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Murloc_Hugger
07/19/2007 2:21 PM

This thread won't really be for roleplaying as much as getting ideas for better DMing. I'll level with you: I have [i]never DM'd a successful game before,[/i] and my last thread is on the verge of dying, so I need help. Badly. I figured that other people would be able to use any advice that gets posted here too, so this seemed like the best idea.

nanuk
07/19/2007 3:02 PM

Good idea.

I've never really DM'd before- find myself too daunted by the task, lol (could be because I take things a little seriously!)- so it'd be good to have practical suggestions.



From a [b]players POV[/b] I think it's important that the DM is as clear as possible on as many aspects of the game as possible before it starts.

Obviously you can't cover everything but try to be clear on rules, agenda, what kinds of things you will and won't accept, and [i]especially[/i] mention if you're going to be doing something that [b]isn't usual for [u]this[/u] site[/b] i.e. controlling other characters/encouraging control of characters, killing characters off (it isn't done that frequently here) etc.
The clearer you are from the beginning the less likely there is to be confusion later on.


If there's going to be a lot of combat try to mention how that will play out [i]or[/i] have everyone who's to be playing give suggestions and come to an agreement- do the involved players IM each other and work things out, does the DM have final say over who 'wins', does someone arbitrate, is it more relaxed etc.


I, personally, like a DM who [i]generally[/i] has an idea of where the story is going, but is reasonably relaxed about how it's going to get there, lol. I like to have at least a vague sense of purpose!


I also like a DM who retains a good amount of control on the thread- obviously nothing too fascist, the players need to have the freedom to be creative- but a DM who will call people up on things they're doing that aren't how they see the thread going i.e. if particular players are taking over too much or dictating the story, if people are power gaming/god modding etc. Often I find myself feeling frustrated that a thread is starting to derail and the DM doesn't really do anything about it- it's [i]their[/i] thread, so it's not my place to do it. If I'm sufficiently unhappy then I'll say something/leave.



Oh, and very importantly- if you're going to DM [b]commit to it[/b].
Don't start a thread and then disappear/neglect the thread.
Some people put a lot of effort into creating a character and developing their posts. It's incredibly frustrating to feel that the DM couldn't be arsed.
If something comes up [i]please[/i] try to get online at least briefly to let people know. Besides being good manners it means people aren't as likely to be turned off playing in a future thread of yours.
If you know your online access is going to be limited say it at the start of the thread- if people know and are happy enough to go along with that then it's no problem, [i]caveat emptor[/i] and all that.
If you're hit with writer's block just say it- just like on the train I don't mind delays once I know the reason for them. Don't leave your players hanging!

Darthwedge
07/19/2007 5:24 PM

I think I am DMing a successful game, Its No Subject in the Star Wars section, check it out lol.

As for DMing, here are a few tips but im basically reiterating nanuk. Curse you for stealing them.

-Have control - Nazi control is bad, but if someone is changing the plot to much then do what I do. Scold them and make them suffer in the RP, YOU HAVE THE POWER!

-Know the plot - Dont start a RP and have no idea where the plot is going. Have a loose idea so it can be changed on the fly.

-Take Suggestions - Take suggestions from players, listen to them, think about it, but in the end, you are god. As I always say, it makes them feel importent ;)

-As Nanuk said Commitment - Sometimes writers block comes and you cant do anything about it (good time for suggestion taking).

Ill probobly have some more but for now these are big ones.

Darthwedge
07/19/2007 5:58 PM

OH OH, HERE IS ANOTHER ONE!!! THANKS DELIRIA!!!!!

-Make Detailed Posts - The DM should be the most detailed of the players. Why? Well because he knows the plot the best so he or she should always put the most effort into posts. If a DM doesn't detail his posts enough or doesn't reveal the plot enough thats just begging for a player to take control.

I know I like to keep the plot under lock and key, this way players are more suprised when they read it, makes a better RP. This is hard to do because if you never reveal any of it to anyone and only do it in the RP rarely, the Players will most likely compensate by taking control. They do it because they think that you have no idea what your doing. So what you must do is feed them the plot little by little, make a scenario, see how they react, if the scenario dries up, make another one. I wont try to change your style but in short, reveal the plot and detail posts.

[Edited by Darthwedge on Thursday, July 19, 2007 5:59 PM]

Deliria
07/19/2007 6:27 PM

You are very welcome DW.

Truthfully, nothing frustrates me more than sitting down and taking a while to think about the time, effort and detail I want to put in my post, only to find that the DM themselves has posted 3 or 4 sentences that does nothing that influences the story at all. The only thing I can think of to do when there's no say from the DM is to keep my character in the scene and cause pure chaos in the RP.

But that's just me.

Murloc_Hugger
07/19/2007 6:35 PM


I also like a DM who retains a good amount of control on the thread- obviously nothing too fascist, the players need to have the freedom to be creative- but a DM who will call people up on things they're doing that aren't how they see the thread going i.e. if particular players are taking over too much or dictating the story, if people are power gaming/god modding etc. Often I find myself feeling frustrated that a thread is starting to derail and the DM doesn't really do anything about it- it's [i]their[/i] thread, so it's not my place to do it. If I'm sufficiently unhappy then I'll say something/leave.


I try to keep control of my threads, but half the time, someone takes control anyway. How [i]exactly[/i] am I supposed to get them to stop?


Oh, and very importantly- if you're going to DM [b]commit to it[/b].
Don't start a thread and then disappear/neglect the thread.
Some people put a lot of effort into creating a character and developing their posts. It's incredibly frustrating to feel that the DM couldn't be arsed.


Believe me, I know how it feels to be on the player side of that situation. When I start a thread, I almost always check it at least once a day, usually more.


If you're hit with writer's block just say it- just like on the train I don't mind delays once I know the reason for them. Don't leave your players hanging!


Too bad I didn't figure that one out earlier. That could have saved me a lot of dead threads.


-Make Detailed Posts - The DM should be the most detailed of the players. Why? Well because he knows the plot the best so he or she should always put the most effort into posts. If a DM doesn't detail his posts enough or doesn't reveal the plot enough thats just begging for a player to take control.


As I've said before, I'm the absolute worst description writer I know(not counting the people I know who don't actually write or RP or anything like that), so that's really a problem for me.


I know I like to keep the plot under lock and key, this way players are more suprised when they read it, makes a better RP. This is hard to do because if you never reveal any of it to anyone and only do it in the RP rarely, the Players will most likely compensate by taking control. They do it because they think that you have no idea what your doing. So what you must do is feed them the plot little by little, make a scenario, see how they react, if the scenario dries up, make another one. I wont try to change your style but in short, reveal the plot and detail posts.


Does this mean that I have to tell my players the plot [i]before[/i] I start the thread? I really hate having to give anything away before it starts.

Damien
07/19/2007 7:23 PM


Does this mean that I have to tell my players the plot [i]before[/i] I start the thread?


No. That's not what Nanuk is saying.

What she's saying is that the plot cannot remain this obscure thing throughout the course of the RP. When you start, all you need do is give players an outline of what's going on: The setting, basic idea of why the players are together and where they're headed, etc.

But many GMs, unfortunately, never, ever give you more than that. This stalls an RP because no one knows what they should be doing to advance the plot, because they don't know what the plot is. You don't have to outright tell them, but you need to feed them enough of the plot during the actual RPing that they know what they should be doing and can make the right choices.

If you just say, for instance "the player characters are on their way to fighting a great evil" -- well, whoopy. No one knows where to go, what the evil is, etc. They know absolutely nothing and therefore, don't know what to do. This can end in either a dead RP, or it can end with players taking too much control over the story because they think you don't have a plan.




So the rule I will add here is that a GM needs to be ACTIVE. Very active. More active than the players. It's a GM's enormous job to control all (or most) non-player characters, describe events and scenery not directly controlled by players, provide the necessary plot hooks and story-pieces to move the RP forward, and a host of other things. Too many GMs act like they're just another player. That's not your job. If you want to be a player - then be a player. But a GM needs to act like a GM. And that means being the narrator, not a character.

Murloc_Hugger
07/20/2007 1:23 AM


If you want to be a player - then be a player. But a GM needs to act like a GM. And that means being the narrator, not a character.


In general, I prefer being a player, but I haven't been able to find any open threads that I found interesting, so I don't really have much of a choice. Does anyone else have anything?

nanuk
07/20/2007 2:05 AM


I try to keep control of my threads, but half the time, someone takes control anyway. How [i]exactly[/i] am I supposed to get them to stop?


You tell them.
Simple.

It's [i]your[/i] thread.
If people are taking over, or introducing big plot elements that are affecting the story and which you didn't okay just say 'oi, no!'. Just remind them that it's your thread, they agreed to join because they saw something interesting about it, and to leave the DMing to you.
Sometimes (most of the time, I would hope) it happens accidentally- a player is introducing a little backstory for the character (a good thing) and can get a little carried away and forget that their character is not the centre of the story (not a good thing).
All you need to do is remind them- say that you have to move on if you don't want to be confrontational about it, and if it was accidental they should be fine with it.

Some players just have a more dominant style, anyway- they seem to forget that an RP is largely a communal thing, with the reins being held by the DM, and try to make it all about them. If it's happening repeatedly you need to call them up on it- if you don't, they won't see that you don't want that kind of crap going on.





As I've said before, I'm the absolute worst description writer I know(not counting the people I know who don't actually write or RP or anything like that), so that's really a problem for me.


Then maybe hold of DMing for a while.
If you're not confident in your writing it's going to make it very difficult for you to DM. For me description and detail in a thread are as important as the story- I don't want to participate in threads where 3/4/5 line posts are common. I just don't find it interesting. And like Deliria said it's [i]very[/i] irritating when you've put a lot of post into a thread and the DM sticks up something really short. You expect the DM to know what they're doing and be able to maintain a certain standard.

If you've got an idea you think would make a great thread then maybe collaborate with someone. Post a thread outlining the idea, ask for someone to be the co DM to give you a hand with the parts that need more description than you think you can manage.

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