I’m a Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) fan from way back ( to find out why, click here).
I’ve been running a D&D 5th Edition campaign for eight players over the last few months. Everyone is having a lot of fun as they progress to the final inexorable encounter with the big bad in his castle overlooking the valley that he terrorises on a regular basis.
I’ve learned a few things over time as a Dungeon Master (DM). (Yes, it’s a silly name, but I didn’t think that one up. Blame the late Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, who co-created the role playing game hobby, and the very first D&D rules, back in the 1970’s.) I’ve realised that it’s often better to do less, rather than more, when preparing for a game. It’s also handy to empower the players, so that they take a more active role in both the story and running the game. And it’s not just because I’m lazy. Players enjoy it more when they participate and engage with the game more actively.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to be posting irregularly about DM’ing. Here’s a few things to get the ball rolling (or should that be dice rolling? Okay, crap joke).
There are a few things I’ve implemented to allow my games to run more smoothly:
- Players roll all the dice rolls, including those for monsters attacking them – yep, no more rolls for the DM. This frees me up to describe battles, participate actively (but in a laid back way) and generally enjoy how the players freak out when they roll well for the monsters. It really adds to the tension. In a good way, of course. I also use the average damage number for monsters, rather than have more dice rolls (there’s enough dice rolling in the game already).
- Players track initiative for every combat – another time saver and empowers players to do more, rather than have me ‘parent’ them. Honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t do this years ago.
- Player decisions can and should change the adventure – nothing new here, but some DMs find that they prefer players to do their adventures on rails: that is, being led from encounter to encounter. Players can, and should, be allowed to go off on all sorts of wild tangents during the game. So be flexible, be laid back, and go with the flow. Ad lib it! You’ll be surprised how well it all turns out.
More stuff soon (not sure if I can call them tips, or not…)
For more on RPGs, check out my Top Ten favourite Roleplaying Games, or if you like D&D inspired poetry, my D&D Haiku Tetralogy.
2 thoughts on “The Laid Back DM #1 – Empowerment”