Dungeon Master Tips in 140 characters or so #13

I know it’s Tuesday but it is a holiday week and that actually means fewer days off for me. I always end up being the guy who holds down the fort while everyone is on vacation so this holiday weekend put off my schedule by a day. With out any further interruptions here is this weeks questions!

Question #1:  How many days out of the week do you play in or DM a game?



WolfSamurai: Two days a week, most weeks.

Neldar: One, but if I had less family responsibilities three easy.

CubeSteve: In reality, once or twice a month if I’m lucky. In my dreams, every single day.

TheAngryDM: I DM my home campaign once per week with very few missed sessions. And that is awesome. One regular weekly session at 5 hours. Very regular.

warpgames: I GM dndenc two flights per week, DM my home game once per week, and some weeks I’m in as many as two other games.

DarthKevin: At least once, at the most 3.

kimblepr: Once every two weeks. A D&D game, that is. Almost every week, if we count all the other campaigns.

SlyFlourish: I run one game a week and play in our local RPGA games once a week.

deadorcs: I play usually no more than once a week. Twice if a fott game falls during a week with one of my f2f games

SeiferTim: was 2 per week for awhile, now, 0 🙁

AlioTheFool: Once every 2 weeks.

pdunwin: Face-to-face: No more than once a week, + possible Encounters session. Play-by-post: constantly.

jmpress: Every Monday I play. Had an every-other-week game I DMed, then we lost two players.

BillTonkin: Zero. Just gettin back into DnD. Tryin to put a campaign together and start a new group, it’s been 5-6 years

DrOct: let’s try that again: I dm once a week, occasionally with a bonus weekend session. Sadly don’t play as a player at all right now.

Milambus: About once a week right now.

Macadosche: In real life, once a week on Wednesdays. In my head, every day.

ObsidianCrane: 1x for each usually. Play Fri DM Sat.

theweem: 1-2 depending on the week 😉

IllusiveDreams: 2 Days a wk now. Was playing 3 Times a wk, but in playing in 4 campaigns & running 1. Just playing in 2 camps now.

AldaquenRPG: Just one 🙁 sundays and always DMing, but I love that more than being a PC

symatt: oh Crap…..NONE

nosferatu1208: I DM usually once a week.

azaroth42: DM 1 night a week, preparation for it happens most days (commuting time) and normally also one evening (maps, monsters etc)

JoeGKushner: 2 to 4 times a month depending on end of month ot madness


Question #2: DMs: how do you make sure your encounters are balanced?



youngfreetexas: my DM has a seperate party of characters that are our level that he pits them up against enemies on his own. Too much for me!

nsforrester: make sure the CR of the encounter is usually one higher than the party. PCs are innovative. Goblins are not. 😀

SarahDarkmagic: I have a deck of many monsters. What could possibly go wrong with random draws? so what if the 1st level PCs are up against Orcus

WolfSamurai: Following the guidelines as well as my own experiences as a DM and a player to see where things are a bit off as written.

CaptCalamitous: plan the crap out of it and fudge the die rolls to make sure.

RobertsonGames: I don’t balance my encounters. It’s up to the players to decide whether they should fight or flee.

nosferatu1208: for the amount of players I have I do balance quite a bit. That will change when more people start playing; that and how well they will do.

AlioTheFool: Honestly I don’t. practice and cheating behind the screen, though as little as possible.

pdunwin: Depends on definition of “balanced” but I use the DMG guidelines, for starters. Beyond that, if a battle drags or gets too easy/hard, I adjust monster tactics as the battle goes.

azaroth42: ensure that d20 roll for all pcs to hit is less than 15 and no average dmg expression > healing surge value. Compare to-hits of party to defs of monsters and make sure that special powers + terrain not going to generate unfair advantage

AmazingTriangle: Fewer soldiers more brutes, 1 controller, and no more than 2 Skirm/Art. No more than 4 types at once. Surprise Lurker sometimes

icu_seamus: sometimes I’ll playtest them myself, simming for the PCs. Mainly because it’s fun to watch what the players actually do.

ObsidianCrane: I find the DMG1 xp budgets work fine.

IllusiveDreams: When I ran SoW AP, the PCs didnt feel all that challenged “out the box”, so had to spice things up, add monsters & terrain.

adamdray: I just follow the rules in the 4e DMG. Never had a problem.

symatt: Never have the enemy more than 2 levels higher than the PC’s. but also judge the game and fight as the game goes along

deadorcs: I usually go by the book on this one. I watch my XP count & make sure monster types are appropriate for encounter.

WastexGames: I think the players can do more than the DMG says and usually throw hordes of monsters at them.

pdunwin: I adjust the lethality of monster tactics up or down as necessary for balance.

Macadosche: I shoot low and keep a handful of extra minions in my back pocket to jump out of the bushes if the battle becomes too easy.




Question #3: What do you do with a player who strongly opposes you on a ruling?



gamefiend: agree to discuss out of game, but be firm to go with your ruling at the table.

OverloadUT: Say “This is the ruling for now, so we can keep the session moving. We’ll discuss after session if you’d like”

AldaquenRPG: Allow him to search on the book alone, while the others play. At the end, say to him “yeah, but its my campaign, so…”

AmazingTriangle: Rule it as I ruled it for now. When he/she can show me otherwise I will change it for future uses. Always after game

RCarlton87: Ask for his character sheet and send him home. Right or Wrong, the DM’s ruling shall be followed.

ObsidianCrane: I rarely have that problem because I’m pretty flexible with rules while DMing. But “talk to me latter” is the only solution afaik

icosahedron: Talk to the other players about it. Normally I would not invite the person back, but other players might have ties to the person.

IllusiveDreams: Ive had that happen. The rules are not set in stone. If I think it should go one way or another, I just simply say “its DMs call”

WolfSamurai: Discuss it with them. Explain my reasoning for doing it. Are they opposing it because it hurts their character or group? Or are they doing it because they feel it changes the nature of the game in some important way? Is there a compromise possible?

symatt: If Consensus is against me id agree with the players, to be honest i wouldn’t argue at the time and go with what they say

CaptCalamitous: I will state my case listen to theirs and make a ruling, if they won’t let it go, they can leave

WastexGames:I try to base my rulings on the rules and offer to show them why I chose what I did based on the rules at our break

azaroth42: DM’s word is law at the table, unless can find a clear rule in under 2 minutes. If not, then discuss it after the game.

baelion: tell them to DM a game if they don’t like the ruling. But ultimately talk to them after the game and find out why.

carolinacharlie: It’s just a rules update, like stealth or 3D movement/combat or anything else. It’s frustrating but it’s the way WotC rolls.

adamdray: I make them fight the bear in my garage. If they win, they win the ruling. If they lose, I don’t have to feed the bear.

deadorcs: I ask that they obey my ruling for now, and then we can discuss changes later.

Macadosche: DM is always right, get on with the game ASAP, look it up later. If you want, wager lunch or coffee on who’s right.

JoeGKushner: tell the player well discuss it after the game so that everyone else can enjoy themselves. Then with no witnesses karate chop!

ironregime: If its no big deal, I’ll side with the player. If it is a big deal, I might still cave but look for an interesting twist.


Question #4:How do you deal with knowledge and skill checks in combat?



WolfSamurai: I allow most skill checks as a minor action. Sometimes, depending on the skill and circumstance, it may be different however.

blindgeekuk: unless the encounter is planned a certain way, i let them make a group wide monster check at the start and unless its a heal check, skill checks as a minor action, or as part of their move (athletics/acrobatics) if they can do things as minor’s ABD still attack, new players feel like they are really adding something to an encounter.

kleebakrr: I have most skill checks as minor actions so my players don’t feel like they are giving up an attack.

NthDegree256: Knowledge checks: Minor. I base the DCs on the Page 42 chart and monster level. “easy” success = rough idea of its abilities “hard” success, they have a much more useful list (encounter powers, vulnerabilities, etc.) For other DnD skill checks, my rule of thumb is that it’s a minor unless its effect will be much better than an at-will attack.

AlioTheFool: Knowledge checks = free action. Skills free if they can be considered part of standard or move act. Otherwise standard

IllusiveDreams: They are usually treated as free actions on someones turn, knowledge checks at least. Skill checks I ask for description as well.

symatt: If a roll makes sense then i allow them. and bonuses to the fight . Say if they have met the creature type or NPC before.

pdunwin: Knowledge checks: generally free. By the book.

Macadosche: Minor act, unless they are part of another act, then they’re free. (Ex: jump a chasm & charge=1 move act on successful Athletics)

chronosome: Free action, 1/turn. Player specifies either “lore” (MM entry) or “combat knowledge” (skill). That way, they set the tempo.

WastexGames:I use Gabe(from P-A)’s idea of DCs as minors. PCs can roll whatever checks they want but I only give them what I want to.


I run one game a week and play in our local RPGA games once a week.

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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About Thadeousc

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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