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Are your players always prepared, pumped, and focused?

Written by Expy - Published on February 5, 2008

D&D Tuesday Tips for DMs (DNDTTFDM) 02-05-08

Dungeon Mastering is happy to present the first installment of the DNDTTFDM. Long time readers know that there are a lot of DM tips in the archives, but I needed a way to let all DMs know when they can find new content created for them. I will probably have more that 1 weekly article for DMs but if you’re busy and are coming to the site specifically for thoughts on the dungeon master trade, then stop by on Tuesdays.

As always I will focus my DM tips on reducing prep-time while bettering the RPG experience.

Here we go…

3 easy ways to increase your odds of DMing prepared, pumped, and focused players

  1. Talk about the game – This should take about 5 minutes per player. Whenever you call them or bump into them the week leading up to the game, casually mention the upcoming D&D session, and ask them what their character is going to do. It’s a sneaky way to get them thinking about the game and gives the players the impression that you’re on top of things – which might or might not be true. I think the key is to notice what they remember off the top of their head – whatever they remember is probably the kind of event / NPC / puzzle that you should incorporate in your game again (more on that below)
  2. Let the chatting go on for a little bit before the game – This is especially important if all the players are good friends. It reduces out-of-character or disruptive comments during the game since everyone has caught up.
  3. Prepare the first scene – It’s important to give the players a clear cue that the game has started, and a kick-ass intro is the best way to do it, with the be-serious-now-DM-stare a close second. If you know what the characters want to do or what they remember, planning a scene that won’t fizzle is much easier

Have fun!

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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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8 Responses to “Are your players always prepared, pumped, and focused?”
  1. FireRaven says:

    I’ve always been found of “roll random dice, look at party, shake head” its even better if you have a random player roll a d20, they think they missed a spot check and it gets peoples attention ;)

  2. FireRaven says:

    Also, my DM made a Wiki, we blogged (journal) as our characters. This really helped to flesh them out and gave the DM more insight into what we wanted.

  3. Yax says:

    I have yet to use the full potential of ObsidianPortal.com

    It’s a good campaign log/journal tool.

  4. loneGM says:

    After the chatter dies down, I find it best to somehow mark the transition from ‘table talk’ to ‘gametime’ the same way every time. If I’m using my laptop, I’ll play the game’s theme song. If I’m just using my books, I’ll loudly close one of them and launch into the game.

    It conditions the players for the switch in mindset from “out of game” to “in game”. They associate whatever your little ‘ritual’ is with the start of the game.

  5. Yax says:

    I agree that a routine is very important. Recapping the previous game is always good. A reader suggested a while ago to start by saying “In the last episode, our intrepid heroes…” It worked for him.

  6. sean says:

    Talking about the game helps a lot i think. Both of my litle borthers (well they aren’t really little anymore) are playing in the upcoming session So focus on game night can get a little rough, sometimes giving each player a “prequel” email is a good way to get your players ready to go when everyone is done chatting; they know exactly where they are and what they are doing.

    As an added bonus, I am a preschool teacher and I find that the things we do to transition preschoolers to the next activity also works for adults, a couple changes have to be made, but things like what loneGM said are very effective because it puts everyone in the “here we go” mindset

  7. lone GM says:

    As far as recaps go, I have one of the players do it – at random. They never know who I’ll be asking, or how… I might ask Phil to recap last session in song, or Alice to do it in character. Sometimes I’ll have a few of them do so together.

  8. On one of our previous campaigns (actually, the Evensbrook campaign where the Stupid Ranger gained fame), we had a blog where we all posted in character journal entries. Posts earned bonus experience, but even better, it kept us all connect to our characters and the story.

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