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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

    Join Date
    Jun 2007

    Default Questions on running a game.

    I'm running a 5E game in a homebrew world and have a few questions for experienced DMs.

    1) We use miniatures and a grid. One of the things I'd like to have are sheets of clear laminate (like that of an overhead projector) to put over the grid so I can pre-draw multiple maps, saving session time. Home Depot sells Acrylic plastic sheets (more expensive than I'd like) but I don't know a retailer who might sell them. Ideas? Or other solutions?

    2) My group decided to take a sea route instead f a land route they were going to take, thereby wiping out a few sessions of skeleton outlines. Also, I have a grided picture of the ship to blow up on the computer and will then attach to cardboard to allow easy movement for combat that takes places simultaneously on-and-off ship. With multiple levels, however, it becomes tricky. Maybe cardboard decks supported by tiny dowels?

    3) The party is a group of three making it difficult to plan for encounters (sort of). With a LG battle cleric, high elf dexterous to-be eldritch knight, and skill monkey half-elf warlock, I'd probably create a Wood Elf Ranger DMPC using a bow (also adds party dialogue, can help move party decisions, keep party focused when not pressured). However, past experiences with DMPCs is making them very powerful and nigh-untouchable, something I want to avoid. Advice on running one?

    4) Lastly, I'd like to incorporate "mini-games" to add different elements to the game. A card game played by the DM+players where something is at stake and they can influence things by way of skill checks and roleplay. What have you guys done?

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Banned
     
    Flumph

    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Lancaster, UK

    Default Re: Questions on running a game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightblade View Post
    1) We use miniatures and a grid. One of the things I'd like to have are sheets of clear laminate (like that of an overhead projector) to put over the grid so I can pre-draw multiple maps, saving session time. Home Depot sells Acrylic plastic sheets (more expensive than I'd like) but I don't know a retailer who might sell them. Ideas? Or other solutions?
    Overhead projector film isn't too expensive and can be reused if you used an erasable marker. You can find it at most stationery stores.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightblade View Post
    2) My group decided to take a sea route instead f a land route they were going to take, thereby wiping out a few sessions of skeleton outlines. Also, I have a grided picture of the ship to blow up on the computer and will then attach to cardboard to allow easy movement for combat that takes places simultaneously on-and-off ship. With multiple levels, however, it becomes tricky. Maybe cardboard decks supported by tiny dowels?
    That sounds awesome but impractical.

    When dealing with multi-level terrain, try to divide it into floors and draw them side by side on the map. This is fairly easy with a ship- draw two separate maps, one for each deck, and mark any stairs/ladders on them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightblade View Post
    3) The party is a group of three making it difficult to plan for encounters (sort of). With a LG battle cleric, high elf dexterous to-be eldritch knight, and skill monkey half-elf warlock, I'd probably create a Wood Elf Ranger DMPC using a bow (also adds party dialogue, can help move party decisions, keep party focused when not pressured). However, past experiences with DMPCs is making them very powerful and nigh-untouchable, something I want to avoid. Advice on running one?
    Don't. It's possible to do a DMPC right, but it's easier not to.

    Just tone down the enemy numbers or difficulty down a bit. Err on the side of caution to begin with and you'll soon get a feel for the party's strength.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightblade View Post
    4) Lastly, I'd like to incorporate "mini-games" to add different elements to the game. A card game played by the DM+players where something is at stake and they can influence things by way of skill checks and roleplay. What have you guys done?
    I've played in a game of L5R that involved an actual game of Go once.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Tim Proctor's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Richland, WA
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Questions on running a game.

    1) We use miniatures and a grid. One of the things I'd like to have are sheets of clear laminate (like that of an overhead projector) to put over the grid so I can pre-draw multiple maps, saving session time. Home Depot sells Acrylic plastic sheets (more expensive than I'd like) but I don't know a retailer who might sell them. Ideas? Or other solutions?

    I would check a crafts store like HobbyLobby or something similar.

    2) My group decided to take a sea route instead f a land route they were going to take, thereby wiping out a few sessions of skeleton outlines. Also, I have a grided picture of the ship to blow up on the computer and will then attach to cardboard to allow easy movement for combat that takes places simultaneously on-and-off ship. With multiple levels, however, it becomes tricky. Maybe cardboard decks supported by tiny dowels?

    If they are going to be on the ship quite a bit, I would print out the levels separately so that they are easily distinguishable. If you want it to be like a terrain piece I would glue the print outs and build a whole model ship. I am sure that with some glue, cardboard, and Popsicle sticks you can make an awesome ship to scale for D&D.

    3) The party is a group of three making it difficult to plan for encounters (sort of). With a LG battle cleric, high elf dexterous to-be eldritch knight, and skill monkey half-elf warlock, I'd probably create a Wood Elf Ranger DMPC using a bow (also adds party dialogue, can help move party decisions, keep party focused when not pressured). However, past experiences with DMPCs is making them very powerful and nigh-untouchable, something I want to avoid. Advice on running one?

    If you are new to DMing I would not make a DMPC at all, allow them to have a hireling or something but I would make them do it themselves.

    4) Lastly, I'd like to incorporate "mini-games" to add different elements to the game. A card game played by the DM+players where something is at stake and they can influence things by way of skill checks and roleplay. What have you guys done?

    For side-games you want to bring the whole party in, it's not fun watching someone play dice with the DM for hours. So card or dice games are good, and if the other player characters wouldn't gamble ask them to be NPCs that are at the table. Dice works better because players controlling NPCs usually ends up with those NPCs losing massive amounts of money to the PCs.
    I am what lurks under your bridge, I am the troll...

    Not sure about what I said, go back highlight it with your mouse and wham it's magically blue for sarcasm, so like everything on the internet take it with a grain of salt.

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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2014

    Default Re: Questions on running a game.

    I use gridded canvas paper that I bought from Staples. It cost me just under $16 for a pad and it lasted my weekly group over a year.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Sith_Happens's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Dromund Kaas
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Questions on running a game.

    A three-member party is only slightly worse off than a four-member party, just drop your encounter levels by one and you should be good. If you really want to give them a permanent NPC member, either

    1. Let it be player-controlled. If you're worried about the lucky player hogging the spotlight as a result, have the "N"PC be a level or two lower than the PCs (in fact, if the party is close to 6th level, you might just want to encourage one or more of the PCs to take Leadership).

    2. Control it yourself but make sure that, narratively, it remains of secondary importance to the PCs. Don't be afraid to periodically ask the players if you're doing a good job of this.
    Last edited by Sith_Happens; 2015-03-21 at 03:16 PM. Reason: Struck-through wrong-edition-specific suggestion
    Revan avatar by kaptainkrutch.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cirrylius View Post
    That's how wizards beta test their new animals. If it survives Australia, it's a go. Which in hindsight explains a LOT about Australia.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Zombie

    Join Date
    Dec 2014

    Default Re: Questions on running a game.

    Overhead projectors are still in use some, so any large office supply chain store should have overhead sheets for use with erasable markers.

    A DMPC suggestion would be a hireling to carry stuff. Typically I would make them fairly ignorant and with a low IN but probably a higher WI. The issue is if you put one in the game to occasionally steer the PCs you run a very high risk of them becoming dependent on that DMPC to lead them.

    You are better off working on your own DM skills in subtly leading the PCs when you feel like they absolutely need it. You may not be great at doing this at first but your skill will grow with experience as a DM.

    As for assisting in balancing encounters it's again simply a matter of gaining DM experience and just as importantly experience with your table's playstyle. Experience gauging encounters based on party strength and player's tactics will serve you far better in the long run than simply inserting a DMPC.

    As for multi tiered buildings/ships your quickest and easiest method is to create clearly labeled maps, one for each tier. However if you really want to build a cool cardboard ship then do it! Your table will be sure to remember it for ages.

    I would suggest that you do not permanently attach the tiers to each other. You want to be able to lift and replace each tier as it's needed.

    As mentioned make sure everyone is in on the minigame or maje sure it is very short.

    Paizo makes some interesting card decks for various elements of gameplay. While it's intended for a 3.x version of D&D I'm sure some can be adapted.
    Last edited by aspekt; 2015-03-21 at 03:04 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Kobold

    Join Date
    Feb 2015

    Default Re: Questions on running a game.

    Instead of a DMPC Goad, you can make a DMPC sounding board. Somebody who makes it clear they are there to listen and help, but not push. You can make them as weak as you like, really - they don't have to help in combat at all. Ideally, if the PC's give a damn about a DMPC it's because of the roleplaying more than the combat. If the players get in a bad situation, the DMPC can recommend retreat or cover instead of rushing in to save the day. Or use mundane effects to slow pursuers - one flask of oil can make for difficult terrain on-ship, and means anybody who might end up prone in that space is begging to be tossed a torch.

    You don't have to make a DMPC be a super-rescuer - just a low-level mook with a brave streak who rushes in can be enough distraction to save a party, even if he does no damage and dies in the process.

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