Top Ten Dungeon Master Tips for Telling an Awesome Story
This little blog-post is about the email I received from Skull Splitter Dice, who make some awesome dice by the way, and their website includes some interesting articles about all things role-playing and gaming. And one that got my attention was about Top-10 Dungeon Master Tips. So with no further ado, here are they are:
1- Create flawed characters:
Flawed characters are easy to relate to because everyone knows that no one is perfect and they can begin to see themselves or someone they know personally in the characters. Over time, your players will become emotionally attached to the characters and care about their journey
2- Keep reminding Players of the Goal:
This will make sure they stay interested in the game and motivate them towards the goal. Goal-reminding will make players emotionally invested in the game and the fate of the characters if they fail to reach the goal. It will also remind them that they’re making progress (regardless of whether it’s slow or fast).
3- Take something away:
Every good story pulls at the heart strings. Whether it’s the loss of one of their best friends, or an unfortunate incident that takes away an object that they have a close emotional connection with, feelings of overwhelming grief or anger will stick with players. Taking something valuable away will make the campaign more memorable! This loss can empower players to carry on in their spirit!
4- Never let an event take too long:
Don’t be afraid to speed up an event if it seems like the players are getting too into engulfed in a side-quest - after all, you are the DM and you have the power! There’s nothing wrong with shortening that journey into a series of smaller events, or you can provide a short summary of that part of the quest to stay on track and move towards the next key event.
5- Keep your characters close and your villains closer:
A key to creating a quality villain is to make sure that they have a close relationship with one or more characters in your campaign. Remember that the most hated villains are the ones who appeared to be good in the beginning, but then unexpectedly betray those closest to them.
6- Only practice makes progress:
The more time you spend at the table as a DM, the more comfortable you’ll feel telling stories and you will eventually develop your own unique style of storytelling. While you can learn some useful Dungeon Master tips from other experienced DMs and many long rule books, they can’t fully prepare you for the challenge of successfully executing all these top Dungeon Master story telling tips. So, keep this cheat sheet close by the table, and get practicing!
7- Chekhov's Gun:
Remember that no player wants to feel like a passive observer. Every player is important and a key to a good player experience is having them feel that everything they do and everything that they are told will have a significant impact on the story. It is crucial that you only describe objects, situations, NPCs, or other details that will serve a purpose throughout the game.
8- Random Encounters:
Never underestimate the power of a seemingly random encounter in your campaign! Not every encounter has to advance the plot directly or help players reach the goal. Use these ‘random’ encounters (such as epic battles) to let your players explore their characters, the imaginary world or feel they are in constant state of change or danger.
9- Show the story:
Don’t ruin the fun by flat out telling your players that that they are travelling through a dark, petrifying cavern; instead make them work for it by describing how their torches have gone out because of the strong winds from the unforgiving storm, allow them to trip on dozens of bodies, and feel the searing pain from an orc warrior ambushing with a sword slicing through their shoulder blade. Always appeal to the players’ sense of sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound when narrating and remember this quote by writer and gamer Matthew Charles: ''Players are not obversers!''
10- Be flexible:
Finally, no player should feel pressured or bored because they must follow every detail of the DM’s plot. Stay open and adapt to the players’ ideas and reactions so they feel free to explore and get in touch with the imaginative characters and the setting. Keep these Dungeon Master tips in mind, every campaign will be a unique, and exciting learning experience where everyone can have more fun along the journey.
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