Friday, January 27, 2017

"d100 Dungeon Master Tips" Critiqued - Volume 3: #s 53, 32, 34

We continue riffing off "d100 Dungeon Master Tips" by Mike Shea, as featured in Dragon+. Three tips critiqued, every Friday!

#53: "Name every villain the characters face."

Yeah, do that. Don't tell the players that the villagers want the PCs to go deal with "a fearsome orc chieftan." Rather they need to go deal with "Grognor Dripping-Fang, Scourge of the Weald." When they get to them, Grognor threatens to "tear your throat from your neck and drink your blood as from the fountain of a fallen city!" (...depending on how fluent your orcs are in Common or whatever language the PCs speak. Mileage may vary.)

#32: "Describe histories and storylines in small slices discovered by the characters as they explore the world around them."

Definitely yes. It's important to avoid large "info-dumps," as the proportion of information retained by a player decreases as the amount of information increases. SMALL pieces are important.

On the other hand, it's also important to make sure the lore you reveal is "grabby" and clearly interrelated, as players easily lose track of which pieces fit with which and are unable to assemble a clear picture of the story or world you're trying to describe. Make your lore reveals punchy and memorable: use brevity and flavor to accomplish this.

#34: "Learn your players' birthdays and celebrate them with an adventure focused on their character's goals. Who is the next player with a birthday coming up?"

Um, ALL adventures should be focused on character goals. That needs to be gotten out of the way first. (If your players are lame and don't have clear goals, then your adventures must force themselves on the characters and essentially MAKE THEMSELVES goals.)

But okay, sure, IF your players are all able to make it on a day, and IF that day is a player's birthday, give that player a chance to shine.

Overall I feel like this tip is geared more towards teenagers or younger people, but personally I DM for adults with busy lives, and that kind of flexibility is hard to come by. (And birthdays mean less the older you get.) So, might be fun, but this tip is FAR from important.

Previous volumes:
Volume 1
Volume 2

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