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7 Habits of a Successful Dungeon Master

posted Saturday, June 28th 2008 by Jonathan Drain
Dungeon Mastering Advice

I was reading up on being an entrepreneur when I discovered an article with surprising relevance to Dungeons & Dragons. The entrepreneurial quality check by the UK government lists seven qualities of successful business owners, which I quickly noticed also apply to successful Dungeon Masters. Coincidence?

I’ll go through the list and you can tell me if you agree.

#1: Self-confidence. As a DM, you must be confident in your ability to run an entertaining game session. Don’t expect your players to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself.

#2: Self-determination. Always remember that the quality of the game is your responsibility. If your players’ interest is waning, you might not be doing enough to keep the game moving.

#3: Being a self-starter. The DM leads the game. It’s up to you to kick-start the campaign and keep things going – don’t expect your players to carry the game for you. You’re Dungeon Master, not Dungeon Assistant.

#4: Judgement. You might be the head honcho, but it’s equally important that you take in feedback from players. A good DM can sort through player input and decide whether or not it’s beneficial to the game.

#5: Commitment. It’s a game, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take your role as Dungeon Master seriously. Dungeon Masters spend on average four to five times as much money on the hobby as players, whether that’s buying adventure modules, miniatures or campaign setting material. Be prepared to invest more time and money than you would as a player.

#6: Perseverance. Taking a group of player characters from level 1 to 20 and beyond is a time-honoured D&D tradition, and it’s certainly an achievement. When you start an extended campaign, be prepared to stick with it.

#7: Initiative. The Dungeon Master can’t be passive: he has to take the reins. That’s not to say you need to railroad your players in a fixed direction, but unless you take initiative there’s a good chance your players will wander aimlessly and get bored. You’re the Dungeon Master – take charge!

Weekend Link Round-Up

posted Sunday, June 22nd 2008 by Jonathan Drain
Links and ResourcesNews, Reviews & Culture

In D&D this week:

Has Open Gaming Been a Sucess?, by Mike Mearls
One of the developers of D&D 4th edition comments on whether or not the OGL was a succeess. Mearls also talks this week about MMO’s effect on RPG sales and becoming a Wall Stret Journal bestselling author.

Killjoy Cooking With the Dungeons & Dragons Crowd, by Lore Sjöberg
Wired spoofs D&D with the question: What geeks talked about cookbooks the way they talk about RPG books?

Skill Challenges, by Keith Baker
The creator of Eberron discusses 4E’s skill challenges and ways to improve them. He also discusses the skills system in 4E, Races in 4E Eberron and Lycanthropes and the Purge.

4E and New Players, by Chris Pramas (publisher Green Ronin)
Pramas gives his views on fourth edition as a way of introducing new players.

Chatty’s Review: The 4e Dungeon Master’s Guide, by Chatty DM
A fellow D&D blogger gives his review on the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Also from Chatty DM is a list of online 4e tools.

4E’s SRD is Out: We Still Have To Buy the Books

posted Friday, June 20th 2008 by Jonathan Drain
Fourth EditionNews, Reviews & Culture

After months of waiting, D&D 4th edition’s Game System License and System Reference Document are out. But what does this mean for us?

For Publishers
The GSL gives all publishers a royalty-free license to print material compatible with D&D Fourth Edition, despite previous concerns that Wizards would charge as much as $5,000 for the privilege. Releases can begin in October 2008.

However, there are concerns. If you release a 4E version of a 3E product or product line, the license requires you to cease publication of the 3E product line. You can continue to sell remaining print stock, but must cease PDF sales. Wizards reserves the right to judge whether your new product is in an existing product line, which can include “similar title” and “similar content”.

There are also other restrictions. You can’t reprint game rules, such as monster statblocks or feat descriptions. You can’t refer to a page number, only to an individual book. However, you can create your own monsters from scratch or print modified statblocks, such as a templated or enhanced kobold.

For Players
While 3E’s System Reference Document let players get away without owning the core rulebooks, this won’t be possible in D&D4. The 4E SRDs are now only a list of what content is available under license. The official D&D Compendium will allow players to look up rules content online, but this will incur a monthly fee.

For Bloggers
You can’t use the GSL for a website or software product. However, Wizards of the Coast has traditionally been lenient when it comes to “fan websites”. There’s also “fair use”, but that’s a more complex legal issue than most people think. It seems that they’re working on an official fan-website policy, which we should see fairly soon.

Other Reactions to the GSL

Weave Summons Gauntlet (Relic)

posted Thursday, June 19th 2008 by Jonathan Drain
Game MaterialMagic Items & GearThird EditionWondrous Items

This magic item originally appeared 17 Relics by The Le Press. A relic is a powerful magic item which once formed part of the body or belongings of some great figure. See Seventeen Relics for special rules on relics.

This unusual glove is woven together from the fur of a yeth hound, the quills of a howler, the hair of an angel, quartz from an elder earth elemental, the silk of a fiendish spider, the feathers of a celestial raven and the hide of an ethereal marauder. The Weave Summons Gauntlet was all that remained of Neko-Ali the Summoner when she was disintegrated in a mage-duel.

The wearer of the glove can metaphysically grasp the spirit of an extraplanar creature, reducing the casting time of any summon monster or summon nature’s ally spell to a standard action. Furthermore, when bargaining with a called creature such as in a planar binding or planar ally, the wearer’s control over all extraplanar creatures grants him a +2 morale bonus on the Charisma and Diplomacy checks.

Moderate conjuration; CL 13th; Price 29,000gp

Fourth Edition: Reviewed

posted Sunday, June 15th 2008 by Jonathan Drain
News, Reviews & CultureNone of the Above

Player\'s Handbook: Fourth Edition

It’s here! Fourth edition has finally arrived, and after years of speculation we finally get to see what all the fuss is about. Is it the holy grail of Dungeons & Dragons, or is it a scam by Hasbro to sell us more books? Read on to find out.

Continue reading this article »

Taren’s Boots (Relic)

posted Thursday, June 12th 2008 by Jonathan Drain
Game MaterialMagic Items & GearThird EditionWondrous Items

This magic item originally appeared 17 Relics by The Le Press. A relic is a powerful magic item which once formed part of the body or belongings of some great figure. See Seventeen Relics for special rules on relics.

Taren’s Boots
“Taren the Never-Dyingâ€?, a human adventurer, earned his nickname by managing to die no less than seven times during his adventuring career. When he eventually decided that life was too dangerous and that eternity in Valhalla was much preferable, his comrades were baffled to cast true resurrection only to retrieve nothing but his empty boots. The next man who stepped into Taren’s boots suddenly found himself skilled in the only thing Taren did well – fleeing!

Whoever wears Taren’s Boots finds that his footwear extends his stride as if he is in a hurry to get out of danger, increasing his base speed by 20ft. However, if the wearer knowingly attempts to move into a creature’s threatened area, the boots take huff and lose all power in the next round. The original owner of the boots met death so often that it’s said that Death himself feels nostalgia at seeing them, so they grant the wearer a +5 resistance bonus to saves versus death effects. Taren’s Boots are also nicknamed Coward’s Boots.

Faint transmutation; CL 5th; Price 24,000gp; Weight 1 lb.

Sharkeye’s Stove (Relic)

posted Thursday, June 5th 2008 by Jonathan Drain
Game MaterialMagic Items & GearThird EditionWondrous Items

This magic item originally appeared 17 Relics by The Le Press. A relic is a powerful magic item which once formed part of the body or belongings of some great figure. See Seventeen Relics for special rules on relics.

Legend has it that a rich sea pirate by the name of Sharkeye gave up the seaman’s life to settle down and marry a woman he met on shore. When a particularly clumsy and dimwitted servant had burned his breakfast for the third time that month, he became enraged, ordering the man to sit upon the stove until he had gained some sense.

Amazingly, the man discovered himself feeling altogether cleverer and more eloquent through some unexplained magic of the stove. When word of this magic stove got out, the servant secretly auctioned off the stove at a high price. Unfortunately, he failed to realize the item’s only flaw, and found himself losing his intellect and charm the very next day.

Sharkeye’s Stove amazingly enlightens all who sit upon it, providing a permanent +2 inherent bonus to both Intelligence and Charisma when it is sat on for at least 10 minutes. However, if someone else later sits upon the Stove, the previous person immediately loses these benefits.

Strong evocation; CL 17th; Price 110,000gp; Weight 5 lb.

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