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Deathworm22
05-04-2007, 07:16 PM
I am trying to start as a DM but I need some more stuff than what is on Wizards, any advice?

PhishStyx
05-05-2007, 12:57 AM
Got anything written yet?

I usually start in pretty much the same way as I would a short story, and if it grows from there, I tend to feel pretty good about it.

I'm not sure what's on the Wizards site, but your game will depend primarily on your personal style, both in writing and pace of playing.

Sadly, I'm pretty sure I can tell you more of what not to do than what you should do. You know, stuff like, don't let 'em run over your plot with their agenda. On the other hand, don't railroad them into the plot you have.
. . .
Well, let me rephrase that last bit. Don't VISIBLY railroad your players into your plotline. Hide your rampant railroading (ALL Game Masters railroad, including those who don't prep their game ahead of time. The best ones hide it in what the characters want to do anyway). I know that will seem really freaking difficult at first, but it'll get easier later on. One of the best ways to sneak your rail past the players without them noticing is to put the plot in their path, but not squarely so.

Suppose the character/s a detective, you can have someone hire him/them, but not every character is so obviously open to that type of path. I've had players with every occupation from anthropologist to mercenary to stripper (And that doesn't count those I played myself (ask me about my linguistics professor ne Godslayer sometime)).

The anthropologist is easy; just give him an artifact or strange culture or bizarre ancient gods to investigate and off he goes. Strippers are harder in some ways, but a close focus on what each character cares about will give you the path to their desires, motivations, and path into your plotline.

A stripper might just care about her money or might have a child to care for, but instead lets suppose for a moment that she's motivated by revenge against a former boyfriend. Should your plot directly involve the boyfriend? Probably not. You look surprised. Have the plot only touch on her situation with the boyfriend (perhaps someone who knows both of them) or just follow similar themes to her reasons for exacting vengeance. I suggest low-key versus obviating what's going on, but keep in mind that low-key doesn't mean invisible either.

I recommend that you read. . . a lot before you begin game sessions. I'm pretty sure that others can offer equal reading lists to mine, but there are some things I recommend you avoid pulling from.

1) Any book published by WOTC. But I'm going to surprise some folks by saying that I'm not taking issue with the quality of WOTC's fiction (which I'm not at all keen on). No, this is about the fact that if you're playing D&D, then all your players will have read those same books. Thus, they'll see right through the plot or whatever device you pull out.

I was in a Star Wars game one evening where we were smugglers hired by the Rebellion to mount a rescue of prisoners from an Imperial prison colony. I was cool with it until later on I was home flipping channels on tv and discovered that the entire plot, including the major villain down to her appearance had come from an episode of Xena. It didn't make me mad, so much as tinged the nifty game session with my disappointment.

2) Read the classics.
Don't stick too close to fantasy. For example, ever read the Myth series of books by Robert Aspirin? The first 5 or so are lifted almost directly from Bob Hope road movies. He says so in his Forward (or perhaps it's an Afterward, I forget). What makes them good is that even knowing that, I couldn't really tell.

3) Keep your eye on the plot.
When you're reading (or watching) those classics, watch what the writer does with the plotline and how it interacts with the characters. A lot of professional literary writers want to get rid of plots almost entirely, but I think that's a big mistake. The plot isn't just what the writer/GM decides is happening today, it's what the characters go after, where their choices naturally lead. As your players progress in experience, hopefully they'll see character driven plots as worthwhile, but of course, you'll want to provide a starting point for all that.

If you haven't tried Order of the Stick, I heartily recommend it.
http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots.html

4) Let your characters' choices eventually take the plot off your hands. Not totally - by which I mean bad stuff should happen to them because the antagonists make choices too, but let their choices have consequences.

I had an engineer character in a Delta Green game whose poor choice of words led to almost the entire team killing each other (I think 2 of them survived).
I don't think I ever laughed so hard in my life.

The night I joined my first big (15 players at the time) Shadowrun game, one of the characters had a bounty on his head that I knew nothing about. Well, half the group decided that they wanted that bounty, and that they didn't want to share it or have anyone standing in their way.
Half the group died that night on a bodyguarding gig, and we never did see the bad guys. Oddly nuff, I shot the bountied character and decided to claim his Blitzen as mine. Well. . . BOOM, and I made up a new character.
Man, I walked away from that game grinning my head off.

Well, I've jabbered enough, seeya!

(PS I know that none of the occupations I mentioned are in D&D. Yes, I did that on purpose.)

ronpyatt
05-05-2007, 10:36 PM
Reading a lot is great advice.

Your GM'ing style will play a big part on what works for you.

There is a fantastic book on GM'ing called Gamemastering Secrets (http://gmsecrets.com/) by Grey Ghost Press, Inc.

It contains advice from many GM's with all sorts of great advice.

Deathworm22
05-07-2007, 07:13 PM
Thanks! This is really good info. Now do you have any ideas for a newbie Vampire: The Reqium player. I just got the game today.

PhishStyx
05-07-2007, 11:23 PM
Er. . .Uhm. . . Get WitchCraft 'cause it's a better game?

Seriously, I don't have anything from WW though I know how popular they are, so I don't know anything specific to say.

I'd like to think the advice above works for any game, but I realize that may not be entirely helpful.

Revolt268
05-08-2007, 01:18 PM
What I would recommend is reading over the rule books some. You might even want to consider doing some test games with yourself and maybe a friend. The reason why is simple, so that you can learn the basics of the rules. Next, set a few ground rules. These can be anything from what races players can play to changes in the basic rules that you wish to change. Then talk all this over with your players. Since your new to DMing, I would recommend not letting players use races/classes outside of the Player's Handbook unless you are confurtable with them. Limiting the player's choices could annoy some players, but remind them that you are still new to all of this and need to soak in the basics before they are off to the more confusing stuff.

You might want to also get with your more veterian players. They could have some tips on how to set things up and you could also use their help in understanding rules. Keep in mind that one of the normal jobs of a DM is to explain the rules to new players. Now this can be to much for some DMs when they have alot of new players and if your still working on story or just generally setting up for the game, you may find it very hard to spend all your time helping people make characters. One thing we do is ask the more experience players to help the beginners out. This can save the DM time and also helps players bond. This is just a few of the basic things that me and my friends have done in the past when gaming.

There are a few other things like setting up a plot only after your players tell you about their characters. Now the problem I have found with this is that this can delay the game. When I choice this way of creating a game, I tend to make the world first, with some side quests in mind and a bit of background (mainly to feed the players to give them some ideas as well). Then I try to inform each player before hand of the world and tell them I need background stories. Sometimes they can get this done before the game day comes, but other times we have spent the first day just getting characters complete. It all depends on who has access to what. I own just about every book out for 3.5, so its pretty easy for me to get my character cranked out over the week before game day. But most of my friends are lacking in that area and have to wait until the day comes time to play. Its a good idea to find out who can and can't do what so that you have an idea of who will need the help and who might already be finshed.

Also, try to keep your players on track of what they are doing. Its very easy to get side tracked by all sorts of outside infulences like video games and chats for example. Remind them that they are here to play and the sooner they get done with the character, the soon that happens. Now if your relying on your players for some plots (like character background), let them know so they can try to come up with good stories. Also, have some kind of story set just incase you all get done early on character creation and they want to start playing when you just learn everyones backgrounds. What I like to do is make a main plot and then I build on it from what the players tell me. One example of this was when I created a world where devils ruled the surface and angels where almost wimped out. The characters came about being here because they where frozened during a battle with a wizard. I had alot of back ground story in this world, but one of the players came up with an idea that ended up twisting my story around. In th end, I was able to link her's and my own stories and came up with one that was very solid. I would go into details but that would be very long and this is turning out to be long enough for now.

Two mroe things then I will shut up, if you come across a situtation that you aren't sure about, ask the veterians. If they don't know, just let very one know that you are making up a rule on the spot. The reason why I recommend this route is because if no one is famliar with the books, then you could spend the whole night looking up rules. Just keep notes of the question you have and look them up after the game. Then inform the other players of it. The last thing, have fun. I really enjoy DMing, sometimes more then playing. And I hope you find it that way to, and if you don't atleast you will develop a better understand for the game and a bit of respect for what the DMs have to go through to get a game going.

Deathworm22
05-08-2007, 04:19 PM
Thanks!

cjugglerleo
05-13-2007, 01:38 PM
....keep notes of the question you have and look them up after the game. Then inform the other players of it.

As a new DM, teaching new players, often a question would arise that we wouldn't know the answer to. Just tell the players how you are going to play it this time around. Look it up and understand it later and explain the REAL rule before the next gaming session. Or just know it for the next time around. I recommend telling them that it is not official, but help players understand that your ruling (wrong or not) stands in effect for the time being.

Ezrandi
05-14-2007, 01:34 PM
As a new DM, teaching new players, often a question would arise that we wouldn't know the answer to. Just tell the players how you are going to play it this time around. Look it up and understand it later and explain the REAL rule before the next gaming session. Or just know it for the next time around. I recommend telling them that it is not official, but help players understand that your ruling (wrong or not) stands in effect for the time being.


Oh that is GOOD advice..

The first time I Gm'ed a game, One of my players was a rule-junky. I swear he knew ever rule in the book.

We spent most of the night arguing each step..

it took me a while to get the hang of a smooth playing game.

cjugglerleo
05-15-2007, 06:17 AM
..
The first time I Gm'ed a game, One of my players was a rule-junky. I swear he knew ever rule in the book.

We spent most of the night arguing each step..


If you ever do have a more experienced player. I'd recommend explaining to the other players that he will be helping with the rules. Make us of this person as a resource, but make sure that it does not come off as favoritism. Also, if the rule that this person is trying to enforce would unbalance your game you do have to be the final arbitrator and hold your ground.

Deathworm22
05-16-2007, 02:35 PM
Everyone press the link at the bottom of my signature please. It helps a game i'm playing.