For my last several posts, I’ve been talking about my decision to plunge into dungeon mastering a Living Forgotten Realms game at my friendly local game store, Enchanted Grounds. That game will be three weeks from today. I’ve already put the maps and minis together, so all that remains is for me to get comfortable with the adventure itself and then to run it well.
To that end, I’ve been seeking advice from other DMs, both here on my blog and over on EN World. Here is the advice that I’ll be trying to keep in mind as I get ready to run my first adventure in public:
- Be enthusiastic! Enthusiasm from the DM means enthusiasm and fun for the players.
- Make sure to really know the story of the adventure, not just the monster stats and skill challenge mechanics.
- Get a feel for the personalities of the NPCs, especially in skill challenges. Try to make them memorable and act as they would act.
- At the table, set up a sheet that reminds me of who the PCs are:
- Class and race (optional, but it helps me for roleplaying)
- Passive perception and insight
- Defenses, including non-asset class defenses
- Initiative modifiers
- Have a flexible method of keeping track of initiative. I’ve seen some DMs with little tags that they move around, or I’ve seen people using index cards. I’ve also seen a dry-erase board, or ultimately D&D 4e Combat Manager (which I love, but not for this particular session).
- When announcing whose turn it is, also announce who will be after that so that the next person can be thinking about what they plan to do.
- Look for opportunities for bad guys to do cool or unexpected things – grabbing an item a PC drops, trying a stunt, etc. This may encourage the players to think creatively, too! Just make sure I’m ready to handle the rules for cool stuff.
- Have the bad guys taunt the PCs or otherwise talk or yell or whatever during combat. Make them characters, not just stat blocks with weapons.
- When the battle is over except for a meaningless minion or two, just call it. Don’t take the time to make the PCs hunt down that last little dude who can’t really hurt them. Have him surrender, or just say that the PCs eventually finish him.
Naturally, these tips apply to dungeon mastering in general, not specifically for Living Forgotten Realms. What other suggestions do you have in order for me to make this fun for myself and, more importantly, for my players? Have I forgotten anything obvious?