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Thread: First time D&D DM - few questions

  1. #11
      Iapetus is offline
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    http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Tools.aspx

    That's a link to Wizard's tools section of the site. There's a monster builder available to download free (it's a beta version), and I have it and it's really helpful to me as a new DM. Of course, this is for 4e, so if you're doing 2e I'm not sure how helpful it would be.

  2. #12
      tilt is offline
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    the monster builder is really cool and so is the character builder - but as Iapetus says for a 4e game ... but the good old monster manuals are great too Although you'll have some conversion to do if you have a 3e monster and a 2e players book ... I'd think about upgrading your game to 3.5e or Pathfinder (also 3.5 as far as I know) or 4e. Then again - when I started gamemastering I just made my own rules based on old wargames - that worked fine - its the setting/mood/etc that is the important part anyway
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  3. #13
      Xyll is offline
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    Well you can do one of many things you can use the books you have and make do or. http://www.knights-n-knaves.com/osric/ you could use this which is a revamped 1st edition, or you could use this http://www.d20srd.org/ which is 3.5 or you could use this http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/ which is pathfinder basic rules. or you could spend some money on the actual books but if you are just getting in to it and restarting then one of those options may be a good choice. I prefer having the books over digital copies but whatever works in a pinch. hope it helps.

  4. #14
    Guild Artisan Juggernaut1981's Avatar
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    Pathfinder is nicknamed D&D3.75... it's a rebuild of some features of D&D3.5.

    As far as prep goes, I kept everything on my laptop. I did have to run fairly linear, scripted and not too much free-roaming in sessions (mostly because of the convention-style of the meeting...)

    For more free-flowing games, with a lot of "free-scope" for the players I tend to prepare a number of 'random encounters' of various levels (e.g. Orc Raid, Kobold Trapper Ambushes, Attack by animals X, Y & Z). Preplaned Villages (random name generators are EXCELLENT. I'd suggest you use the DonJon Name Generator http://donjon.bin.sh/name/) you include a local bailiff/mayor, an innkeeper, general store owner, a few commoners, maybe a trapper/skinner or a lumberjack or a miner. Having four or five of them pre-generated AT ALL TIMES is step #1. Step #2 is to remember to give it a location when you "give it a location"... e.g. if the PCs drop into the village outside the Cave of Alexandre... you better remember that is where the village is.

    Extra stuff prepped is always your friend. If you want a more free-flowing mission, I'd suggest you should prepare a LOT of extra information (but you don't always use all of it). It changes how you plan missions, campaigns and the rest of it all. Basically you prepare clusters of useful information around a BBEG. Also, you still plan out the usual Tomb of DeadRichGuy and the Valley of AncientBattle and the Tower of the Wizard BigBoom....

    For example:
    Lord Killey (the BBEG) is the Lord of County BLAH. He owns Castle BLAH, has a personal armed guard of 10 Guards, 2 Sergeants and 1 Lieutenant. He has a spy network throughout the County of approximately 5 proper spies, 1 assassin and a large number of information sources from across society. His standing army consists of 30 swordsman, 30 archers, 10 cavalry, 1 engineer, and for every 5 common soldiers, there is a Sergeant, for every 10 soldiers there is 1 Lieutenant commanding 2 Sergeants each. There is a Captain of the Guard who oversees all soldiers except for Killey's personal guard. He also has a number of local criminals he bribes to undertake tasks for him, but also finds it reduces general crime.

    Then you have to identify what Lord Killey would use each of the various options at his disposal. It's a bit of extra setup but then you can completely wing-it from that point onwards.
    e.g. Players cause problems, get them arrested by the guard
    or have some of his "goons" mug the PCs
    or have them quietly killed in a tavern by the assassin....
    "Sacrificing minions... is there any problem it cannot solve?" - Order of the Stick


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  5. #15
      arsheesh is offline
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    Organizing Combat

    Hm, some really great ideas here! I think I'll join the fun. Regarding organization during combat encounters, I created my own "Battle Chart" in Word (though if you have access to Excel, even better). In this battle chart, I drew up tables for the party and all of the baddies that listed initiative order, and some quick info on the combat stats of the party and the monsters (see the attachment below). Whenever combat begins, I record the initiative order on the chart. Likewise, whenever HP are lost, or other combat modifiers are applied, these can quickly be recorded in the table. This has helped me immensely in speeding up combat.

    Organizing Your Campaign

    On another note, if your are not already familiar with the Obsidian Portal, you should do yourself a favor and check it out. Basically it's a web hosting site that allows you to create and maintain your own wiki based site. I can't tell you how helpful a resource this has been for me and my players. You can keep virtually all of your campaign and world info all in one centralized location that is accessible to all of your players. You can even create DM only pages, or append DM only sections to public pages for you to create your own notes. They also have a feature that allows you to upload your maps, though sadly, the resolution is quite limited. If you want to get a sense of what can be done with this site, I'd invite you to check out my Age of Legends campaign (it was last month's Featured Campaign of the month).

    Cheers,
    -Arsheesh
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails First time D&D DM - few questions-battle-chart.pdf  

  6. #16
      Wolf63 is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuse View Post
    What I'm interested in is organization. Say for instance.. encounters, treasure, and events. I was thinking of making notecards with encounters/groups written on them so that when an encounter happens I can pull from my pre-made list of critters instead of thumbing through the monster manual to find something.. or coming up with something on the fly.

    Does this sound like the way to go? I really want to be on top of things, because in many.. MANY games that I have played, there were long delays and pauses for the DM to 'figure things out'. If I get a new player interested.. I don't want them to fall asleep of boredom haha.

    So basically I was thinking of doing the same thing for treasures, and events too. Treasures aren't that big a deal.. I can come up with that easily on the fly. It'd be nice I suppose to have some pre-gen stuff though just to be prepared. Also traps - it would be nice to mark my map with a symbol to denote a trap and just be able to pull a trap card from my notecards instead of devising something on the spot.
    I've been playing RPGs since the mid 80s and been a GM since almost as long and my mantra has always been INDEX CARDS ARE YOUR FRIENDS. I hold them as a priority tool right below the game books and the character sheet.

    The NPC Cards.
    I glue or tape two or more index cards either back to back or accordian style. On one side, I write the NPC's name down and game stats. On the other card, I write the NPC's description in SSNPC format.

    1; Occupation and History
    2; Physical Description
    3; Distinguishing Features
    4; Attributes and Skills
    5; Values and Motives
    6, Interaction With Others
    7; Useful Knowledge

    I have literally thousands of these cards filled out, which I've been doing since the early 90s, for several different games

    PC Experience and Treasure Card
    I use a card for each PC and everytime experience is gained, I make a scratch mark which is worth 25 points. When a pc claims a magic item, DONT TELL HIM WHAT IT IS, write it down on the bottom of the card

    I also use cards for magic items, locations and encounters

  7. #17
      Wolf63 is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuse View Post
    Thanks for the suggestions guys. I do have another slight issue though.
    I am without a DM's guide or screen.. which isn't really that big a deal I suppose, but to make the game run smoother it would surely help.
    Haha, it's funny because the books I do have - don't match. I have a 3e monster manual and a 2e players handbook. Meh, go figure. I haven't played enough 3e to be comfortable enough to DM a 3e game.

    Long story short, along the way all the other books I acquired have been stolen or lost.

    Anyway, I'm not sure if it's an issue, but if someone knows of a place where I can get a printable DM screen for 2e that would be great. I don't even care if it's some home-brew thing. Otherwise it's time to hit up ebay for some books
    GM Screen
    I've made my own by grabbing 6 clip boards and assembling them with three of the clips face you, for your notes and charts, and three clips face the players for the player maps or pictures

    As for combining D&D 2nd and 3rd material, DON'T. In my opinion, running D&D 3rd is a lot easier then running 2nd and the rules are essentually free if you grab the SRD. And another bonus to D&D 3rd is that it uses the D20 core mechanics which is used for other franchises.

    For example, I'm running a Stargate X campaign which fuses Stargate, Babylon 5, Star Wars and Starship Troopers. I've been running this campaign for almost 6 years and it's still going strong.

    I also run a Mystic West campaign involving gunfighters, martial arts, and a heavy dose of magic

    Did I have to come up with any rules? No. They're all available as d20 rules, which is the same rules D&D 3rd uses. One ruleset, many games

  8. #18
    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
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    On the topic of GM's screens, I picked up a used restaurant menu holder a while back for that purpose. If you happen to know anyone who's a waiter or otherwise involved with a reasonably nice restaurant, you might ask if they can get you one.

    I haven't used mine in quite a while. Having the computer handy renders it unnecessary, particularly since I prefer to make my die rolls in the open.
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist
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  9. #19
    Guild Artisan Aval Penworth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Midgardsormr View Post
    particularly since I prefer to make my die rolls in the open.
    Whaaaaaat? Why would you do that? Experienced players can work out the opponents stats in a few rounds with open rolls.


    @wolf63 I think NPC cards/ sheets are very valuable. You need to have a lot of prepared NPCs. Excellent advice.

    Plus Juggers really knows what he is taliking about. Sage advice.
    Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work I go..

  10. #20
      mearrin69 is offline
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    I tried the NPC/enemy index card thing and found it cumbersome (and I don't like to write and don't want to try to set them up to print) BUT one thing I really like doing is putting items found (at least magical/unique ones) on small cards with a "serial number" and hand them out as appropriate. When the PCs identify the item they can take notes on it. It's an easy way for me to keep track of stuff and the players seem to like getting something to hold on to when they find something. Plus, if they lose the card they lose the item...so it's easier on me since I don't have to look back and try to figure what they got off of Drow #43. I just have to keep a list noting the stats of the item on card #x. Paizo's item cards are cool but I don't want to write on them so they're kind of limiting for me (and I don't want to buy 100 packs).

    I also make color NPC cards with non-metagame information on them so I can hand them out to players for reference.

    BTW, I make (most of) my rolls in the open too. Yeah, the players figure out enemy stats but, believe me, they'll do it anyway. I'm pretty strict on metagaming during interactions and such but I allow some during combat.
    M

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