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Professional GM: Methodology and Theory

Captain_CommandoCaptain_Commando Registered User
edited March 2009 in Critical Failures
********
The original thread for this ( http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=442760 ) got a little convoluted and went off-track a lot because I posted an incomplete, unrefined article. That's never happening again. Yeesh. I've shortened, rewritten, and reorganized the article to get to the point.
********

Professional GM: Methodology and Theory
by Johnny Tek

For those of you who are unfamiliar with "Caravan of Blades", it was a short-lived idea for a pay-for-play DnD 4e campaign. I decided to close down the business on Day 1 because I realized I entered into it for the wrong reasons and with the wrong strategy. It wouldn't work and it would have been truly folly to continue.

I did put some effort into putting together a methodology (set of methods) designed to impress customers and provide a feel of professional theatricality. In theory at least. Hence the title "Methodology and THEORY".

Perhaps there are some game masters that already use some or most of the tools and methods described in this article. I doubt that most game masters use ALL of them TOGETHER though. At the very least, this article should give some helpful tips for spicing up a session.

This article is NOT about running a business or marketing one. It is about a set of tools and methods that increase the face value of a game master's services.

HYPOTHESIS
The extra GMing tools and methods described below, when used TOGETHER well, will add a professional, theatrical feel to a DnD 4e gaming session.

This is assuming that the game master already has all the gaming materials commonly used by game masters and is a good actor/storyteller. It is most important that the game master has a strong mastery of narrative and voice acting if the paid game master wants to put on a good show for the "customers".

To clarify, common gaming materials other than the rules books include dice, miniatures, dungeon tiles, washable map, game master's screen, and printed aids such as maps and reference sheets.


PART I. SPECIAL GAMING MATERIALS

Extra gaming materials, no matter how cheap the cost, can add significantly to the image of production value. Some can also be used to produce an added dimension to the gaming experience.

A. GAME MASTER'S MASK

Original Plan: The game master puts on a face mask looking like the phantom of the opera's mask, except extending to both sides of the face. This is done at the beginning of the session, AFTER greeting the players and welcoming them to the table. Don't forget to remind the players that this is for the purpose of theatricality and that the mask is "part of the show". Masks have been used in theatrical productions throughout history. Examples include kabuki shows, ancient greek dramas, and commedia dell arte.

Hindsight Observations: For some adventures, changing between a set of different masks may further enhance the experience. The masks can be decorated or designed for specific encounters or changes in story. The game master might not even put a mask on until the PCs encounter a special character that wears a mask in-game.
For example, in an adventure where the party is visiting the temples of the gods of earth, wind, fire, and water, the game master can switch between masks whose designs or decorations fit the motifs of particular elements.

Challenges
1. Makes players uncomfortable if used with bad timing and/or gaming location.
2. Physical discomfort may distract from concentration on performance.
3. Stronger use of narrative and strategic combined use with pictures required to make it work.

Benefits
1. Accompanied with strong vocal acting, well worded narrative and strategic use of pictures, the mask can create an air of theatricality. The game master becomes a game character in a sense.
2. The mask can be taken off at opportune times to enhance anticipation of facial expression acting if any.
3. Game masters with less expressive faces have an amusing crutch to compensate.
4. Game masters that do not want to tip off players to surprises or hidden plot with their facial expressions have a disguise to work with.


B. ACTION PROPS

In Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition, players can spend "action points" to take an extra action during their turn or activate some other effect depending on their feats, class features, powers, or magic items. These are rare, special moments of glory that the players' characters experience as a stroke of luck, passion, or genius.

Original Plan: The game master uses bite-size plastic silver stars to represent the action points. Every player gets several that they can toss into a bowl when "spending" the action points.

Challenges
1. Finding the right-looking, right-sized props that won't break too easily.

Benefits
1. The props add a visual, tactile sensation to game play that reminds players that they have this resource.
2. It's childishly fun to toss them into a bowl. Two points! (the audience cheers)
3. Shiny objects used in game play add to the look of production value.


C. CAPSULE ROLLERS

When rolling dice, they can knock over other things on the table such as miniatures or fall off the table. This creates a disruption that interrupts the flow of a game. Remembering an old board game that had an interesting way of rolling dice by keeping them inside a plastic chamber, I came up with a simple and entertaining solution to this potential problem.

Original Plan: The 20-sided dice are placed inside emptied "plastic egg" containers from supermarket vending machines. One side is opaque and the other side is see-through. The opaque side must have a flat end. By shaking the container, the die inside "rolls" as a result.

Hindsight Observations: A cup would work just as well for all the dice but wouldn't add quite the same element of novelty as the capsule rollers.

Challenges
1. Finding a supermarket with vending machines (easy).

Benefits
1. No risk of knocking over minis and no falling off the table.
2. It prevents some of the methods players might use to cheat with their dice rolls.


D. STICKER BOTTOMS

In a large combat, it can be a hassle to keep track of which miniature is which if you are using a lot of the same miniatures to represent your monsters. This can lead to unnecessary lag in combat.

Original Plan: The game master places blank stickers on the bottom ends of miniatures and labels them with a pen or pencil. When a creature's hit points or conditions are updated, one can simply look at the sticker to see which creature it is.

Hindsight Observations: One might instead place a wipe-able clear sheet over the map and use markers but sticker bottoms have the advantages of pre-preparation and lightness of baggage.

Challenges
1. Preparation time before sessions is slightly increased.

Benefits
1. Removes fear of forgetting or mixing up the miniatures.
2. In a casual game, every person can bring in the same types of miniatures with proof of ownership marked on the stickers.
3. This sort of preparation adds to the appearance of the game master's experience and foresight.
4. Less lag time means smoother flow of game play.


E. EMERGENCY CHARACTERS

Character death may be inevitable, and rolling up a new character mid-session takes away from a player's participation and can slow down a game session.

Original Plan: The game master has pre-generated character sheets available in case of character death or disability. The pay-for-play campaign featured a "reservist teleportation" rule that replaced fallen characters the following round during an encounter.

Hindsight Observations: If used in a "GM-by-client" business rather than a pay-for-play campaign business, the client(s) should have input in the choices of emergency characters available if they opt for pre-gens rather than making backup characters themselves.

Challenges
1. Preparation time before sessions is increased depending on the number of pre-generated characters maintained.
2. There must be a sufficient in-game reason for a replacement. This may require quick thinking on the part of the game master.

Benefits
1. A player doesn't have to sit around doing nothing while waiting for everyone else to finish.


F. CINEMA STAND

Good pictures of fantasy artwork or photos of interesting scenery can help players visualize the environments and situations experienced by their characters.

Original Plan: The game master places a picture stand in front of the game master's screen that can hold up to 3 printed pictures (usually 8 1/2 x 11") or 1 or 2 larger pictures. Pictures are easy to find online.

Challenges
1. Preparation time before sessions may be increased depending on the number of pictures searched and printed.
2. The pictures brought along need to be organized well.

Benefits
1. The stand frees up your hands so that you can roll dice, reach for miniatures, write notes down, and sort through your maps and tiles.
2. Players can visualize the game world better.
3. You can add a "sky" or "background" that you can change up on the fly. For example, the PCs may be trying to defeat a monster before a clock mechanism on the far wall changes hands to a certain time. As the clock hand moves, the pictures can be progressively switched out.
4. If using the game master's mask, pictures can compensate for whatever might be missing from your facial expressions.
5. Picture swapping can be combined with good timing to produce dramatic storytelling moments.
6. The pictures can also be used to create a "stage" to put on a special mini-show, perhaps using puppets, miniatures, dolls, or action figures.


G. TILE ORGANIZER

[Author's Note: I didn't think this would be too important but then again meticulous organization does have an effect on the way one is perceived as a game master. Especially a paid one. I used translucent sealable plastic pockets for my map stuff.]

The way you organize map or dungeon tiles can greatly influence the amount of time spent putting a map together for a combat encounter.

Original Plan: The game master uses a stationary binder, stapling to each page a sheet of paper or plastic plastic so that it can open at the side facing outwards. Paper clips or similar devices are used to close and re-close the open end. Each page is marked with a number or symbol. Dungeon tiles are placed inside the pockets created by the staple paper and plastic.
OR
The game master uses a set of folders or containers, each marked by a number or symbol. Dungeon tiles are placed inside them.

Challenges
1. Organizing your tiles can be tedious.
2. Clean up can be tedious if you are sorting a lot of tiles.

Benefits
1. When designing a tile map, the tiles can be referenced by the same numbers or symbols marked on the binder pages, folders, or containers. This makes finding the right tiles much quicker and easier when putting them together during a game session, at least for the first encounter using the tiles.



PART II: STORYTELLING AND IMMERSION

The gaming materials set the stage but the game master's storytelling and game coordination give the show direction. The players become the show, so tools for good direction are important to the success of the session.

A. RALLY THE TROOPS

Combat can be the most exciting part of an adventure. A way to make it more exciting is to use some inspiring or comedic words to stimulate the excitement.

The game master makes a confident statement at the beginning of an encounter just after setting the initiative order. The following are examples of such statements.

"Brave adventurers, prepare for glory! The battle is on!!!"

"The voice of destiny calls forth. Will you answer it? The battle is on!!!"

"For king and country! For friends and family! For fame and wealth! For pony! What will you fight for? The battle is on!!!"

Challenges
1. You must ever increase your repertoire of dramatic statements because using the same one too many times can get old very fast.
2. The more dramatic the statement, the higher the expectation may become for good combat game play. See Battle Challenge below for a way to spruce up combat.

Benefits
1. The players will remember a combat encounter much more fondly if started with a particularly memorable statement.


B. BATTLE CHALLENGE

Even with clever map and terrain usage, a combat encounter can become bland or boring. Battle challenges offer a way to inject an added dimension of role-playing or problem solving into an encounter. A battle challenge may also be used to provide an alternate way of ending combat. Some encounters may feature multiple battle challenges that affect the encounter and/or story in different ways. With a properly designed battle challenge, the party can also fight against enemies that are normally out of their league.

NOTE: XP should be given for successfully fulfilling a battle challenge if XP is used. In some cases an arbitrary story XP reward may be given whether or not the battle challenge resolves in success or failure as long as it is resolved in some way. Such a battle challenge usually has an important effect on the story being told in the game session.

The game master announces a battle challenge during combat any time after the initiative order is determined, usually at the beginning of the first round. Sometimes it might be better to announce or imply a battle challenge in the form of clues (not too subtle though or else it could take uncomfortably longer to resolve).

The following is an example of a simple battle challenge.

The PCs are fighting against a group of tigers. The area where the combat is taking place is the floor of a gladiatorial arena. There is a special mechanized cage trap in the center of the arena floor.

Battle Challenge: Lure or force the tigers into the area of the trap and then hit the switch for the trap to close the cage. If the cage closes and there are no active tigers outside of it, the encounter ends.


The following is an example of a more complex battle challenge.

The PCs are fighting against animated dirt monsters. The area where the combat is taking place is a large four-walled room inside an ancient temple. The exits out of the room have been sealed, trapping the PCs inside. The dirt monsters are minions, but new ones will keep appearing from the ground until the PCs are dead or somehow escape. The creatures appear in following rounds to replace creatures that were defeated (appearing up to a set maximum number). There are murals on the walls as well a single dial on each wall.

Battle Challenge: Turn the dials in a certain order to open the doors of the room. The correct order may be determined by deciphering the murals.
[Special: New dirt creatures will appear within 3 squares of the correct lever in the sequence. This may be an alternate way to determine the correct order.]


The following is an example of a battle challenge that ends the encounter whether or not the party succeeds or fails. The encounter may end with a special cinematic narrative told by the game master. The content of the narrative depends on the result of the battle challenge.

The PCs are fighting against invading orcs. The area where the combat is taking place is inside the grounds of a castle. There are many NPC ally and enemy combatants on the map. Within close proximity to the party is a special NPC: the king of the castle.

Battle Challenge: Lead the king to a designated position on the map before he takes X points of damage or Y rounds have passed. The encounter ends when the king reaches the position or if the challenge is failed.


Challenges
1. Preparation time may be increased if designing a battle challenge for an encounter. Battle challenges can be made on the fly though.
2. You need to make sure that a battle challenge is not too difficult to complete for the PCs. You should also take the players' knowledge sets and puzzle solving ability in some cases. They might be unable to understand a problem that you give them to solve.

Benefits
1. The players can enjoy combat as more than just defeating the enemy, depending on the challenge provided.
2. If combat is taking too long, an impromptu battle challenge can provide a quick way to end it.


C. PARTY SUPPORT

Sometimes the party has a missing role or is underpowered against a certain type of threat that is coming up. Sometimes a character must accompany the party because of the story. The game master might introduce an additional party member by adding and controlling a non-player character but the players might not like the non-player party member taking up actions and the spotlight. There may be a temptation for the game master to spend more time focusing on the NPC than the PCs.

The Party Support Character (PSC) is a type of NPC that avoids some of the potential problems of a game master controlling a member of the party. In combat, the PSC is designed to support PC actions more than taking actions itself.

-Every PSC has at least one active support power that aids the player's PC in some way. The action used for the action is normally an immediate reaction or immediate interrupt.
-Every PSC has at least one passive support power that normally grants a bonus of some sort to a PC.
-During a combat encounter, the PSC can not perform attacks with its own actions, not even opportunity attacks. It can however move into position to support the actions of PCs.
-If a PSC is somehow incapacitated or inhibited (dazed for example), the PSC's support powers may be rendered inactive until the source of the incapacitation or inhibition no longer affects the PSC. This will largely depend on the game master's discretion.

[Author's Note: The PSC is still in an experimental stage. Tread with caution if you decide to make and use your own.]

Here is an example of a PSC.

Mercenary Human Ranger [Level 1]
[Medium natural humanoid]

Senses: Perception +2

Initiative +3
Speed 6

Hit Points 21; Bloodied 10

AC 14; Fortitude 12, Reflex 14, Will 12

Str 11 (+0).....Con 13 (+1).....Dex 16 (+3).....Int 12 (+1).....Wis 14 (+2).....Cha 10 (+0)

Opportunistic Shot (immediate reaction) * Weapon
Trigger: A PC makes an attack.
The PSC can select 1 target hit with the attack if the target is within 5 squares of the PSC. The selected target takes 3 points of weapon damage or takes a -2 penalty to its next attack roll made before the end of its next turn.
Special: Every time this power is used, 1 arrow is subtracted from the PSC's equipment entry. If there are no arrows in the equipment entry, this power can not be used.

Supporting Stab (immediate reaction) * Weapon
Trigger: An adjacent PC makes an attack.
The PSC shifts 1 square. If the PSC ends its movement in a space adjacent to a target attacked by the PC, that target takes 3 points of damage or the PC gains a +2 bonus to attack rolls and defenses against the target until the end of the PC's next turn.

Perceptive Lookout
Every PC within 5 squares of the PSC gains a +1 bonus to Initiative rolls.
Every PC within 5 squares of the PSC gains a +2 bonus to Perception checks.

Alignment: Unaligned
Languages: Common, Elven
Skills: Dungeoneering, Stealth

Equipment: Leather Armor, Shortsword, Longbow, Quiver, 20 arrows

Challenges
1. The game master must be careful not to make a PSC or its support powers too powerful.
2. The game master must be careful not to focus too much of the role-playing on the PSC just as one would be careful with other types of NPCs and DMPCs.

Benefits
1. The PSC can be easily used to round out a party's abilities without taking the spotlight too much.
2. The PSC adds a new tactical element for the PCs in which they can position themselves on the map to take advantage of the PSC's support powers.


D. DESTINY AND DISASTER

Sometimes an unexpected event occurs that results in a horrible consequence or the party is unable to overcome a challenge. Sometimes a game master ends up steering the story so that things turn out well or badly and that makes the players feel like they have no control over the story. This can ruin the fun of the game.

A solution might be to give the party a number of "plot twist" points or cards that they can spend for a possibly beneficial change in the story at their discretion, not the game master's. The game master must still create the change itself. This is where the storytelling ability of the game master may be put to a difficult test.

Challenges
1. The game master must be good or well-practiced at improvising story changes.
2. The game master must be careful not to create a story change that the players will be uncomfortable with or removes too much of the challenge from an adventure.

Benefits
1. The players feel more in control of their characters and the course of the adventure.
2. The game master has more freedom to throw dangerous and difficult situations at the players' characters.


E. SPECIAL TALENT

If you have some sort of special talent that can be used to entertain the players, that can be important to establishing a greater value to your services as a game master.

Juggling, sleight of hand, singing, telling jokes, playing a musical instrument, and puppetry are all examples of talents that can be used to enhance the storytelling of a session. This should be incorporated into the game master's performance in a way that makes sense. This should normally be kept short so that it does not take too much away from game play time but the players should be asked whether or not they want the "short" version or "long" version as well as told how long each would take to finish.

For example, the party could make a trip to a theatre or opera house where the player characters can enjoy a Shakespeare-style monologue or song performed by the game master in character as an actor or singer in the game world.
[Author's Note: This example is exactly the sort of service I was going to provide as an option. Later on, I might have also made a short puppet show available for viewing.]

Challenges
1. The game master actually has to have a talent that can be used to entertain the players.

Benefits
1. The players get more than just a game from their experience, which increases the perceived value of the game session.

Captain_Commando on

Posts

  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I read through most of this, and everything seems to be basically common sense. Most people employ these exact techniques (or variations thereof) as they play... Organizing tiles... using objects or markers to track stats... handouts... printed material... it's all very common... except for maybe the mask.

    Really? A mask?

    Figgy on
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  • UtsanomikoUtsanomiko Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Nobody sings or juggles at the gaming table.

    Masks and puppets I daresay skirt awfully close to Creepy Roleplayer territory. Like 501-feet-outside-your-bedroom-window-Creepy.

    Utsanomiko on
    hmm.gif
  • Captain_CommandoCaptain_Commando Registered User
    edited March 2009
    The mask is really something that has to be seen in person. I can make it work. It requires caution in approach and one has to nail the voice acting but seriously the mask can work. It's understandably strange as a concept but remember that the session style for using a mask is all about theatricality. It's part of the show.

    Read carefully and one will see that not all of these things are basic or obvious to everyone or most GMs. This article is about combining ALL of these things together with the common stuff used.

    Captain_Commando on
  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I'll have to agree that the mask is a terrible idea. Even if you think it could work in your own mind, there are hundreds of "potential customers", as it were, that would be thrown off by it. It would make a good conversation piece after the session, I guess, but then you're just going to be referred to as "that weird guy who GMs with a mask," much like Gallagher is the weird guy who smashes watermelons. GMing is more than just showmanship, and throwing too much of the theater into it will actually break immersion rather than support it. At best, it's contrived. At worst, it's creepy.

    People's perceptions of masks now are much different than, say, 20 years ago. Much like clowns. At once, they were considered standard fare for theaters. Now, you only expect masks at horror outings (think Silence of the Lambs, hockey masks and gore, and Scream) or overly-pretentious Disney Broadway musicals. Come to think of it, the same applies for clowns, too...

    Anyway, the reason that masks aren't basic or obvious is because people will walk out on you if you tried something like that at a gaming table. Unless you are catering specifically to the mask fetish crowd.

    Hahnsoo1 on
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  • UtsanomikoUtsanomiko Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I guess I just prefer RPing more as a storytelling expeince, considering how much of the medium is literary and I dislike a lot of the ideas and practices of LARPing and theatre work.

    A lot of part II seems to be the tips from 4th Edition's DMG with extra quentification; there's already suggestions for using terrain and complications on the battlefield, there's simpler and smoother ways to fudge the story to head in a fulfilling direction, and the simple matter of NPC party members is they should be treated as nothing more than tag-along NPCs who attack the enemy, provide valluable knowledge and strategy only when asked, and answers only leave descision-making to the PCs.

    Utsanomiko on
    hmm.gif
  • Zombie NirvanaZombie Nirvana Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Well, it would have been a critical failure.

    Zombie Nirvana on
  • ArcSynArcSyn Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I like the "Sticker bottom" idea. One could use those skinny sticky notes upside down so they stick to the bottom of the mini and stick out to the side. Then you can write the monster or NPC name on it and relevant information if necessary. This is especially helpful for most of us who improvise our minis or constantly reuse the same old minis for 10 different creatures.

    When I think of a "Professional" DM, I think of someone who has had the experience to really be able to ad lib flavor text to the actions of the PCs and reinvent (if necessary) the entire story depending on how the PCs decide to take the situations you are providing to them. I also think of someone who has taken the time and money to provide "perks" that most players and DMs would not splurge for, like proper minis for monsters and PCs, the PC Power Cards, and nice dungeon tiles like the ones Gabe linked last week. Essentially, someone who you could hire to take you from absolutely nothing (no books, knowledge, dice, etc) and provide you with an entire gaming session with what he already has, similar to what was done with the PA guys with Kurtz and Wheaton.

    Theatricality would perhaps be enjoyable by those who are seasoned and veteran players who are looking for more than what they have been getting, but for most new people, it is tough to really be "in character" and it would be intimidating to be so "outclassed" so to speak by someone who is really theatrical about it.

    Emergency players should never be necessary unless you are playing with extremely veteran and rule oriented players. Most players are not willing to use a pre-filled character sheet and accept that their personal character is gone. I think a professional DM would find a way to somehow adjust the story and environment to allow for a resurrection if necessary, even if it's a bit out of place to the rest of the story, because players form attachments to their characters.

    As far as a special talent, I would imagine this would be related to storytelling and the ability to come up with story and responses to player actions on the fly. To play many different NPCs with different dialects and voices and answer questions by the PCs in character is a difficult talent to master, and really can add to the experience. I don't think I would care for a monologue or puppet show, but that's just me. A song, if the story relates to a bard, could be good, but it would have to be kept very short and be very good to really add anything to the experience.


    You had a lot of great ideas, and I am definitely going to borrow them for the next adventure I run, but I think some of the ideas you had were geared more for the very experienced player and would more likely turn new players away than draw them further into the story.

    ArcSyn on
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  • HorseshoeHorseshoe Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Utsanomiko wrote: »
    Nobody sings or juggles at the gaming table.

    Masks and puppets I daresay skirt awfully close to Creepy Roleplayer territory. Like 501-feet-outside-your-bedroom-window-Creepy.

    yeah the theatricality struck me as creepy as well.

    like "oh dang i just got an important text message gotta go see ya can't talk have a good time maybe i'll call you later okay bye" kinda creepy

    Horseshoe on
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  • SageinaRageSageinaRage Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I'm not even sure why you'd WANT to put on an air of theatricality. It seems to me that whole hyper-performy kind of shtick really turns people off. I don't want a dm to perform for me, I want him to create a mood and a world where I feel at home and my character can come out.

    edit:: Same for rally the troops. Do that kind of thing when it makes sense for an npc to actually say it. If you make that your standard 'it's time to battle' kind of shpiel, it's just going to make you look like you're trying too hard.

    And special talents....I just don't see why.

    The rest of it seems good, mostly just good organization, prep work for typical hurdles, and making sure to keep things interesting. All good ideas.

    SageinaRage on
  • UtsanomikoUtsanomiko Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I think pre-generated characters have beneficial uses to introduce people to roleplaying or new players to a particular game. This can be especially true to a numbers-heavy class & level game like D&D, where the players need a frame of reference on what a correct character sheet and a balanced party look like. You got to give them multiple choices and leave enough character options blank (name, most of the background & physical description, etc).
    The mask is really something that has to be seen in person. I can make it work. It requires caution in approach and one has to nail the voice acting but seriously the mask can work. It's understandably strange as a concept but remember that the session style for using a mask is all about theatricality. It's part of the show.

    Well now I've gotten really curious. How often have you used a mask while running an RPG, and is it just with friends/regular group or have you used a mask with new players?

    It sounds like you're very keen on emphasizing the acting side of RPGs and approaching it like stage performance. Do you have a background in theater or drama by any chance?

    Utsanomiko on
    hmm.gif
  • AlphariusAlpharius Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I think the professional GM title is a little misleading as it implies either a commercial relationship or a standardised set of practices defined by a professional body.

    What you've set out here is your opinion on best practice, which is not the same as professional.

    That said, I really like some of your suggestions, but as the above posters have indicated they have to be used judiciously on a case by case basis.

    I haven't RPed in many years so I have no idea if there is a coherent DM community out there that swaps tips for best practice and lays out expected standards; maybe we need a DMing thread to discuss general approaches to being a DM (i.e. not just a bunch of anecdotes about this one time an awesome thing happened)

    Alpharius on
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  • Captain_CommandoCaptain_Commando Registered User
    edited March 2009
    ' wrote:
    -[arlequin;9421052']I think the professional GM title is a little misleading as it implies either a commercial relationship or a standardised set of practices defined by a professional body.

    What you've set out here is your opinion on best practice, which is not the same as professional.

    Well it's supposed to be about a set of tools that would theoretically make a paid game session rock harder.

    It's what I was planning to use if I'd continued the ill-begotten business.

    I still think the right mask can work under the right conditions with the right approach though. It's just really, really hard to pull off. I chose a great gaming location and introduction for it too. <Sigh> :|

    Captain_Commando on
  • AlphariusAlpharius Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    yes but nothing you've set out here is specific to paid game sessions - I'm failing to to see why it makes paid game sessions 'rock harder' but would not make unpaid game sessions 'rock' equally as 'hard'.

    Alpharius on
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  • Roi KuroRoi Kuro Registered User
    edited March 2009
    Most of what you've said is already in wide spread use in the DM community.

    Have you considered joining the NYC D&D meetup or the NYC DM meetup? The DM meetup is a pretty serious group of guys that get together regularly to work on their game.

    We've been using counters and stickers for our minis for a while now. It's a very good system. Especially when you have 15+ minions on the board at a time.

    The mask idea is creepy. I asked a few of my regulars what they thought of it and they all looked pretty confused as to why that would be a good idea.

    I use poker chips for Action Points. People like the feel of a good hefty poker chip in their hands.

    As for your dice idea... no. No way. Rolling dice is serious business man. You can't go around putting them into little capsule toy things... it doesn't work.

    Roi Kuro on
  • ArcSynArcSyn Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    The only way I can see trying to contain the dice on a crowded table would be to have a nice long box that you could roll in that would keep them from rolling off the table, into the minis, etc.

    ArcSyn on
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  • ThemindtakerThemindtaker Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    ArcSyn wrote: »
    The only way I can see trying to contain the dice on a crowded table would be to have a nice long box that you could roll in that would keep them from rolling off the table, into the minis, etc.

    You mean...a craps table?

    Ninja edit to stay on topic: I agree with the prevailing opinion here that most of these efforts are either S.O.P. or...eccentric is the euphamism, creepy is the truth (and the two catregories do appear to be mutually exclusive). However, I will say that if you wanna go theatrical, the inclusion of well-constructed props can be cool. Also, the inclusion of backgrounds or illustrations to help paint the picture; of characters, interesting locations, etc, that could really help set the stage.

    Themindtaker on
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  • SAW776SAW776 Registered User
    edited March 2009
    You know.. a craps table set up might be pretty cool. Set up a box or whatever, print up monster cards with their defenses in big type, have them somehow placed on the bottom inside of the box (so, like, tape plastic card holders down) and then everybody has easy reference when they roll of what they're trying to hit.

    SAW776 on
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  • oakloreoaklore Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    It seems to me like you'd like to put on a one man DnD theatre experience where people just /nod when it's their characters turn. It reminds me of a horror based board game that came with a VHS of a spooky "game master" and you were sposed to play in the dark. It seems like the PCs or even the people playing the game wouldn't be the stars of the game at all. Which is the opposite of what a DM's sposed to do.

    I dunno. If I payed for a DM, then the spotlight better be on ME AND MY PARTY.

    oaklore on
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  • Zombie NirvanaZombie Nirvana Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    That game was called Nightmare. I owned it and it was horrible.

    Zombie Nirvana on
  • oakloreoaklore Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Just found it on youtube. Bless the internets.

    if you have a weak heart, don't click.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiYpsxlgia4&feature=related

    So, yeah, don't be this guy.

    oaklore on
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  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Whoooo rolled the highest initiative?
    ...
    ....

    .....

    ANSWER ME!!!

    Figgy on
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