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Old 07-19-2016, 03:56 PM
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Dread Reaper Dread Reaper is offline
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Your Dungeon Master's Creed

This is not intended to be a discussion, there is no right or wrong here. What I want to do is create a forum for all DM's/GM's to place & link their beliefs on how to properly run their game. Please, no discussions or arguments. If you ever DM/GM a campaign, then feel free to post below the type of DM/GM that you are, how you run your campaigns, what you believe is acceptable or unacceptable behavior from both yourself & your players. Then feel free to link your post in your signature so that anyone applying to one of your games has a way to determine if they would be a fit for your campaign. Please put the good & bad, lay it all out there, the more you give, the more you get.
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Old 07-19-2016, 04:24 PM
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Dread Reaper Dread Reaper is offline
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I believe D&D is a team game, meaning the team should have to work together & utilize everyone to overcome truly difficult circumstances. There may be situations where one party member may outshine the others, but this should be the exception, not the rule, as well these should be balanced, giving everyone an equal opportunity to shine.
I do not believe the game is ever the DM vs the players. The DM is infinity, whereas the players are a handful of PCs. I have no issue with fudging dice to keep the PCs alive, but I will never protect the PCs from their own choices. If you decide to pimp slap that ancient dragon as a first level character, you will soon discover why he keeps that bottle of ketchup nearby.
I understand nobody wants their character to die, but whether you live or die should be determined more by your actions & decisions than by dice & numbers. With that said, I am not a fan of power gamers. I do understand not wanting a weak character, but to me this game is about developing a character, not a set of numbers.
As a DM I tend to prefer open world story as opposed to railroading. Giving my players the freedom to choose their own path instead of dictating it. Planning the beginning & the end, while letting everything in between be written by us together.
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Old 07-19-2016, 07:54 PM
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Good Idea for a thread Dread.

I believe when introducing someone to DnD/Pathfinder especially in offline sessions. Its best to have a one off session when practical. Usually 3-4 players max. I'll build throw away characters for older players that don't want to be bothered building a throw away. But I always make sure to sit down and make a character with the new person. While making it clear that the character in this game will not be reused at anypoint in the future.

I usually try and end all of these one shots with all, or at least some of the characters deaths. This allows you to gauge how the person reacts. Some people really enjoy it, some are shocked. Some get pissed, or angry even. Usually after talking with everyone they understand that this isn't an every time thing.

But most importantly, it gets rid of the "its my first character" . They get to go through and build that 2nd character. They are a little less afraid of losing it. It feels less time consuming to create. They have a better understanding of what they actually choosing when you say "Do you have Knowledge Arcana".

Also I personally use traps sparingly. Unexceptional traps, or ones the players. Somehow, manage not to find any hints for are worth just removing mid session. People usually feel cheated otherwise, which makes both sides upset.

P.S. I'm shamelessly stealing that gif for use elsewhere.
"This land is peaceful, it's inhabitants kind." - The Painted World

Last edited by Drakeblade; 07-19-2016 at 07:57 PM.
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Old 07-19-2016, 10:01 PM
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I have 8 rules for behavior at my table and 6 rules for building characters. Some of the table rules aren't needed for some games, but I run a deeply immersive game and come to the table to run the game. Anything that distracts from that is not a good thing. Socialization happens before and after the game, but for the four to five hours we play it's all game.

My character rules presuppose a cooperative game, they may not apply to all game styles and don't even apply to some of the ones that I run.

Table Rules -

No cheating
No negativity
No metagaming
No Monty Python
Be respectful of others choices
Pay attention
OOC talk must be clearly indicated
Non game talk – whisper or pass a note

Character rules -

The character must work in a group
The character must be fun for the player and the rest of the party

The character must be trustworthy in the eyes of the other characters

The character must have a reason to get involved

The character must fit the campaign
The player must be able to actually play the character
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Old 07-20-2016, 02:23 AM
Peachyco Peachyco is offline
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This is generally how I run my tabletop games...

For EveryoneRespect people's time: Everyone has put aside time to play the game, the DM more so in preparing and running it. Respect other people's time by not wasting it.

Know your stuff: If it's your turn, use it properly. Know what your character is capable of. You will have 20 seconds to announce your actions, with a little more leeway for newbies and for confusing or vague scenarios. I don't want you looking up the range of that spell as you're announcing it - I'll immediately rule that it fizzled in the caster's confusion. I don't want you leafing thru your character sheets to find the attack and damage bonuses of that longbow attack that you've used a billion times before - I'll immediately make it miss and hit walls. I don't want you confused over what saving throw the target is entitled to or what is the DC - I'll give them an auto-save.

Likewise, expect me to know my stuff. If I've fudged something up, I'll most likely rule in your favor. Maybe I forgot the range of the spell - you're safe if you're farther than 30 feet. Maybe I forgot the actual attack and damage bonus - I have the chart for the average values per CR, so I'll just use that. Maybe I forgot to ask you to roll a Wisdom saving throw for an environmental magical effect - I will ask you next turn, I won't apply it retroactively.

For PlayersDo not undermine the party on principle: Having a secret agenda and playing to it can be a cool twist. Being forced to betray your allies in order to keep the enemy from killing them is even cooler. But if you're actively going against the rest of the party as a matter of principle, then your character is an NPC - I will take it from you.

Keep the DM in the loop: Sure, I understand that your PC has a secret that must be kept from the other PCs, but unless I know about it, I can't work it into the narrative, and you'll be hard-pressed finding the right time to spring that secret. If you share it with me, I can work with you on it - I'll not hinder it on principle, only if it makes sense in the narrative and the circumstance (for example, you're going against a network of spies, so it's likely that they've got dirt on you).

Don't pick fights for the sake of a fight: Sure, a tavern brawl or two is nice. But on your third try, you'll never know until it's too late that the hooded patron in the far corner is a dark elf with a pair of magical scimitars and a wooden miniature that calls a black panther from the Astral Plane, and that the tall, wide, blonde-haired proprietor was a powerful barbarian in his youth, but he can still wield his returning warhammer with ease, and that the old man seated at the bar is a powerful wizard that has been blessed by the deity of magic herself.

Don't be a Rules Lawyer: If the DM is unsure of a ruling and asks your help, then help out. If the DM is unsure of a ruling and makes one on the fly, you keep quiet and straighten things out after the game so that the correct ruling is made the next time. Do not sacrifice momentum and drama for the fine interpretation of the rules. This ain't Law & Order.

For DMsKnow when to pull your punches: There's a time and place for everything, including fudging the rolls. If the encounter isn't meant to be defeated by the party at their current state, then don't pull your punches. Put the fear of death in them. Otherwise, they get the illusion that they're more powerful than they really are, and that error propagates into their choices later on. At 5th level, they ain't saving the world from an ancient red wyrm, and they shouldn't even dream it.

Encourage creativity, and allow room for it: Everyone's got their own levels of creativity, true, but a game is only fun if everyone can play at the same level of creativity. Some players not descriptive enough with their actions? Embellish for them. Some players not creative enough to attempt out-of-the-box strategies? Set the stage for them, and encourage them to go for it. Maybe the rope wasn't there before, but it is now, and the Rogue can swing from it and drop on the Giant's head. Maybe the box wasn't there before, but it is now, and the Barbarian can jump on it and hit harder with a leaping, overhead strike of a greataxe. You put a wall to be beaten by Athletics, but the player wants to use Acrobatics? Sure, there are some ledges for you to parkour up, but it'll be a more difficult effort (a higher DC). Maybe the character isn't proficient with Deception, but the player's weaved this elaborate lie that convinced you personally - maybe she gets proficiency for this roll, or perhaps Advantage.

Characters level up at story milestones: I just level-up the characters at certain points in the story, not track XP for every fight or encounter. Actually, I don't use Experience Points. This cuts down of warmongering and recklessness. The Barbarian does not have an advantage on XP for fighting every undead monster on the way to the tower - the Rogue gets the same amount of XP for getting there without drawing blood.

I might add to this later on...

Last edited by Peachyco; 07-20-2016 at 05:23 AM.
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Old 06-17-2019, 03:15 AM
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Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer is offline
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Post My GM creed:

Running gamesI tend to try to be a by-the-book kind of GM. I'm a fan of choosing the system to fit the game, rather than trying to force the system to conform to my game.

On the other hand, I am a fan of the Angry GM and Rich Burlew's Diplomacy Rules, and I tend to make tweeks and homebrew setting stuff. I'll be explicit about it whenever possible, I don't intend to spring rule changes as a surprise to players.
If I intend to use any alternative or variant rules I'll indicate those options. Though if I've made any changes to monsters or NPCs I'll try to be fair about it, but I'm unlikely to spell out what modifications I make.

I try to avoid ruling by GM fiat, I'd rather players learn to play the game rather than learn to play the GM. If I've established a rule, I intend to stick to that rule. If I haven't made a note of a rule, expect it to function as written. I'm open to questions about rulings though and I'm not immune to making mistakes. If you think I've made a mistake in applying the system mechanics feel free to bring it up in a PM, I'm less open to appeals for rules exceptions or arguments about adjudication of story based elements. When in doubt I tend to rule in favor of the PCs, all other influences being equal.

If I've obviously screwed up in adjudication, I'll try to correct it as much as possible. However, a mistake on my part isn't necessarily going to override previous rulings.
I'm more likely to be lenient in allowing readjustment of a character if you bring potential problems to my attention. If you realize a particular combination of abilities isn't going to be the broken powerhouse you're used to from your regular houseruled game, and you discuss it with me I'd be happy to try to help you adjust your character. On the other hand trying to "I'm much less likely to allow you to re-spec your coffeelock after I ask for the Constitution check to stay awake all night. I'll allow effective legal combos, but I'll enforce drawbacks that other GMs might handwave away.get away with it" first, then asking to replace less optimal choices after it doesn't work is unlikely to garner much sympathy from me.

In general as a GM I roll in the open unless the results of a roll wouldn't be immediately obvious to the player, or there are other compelling reasons to withhold such knowledge. (For instance, I wouldn't show players the result of a monster's Stealth check. And I might secretly roll a PC's Insight or Perception check, if the results of the roll itself might inform the player's choices. e.g. A natural one on an Insight check would be unlikely to be trusted, even if a normally insightful character would usually be confident in their assessment. I'll almost certainly roll attacks and saves openly.) By that same token though, don't expect me to pull punches if the dice aren't going your way. I'll try to run NPCs according to their nature and abilities. The BBEG won't go easy on someone who just took a critical hit, though they might go after the foes that are still standing rather than trying to finish off a downed opponent. It depends on the campaign and characters though.

Player expectationsI expect players to create and play characters that fit the campaign and setting. I also expect those characters to have clear motivations and to be somewhat proactive in accomplishing their goals. These (usually) should be characters that stand out from the ordinary.

I expect characters to more than just a stat block. If your character is just a collection of optimized numbers with a name at the top, mine probably isn't the game for you. If you have a min-maxed, powergaming munchkin character with a rich story and justifiable existence within the setting however, go for it, not everyone's fun is the same and I'm not against optimization. Be aware I tend to run heavy roleplay games though, and heavily focused characters may find themselves being outclassed by ones with a more rounded skill set.

I expect experienced players to know and understand the rules, or to be able to find answers to basic questions on their own. I'm happy to field questions about complex or subjective rules or setting elements, or any homebrew modifications, but if it's something in the rulebook you ought to be able to find it on your own.

I expect fair play. Accidents happen, but deliberate "failure" to remember or record resource expenditure or penalties/drawbacks is unsporting. "Fudging" the dice is unacceptable behavior to me. If I call for, or make, a roll I'm willing to abide by the results of that roll, if you're playing in my game I expect you to be as well.

I expect players to be creative and in character when using skills and abilities. It should go without saying, using player knowledge to dictate character action is not within my definition of "in character". I also expect you to know your character's capabilities and the mechanics thereof. I shouldn't have to keep track of everything on all the players' character sheets as well as my GM notes. If you're not sure if an action is appropriate or if a roll is required, ask via OOC thread or PM.

I expect players pay attention to what's happening to their character. Players should respond to the action and push the story forward with their own actions. The Art of the Two Paragraph Post is a great example of proactive play.

I'm fine with players keeping secrets from other characters/players, I'm fine with characters/players making plans without keeping the GM in the loop. But if you don't express an action in the game, Secretive or non-obvious actions inside a secret tag is fine. Making downtime decisions in an OOC thread, total cool. Whispering to plans to someone via PM, .
But if you PM someone that you're giving them an item or something. Or decide you secretly cast a spell or crafted an item during downtime the GM didn't know about, it didn't happen in the game. Even if you secretly did everything by the book.
With exceptions for mechanics specifically designed to do this e.g., the Always Making Useful Things stunt in Fate or the Preparedness general ability in Gumshoe.
it didn't happen. If you're intending to have something in your character's backstory, let the GM know ahead of time. I reserve the right to veto any historical modifications made mid-game.

I'm usually open to suggestions and even reasonable homebrew options. I encourage player input into worldbuilding and scene setting, though I do expect players to respect each other's characters. Don't go assuming actions or responses from characters you don't control, be they other PCs or NPCs.
Currently GMing: The Fate of the Mushroom Kingdom
Currently playing: Pendo in The Thunder of the Soul Forge

Last edited by Cereal Nommer; 06-29-2020 at 03:29 AM.
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Old 07-07-2019, 05:41 AM
Auron3991 Auron3991 is offline
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My expectations list (in no particular order):

1. Have some basic respect for everyone at the table. You have a problem with someone, it's left at the door.
2. Everyone came to play a game, so pay attention to what's going on in the game. I don't expect people hanging starry-eyed on the DM's every word, but don't be the person who needs everything repeated 3 times because you were on your phone.
3. Have an idea what you're going to do when it your turn arrives. Yes, things happen, but consistently needing ten minutes every time your turn comes annoys people.
4. Keep your snacks off other people's stuff.
5. Know the mechanics you are likely to use. I don't expect the wizard to know the bull rush rules, but they should know what a spell attack is.
6. I will do my best to follow the rules as written unless I tell you ahead of time/clear it with the DM and party. Please show me the same curtesy.
7. I like rolling in the open. If I'm hiding a roll as a DM, I have a reason, and it's not always nefarious.
8. Characterization is nice. Characterization that makes sense is better. Characterization that annoys everyone at the table should be at ground zero of a twinned, maximized fireball spell.
9. I have an 'are you serious?' look. It's not subtle. If I'm DM and start giving you it, you're wasting everyone's time and should stop.
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Old 09-04-2019, 02:32 PM
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Danjay Danjay is offline
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I always DM with the "rule of cool". I have been known to fudge a few dice rolls, or be overly generous with the DC of something, if it is going to result in something interesting or hilarious happening.

I don't have many set in stone rules. No meta gaming, and no arguing with any final decisions would be two. If someone is ruining someone else's fun repeatedly then I will step in, but a little bit of light trolling and backstabbing is permitted if it's something their character would do.

Apart from that, if everyone is having fun then I'm very easy going. It probably wouldn't be to everyone's liking, but my group seem to appreciate it.

Last edited by Danjay; 09-04-2019 at 02:34 PM. Reason: grammar
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Old 09-09-2019, 09:10 PM
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GNOME GNOME is offline
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I might be new to the site, but I'm not new to GMing.

For me GMing is all about story, for good or worse. And fun.

I completly agree with Danjay's "rule of cool". I would never let a bad roll get between players and fun (it's important though that fun =/= always winning!).
I usually don't tolarate PvP, even between a paladin and warlock. You are roleplaying a grown men, act like it!
There is a flaw in it though: I wounldn't hesitate to kill a PC or even a party if it would make a better story than them surviving. On my defence, I wouldn't mind that as player, so do as you would be done by, right?
Besides, all my houserules usually come to one statement: be cool and let others be cool.
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Old 09-30-2019, 09:30 PM
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Admin Dirk Admin Dirk is offline
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Just copied from one of my games...

1) I tend to be rather loose. A good story is more important to me than intricate details, rules and regulations. I personally think that a great game has an element of risk, of life or death, and that the hero (you guys) gets tested, and almost fails, only to overcome the odds and win. I think others call this the "rule of cool", I like to call it "good stories make good memories".

2) that said, I don't ever intend to kill players or parties. However, should you do something stupid, really stupid, it will happen. Jump from the roof to the street below to stop the villain before he kills the damsel, cool. Jump ten stories from the roof to the street below to save the damsel, and splat....

3) I am not a rules lawyer. I enjoy learning the game, and being challenged by my players, and I love a debate, but in the end, rule zero wins. Then, rule cool. But I do love debates, so bring it on.

4) I tend to let my players run stuff on their own, and build around it. Want to have your own god to worship? Go ahead, invent one. wanna make potions of fireball? go ahead, give it a try. I also let my players RolePlay among themselves as much as they like, and encourage it. I will try to support it however I can, but I always thought that bouncing off my fellow players was as much fun, or more, than bouncing stuff off the DM.

5) Power level: I try to match your encounters to your power levels, +1 (see above, if it's not challenging, then what's the fun). that said, if you blow through an encounter or two using tactic X, you should expect your enemies to learn about tactic X, and use it on you too. Or, develop countertactic X+1. So, if those potions of fireball are devestating the enemy, you can expect to start dodging them on your side too. My BBEG's are smart (see next rule).

6) My BBEG's are typically smart. They plan, they lay traps, and they use spells somewhat wisely. Now, that drunk orc? Nah, he's probably stupid. But, expect that my guards are on rotations, and if one doesn't report in, there will be an alarm. Or there are second layers of pickets around the camp. Or that evil dwarf was expecting people to sneak in the obvious back way, and laid it full of traps.
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Old 11-19-2019, 01:23 AM
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Telcontar Telcontar is offline
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As a DM, I always try to remember that a roleplaying game is many different things in one:
1. It's a game, with rules, in the way that board games and card games have rules. The rules should be well understood and consistent. But they don't have to be complex. In fact, it's probably better if they're not.
2. It's roleplaying a character in an interesting and consistent manner.
3. For the DM, it can be a vehicle for long-form storytelling.
4. It's escapism. It's a fun and exciting adventure.

A good game is one in which none of these is ignored or overlooked, and none are given too much importance over the others.

Last edited by Telcontar; 11-19-2019 at 01:31 AM.
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Old 11-20-2019, 06:42 AM
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BinnFord BinnFord is offline
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The number one rule I DM by is: Don't be a dick.

  • Be Respectful
  • Be On Time
  • Be Prepared

My D&D campaigns are run using most of the published rules/RAW. I used to run AL, and sometimes still do, but I also like the freedom to change something when the player has a great idea. I lean toward the "Rule of Cool", and I don't try to kill characters. If there's a disagreement, I still have the final say--and if I've royally screwed up, I'll apologize and find a way to make it right at another point in the game. I don't permit arguments about a ruling to take up more than two minutes of game time. If someone's truly upset by something, I ask that we talk it out on break or before/after the game.

Originally, I experimented with starting stats, but now I use Point Buy or Standard Array. Depending on the campaign, I might offer a starting stat bonus, or we might start at Level 2 or 3, but this happens less often. Most of my campaigns are also a mix of published content and homebrew.

I like high fantasy. I also like airships and steampunk. I don't really like realistic, modern, military, or futuristic science fiction campaigns, so I don't usually run them (unless someone has a one-shot request. I'm game for all sorts of one-shots).

My tables are inclusive, and my players are an ecclectic and diverse bunch, so we handle anything that could be uncomfortable in a mandatory Session Zero. I think every game, even with an established group, should start with a Session Zero.

I generally let the table direct the play limits, but I'm not a huge fan of sexual violence. I also don't really enjoy DMing for "evil" parties, so I do request that Chaotic Neutral or Lawful Evil is as far as that goes.

I also ask for a clear division between out-of-character and in-character interactions. There's nothing worse than having a real-life couple play out their real-life marital spat between their unmarried, non-romantically-linked characters in-game. Ugh.

I'm totally okay with people walking away mid-campaign. I want everyone to have fun. If someone isn't having fun, they shouldn't be obligated to stay. Still, I encourage players to talk to me before quitting. I'm open to player input, and I'm always trying to improve, so I don't take offense when someone says, "I'm not having fun, but if you changed XYZ I might be!"

That's pretty much how I roll. (Haha...) I'm happy as long as everyone's having their brand of fun, and I try to make sure I facilitate that fun as much as possible. I've never DM'd in play-by-post, but I imagine most of this would translate easily. Maybe someday!
Integrity has no need of rules.
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Old 11-22-2019, 06:18 PM
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Loodwig Loodwig is offline
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  • Don't be a dick.
  • Be here to play and have fun.
  • Be respectful of others, particularly of others trying to play.
  • Come prepared.
  • Commit.

Game Mastering
  • Player Agency is King.
  • The GM always has the final say, but don't be a dick.
  • Keep the game moving.
  • Do not favor any PCs, even if you're married to them / sleeping with them.
  • Avoid railroading whenever possible.
  • Open world is not an excuse for no content.
  • Your job is to die. Don't love your NPCs.
  • Don't be afraid to kill, especially suicidal foolhardy adventurers.
  • Don't kill a PC off screen.
  • Players should never be unprepared for what they encounter.
  • If the players go off the rails, call it early and do some homework.
  • Improv as a last resort.

Player Characters
  • You are not the MVP. If you're central to the plot now, play the part and get out of the limelight. Do not seek to be the sole hero of the story, because that's being a dick to the other PCs.
  • This is a team game, and there is no I or U in team.
  • Don't be a dick also means don't play a dick PC.
  • Play the game as the PC, not as you.
  • It's okay to talk to your experience points.
  • The dice are dumb luck, learn to love bad rolls as much as good. The dice should rarely kill you or save you.
  • If you're new, your job is to learn both the rules and how to have fun.
  • If you're veteran, your job is to keep having fun and help others have fun.

I usually just tell players that join my table to not be a dick and have fun. I kind of feel every other rule on here is a derivation of those two.

Last edited by Loodwig; 11-27-2019 at 12:37 PM. Reason: formatting
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Old 12-21-2019, 08:57 PM
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Cosmar Cosmar is offline
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My number one rule is: both the DM and the players must be having fun.

What "fun" looks like depends on the DM and the players' tastes. Which is why it's important to make sure you match up the right players with the right DM: do players want grueling challenges, "let the dice fall where they may," etc, or do the players want a more relaxed, story-based/RP experience that is very forgiving on the mechanics?

The point is: if the DM or the players are no longer having fun, something is wrong, either because of mismatched temperaments from the get-go or some breakdown in the adjudication of the game.
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Old 01-20-2020, 09:50 PM
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Telcontar Telcontar is offline
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Game Mastering
  • Improv as a last resort.
I completely agree. I feel like this is a completely misunderstood aspect of DM-ing.

A very wise DM once said:
Adapt, but don't improvise.

What he meant was that of course you should react to, and adapt to, player decisions during the course of play. But you shouldn't just create plot twists or important NPCs or locations on the fly during a session. If you get that urge, either resist it and proceed ahead with the original plan, or call an early end to the gaming session.

If you find that the players have made a decision that completely invalidates your plans for the game, you should definitely call an early end to the session. Decisions about how to restructure your game should not be done on the fly. You should sit down during the week and think carefully about what happened, the setting, and PCs and NPCs... and carefully rewrite your adventure/campaign.

Improvising major changes during a game session almost always leads to regret. (Note: Often the players don't notice, but the DM does and has this lingering desire to roll back play and do things differently.)
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