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6 easy ways to make your next D&D session better

Written by Expy - Published on December 13, 2007

6 easy ways to make your next session better

Well… the title says it all.  I’m sure there are a lot of painless ways to make a session better, or a least make it feel fresh or different.  Here are my thoughts:

  • No cellphones
    • Cellphones, along with roommates, have to be one of the most powerful mood killers. You can kiss your willing suspension of disbelief goodbye when one of these suckers ring.
  • Find a neutral site
    • I really enjoyed playing in a rented room at the local library branch when I first started playing D&D. No distractions. No real life interference.
  • No greasy food
    • I love pizza but greasy food makes me drowsy.
  • Start on time
    • Tell your players you’re aiming at starting on time and cutting down on pre-game chat. The players might also feel there will be something special about the game if you insist on starting early and playing longer.
  • Call everyone to talk about the last game
    • This could help to cut down on the time it takes to get back into the game. It’s especially useful if you haven’t played in a while.
  • Use the intrepid heroes introduction
    • This one is from John, a Dungeon Mastering reader:
    • “I just had to say that the only thing I always do (aside from the standard reread my notes, set up the map, etc.) is a recap of what happened the last time. I started saying, “When we last left our intrepid heroes…” about the 2nd or third time we played, I think. I just said it because I liked the sound of it, and when else can you say that!And then, one day I didn’t say it. I hadn’t meant it to be a tradition or anything, so one day I just didn’t say it. I got a couple shocked looks from people, and one blurted out, “But…but….but…you didn’t say it!” Little did I know that it had become an important tradition to them, helping them make the transition from hanging out to playing!”

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Written by Expy

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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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10 Responses to “6 easy ways to make your next D&D session better”
  1. Tommi says:

    Some sort of starting ritual is immensely useful. In our group, we chat about everything, eat food when it is ready and then start play.

    Cellphones aren’t quite as distracting in modern games (new Mage, in this case), but I still make a point of making it silent before play. Characters use cellphones more than the players do.

  2. dave peyton says:

    I try to schedule fifteen to thirty minutes of goof off time at the beginning of my session to get stupids out.

    Though my new game will hosted at a game store and I’ve only ever had them at my place, so we’ll see how THAT works out. I might have to relocate everyone if we can’t focus enough.

  3. Yax says:

    I’ve never played at a game store. Anyone here has done that before?

  4. Pé0 says:

    nope but from what I know of game store I would be really distracted from all the babes coming and going into the store…

  5. Micah says:

    Nice one, Peo.

    Zing!

  6. Sandrinnad says:

    We played at a store one summer – it had good points and bad ones (imagine that! :) )

    good points were a big table with enough chairs and enough space to fit everyone easily. Also I think we all felt a little more focussed because it wasn’t a normal hangout and chat area. No cleaning up before or after was nice too – one player had a habit of leaving a ring of garbage around him after a game….but not at the store!

    bad points were people hanging around to watch (it was in the main room) and noise, particularly from other games but also from the store itself (again, it was in the main room).

    generally it was pretty good though….and “great” if you find you just need that new book to _really_ run that game….

  7. ScottM says:

    I have played at the library meetup, at a game store, at a coffee shop, and (normally) at someone’s home.

    The game store was most distracting, largely because the other tables nearby were filled with other games in progress, and exuberant people at other tables could be heard in the middle of our scenes.

    Library meetups are tricky you have to remain reasonably quiet even when you roll a critical, which can be a bit of a downer. If you’re at one of the two back to back tables, it can be a strain to hear the GM at the far end of your table if the other table is talking– because your GM can’t easily raise his voice to be heard.

    Playing in a coffee shop was OK, though the small tables aren’t ideal for gaming. That, and people popping up and down, ordering caffeinated drinks and getting rid of them, made it a bit more difficult to sustain focus.

    For me, someone’s home is the best bet if everyone is friends. Though in all cases, the quality of the game far outweighs the location.

  8. Phaestus says:

    I prefer game stores because it pulls in more new players- if somebody stops by the table and asks questions, I invite him/her to take a seat and watch for a while, then try to chat when we take a break. I have about a 20-second limit on interruptions to a game session, then I say, “Sorry, but I really have to get back to the game,” hoping the players aren’t boring holes in my head with their eyes. It is also handy to make a quick reference from a book you forgot to bring by slipping over to the merchandise bookshelf, but I try not to abuse it because the store owner is cool and he wants to sell that book, unmangled, to someone. It also helps that the FLGS owner has plenty of long folding tables for all the other games, but the heavy wooden table in the corner is reserved for RPGs (us.) That cuts down on some traffic and ambient noise from the Warhammer 40K/mini game of the month crowd.

    My current public D&D game place is the (Saddam’s) Palace Lounge in Baghdad- it’s a beautiful venue open 24/7, and they set up folding tables for us in advance. Noise isn’t a problem, except when some “entertaining” band sets up on the stage and turns the former ballroom into a cacophonous echo chamber.

  9. Blue says:

    Phaestus,

    Your group still going to be meeting in Dec? Going to be arriving IZ then and will be looking for a local group… What days of week y’all meet?

  10. Gerd says:

    We had the perfect game store set-up back in college. In 1982, yikees thats a while ago, the owner of The Galaxy in Stevens Point Wisconsin would close at 7:00pm on Tuesday and we would play from 7:15 till 11:30 pm or so. Plenty of space, the latest game aids and modules, tons of dice, character sheets and a group of about 6 regular players + a DM. Excellent situation while in college.

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