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54424878 No.54424878 [Reply] [Original] [4plebs] [archived.moe]

-common pitfalls that make a bad DM/GM
-common difficulties that you might encounter in this roll (heh)
-suggestions for starter campaigns or first-time sessions
-recommendations for how to improve in yer skills

>> No.54424895
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Reply here with: your favorite/most recommended first-session campaign

>> No.54424908
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Reply here with: common pitfalls of bad DM/GM's

>> No.54424918
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Reply here with: typical problems that a DM/GM will have to encounter and how to overcome them

>> No.54424946
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Bumping with random character art

>> No.54424961
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>> No.54424990

I think my worst GMing involved letting the party split into two or more groups, it was a complete clusterfuck and no one had a lot of fun. If necessary I think it COULD be done right (like a two-pronged attack on a castle) but otherwise jesus christ never let your players split unless you wanna end up feeling like a sheep herder dog.

>> No.54425050


I think GM's should universally run a starter module with premade characters when they run a game for the first time. While the temptation is to make a le epic homebrew quest the best way to learn the beats of how to run a game and how a system works is to run a premade. Likewise premade characters gets players right into the action without worrying about building their characters wrong or working out all the character creation rules on top of everything else.

I think after that the best advice is to keep it simple stupid. Again don't run off designing an entire multiverse. Start with a starting town with a few quests and a couple of interesting things to explore nearby and build from there.

The biggest mistake is getting a million cool ideas in your head that are almost always impossible to implement and then just burning out either due to not knowing how to prep all that or from the ideas simply not translating into the table.

>> No.54425064

A DM shouldn't let himself feel like he's "more powerful" than the player characters. It's a big temptation for first time DMs to screw with players and arbitrarily start handing out kills and curses when it seems funny. Don't make every toilet in the game secretly a mimic.

Make sure many problems can be open ended. Even ones that require violence can have different approaches.

>> No.54425141
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Guys look at this

>> No.54425168
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If I've been playing a PC for a few months in someone else's campaign, do you feel like that's still necessary? I'm resistant (probably unjustifiably so) to using a premade starter module - but I could be convinced past that if you really think it's for the best.

>> No.54425202


Well I don't have much experience, but if you're playing 5e, the Starter Set containing Lost Mines of Phandelver is pretty fucking great for beginners. The module contains all kinds of tips and tricks for beginning players and DM's alike, practically learning you the basics and some slightly more advanced things during play.

>> No.54425300


You still can't really learn how to run a game by playing, it's an entirely different experience. You've got five or so people just looking at you expectantly to provide them with fun for the next 3-6 hours.

A module takes a lot of the pressure off and lets you ease into it and something like 5Es Lost Mine of Phandelver is pretty short and can springboard into a homebrew campaign fairly easily.

>> No.54425400


Biggest problem is you're going to come up with a thing you want them to figure out and they won't get it. So you gotta pay attention and think about why. Always have a backup plan for getting them this important info. If it's a puzzle you need 2 solutions.

Example: My players are going through a sort of house-of-the-undying magic see things from the past Maze spell and one of the things they see is an important NPC they've been talking to as a kid. It's like "this is the clue you've been looking for" shit. I describe the kid like way too detailed. He's a half elf with dark brown wavy hair! He looks about 8 years old! He's sweeping the floor of a brothel! The players should then say, 'hey what's with this weird kid' and then find out that Important NPC's mom was a whore and he's a half elf and he's been hiding it AND HE'S ONE OF THE BAD GUYS omg

But instead they just zip on by and don't care. So they never figured out he was the bad guy.

And it's easy to say, 'well the players are dumb.' But it's not their fault. Or, at least, you can't think about it like that. The best dm advice I ever saw on /tg/ was to always look at problems like this and think "what could I have done differently to communicate better?" Even if it was obvious! You need to think like that so that NEXT TIME you convey the info in a way they understand. Can't be proud and stick to your guns.

>> No.54425498
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phenomenal advice, thanks!
Just got the pdf for Phandelver, checking it out now, thanks!

>> No.54425540


I agree with this.
My party started out with LMoP, since every single one of our players is (was) new. We all learned a lot, and the DM said he wasn't yet comfortable running an entire homebrew campaign yet, so he got Curse of Strahd and we're starting that in a few weeks. After that, he said he'd try to make his own campaign (he's already thinking of a few things), but he wants some more DM experience first.

>> No.54425565

Yeah communication is vital. A lot of GMs want everything to be super secret and hidden and tricksy like they're machivilian master minds but really you just end up with a bunch of confused players.

I'll outright just give players information such as 'yes you can trust her,' 'no you don't think you can get any treasure from that area but this area might have some' , yes that sword is magical , in this situation X , You or Z might work or its up to you. Or anything else they ask for or might be useful for them to make an informed decision.

>> No.54425582


Common pitfalls:
>Making a dmpc and not handling it well
eg having any npc be too important or having it save the day. Letting the npc come to the big conclusion before giving the players a chance. Let the player be The Guy, not the npc.

>cutscenes that remove player agency.
Good- "the king says "blah blah blah blah"
bad- "the king's bodyguard walks past you and closes the door, then a net falls from the ceiling and lands on you."
The first one can't be interrupted unless it's really long. If it's more than a few sentences take a few seconds every now and then to allow interjections such as 'while he's talking I sit down at the table' but if they do something that would interrupt ('i say blahblah!') then ask them- is your character interrupting?

>rape and shit!
that's right. some dms think it's fine to railroad players into sexual situations. Some players are fine with their characters getting laid or being romanced. Others fucking hate it. Make sure you know in advance and always take it slow so they can pump the brakes and indicate if they're uncomfortable before you continue. And make a point of not doing that shit to female players unless they seem down with it. Lots of women will be hyped for a romantic plotline! If you're unsure and you're considering handling these topics there's nothing wrong with handing out a little checklist for the campaign in advance. "what are you down with" and then it could say horror, comedy, memes, etc. Romance, fade-to-black sex, etc. 'are you ok with your character having a romantic plotline?'

>> No.54425695


D&D is always a simple straightforward choice. But really the best thing to do as a dm is to pick a system you know the fuck out of. Same with setting- don't use a premade setting that your players know better than you. You pick Forgotten Realms and some bitch wants to be a Harper and now you've got to figure out what that is and if you get it wrong or don't imitate the book they have in mind you've got a whole can of worms you didn't want. Just stick to shit you know.

Many games start with 'you all meet and now you're on an adventure' which is lame so here are some tips for getting characters to know eachother beyond superficial shit like name/class/race/religion.

Before the session starts run a session 0 where characters are made. Then play a mini game of connections. Ask player1- does Eric the Cleric know any of the other pcs? How? player2- Who is the most important person in the world to Bob Fightman? player3- Which of the pc's do you trust the most? etc. This is assuming they know eachother, right? Well depending on the game that can be a good thing. Just get through that and say they've been on an adventure. player4- Tell us about a time when Bob Fightman really helped Marty out of a jam. This can continue for as long as necessary, with the players doing most of the talking. player2- Tell us what *really* happened when Bob saved Marty.

The other trick is something my current DM does that we call "fire emblem supports." We had a whole session of this but you could do it 'now and then' to fill travel timeskips. What you do is you make a list of each combo of party members. Eric x Bob, Eric x Marty, Bob x Marty, etc. Or give each player a list of the other players (and important NPCs who are present!) You have them roll the dice to see who's talking to who. Spend about 5 minutes per convo. "While stretching your legs during a break in riding, Bob comes upon Marty who is also walking around." Then they talk. That's it.

>> No.54426222
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All great replies so far - thankee sai

>> No.54426362

I have some good advice for you, MAKE NOTES! Lots of notes, because nothing will grind a campaign to a complete halt in the worst way than having to constantly dig through books in the middle of the session to remember a creature's stat-line or frequently brought-up game mechanic. this also goes for campaign notes, believe me you want to make sure that you know what is going on and what is happening outside of the PC's knowledge.

A GM screen is almost essential as the GM-side has a lot of helpful notes, but still be sure to find a sturdy binder and paper to fill with important information. This is especially important for some systems more than others. FFGSW is more forgiving, you can get away with occasionally "winging" a session, but other games like Pathfinder it can be crippling to try to come up with NPC stats and skill checks on the fly.

>> No.54426513

Y'all already know each other and you all did some security jobs together, for whatever reason your characters went with it (barbarian liked the company, wizard needed protection).
>I do not fucking care if your Druid doesn't feel like doing a protection job, it could've been a "save a village mid-goblin raid" or "protect the caravan", any character that wants to be a loner and not participate and bond with battlebrothers in the -1th session gets reworked or rerolled, and I never had to veto a character yet, players are great people (or I've been very lucky)
You now come to this table with characters that already have ties to each other and care about each other, rivals, lovers, brothers, soldiers. I'm a quick and dirty piece of shit so a characters background doesn't matter much to me unless I'm digging for cities/villages/npcs of notice, but most people don't even give me that.
>don't use a character's backstory npc as a ransom tool or cheap drama tool, players will not give you backstories when they come to play again.
You get thrown into it as 4-5 weak-ass hungry ass bandits (of which half are unarmed, and half are comically bad, rusty sword, kitchen knife, bow with no arrow so he uses a twig) want to part you and your gold. This is where I gauge the players empathy. If they murderhobo, every next enemies in the game become semi-mindless cultists, orcs, zombies, undead. If they diplomacy or show mercy or comply, I keep using more human like foes that can listen to reason, coercion and so on.
>you should balance between the players needs and your needs. If you're hungry for diplomacy, they might not be. Either find new players, tolerate the axehead play, or don't play. Do not force your own game-views on your players, if you have beer'n'pretzels guys, go casual and fun, if you have meme-fucks, just rip stuff straight out of sword art online and have wrongfun with it.

>> No.54426646

Bad GMing is a finicky thing.
I'd rather we do new GM fuckups
1. DMPC, you can not play with them, you'll either powerlevel your own character or will overkill your character to prove you don't do special treatment
2. Not setting up adamant next session dates: we all have lives away from the table. You better pony up and set up a correct and concrete date, and be very fast about setting a secondary one if shit happens. Don't just do "we'll see each other whenever", this leads to campaigns dying.
3. Not solving problem players: some players just aren't good. Not social, deoderant dodging stinks, cheapskates depending on your snack/food deal... Anyone that shit up the experience is a risk to keep. If someone's being a dick, talk to them, explain what's wrong. Weak-ass agreeable boys are bad DM/GMs because they can be bullied into giving in, and then you have a table with a bully/weak GM, and the game isn't fun. Learn to be assertive and a bit autistic, just fucking GO AND SAY what your problem is with the player. If the player's still being a fucklord, you have to remove them from the table.
4. GMs are fragile, their baby's up for scrutiny every gamenight, be it their world, acting, balance, system knowledge, whatever. You must know that you'll fuck up somehow. You should face those mistakes and apologize. You should also know that bad sessions exist and you should power through them, not cancel the campaign/game.

>> No.54426857
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Hope this can be of use.

>> No.54428103
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> Fudging dice rolls

>> No.54429803

>Common Pitfalls

Railroading. Having to deal with players doing unexpected things can feel daunting at first, and in their attempts to control chaos a new DM may go too far.

Shooting past their station. Don't be a busy idiot; focus on details that are relevant. It's already a lot of responsibility being a DM, and trying to incorporate complex storylines and worldbuilding and shit can prove disastrous. You might have the most daring, inventive setting of all time, but if you stink at handling player interaction and roleplaying, it's worth sweet fuck all. When you're new, focus on execution.

In short, a good DM goes with the flow. Reading the temperature of the room and establishing a consistent tone is a big part of keeping the table on the same page. You can't write that for them.

>> No.54429902

>Typical problems

The most common you'll find, even here on /tg/ is the "what to do about my table's ____?" problem.

Being a DM is multifaceted. You're at once an impartial referee, a balls-deep storyteller, a creator of worlds, and are essentially hosting a party. The goal IS to have fun. Thus, common problems involve friction between player/player or player/DM.

Since it's your game, the table operates under your "house", so to speak. The DM has something of an unwritten responsibility to resolve these disputes--not in the game, since that's petty and escalates needlessly. No, the DM has to account for interpersonal politics in real life and do their best to nip potential problems in the bud.

In a perfect world, you'll never need to do this. But it can, and will. A good DM is capable of maturely putting their foot down.

>> No.54430087
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>How to improve

Try to avoid saying "no", within reason. RP in these games is much like improv, and to deny a player something can be really deflating. Keeping that momentum going and letting the players sink their teeth into the cool things they can do is part of immersion.

Similarly, don't be afraid to improvise! Sometimes, if some detail comes up and the players are curious, an "I don't know, what do you think?" can give them something to chew on.

Pic related--don't drive, but steer. Don't exhaustively plot out EVERYTHING about your story and who/what/when/where/how things tie together. That way lies madness. Instead, PREPARE extensively. Even just grab-bags of names, places, people, maps, and so on will make you much more confident (since you'll have resources to improvise on the fly, if need be).

Also similarly to above, if you have something you're happy with (or know your players will dig), ADAPT. There is no shame in refurbishing or adjusting your material to fit the story you're ending up with, especially if it was likely to never be used to begin with. This isn't to be mistaken with railroading; you're not forcing the players to resolve something with a single outcome no matter what happens, you're simply catering whatever happens next around their actions (like the pictured Necromancer example).

>> No.54430209

Recommending: >>54429093

>> No.54431892

very nice, thanks for sharing

>> No.54433998
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I have one. Oftentimes I see beginner DMs (and others frankly) fumble over performing character dialogue on the fly. Kings, merchants, runaway brides, all of that sort of thing. Few can spout likely dialogue for all NPCs all the time.

Instead, I recommend making a habit of summarising what an NPC says instead of acting it out all the way. Try 'the king is slouched in the throne when you enter, looking miserable. He tells you, frankly, that his daughter is gone, spirited away by some dark hand' or ' the old man tells you of a cave, the cave of Caer Bannon...' or similar instead of acting every line because it doesn't always work.

The worst I saw was in a Star Wars game where we met jedi master Luke Skywalker who bade us to sit before him in his temple and said 'well, I need youse guys to go around to Yavin and, like, take care of a thing.'

Summary when appropriate, it'll serve you well.

>> No.54434196

I'd like to add, if you're a new DM, don't bite far more than you can chew, in any way. Though don't be afraid to improve yourself down the line.

Don't have more than 4 people in a party, you'll get overextended and your game will suffer. Don't do funny voices unless you're good or have been practicing in the mirror or have a script ready. Don't go crazy with extra books/rules/homebrewing, keep it simple. Don't play with more than 2 newer players that you'll have to teach the game to.

Do feel free to attempt these later on though, and you should try them all out.

>> No.54434223

Bad DM behaviours (or opposite good DM behaviours)
>Do not listen to your players nor get feedback on your sessions
>Make the game about the world and greater story, not your players characters adventures
>DO not read or explore multiple stories and worlds. The best setting is a monotone setting.

Pro noob DM tip:
>Use 1 page adventures, they are concise, deep, and take the burden of planning off your back so you can play the game.

>> No.54434456

I'm also a new DM, but will say my piece:

-too many players. New DM's make the mistake of thinking they can handle parties greater than 4 people. That's madness

-storytelling. Don't make your first game have a nuanced, compelling plot. The players will trample all over that shit and might even come to resent being railroaded so much because of it

-ebin murderhobos. I am personally sick to fing death of rogues/thieves causing a barfight in the introduction because they're in a bar and want to try out their new skills. I swear to god, Spawn them anywhere but a pub and you won't have this problem

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