A place wherein this Dwarven Cleric can share his love of maps, dice, miniatures, and all things involving gaming and general geekery--not to mention the occasional witty non-gaming observations--whilst escaping from the humdrum existence of his routine Terran existence.

Hail and Well Met, fellow traveler! May my Stronghold provide a place for enlightenment and amusement, and somewhere to keep your dice dry. Enter and rest awhile.

22 August 2011

A DM is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful.... Oh, wait....

In my pre-work scanning of the gaming blogosphere this a.m. I came across an interesting concept from Stuart, the mind behind the Strange Magic blog.

GM Merit Badges.

That got me to thinking: "What kind of a DM am I?"

Then I got to thinking: "Where can we have these made/sold for real-life use?"

Then I got to thinking: "Real-life DM Badges...is that really too nerdy of an idea to work?"

Anyway, here's my electronic DMing Bandolier:

Here's what they mean and a bit of exposition on my personal style (as I see it).

Story: I want my games to tell a story. There MUST be a story, even if the players never get the full background or details of the entire story, a story must be there. Without a story, I get bored. Maybe that's the frustrated writer inside me, but I must have a story.

Exploration & Mystery: While there is combat, I like to explore new places, or forgotten places. I want my players guessing and looking for clues. Heck, I like having them look over their shoulders. I even like them searching EVERY door for traps.

Player vs. Player:I have no problem with player vs. player combat, so long as it is integral to the story. If a rogue wants to knife another player's character in the back, there should be a reason (see Story, supra). Wanton inter-party violence and mayhem is to be discouraged.

Mirror: I will mirror back player ideas that I think are interesting and make them a part of the game. Heck, it's the players' game; my role is, largely, the Director. If a player comes up with crunch or fluff that adds to the experience and does not distractfrom the game, I'm more than willing to grab it and incorporate it.

Map: While I use pre-made maps and pre-scripted content in my games, I'm not locked into said maps and content. I will make whatever changes and additions necessary to add to my enjoyment and my players' enjoyment.

In Charge: I am the DM. Period. Rule Zero applies in my games. However, if I make a glaring or game-effecting mistake, I am willing to make atonements to my players in whatever way seems equitable (short of ret-conning, however).

Improvisation: While I may use pre-made maps and pre-generated content, there is still a lot of "winging it" that takes place. I know the rules, but may forget intracacies. If I do, there's no looking it up at the table. I go with whatever sounds reasonable and live with the consequences. When something sounds good, I add it into my script at the table.

Dice: Sometimes I roll in the open, sometimes behind the screen. In either case, the dice are the dice. When they speak, I listen. When I roll the dice, I am consulting the universe at large; as such, I better darn well be willing to listen to the Universe's answer, right? Besides, there's nothing better when that d20 totters around and every players' eye is on that roll.... And the mass groans when it comes up "20" and the paladin has been evaporated in a burst of Dragonfire.

Drama: My NPCs are not all named "Bob." Again, as with the story, I want interesting NPCs--I don't weep when the players wipe them out, although I do regret the chance to talk in a funny voice, and a bit of me regrets not being able to share a tidbit of important information with the bloodthirsty players. I try to weave a web into my story and draw the players in. I want their characters making choices beyond "sword, hammer, or bow?" When a character dies, I want the other characters to feel it.

Death: As I just said, when a character dies, I want the other characters to feel it. Characters WILL die in my game when it's necessary. I've killed off expert players' characters and I've killed off my 8-year-old's character. Death Happens. There is no "She does not get eaten by the sharks at this time," to quote William Goldman. Also in his words, "This isn't 'Curious George Uses the Potty.'" A character's life isn't fair. Period. I killed off a player's brand-spanking-new uber-thief when he ran around a corner headlong into a bodak. He said, I quote, "I look at the creature's face to identify it." Bang. Dead elf.

Run: Based on the philosophy immediately above (i.e., Death, my characters had better be able to discern when discretion (or cowardice) is the better part of valor. If a bunch of first-level magic-users turn the corner and see an adult black dragon, they should realize that one magic missile spell apiece is not going to be sufficient and, unless they want to spend the next hour rolling up "Bob's brother," they'd better turn tail and head for the exits.

Stuart is still working on these badges, so there may be updates coming your way. Until then, there's my general gaming style in merit badge form.

Be prepared.

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