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Kovaks

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#1
Been running a couple 5e campaigns at my work and playing in a dungeon world campaign with some buddies. I have to say dungeon world mechanics are pretty cool, I like that it can have varying degrees of success and failure. I will say with 5e I am starting to run into some of the things I struggled with in 4th, mainly that when we started we could get 2-3 encounters done in the lunch hour but as the party gets stronger we are lucky to finish one sometimes.
 

Arden

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#2
Pretty much the bane of every pnp system once you get beyond the first few levels. That's why a lot of GMs keep running level 1-5 campaigns over and over. Hard to deal with all the shit going on at level 10+. Hit points start getting astronomical, it takes forever to kill things, everyone has dozens of spells to burn through and keep track of, etc etc

I designed a system where hit points are generally low and stay low (typically 20hp and below) for the life of a character. Your ability to mitigate increases, but your actual hit points stay low. Plus I added a pretty brutal hit chart and crits that bypass mitigation entirely and go straight to hp. The result is that combat stays relatively short and brutal no matter how advanced characters become, but still allows characters to measure their advancement via fighting prowess. The caveat being, even a newly rolled character can get lucky and slip a blade past a veteran character's defenses for the kill. But hey, you play with swords and axes and anyone can get killed...
 

Hatorade

A nice asshole.
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#3
Been running a couple 5e campaigns at my work and playing in a dungeon world campaign with some buddies. I have to say dungeon world mechanics are pretty cool, I like that it can have varying degrees of success and failure. I will say with 5e I am starting to run into some of the things I struggled with in 4th, mainly that when we started we could get 2-3 encounters done in the lunch hour but as the party gets stronger we are lucky to finish one sometimes.
As long as everyone is enjoying themselves I wouldn't put too much emphasis on time, pacing is more important. As the DM if pacing is the issue you can solve that by doing any numbers of things depending on the situation.
 

Nidhogg

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#4
I'm running the starter edition 5e campaign with a group of 3 and wondered if anyone had great tips / advice for a new DM.
 

Arden

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#5
5e is a great system to start playing on. I wrote this up a while back for one of my players that moved and was going to start GMing his own campaign.

This advice comes from 25 years of GMing. It's kinda long so I spoilered it.

1. It’s not about winning against the players. This is #1. Too many GMs become adversarial towards the players. Always remember it’s about crafting a good story the players can immerse themselves in.


2. Fear of Death. The players need to understand failure has consequences. Don’t crush the players with insurmountable odds, but also don’t give them the win if they act haphazardly or foolishly. It’s important to make victory meaningful for the PCs, but don’t make it too difficult or the PCs will just get frustrated and give up. Finding the balance between trivial content and too difficult is key. If you err, err on the side of making it a little easier than you think it should be, because you would be surprised at how easily (and quickly) the players can fuck even the simple things up.


3. Prepare, prepare, prepare. The best story in the world doesn’t mean shit if you don’t know the rules or can’t run the session because you don’t know what’s behind the dungeon door until the players open it. It sucks when a player opens the door and everyone has to sit around waiting for the GM to figure out what the hell is in the room because this is the first time he has read the material.


4. Come up with lists of random names ahead of time. Some player’s need to know the name of every fucking merchant and inn owner they come across. If the GM has a list of ready names to pull from for unexpected name requests it usually impresses the characters. That way, they never know if the guy behind the bar is just a filler NPC or someone vital to the story.


5. Use an initiative tracker-- a spreadsheet that lets you not only track initiative order but also combat conditions (fear, stun, blind). Players lose confidence in a GM that can’t keep track of the initiative order.


6. The players have to be absolutely certain that you are fair and impartial. No one wants to play a campaign with a GM they feel is bending the rules or fudging die rolls to get the story to go the way he wants. That said, if you need something to happen to prevent the story from collapsing, make it happen regardless of rolls or rules. This should be pretty rare if you have constructed the campaign properly, but it happens (just never let your players know you did it).


7. Time limits can be fun tools to put pressure on the PCs. A lot of players will take a year and a half to go through a dungeon if you let them. Pressure adds to the fun, but too much pressure detracts from it. So maybe the world doesn’t end if the players don’t find random_religious_idle_001 in 3 days, but maybe something else undesireable happens.


8. Multiple win conditions. I’ve been using this one a lot. Instead of making a campaign simply win or lose, give the PCs multiple win goals.


9. Know what happens if the PCs fail. This one is really important. Avoid situations where failure means utter devastation, because then you will feel compelled to help the PCs succeed-- and they will be able to tell, which will cheapen the experience.


10. Don’t put the campaign too much on rails. The PCs want to know they are in a sandbox with a story. They want to write their own script and they don’t want to feel like they are simply watching a completely predetermined story unfold.


11. For world building, start small. It’s better to have a REALLY fleshed out small area, like a village or city and the immediately surrounding lands than to have a large amount of space that you only have a vague idea about.


12. Create a world that lives and breaths regardless of the PCs. Players like a sense that the story didn’t begin just because the they walked into the campaign and that the story will go on even if they all die. Avoid the hero onus. What do I mean? Players shouldn’t be “heroes” just for showing up.
 

Kovaks

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#6
Arden's advice is good, from my experiance the best thinkgs to keep in mind are

- this is the players story not your's let them guide it and define it and help them along,

- in that vein it is better to be permissive than restrictive, if they think of something cool say yes or at least say lets roll, the more cool things they do the more fun they will have and the more creative they will be which will lead to better games, if they do something too amazing you can always find a way to balance it later.

- And don't sweat the rules too much or take too much time away from playing to look something up, if you are not sure how to rule something just go with your gut and keep going you can always come back to it, if you stop the game too often to look things up your pacing, which as Hate said is the most important thing, gets way off.

Also wanted to share this which I found and thought it would be awesome for my games, maybe some of you would be interested

 

Arden

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#7
Would definitely second Kovaks' advice.

Regarding the "Let the Players Guide the Story" thing- I can't tell you how many times my players have become fascinated with some random minor character or situation I threw into my campaign as an aside. For whatever reason, the players sometimes latch onto something random instead of your main story/NPCs. Instead of fighting with the players, trying to push them back towards what YOU find interesting, let the players guide the story (to a certain extent) and weave the things they find interesting into your "main" design with finesse rather than force.
 
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#8
I take 5 initiative rolls from the players at the start of the game. That way when I get to combat I can pull up the list and say "Player 1, this is the situation. What do you do?"

D&D is a group story, and a good story has good pacing.

D&D is about the players, not the DM. Some of the best games I have run were games where I explained the current situation to the players and they argued for three hours without rolling any dice.
 

Arden

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#9
Different groups have different dynamics, but as a GM I consider it a point of pride if I can keep the players interested without resorting to combat.

The last campaign I ran was a mystery adventure where the pcs were trying to track down a missing girl (and eventually several other people). The players didn't touch their weapons for 6 sessions. There were a couple fist fight scuffles and some tense moments, but no weapon was drawn for probably 20 hours worth of gaming. It was all investigations and roleplaying.

I was lucky and had a pretty mature group, though. There are definitely some players who need combat every session and will pick fights if they don't get it.
 

Enfisted

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#10
In the past several years I have run three different groups. Each was entirely made up of players who had never played before, had never played an RPG before, never even read a fantasy book (though some had seen some GoT).

One thing I found quickly was that generally, people have very little interest in any rules at all, and copious dice rolling is the fastest way for people to lose interest.

After the first group, I switched to Basic Fantasy RPG Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game - which feels like a D&D game, but stripped down. I recommend it to anyone trying to initiate new players who's lives haven't revolved around this stuff.

I also echo that, at least as a social activity, well paced, player driven, comedic games are the way to go. Number crunching, goal achieving games could be alright if your entire group is into it, but to me, that is what video games are for.
 

Tiggles

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#11
I play 5E every saturday with 4 other people, We run a "milestone" based leveling system because sometimes we can go like a month without actually getting into combat.

I play a Monk/Warlock that has a host of mental issues and may secretly be the serial killer that our group is hunting down.
 

Daezuel

Content Creator
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#12
I play 5E every saturday with 4 other people, We run a "milestone" based leveling system because sometimes we can go like a month without actually getting into combat.

I play a Monk/Warlock that has a host of mental issues and may secretly be the serial killer that our group is hunting down.
Well, it's not a secret anymore. Way to go chief!
 

Tiggles

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#13
Well, it's not a secret anymore. Way to go chief!
It's not a secret to the players either but they don't have a way to prove it in character so they can't confront me either. I also have a 22 passive perception due to a high wisdom and the observant trait so see everything.

My character is really weird he's lvl 7 monk lvl 2 Warlock Shadow path and old god patron so he's basically a teleporting ninja that see's in magical darkness and can throw globes of magical darkness.

I lack a lot of the raw damage that the other lvl 9 characters have but I have so much utility it's amazing.
 

Kuriin

Better at Rimming Than You
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#14
I'm currently in a group -- Skulls and Shackles. I do not recommend this game to anyone as the boat fighting can be very fucking tedious.

I have Rappan Athuk and it looks like there's a prequel campaign to it. I'd love to play it. ;o
 

Kovaks

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#15
Been watching HarmonQuest a lot and man I wish I could play in or dm a game with actors there is no prompting for role play they just are their character instead of a bunch of " I tell the group what happened" I actually like the older style they use where the only person rolling dice is the dm but a lot my players love rolling so I doubt that would work.
 

Kuriin

Better at Rimming Than You
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#16
Having the players roll dice make it more fun.
 

Tiggles

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#17
Having the players roll dice make it more fun.
Fine line,

Players like rolling dice but making players roll dice for everything makes it tedious. Example is rolling animal handling to ride a horse, you would assume an adult in the realm would know how to ride a horse so we don't make any rolls for riding horses. If you want to do some trick shit then yeah make a roll.
 

slippery

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#18
Rolling the dice when you make a heroic move like leaping off a tower trying to jump on a Wizard that is floating away

AND MISSING TWICE WHEN YOU HAVE HUGE BONUS'S FROM WILD SHAPE AS A GIANT SNAKE

Is the best and most memorable part
 

Urlithani

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#19
I'm currently in a group -- Skulls and Shackles. I do not recommend this game to anyone as the boat fighting can be very fucking tedious.

I have Rappan Athuk and it looks like there's a prequel campaign to it. I'd love to play it. ;o
Skulls and Shackles was fun for me to play through. I played a ditzy blonde Red Mantis Assassin. Had a +59 stealth at the end around 16th-17th level, so I was reigning champion of hide and seek and murdering people in their sleep. Our DM did change a few things and added his own naval combat system that was smoother and more strategic.

Played through Rappan Athuk too. If you like old school grognard adventures and your party doesn't get upset about PC's dropping like flies, then you're going to love it. Youngest person in our group was my sister at 32, so we had a blast with all the ways to die and old school feel(they poisoned a deck of playing cards?! Why can't we kill this fucking dung monster!? "Don't go down the well!" "We are gonna go down the well!")
 

Kuriin

Better at Rimming Than You
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#20
I started DMing Rappan Athuk on roll20, but, it became so difficult to DM as there are just hundreds and thousands of monsters. EVERYWHERE.