Stephen Chenault, of Troll Lord Games, presents 4 more ways to improve your game as the DM:
Being a GM, DM, or CK is a tricky business. You must be able to think on the fly, keep people engaged and lead them down the path to adventure. Bogged down in the minutiae? Stuck in a dungeon? It's important to lead the players to the best game they can have. That's why our CEO and founder, Stephen Chenault -- a gamer for over 40 years and CK that can keep a game of 20 plus moving smoothly -- has put together another 5 gems guaranteed to give you your best game.
#1: Liven up your combat. Key words can go a long way. For example, you might suffer 1d8 points of damage from the club or the blow to their shield may have driven the iron of it back into your nose and cheek, lacerating the flesh and as the shield arm numbs from the blow the taste of blood seeps into your mouth.
#2: RPGs are not just about dungeons. Dungeons are in RPGs. Overland adventures allow you far more control over the game, its pace, tone and direction. In dungeons you are limited to direction, terrain and encounters. There are none of those limitations outdoors. Terrain changes, weather changes, encounters can be wild and varied. Dungeons can be fun, but they can drag out and allow you little room to maneuver.
#3: It’s really best to establish a procedure at the table. I generally run combat rounds from my right to left. After a few minutes everyone knows what to expect and who I am about to call on. Not only does this bring order to the table and allow people time to think and prepare reactions, study abilities, etc. but it also allows the GM even more control as you can, without warning, shake up the order. At times you’ll need to go out of order as something happens to a character to the left first. Whether it is necessary, or something you do to shake things up, going out of order serves two purposes a) it can quickly draw someone who is bored back to the table and b) creates a heightened level of suspense as most players, already used to the structure, pay attention to figure out why things are suddenly out of order.
#4: Allow players to roll initiative each round, no matter what the rules call for. It makes the combat unpredictable, allowing chance to play an even greater roll, and gives one more opportunity for an exciting, battle-changing roll. It also gives the player even more to do at the table. And, as always, rolling dice is just plain fun and rolling initiative 10 times in a combat as opposed to one is that much more fun.
#5: Be fluid at the table. Be ready to adjust the scenario quickly. Move terrain you had pre-planned, change NPC personalities you had pre-planned. Characters who go into an encounter expecting X will be thrown off guard and secretly surprised when they encounter Y. This goes for role playing to actual mechanics. Changing the order of play as noted in #3 above is a good example of this. But far beyond that, be able to shift gears according to player characters.