DM Tips in 140 characters or so #10

I’m thinking of re-naming this weekly article. I would love some input from you the reader so please take a second to fill out this very simple poll.


question #1: What do you do when players in your group don’t get along?

DMSamuel: I talk to then together without anyone else, and then talk to the individually. I tell them they are disrupting the game and something has to change. If the situation is really antagonistic I make it clear that someone will have to go if this crap keeps up.

SlyFlourish: try talking to them a out the real source of the dispute. It’s hard to fix, though, without a new group.

Chip17: I encourage that they take it out in the game. It makes for a great time!

pdunwin: I halt play & we talk about it. Later, I talk to the players outside of the game. Fortunately, this is rare.

bensrpgpile: Bad group is usually due to a single disruptive player. Swap him out w/ a newbie for a break so he appreciates what he’s missing.

b_s_lynn: Tell them 2 exit stage left.

countingku: Put a bar of soap in a pillowcase and beat them with it, or at least threaten it.

IllusiveDreams: you can try to resolve the issues, but more than likely someone will ultimately leave the group.

mleger: each player grants combat advantage for being ‘distracted’, then they get offered a +2 bonus for working together

Macadosche: Send them both off alone on a “buddy mission.” They will either get it together or one or both will quit the group.

mjbrenner: I expect my players to play nice. All are adults with careers. We run in the same social circle. Learn to deal with each other.


question #2: Which do you prefer: Low/med/high amounts of magic in your worlds? Why?

theweem: Low. I like magic to be mysterious – something most have not seen, but have at least heard about. As a player, I prefer “Low” as well – same reasons I gave from the DM point of view

deadorcs: Medium. Anyone can potentially use magic, but easy access to magic items is difficult and very expensive.

Jennerosity: For me, (player) completely depends on the world the campaign is set in. A classic dungeon crawl=med lvl is good.

TheAngryDM: Magic level doesn’t mean much to me. The constant need for upgrades and the idea of magic items littered around the world is what makes me want to say “low.” I also don’t like magitech – Eberron doesn’t do much for me with magic trains and phones.

pdunwin: Honestly, I’ve never really understood the distinctions between the levels of magic in a setting. That said, as a DM I guess I prefer High. More options. If I want to do something cool, I can always just say it’s magical. Plus, High magic makes it easier it emulate cool concepts from modern day or sci-fi. As a player I don’t have much preference. Most magic can be refluffed to “elven craftsmanship” or something. But the closer a DM tries to get to a “true” medieval setting, the more suspicious I get. What’s the DM really after?

DMSamuel: I prefer low, but my players like high. reason: because it makes the magic more special and interesting that way

ethankillett: Since I’m running my first ever campaign, I’m using high amounts of magic, I wanna do one with low to none magic.

b_s_lynn Low. Low, seems more like the PCs R extraordinary

steve_the_dm: High magic for sure! I already live in a low-magic world, but long for the fantastic. Floating cities! Underwater bubble boats!

SeiferTim: depends. Typically High magic, but with a solid, coherent reason behind it (often unknown to the players lol)

symatt: love having magic in my game although I prefer NPCs to have the high magic and PCs to have medium. NPC magic user who can elevate a castle is something to be seen.

Macadosche: Low magic world FTW. Gives magical PCs a ton of room for RP and char growth. Heightens tension when magic does appear.

Siliconwolf: Magic level generally med. Magic is useful for eviron & plot, too rare its meaningless, too much loses wonder becomes tech.

digitaldraco: I like them all, for different reasons. Low = magic’s more special, med = balanced, high = fun!


question #3: Is there anything from previous editions or other games you wish they would incorporate into 4e?

SlyFlourish: I want the double damage on crit back. No threat confirm required but no crit lower than 20. It would be a lot simpler.

pdunwin: I’d like the soulknife back.

b_s_lynn: Flexibility, but I understand Y it is gone.

mjbrenner: I would love the addition of a drama deck, like in Torg. It gives the PCs a good deal of control over the flow of the story.

Macadosche: Kudos to WotC for bringing it back in a small way… But I wanna see a whole SPELLJAMMER-themed book or adventure series

Siliconwolf: From previous editions, THAC0 and grappling! No sorry, kidding, currently no and system is flexible enough I can do a lot.

question #4: How do you handle levels and exp? Do you give out exp after fights or just give characters levels when you see fit ect?

theweem: I level them when I think it’s time – not even really based on events, just when I simply think it’s time 😉

symatt: if you give out individual XP, advance is unequal & in 4e that matters. So I level up players when I feel its right. my brother levels up his players every four encounters.

DMSamuel: I track tru XP earned, but I actually level them when it seems to be the right time

WolfSamurai: I give out XP nightly based on encounters, quests, and bonus XP. Basically according to RAW, though with plenty of bonus XP

deadorcs: I give out XP per encounter, but I don’t let the heroes level unless they have the opportunity to take an extended rest.

digitaldraco: As a general rule, I try to give XP at the end of each game session, adding in roleplay XP earned along the way.

SlyFlourish: I give experience in big chunks between games. I don’t worry too much about when they level.

esspkay: The latter. I ignore XP completely and level at planned stages. Gives farmer players a different focus.

pdunwin: I give out XP between sessions, but we usually only have 1 enc per. They level when they level.

AlioTheFool: I give full XP per encounter even if some enemies escape. Sometimes I hand wave a level though. If I feel they’ve earned it.

jonathanshade: give out levels after adventure or significant stage of adventure is done.

ObsidianCrane: I do both. As suits the needs of the campaign at the time. Sometimes the 10 encounters work, others they don’t.

mjbrenner: My players like the straight-forward approach, so I award XP at the end of each adventure based on combat and quests.

b_s_lynn: From the games I experienced best 2 just ell them 2 level when U think appropriate.

ethankillett: I kinda go by story. If the PC’s have uncovered a plot by the end of their adventure or series of play sessions.

Siliconwolf: For xp, given end of each battle with short rest, also use quest xp, however I keep track so I know when levels will happen


question #5: how long do you spend planning your games?

DMSamuel: probably and average of 4-5 hours per week for each game, it depends how much improv I do versus pure planning.

theprint: I spend days planning every game. Had it been business I would go bankrupt, but planning is half the fun for me, so I don’t mind.

pdunwin: What I use in a given session takes a few hours to devise, but I’m always thinking about things to try.

symatt: could be any amount of time from spontaneous to two months or more. although the longest prep had part of the game go all astray. Also I never seem to stop thinking about gaming even when I’m not gaming or even writing a game. I always write for a 6 to 8 hour game that way I have sufficient for most eventuality

deadorcs: Depends. I can prepare for months getting all the pieces put together. Avoids a lot of quick rush work before game.

JoeGKushner: depends on the nature of the game. using modules cuts down significantly, but I still try to tie things into character background.

SlyFlourish: Probably eight hours per four hour game but I’ve never really timed it. I’ve always got the next game grinding in my head.

AmazingTriangle: When I have the story nailed down in my head 3~4 hours. When I am searching for a place to go 7~8.

bensrpgpile: TypicLly,I dm/prep about 8 hrs a wk. Actual game time is golden so anything I can do 2 give group more time is worth. Prep = fun


question #6: Which do you use most: Monster Manual, build your own, or modified MM monsters?

digitaldraco: Yes.

plays2much_DnD: I use published monsters from the Adventures or MMs & make sure to adjust to current errata.

ObsidianCrane: I use all 3. It depends on the circumstance and what is available to fill an idea.

deadorcs: re: Monsters Usually pre-built, but I’ve used a combination of all three options.

pdunwin: Usually use stock monsters. Any modifications I make are slight. I did once make an eberron Horrid Rat out of a Dire Rat, but never had a chance to try it out.

TheAngryDM: I tend to use an even mix of standard, custom, and reskinned monsters. Always use customs instead of earlier solos/elites. prefer custom only because the attack/damage output is more even/predictable than MM1 monsters that were all over the map.

SlyFlourish: I use the monster builder or dnd compendium and mod them with MM2 / MM3 changes. This week I’m running straight MM3.

DMSamuel: I build my own and modify, hardly ever use a creature directly out of MM1 or 2, MM3 I might though

blindgeekuk: unless its a pre-gen adventure such as dndenc, I always alter MM creatures since my players are anal and remember the stats.

b_s_lynn: Modded MM is required 2 prevent grind from most discussions I’ve read.

Macadosche: Modified MM – Typically I lower monster HP, add or sub a power rather than using exactly as-is

symatt: if you have the same monster turn up in your game (Orcs) modify because your players will think they know the enemy.

Siliconwolf: For monsters use MM for inspiration and similar creatures then tweak usually, if I have a specific need I build from scratch


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.


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Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.
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