Thursday, February 28, 2019

Dungeon Mastering 101: The Eureka Moment

This week we went back to DnD 5th Edition from Deadlands. As much as I enjoyed Savage Worlds, it wasn't as fast or fun as I had hoped.

I've been struggling with focus and inspiration for the last few months and I've been analyzing what I've been doing and what I'd like to improve.

One thing I did prior to this past session was spend more time on prep and focused less on detailing the rooms as the players entered them. When running a campaign the size of Dungeon of the Mad Mage I found myself spending more time reading the room to the players and acting as a narrator than a DM. That's on me and I think the added prep time helped me overcome that. 

My eureka moment came while simply observing the players decide how best to sneak past two sleeping chimeras to get to their treasture: I'd been spending most of the last few months focusing on combats and less time on exploration and role-playing. I sat back and watched my players enjoy flexing their role-playing muscles and took notes on what they wanted to accomplish for future plots and less time thinking about the current scene as an "encounter".

I'm not sure how I became so fixated on combat, but it happened. Which is fine, every DM, session, and group is different. But for me, right now, I need to react to the players goals and less on the action of the fight.

We happened to have an entire session without combat. I'm not saying combat is bad and should be avoided, but in my current process, it was just what I needed. I found it to be a good session and energized me going forward, something that hadn't been happening lately.


shanepatrickward said...

I think 5e is very geared towards it. I know in my old 5e group, that was all they thought of. Even the DM would have us roll for init, before I had a chance to say "hey can we communicate with these guys or what?".

Venger Satanis said...

4th edition was the worst for combat-centric encounters, in my opinion. But it's a trap that every GM can fall into. We need to remember that roleplaying games are supposed to be an immersive environment with conflict and challenges, not merely a tactical wargame.

Scott Anderson said...

Every version of d&d has extensive combat rules. Loads of pages. Lots of time in game spent on it. It’s easy to forget that there’s so many ways to play. 4e and 5e certainly so.

Good job realizing this and deciding to adjust.

XP for gold, among other things, takes the emphasis off combat.

Also, based on your actual play reports, you have a table where the players are capable and happy to be self-directed within the world you present. So letting them do that is going to be good.

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