Reddit GM Advice: No Subtlety, ADHD & Brainstorming, Strahd Menu

Reddit GM Advice: No Subtlety, ADHD & Brainstorming, Strahd Menu

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I made a list of 3 GM advice subreddits called RefAdvice.

1.Don’t be subtle. Tell the players when they are making characters what the game is going to be about. Don’t make them chase it. There will be mysteries and surprises along the way anyway.

2. I bet if you tell them and the characters’ back stories are linked to these three, the B plots will write themselves.

3. A group that takes over the Zhents might be cool.

Good luck!

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Would a brainstorming worksheet help?

Context, Cool Shit and Consequences

Hope it is helpful. Good luck!

I’m really glad to hear that. Quite a few people I care about have been diagnosed with ADHD (and I’m looking into getting tested soon).

Could be I made this to deal with my own stuff…

Good luck! You can do this.

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Use the book (and all of the WotC adventure hardcovers) as a menu, rather than a guide or a text that must be followed. Choose the meals that interest you and leave the rest behind. Don’t feel like you have to play it exactly as written in order to play right.

Make it your own, look at the amazing resources in the Curse of Strahd community (Dragna Carta’s re-writes are well worth looking over).

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Reddit GM Advice: World Building Depth, Eye of Vecna, No One Solution

Reddit GM Advice: World Building Depth, Eye of Vecna, No One Solution

Reddit Icon in front of my lovely rainbow dice from Dice Envy.

I made a list of 3 GM advice subreddits called RefAdvice.

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Have unanswered questions about people and factions, things that you will discover through play. These could be something they are on the knife’s edge about and could go one way or another – or a goal they are striving for.

Daydream about them without writing plot. Have conversations with them or as them in the shower but don’t lock anything down; don’t hold it too tightly (as Avery Alder said in Monsterhearts). Just ponder and consider.

Jot down 3 words that describe them. It is best if two of the descriptors conflict with one another. People are full of contradictions.

Have goals that they are pursing. When players see them again, consider how they have changed and what they have accomplished or failed to accomplish since they last met.

Digest media from a diversity of points of view.

Good luck!

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You can really have fun with this character’s perception.

Maybe sometimes they see what Vecna has seen in the past, scenes from when Vecna was a Wizard-King with a loyal knight friend named Kaz.

Sometimes they’ll see Vecna in the future, an Archlich making secret plans to destroy worlds.

Sometimes they might just see someone’s secrets, their most hidden things.

And sometimes Vecna will see them and nod, welcoming the to the fold.

Perhaps they can feel the person with the Hand, out there, moving towards them slowly.

Have fun!

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Or don’t come up with a solution. Let your players deal with that.

That way there’s no one right answer. Maybe there are several or some half-measures or some solutions that will degrade over time. Be open to solutions that deal with compromise and messiness.

Not having a solution leaves it in their court.

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Reddit GM Advice: Bloodied State, Villages, Simplicity & World-Building

Reddit GM Advice: Bloodied State, Villages, Simplicity & World-Building

Reddit Icon in front of my lovely rainbow dice from Dice Envy.

I made a list of 3 GM advice subreddits called RefAdvice.

Maybe when a creature is at half hit points they take on a tag called Bloodied and some monsters get stronger when they are Bloodied or even gain strength from their Bloodied allies.

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Find a one page dungeon and start the game right at the dungeon’s beginning.

Find a map of a ruined castle and toss some bandits in it.

An owlbear is killing local sheep…

Just keep it simple.

Good luck!

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Sometimes it is the village the players are starting in.

Sometimes it is a phrase from an old bit of notebook scribbles: “The Tiefling Dukes, in their heyday, had 13 Witch-Towers bequeathed to them by the Devil-Tyrant.”

Sometimes I hear a friend has never fought a dragon in a game and so I make a setting with a greedy dragon family using its power to rule over a countryside so he can attempt to kick those dragons in the teeth.

Sometimes I read a book or listen to a podcast about history and that pops something off.

Start where you are passionate and have energy because when you run out of said energy, you’ll want to keep going. Don’t spend energy on anything that isn’t inspirational or useful at the table.

Good luck!

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More Reddit GM Advice

More Reddit GM Advice

Reddit Icon in front of my lovely rainbow dice from Dice Envy.

I made a list of 3 GM advice subreddits called RefAdvice.

Dagger Subject Divider

Incorporate that idea of destroying something and remaking it stronger into every aspect of the world you can.

When healers give healing, have them talk about bones re-knitting stronger.

When someone dies, instead of rest in peace, have folks say something about them returning, better made in a better world.

When blessing a new building, have the priest say something about building it better next time should it fall.

Have that theme of rebuilding first and foremost in your mind when you are making the world. When you think about the lore of a city – what was on that spot BEFORE the city – how is the city a better version of that…

Good luck!

Dagger Subject Divider

GM: You’ve got some time before things heat up again. What do you get done in that month?

Player: I’d like to fix the fighter’s broken magical sword with that magic orchid we got from that time in that place with the thing.

GM: Cool, sounds like you have everything you need. Whose forge do you use?

Player: My brother is a smith in the city, remember? I’ll use his forge.

GM: Right! I had forgotten. Y’know, there’s no skill for making things in 5e. But you have plenty of time and space. Let’s just say you do it, yeah?

Player: Sounds good.

GM: Let’s have some role-play with you, your brother and the fighter as you finish…

  1. Establish what they want to do.
  2. Decide how to do it – rolls necessary? Anything need to be gathered?
  3. Role-play a short scene to make it real and let the moment breathe.

Hope that helps! Good luck.

Dagger Subject Divider

Don’t feel like you have to write out a beginning, middle and end. You don’t have to make a publishable product (and honestly, many published products aren’t that useful at the table in play). You have to get started.

Ask the players to make characters to deal with Astral Elves coming to the Realms with an eye towards taking over. Diplomats, spies, monarch’s agents – people who will be asked to deal with this shit.

Start with a cold war, with the Astral Elves making allies and winning people over with promises that colonizers always start with. Get some ideas for a first adventure, a minor tussle or a conflict in Cormyr as the Astral Empire try to win over the Purple Dragons.

Have fun! Good luck.

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The Week’s DM Academy Responses

The Week’s DM Academy Responses

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I love making inspirational tables so I can make jobs on the fly with a roll of 3d6.

Here’s an example.

The Client Needs:

1-2) Blood

3-4) Intel

5-6) An Item

The players will take this from:

  1. Local Crime Org
  2. Warlock’s Demon’s Cult
  3. Local City Guard
  4. Local Politician
  5. Foreign Power
  6. INSERT SOMETHING REALLY STRANGE

Wild Card Table

Something strange in the mix is:

  1. A Rival Demon (or Devil)
  2. Zealous Paladins
  3. Local Adventurers making a mess
  4. Local Craft Guild
  5. Cult from the countryside
  6. Local Noble

Hope that helps!

Good luck!

Spear Subject Divider

Have you heard of the saying, “Don’t prep plots, prep situations.”

Might help. Here are a few links:

Here’s a series of links where I take something and mine the situation from it called Situation Mining:

I made a brainstorming document called Context, Cool Shit and Consequences. Hope it helps your process.

Hope those links are helpful. Good luck!

Spear Subject Divider

Keeping the game moving isn’t only your responsibility. The game being fun isn’t only your responsibility.

Everyone can help to keep the game moving. Everyone needs to be helping to make the game fun.

Talk to your friends about how the arguing wasn’t fun and come up with a way together to make decisions in a way that is more fun.

Good luck! it is not all on you.

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Don’t judge them. Ask them why they are doing that or ask what their characters are thinking but do so out of curiosity, not judging their choices.

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This Week’s DM’s Academy Posts

Player: I want to Investigate…

DM: What do you do?

Player: I investigate. Should I roll?

DM: Not just yet. Tell me what the investigation looks like. What is your character doing? If it is a montage scene, what are we seeing?

Player: Oh! Well, I go to the locals on this street near where the arch-mage was murdered and ask questions, see if they heard anything strange that night.

DM: So, to be clear, you are a Tiefling in a Dragonborn neighborhood, just after the Tiefling and Dragonborn armies have been at war for nearly a decade, asking questions about a murder. How do you think that is going to go?

Player: Good point, I forget about how they might feel about me showing up. I use my illusion magic to seem like…what were the people whose mercenaries helped the Dragonborn armies during the war?

DM: That was the elven mercenaries.

Player: Awesome, I illusion myself to look like an elf and I’ll even add that cool tattoo all of the elf mercs had over one eye.

DM: Nice detail! Roll with advantage.

Player: 18 with Intelligence added in!

DM: Cool, you hear over and over that one of the locals dragon-hawks was screeching all night but stopped for about an hour and then started again, this time even louder.

Player: Did I talk to the dragon-hawk’s owner?

DM: Yeah, and the beautiful dragon-hawk, covered in red and black scales with blue wings was still screeching, something about mating season.

Player: Oh shit, someone used a silence spell!

Executioner's Sword Subject Divider

The first source of inspiration I look to is the characters:

What actions have they taken that could make the world react in interesting ways?

What pieces of their background and backstory could I bring out?

If that doesn’t work, something is likely very wrong.

Would a brainstorming cheat sheet help? I use one called Context, Cool Shit and Consequences.

If so, here’s one:

Hope that is helpful! Good luck!

Executioner's Sword Subject Divider

Here’s what I said to a friend when he was playing a character that wasn’t participating:

“I really like gaming with you but the way you play this character makes that very difficult. It is as if they don’t want to participate in the game. Can you change the way you play the character or should we make a new one so I can play fun games with my friend?”

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I really like how Blades in the Dark does it.

3 NPC names with 3 descriptive words after them – short and I can glance at it during play and it’ll all come back.

Clocks, showing what the faction is working on and hoping for. I love it when factions are IN MOTION. It gives them motivation when the players deal with them and makes it easier for me to make the world feel alive.

Allies and Rivals – in case I need a fast mission idea. Maybe the players fought the faction’s rival last game and so this faction will now be really friendly to them because the enemy of my enemy is my friend or maybe they will get a cold reception because they messed up an ally.

tl;dr short, evocative bits that help the world feel alive and dense

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How to not kill your friend’s fictional pet.

What I’d say to my friend whose fictional pet I don’t want to kill, “How about you describe the pet taking part in combat as part of your attacks and damage without statting them as a separate character and we’ll agree that the pet does not get killed because that would remind us all of pets we have lost and cause a fun game to turn into a bad evening.”

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