Lessons From DMing


Hello, I wasn’t sure what to make my next post about until last night.

I had spent most of this week planning my next D&D practice session with my cousin, which didn’t go the way I thought it would. On top of that I got a gaming laptop yesterday (yes!) so I’ve been busy getting used to Windows 10, deleting bloatware, & hunting down all forms of privacy invasion I can. I guess you would call this a D&D session post mortem though there’s definitely lessons here to learn about game design in general.

The first session was more of a straightforward dungeon crawl, whilst last night’s session was simply about the player visiting a town for the night. With the first session I was using an existing adventure from a tabletop RPG whilst this was far more improvised. I did have a plan of how the session would go, but that was where I failed.

Last night’s session has been important as it gave me an idea of how tricky it is to predict what players will do. My cousin was playing a Drow warlock who relied on a Disguise Self spell to blend in with the town populace (for those who don’t know D&D lore, the Drow are an underground race of “evil” elves & are generally looked on with hatred). I had him stay at an inn that would feature a bard with a “magic guitar”. My intention was that he would sit in on the night performance & notice that the music was affecting his Disguise Self spell; enough to make his appearance look a bit fuzzy but not enough for it to dispel it. If things started to get dangerous the bard would use his music to calm people down; he just wants everyone to have a good time.

What I didn’t anticipate was that the player would be very cautious & spend all night staying in his room, bypassing virtually everything I had planned (fuck). I just had to roll with it & try, badly, at improvising what would happen the next morning. There was still a bit of fun had with him telepathically talking to a preacher & some priests but I ran out of steam soon afterwards. Improv DMing is mentally draining.

I don’t fault him for playing that way, he was roleplaying his character so his actions made sense.

When discussing it with him afterwards it pretty much came down to these factors on my part:

  • A lack of knowledge on the rules – I am very lazy in learning them & I hoped practice sessions would be enough to get a grasp of them. I also didn’t realize how easy it would be, rules wise, for people to see through his Disguise Self spell, which I completely ignored.
  • A lack of direction – I don’t like giving players explicit goals (I want my sessions to be as player driven as I can) & the only one I had assigned him was needing a place to stay at for the night. I did have characters setup that could have directed the session in certain directions but virtually all of them were at the inn. Part of this is due more to the next point.
  • A lack of knowledge about the player/character – seems his Drow doesn’t drink & is overtly cautious by nature, should have expected that.

So I still have a lot of work to do in order to be a good DM. I’ll have to set time aside just to read over the rules & go over player sheets, which I imagine will cut further into the time I spend on this blog & other related things. I don’t know if this blog will suddenly become about DMing but this is sort of the only time in the foreseeable future that I can do this, at least with the people here; I guess I’ll explain why that is in the next post.







A year from now

The next time I see these people again will probably be once every few years, if ever.

This really is the only time I have to do this.


So does that mean I’m putting my near non-existent game progress on hiatus – I beg to differ, rather I’m taking a different approach.

The main change though is that this blog will either be updated less frequently or I’ll

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