hit counter code Playing Your DM
the World

Playing Your DM
Author: Keith Haney

The task of being a Dungeon Master (DM) is not unlike being a good sports referee and a novelist. Both professions require dedication. In the case of a referee, most do not aspire to this, as the referee is often looked upon as a villain by the fans and the players. For writers, cloistering oneself for months at a time to churn out poetry, fiction, or biography is not something many desire to do with their time either. So to it is with Dungeon Masters. In this regard it can be argued that some common character traits exist in Dungeon Masters who persist in creating adventures. Vanity, creativity, a desire to control, a need for acceptance, and a desire to continue to create -- to name a few.

When I create a story or adventure I often seek to fulfill several agendas. Knowing that players are looking for opportunities to use their skills and feats. I will generate encounters that allow them to deal with the terrain and afford some level of combat. Since I have put some energy into preparing this encounter I have a vested interest in using this encounter. Players acting contrary to my desire to use the encounter often meet with resistance either conscious or subconscious. Experienced players will take the time to read the direction the DM is nudging the party and prepare for the eventual encounter. This is not to say that the experienced player is capitulating to the will of the DM, but rather to say that the experienced player picks the battles important to his future. An experienced player places milestones in the DM’s arsenal of future encounters. Experienced players seem to always be prepared for an encounter because they have in some part created it. The way this works is to use in-game conversations from your character mixed with out-of-game discussions with the DM to further your own agenda.
DM’s like to know what their players think and will usually act on nuggets of information spilled by the players. DM’s too, tend to drop small hints in these out-of-game discussions that will benefit the player and the party by proxy.

Disenfranchised Parties
Some parties and players will seek to hold secret congress to plot against the DM to gain an advantage. The folly in this method is that it crates a communication barrier that limits the enjoyment of the party and the DM. A fantasy role-playing world operates on a consistent flow of knowledge between the players and the DM. The DM’s job is to depict all levels of interaction with fairness and separation. Details that one NPC knows are kept separate from those that another may know. If the players keep secrets for the DM it is a sign that there is no trust in the separation of knowledge in the DM’s control from how it affects the players, or a lack of ingenuity on the players part. In either it could lead to unfortunate consequences if it is not quelled. Players and DM’s alike share the responsibility to conduct an open session.

For most of us game night is an opportunity for friends to meet and share in an activity that forges tighter bonds. Relish in the opportunity and seek to impress your (Party) friends with your acting ability, problem solving talents, and team play.

In the final analysis a good role-playing session is a collaborative effort, blending the talents and actions of the players and the DM to create a common shared adventure.