Can you share more funny moments from your DnD campaign please
I’ll do you one better.
For context: This happened during our Curse of Strahd game, which is now leaning into Homebrew territory because my players refuse to go to Ravenloft.
Not pictured: The unicorn, immediately after taking falling damage, also got electrocuted into oblivion because one of the players is cursed, courtesy of the Amber Temple.
Needless to say, I was thrilled concerned about how much I packed into the dungeon crawl to wear them down, only to realize they were fully capable of doing it themselves.
Some fun ideas for warlock pacts. You can see the rest of this series on my Kofi! I appreciate all tips.
Combat shouldn’t take more than an hour? How quick are your players taking their turns? 🤔 (But for real any tips on how to speed up combat would be welcome lmao)
Sometimes combat can run longer! Two hours is feasible in a home game but pretty fatiguing tho, so as a DM I'm always aiming for like 1 - 1.5 hours at most.
Here are some tips for DMs and Players of every experience lvl on how to make combat run faster:
- KNOW YOUR MOVES
Have stat blocks up for your little guys. Know how you want to play them. If you're opening, pre-roll your openers. If you know your villain is going to cast a big complicated spell in the middle of combat, pre-roll attack rolls and dmg to save time. Don't be too rigid, just be able to adapt and announce what your guys do right away
You don't need to make a module that any dm could run from just looking at your notes. You just need what you need.
Simple npc stat blocks, simple monster turns, etc
- SWIFT RESOLUTION
If you can't look up a rule in under 30 secs, make your ruling with the info you have and move forward
If you have npcs vs npcs, resolve it beforehand or resolve it with a single roll in combat. No one wants to watch you do non-critical play against yourself for an hour. If it's rolling to see whether a beloved NPC is able to wrestle out of the grip of your big bad or die, sure resolve that in full. If it's just a companion npc smiting a skeleton? At most 1 roll or they just do it
- BE CONFIDENT
This should be called act confident. It doesn't matter if you feel unsure or not, if you act confident your players will buy into your scenario
- PLAYER ENGAGEMENT
Keep track of initiative, have it publicly displayed, remind your players when they're on deck. Give each player multiple avenues of success so they don't get stuck
The most rewarding thing about running fun combat as a DM is there's more room for fun narration and cool character moments when mechanics are no longer a slog.
- KNOW YOUR ACTION ECONOMY
Credit to my beloved actionsurges on this but keep your actions, bonus actions, reactions, and miscellaneous all in a little sheet where you can see it at a glance. Knowing your resources will allow you to be more fluid than a flowchart or a battle plan that falls apart at the first arrow.
- HAVE YOUR TURN READY
Be attentive during other players turns! They will inform your actions, and they may be depending upon your attentive reaction to save them! Even if your whole plan gets upended right before your turn, deliver your goals clearly and quickly to the dm right away. It's ok to hustle for info first, just be efficient and be ready
- TRACK YOUR OWN SHIT
Track your resources, your health, your concentration checks, everything. The less your dm has to micromanage you the better they can dm! If you're a new player and you're unsure, ask for help!
These are some basic things but just some stuff that I've found helpful! If I can think of more when my brain isn't exploding I'll add on!
“Posture can convey personality and emotion as effectively as voice and gesture.” (The Complete Book of Villains by Kirk Botula, TSR, 1994) This one might be by comic artist Graham Nolan, who is credited for illustrations along with Terry Dykstra and Larry Elmore.
I made a colorized version of this ink piece. A little ode to tabletop gaming. 🖤
Whan am I learning at my easygoing fairytale campaign
making quests epic and heartbreaking is a mindset, and it's very easy to slip back to it. I need to purposefully avoid conspiracies or make them as lighthearted as possible
small problems make great quests. Silly reasons make great quests. Wererats are upset because people throw trash in the well, not because of some complicate reason like miscommunication or discrimination.
don't touch real life problems. At all. These are "for the New Year Eve" - for your serious campaigns, not for this one. No discrimination, no harrasement, no sexism\racism, no toxicity. Not here, not now. These are great tools for complicated plots and multi-layered problems and villains. Here use the simpliest ones - envy, greed, sloth, miscommunications.
evil people are evil, not grey or complicated. Just evil. Don't make things vague for your players, they came to rest, not to struggle.
lots of things in fairytales can be explained by inability of people to believe. Squirrels took your stuff? Hijacked a couple of carts and stole your belongings? Go cry about it, who will believe you?
with the previous bullet, you can go absolutely nuts with your quests. Make the most believable shit and place it with the most unbelievable. There is an evil organization of Sleeping Evil? Guys just want to gather all the evil dudes and give them a rest, so they will wake up better than they were. People do not want to do anything with foreigners? Because they can actually see evil people spewing darkness out of them. Like, with their eyes. They can see people spitting bullshit, this dark substance coming from their eyes and mouths. That's why they don't want to interact with people who they can see are evil.
prepare lots of names, plant descriptions and minerals, some of your players might take interest in harvesting.
i was supposed to prep a session today
Anytime I make a mistake while DMing something serious.
Made a battle floor for my carnival fight climax with a platform that got higher and narrower as combat progressed!
Audience members paid money to make combat more deadly, adding random monsters, a fire pit, etc.
I’ve been DMing on and off for eh, five years? And I think one of the moments that helped me grow most as a DM was also objectively one of the most hilarious things to ever happen in a game
It was a Halloween one-shot for me a three of my friends, one of the rare one-shots that actually STAYED a one-shot in fact. It was a cosmic horror game with a Victorian-England inspired backdrop (NOT run in 5e, this was a specific horror system that I can’t remember the name of), obviously, my jam. The start of the game was the party all meeting in a bell tower after being forced into its lobby to take shelter from a storm.
Now, obviously, there was some spooky shit in the tower. I don’t remember my original plan well as this was four years ago (disgusting) and the note doc I could find was 101 words long, but, from what I remember, the tower was cursed by the bellringer Virgil Belle (I think I’m funny) completely under the nose of the tower keeper Lady Adelaide who knows about the curse rumors but also thinks they are complete nonsense. However, the tower maid Emma recently came across Virgil doing curse antics and is now terrified of him and trying to tell what she saw to anyone who will listen. That’s what I had going into the one-shot.
My plan was for Emma to burst into the tower lobby from outside claiming things about Virgil to hook the party to start the quest.
So, that’s what I did. After the players had introduced their characters and roleplayed a little bit and I sensed a pause in the moment, I had Emma show up. “You suddenly hear loud bangs coming from the front tower door.”
However, I decided her just running in terrified wasn’t quite scary enough, so, when one of the players went to the door I describe the rain as suddenly turning thick, and black, like tar. Before him is this woman, wide-eyed and white as a sheet in a grey dress, looking up at him dripping with this mysterious ooze is now falling from the sky.
The player sees this, this terrifying woman standing in the rain that has suddenly turned black, the hook of my entire plot for this game ready to spill the beans on what’s going on in the creepy tower. What does he do?
He closes the door in her face before she can say a single word
And suddenly I am DMing a completely different story
Suddenly, the story is about uncovering the horrific secrets of Lady Adelaide, or as she is truly known, Adelaide Belle, a woman bound to the clock tower living endlessly through unnatural means. Those means? Bringing an aspect of an unspeakable cosmic horror in the world by forcing her daughter, Emma Belle, to birth it, killing Emma in the process but “rewarding” Adelaide with eternal youth. Emma’s ghost appearing to the party to try and beg them to put an end to it.
And what is that aspect? Adelaide calls it Virgil Belle, an unseen inhuman thing that lives in the shadows of the upper bell tower floors and never actually confronting the party physically, them only knowing he was truly up there when the bell started ringing.
All of that I pulled directly out of my ass during the course of a four hour game by just watching what my players did and suspected and building off of that. A game which, by the way, ended with the party blowing up the tower in a gas explosion and walking away without looking at it
I still think of it as one of my “shining moments” in DMing. It taught me that I work best as a DM when I am forced to improvise and think on my feet, not only that, it taught me that I like to improvise and think on my feet which is pretty good if you’re going to be a dungeon master.
But I will never forget how fucking funny it was to have the plot knock on the door, and for my player to just be like “Nah fuck that shit” and slam the door shut
Do you have any advice for someone about to dm for the first time? I'm less worried about running the session than how the hell do you plan one?
Btw Iove your art and it's inspired me to try out line work again
Thanks! And hey, that's a good question.
Here's the thing I've learned as a DM - you don't have to plan EVERYTHING.
In fact, the less you plan, the more prepared you'll be!*
*Some restrictions apply
How I like to think of when I DM is that me and my players sit in the middle of a WHEEL of possibilities. It looks something like this:
Every session you start with, you have a set amount of possible go-to points. These are limited. Usually, your party won't go from sipping drinks at a tavern to walking out the door and fighting cult members in ONE session.
The possibilities are endless, so what you need to prepare is just the next few steps. In the above image, what I mean is that they first two darker shades are representative of what you need to have prepared immediately, and the lighter shades are plans you can have on the back burner, but don't need to flesh out.
As your party makes choices and travels outside of the Starting Spot, you can prepare the NEXT steps based on the ones they chose.
So, say your party is in your tavern, and they decide to go to the Adventuring Guild to look for a job. You don't HAVE to prepare the Heist Mission in the Wizard's tower for that - you can know it's a possibility, but once they've made their first choice, you have a direction.
You can then kind of visualize what their next steps are.
Of course, this wheel isn't one way! Your players could always just... hop over to an adjacent topic! If they're solving a mystery, that could link up to a Cult involvement. And from there, they can discover a Secret Hideout for the Cult, which you already know was a possibility if they were to go into the forest.
And once that sort of adventure has started, you can go ahead and think about what other things you had planned out might link up to or evolve from where they are.
At that point, it's like playing a giant board-game. Which involves laying down track in front of an oncoming train.
My recommendation is that you keep a few things on hand which can be used anywhere:
a few maps that somewhat relate to multiple things on your map (for example, a dungeon-looking map that could be a Secret Hideout OR the Wizard's tower)
Some named NPCs - at least one per location that you can throw up immediately when they arrive
a few puzzles/plotpoints which can act as a placeholder while you think of details (for example, a Mystery can be hard to think of on the spot. Give them some random clues, such as a missing person, a few discarded items, etc and then take your time before the next session to link those items together!)
The rest is.. well... just making it up as you go along!
Of course, that's just MY personal way of doing things. Some people prepare way less, and some prepare way more. It's just all up to how quickly your players move/how comfortable you are with details.
Ideas for the druid!
Are you looking for a Dungeon Master?
Do you maybe not have a group and want to get into DND? Or, do you have a group of friends, all geared up to rock through an adventure, but no Dungeon Master to run it? Well, hopefully I can be the one to help fix that!
Hey all! Like I said before, I’m looking to get into DMing professionally! I finally got around to going through and making an entire Introduction Sheet (includes link to Google Doc with all the proper information) for people to peruse! I got some people telling me they were interested, and would love to talk to anyone who is! Feel free to either send me a DM, an Ask, or an email~! Newcomers and veteran players, LGBTQ+, POC, people of all sorts welcome!
I’m offering to run a first, initial session 0 for 5$ a person to see if I’m a good fit for you or your group! Even if you’re not interested, if you could spread the word, that would be greatly appreciated!
Master of the Game, Gary Gygax’s 1989 sequel to Role-Playing Mastery, this one more specifically focused on game master skills (Bryn Barnard cover art, Putnam/Perigee Books)