Content of the article: "What were your early mistakes that others could take as DMing advice?"
Hello, everyone! First of all: sorry if there already was a similar topic recently – I haven't visited this sub in a while. Feel free to point me to the thread if this is the case.
And now, to the topic at hand:
So, I completed my first-ever campaign a couple of weeks ago (I'm running Pathinder 1e, to be specific) that ran for about two years. As there was so much that happened during this time, both IRL and in the game, we had a small discussion after the epilogue, just some retrospective on where we started (I have a lot of first-timers in the party) and how we have grown as players – you know, the emotional bit. As it happens, mistakes were made, some things one cannot help but cringe looking back.
And that got me thinking: What were some mistakes (dumb or otherwise) that others made as a fresh, inexperienced DM/GM that newcomers could learn from?
My personal highlights were:
Exposition dumps. My games tend to be very lore-heavy in a homebrew setting. Thing is, I had to learn to ration all the info. Turns out, hearing a ton of backstory from a rescued aasimar in what amounts to a 30-minute monologue is not very fun for the players. Especially if they are expected to actually use this information later on. There was a lot of frustration on both sides of the screen back then. Therefore: No matter good you think your lore is, you really need to spread it out in digestable amounts.
Preparation and effort. I remember having put an A4 sheet of paper on the table and being like "so-o, that's your map. Oh, and those traps here and here? Yeah, you don't see those" (just for reference, it was the Crypt of the Everflame module). Can't help but laugh at myself looking back. But in my defence, I was just starting out, barely understanding what I was even doing, and this was my first session. I got waaaay better at it over time. Had to learn a lot about maps and layouts, though.
Balancing. So, it turns out putting four level 1 players up against some tough enemies is a bad idea (though it fit the "against all odds" flair I was going for). I had to manually scale back A LOT of monsters mid-fight early on. Even went so far as to put a fully grown black dragon as a random encounter with a low-level party.
So my Barbarian (an experienced player) goes like: "you do realise there's no way we can survive this, right?".
Me: "Errr… yeah. You see, the dragon takes flight, but the wind's so strong that it's blown away after some struggling."
Barbarian: "Blown away. Right. Some wind, huh? And we're safe on the ground and don't feel a thing?"
Me: "Well… yeah? You've got some odd weather today. I'd say you've really lucked out on this one! How fortunate! Anyway, you continue travelling and…"
So, what are your funny/dumb/interesting stories of early mistakes? I'd love to hear them. Surely newcomers will, too.
Thanks in advance! Good day and good rolls to you!
- I find it disappointing so many of the major MMORPGs overtune visual effects
- One of my players just asked for help learning to DM! I’ve never felt so honored, and I’m so excited for them.
- as a DM, am i a bad player?
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