DM tricks….PART II:Revenge of the DM #dnd

So, a few weeks back I posted a list of DM tricks and tips to help keep things fresh in your game and make things run smoothly.  Now lets see what we can do to help improve your games:

1.Make up a list of random encounters: We’ve all seen the percentile charts for random encounters for terrain before.  It’s nothing new.  But you know all those ideas you have for cool battles and little side-quests that you never got around to putting into a campaign?  Write those bastards down on a list and put them into a chart.  Next time your party is traveling from one town to the next, roll up one of those little side quests like the missing child or cursed gemstone or even that pitfall trap into an ancient ruin could come into play.  Quick, fairly easy quests are great ways to fill time while you’re waiting for the next plot point to click into place.

2. Keep a list of NPC’s and their biographies: A well-built NPC is more like another player when you get them into the game.  Plot hooks, quest information, even sometimes an extra sword-hand for the party, an NPC can be all of these and more.  Always have a notebook with pre-made NPCs on hand so you can drop an interesting character into almost any situation.  Maybe they’re a treasure hunter wounded in that dungeon, with tales of the horrors on the floor below, or a seedy character in the alleyway selling information and green gold.  Think up some lively, interesting characters and give them a story.  Hell, write a short story about them and their life, maybe a couple hundred words about them.  You’ll wind up with some deep, rich characters to put into your world.

3.Props, motherfucker: Even if it’s just a printed map you burned with a lighter, a prop can make a good game GREAT.  When you’re planning a campaign, or even just a little fun scenario, drop by your local thrift or flea market and take a look around.  You can find some really great, wacky stuff for cheap that can take your game to the next level.  If you’re the crafty type, there are literally HUNDREDS of videos, blogs, pamphlets, books and instructables for building scenery and miniature landscapes.  Even easier, blow up your maps, use some glue or spray adhesive and tack them onto cardboard and cut it out into manageable pieces.  In an hour you can have your own set of custom dungeon tiles and your players will be totally wowed by your skill and dedication.

4.Music: A carefully thought out sound track and specifically selected battle or roleplay music can bring your game to life in a way you can’t imagine.  Use an acoustic power-ballad for that dragon fight, celtic bells and nature sounds for the elven forest and Thriller for the approaching zombie horde!  Even just some background music is nice to have while your game is going, be it classical, pop or death-metal depending on your tastes.

5.Monsters with Class Levels:  This is a BIG mistake a lot of first-time DMs make.  When that gnoll general you’re fighting throws down Warlord powers on you to heal and rebuff his troops your players eyes will pop.  That dragon just cast a 7th level Wizard power? Hells yes he did.  Giving your monsters class levels takes them from being just mean and nasty to being deadly and vicious.  A CR 5 monster with three levels as a Fighter is now a CR9 or 10 creature if you play them right.  This means less work for you and more gripping battles for your players.

6.Stick to your guns: Your party just took a wrong turn and are now sliding one by one into a spike-lined, razor edged pit that ends in a sphere of annihilation.  Don’t try to save them from stupidity, even if you really like their characters.  You told them not to go that way, and they did anyways.  Time to roll up new characters and maybe they’ll put their good scores into Intelligence and Wisdom this time.

~ by darkpatu on October 19, 2011.

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