D&D with Eric the DM #9: How to be a Dungeon Master II
Ahoy Adventurers! I’ve just returned from sailing the Galactic Seas! It was a grand adventure! Come and sit next to my fire with me! I’ll pour us both a strong tankard of mead and we can talk for a while!
How have your adventures been? Is your arch nemesis still pursuing you? Were you able to find the spell you need to banish them yet? I wish you luck in doing so! How have your D&D dice from TheTabletopGameShop been performing? I hope to hear grand tales of your adventures using our Dungeons & Dragons Dice, they are the best dice on the planet after all...
Today I’ll be wrapping up my “Back to Basics” guide for DMs. I hope that these tips and tricks I’ve been giving you are helpful! As always please let me know what YOU would like to talk about! I am here for you! Please let me know your questions and comments and I will try to address them all! Let us know what you think about all of our blogs: Traskoria, Confessions, Our fan art, and all the rest! This is YOUR community! This is OUR Community! We will always have more fun and be stronger together!
So, let’s talk a bit more about being a DM. Being a DM is being a leader. You control not only the story but the temperament of your group. There will come times when there may be conflict between your players, and it will be up to YOU to resolve it. Most of the time these arguments will be easily remedied. A quick look at the rules, or stats on the issue being debated can silence most dissonance. But what do you do when it doesn’t? What if the problem that had arisen can’t be handled by the rules? Well you have several options!
First and foremost, remember this is YOUR story! You make the rules and you can BREAK the rules. DMs are not bound by any rule. You say what happens in your world. If you event must make a decision to ensure the harmony of the game, “Because I’m the DM” is all the reason you need. This is not to say you should use this power all the time but if you are in the middle of the story and something is keeping it from progressing you CAN make any decision necessary to keep things moving. If feelings are hurt by this, you can offer that you can discuss things further at the end of the game.
Sometimes you may need or want to settle things more judiciously. Another GREAT way to solve issues is to let your super awesome beautiful D&D dice from TheTabletopGameShop decide! Is there a stat or skill your players can roll against to settle this argument? Maybe you just need to let your players have a simple contest to decide. Highest roll on a D20, best 2 out of 3? Often the simple act of doing something like rolling dice can resolve most issues. Be sure to checkout my hand-picked selection of D&D Dice on TheTabletopGameShop website for the largest collection of premium D&D dice on the market - I can guarantee we have something for everyone, even the most pickiest of players. Plain and simple, our Dungeons & Dragons dice are the best!
Previously we mentioned discussing things after game. I personally always let my players know that if there is something they want to discuss with me privately or with the group after game we will do it! Set an expectation in your game that the 10 to 15 mins after game are “Pow Wow” time. A time to discuss any matters in your game that need discussing. Players that know they will have this time after game will appreciate it and many conflicts can be avoided this way.
One last issue I’d like to discuss is what to do about absent players. This is also a common problem that can’t be avoided. People lead busy lives! There will come a time when a player will have to be away, perhaps for several adventures! But don’t worry there are many ways to handle this!
First let your players know you would PREFER to know about them missing games as far in advance as possible. Most people will know if they have plans weeks or even months before hand. Keep a cheap calendar in your stack of DM stuff that is visible each game. Have the dates for all upcoming games already penciled in. If a player needs to be away for a game or more put it in the calendar. Seeing the calendar each week will help remind players to let you know if they need to be away.
So a player has let you know they need to be gone for an adventure, now what? One simple solution, if the player will only be gone for an adventure or two, is for YOU to play the character! If the player is amicable to it you can play their character as an NPC . This helps the game to run almost seamlessly in the players absence. You can then ask the player to show up a bit early for their first game back and you can fill them in on what they missed. Or even better, ask your other players if they would like to talk to them! Everyone likes to recount their previous adventures!
If the player is going to be gone for multiple adventures, you may need a more long term solution. Perhaps the player gets a letter from an old friend or family member and must go to their aid. The character can then leave and “catch up” with the party once their commitment has been fulfilled. An easy go to is to have a “close friend” to the character show up in a caravan. This friend has personal important business to discuss with the character, so that character can choose to “travel” with the character in the caravan and catch up with the party later. Caravans can go anywhere so after the player returns, what do your other players see coming into town? Their friend and their caravan!
The possibilities are endless. The main point is if your players let you know in advance you can make arrangements that keep that party whole. That being said, if there is an emergency and a player CAN’T let you know in advance, the best solution is usually to just play their character as an NPC for that adventure and then get with the missing player over the next few days to check on them. Remember your players are people too and compassion goes a LONG way!
A final tip to remember is that the people you game with tend to become lifelong friends if you take care of each other! ALWAYS remember these are your FRIENDS even if they are strangers at first. You are sharing an incredible adventure together and if you approach it as companions the journey will always be greater!
Ok that’s all for today my friends! I hope the fire and the mead have warmed your belly and fortified you for your next adventure! Next time we meet I’d like to talk to you about some things you can do to make your gaming world more immersive! How you can really get “into the game!” Happy travels adventurers! Keep rolling those D&D dice and you’ll be sure to achieve greatness on your campaigns!