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/tg/ - Traditional Games


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[ERROR] No.26343544 [Reply] [Original] [4plebs] [archived.moe]

/tg/, i've never DM'd before. I recently moved to a new town, so i'm starting a campaign with a guy i know and three of his friends. I need advice. I need lots of advice.

>How do i outline a campaign?
>How many hooks should i make?
>How detailed should those hooks be?
>How do i avoid railroading?
>How do i avoid avoiding railroading so much that my players don't know what to do?
>How do i make encounters balanced?
>How do i make good dungeons?
>How do i make my BBEG good and unique?
>How do i make my campaign tone good and unique?
>How do i make my campaign setting good and unique?
>How do i keep my players focused and in character?
>How do i find good ambient music to play?
>How do i know what is likely to TPK?

I'm going to dump mage character art in thanks for any advice.

>> No.26343633

Dump is mostly necromancers and druids with some other mages and stuff.

>> No.26343664

>> No.26343697

>> No.26343733

>> No.26343742

You get a free bump from a fellow startup DM. I've basically been winging it. Since my guys are more into beer and pretzels fun than serious roleplay, its worked so far. But I feel there is potential to take our fun to new heights.

>> No.26343758

>> No.26343770

>> No.26343809

>> No.26343819

Its more important to know the players than the system. Rule of cool is also important.

>> No.26343847

>> No.26343900

>> No.26343914

>> No.26343938

>> No.26343960

>> No.26343967

>>26343819
This, I don't get why you would DM for one friend (or "guy you know") and 3 strangers instead of one of them DMing. Especially since you're new to this, you have absolutely nothing to go by in what your players might want. Not to say it's definitely going to suck but you have your work cut out for you more than is necessary for a first time DMing experience imo.

>> No.26344018

>>26343967
I'm the only one who knows the D&D rules. I've been a player for years.

>> No.26344054

>> No.26344065

>> No.26344159

>> No.26344163

Well concerning dungeons I heard multidimensional dungeons were in recently(4d cubes and such).

For hooks make at least a handful for the first session, gauge the players on their inquisitiveness and then plan adequately from there.

And current trends in BBEGs show that depressing sad backstories are desired. That or the BBEG was the party's closest friend the entire time.

>> No.26344176

>>26343544
>How do i outline a campaign?
Very loosely. Enough that you know what you are doing, but vague enough that there is room to improvise or make quick changes as needed. Basic beginning, middle, end, some NPCs you can pull from a pool when needed, as well as some locations and encounters that you have the bones of but can fill in details as needed.

>How many hooks should i make?
As many as it takes to get the players interested, and then some depending on how complex you want a quest to be, how high the stakes are, and how much of a personal investment you want characters to have.

>How detailed should those hooks be?
Detailed enough that players have an idea of what to do and what the next step to progress is. (Even if it turns out to be a ruse and the true objective is much different.)

>How do i avoid railroading?
By not planning so much that you get stuck on one path. Leave some room to breathe so that you can properly respond to player input.

>How do i avoid avoiding railroading so much that my players don't know what to do?
By giving the players enough hints on what to do, or where there would be stuff to do. Even if they're not doing anything specifically related to the next quest, have it somehow lead into another place where they may find out where the cool stuff is. Nudge them the right way if they are entirely clueless. (ie:"Perhaps the baron would know more about the assassination of the neighboring ruler at the meeting.")

>How do i make encounters balanced?
Not being afraid to throw in a mix of monsters and traps/hazards a few levels above or below the party's level. By providing a good mix of easy, normal, and difficult encounters, having the party face off against a roughly equal number of foes, more if they are weaker foes, and less if they are stronger.

I'm pretty novice, and I'm just listing off things from my personal style I developed. So take all this with a grain of salt.

>> No.26344178

>> No.26344201

>>26343544
DMing is a hard job, but it can be very worthwhile.

First and most importantly for you what do your players want out of a game? Is this a beer and pretzels dungeon romp? Is it a political scheming game, note I advise against doing a political scheming thing for your first game? Do they want high adventure, gritty survival? You get the idea, think about what they want, ask them, straight up ask them, maintain lines of communication between yourself and the players, take feedback, have Q&A sections after sessions. Also, inform them that you're new at DMing ask them to have some patience.

Get character backgrounds, they don't have to be all that deep or original, but you can bet your ass that the players will be more interested in the bandits that kidnapped the baker from their hometown who gave them unsold pastries at the end of the day than random bandits.

For outlining the campaign, don't try to predict your players too hard, players sometimes are predictable but often they go for random ass plans that you never would have expected. So try to build some world for them, instead of expecting them to do X, Y, and Z, instead have this cult aiming for X, and if the cult isn't stopped they start going for Y, and Z each of which is worse and worse. Choose/make a location and make up some choice locations and organizations, make NPCs that serve as the "face" of the organization who they will most likely interact with if they choose to visit the location or investigate/work with the organization.

Don't go too subtle on the hooks, make them reasonably obvious, you can work on subtlety when you and your players are more experienced.

As I mentioned earlier to avoid railroading make it a world with stuff happening, and make stuff happen even if the players don't go for it. But make sure that the stuff that's happening is relevant to them and avoid just tying up all the loose ends unless it's properly cinematic.

Cont.

>> No.26344243

>>26344176
>How do i keep my players focused and in character?
By involving them in the story. Treat them like they matter, and consider their unique personalities, backstories, and personal connections to the matter at hand. Try to have at least a few instances where NPCs want to talk to a specific PC or just a few of them rather than to address everyone. Give everybody an equal amount of spotlight when appropriate, at least until you find out who actually wants to be in the spotlight or care about it at all.

>> No.26344275

>> No.26344299

>>26343544
Almost all of that is going to be through trial and error. As for making things actually interesting for the players, find out what they like and go from there.

>How do i find good ambient music to play?
Morrowind and Oblivion soundtracks

>> No.26344309

>> No.26344320

>> No.26344334

>> No.26344347

>> No.26344372

>>26344201
For example on the loose ends thing, if they take out the bandits who raided a merchant caravan don't just end with that, make it so that a few valuable religious goods, or something, aren't there any more, and if they question the survivors they find that a certain someone paid good money for them.

Balancing encounters is a bitch on fire, it's a weird combination of art and science and the same enemy can go way up or down in difficulty depending on the environment and their tactics. If the enemy is smart adjust the difficulty accordingly and play them as smart, but some enemies are absolute brutes who just smash into the party without thought, keep it varied, don't just make things more difficult by throwing more enemies or tougher enemies, maybe one encounter is some archers behind some goons, the next a rampaging barbarian who gets in your face and goes after casters if allowed who is supported by a skulking rogue, the next a pack of wolves. As for exact difficulty, judging that really comes from experience, CR is a base guideline, but is often inaccurate, if things are too tough or too easy feel free to fudge things or a bit or have allies or more enemies come in if appropriate.

For dungeons, plan things out beforehand, try to give all of them something that keeps it from being normal, some weird schtick, odd enemy type, environmental feature.

For the BBEG, don't let the players right at them. Show hints of them, in the first fight they have they should leave a lasting impression, either by doing major damage and escaping, or having already finished their plans. Give the players personal motivation to go after them, make them personally fuck with the party and what they hold dear.

>> No.26344382

Sort of on topic: Any suggestions for a new DM doing a simple murderhobo campaign for one other player to get us familiar with combat and rules?

Pic related: Me trying to come up with a good story.

>> No.26344403

>> No.26344421

>>26344382
Thieves break into house; Redecorate poorly, refuse to leave.

>> No.26344423

>>26343544
>How do i outline a campaign?
A few major events which are easily changed and can be done with out incredibly specific conditions.

>How many hooks should i make?
Should be done more on the fly, as many as you feel you may need I suppose, but creating a set number defeats the purpose of keeping the outline simple.

>How detailed should those hooks be?
Keep it simple and able to adapt.

>How do i avoid railroading?
By doing the above, and by not disallowing a player to make a decision. Even if it is a terrible decision. Consequences to player actions are what make a campaign.

>How do i avoid avoiding railroading so much that my players don't know what to do?
Punch them in the genitals and run.

>How do i make encounters balanced?
Knowledge of the system and party capability, but they needn't always be. There is such a thing as an enemy you should run from, and those you can walk over.

>How do i make good dungeons?
Make sure everyone has a chance to shine, and don't use cheap tricks. Avoid the insta -death.

>How do i make my BBEG good and unique?
Make the players care about them. Not an easy thing to do, and it takes knowing the players, and their characters.

>How do i make my campaign tone good and unique?
Again, know what your players want, and make sure they know what you do as well.

>How do i make my campaign setting good and unique?
Make sure things make sense and are internally consistent, as well as see above.

cont.

>> No.26344448

>> No.26344473

>>26344423
>How do i keep my players focused and in character?
Keep things interesting and the pacing quick.

>How do i find good ambient music to play?
Try to fit the mood and keep the volume low.

>How do i know what is likely to TPK?
Knowledge of the system, and the players capabilities as well as their characters. Just because A's character could kick that monster's ass, doesn't mean A makes good decisions.

>> No.26344524

>>26344372
For keeping your campaign tone/setting good and unique, I wouldn't worry too much about uniqueness, don't outright rip everything off, but read a lot of stuff, see what you like in them and appropriate that, you're already going to tread on a lot of ground people already have, take their work and put your own spin on it.

To keep the players focused and in character have the NPCs address them in character, try to encourage in character banter, always have things happening to keep them focused, try to avoid situations where they have no idea what to do, try to always have some plot thread at hand, and if they don't go after it then it may very well go after them.

For music, go for soundtracks. Movie soundtracks and game soundtracks have a lot of great environmental and ambient music for you to use. Especially CRPGs and Fantasy movies, great sources for music.

For TPKs, you really don't always know, and with some bad luck or tough fights earlier in the day what would be a manageable but tough encounter can easily become one that splats the entire party. Experience and practice, that's the best way to tell, but other than that just think about what tactics they will use and what possible counters the party can bring out, if you can't think of any good solid way to deal with a tactic maybe you should reevaluate the encounter.

If you have any ideas, plots, plans, setting ideas, or anything like that already go right ahead and write them out here and we can try to look at them, give you some feedback, some suggestions.

What system, 3.5? Do you know what sort of class makeup you're getting?

Know the system backwards and forwards, make sure your players know it as well, especially the parts that are relevant to their character. For character generation be willing to give them some help in making the character useful and skilled, you don't want a massive discrepancy between how useful characters are.

>> No.26344529

>>26344423
You make it sound like i should just sit down at the table without any notes or preparation

>> No.26344542

>>26344382
Party gets hired by local aristocracy to go kill a goblin town.

>> No.26344572

>> No.26344603

>> No.26344612

>> No.26344628

>> No.26344632

>>26344542
This is a nice idea and will probably work great. He'll want to play something like Shaco from League of Legends so stealthing around in a goblin shanty town sounds neat.

>> No.26344652

>>26344632
>He'll want to play something like Shaco from League of Legends

You don't want to play with the sort of person who plays LOL. At least i don't. They'd probably prefer 4E.

>> No.26344677

>>26344632
And, it will probably force them to be creative, as I doubt barring massive luck they could take a full goblin town, brute force

>> No.26344679

>>26344529
I'm pretty sure every single DM has had situations where they mentally or physically take their notes and throw them out the window and fly by the seat of their pants.

It can lead to extremely memorable and fun moments, but can easily go wrong.

Even if you are going to just fucking wing it it's a good idea to have some encounters that you can modify planned out somewhat, as balancing fights on the fly is a utter bitch on fire, as well as have dungeons planned out as keeping the internal architecture consistent and interesting is tough to do without prepwork.

But back to the point, I don't think he's saying that you shouldn't prepare, but that you should make your planning flexible, don't work on specific events, have ideas for how they will go but make it flexible enough to account for the players coming from the ceiling instead of the front door, and try to have the world crafted out so you know how different people and factions will react to events.

>>26344542
The twist, the aristocracy is made up of Hobgoblins and they want the goblins taken out as they refused to work for the Hobgoblins and don't want to devote resources towards that themselves when there's convenient PCs around. Obviously they'd have some story about nasty stuff the goblins did, and they might even be telling the truth.

>> No.26344680

>> No.26344681

>>26344529

It's what I do. The more prep you do, the more prep you don't use, because you didn't anticipate certain events or actions.

My first campaign is still going strong and is about to hit a year at around 4-5 hours a week. And now I just realized we've spent over a week of our lives in my head.

>> No.26344740

>>26344681
I think that sort of DMing requires either more experience or a campaign that has been running for a while, or both. As a brand new DM i don't think i could just sit down and wing it very well.

I'd at least want to create my BBEG in depth, build a long term plan for him, and start out with a few quest hooks pre-planned, like "some kobolds have been raiding caravans"

>> No.26344743

Random suggestion, keep a notebook or something on you most of the time.

If you have any interesting ideas or plot points, even if they aren't relevant to the campaign you're running, jot them down, you can expand on them later. Get in the habit of being creative.

>> No.26344746

>>26344679
If you want a case of DM winging it gone horribly right, check out spoony one's thieves world counter monkey, its like 3 hours long but so worth it.

>> No.26344759

>> No.26344795

>>26344652
Oh he's not like that. Just too jew to buy a lot of games so he just plays free ones and suffers their terrible communities.

>>26344677
Man, ninja-ing a whole goblin town to death sounds fun as hell. I'll probably let him start off with smoke bombs or something.

>> No.26344801

The key to GMing is to let the players do the work for you. Let me explain -

I started up a new campaign recently, and interviewed all the players to see what they wanted. Intrigue and politics were top, with a bit of adventure and mystery on the side. Alright, easy enough. I write up a short and vague little description (mystery nobleman has hired you to do dirty work for him to undermine his rivals) and set them to creating their characters.

A little while later my players come back to me with characters and backstories. One of them is a member of a thieves guild; great! Perhaps the nobleman could have hired the guild as a whole and is working through them. Now instead of me having to come up with this idea myself and sketching out all the NPCs, my player already did it. Another player is a noble herself and has all sorts of high class friends and such. Excellent, even more free NPCs and potential plot points. All I did was write a short little outline and my campaign is half made already.

>> No.26344811

>> No.26344829

>>26344795
but Dota2 is more free than LOL is

>> No.26344848

>> No.26344854

>>26343544
>>How do i outline a campaign?
You could do a movies stile setup:
"The reviled; a tale of deceit and prejudice among the moving dead"

>>How many hooks should i make?
Generally, do keywords, attach them to a character or event, and let the players find them in places that seem appropriate as they explore, often inspiration strikes like a thunderbolt

>>How detailed should those hooks be?
Generally I generate the hooks as the players play, generally I keep the hooks simple enough to fit in, but try to establish a mood, a smell and a relatively memorable name.

>>How do i avoid railroading?
See below

>>How do i avoid avoiding railroading so
much that my players don't know what to do?
Generally, don't write a screenplay, but build a toolbox of plots and hooks and take what you need as you need it, maybe have a simple system of inter-connection, so a quest for a merchant lets them be approached by the merchants guild for another quest ect.

>> No.26344908

>> No.26344920

>>26344740

Like I said, it was and still is my first game. I did know the system really well as I had played it frequently, and I have made my fair share of mistakes, but you learn and you move on.

It's certainly not for everyone.

As for my bbeg, I made a character, gave them a goal, a reason to achieve that goal, and some resources. That goal happened to be counter the party's at the time, throw in a little miscommunication, some conspiracy, secrecy and muddy the morality scale and a bbeg was born.

>> No.26344926

>>26344829
True.

>> No.26344929

>> No.26344956

>MFW this glorious druid character art was ruined by Johnny Depp

>> No.26344969

>> No.26344995

>> No.26345016

>> No.26345029

>>26343544

>How do i outline a campaign?
Stick with one shots and single adventures before trying a campaign.
>How many hooks should i make?
See above. As many is necessary for the adventure you have prepared.
>How detailed should those hooks be?
Not really sure what you're asking.
>How do i avoid railroading?
If you players want to do X and you want them to do Y, given them a good incentive that makes them WANT to do Y. You can run an entire adventure on rails, just don't let your players see it.
>How do i avoid avoiding railroading so much that my players don't know what to do?
A question that all GMs would love a perfect answer for. If your players are stumbling and unsure what to do start dropping hints, make up characters on the spot to lead them into something. Have the plot find them.
>How do i make encounters balanced?
Depends on the system. You never mentioned.
>How do i make good dungeons?
"good" is subjective. Some people don't like dungeons at all and would rather do things other than delve.
>How do i make my BBEG good and unique?
Don't ever ever ever ever put the BBEG in a situation where he has to pull a bullshit disappear into smoke trick to avoid dying.
>How do i make my campaign tone good and unique?
See first question.
>How do i make my campaign setting good and unique?
Use an existing one until you're more confidant in your ability to write settings.
>How do i keep my players focused and in character?
Offer bonus EXP for roleplaying.
>How do i find good ambient music to play?
"Hey, /tg/. Situation X with A,B, and C. What music should I play?" Also make sure your players want music, some don't.
>How do i know what is likely to TPK?
Depends on the system.

>> No.26345032

>> No.26345081

>>26345029
D&D 3.5

>> No.26345082 [DELETED] 

>>26344854
>>How do i make encounters balanced?
Fudge the dice.
It's not a boardgame, it a story so feel free to make up the rules yourself.

>>How do i make good dungeons?
I'm blank here, I'm very much a Improv dungeoneer, I look over existing ones and remove stuff i don't think fits in.

I do draw the maps on thin paper and overlay the floors from time to time, and see where i can fit in a trapdoor or hidden passage.

>>How do i make my BBEG good and
unique?


>>How do i make my campaign tone good
and unique?
Make it your own, that's the best i can say, find something you like to tell a story about, a mood you like to tell it in and some character's you'd like to entertain the player with.

>>How do i make my campaign setting good and unique?
Don't try to hard, clichés work, nothing's been original since man first learned to talk.

>>How do i keep my players focused and in character?
You tell a engaging story that they WANT to be a integrated part off.

>>How do i find good ambient music to play?
Well first you need to decide what mood you want, for generic fantasy, The WItcher, Official D&D Soundtrack, and Dawn of war soundtracks are great.

>>How do i know what is likely to TPK?
See "How do i make encounters balanced?"

>> No.26345093

>> No.26345123

>> No.26345154

>> No.26345180

That's it for my dump. I have others but they aren't worth posting. Thanks for the advice, keep it coming.

>> No.26345212

>>26345180
Do you already have any plans, ideas, setting stuff, or anything like that either written down or bouncing around in your head?

>> No.26345252

>>26345212
I have a Cartographer 3 map i made of the region, and i used dwarf fortress to generate names for towns and such. Dwarf Fortress has three languages, and Masterwork has even more, so i used a different one for each nation.

>> No.26345262

>>26344854 (You)
>>How do i make encounters balanced?
Fudge the dice.
It's not a boardgame, it a story so feel free to make up the rules yourself.

>>How do i make good dungeons?
I'm blank here, I'm very much a Improv dungeoneer, I look over existing ones and remove stuff i don't think fits in.

I do draw the maps on thin paper and overlay the floors from time to time, and see where i can fit in a trapdoor or hidden passage.

Oh I DO seed dungeons with possible clues to other quests

>>How do i make my BBEG/campaign tone/campaign setting good and unique?
Make it your own, that's the best i can say, find something you like to tell a story about, a mood you like to tell it in and some character's you'd like to entertain the player with.
Don't try to hard, clichés work, nothing's been original since man first learned to talk.

>>How do i keep my players focused and in character?
You tell a engaging story that they WANT to be a integrated part off.

>>How do i find good ambient music to play?
Well first you need to decide what mood you want, for generic fantasy, The WItcher, Official D&D Soundtrack, and Dawn of war soundtracks are great.

>>How do i know what is likely to TPK?
See "How do i make encounters balanced?"

This is what I do, generally I get much better response to my "CBA to read up tonight, I'll make it up along the way" than my official scenarios and planned adventures

>> No.26345307

>>26345252
Right then, you need names, smells, oddball citizens, lewdly named inns and easy to hate officials next.

>> No.26345320

>>26345252
How did you obtain the DF generators?

>> No.26345385

>>26345082
>>How do i make encounters balanced?
>Fudge the dice.
>It's not a boardgame, it a story so feel free to make up the rules yourself.

That's some risky business there. If it works it works, and will work well.
But if it isn't done right and the players find out that the world doesn't abide by the same rules they do, then they question why anything should have to follow them or they leave.

I've been a player in a game where the gm was found to be fudging dice to avoid looking like he was railroading us (he wasn't subtle). Now that alone should tell you there were other problems, but the blatant fudging was definitely one of them.

If you want to be a good gm, you shouldn't have to fudge things to avoid harming the story and flow of the game.

>> No.26345439

>>26345307
So far i have two ideas. The first is that they start in Mela Sathrel, (14) which is the capital of a french-analogue kingdom full of pious, disconnected nobility. I'll have them do petty adventures like hunting kobold/goblin bandits, searching for stolen royal treasures, or investigating the disloyal wife of a noble (i have no idea if my players will like dungeondelving, exploration, or intrigue, so i plan to give them hooks for all three.) Once they've established themselves and increased in level, and met the BBEG and his cult a few times, they'll receive a mission from the king to go to Tar Alu (the Desert,) and investigate...something big.

I also know the BBEG will use Magic Jar because Magic Jar is awesome.

>> No.26345466

>>26345320
Open Dwarf Fortress, start Adventure mode, make character. Use Name generator as translator.

>> No.26345766

>>26345385
Fudging dice shouldn't be done often, and you should try your best to act completely normal when doing so. I personally only fudge dice when it results in a player dying by just a few points in a vital situation. Your players after awhile WILL be able to occasionally catch onto you if you do it often though. I had a DM who I'd constantly be able to tell fudged rolls because he did it so much, and acted the same when every time he did.

>> No.26346515

1. If you don't know the players so well, just be honest with them. "Hey, guys, this is my first time DMing. And here's tonight's dungeon we're going to be going through." If they expect multiple story arcs woven together and improvised with unlimited possibilities, they're dicks and you need to stop playing with them. You'll work your way up to this point, but for now don't sweat it.

2. Your first game might be a railroad, and that's fine if they don't expect otherwise (most video games are railroads and people still play them). But do try and make it a multi-line railroad. A good rule is to give players 3 options, or 3 paths to the goal. You won't have to worry so much about balance if you do this, too. If the creatures in the mountain pass are too tough, the players can advance backwards and cut through the underground river. They might have more luck with what they find there.

3. Now if you are comfortable later, you can loosen up and start to improve and maybe get rid of some of those railroad tracks. Think of it this way... a player just shows up with a character sheet that says, "Brave Dwarven fighter of proud heritage." He doesn't have to have a flow chart for how this character acts in each situation, he just uses his judgement when applying this guideline to the situation that comes up. Likewise, if a door is locked, you don't have to give them a perfectly planned trapdoor to find. You just know a door is locked, has X amount of HP (or whatever), is made of wood, and is Y by Z feet. Just sit back and let the players think of something and use your door guidelines and judgement to figure out the result.

>> No.26348247

>>26344309
Aww yis thanks for that one that is perfectly my next character.

>> No.26348323

Why don't you run a premade. They basically are for DM's who want to learn the ropes, and even if its a huge premade you only need to pre-read the stuff for one night of gaming.

>>
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