Fun DM tricks! #dnd

If I was a good DM, I wouldn’t share my secrets with you.  I’d lock them away and make you play my games so you could get a taste of them.  Well tough shit, because I’m not a good DM, I’m only an okay DM.  So, in an effort to make MORE okay DMs so I don’t feel so alone in this little rank of DMing quality, I’ll spill my guts on some awesome little tricks we DMs sometimes use to keep things fresh in the game!

1: Magic stuff that doesn’t look magic! I love this one. Daggers that change into broadswords, rusty and broken chainmail that provides better armor class than full plate, a dry-rotted crossbow that becomes a silver masterwork artifact-level weapon on scoring a critical hit.  Fancy stuff like that.  Never pass up that unsuspecting looking bronze ring you found on the marble plinth two rooms back, it could be valuable later on!

2: We lie. A lot. Like, a whole lot. You go into a tavern and ask about the strange disappearances over the past month.  Five different people will tell you five different things.  You know how rumors in small towns are, it starts with a bottle of milk breaking on the steps and turns into the neighboring country is sending spies to kill everyone who’s lactose intolerant.  Your clairvoyance spell didn’t work right?  No reason for us to tell you that. You just see what we say you see.  Did you make that spot check?  I don’t know, you might have seen something. Half of the storytelling in a D&D game is between the lines.  Always be on your toes.

3: Half of this is on the fly.  Ever been in a battle and that huge damn monster got a random bonus after you just kicked the shit out of it?  “It howls with rage and you see its muscles swell as it charges you!”  Yeah, just made that up.  You got a good lick in, so we’re rewarding you with a more dramatic and engaging battle!  Aren’t we generous? A lot of bonuses and negatives are made up on the fly, and if you’ve got a good DM you’ll never question why and just accept it as we should (but don’t always) only use our powers to improve gameplay.

4: In the end, we’re really rooting for you… but you bitches gotta earn it.  Don’t fall into a rut and think you can breeze through our adventures.  The same old Steel Serpent Double Shot Magic Missile tactic isn’t going to save you forever, little 1st level adventurer.  We want a great fight and great roleplaying as much as you do, but we can’t do all of the work for you.  Toss in some details of your own, tell ME what happened instead of the other way around.  I made this world for you, the least you can do it interact with it.

5: Sometimes we make it so you CAN’T win.  People, please listen.  If you’re 5th level and I throw a giant red dragon at you, run.  Don’t be heroes when it’s OBVIOUS you can’t win, and then whine when you die.  There’s (almost) always a reason for us to do these things, and it’s not just to kill you (always).  If we want your characters to die, we drop rocks on them, end of story.  Be sensible.  No matter how bad-ass your 11th level Paladin is, you can’t win a solo fight with a master vampire, and she knows it so listen to her every now and again.

6: Yeah, I fudge dice. But I’m allowed to.

It’s in the DMG.

Seriously, look it up.

It’s on page mmmgrpsht.


Now look, I can’t tell you ALL the secrets in just one go, but I know some of you DMs out there have your own tricks you like to play.  Let us know what they are so we can all be okay DMs.

~ by darkpatu on October 4, 2011.

7 Responses to “Fun DM tricks! #dnd”

  1. This is great stuff . i like your thoughts. i think il have to concider some of one’s goodness.

    • Glad you like ’em. Take one, trade one, spend one, buy one. That’s the best thing about this game, if you don’t like it: Change it!

  2. A nice list of tips and tricks to DM by. Thanks tons for sharing.

  3. I agree with all of that, except number six. I’ll modify anything else on the fly, but I always know what the bonus/penalty is before I roll, and I always roll out in the open.

    • I won’t lie, I use my screen for rolls and I’ve flubbed my fair share of rolls but I try not to flub against the players. It makes the game more enjoyable when they get to do what they want. I mean, hell, I can always make more monsters.

      • I dislike fudging dice in favor of the players at least as much as against them. Maybe even more.

        My reasoning is that the randomness, and the consequences of bad luck, are all that separate RPGs from simply sitting around and telling a story.

        More importantly, there are only certain times when the rolls actually matter. Those times also happen to be the ones where DMs feel the need to fix the dice in favor of the players.

        If you’re not going to use dice when they’d make a difference, why ever use them at all?

      • If the situation is dire and requires a singular decision I’ll rely on the dice completely and without prejudice. However, if the player decides to do something fantastic that would make the game more enjoyable I’ll give them a bit of leniency. When it all comes down to it it’s only a game, and it’s all about having a good time. If you don’t have a good time, why the hell are you playing? I’m not going to ruin my well plotted storyline for a few laughs from my players, but I’ll let them have their moment of glory against a difficult foe.

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