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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-06-09, 11:53 PM Thread Starter
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New DM advice needed

I have recently started DMing D&D 3.5 for my buds. Most of them have had next to know experience with the game so expectations are low, unfortunately I have had a bit more experience so my expectations are much higher.

I've managed to keep them entertained them so far but i want to take it to the next level and really get them into my campaign setting. I've made up my own world and its holding together so far but any advice of how to make it more realistic would be greatly appreciated.

I also want to give my PC's the most freedom possible cause it's much more fun this way.

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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-07-09, 03:49 AM
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Well all gaming groups are made of different mixes that want different things. What are your players like? Do they prefer combat or roleplaying? Adventuring or minmaxing? Identify what your players want out of the game personally and then try to strike a balance between each.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-09-09, 10:16 PM
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Assuming they aren't hack and slash player ("Oh, it its moving, kill it.") Then my advice as a successful DM for 4 Constant years every week (no on/off period) would be Firstly: make sure you actually have a universe. As in, have you thought it out, drawn vague maps, Given names to kings and major cities in the local area, so on. Second: Make some reccuring NPCs. I don't mean reccuring bad guys, (although they are cool) but That barkeeper named Jimmy/Orm (Depending on amount of Fantasyness) That is always there, Or old Gilbert, The village's Resident wise old man (maybe a cleric or druid, level 2?). That kinda detail really suck the players in. Read the bit in the DM's guide about running a campaign, its short, but its a godsend.

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-12-09, 03:24 AM
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You can't always predict what your players are going to do. Maybe something that seems like an obvious adventure hook doesn't take, or the party gets side-tracked on their quest. So then, as the GM, what do you do? You can't really say, "Well, the world outside of this linear path the adventure's set up in doesn't exist" as it ruins what the DMG calls "the suspension of disbelief." Instead, grab an index card, and write down six or eight encounters of the appropriate CR for the party-- the Monster Manual has listings by CR in the back. Then, when you need something on the fly, you've got it right there-- there's no surprise dragon like you sometimes get on random encounter tables, but you've still got something that's both appropriate to the party and the location, and seamlessly fits into "winging it." The DMG also has a percentile table for random adventure hooks, and if your party wanders off somewhere, just pick one that seems reasonable to have them stumble over. That helps keep the game moving fluidly, and eliminates a bit of prep for you, as well.

When I've more or less winged it, I've had a very vague idea of what's going on in the area in my mind, what kind of foes the party can expect, and what a few possible outcomes of PC actions are. Then, I just sort of react to how the players do things, if I were the big boss in charge of the tribe of orcs/gnolls/bandits/whoever your main opposition is. It lets you play a bit, too, since it puts you in a spot where you're making decisions that influence the story more broadly than "in this room, there's..."

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-12-09, 09:14 AM
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Nothing beats just plain 'ol EXPERIENCE. Just keep it up. Try new things every now and then. If they work...then do it again and keep it. If it doesn't then don't do it again. As you have inexperienced players they will appreciate mistakes and really love the good stuff that works just that much more! I remember when I was a novice (both player and DM!)...half the adventure was finding out what works...
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-13-09, 05:19 PM
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My approach is a bit a-typical and sometimes it takes a little set-up, but if you have time outside of the game to prepare, what I usually do is, work up some NPCs. Not necessarily villains, but NPCs. A lot of them. Figure out who they are, what they want, and how far they'll get without PC interference. (and remember, the PCs can just as easily screw up the plans of other heroes - and in fact, throwing that at a party is a great way for you to put some emotional impact in there. Likewise, some NPCs might not have the power to do something on their own - one NPC could be, for example, a local lord trying to reclaim his castle from an invasion of trolls or something, and without the PCs' help that might be a doomed mission) Now you don't need hooks, just people for them to meet. Have them stumble into the assassin connected to one plot, or suggest that something's going on that gets them hunting. If you have plenty of cross-plots, you also have the opportunity to bring in references to previous adventures and how they affected some other character's plot - have them attacked, then slowly reveal that something they did earlier ruined some new villain's plot and now he's out for revenge. Create a sense of continuity and the world will feel at least a bit more real and be more engaging.

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-05-09, 04:14 AM
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To that I'll ad that you should never forget that you are basically running the game for your pcs. When It comes to finding new ideas and all, they are your best friend.

As a DM, you should play with them, not against them. Flesh out the unirverse, what are the major players and all and them, give your PCs the loose to wander around. They'll probably come up with crazy ideas and you should let them try. Encourage creativity, especially in fights if that's your sort of thing : have them have to use their wits to defeat this opponent. ex: there's that big weapon corrosive jelly that melt sword and flesh? have a pole or a ladder lying around to be used as an improvised weapon. this sort of thing. It'll make combat more than just: I walk up to it and attack.
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