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“What do you mean no one brought Mountain Dew?”
I’ve spent the last few articles detailing some basics on what to do when starting, and running a game for your friends, today we are going to do the opposite, and have a fun look at what to avoid! There are a lot of pitfalls that new DMs can run into when running their first (or hell, twentieth) campaign. As someone who has probably done every single one of these things a one or more points in his storied and not always successful career as a DM I thought I’d let you benefit from my own many mistakes. So gather round kiddies, it’s time for some learnin’.
“Choo-choo! Mother frakkers, this is the way we’re going!”
This is probably the most common mistakes that DMs make, both brand new whippersnappers, and tough grizzled old veterans of the game. So here’s the situation, you’ve drawn out this great adventure, you know how it ties into the greater campaign, you’re going introduce the main villain of the plot, great things shall be had! Annnnnd the players decide to skip that town for the next, or ignore the young child’s cries for help, or kill the old man that was going to lead them on to a path of glory. Basically the players have as they will do, thrown a Buick sized wrench in you plans. So what do you do? Well, you make them do it anyway and take away all choice, I mean you’re the DM right? They shall bend to your will!
Wrong. More than likely you’ll just piss off and alienate your players, who will quickly become bored when they realize they have no real say in what is going on around them. It is much more interesting to be part of a story than be told one. If you’re players wanted to be told a story they would read a book, For a better solution, just adapt, hell have the same exact adventure happen in the “next” town, or the next it’s a little cheesy, but at least your players will feel like they have a choice, or just roll with it! Which brings me to my next point…
“Suuure, you can go down that hallway…oh look! A shiny!”
Don’t Always Just Roll With It
While it’s great to do things on the fly and be able to adapt, it doesn’t mean that you should be going into each session all willy nilly. I myself have been known to be a terrible perpetrator of this one, and it leads to places you can’t un-go. Not having any sort of plan can lead to major continuity issues unless you take some serious notes, but let’s be honest if you aren’t planning things out, you probably aren’t putting in the effort of taking notes either. This is what I like to call lazy Dming, and it’s fine to do every once in a while, none of us are perfect, and everyone will probably be happier with an unplanned session, than no session at all if you just didn’t have the time to prepare. Just don’t make this a habit, because it can be a hard one to break, and it can make a campaign extremely unwieldy and difficult to keep track of.
“Well fine! Make a reflex save.”
Don’t Take it Personal
I have mentioned this point before, but it’s a big one, so it bares repeating. Players can do things that annoy you, in fact, players will do things that annoy you. Players might even do things to annoy you on purpose, but don’t let it get to you! Just keep on trucking, and avoid reacting in a way that damages the game, such as, I don’t know dropping a forest on their heads for no logical reason. As a completely off the wall suggestion that I have never come across mind you, *cough* moving on.
No, not really I’m still here typing away. I’m sure there are things that I missed here…like a lot of things, do you guys have any horror stories, or pitfalls you think everyone should know about? Put them down below! Same goes for suggestions for future articles, just type them away in that old comment box down there, and I’ll certainly try to get them! Until next time folks!