Dungeons & Dragons Online

Had my first all-improv session yesterday

Content of the article: "Had my first all-improv session yesterday"

I've seen a lot of DMs talk about how often they don't prep past a few sentences, and I finally tried it out myself last night. For anyone who's curious, here's some details.

I'm a relatively new DM (I've run two weekly games almost straight since late March, but hadn't played at all before that), and as a result of that I definitely prefer to be more prepared than less. For combat especially, I want to challenge my players but I also don't want to force new players to deal with death (yet), so I tend to go over my encounters several times for balance reasons. And honestly it's been going quite well. Two sessions ago, I ran a massive combat that CR completely gave up on, and it went perfectly. Lots of drama and a very happy, emotionally exhausted party at the end. I feel confident in my ability to tailor an encounter to my party's strengths and weaknesses and make them think.

However, this last session, the story basically required me to give them some hooks in a large city and see what happened. There had been an attack on the ruling council, and I'd established that the attackers had some knowledge of emergency protocol. I also have notes for the next time they'll to the council the following day, which will send them on their next broad story arc. But in between, they had a few leads to track down, or not, in any of several areas. I could've tried to fully flesh out their various leads, but then for all I know they could've gone shopping, or spent the day in a pub. It would've been fair given what had happened.

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So knowing I had no way to adequately prepare, I just decided to use the notes for their meeting with the council the next day (as in where I wanted them to end up), and basically do nothing else. I played it entirely by the seat of my pants. They chatted up someone at a pub, and I decided to run with the fact that they all probably had visible recent wounds. They went to the slums, so the monk with high perception noticed the wizard getting pickpocketed. The wizard wanted to use mage hand to get it back, so I had him make the only attack roll for the session. The monk wanted to tackle the thief, so we did a grapple check, but all without initiative. It just felt right. The party asked the thief about criminal contacts, so I went with alliteration and made up "Blind Bill." They started bantering and quickly helped me flesh him out as having a massive security guard named Tiny. They used their new alchemy jug to create Tiny's favorite beer and bargain with the criminals. They helped the pickpocket get a stable job with a merchant friend. It was all in all a great session, and I was just kind of amazed at how easy it was to make up what happened next bit by bit, according to what made sense.

I think the key was I had a few pieces of information I wanted them to find, and a decent idea of what the city itself was like, and so everything could flow from there. So I guess my point is, I get it now. Between worldbuilding prep and a few months of DM experience, I finally felt comfortable just winging it, and I think it was one of our best sessions yet. This is a great feeling and I thought I'd share. Thanks to anyone who made it this far.

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Source: reddit.com

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