Game Masters


Maybe I'm deranged, but I actually like disinterested players. I like them because they are telling me I'm not doing my job as a GM. Of course there are times when players aren't paying attention no matter what and there will always be players that talk amongst themselves, lose interest and do something out of character, or worse of all stop playing out of boredom. The question is: what do you do about these types of players? Take away experience points or something equally evil? This article is going to give a few ways to deal with the unruly using less extreme methods.

Money is the motivation of most groups. The great mound of treasure inspires most players to heroically stride into a camp of bugbears and slay them by the scores. In fact, very few adventures have ever been played without some sort of payoff. Even when the world is at stake, most players anxiously wring their hands and wonder what the 'end treasure' could possible be.

Regardless of how original a campaign idea you think you might have, chances are that someone else has already done it, and probably even wrote a book on it. Even worse, finding an original setting can be just as difficult. So what options is a GM left with? The easiest thing to do is to just "borrow" an idea and put a little spin on it. In the end you have your setting, your campaign, the players think you are a genius and your dirty little secret can be kept hidden from unknowing eyes.

This week will require a little homework on your part. Steal some money from whomever you steal money from in your life (boss, significant other, parents) and get yourself three things: masking tape, a stepladder and a measuring device. A yardstick works if you live in a land with yards, and this will be geared towards the non-metric for reasons to soon become obvious.

Being a GM is often a thankless task, and yet many of us still work tirelessly every week to thrill our players with another amazing session. We battle people's schedules, player apathy, and many other things to keep our campaigns going. Most of us do it blindly, but gradually learn from our mistakes over the years. In my own early days sitting behind the screen I wished fervently for any sort of guidance. I knew the players were out to get me, and fought constantly to stay one step ahead of them.

"A plan never survives contact with the enemy," bemoans a military maxim. Modified for gaming, the proverb becomes "the DM's plot never survives contact with the players." The image of DM-as-frustrated-novelist is well known, and even parodied by the haltingly-read descriptions and purple-prose boxed text in a popular Net mp3 (". . .the smell of mildew emanates from the wet dungeon walls. . ."). This novelist tendency is understandable: isn't the point of roleplaying to tell the story of the heroes' careers? Most players in my experience maintain it is, but when they feel a DM trying to puppeteer their characters into a pre-ordained plotline, they often rebel.

The bandits are dead, the necromancer defeated, and even the dragon hatchling has seen its last sunrise. The player characters have to buy a castle just to store their treasure and their skills are beyond human imagination. To meet the challenges of such a mighty group, the Gamemaster pulls out his secret weapon: The Villager.

Opening Aside: Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil is a title that makes me laugh endlessly. The image in my mind? A group of adventurers walking in, looking around, saying "yep, still evil" and leaving.


So you used to play D&D ALL the time - and now you play card games (mostly CCG's). You do this partly because it was something new, partly because it's fun and partly because it takes SO much less time - and, at least in part, because that's what all of your friends are now playing, what with families and jobs and all that other 'real life' stuff getting in the way, they don't have the time either.

A "standard" adventuring party spends much of its time in remote, hostile areas: ruined castles, trackless forests, dungeons deep underground, and similar isolated places. When they encounter pockets of civilization on these missions, the settlements are often no bigger than a small village. True city adventures are rare, and urban areas tend to be relegated to supply depots and places to rest between adventures. This article provides a few tips on running city adventures that are compelling, exciting, and mysterious--but still manageable for the DM.

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