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Thread: GM Tips, Tricks, & General Advice

  1. #1
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    Default GM Tips, Tricks, & General Advice

    Cailano has volunteered to host some DM training for those of you that might wish to DM a game of your own later on down the line. He will be giving tips and tricks, sharing DMing resources, and answering questions. Take a look here to get started.

    I'd like to take this opportunity to thank him for his contributions. It is, as always, very appreciated.

    ~Fox
    "Ho there wanderer... Stay thy course a moment to indulge an old man." ~Elminster, BG1, just outside Candlekeep

    For Evil to triumph, all good men must do is nothing. The corollary to that proverb is that sometimes evil must be done by honorable men for the greater good to triumph. ~Twilight Warriors




  2. #2
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    Hi all,

    Okay, for those totally new to RPGs, the Game Master (aka the Dungeon Master, which is copyright Wizards of the Coast) is the guy or gal that is in charge of everything in the game that isn't the player characters. He (I'll use the male pronoun, but I don't mean to leave out the female GMs, of which there are many good ones) sets the stage that the PCs tell their story on. He is every inn keeper, tax collector, orc, goblin, necromancer and dragon in the game.

    He also acts as a judge, settling rules disputes and answering rules questions.

    Game Mastering is by far the most challenging and dynamic role to take in an RPG. It takes up the most time and involves the most "work." However, some - including me - consider it the most rewarding aspect of role playing.

    This hobby succeeds or fails by the talent and skill of game masters. Being able to juggle the roles of story teller, game designer, judge and character actor isn't for everyone, but if you think it might be for you, read on.

    Even if you have no experience at all, you can learn to game master. The first RPG I ever played was one that I ran, and my first experience here on TTW was - you guessed it - running a game. Further, it was a game system (Pathfinder) that I had no experience with at all.
    Last edited by cailano; 09-22-2012 at 08:55 PM.
    Want to be a Game Master? Training and Tips at The D Academy

    In retrospect, Marcy probably did the right thing. After all, she did let Black Leaf die.

  3. #3
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    Lesson One: How to Roll Dice

    If you already know how to roll dice here on TTW, you can skip this lesson.

    The dice roller here is activated in forum. For instance, to roll a six sided die, you type in the following:

    [*roll=anything you want to type]*1d6[*/roll]


    Only when you type it, omit the '*'s.

    Substitute "anything you want to type" with, well, anything you want to type. Usually it is a roll description like "attack" or "damage."

    It doesn't have to be a D6. You can roll any of the common dice, such as D4s, D8s, D20s, etc.

    In fact, you can roll a D anything. Try it. Roll a d567 or a d1,000,000. I'll wait.

    Now that you know how to roll dice, let's move on to posting attachments.
    Last edited by cailano; 09-19-2012 at 08:21 PM.
    Want to be a Game Master? Training and Tips at The D Academy

    In retrospect, Marcy probably did the right thing. After all, she did let Black Leaf die.

  4. #4
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    How to Post an Attachment

    Often you will want to post a graphic in your game, such as a picture of a map, a battle map, or a monster. How do you do it?

    Attachments come from one of two places: The Internet or your own computer. Posting them is a similar process either way.

    To post an attachment from the Internet, first do an image search and pull up the actual image that you want. Hint: look at your navigation bar - the image name should end with .jpg or .png or something like that.

    Say I want my PCs to attack and kill Barney the Dinosaur. I Google search for Barney, pull up the .jpg image and then highlight and copy the full URL of the image in the navigation bar. Then I come back to TTW and hit the icon up above that looks like a little tree in a frame.
    Want to be a Game Master? Training and Tips at The D Academy

    In retrospect, Marcy probably did the right thing. After all, she did let Black Leaf die.

  5. #5
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    Post an Attachment Part Two:

    I click on "from URL" paste the URL I copied earlier, and unclick the check box. That's it!

    Barney_the_Dinosaur.png

    A fearsome monster if there ever was one.
    Last edited by cailano; 01-25-2015 at 05:09 AM.
    Want to be a Game Master? Training and Tips at The D Academy

    In retrospect, Marcy probably did the right thing. After all, she did let Black Leaf die.

  6. #6
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    Attachments from Your Computer

    To attach an image file from your computer, you need to hit the "go advanced" tab at the bottom of your posting screen. From there you will see an icon that looks like a paper clip. Click it and you will be prompted to select a file. Be sure your image file is of the right size (there is a list to check by) and then select it. Hit "upload" and you're in business. You won't see the image straight off, but once you hit upload and the image loads, go ahead and close the "attachments" window.

    For example, here is a battle map that I made in photoshop and wanted to include in my Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by cailano; 06-06-2013 at 08:51 AM.
    Want to be a Game Master? Training and Tips at The D Academy

    In retrospect, Marcy probably did the right thing. After all, she did let Black Leaf die.

  7. #7
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    Attachments from your Computer Part 2


    So now you have an image you can click on and see a larger version of. Go ahead and try it, I'll wait.

    But what if you want to have it nice and big and centered for all to see by default? Well, this is where homework comes in. I'll give you a hint: when you click on the image above, and then click it again to take it to its maximum size, look up at the navigation bar. Looks like a URL for an image, doesn't it? Hmmm...

    As for centering, hit go advanced again and check out some of your options. TTW offers us a lot of fun tools to play with there.

    Your finished image should look something like this:

    Last edited by cailano; 06-06-2013 at 08:52 AM.
    Want to be a Game Master? Training and Tips at The D Academy

    In retrospect, Marcy probably did the right thing. After all, she did let Black Leaf die.

  8. #8
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    Rolling dice and posting images are two of your most common tasks as a gamemaster on TTW. Next lesson, we're going to go over how you learn how to play these crazy games in the first place, including links that will allow you to learn and play the Pathfinder roleplaying game (one of the most popular rules sets on TTW) absolutely free. (and yes, its legal.)
    Last edited by cailano; 09-19-2012 at 08:59 PM.
    Want to be a Game Master? Training and Tips at The D Academy

    In retrospect, Marcy probably did the right thing. After all, she did let Black Leaf die.

  9. #9
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    Learning Systems

    Now, if you are already an experienced GM and you know a rules system or two well enough already, then knowing how to roll dice and post attachments is probably all you need to know to get started. Get some PbP (Play By Post) practice, or just go over to the recruiting section, hit the "game request" forum and jump right in. Note: it takes about four or five days to get a new game approved around here.

    If, on the other hand, you don't feel confident enough in a rules system to run a game yet, fear not. There are two unbelievable resources for you online, and they are both completely free and completely legal.

    In my own opinion, the best supported fantasy RPG out there is the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, which is based on the D20 system (the last version of Dungeons and Dragons published before the current one. You'll also hear this edition referred to as "3.5" )

    You can get nearly every rule published for Pathfinder, including the core rules that cover combat, gamemastering and character creation, every bestiary (which lists monsters) and many expansion books such as the advanced player's guide and Ultimate Magic.

    Paizo gives away it's rules. There is even a section on "how to play." You can find all of this in a well organized and very accessible website called the Pathfinder Reference Document, or PRD for short.

    Here it is: http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/

    There is a similar document for D&D 3.5 called the SRD. You can find that here: http://www.d20srd.org/

    Pathfinder and D&D are the "crunch" behind probably 80% of the games here on TTW, with D&D 4.0 making up most of the other 20%. The PRD and SRD are big reasons for this popularity.

    To be a GM you must first be versed in character creation, because most of your players are going to want to make characters for your new game. Beyond character creation you should also know how to do skill checks, and how to run a basic combat. That means you need to read about the basics, races, classes, skills and feats, as well as equipment. You don't need to memorize those sections, but at least read them.

    Stick to the core rules for now. Add the rest (or some of the rest) in later if you'd like.

    Everything you need is on the PRD, so I won't repeat it here other than to tell you the core mechanic.

    The core mechanic of Pathfinder and D20 alike is this: Roll a D20, add a modifier, compare this to a target number.

    For instance, an orc might have an Armor Class of 15. That is the target number you need to get to in order to successfully land a blow on that orc. A first level fighter might have an attack bonus of +5. So if that fighter's player wants him to hit the orc, he rolls a d20, adds his +5, and compares the result to the orc's armor class (15 in this case.) If the d20 + modifier is 15 or better, he hits!

    Skills are much the same. Skills have a difficulty class that is like their armor class. For instance, walking a tightrope in a high wind might carry a hefty difficulty class of 20. The character trying to walk the tightrope rolls a d20, adds their acrobatics skill modifier, and compares the result to the difficulty class. In this case, if the d20 roll + acrobatics is over 20, he successfully crosses the rope.

    Edit: There is also an SRD for Mutants and Masterminds, a super hero RPG. You can find that HERE
    Last edited by cailano; 08-09-2013 at 08:39 PM.
    Want to be a Game Master? Training and Tips at The D Academy

    In retrospect, Marcy probably did the right thing. After all, she did let Black Leaf die.

  10. #10
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    Making your Game: Part One: Modules and Adventure Paths

    Now that you know some of the basic rules, you might be ready to start up a game. If you're a new Pathfinder GM, I sincerely, whole heatedly suggest that you head over to www.paizo.com and purchase a PDF copy of one of their adventure modules or adventure paths. Be sure to get one for first level characters. Paizo's modules are pre-written adventures, ready to be played. The quality of these adventures is good to excellent across the board, and unless you are an experienced writer they are likely going to be better than what you'd come up with on your own at this juncture.

    Read through your new module. You don't have to memorize but you should understand the basic plot and non-player characters you will be controlling. Running your first game from a module won't be perfect, and may even be confusing at times, but if you commit to finishing your game and run that module all the way you will know what you're doing as a GM by the end of it.

    Paizo also makes series of modules called Adventure Paths. These are giant, multi-layered campaigns that would likely take years to play through in PbP. To my knowledge, no game master has successfully run one all the way through on TTW. Very few have completed even a single module of any kind.

    In case that isn't your thing though, the next lesson is going to be about building your own adventure.
    Last edited by cailano; 09-23-2012 at 05:06 AM.
    Want to be a Game Master? Training and Tips at The D Academy

    In retrospect, Marcy probably did the right thing. After all, she did let Black Leaf die.

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