It’s interesting, writing these summaries of games previous, when half of my party reads them. I’ve had it happen before, but those games weren’t as involved with plots and stuff. So I have to talk about what happened, without actually giving away future plans and stuff.
1. Random Encounters: I’m starting to really enjoy using the random encounter tables when people travel. I need to tweak how it happens, though. Right now I’m having the party roll and it doesn’t feel right. They know that a thing happened when the roll low enough, and so it doesn’t feel natural when they come across something. I guess. I dunno, I’m on this side of the screen.
I do think that I’m getting better at weaving the rolled encounter into the story, as well as dealing with the party’s choices. And I think its important that my random encounters have presented a choice, thus far. I have been in games that have used the random encounters as a definite. You will fight the thing, or encounter it straight away, at least. So far, of the 3 I’ve rolled up, the party had the choice about what to do about it.
Now, for next game, I’m going to try to be a little more deterministic. I’ve premeditated some of the possible encounters. I don’t know if it will happen the way I’ve planned, but, knowing where the party is going to be going is a real boon in preparing.
2. Faction Smaction: One of the big things we did last week that took a bunch of time, boring time for most people, was talking to faction members in Waterdeep. It was nice that I was able to get everyone some marching orders, and a decent direction to move in, but It was individual things, and everyone had to sit through everyone else’s meetings. Not great stuff. I don’t know if there us a better way of doing it. It was necessary, tho. Future meetings will probably only be one at a time. Until they go back to Waterdeep again. Maybe that will be a while? I wish I had done more in the city, to make it more than just talking.
3. Naming NPCS: It’s one of the biggest problems DMs have. You PCs suddenly want to talk to the local magistrate or something, and, all of a sudden, you need to think up a name. Now, I’m pretty good at coming up with names, but it takes me a few seconds or a bit longer and it breaks the flow. Which is a bad thing.
Now, there are all sorts of tricks DMs can use to prevent this problem. My issue was I didn’t go to the efforts to have any of them prepared. I’ve started a thing now that I’ll try to add a bit to before my game. I may even try to add a bit to it every day. That’d be clever.
4. Guilting the Party into Action: I should probably also talk about this, even though its not something I did wrong. As the party traveled from the Goldenfields back to Waterdeep, I rolled up an encounter with an Orc raiding party. It also came with some captured halflings. The party debated, then decided not to chase them. I was okay with this, but I knew about the halflings and had dropped a hint or two. And when they reached the camp later, they heard a story about some halflings that had gone on ahead. that they hadn’t met on the road.
Now, as a DM, I don’t care what happens to those halflings. They don’t mean anything to me. But I was able to build them up enough that the party realized good people would try to help. So help they did. And they were rewarded. But, if they had been a selfish or evil party and just continued on, that would have been fine too.
It’s a different style of DMing, where not all of my hooks need to be grabbed. It’s kind of liberating. As long as the party sees the hook, debates the hook, builds character around the hook, that’s enough for me.
5. Holding attention: I still have issue holding people’s attention. I mean, sure, it was a pretty boring night, but I think, in part, the issue may lie with the nature of our game. As a family affair, the family is required to assemble. In a normal D&D game, the players (usually) have made a choice to show up, meaning that no matter what, they have invested a bit of themselves into the game. Players at other games still lose interest on occasion, but I think I’m starting at a lower tier of attention. That means I have to step up my game, somehow. And I’m not quite sure how to draw them in.
It’s interesting that the two (and a half) players I have issue with have the entire opposite demographic of the stereotypical D&D player. I don’t know if that means anything, tho.
That’ll be it from me today. My game is soonish and I still have a bit of prep to perform.