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Are you a successful dungeon master?

Written by Expy - Published on November 14, 2007

Successful session checklist

When I look back on a session here is how I judge if it was successful or not? What are your criteria?

  1. I spent less than 1 hour preparing the session.
  2. I had fun during the game.
  3. All the players had fun during the game.
  4. Combat encounters were fast-paced and unique.
  5. The story moved forward through a roleplaying encounter.

I spent less than 1 hour preparing the session

I rarely find big blocks of time for game preparation so I have to be efficient. It was not really an issue when I was just hanging out, doing nothing (college). But time marches on and I sometimes have to prepare a game in 30 minutes – which can be plenty.

I had fun during the game

Lack of preparation combined with stress – the mind killer, or was that fear? – is my DMing nemesis. It’s sometimes better to call a game off than play a crappy session.

All the players had fun during the game

If the players have fun, I have fun. It’s that simple. So I make sure I involve all their characters during every session.

Combat encounters were fast-paced and unique

One of our house rules is that you can just declare that your character attacks, you have to describe the action. I also like to try to make fun combats last longer if the PCs are just owning the monsters.

The story moved forward through a roleplaying encounter

I like to plant clues in social interactions – it makes roleplaying rewarding for the players.

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Written by Expy

Meet Expy The Red Dragon

Expy is the mascot for DungeonMastering.com and the real mastermind behind Expy Games. He likes to hoard treasure, terrorize neighbors, burn down villages, and tell white dragon jokes..

No matter how fearful the legends claim dragons are, they always end up being defeated in 5 rounds by adventuring parties they encounter. That’s what dragons are – experience points for the heroes in your Dungeons & Dragon party. And this mascot is no different, hence the name Expy.

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7 Responses to “Are you a successful dungeon master?”
  1. mistrlittlejeans says:

    Nice! I love the idea of having players describe their attacks. How do you promote this behavior? I’ve trying the House Rule thing in the past, but I usually get the, “Why don’t we just LARP then!” (dripping with sarcasm and discomfort) response. I really like the idea because it would take pressure off me to come up with unique attacks 100 times a session AND it would get the players more involved. Also, do you have a Rule of Cool article? I’m looking for ways to spice up a pre-written adventure. So far the players really like it, but every adventure can use more Cool!

  2. Yax says:

    How do I promote it? I don’t give negative modifiers on any weird or spectacular actions and every combat action deals normal damage. If a PC or monster falls down as a result of a spectacular action-packed scene, they can get up as a free action because it was just for show (unless a regular trip attack occured)

    For the Rule of Cool, The Chatty DM is the king of Cool:
    http://chattydm.net/?p=33

  3. ChattyDM says:

    Hey thanks for the link buddy!

  4. Noumenon says:

    I spent less than 1 hour preparing the session

    That’s just ridiculous. It would take me longer than that just to put in the “involve all their characters” step or the “put clues in the roleplaying” step. By the way, I clicked on the “involve all their characters” link and I would recommend making the “Instant Campaign Builder” image an actual link to the instant campaign builder series.

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