Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Me? DM? Surely you Jest!

Planning and running a Dungeons and Dragons game is hard. We all know that. We scour the interwebs for ideas on how to make it an easier process. We look at the wizards site, friendly gaming blogs, and even mass RSS feeds. There is a simpler solution, though. Simpler than any of the above options: You pawn it off on someone else. That’s right; today I’m going to talk about ways you can convince another person to run a game. That way, when the stress of the world hits you, you can just tell someone else to run the game this week.

1. Plant the Seed

The first thing you have to do is find a sorry sap to put the yoke of DMing on. Discussing game building with your party off-handedly at the end of a session lets you thin the herd. If they seem interested in what you were doing with the session, they probably have a desire to run a game. Keep this idea in the back of your mind when you start a session or are planning a session and you have only a couple of players. This is a great time to throw out, “hey, why don’t we switch hats today, John, do you want to take a shot at running an adventure tonight?”

2. Stoke the Fire

It takes a leap of faith to run an adventure in front of your friends. There is a lot of pressure when you are showing your creative powers, and you really want everyone to have a fun time. Add on the fact that the main DM is playing, too, and there is an incredible amount stress on this new player. It is your job as a seasoned DM to give guidance (not rules-lawyering) and to give lots of praise and encouragement. The goal is to give them enough confidence to run another game later, giving you the chance to take a breather.

3. Pull the Bandage

It’s difficult to do, but if you really want your future DM to want to continue DMing, you’re going to have to force the issue. You can do this one of two ways: skip and have another player convince the prospective DM to run a game, or set up a splinter game and have the new DM run it. You have to move them into a position where the pressure to DM is there and a true test of whether or not they want to do this long-term. If they make it through this step they’re ready for anything.

There it is, the three-step process to pinning some other poor sap with the horrible burden of being a Dungeon Master. Soon enough, your victim will be talking about the use of fantastic terrain, the advantages and disadvantages of lowering HP and increasing damage, and whether to railroad or sandbox. And we, the happy few who do the same, will never be more proud. Feel free to leave me a note in the comments, and stay tuned for some more changes.

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