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Old 01-08-2008, 02:49 PM
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Just some opinions wanted by fellow players
Okay, i've been a DM and a player. I was just wondering if people have any tips or insights as either DM or Player as to what makes a good DM.

Personally i've always felt maintaining a constant flow was important, even more important than any niggling rules. I occasionally make wild leaps of faith in the rules and make up something random to avoid downtime.

An involved narrative, try to use words that convey some form of meaning while the players journey. This has of course led to some very unsubtle hints being thrown at some players as a warning....which they still often ignore. But can cause you much merriment as a DM when they realise they missed all the hints you'd thrown at them.

Pair off enthusiastic players with some skill with those less involved or unsure, and make certain the unsure player doesn't get overshadowed.

Be adult, if someone doesn't like your system (not everyone likes the same time of game after all). Ask players what they want to try, what they aim to do in the Campaign/Chronicle and try to fit in everyones wants unless its ridiculous.

Any other tips/opinions people want to share?
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Old 01-08-2008, 03:10 PM
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Man you hit the nail on it.

I always felt Role Playing was about the players and trying to develop story. I've always enjoyed doing things to have every player feel active and part of the group. I ran a large Vampire chronicle at a local Hobby Shop a couple years back to help bring in a crowd for them....about 8-10 people total I think in the end. I'd always keep the pace going, had no problems throwing rules out the window to save time, and tried to run everything where everyone had a chance to shine.

At the end of the story arc, I'd even hand out questionaires for bonus XP (just a little) asking what they liked, didn't like, and what direction they wanted to take the campaign from there.

Also from my experience, it's about the perfect balance of preparation and running off the cuffs. With the exception of some dungeon crawls, I usually design my adventures more in flow-chart style than maps.I summarize intentions of NPC's for my notes, and ususally ad-lib the encounter. But that's how I'm comfortable running...I prefer acting out on the fly vs. reading a script.
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Old 01-08-2008, 03:39 PM
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Sounds like you guys have it. I'm pure player not DM, but I know what I enjoy. And a certain amount of planned out is good, but a DM able to go with the flow of the players on the fly can make for an awesome gaming session.

1. Very detailed setting and narrative
I want to play in your world. Show it to me in your setup.

2. Good base rules but not inflexible.
You have to have rules and limits. That's why we all have those rooms full of books. Character flaws and weaknesses make for some of the best role-playing, but I don't want to feel like the book is being referred to every two seconds. This kind of "rules lawyering" interrupts flow, and makes me irritated.

3. Ability to keep the game on track.
Little sidelines OOC are fun. You're usually hanging out with a group of 4-8 friends after all, but too much side-tracking can completely ruin a session.

I just realized how much I miss this. The last group I was in broke up about a year and a half ago due to moves, etc, and I haven't really looked for a new one..
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Old 01-08-2008, 05:13 PM
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I went through a year long dry spell for various reasons (Work, etc) and finally got some steady game play in towards the end of the year with a small group of me and my other with a friend and his wife.

I think in the end, I love the smaller gaming groups.
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Old 01-08-2008, 06:30 PM
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I've almost exclusively been a player, though I've DM'd a couple of times (and a few times when the regular DM was unavailable).

I agree generally with what we all seem to be saying about what makes for an entertaining gaming session. Structure with the ability to go beyond rules and "wing it" to keep things moving. Keeping the story interesting. Making sure all the players are involved.
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Old 01-08-2008, 07:01 PM
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My experience with gaming groups is, add a little atmosphere, but try not to mention something that may take everyone 90 degrees off course.

A friend of ours (me and Eikin) called Matthew used to have great fun in creating random encounters with little or no prompting. Classic example, no matter what the system, he always orders a sasparella, even if he can't drink it (Vampire or robot). And, if he can't get one, he'll start a bar fight or some such, create a riot, and nick the riot police van. Then cause havoc with that until the police have to send out the armed respose unit, evade them, and steal their helicopter.

And what are the rest of the group doing while he's doing this? Slowly dealing with the swath of destruction he left in his wake. He took the vampire 'boredom' principal on World of Darkness, and turned it into an art form.
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Old 01-08-2008, 09:48 PM
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one of the biggest things that hasnt been addressed yet when being a DM is working with one person whos in conflict with the rest of the party. Sometimes you have to learn to cut your losses and make an example out of someone who is making it a bad game for everyone else.
now of course we dont exempt anyone because that would be a false sense of judgement twards that person but there are ways of pushing more "forceful" reasoning.
For example ... classic cookie cutter case of a guy wanting to be the badass evil guy. One you have to look at the campaign... does it fit to have someone evil in the party? does he have an appropriate reason? Is there anyone good and lawful in the party who should be trying to kill him?
In the end if one guy insists on being evil in a typical environment make it harder for him. Have villagers and monistaries constantly after him. make him have to do rolls in his sleep because a mob of people with stakes are sneaking up on him. and if he goes "Richard" on a village bring out some higer bounties... create an assasination society thats looking to go after his head. He'll jump back to neutral faster then you fix yourself up a sandwich.
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Old 01-09-2008, 01:25 AM
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Just have to brag...anyone who's familiar with Demon: The Fallen may be aware of the Fiend's ability to "gaze into the patterns". A friend of mine during a game (that was actually based on party backstabbing, but it was all in good fun) rolled so freaking awesome on one of his powers, the book said he literally knew stuff that would be happening over the course of days.

I had to give him a vision, and considering they were on a hefty race against the clock and eachother...I had to not only deliver it but live up to it. I just randomly spout out that they were having a "mexican stand-off" in the middle of a church and the vision ended when a player pulled the trigger on his buddy.

Without ever having to resort to what we dubbed "Pulling Nose Rings", I somehow set the scenario off the cuff up that by the end of the game, lo and behold, totally by their own choices they wound up in a mexican-standoff against their buddies, and one pulled the trigger on his buddy.

What wasn't expected was that the weapons was made by a Maelfactor and had a chance to fall apart, which it did, and then the girl who was playing pulled out a pistol we all forgot she had from earlier in the session and killed the dude. Classic gaming experience that I'll never forget!
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Old 01-10-2008, 06:49 PM
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One can compare the flow of a game session to a work of art, a musical piece, a story, or any number of other things. My own metaphor of choice used to be the written word, but in recent years I've been thinking of things more cinematically. Mostly it comes down to time- people have spouses and children, jobs and early wake-up times nowadays. We can't start at 6 PM and play past midnight every week, so we can't get as much done in a single night of gaming- unless things get streamlined.

In my current campaign, we start at 7:30 PM and stop at 11:30 PM. Even if we have to start later, I try to end things on time- I'd rather have a short, fun session than a long one that leaves everyone zombified for the next morning.

It doesn't always work, and as it's a d20 campaign rising character level has opened up more and more options, making battles take longer, but we usually get a good session in.

At the start of every session I have a list of scenes to draw from. Typically, in a roleplay-heavy session, I'll end up drawing on two thirds of the stuff I've prepared for and improvising another scene or two. In a combat-heavy session it's really variable- this week we only got in one complex fight when I was hoping for three set-pieces (more for next week, I guess!) but the game before that had a great variety of violent fun.

I can't really offer any advice on pacing, Einskialdi; sounds like you have a fine grasp of it already. Having a few branching options prepared (or half-prepared, or designated with a single line of information) and keeping good notes when you improvise can make a big difference.
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Old 02-11-2008, 03:54 AM
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Ive done a couple of dm sessions, but im mainly player. What i like from a DM is somebody that for one, has everything set up and ready to go. 2: A DM that has like the most awesomeness story ready to go. 3: one that makes things challenging, but nothing that is too impossible to do. Ultimately, ask your own players what they expect from a campaign.
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