View Full Version : More than I can chew... (I've gotten your attention now, eh?)

01-06-2011, 10:50 PM
Hey all :)

So I'm new. Not just new to this forum, but to all forms of tabletop/pen paper/traditionaaale rpgs in general, and to be specific d&d.
Why the needless specifics, I hear you ask? Well the long and short of it is, I've been wanting to play d&d quite badly, for some time now, but have not had a clue where to begin (being apparently in a d&d starved area of the universe).
I finally managed to drum up some interest with some friends of mine, but sadly, none of them are highly experienced DMs... which brings me to the real dilemma.
I'm planning to DM, and although I'm currently getting my head around some of the more complicated rules (I know some rudimentary stuff, thank you Baldur's Gate :L) and doing that without too much difficulty, I will then be faced with the more daunting feat of teaching said hastily absorbed rules, to 4-6 mates who are only dipping their toes into the pool of elf blood... so to speak.
And after having done that, i've got to get them swimming... and keep them afloat etc.etc. water related example etc.
So I'm just wondering, as an all around "newbie" (eew) would you have any general advice on getting all this together?
I know it would be wise to run a published campaign, but I have such oodles of ideas, and am just so into the idea of putting one together week through week, that I would rather do everything I can to avoid the pre-fab route. I'm not even sure if running a quick, intro published campaign would be a good idea, as theres less of a chance of hooking the players.
I'm hoping to make it a fairly roleplay heavy sort of game, and already have some extremely useable ideas towards the opening hours of the campaign, with regards to unveiling new gameplay elements bit by bit... which may or may not be a good idea.
I've got the three core books (players handbook, monster manual, dm book) and on top of that a two forgotten realms books, guide to Faerun and the players handbook... or something along those lines, you'd know them better than me :)

So that's that anyway. I realise I'm probably making this a bit harder than it needs to be... BUT HEY! Who doesn't like a little challenge here and there. So all advice will be lapped up with great enthusiasm and endless thanks, and if anybody wants to discuss campaign building ideas with me that'd be reaally cool.
Sure we could build it together and we could all use it :D
Or not... you know whatever...

Anyway, thanks a million, in advance, the next time you hear from me I'm sure I'll be a simpering, arse licking ball of superthanks.

01-07-2011, 10:41 AM
Buy this book (http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/v5748btpy8ffn), in either PDF or print. It matters not. And it doesn't matter what version of D&D you are playing. It's universally helpful information for all roleplaying games. I'm a relatively new DM/GM myself, but this book along with a plethora of podcasts online are quite helpful on the subject.

01-07-2011, 10:45 AM
Welcome ;) Generic advice here.

- Don't sweat the rules: They'll come in time. If it's really needed (and only your group can determine this), you can designate one of the players as rule-checker, to look something up during downtime or when their character isn't directly involved in the scene. (We do this for our Shadowrun game. It helps the GM, as well as the other players.)
- Don't be afraid to make mistakes: You'll make them anyway :P Rules or otherwise, when a mistake happens, acknowledge it and move on.

- Do have fun: The GM's role is not work, but it might feel like it.
- Do talk to your players and get feedback: Communicating with the people you actually play with is, far and away, the best tool for improving your GM skills.

Another good resource is the second DMG. Fantastic advice in there, especially in regards to different player types. I recommend it, but it isn't necessary reading.

01-07-2011, 10:16 PM
Hey Diol, The game has been a passion of mine since about '79. What happens in the game is just a game. Appreciate your mates willingness to play with you! While I love the game, those friends you make while gaming can be priceless. This should be fun for everyone! Never forget why we play!

01-08-2011, 03:58 PM
Hey Diol, The game has been a passion of mine since about '79. What happens in the game is just a game. Appreciate your mates willingness to play with you! While I love the game, those friends you make while gaming can be priceless. This should be fun for everyone! Never forget why we play!
I also second this post.

01-10-2011, 12:58 AM
Time to pull this out again..

Basic GMing Rules

1: Garry's First Rule of Fantasy
A) Do not change reality more than necessary to make your Universe work. Real world physics are your friend, you do not need to explain gravity, weather, or in general how the world functions. So don't complicate things that do not require complication. Adding super science or magic is complication enough.
B) All role-playing games are fantasy, even if it is not. Of course it's fantasy, if it was real you would be living it, not playing it in a game. Even the modern games or science fiction games are a fantasy.
C) Fantasy is not an excuse for sloppy writing or world building. Never ever. "Fantasy" is not an excuse word that means you don't have to do your homework or keep track of things. Good fantasy is internally consistent. We do wish to write a good fantasy.
And we do want good writing. When I was talking with Melissa Scott (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melissa_Scott_%28writer%29) at ConFusion and Her Friends (http://archive.stilyagi.org/cons/2003/) some years ago (2003) I mentioned running a D&D game for 27 years (at the time) Her eyes got as big as saucers and she said "That is writing too!" So you have it from a pro, and a well educated one. Your RPG writing is writing. Treat your game with respect, take writing it seriously and it will furnish you and your friends decades of enjoyment. Last note, just don't take yourself seriously.

2: Write to your audience
Know your players. Ask what they like and what they want to see in the game. Vital, ASK. Don't assume, poll the players, inquire and check things out. Their role in the game is as important as yours.
On that note seek adventures of mutual enjoyment. If you are a sea adventure bunny (like me) and your players are not (like mine), then don't write sea adventures. Write something you both like. You are part of your own audience. If you don't like what you are doing it will show and enjoyment will be lessened.
Explore the limits, but be careful. Pushing the limits can be a good thing if you do not push then too far.. Push people's limits too far and they get uncomfortable. uncomfortable people are not having fun. People that are not having fun stop coming. Don't even go there if you do not know your players very well indeed. It's a game, not a psychological test.

3: The Rule of Yes
A) Unless there is a compelling reason to say no, say yes. Playing a game with Dr. No isn't any fun. Players want to have fun and to do things. There is a time and place for obstacles, learn and know that time and place. Trying to find a royal blue shirt or spell components in the market is not that time.
B) A roll is not required for everything, even if a roll is required. Use judgment in applying the dice. Dice are random, random isn't vital even if the rules say it is. Remember the Rule of Yes.

4: Keep encounters open ended
A) An encounter with one solution is bad. I do not write encounters with a solution in mind. I present the problem, and let the players tell me how it will be solved. Remember they are creative too. Use that.
B) Frustrated players are bad. Look back to the Rule of Yes. If your players cannot solve something because you wrote in a single solution they didn't think of, they get frustrated. This makes the GM look bad.
C) Use any reasonable solution, be open to solutions you didn't think of. As above, rule of yes and keep and open minds. You have one brain, your players have one each. Use the brains around you to improve the game.

Don't script. Players will do the unpredictable. And that is that. You want north they go south. You have the old gypsy with the legend they visit everyone but. When that happens, punt. If an encounter is important, it can be fit in elsewhere. Only you know how the scenario is assembled. No one will smite you if you shuffle the parts. If the Vicar has the legend and not the Gypsy you don't loose GMing points.

Most Important, have fun. The game is played for fun. If everyone is having fun, you are a successful GM.

Garry Stahl: 2009. All rights reserved, re-print only with permission.

01-16-2011, 03:42 PM
I second and even third all the previous great information. I can't even tell you how many mistakes I made when dming my first game while teaching my friends how to play. "Oops, I've been figuring this wrong all along. We were supposed to be doing it this way." They understood. They also understood when I had to look something up. I would recommend going with a prepublished starter adventure. I understand your point that you have all these ideas. I am a creative person myself. The thing is with a prepublished adventure, there is plenty of room to add on your own ideas too, and still have the premade stuff available for your fallback. You can add any side stuff, flesh out some of the published stuff with bigger plans than what is written......

01-16-2011, 06:01 PM
Pre-published also gives you an idea what a good adventure should contain, a format to write an adventure by, and an idea of the flow of an adventure works. 34 years later my writing format is still influenced by the first Judges' Guild adventure I bought and ran.

02-09-2011, 06:58 PM
A good thing to do is start off by making the characters. Get the players to describe the way they see their characters. Take that info with you when you build the campaign. Why would player a and b be in the same group. Use their character descriptions to help tailor your world. Never assume anything in the game. If your not sure, write yourself a note and ask in an online forum. If your reading it wrong, explain it during the next game and fix it. No harm no foul..