to counter another.

What else will the DM of 5E need to be 'good'?

What every DM ultimately needs: a desire to have fun playing make-believe.

The doom and gloom seems unwarranted. We're early in a playtest phase and just because the game has a few mechanics that might not sit right with you doesn't mean the whole enterprise is immediately and forever borked.

If you personally find it hard to DM a playtest of 5e, I'd keep that in mind for your next playtest report. If you're not an outlier, they'll inevitably address the problem. It might help your feedback, though, if you ground your criticisms in actual experience with the game, rather than theorycraft.
 
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steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
Being a DM will probably require the same things it always does: Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma, and maybe a little Constitution.

ENworld really needs a "Like" button as I am still having to "spread it around" before XPing you again.

For my own...and I think this goes to any edition or game that requires a GM...

  • A grasp of the rules and spirit of the game he (or she) and his (or her) table are going to enjoy.
  • The creativity to come with entertaining story lines, interesting plots (and plot twists and plot hooks...just anything plot) and dramatic moments.
  • Imagine appropriate foes for the story, setting and scenario at hand (whether those are "level" appropriate or not.)
  • Some Common sense to weigh and adjudicate reasonable and coherent (if not always consistent) rulings.
  • Sense of humor.
  • Set of various polyhedral dice.

Shake with ice, strain and serve in a martini glass with a license to kill.:devil:

--SD
 

the Jester

Legend
What will make a DM good in reference to 5E?

Here are a few things that will be required knowing what we know from articles and the play test:


  1. They will need to be able to do Quadratic Probability Equations in their head - Due to Advantage and Improvisation the DM will need to be able to calculate relative success and failure chances when handing out Advantage and Disadvantage as well as when setting DC's for improvised actions.


  1. Or the dm could just hand out advantage and disadvantage based on what happens in game and what makes sense without worrying too much about the probabilities.

    [*]The DM will need to be a master story teller - Due to the way Vancian casting can be abused and the 5 minute work day, the DM will have to be able to outsmart all of the players every time by coming up with story reasons why they can't fight once or twice then rest for 24-48 hours to get spells back.

    Wow, you sure have figured out a lot about how to abuse the system after seeing only an early alpha playtest document covering three levels with pregens only!

    [*]The DM will need a photographic memory - Due to the way improvisation works the DM will have to remember every single ruling over the course of a 20 level campaign (months or years) or have players that get their 'verisimilitude' hurt. They will seem arbitrary and be mistaken as showing favoritism when they are not.

    Yes, because without a photographic memory all of our campaigns have fallen into disarray in every previous edition.

    [*](Optional) Be a master at Rock, Paper, Scissors - This depends on how the spells are done, but just from Sleep, Hold Person, and Charm Person we can see that the previously broken spells like teleport and scry will probably make it back in and force the DM to line every dungeon with lead and have anti-scry spells on every BBEG.

Gosh, you sure have gleaned some awesome insights from that early-alpha playtest document covering 3 levels of pregens!
 


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