Confessions of a Newb GM: Vary Your Encounters

Few things leave me as bored as a GM or player than two sets of characters sitting at the opposite sides of a map running at each other. When several of these instances are chained together I start to wonder if I’m playing chess. I generally prefer chess in those situations. Those people can party like you’d never believe. Continue reading “Confessions of a Newb GM: Vary Your Encounters”

Confessions of a Newb GM: Game with a Difference

The other day my former DM told me what I missed in the last session. He told me told it was two combats and two skill challengesas an example of how quick the session was moving. Hence why he’s my former DM. I know my new DM cares much more about having fun than winning D&D. Continue reading “Confessions of a Newb GM: Game with a Difference”

Confessions of a Newb GM: Rooms as Costume

When setting a scene you should have a reason for the players to be in the encounter whether that reason is a piece of information, a contest that one is going to participate in, or an NPC they have to deal with for other reasons. Any situation the party has in front of them has multiple solutions to it and as a GM you should be trying to show at least a few of these solutions. Continue reading “Confessions of a Newb GM: Rooms as Costume”

Eyes Up: Teasing A Bigger World

When creating a campaign you have a story you want to tell. This will have its own rising and falling actions, but, if you’re designing this week to week, it becomes near impossible to find ‘act breaks’ and make it fit well into the tropes of a nice classic three act structure. The best structure for planning long campaigns I’ve found is to follow the pattern of TV shows or comics, for example Saga, Babylon 5, Farscape, and Leverage. Continue reading “Eyes Up: Teasing A Bigger World”

Confessions of a Newb GM: When the NPCs Aren’t There

In the last article we looked at the basics of why an NPC is in a scene. Today we’re looking at where an encounter is taking place. I know I’ve covered it, @Brometheus has covered it, and @theangrydm has covered this before. Here I’m going to be looking at it a little differently. What happens when an NPC isn’t in the room, but you still need to get information across to the players. Continue reading “Confessions of a Newb GM: When the NPCs Aren’t There”

Confessions of a Newb GM: Making NPCs That Care

Getting a group together and sitting down to play can be fairly nerve wracking for a GM. Building the world that people are living in is a weird sort of skill to expand. I see the expectation time and again in many RPG products, GMs are expected to be able to go create something and make it wonderful for players off the top of their head. Continue reading “Confessions of a Newb GM: Making NPCs That Care”

Eyes Up: Rewarding the Player, not the Character

Let’s talk about rewards for players. I have yet to meet a GM or player who doesn’t get the basics of rewarding players with experience points. In some systems it’s an equation as simple as putting monsters in at one end, running them through the shiny bladed grinder of players, and dropping at the feet of the players blood splattered items of surprising usefulness. This is all well and good, and keeps the characters growing in power, but this can be minor to rewarding the players for their actions instead of just their characters. Continue reading “Eyes Up: Rewarding the Player, not the Character”

Confessions of a Newb GM: Clunky Randomness

I’ve been talking with my D&D 4th Edition DM over the last couple of weeks. After trying to bring my DM to The Mad Adventurers Society and The Angry GM blog, in an attempt to bring the perverbial horse to water, we were discussing how the two of us envisioned a 5th Edition campaign. He wanted to wait for the 5th Edition DMs guide and delve into its depths before he was willing to run a new adventure. The biggest reason he gave for this was his memory of the DMs guide from Advanced Dungeons and Dragons with tables upon tables of things that can be rolled on. He was describing why this was a great thing, but there are some concerns when it comes to random encounters as a base for a campaign. Continue reading “Confessions of a Newb GM: Clunky Randomness”

Confessions of a Newb GM: Scaling the Story

As I have done more and more planning for different campaigns, I find that beginnings and endings to have to be the most solid points. Without these two points set in stone the wild twists and turns that the players throw at me have a knack for throwing me into a tailspin that takes quite a bit to recover from. Continue reading “Confessions of a Newb GM: Scaling the Story”

Confessions of a Newb GM: Loudly Thinging

Creating a good atmosphere with your games locations is both amazing and hard to accomplish. Adding to the tale that is retold over drinks another day is a great feeling for a GM, but a problem arises when the setting is all there is. A carefully crafted setting can bring great excitement and create an eerie mood, for instance, but if the encounters are all similar the setting slowly loses its majesties. If every room and hallway that the players get into is of a similar style, everything around it becomes routine; making any positive impressions made fade into a faint grey shroud. Continue reading “Confessions of a Newb GM: Loudly Thinging”