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 Post subject: First Time Judging in 20 years...
PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 5:44 pm 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:59 am
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Location: Oologah, OK
With the end of the summer semester approaching, I have managed to get a few people together that are interested in DCC RPG and have a game scheduled about 2 weeks from now. I am planning on using THE PORTAL UNDER THE STAIRS adventure from the book. I have only got to play about 6 times since returning to the rpg scene in 2000 so this will be my first experience Judging in 20 years! I'm pretty excited to have a group forming but I need to know:

Are there any common mistakes that the rest of you have made that I can avoid?

It may sound simple but I literally have not DM'ed ANY game at all in 20+ years and I just want to make sure that I don't jack it up. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: First Time Judging in 20 years...
PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:07 pm 
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Portal is pretty forgiving. If you have a lot of characters, you can skip initiative. I did and it didn't affect play much, just alternate PCs and monsters. You'll do fine, it's kinda like riding a bike. :-)

Stress the luck mechanic though. My players haven't used it at all. I think you kinda have to make use of it at level 0 to avoid a TPK.

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 Post subject: Re: First Time Judging in 20 years...
PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:18 pm 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:59 am
Posts: 49
Location: Oologah, OK
beermotor wrote:
Portal is pretty forgiving. If you have a lot of characters, you can skip initiative. I did and it didn't affect play much, just alternate PCs and monsters. You'll do fine, it's kinda like riding a bike. :-)

Stress the luck mechanic though. My players haven't used it at all. I think you kinda have to make use of it at level 0 to avoid a TPK.


Sounds good to me. Will do on the luck mechanic. Thanks for the reply!

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 Post subject: Re: First Time Judging in 20 years...
PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:29 am 
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I'd say "don't stress the small stuff."

Just because you think you saw a rule somewhere about something doesn't mean that you need to use it this time. You might tell the players that you think there's a rule, but just get them rolling dice and keep moving. You can look it up and discuss it in between sessions and fix it next time if you like.

I've seen too many games grind to a halt because of a slightly remembered rule. Back in our AD&D days I had a DM who was a stickler for rules and sometimes he recalled something in the rulebook ... or maybe an issue of Dragon ... or was it in a module somewhere? ... now where did that rule go? ... and we would pause for a half hour or more so that he could find it. Fortunately, my friend also had a pool table so we had something to do while he searched, but it really killed the mood.

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 Post subject: Re: First Time Judging in 20 years...
PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:56 pm 
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Steely-Eyed Heathen-Slayer
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Joined: Wed Jul 04, 2012 2:23 pm
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finarvyn wrote:
but it really killed the mood.


Tell me about it, I'd hate to have my pool game interrupted by some guy waving a rulebook.

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Brother Sufferus, level 4 cleric, STR 13 (+1) AGI 15 (+1) STA 11 PER 13 (+1) INT 10 LUCK 9, AC: 11 (13 if wounded, 15 if down to half hit points), Refl: +3 Fort: +2 Will: +3, chaotic, Robe of the Faith, Scourge of the Maimed One, Darts of Pain.


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 Post subject: Re: First Time Judging in 20 years...
PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:22 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2012 7:59 am
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finarvyn wrote:
I'd say "don't stress the small stuff."

Just because you think you saw a rule somewhere about something doesn't mean that you need to use it this time. You might tell the players that you think there's a rule, but just get them rolling dice and keep moving. You can look it up and discuss it in between sessions and fix it next time if you like.

I've seen too many games grind to a halt because of a slightly remembered rule. Back in our AD&D days I had a DM who was a stickler for rules and sometimes he recalled something in the rulebook ... or maybe an issue of Dragon ... or was it in a module somewhere? ... now where did that rule go? ... and we would pause for a half hour or more so that he could find it. Fortunately, my friend also had a pool table so we had something to do while he searched, but it really killed the mood.


+1 for this. The above is simple but invaluable advice which I have learnt from bitter experience in the past too.

My list of cliches I always try to adhere to in my games and can offer up is:

Encourage heroic plans and daring schemes
When all else fails, send in the ninjas/goblins/raiders/barbarians
Build a sense of mystery in the adventure.

And some I have cadged off Jeff's gameblog: http://jrients.blogspot.co.uk/2006/09/h ... ayers.html

Always Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing
Give the players what they want and make them fight for it.

And my favourite piece of advice which I always personally struggle with as a DM!:

Your NPCs suck and they are all going to die! :)


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 Post subject: Re: First Time Judging in 20 years...
PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 5:01 pm 
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Mighty-Thewed Reaver
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Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2011 9:20 am
Posts: 295
Location: United Kingdom
I am not the most experienced Dm but a few things I find help...

Using the character's names when possible. Not just the player's names or character types.

Look 'em in the eye from time to time. I think it helps make actions seem important.

If you have a rule or situation argument brewing maybe ask the players what they think is fair. Good players tend to go for the more interesting option rather than just the one that lets them win. Of course if you have bad players...

If you are running a module/published adventure don't be afraid to change things if they don't make sense or look fun or interesting. This comes with experience to a degree but players are capable of coming up with fantastic ideas from time to time...roll with it.

Do your very best not to get worked up or annoyed if the players are being difficult. Go make a drink, let things settle and let them beat something up for a while until they have stopped scowling. Don't make problems personal. Its important to be a judge not a hangman.

Don't be afraid to say "I don't know". I often make a ruling but say that I will check if the book has anything to say on the matter before the next game but for now lets just play on.

If you have time read any module a few times before you run it.

Just some of the things that go on around my table these days and we have been having great games since I started doing them. Pretty obvious stuff maybe but there you are :D

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Latest games: DCC RPG of course!
Quote I like: "I am on a computer therfore I am" (Alan Plater)


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 Post subject: Re: First Time Judging in 20 years...
PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 5:05 pm 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2012 7:47 pm
Posts: 28
Two things regarding DCC in particular, from judging for two groups I sent through zero level modules:

Don't let them forget luck! Oh wait that was already mentioned. Well yes, that.

Also, the somewhat "self defining" nature of the occupational skills seemed to flummox the players. I was afraid they'd be arguing for all kinds of extravagant scope to their occupations, but but as it turned out I had to prompt them to use them at all. Maybe these were two groups of shy and retiring people, I don't know. They had some of the more interesting professions at their disposal too, it wasn't all dungheavers and beggars.


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 Post subject: Re: First Time Judging in 20 years...
PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 4:02 am 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:59 am
Posts: 49
Location: Oologah, OK
finarvyn wrote:
I'd say "don't stress the small stuff."

Just because you think you saw a rule somewhere about something doesn't mean that you need to use it this time. You might tell the players that you think there's a rule, but just get them rolling dice and keep moving. You can look it up and discuss it in between sessions and fix it next time if you like.

I've seen too many games grind to a halt because of a slightly remembered rule. Back in our AD&D days I had a DM who was a stickler for rules and sometimes he recalled something in the rulebook ... or maybe an issue of Dragon ... or was it in a module somewhere? ... now where did that rule go? ... and we would pause for a half hour or more so that he could find it. Fortunately, my friend also had a pool table so we had something to do while he searched, but it really killed the mood.


I've been in one of these games. :cry: Nothing kills the mood worse than waiting on a rule reference the same way you wait on the pizza delivery man.

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Charlie
----------------------------------------------------
I (mainly) blog about role-playing topics at The Semi-Retired Gamer.

Reading: A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin.


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 Post subject: Re: First Time Judging in 20 years...
PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 4:04 am 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:59 am
Posts: 49
Location: Oologah, OK
Flexi wrote:
finarvyn wrote:
I'd say "don't stress the small stuff."

Just because you think you saw a rule somewhere about something doesn't mean that you need to use it this time. You might tell the players that you think there's a rule, but just get them rolling dice and keep moving. You can look it up and discuss it in between sessions and fix it next time if you like.

I've seen too many games grind to a halt because of a slightly remembered rule. Back in our AD&D days I had a DM who was a stickler for rules and sometimes he recalled something in the rulebook ... or maybe an issue of Dragon ... or was it in a module somewhere? ... now where did that rule go? ... and we would pause for a half hour or more so that he could find it. Fortunately, my friend also had a pool table so we had something to do while he searched, but it really killed the mood.


+1 for this. The above is simple but invaluable advice which I have learnt from bitter experience in the past too.

My list of cliches I always try to adhere to in my games and can offer up is:

Encourage heroic plans and daring schemes
When all else fails, send in the ninjas/goblins/raiders/barbarians
Build a sense of mystery in the adventure.

And some I have cadged off Jeff's gameblog: http://jrients.blogspot.co.uk/2006/09/h ... ayers.html

Always Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing
Give the players what they want and make them fight for it.

And my favourite piece of advice which I always personally struggle with as a DM!:

Your NPCs suck and they are all going to die! :)


Nice list and good advice!

_________________
Charlie
----------------------------------------------------
I (mainly) blog about role-playing topics at The Semi-Retired Gamer.

Reading: A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin.


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 Post subject: Re: First Time Judging in 20 years...
PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 4:05 am 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:59 am
Posts: 49
Location: Oologah, OK
RevTurkey wrote:
I am not the most experienced Dm but a few things I find help...

Using the character's names when possible. Not just the player's names or character types.

Look 'em in the eye from time to time. I think it helps make actions seem important.

If you have a rule or situation argument brewing maybe ask the players what they think is fair. Good players tend to go for the more interesting option rather than just the one that lets them win. Of course if you have bad players...

If you are running a module/published adventure don't be afraid to change things if they don't make sense or look fun or interesting. This comes with experience to a degree but players are capable of coming up with fantastic ideas from time to time...roll with it.

Do your very best not to get worked up or annoyed if the players are being difficult. Go make a drink, let things settle and let them beat something up for a while until they have stopped scowling. Don't make problems personal. Its important to be a judge not a hangman.

Don't be afraid to say "I don't know". I often make a ruling but say that I will check if the book has anything to say on the matter before the next game but for now lets just play on.

If you have time read any module a few times before you run it.

Just some of the things that go on around my table these days and we have been having great games since I started doing them. Pretty obvious stuff maybe but there you are :D


No worries. Good advice all around. It's starting to come back to me...

_________________
Charlie
----------------------------------------------------
I (mainly) blog about role-playing topics at The Semi-Retired Gamer.

Reading: A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin.


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 Post subject: Re: First Time Judging in 20 years...
PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 4:07 am 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:59 am
Posts: 49
Location: Oologah, OK
ScrivenerB wrote:
Two things regarding DCC in particular, from judging for two groups I sent through zero level modules:

Don't let them forget luck! Oh wait that was already mentioned. Well yes, that.

Also, the somewhat "self defining" nature of the occupational skills seemed to flummox the players. I was afraid they'd be arguing for all kinds of extravagant scope to their occupations, but but as it turned out I had to prompt them to use them at all. Maybe these were two groups of shy and retiring people, I don't know. They had some of the more interesting professions at their disposal too, it wasn't all dungheavers and beggars.


Interesting observation. I will keep it in mind.

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Charlie
----------------------------------------------------
I (mainly) blog about role-playing topics at The Semi-Retired Gamer.

Reading: A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin.


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 Post subject: Re: First Time Judging in 20 years...
PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 4:54 pm 
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Cold-Blooded Diabolist

Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2003 6:19 pm
Posts: 528
My biggest struggle of coming back to DM'ing AD&D, OD&D and DCC were thus:

- BE the DM. Rule quickly, as fairly as possible, and don't sweat what the rulebook says.
- Stop rolling. Let the players figure things out without dice rolls as much as possible. Let the characters use their "knowledge" without rolling unless it's absolutely necessary. A cleric should have a good idea of the major deities and some of the minor ones. A wizard should have some knowledge of how the multiverse works. A fighter can figure out an opponent's disposition, strengths and weaknesses, etc. Thieves know value and risk...etc.
- Stop rolling, corollary: If someone takes the time to examine something and there's a secret something to find...why roll for it? The old school mitigated time spent with the possibility of wandering monsters, torch burn times, and the like. Figure out what works for you, but don't cheapen every room by reducing it to a series of rolls. Actions should result in descriptions....not necessarily a dice roll.
- Describe everything from the perspective of the characters. Remember that the characters have poor lighting, caves are complex formations of rock that don't reveal everything at a glance, some of the characters may be injured, tired, ability damaged, etc... Dungeons (and adventuring) should not be an easy process. All their equipment is heavy (regardless of STR). Conditions are harsh, etc... Make them feel it.

Many here would say roll in the open...I prefer a middle way. Some rolls should be private, in my opinion.

My modus operandi has evolved over the years to match Savage Worlds: Keep it Fast. Keep it Fun. Keep it Savage.

:)

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 Post subject: Re: First Time Judging in 20 years...
PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 6:07 pm 
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Well said Ragboy. Stop all those rolls! I remember playing Rolemaster with a Dm obsessed with Perception checks. It drove us mad, just tell us what there is to see!

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 Post subject: Re: First Time Judging in 20 years...
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 10:21 pm 
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Ill-Fated Peasant

Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:47 am
Posts: 6
Remember to breath.

Its all about fun, so have fun first. Read the adventure and make notes to yourself, read what rules apply so your ready. have all of what you need at hand, pencils, dice even snacks. dony worry where every miniture is, just flow like reading a good story. I stand whan I gm, it gives me more energy, allows more body motion, lets me move a bout a bit. When talking to players look at them, if they whant to go all rules lord on you just ask them what the characters do, dont worry how to do it, when in doubt let them roll a d20, makes them feel better. Never use the dice when common sense applies, let them find secret doors, not just toss dice, make them act, and quickly.

Over time you will create your own style, then you should give us some of that wisdom back.

My 2C

Ken


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 Post subject: Re: First Time Judging in 20 years...
PostPosted: Sat Aug 11, 2012 2:09 pm 
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Far-Sighted Wanderer

Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2012 7:50 pm
Posts: 18
The biggest thing I have had to work at is finding a way to involve the characters in the story. I stole this from another rpg system but I always have my players write down 3 short term goals and 1 long term goal for their characters(those who survive the funnel anyways!). This gives you some easy hooks to get players into the story.


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