View Full Version : Your Dming Type

2008-08-24, 12:37 AM
My Dming type is comedy gaming. I could have fun playing in a full action with little to no comedy, but I always end up doing comedy campaigns, which are equally fun.

2008-08-24, 12:45 AM
Me and the other DM in the group prefer epic story lines, world shaping kind of deals.

The key difference is that I prefer gritty, (mostly) low power games.
My counterpart prefers heroic, (mostly) high power games.
He's also more combat focused, whereas I have more of a social focus.

2008-08-24, 12:50 AM
Fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants style. Basically, I have tables of random stuff that I might need, then I release my players into a massive world, and work with them to create a D&D game that they feel like they helped shape. As I see it, I'm the man behind the curtain, making sure the world works and that they're having fun.


2008-08-24, 12:52 AM
I have one type of DMing I inadvernatly stick to.
It's that "choose your own adventure book" DM. It's sad. I'm trying to make a Sandbox Campaign right now, but players and time are sparce.

2008-08-24, 12:54 AM
I think my DM type is Horrific Aberration. :smalltongue:

When I DM, I'll lure you in with the promise of great power and riches, give you plenty of rope to build your character with. Then, I'll start the campaign with an Overwhelming encounter. Any downtime you have is simply the calm-before-the storm or, possibly, you're simply in the eye of the hurricane. (Which is set to collide with yet another hurricane!)

That nice rope I let you have to build your character quickly becomes the one around your neck as I turn your advantages against you. Want to play a character created with magic? That's fine, but did you ever consider what components were used to create such a monstrocity? Did your creator mix a little bit of chuul with the ogre and orc blood? Want to play a mage? Fine, but what are you going to do when you're travelling in the Mournland and that spell you just cast comes to life, hungry for your blood? So, you're a paladin devoted to love, justice, and saving lost puppies...great! But how do you know your power comes from where you think it does? Are you sure you're not being spoon-fed your power by some powerful fiend who's slowly manipulating you to work towards his dark ends? How do you know that puppy you're trying to save isn't really Cerberus hidden by a glamour?

2008-08-24, 01:07 AM
I spend my time out-of-game thinking up stuff. NPCs, locations, organizations, plots... Whatever comes easiest is usually given attention and developed further, while the tougher stuff sits until it softens up.

On game day, I come to the game an hour early. Sometimes I bring snacks. I don't discourage any levity at the table, as long as it doesn't interfere with their ability to play their characters.

2008-08-24, 04:36 AM
I'm a story perfectionist DM, who tries to make the combat dangerous and thrilling.

2008-08-24, 09:19 AM
My games are all a sandbox with roller coasters. I write way too many plots, let the players attach to any of them, and tie them all together in the end. With enough plots there's no need for random encounters, every single combat has meaning and there are always consequences.

2008-08-24, 09:34 AM
I'm big into sandbox DMing, or at least I'd like to be. Depends on the setting, mostly. Sometimes I go for more episodic, mission-based games, but usually only when appropriate, such as in a sci-fi campaign where you play mercenaries or whatever. Eventually the plot might shift to a more sandbox feel, but at first it'll just be specific missions.

With fantasy settings, it's almost always sandbox, as I get the biggest kick when DMing from creating worlds for the players to find or make their place in.

Also, I'm a huge improviser. Not so much with my PBP game, since I get tons of extra time to consider every little thing, but with my sit-down games, I do a lot of by-the-seat-of-my-pants style DMing. I've told my players this, and they seem to be ok with it. At least once I know for certain they didn't know I was making it up as I went along...:smallsmile:

2008-08-24, 10:06 AM
Ruthless/comedic world running GM. I run a sandbox game, but people will interact with the players reasonably, and a story will come up. I just run the world impartially, and am willing to run enemies as resourceful, sometimes ruthless people. For instance, one of the characters died from being poisoned by a rich merchant that he threatened, and later a shapeshifter thief who they almost caught took a female form and played off of the chivalry of a knight by getting him to fight the players by painting them as criminals. There are no kid gloves, so when things go well, the players rejoice. That said, there is comedy, and sometimes when things get too serious you just throw in a few drunk guards.

2008-08-24, 12:33 PM
I think they call my type the "failed novelist" DM. Basically I give the campaign a (skeletal) plotting first, then fill in any necessary information about the setting, as opposed to making a detailed "sandbox" for the PCs to muck about in. Primarily what I want to do with a campaign is tell a story; I don't think I'm a railroader though. I try to make sure the outcome rests solely on the decisions of my players; the way I "plot" things is more like "if they do this, then this will happen, if they go here instead, then that happens." I also (because I play online) fill out paragraphs of detailed description for every setting and almost every NPC the players come across. Another side-effect of the storytelling approach is that I tend to impose given restrictions on the players. e.g, "you all have to be from this city," or "you all need to know each other somehow," or "you all need to be in some department of the town militia."

It's an unusual way to play the game, or at least I've rarely encountered other groups who do it this way. I usually have to fall back on the defense that my friends all like this way of doing it as much as I do.

2008-08-24, 12:49 PM
Make up a barebones story and then go with the flow. The players can never catch you off guard if all your plans amount to nil. And the story is most important, any side quests are just there to help it in some way.

2008-08-24, 05:20 PM
Mostly sandbox/social. There is Stuff Going On In the World, sure, but the players only get in on it if they want to; it'll keep going regardless. In the meantime, there are NPCs to influence and psychoanalyze and irritate, cities to rule, ideas to chase down, you name it. For me, it's almost always about giving them the most detailed backdrop I can and turning them loose.

Though occasionally, I'll know them well enough that I'll have a plot ready. Or they'll stumble into something, and I'll get a plot out of it--one of my best arcs came from a PC managing to get himself kidnapped in a sidechat during a summer-long hiatus.

2008-08-24, 05:30 PM
Old School "sandbox" - the world is getting on with its thing and the players tell me what they're doing today and I work out how that interacts with the world. Characters sometimes die of old age naturally.

I particularly like cities for this style of play, but not always.

2008-08-24, 06:12 PM
I think my DM type is Horrific Aberration. :smalltongue:

When I DM, I'll lure you in with the promise of great power and riches, give you plenty of rope to build your character with.
That nice rope I let you have to build your character quickly becomes the one around your neck as I turn your advantages against you.

My characters tend to start out with a rope around their necks. You and I would get along well. :smallbiggrin:

2008-08-24, 09:46 PM
Just to add, I like doing sandbox games, but try to provide some amount of direction. Hence, sandbox with roller coasters.

I do comedy, but it's rarely silly. It's either the type of comedy that the characters themselves laugh at (since I don't making players break character) or the type where the context is totally serious but absurd and nobody realizes it until they step back and look at what's going on.

I also like to surprise players. My motto as GM is "Just when you think you have all the answers, I change the question."

Lycan 01
2008-08-24, 10:53 PM
Dnd is done one of two ways...

For one-shots, I throw them in a dungeon and let 'em do whatever they want to do. I make things progressively harder, and throw in some humor and/or cruelty at times.

For campaigns, I throw them into an open world with a few plot hooks, and let 'em do whatever they want. I give them false senses of security. Yes, this cave has kobolds in it, and yes, they are weak. But the zombie dragon their clan leader just brought to life is not. I like to use lots of humor and brutality in describing actions. Deaths are not quick and undetailed. I describe the look on the kobold skirmisher's face as you place your hands on his chest and blast a point-blank magic missile out of his lower back. (True event. Player laughed hysterically...)

For Call of Cthulhu, I give them options. Yes, there's a haunted house in town. But some kids have also been dissappearing near a well, and some crazy guy just moved in down the street. I use the same funny but gritty diction in CoC, if not a bit darker and more brutal. I also use the same false sense of security tricks here, too. Yes, that rooms is empty, and yes, you walk around and see nothing. But the blood that starts dripping from the ceiling - which is the poltergeist's way of saying hello - causes massive sanity damage to your character.

Pie Guy
2008-08-24, 10:53 PM
Question? What question?
lol ninjad

2008-08-24, 10:58 PM
Im what I consider an out of work dm. I am running no games and I have no games planned for the future. Heck Im not even playing in a game just yet.

2008-08-24, 11:11 PM
I constantly remind everyone in my games that You Suck (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/YouSuck).

Although, I have an ammendum, as per Buddhism, "You suck, but you can learn to not suck." This kinda correlates with leveling up.

Then they move onto being Heroic Bystanders, and then finally, heroes.

My old motto is actually "If the players are not feeling weak, embarrassed, overwhelmed, distressed, paranoid or unlucky, then something is wrong".

2008-08-24, 11:19 PM
I plot a larger-than-life story, then let the players run around until they figure out what it is, and it's their job to bring half of the epic.

I'll provide the chariot race at the funeral games of a murdered king; it's their job to ruthlessly kick the living hell out of each other trying to win the cloak of gold and dragonscales. :smallamused:

2008-08-24, 11:54 PM
I like gritty (often low level) games in which the PCs are at first thrown into a situation that is over their heads. They may be simple farmers seeking out a cure for the mysterious plague that has befallen their village, mercenaries and thieves who have stolen an artifact of great power without knowing what it is, pawns in a game of deadly politics, or prisoners of war escaping into occupied territory. My PCs often start off with a choice of two of the following three: a stick, a stone, or a loincloth (loincloth required).

2008-08-25, 02:40 AM
I try to have an outline of my world but I generally have an overarching plot with set dungeons and encounters that my players can follow session by session. They're generally pretty amiable to staying on the tracks since they know that going along with my plans tends to be better for them, but I also try to keep the world open enough so they don't feel they HAVE to do anything. Depending on the game, too, I may craft a more demanding or lax plot. I'm pretty good at improvisation, so if they manage to get off the rails through intent or accident I can usually roll with the punches. Basically, kind of like the DM portrayed in Darths and Droids.

2008-08-25, 03:53 AM
Behold_the_Void, awesome avatar.

The most important part of a game for me is to tell a cool story where the players play major roles. If what they're going to do goes against my plans and would result in a less interesting story, I subtly railroad them. If what they're going to do goes against my plans and would result in a better story, I let them and rewrite the story.

Sandbox is the complete opposite of my GMing style.

2008-08-25, 05:00 AM
My genres are wide and varied.

My DMing style is come in with half a note (not half a page of notes, but half a note) and just go. It hasn't cause too much trouble yet. We just get together to have fun and so far my groups feel the way they are supposed to according to where the story is. Mostly frustration for the things that are going wrong...most of which is their fault of course.

Behold_the_Void, awesome avatar.

2008-08-25, 07:04 AM
I pretend that I'm trying to kill the players without actually killing them. That way they feel like they actually put a lot of effort into surviving my adventures and I have fun making them just a wee bit more paranoid. :smallwink:

2008-08-25, 11:54 AM
I'm a sandbox style GM with a big emphasis on setting and NPCs. Recently showcased (http://dadominion.com/blog/2008/08/12/dominion-cast-4-the-art-of-game-mastering/) my style and those of friends for our fans.

I do most of my prep up front once we agree on campaign genre and mood. General locations are described generally and get detailed on the fly whenever the spotlight (the PCs) enter them. NPCs and organizations get similar write ups except that they actively seek their goals within the setting.

When play starts the party is free to go anywhere their characters wish and interact with what and who they find with the pacing and story development like the session is an TV episode in the campaign's season or mini-series.

2008-08-25, 12:12 PM
<----- is lazy and good at improvising.

My campaigns either have a strong story the players can't get enough of... or it starts out sucking... and then I give them the reigns... they end up fulfilling the quest anyways.

Otherwise... My games work a lot like this. I have a world. Nothing in the world stops just because the players run a bit late. The World is a clock, and it keeps turning. If an army is marching and the players don't wanna stop it? it keeps marching =P. True Clockwork

Tadanori Oyama
2008-08-25, 12:23 PM
Casual would be the keyword for my DMing style.

I talk to the players about what they want to do and I almost always keep my DM records (apart from story related surprises) visible to the players. They can see the monsters current HP if they want to and they can see the dice I'm rolling. I like this because it allows me to be another person at the table, they don't think of me as "being in charge" which I like.

It's also good to avoid hostility. If they can see the dice they know I'm not doing horrible things to them just because. They also know if a monster whiffs it than it's just the dice.

2008-08-25, 04:03 PM
Given our generally tight schedule, we don't have time to play sandbox-style. As such, I write as much as I can way in advance and let them decide on what to do. I also ask them if they want to see anything in the campaign, and so I cater to their needs. (Two of my female players wanted love interests. Heck, one wanted a villain love interest. Still thinking about how to actually make them have a relationship.)

I'm also the kind of DM who begins writing even more stuff, related or not, just because he's gone on a month without D&D.

I've been doing that for the past 3 days. D&D withdrawal. Blrrrrgh.

Dr Bwaa
2008-08-25, 05:20 PM
I'm also the kind of DM who begins writing even more stuff, related or not, just because he's gone on a month without D&D.

So true. I do this all the time, and the one thing (besides a book & my external HD with all my permanent D&D notes) that I always, always, always bring with me when I travel (read: by air) is a green binder filled with random D&D ideas. There are half-forged dungeons, several pages of three-word blurbs that are presumably scenarios, settins, monsters or ideas that I thought were just great, but now I don't understand what half of them mean at all. It has various backstories for characters, many of whom end up becoming NPCs because I get tired of looking forward to role-playing them. It's a good book =D

My style, though, is definitely sandbox--nay, a beach--which can be a problem because it contrasts with the fact that I often just want to tell a story. I didn't realize those could get in the way of each other if I wasn't careful when I started DMing :smalltongue: However, I've gotten better at doing what I want to do. I'll give the players a plot or plot hook, and they will either take it and run with it (30%) or ignore it and find something to kidnap (70%). I've stopped planning out anything that has to do with the PCs in advance. That is to say, I know who will win this far-off war and what the consequences will be for that, but I have no idea what the PCs are going to do tomorrow, and if it turns out to be something that would affect said far-off war, well, things will need to be reconsidered.

I usually give my players a couple buffer levels, to offset the chance of being killed by bad luck that is omnipresent at low levels. That is, until level three or so, you're only going to die in my campaigns if you do something really dumb. Sorta dumb doesn't cut it most of the time, until you reach that limit, at which point everything is fair game, at least for me.

I've also never run a campaign in a world that I didn't create. I think this is largely due to a campaign I'm a player in at home in Faerun, and a couple of my friends, from the very beginning, have known more about Faerun than the DM (until he got caught up). This was, mind, the first DND campaign I''ve ever played in, and it was with a new DM, but a couple people (obviously) had played/DMed quite a lot before. I don't think the players should ever know more about the world than the DM does, so I make my own worlds to accommodate this.

2008-08-25, 07:01 PM
I'd have to say Sandbox. There are only a few walls in the sandbox (going over the walls generally ends in a "non level-appropriate" encounter). I will use encounters that you will not survive and it's up to you to know when to run away.

Players always do most of the work and as long as you keep the box interesting, the game can go on. However, the minute they get bored it can fall apart though. Giving them enough information and "people" to interact with can be challenging but that's most of the fun.

A lot of small ideas can be built in advance to keep down time to a minimum and they shoudl conform to the walls of your box ( to appear as natural extensions of the story). Building on those ideas can be as easy as a single encounter or a few weeks worth of gaming depending on the group.

2008-08-26, 07:13 AM
I'd have to say Sandbox. There are only a few walls in the sandbox (going over the walls generally ends in a "non level-appropriate" encounter). I will use encounters that you will not survive and it's up to you to know when to run away.
Yes, which is why I don't really like the term "sandbox", which has connotations of safety about it. There's nothing safe about my CSIO campaign.

2008-08-26, 09:40 AM
Yes, which is why I don't really like the term "sandbox", which has connotations of safety about it. There's nothing safe about my CSIO campaign.

I never realized these connotations, but now can see they exist - since a sandbox is where you put little kids. I've seen some that smell of pee, are landmined with cat poop and have glass fragments hidden in the sand, but that's more a result of neighborhood rather than the box itself.

I use walls of impracticality or impossibility. If they go off the map, the loose the benefits of civilization and will eventually run out of essentials - be it deuterium to run a starship or cure potions or the ingredients to make them. In my sci-fi Jupiter sandbox (http://dadominion.com/blog/2008/06/13/world-creation-game-genesis/), the PCs don't know how they got beneath the clouds and the natives don't even know that anything exists above them.

2008-08-26, 05:51 PM
Lots of railroading, and once the players are off the rails, then Rocks Fall Everyone Dies.

Oops, you meant "Your (Dming Type)", not "(Your DM)ing Type"?