Thursday, August 30, 2018

More tricks of the GM's trade from Troll Lord Games

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: This is going to sound kind of weird. But when running the game you are going to make notes, so be sure to make them legible. Take the extra 2 seconds. I rarely do and my notes are a jumbled mess of stuff I can hardly read. I’m constantly having to compare notes with one of my players, Mac Golden (we’ve been gaming together since ’84, co-creator of Castles & Crusades), to figure out what I wrote 7 weeks ago, because I can’t read my hand writing (see image).

#2: Two of the best ways to toughen a monster are increased AC and damage reduction. Characters at mid to high level can deal an extraordinary amount of damage. A high AC mitigates that and makes the encounter challenging. Far more enjoyable is damage reduction. Knowing they are hitting a monster, but that it has survived the terrible storm, makes players begin to question the very actions they are taking. Don't hesitate to adjust AC or add damage reduction.
#3: If you are running a campaign, which I almost always do, you will probably have to recap the previous week’s game. Try to keep the recaps very short. I try to never recap more than 3 minutes. This isn’t always possible. Some players may have missed the last game. Some just can’t remember what went on or they have other things going on that distract them from the game (like Ferris Bueller said, “Life comes at you fast”). If it’s going to take very long, turn the recap over to the players, pick one player and ask them what their character did, the others will almost inevitably join in. This serves three purposes: 1) recaps nicely 2) and this is the most important….it involves the players in a Q/A so you don’t dominate the table for the first 30 minutes of the game and 3) allows you a few minutes to get some last-minute notes done. As a complete side note, if YOU can’t remember what went on, it will save you the embarrassment.
#4: Healing should not be a passive act. Describe it much as you would a battle description. “You have to grab the flesh and pinch it together, the blood wells up and around your hand, soaking your garments. You breathe the blessings of your god across the wound and the flesh mends, though it is mottled blue and black from the terrible bruising.” After you’ve done this a few times, players will get into the spirit of things and you can turn the action over to them. Then you can ask, “What do you do to heal them…?”

#5: When a game is going bad and you are losing the interest of the players, bring in an encounter. Make it sudden and fast. This should not be a punitive encounter, it is not vindictive or to punish the players for not paying attention. After all, the fault is yours, you lost them or bored them. Use the encounter to get everyone’s attention and get their adrenaline pumping. Nothing brings someone back to the table like “Roll for initiative.” Keep it fun, but dangerous.

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