Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tuesday Quick Tip - DM and Improv

If you want to become a true Master of Dungeons, you have to learn the true meaning of improv. This isn't something I see talked about very often, but D&D (or RPGs in general) is essentially a form of improvisation.

That means that becoming a better DM relies on mastering the most important rule of improv, Yes and. "Yes and" means trying to always move the story along by taking your co-improvisers suggestions, agreeing with them, and adding something. Obviously if your players try something impossible, or ridiculous, that doesn't mean you have to completely agree with it, but you can at least attempt to not give a hard no.

The best thing about Yes and is that it makes your players think that you're an amazing DM that thinks of everything, while in reality they are the ones who thought of it. Here is an example:

DM: You're trapped in a cell, there is a snoozing guard by the door.

Player: Is the window barred? Are there any secret tunnels or anything like that?

DM: (There hadn't been any tunnels in your notes) Yes, underneath the window there is a loose tile that turns out to be a tunnel.

Player: They may know the tunnel is there, it might be booby trapped. Are there any noticeable traps?

DM: Roll an investigation check... You find a small dart trap that looks like it would have been triggered by a floor tile. You can easily step around it.

Now you don't want to do this for every idea the players say. Sometimes there just isn't a secret passage, or a trap. Otherwise they'll realize that they can dictate the game by thinking of easy shortcuts. Its also important to keep the players surprised, don't simply add things to your world because they asked if they are there.

Your city probably has improv classes, it might be interesting to try one out. You'll have fun, and become an even better Master of Dungeons.