Content of the article: "What is your style and your signatures as a DM?"
Over the years, I've developed some habits that I see as my style and signature that transcends editions and even systems. I'm sure I'm not the only one, so tell us about it!
Let me start:
- Real-Time Scenes: I will explain this to players at the start of every game. Sometimes, I will start describing a scene slowly as it happens, expecting a reaction from players. I will make it obvious with my demeanour and voice so players know. Something like "The Giant stands in front of you. Holds his hammer. Raises it. Brings it down." and if they actually wait for it, that's gonna hurt! The pressure of "do something NOW" sometimes pushes players to make mistakes or freeze, and other times they will use this to their advantage (normally it would have been an attack roll, but this time they can duck and roll behind the giant or just have to say they move so they aren't hit) I find it that it creates a nice sense of urgency if I time it properly, and makes some scenes more dramatic.
- Fan Service: In every game, I'm going to use some famous character. If it's in Fallout, maybe they'll find Myron running a gig. Sometimes it will be an indirect reference. In my current game, there is a gnome related to Jan Jansen. She won't talk about it unless it's brought up, but she'll talk about her relatives now and then. Plus her Inn is called the Burning Turnip.
- Crossovers: In every game, I do a cross-over, however wacky it is. In a Starcraft game, I crossed over with White Wolf. I mean, both take place in Earth so isn't it likely that some vampires made it to Koprulu? In an old 2y~ campaign the players helped Chromie from Warcraft. In another one, I sent them to Diablo where each of them came back with a special skill learned from there. The wackiest I guess was when a portal opened in Forgotten Realms to Half-life. The barbarian rolled multiple natural 20s to learn how machine guns work and how bullets are crafted and actually brought one to FR. It wasn't a too serious campaign as you can imagine.
- Player Story Quests: If a campaign goes long enough, I definitely dig in players' backgrounds and find some story hooks. Maybe someone learns their parent was not really dead. Maybe someone's ex is now a villain somewhere. In that 2y campaign, a good deal of the campaign was related to the backgrounds of the characters. In fact, players like it so much that I changed the main plot to be more related to it.
- New Mechanics: I will always try to come up with something interesting. Haven't really found it for my current game but for Diablo, I invented those unique skills. For that long campaign, I actually came up with a different Epic Level progress (tbh epic sucked in 3E imo) where each level they had 3 choices that were based on 3 themes that defined them (If you play WoW, it's very similar to the current talent system – except mine came before, pretty sure blizzard was spying… :P).
- Fallout One-Shots: I used to be part of TTRPG clubs back in uni and I ran one-shots on demand. I would take as many people as I could, I had games with like 10 people. I had a formula. It was Fallout (easy to get into, enough lore can be summarized in 5 mins, super simple system from player pov – just roll 10s and 100s more or less) and I would divide the party into 3: One, an orderly faction like Rangers, NCR or BoS. Two, an antagonizing one such as Slavers or Enclave. Three, clueless villagers. The story was always a newly discovered depot and the faction-people would be under disguise, knowing people in their faction but not really having an idea about different factions. I would give each role in secret so they would really have no idea. And they each want the depot for themselves. Hilarity would ensue. Only one person has survived these games at all over the years. I still hope I'll get her one day.
I guess there are smaller things too, but these are the major and most persistent ones.
So what are yours?
–Not sure why this is getting downvoted, I'm not saying you must do what I or anyone else do or that you need to like it. But these things manifest over time for DMs (for me, it's almost two decades!) Just curious to hear about others.
- Crippling lims/radiation conditions and Luck as a Stat ideas I would like help with
- Diablo 4 being online-only
- How do I motivate my player’s characters?
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