Thursday, January 31, 2019

Top 5 DM Tips - Rocky

Uncle Matt's D&D Studio has been doing a series of guests with their Top 5 GM picks. It seemed like an excellent topic for a post. But, I run a mega-dungeon as my normal game, so my list will have a different emphasis than a standard one.

1. Keep a list of NPCs handy. Both who they regularly interact with, and new names that may never show up again. I know that my players talk to Bear Jarl, Acidopholis, King Johan and others regularly. I don't necessarily remember shopkeep names or mannerisms. Keep that list available in a moment's notice. They may also negotiate with orcs, goblins, or other denizens in the dark. Be prepared!

2. Don't use bosses by the book. If something is a "boss" for a level, it should be special. It may be extra HPs, or a special attack (fire-breathing goblins always make a nice surprise), extra attacks or anything else that may set it apart from the common version.

3. Let the players get in over their heads. Let them go deeper than you expect. Keep throwing traps, puzzles and monsters at them. Even two at a time. They will surprise you with how they deal with their backs against the wall.
3a. Don't let them win. But make sure that they usually do win. This may mean that a monster has fewer HPs than anticipated. It may mean that the trap hits the monsters too. However it happens, the players should feel like they accomplished something (or died trying.)

4. Know your megadungeon. Make sure the PCs' actions have consequences for the creatures within. Maybe the orcs take over the decimated goblin territory (even taking in goblins as shock troops.) Maybe something bigger seals the power vacuum. Removing one group may cause dominoes to fall throughout the dungeon (the goblins are removed, so the hobgoblins begin to withdraw from the dungeon, for example.)
Know that a trap has been set off, and doesn't re-trigger. Know when your PCs break doors. Mark these things on your map or key. Keep the changes consistent.

5. Let the players choose the path of the game. You're running a mega-dungeon. Nobody will ever see the whole thing. The players will seek out what they find interesting.

6. (BONUS!) Remember the Holy Trinity of Megadungeons. Exploration, Puzzle-solving, Role-playing. These are what drive the megadungeon forward. Use them. Every session.

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