posted Wednesday, July 8th 2009 by
Dungeon Mastering Advice
On Thursday, Brandan posted five ways to make your DM’s life easier. As a Dungeon Master, however, it’s incumbent upon you to repay your players’ efforts. Here are two guidelines for all Dungeon Masters.
Golden Rule 1: The game must be fun.
The Dungeon Master must ensure that the players enjoy the game. They must not become bored or unhappy.
Your role as Dungeon Master is to keep your players entertained. All else is secondary: rules, plot, and even game balance are only tools toward that goal. Throw any of these under the train if you think it’ll provide a better game experience.
Don’t be afraid to examine your dungeon mastering style for faults. For example, in my last session we took a full hour to get to the adventure proper, because as DM I wanted to avoid sacrificing the planned story to hurry things along. Although the story kept going, it meant that the players were bored for an hour.
Golden Rule 2: The DM is always right.
The Dungeon Master is the authority on the game. If the rules disagree, they are wrong.
Yax at Dungeon Mastering calls this his Golden Rule. As DM, you have authority to change, counter or ignore a rule to favour the game. The game rules are your tool and not the other way around. It’s also called “Rule 0″: a hypothetical rule pencilled in on the inside cover of the DM’s rulebook.
Here’s the catch: You need to know the rules first, so that you’ll know how to break them. Moreover, the DM’s only right because he’s responsible for the game. In other words, the first rule overrides the second. If your game is poorly received, you’re probably doing something wrong.
Feel free to drop a comment: What other “golden rules” of dungeon mastering are missing from this list?