View Full Version : Dungeon Mastering

obi-wan shinobi
04-05-2010, 03:34 PM
I am currently DMing a D&D 3.5 game. ive been playing for about 5 years or so and have done short stints at DM but this is my first full fledged campaign. ive read online different tips but am unsuccessfully looking for a forum that is dedicated to the art of DMing. anyone know of one or something similar?

Steel General
04-05-2010, 04:08 PM
Have you tried EN-World???

04-05-2010, 04:36 PM
As SG mentioned, ENworld is probably the largest online community, but there are many...


The latter two are specifically GM's Tips, but not necessarily just 3.5, rather many or any RPG.

You have to remember that most of these sites cater to 4.0 as much as 3e or earlier systems, as well as other systems like White Wolf, CoC and many others. Look at each site's archives as well, as 3.5 is now an older or "legacy" system.

I play Paizo Pathfinder RPG, which has been called 3.75, as they changed the mechanics of skills, grappling/combat maneuvers, altered feats and spells to get them more balanced. I think its worth a look, as Pathfinder is considered backwards compatible to 3.5 - where as 4.0 is completely different game. While some third party publishers still create new publications for the OGL system (3e), their numbers are decreasing. Pathfinder is current and growing, so I'd say its really worth a look - also the PRD (Pathfinder Resource Document) much like the SRD is available online for free access, so you don't have to buy the Pathfinder books to play, all the rules and the Bestiary are available online.

And if you do check Pathfinder, then the sites to look at are:


I'm sure there's more, that's off the top of my head - good luck in your endeavors!


Aval Penworth
04-05-2010, 07:17 PM
Do go to the aforementioned sites, but Iron Crown Enterprises's "Gamemaster Law" is a great resource too. Ive been a game master since 1981 and I refer to it all the time. You can probably download the PDF from the ICE website. It covers many areas of DMing from world and story building to handling toublesome players. It is a Rolmemaster resource but ICE make sure that their stuff is readily applicable/ transferable to other systems. When it comes to advising DM's on how to run a campaign WotC have really lost their way, compared to ICE.

Greason Wolfe
04-05-2010, 11:39 PM
And, of course, there's that old 2nd Edition supplemental handbook, "Creative Campaigning." It might be hard to find these days, but it was a fairly good resource as well, particularly for GMs, very much like what Aval is describing in regards to ICE's Gamemaster Law.


04-07-2010, 04:25 AM
agree with the above - been a long time since I've played rolemaster, but Gamemaster Law would be worth checking out. And for a fun entry into gamemastering (and gaming) check out the videos on Wizards homepage where the guys behind Robot Chicken play D&D at wizards - perhaps you can pick up some tricks... and laughs :)

obi-wan shinobi
04-07-2010, 02:33 PM
Thanks for the replys, I will look into all of the above. checked out the pathfinder srd a little already kind of like some of the things they have done and am incorperating them in as house rules.

04-07-2010, 03:49 PM
Look at the classes too, Pathfinder really beefed up all the basic classes. Everyone gets feats every odd level, but fighters get feats every level. Sorcerers get bloodline powers which grants 8 bonus feats, plus bloodline specific (Su) powers. Rangers get their favored enemy, but each time you get access to a new favored enemy, your previous chosen favored enemy gets an additional +1, that keeps going up with each new FE selection. Rogues get to Sneak Attack undead and constructs now, where in 3e those monsters were immune, plus Sneak attack keeps going up. All the classes get great capstone powers at 20th level.

While its still very much like 3e, Pathfinder is more balanced and gives lower level characters a better survival rate than standard 3.5 characters. Lots of Save or Die spells have been altered to Save or take mucho damage, instead of Death. So there are many changes throughout, all built to make a better game. And Paizo the publishers have always made great adventure modules and campaigns (they call them Adventure Paths).

I myself have already published the first of a 3 part mini-campaign for a feudal Japan-like/Asian Horror setting called Kaidan: a Japanese Ghost Story setting - and its officially a Pathfinder RPG compatible product! I really love their system. I'm glad you're giving it a chance.

Good gaming!


04-08-2010, 01:03 AM
Depending on how much you homebrew you might want to check out: Campaign Builders Guild (http://www.thecbg.org/news.php)

I pretty much tweak whatever I want to in order to make the game more enjoyable and have not really spent much time on this website but it seems like it might have some helpful folks as well.

04-08-2010, 01:42 AM
and some day - when you have the time ... take a look at 4th edition, in my opinion its much better than 3rd, well balanced and easy to play. But start by downloading the free kit from wizards homepage, then you don't have to pay until you've read :)

04-08-2010, 02:06 AM
I definitely agree with Gameprinter regarding Pathfinder; in one of my current campaigns we just made the switch from 3.5e to "3.75e" and haven't looked back since! Also, I don't know if you are aware of the Obsidian Portal (http://www.obsidianportal.com/) yet or not, but it's an incredible useful tool for DM's. Basically it's a site that allows you to use a wiki based system to organize all of your campaign related information. There are both free, and paid accounts. If you want to get a feel for what you can do with a free account, I'd invite you to take a look at my Tales of Darkmoon Vale (http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/tales-of-darkmoon-vale) campaign site. Also, while I have not found the Obsidian Portal community overall to be as actively involved in their forums as the Cartographers Guild is, there are some regular contributors and there are some great topics on game mastery worth checking out.


obi-wan shinobi
04-08-2010, 11:09 PM
I dont have much time during the weeks so I have not read much into pathfinder it seems interesting but from what i read on classes they seem a little overpowered, take the sorcerer, in 3.5 if i gave a sorcerer a bloodline without making her envest levels into it, it would raise her CR without actually raising her level. how does it justify say a level 10 sorc that really plays like a 12. and i really dont like the unlimited cantrips thing i would have to do away with that for sure. it can be abused way to easy. now understand my opinions are based on when i roll a PC for myself in a game i spend hours and i chose all my feats and skills wisely and my PCs play quite strong. I have not read into any other classes yet like I said not much time during the weeks, Tho I will certainly read into it more when time allows.

on a side note I personally have not read any of 4.0 tho some aspects of 3.5 were fixed i have heard far too many negative reviews, not to mention I have spent the last 5 years learning this system and am now finally very comfortable with it and the flaws i find with it i fix with house rules.

04-09-2010, 01:14 AM
Give it a shot before you judge it too harshly. We've been playing for a while now and have not found, for instance, cantrips/orisons to be overpowering at all. Note that the creatures in the Bestiary have been upgraded as well. Many things, like the CMB/CMD mechanic are a pure joy to work with.

04-09-2010, 01:46 AM
Its all up to personal taste, not trying to twist your arm at all. For me, 3.5 is nolonger available on bookshelves, you can find stuff on EBay, but nothing consistent. If you have all the 3.5 books you have no problem and if you're homebrewing you don't need to buy adventures. Consider Pathfinder like the PH2 is to 3.5, a book of house rules and options. Pathfinder is the closest thing to a currently published product that is close to the 3.5 and backwards compatible with 3.5 rules.

Is it a power-up, sure, but has Mearinn69 says, so are the monsters, so the game is balanced to itself. And there are free conversion rules that help you upgrade existing classes to Pathfinder versions, the same goes for monsters. Its easier to prep a game for PF, than it is for 3.5 and less time-consuming for DMs - certainly great for the DM in making exciting and balanced play for your PCs. The powerup is measured and makes sense.

Towards the end of 3.5, it was like publishing teams making new splats weren't talking to other teams, so rules between books didn't make sense. Pathfinder developers goals are balance for everything and look to the core, when creating new rules, always.

Looking at the skills for instance, while classes have favored skills, that only means you get 3 free skill points for each of your favored skills, but you are not restricted or have to pay double cost for skills outside your favored list. You can take any skill you want. That way my Paladin can take acrobatics or stealth, and not exclude those to non-monks and non-rogues only for example. Some skills have been eliminated and many have been put together as a single skill, like Perception, which is both Listen and Spot, or Stealth, which is both Move Silent and Hide in Shadows - this way your limited pool of skill points can buy more variety of skills to give you more options for each character.

Rangers sucked in 3.5, now they're enjoyable and desireable, bards are more usable, rogues get rogue talents that give some awesome flavor and tactics for rogues, paladins can do some healing and channel energy (the replacement for turning undead) - all the skills have more options. And getting more feats means you don't have to class dip, or go for super high levels just to get the feats you want, or limit your choices.

Our group has house-ruled some of 3.5 back into Pathfinder, as we're comfortable using some of the old rules.

After your current campaign it might be worth a couple weekends of play to experiment - I think you'd be surprised at how balanced, and "not really powered up in a more balanced game" that Pathfinder really is. Except for those few 3.5 rules we have adapted back, I won't go back to 3.5 myself.

The powerup to base classes is countered by the weakening of PrC, which lessens all the min/maxing and class dipping, being single class is almost preferrable now. And still feels very much like 3.5 only better - YMMV.


PS: nothing against those who like 4e, but its a completely different game, one of our players has some of the 4e books - we've looked at them thoroughly. If you're new to RPGs its fine, but if you have years of 3.5 under your belt like me, 4e is "yech".

PPS: all the various arguments how 4e is like an MMO or WOW, I have no idea about I only play tabletop games, I never play console games or online games - so I have no opinion there.

04-09-2010, 03:23 AM
Personally I love playing 4e, and I have 30 years of playing behind me incl. playing 3.5 since it came out - I find 4e much more interesting. Yes, the system has been simplyfied on some things, but the flow of the game is faster and all characters are well balanced - and even a level 1 wizard is cool to play. The Cleric don't spend all his time healing anymore, he can do that as a minor action and all characters can heal a little themselves when in dire need (once per encounter). BUT, please note GP that I do respect that you don't like it - at least you've taken your time to read it first - a lot of the people ranting about how bad 4e is never even read it.

I think the arguments about it being more like WOW now is due to two things - a lot of the powers that the characters get sound like powers from those kind of games (or even old diablo) and the short span between levels (about 10-15 encounters) can make character focus more on what they're getting next instead of playing in the now. But I'll say that experienced players make their own game anyway, I've thought about doubling the XP for each level requirement, but since we don't play as much as we used to (when we were young) I dedided its ok where it is. We've been playing since it came out (2 years) and are almost level 10 ;) ... so 20 more to go :)
If any of you were here in Denmark/Sweden - I'd be glad to host a small game to show you how it plays - but I'm guessing that would be a bit difficult *lol*

enough ranting - just go play... what ever you like :)

Zar Peter
04-09-2010, 02:26 PM
Speaking of Dungeon Mastering: This site was very helpful for me: http://www.dungeonmastering.com/archives

obi-wan shinobi
04-09-2010, 03:24 PM
sorry if i came off as ranting or bashing the other systems, more just voicing my opinion of what i read at a first glance. i have to say some of the stuff i read in pathfinder such as the CBM system i like alot and am house ruling that in starting in tonights game. I will deffinitly give it a try when the time shows itself. I also want to try 4.0 as I dont know much about it so cant judge it. as for now im going to play 3.5 and house rule from there.

Btw this has gotten way off topic from where i originally was going with this post lol, mainly was looking for insight to help with descriptions and new ideas for adventures and all the whatnot which i plan on looking at it all the above sites. thanks to everyone who has helped and given all the information