@Kevvinn101THIS IS A AN AUTOMATIC CAPTION TEXT from YouTube, so it’s not “perfect”.
My advice is to use it just to help people like me that are not english speaking, to understand the Video/Podcast
MATT: Hello! My name is Matthew Mercer. I’m a
voice actor and the dungeon master for Critical
Role here at Geek & Sundry, and while we may have
touched on it in the past, today’s GMing Tips is
going more in depth about the idea of customizing
your creatures and characters for encounters.
Whether you’re running a party sized larger or
smaller than the system was actually balanced for,
or you want to create your own strange new beasts,
or have veteran players who have memorized the
entire Monster Manual and you still want to
surprise them, there’s a lot of good fun to be had in
occasionally customizing the creatures you use in
your campaign. I’ll be using mostly Dungeons and
Dragons examples here, especially Fifth Edition,
but the general ideas and functions work for
pretty much any gaming system out there.
So, for smaller party sizes of one to three
players, first off, consider the party makeup. Do
they have a decent healer? Do they have a lot of
damage-dealers without a lot of defensive
capabilities? You want to make sure you don’t
create encounters or customize creatures or put
creatures in that will wipe them out immediately
without some of those usual party dynamic
abilities. But you might want to consider
adjusting some creatures to have attacks that
inflict conditions over just direct damage.
Perhaps a smuggler throws sand as an attack that
blinds a player until they clear their eyes as an
action. You could add a trip attack to some
combatants that knocks a target prone. Maybe a
direwolf has a howl that can instill the
Frightened condition on a nearby target. These are
examples of attacks that heighten the sense of
danger without directly overwhelming a small party
And if you want to add a powerful enemy for story
flavor, but it could clean up against them? Scale
down a number of statistics to bring it a little
closer to the party level. Lowering HP by a
fraction could certainly help, but the general
defenses across the board can also take a little
hit, such as a reduction of saving throws, spell
DC, and armor class. Gauge which enemies at their
level seem to give them a tough fight, and adjust
your boss foe to be comparable, if a bit nastier.
Because nastier’s always fun.
Now, attacks that can affect and lock down the
entire smaller party can lead to an unfair TPK if
you aren’t careful. Consider adjusting some of
these abilities to affect a smaller line or cone
area, or perhaps reduce the Paralysis status it
inflicts to just Restrained, if most or all can be
hit at once. Just in case.
You can even instill a story reason for the
creature’s weakened state, leaving a fear of the
healthy version to eventually come. (evil cackle)
For larger party sizes of six, seven-plus players,
adding more hit points can help, but it isn’t
always the answer. Just adding more HP to a foe
only drags out a less-than-dynamic fight if you
don’t find other ways to make the battle more
interesting for the larger scope of combatants.
Here are a few ways that you can up the ante
without dragging out the battle too much longer
than it’s intended to be.
So for larger party sizes, that usually means
fewer rounds of combat, so make sure those rounds
hurt. Consider a small bump in damage to most
creatures. If it’s a solo or small number of
villains, perhaps customize existing attacks or
adding a new one that can affect multiple PCs. A
sweeping cleave that hits all creatures adjacent
to them, or a slamming tail attack that hits
everything in a 15-foot line. An arcane ability
that summons up crushing vines from the ground in
a 20-foot radius, grappling and damaging those
caught in it. Stuff like that.
This allows your overwhelmed monster to keep up
with the onslaught of many, many combatants around
them. And with that many PCs in the field,
mobility for creatures can also be difficult.
Consider abilities that can allow it to escape or more
quickly move about without a storm of attacks of
opportunity tearing its head off. Perhaps have an
attack ability that also pushes the target back
ten feet, now allowing them to move about safely.
Or a move ability that lets them teleport or leap
30 feet without fear of retaliation.
Here’s also some fun general tweaks you could
possibly add to it as well to liven up the combat.
You can implement damage milestones for the
creature, which means when a foe gets below a
certain threshold of damage, they gain new
abilities, or transform, like some crazy video
game boss fight. They begin to regenerate or grow
a new limb, allowing additional attacks, or they
enrage and deal even more damage per hit while the
combat drags out. Abilities that can add or change
the terrain of the battlefield are also a lot of
fun. A salamander who leaves an ever-burning trail
in their path when they walk, and anyone who
crosses that previously walked path now bursts
into flame and takes damage.
You can also implement minor lair actions for
non-solo encounters. These are all experimental
ideas and mistakes will be made and you’ll learn
from them to find the real balance for the game.
That’s part of the fun of running these larger or
smaller games. I would recommend erring on the
less and then scale higher as you progress. That
might help prevent an unintentional TPK on your
party when you were in the middle of just trying
to get them in the mood.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed and learned something
from the episode. You will see me on other
episodes of GM Tips here on GeekandSundry.com.
I’ll see you guys on the internet.
What to do if I’ve accidentally established foes far too powerful, told the party they’re too powerful, and they fight anyway Emphasize that some battles must be fled from. To stay may be to die.
— Matthew Mercer (@matthewmercer) November 10, 2016
for Critical Role here on Geek & Sundry,
and welcome to today’s episode of GM tips.
Today’s theme: getting your players
to engage in more roleplay.
Now, I want to preface this with the idea
that you cannot force your players to roleplay.
Some just may not be comfortable with it.
Some may not be into this game for heavy RP,
and instead want more of a Diablo-like
kill shit, take loot experience–
and that’s totally fine, it’s totally great–
a little worrying, but totally great!
However, you can certainly engage them
with some of the following tips,
and you may be surprised which elements
they pick up and end up liking.
My first recommendation is to talk to your group
in advance about wanting to
actually RP more in the campaign.
You don’t want them being caught off-guard
with an aggressive change in GMing style
that asks more of them.
It puts them in a weird, awkward place
where they feel like they have to
perform more for you. You want it to be
natural and fun, so listen to them.
Engage with their eagerness,
and adjust your expectations accordingly.
Next, if the group is on board,
have them develop some written background stories,
or history about their character,
or general personality traits if they haven’t already.
I mean, not everyone has to write a
multi-page backstory, you just have to
have a half-page or one-page history
that helps them become more invested
in their character, if anything.
It aids them in finding elements of
their history and informing them of their
own personality traits, impulses,
and general reactions to elements they
may encounter throughout the campaign.
It’s a useful tool for anyone involved.
You can even award bonus experience
or some other small reward if you feel inclined
if you need just a little push to finish it–
which you will, because we’re all
human beings who are busy… and lazy…
I’m very lazy.
Some systems, like fifth edition
Dungeons and Dragons have a whole section
of the source book on characters, personalities,
and backgrounds that can be a great guide
to fleshing out a character’s personality–
or just rolling for it if you just don’t give a [beep].
Get comfortable enough with your early NPCs
and their dialogue points to try and engage
players with a lot of eye contact and direct gestures.
Do not read the entire encounter off the page,
because they’ll disengage immediately and
not really be willing to meet you on a level
that you’re not willing to meet them.
When you begin your endgame foray into upping
the RP with your players, you really need
to speak to them as the NPCs in the same nature
that you wish them to RP in return.
Make direct eye-contact with whichever
party member or members who are
leading that encounter. Lean in and gesture,
or point them when asking a question
for their character! Let them know
that they are in the moment, and
this is their moment to seize!
When a player begins to describe
the gist of their response instead of in-character,
gently remind them to try and respond
in-character, like, “Great! How would Durmans
ask that question to me, the jailer?”
or “Sure! And as those angry thoughts fill her mind,
how would Leila express that verbally?”
Now, players, sometimes a different or
silly voice can help. Textures, speaking
in a lighter place in your palate, or something
that’s a little different than your normal speaking voice.
Fun voices and accents are by no means
necessary for the game, but they can help
you as well as your fellow players and GM
separate your in-character dialogue from
your own thoughts and comments in the game.
Physicality helps too! Think of how different
your character would hold themselves
compared to you. Would they sit up straight,
broaden their shoulders– or curl up and
act like a crazy person?
Maybe they give giant, bombastic gestures!
You may find yourself physically embodying
your character in RP moments more often once
you think on these little details.
For all you GMs, you need to be patient.
For some players, it’s a really big step
in letting go of their own insecurities and embracing
the play that makes these games so wonderful.
Don’t expect a huge, sudden change.
It may just take a while– sometimes
a very long while, if at all. Be supportive.
Compliment players after a session for good
roleplaying and don’t scold them for any
missed moments or opportunities during the session.
Players, also be supportive to your
other players and willing to elevate your
less comfortable players.
Let them have the spotlight.
Pay attention to them when they’re speaking,
and back up their statements with your own
in-character moments: “Indeed!” or
“Exactly, Leila!” if they make a good point in RP.
Most of all, have fun! Even just the slightest
shift in this direction can lead to some of
the most immersive RP experiences,
but you have to make sure that all these
experiences are still fun for everyone involved.
That’s the key to the game,
and that’s the key to making your
players want to engage more on a roleplaying level.
Anyway, I hope these tips have
been useful to you at all.
You can find more GM Tips here on geekandsundry.com.
I look forward to seeing you
somewhere on the Internet in the future.
[Geek & Sundry musical theme]
I am a voice actor and the Dungeon Master
for Critical Role here at Geek and Sundry,
and today’s episode is going to
go a little deeper in the idea that
running a game is about improv
and the unexpected.
Now, running any form of roleplaying game
puts you in a position where you become
the ringmaster of possibilities!
You prepared a solid central story,
a cast of characters, a handful
of possible challenges, and some
juicy rewards for your clever players.
It isn’t until you start that adventure that
you realize how much of that plan gets jumbled,
wind-tossed, and sculpted into something
crazier and often cooler than you initially expected.
The key to providing such atmosphere
is being open to let the players take hold
of their own agency and
guide the story themselves.
While it may seem kind of scary
to follow the unknown,
you can find a level of comfort in
allowing this to happen while figuring out
how to get back on track–
or just following where the rabbit hole goes!
After you’ve worked on and
knocked out your main story thread and throughline,
I would recommend taking a little time
to loosely develop some side plots that may
lead back to the main story, possibly.
Here’s an example: your main plot involves
being hired to investigate a local lodge
of strange activities, leading the party
to a shore-side wreck-site where
the lodge turns out to be
a cult plotting a dark ritual.
Now, to the side of the story, you could develop
a brief element of a drunken fisherman
who’s trying to prove he’s not crazy for
seeing weird things at night by the ocean!
Or you could beat out a plot regarding
a private collector who’s seeking obscure things
for his collection that
are actually for this same dark ritual (chuckles).
Maybe a dancer whose lover was recently
replaced with a doppelganger who
is currently working for that same cult.
Now, these are all threads you don’t need
to fully flesh out, and they may never even
come to fruition, but even just
having them at the ready will help you
tie them in should the party deviate
too far from the main story.
Any that happen to get unused thankfully
can always be altered or recycled for future sessions.
I would also recommend developing
a number of stand-alone NPCs that
you can just have at the ready.
While they may not be important to the story,
per se, it’s always helpful to have a cache
of colorful characters that you can
just pluck out of the aether.
Maybe keep some sheets or note cards
with basic NPC information on them like
their name, their race, their sex and occupation,
any special skills they may have,
their disposition to the world at large,
their personality traits, voice type, goals, fears–
even equipment if you wish.
No need to put all these on there,
but what things you think may be
interesting and helpful to your story to pull out.
Now, even if none of these NPCs come
into play during your session,
they will still be there ready for use
for most future sessions as well,
so no time is wasted, and you’ll honestly
be thankful that you have the comfort
of these options at your disposal.
You can even keep a few stat cards
with various combat templates for
all types of common folk, just in case
a battle goes down and the party needs help,
or things go terribly, terribly wrong
and they end up killing a bunch of people that you wrote…
Because that’s what happens sometimes
in the game and you’re just like,
“All right, guys, kill them. It’s fine, they were important
at some point… But now I know,
at least, what they’ll do in combat…”
You can also create a few traps and encounters
that can be pulled and plugged into
your game at any given point in time.
Now, the traps can range from mundane
shop owners deterring burglars with falling barrels
and sleep glass to wall-mounted flamethrowers
and bladed pillars spinning through,
protecting some sort of underground vault!
That works too. Encounters that you have
prepared can be ravaging goblin packs,
a trained protector chimera of a certain location,
or even just a group of bandits that are
eliminating witnesses that happen to stumble upon their work.
Also, it helps to have a list of rewards or items
tuned to the party’s current power level that
you can quickly access. Following unexpected
story threads and directions can lead to
unexpected rewards, and you don’t want to stiff
your PCs because you didn’t really plan any loot.
You can quickly come up with
an appropriate monetary award, and equipment find,
or some sort of a social boon to
accompany an improvised PC success.
This might be a little scary, but for the moments
you really aren’t prepared for,
begin by just painting a scene.
When they enter a location you hadn’t
really considered, let your instincts inform
you of what you’d expect to find there and
describe the impact to your senses as you figure them out.
This includes sight and lighting, the smells
and sounds you would experience,
the temperature of the very air itself
are easy gateways to an immersive location,
and you can just let those details emerge naturally
as you come up with it.
Even if you aren’t sure where it’s going,
trust that, once the party beings to talk
amongst themselves, you can probably
scramble through your previous notes and
prepare to tie it to something you already have.
Please, you need to take notes!
Like, seriously, take notes–
you’re going to be so thankful you take notes.
Get a scratchpad, take notes, always notes.
Because as you make up elements of the story
and characters and spontaneous plot hooks,
you want to write it down to remind you
of the things you just made up,
or you’ll forget them in the next ten minutes.
They’ll just be gone, and the party will call
you back and be like,
“That guy we talked to 30 minutes ago,
let’s go talk to him!” and you’ll be like,
“What– I… Oh, yeah, I think his name is… Steve?”
You’ll see Steve come up a lot in my games…
It might not play out within the session right now,
but you can always flesh out those aspects
between the games and try to incorporate
them into the main plot down the road.
You’ll be very thankful that you took notes.
Anyway, I hope some of these notes and tips
have been helpful for you as a GM.
You can find more episodes of GM Tips
here at geekandsundry.com.
My name is Matthew Mercer, thank you for watching,
and I’ll see you on the Internet.
— Matthew Mercer (@matthewmercer) October 27, 2016
— Matthew Mercer (@matthewmercer) October 27, 2016
Do you do any narrative timing to ensure that there is always something good happening at your live shows?
Thank you- love you guys. Honestly, not at alllll. I’m always a nervous mess before a live show out of fear of things possibly not being all that dynamic, but so far things seem to have worked out.
— Matthew Mercer (@matthewmercer) March 2, 2020
here on Geek & Sundry, and today’s episode of GM
Tips involves seeing what’s behind the GM screen
and some tips and tricks on how to prepare
yourself and your station for being a game master.
[intro music plays]
MATT: As a game master, your realm is a blend
of preparation and unexpected chaos and adapting
somewhere between the two of those and, as such,
your area directly behind your GM screen is your
saving grace. It’s a wonderful plane of notes,
information, and various tools to help you in
crafting your story, which will inevitably be
flying directly out of your ass. Let’s take a
look at some of my prepared GM area, then I’ll
give some recommendations and the kind of things
you might want to consider having available behind
yours. Come on, let’s have a look.
Welcome to my domain. Here is my basic set up,
beginning with this. This is the official dungeon
master screen for Fifth Edition D&D. Like a
lot of systems, especially the more popular ones,
make this available with pre-set rules and tables
and breakdowns to remind you as a GM and have
quick access to these various aspects as they come
into your game. Now, even with these official
rules that are given to you, maybe not all of them
are useful to your specific campaign or there
might be aspects of the rule system that come up
more often than others that you want to make sure
are front and center, so you can actually print
these out and tape them individually to the screen
over things that are maybe aren’t as useful. Like
here I have lists about improvising damage, trap
save DCs, and attack bonuses against PCs. I have
damage severity by level, potion of healing
breakdowns so I know what different levels of
healing potions heal what amount. Reminders of
things I forget often, like concentration checks,
highlighted in bright yellow to remind me to
actually remember that (bleep). Actually,
right over here on the far side you can see I have
a collection of my players’ passive perception.
Very useful. That’s the GM screen right there.
You also need some dice. That might come in handy.
Some systems don’t need it, but for the most part
you need some dice. That’s helpful. Of course,
your preparation notes. Over here I have my
campaign notes, which contains a basic player
sheet, a cheat sheet of all the rules and things
that I can come to for quick reference so I don’t
have to have the books nearby, which by the way,
it helps to have the books nearby, just in case. I
have the breakdown in my binder, my little setup
here of the current session as well as maybe a few
previous sessions in case I have to reference them
in the past. I have sheets for custom NPCs and
various monsters they may encounter or have
encountered. I have breakdowns of
various locations in my world with notes on NPCs
and factions and different things that I can refer
to if it comes up during the campaign. That way
I’m not going through my old computer or having to
leave the table to go find it. Just keeping basic
notes at your disposal in your binder is extremely
helpful. I have lists of names for NPCs in case
you have to create something on the spot you can
go ahead and refer to this page. Say one of the
names on the list and then just cross it off and
make a note of where they actually encountered
that NPC for later. This binder becomes a
very helpful tool to make sure that you’re on top
of your game during your actual session.
Next to that you want a notepad. Empty sheets for
scratch notes. You’re going to be taking notes the
whole time, whether it be just marking which
players had cool moments that you want to award
bonus experience or items to down the road, or
those NPCs you just made up. You can go ahead and
write down that basic information that way you can
go back to it later without forgetting that even
happened in the campaign. Scratch pad, really
useful. Also, over to the side here I have
miniatures for monsters they may encounter. That
way they’re readily at my disposal if I go ahead
and throw down a battle map. I have
a nice little timer here. You can do a digital
timer as well. I prefer things a little more
presenter-y like this, but this helps you throw
down a little bit of tension in a time-based
encounter and the players will freak out as soon
as this or a digital timer hits the table and lets
them know you only have five minutes to complete
this challenge. It’s a pretty fun little tool.
Over here I have wet-erase markers. These are very
useful for one, writing notes on your GM screen or
any plastic sheets you have on your screen. These
are also great for battle maps, if all of a sudden
something you prepared goes haywire or the player
pushes in a direction you weren’t expecting, you
can go ahead and sketch down some elements of that
map with some of these wet erase markers.
Very helpful. I have various markers for statuses
and conditions in the game, where a creature or
monster gets poisoned or stunned, I can go ahead
and throw that on to there as well. They have
official ones you can purchase for certain gaming sets.
These are actually just soda tabs that I found multi-colored.
That way it’s cheaper. Also, if you have a party member
who happens to transform a lot, like a druid or
someone with polymorph, it helps to have a
collection of various miniatures that show what
creature they may be able to transform into, once
again preventing you from having to run off to
wherever your collection is in the other room. You
can have these at the ready to pull out at a
moment’s notice. Very helpful.
I have my iPad or whatever you want to use for
music. Soundtrack is a very good way to keep
everyone in your immersive atmosphere. Build up
some of your favorite movie fantasy soundtracks or
even just video game soundtracks that you have at
your disposal. If you’re doing this on Twitch or
anywhere public or live, make sure that you have
permission to use it first, but at your home game
you can play whatever the heck you want. Having
that right behind the screen and readily available
to press or change is a huge boon to
building the atmosphere of the game. I also
have some templates to help me guide the size and
area of certain spells and effects in the game. I
made these, but you can find templates like this
online that you can just download and print out
and laminate, and it costs you practically nothing
and you have equally awesome and functional
templates at your disposal.
There are many, many other cool options you
can prepare and have at the ready and many online
GMing forums like EN World and official RPG
websites that provide an endless source of these
types of recommendations. You can pick and choose
and customize your own GM setup however befits
your own form of storytelling. I just hope this
little glance helped give you any ideas on how to
better prepare your own GM set up. Thank you
so much for watching. My name is Matthew Mercer.
You can go ahead and check out other episodes of
GM Tips here at geekandsundry.com.
I’ll see you next time.
Critical Role, and welcome to this fun video
series about tips and tricks for game masters and
dungeon masters alike. Today, I’m doing an FAQ,
because I get a lot of questions often over and
over again, and while I’d like to answer as often
as possible, it might be easier to put this up as
a video and answer some of them for the
Number one, is your Critical Role story a
homebrew? Yes! I created it from the ground up,
for better for worse, and I’m still developing it
as we continue playing the game. I did borrow the
Dawn War pantheon for it as it was a memorable and
relatable pantheon, but there are some
carried-over gods from Pathfinder because it’s
where we began the campaign in Pathfinder, then
converted over to 5th Edition partway through.
It’s all homebrew and if time allows me in the
future, maybe I’ll put something out for you guys
if you want to play around in Exandria, so fingers crossed.
Number two, I see you looking in your app a lot
for reference during the game. What app do you
use? I use Fight Club 5 on iOS. It’s a free
software. It requires a little bit of jiggering to
get it to work. You have to download some files
from certain websites and then upload it through
Dropbox onto the actual app, so it’s a little
involved with the get-go and you have to do some
research on Google to find out how to actually do
it, but it’s an extremely helpful resource for
quick reference to spells. You can bookmark
spells, creatures, abilities, see classes and
racial feats. It’s great. So that’s been very
helpful to me.
How do you make your maps? I start with
one-inch-grid easel paper. You can get these giant
pads of one-inch-grid easel paper on amazon.com.
Those are great, because you can just go ahead and
tear them off. They’re semi-transparent, and then
I go ahead and get some Crayola markers and some
colored pencils and I build from there. I usually
sketch out on a small scale first just to get the
feel for how the battlefield will look and flow,
and then I draw the larger version and fill it out
and use that for the actual game. But there’s a
lot of great software online that you can create
maps with. You can do things like Photoshop,
Campaign Cartographer, and if you play online for
Roll20, there are a lot of great software in those
communities that you can ask about that that help
you build your own maps to look really awesome and
professional too, so look into that.
Where do you find, or how do you make your
playlists for your game? I make them on iTunes and
I pull from many tracks. Mine currently are made
up from tracks from Platemail Games, which has a
lot of cool atmospheric and thematic tracks for
locations and terrain. I use Midnight Syndicate,
has a lot of great tracks. Incompetech from Kevin
MacLeod has a lot of great tracks, and all those
are royalty-free, meaning these are kind of the
only ones we were able to use when we started the
stream. Since then, I’ve gotten permission to use
the soundtrack from the PC game Pillars of
Eternity. I’ve gotten permission to use the Elder
Scrolls series soundtrack from Bethesda and those
have all been really cool. You guys won’t have to
worry about that if you’re doing home games. You
can use any music you want. You don’t have those
limitations. But I highly recommend any of those.
You can pull soundtracks from Conan the Barbarian.
You can pull in Final Fantasy tracks if you want
to. Anything you want to, but what I do is I break
them down into playlists and each playlist is a
certain mood or location, so I have a playlist for
small battles, one for big battles, one for boss
battles. I have a playlist for creepy. I have a
playlist for really creepy areas. I have a
playlist for a mysterious scenario, I have
playlists when it’s peaceful. I have playlists for
when you are in a town, playlists when you are in
a tavern. That way, it’s just really easy for me
to just click any one of these playlists for a
specific moment. It takes a little bit of setup
and it’s a lot of time put into it to make sure
you have that layout, but once you have it, as a
Dungeon Master or as a Game Master, it’s really
easy to go ahead and switch pretty quickly based
on how the scenario’s mood and dynamic has
Can I use or incorporate your characters or parts
of your world in my campaign? Sure! Yes, please go
for it. I find it flattering. I think it’s awesome
that you would want to have tie-ins or elements of
your game crossed over to ours. Just be aware that
players’ actions in our game can sometimes change
the world, so if you want to be playing alongside
our campaign, there’s always a chance that things
can get weird down the road, so be prepared. If
you want to keep it consistent at least, make
things weird on your end as well. I don’t know–
depends what the players do. But if time ever
allows, I would love to make a sourcebook, so
we’ll see if that’s ever a possibility if time
lets me. How can I improve my skills as a GM or a
Dungeon Master? First and foremost– it’s not
necessary but it’s so helpful– improv classes.
You don’t have to want to be a performer or an
actor to take improv. It’s helpful in so many
facets of your life. Just the idea of quick
thinking, of being able to “Yes, and” and work
with other people to make fast decisions and listen
very well and to be able to adjust on the fly.
It’s helpful in everything from business to social
dynamics to so many things, but it tremendously
helps for dungeon-mastering or game-mastering your
role playing game. Also, you can look online for
great blogs from other Dungeon Masters. If you can
find it, I’d recommend looking up Chris Perkins’
DM experience blog for episodes– you can find
them still, I think. There’s some good stuff on
there. You can also look at a lot of the really
great real-play shows that are online, like
Rock’n’Roleplay, and probably some Acquisitions
Inc. stuff that Chris Perkins himself did at PAX,
or you could watch Critical Role! But you can find
a lot of cool little tricks and interesting
techniques that different Dungeon Masters use to
make their games immersive, and everyone’s
different, everyone has their own method, everyone
has their really cool thing they do. So watching them
all, you can pick and choose and build your own
Final question for this FAQ: How does this random
rule or feature work in D&D? Google. Google is
your friend. I know a lot of the rules in the
game, but there are also some that I’m even fuzzy
on. If you have any questions or any concerns or
anything you’re not sure about in the game and how
the rules work, before you tweet it at me, look it
up. Put it into Google. You’ll find a lot of great
people that have probably asked the same question
many times over and a lot of people that are
probably much more alert in the rule system than I am
who have answered it. So go ahead and just give a
search out there, find the communities that work
out there. Rpg.net is great about that and
Reddit’s really great, and get those answers
there. And if you’re still stumped, then go ahead
and throw it at me. Otherwise, I end up not having
time to answer all those tweets and I feel bad.
So, go to Google. It’ll help you out.
That’s all I’ve got for this FAQ. I might have
another one down the road in the future, depending
on how these questions continue and you guys have
really cool things you want to ask, so once again,
thank you for coming by. You can see more of these
videos on geekandsundry.com and I’ll see you
Sundry’s Critical Role, and welcome to my fun
little video series on tips and tricks for game
masters and dungeon masters alike. Today, we’re
going to be discussing player rewards (sinister
chuckle). That’s right, players. We’re talking
about you, and what makes you happy.
First and foremost, money’s always good! Giving
away money in the game as general currency is a
helpful way to reward players for finding cool
little hidden alcoves, for defeating powerful
enemies, for completing story arcs. Gold is that
kind of open currency in role playing games, or
credits and other forms of currency in sci-fi and
modern games. It’s always a good go to, but you
want to consider the current player level and what
their financial situation is, and then provide
rewards accordingly. If the players have come into
a heck ton of money through just sheer luck or if
they’ve earned it, then maybe start considering
other alternative rewards that aren’t directly
monetarily just building onto that giant treasure
hoard that they’ve been building.
Keep it interesting. Also keep in mind not all
enemies drop gold. There’s nothing weirder than
killing a bugbear and it coughs up 56 gold pieces.
You wonder: first off, where it hid it, and two,
how’d you find it?
Consider that some of these creatures or things
that wouldn’t carry money on them may have
spirited away from the corpses of things they’ve
killed and brought them to hidden alcoves or nests
or burrows where they live. You’ll find it
under all the sticks and refuse in that area. You
might find some pretty cool items or sacks of
money that was left behind by these unfortunate
souls that crossed this creature’s path in the
past. There’s also private collections that bad
guys may have in their abode, or crooked merchants
may keep a secret cache of hidden artifacts. There
are cool ways to find loot after a battle aside
from just finding it in their pockets immediately
on them. That’s what we’re used to in video games,
but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Another cool way to reward your players and a
consistent way to do it: equipment upgrades!
Whether that be cool futuristic sniper rifles, or
a magical flaming shortsword, most systems have a
really good way to track player advancement and
corresponding equipment power levels. Usually
these are in the game master’s guides or those
sections of the systems, but they’ll have some
good suggestions as to when and how often you
should dole out these type of equipment-based
rewards. Make sure you don’t want to dole it out
too often, because one, they lose their impact and
their cool factor when the players do find them
and all of a sudden it’s like, “Oh look, another
magical shield.” They just throw it over their
shoulder. They become less appreciative of these
cool rewards, and it kind of unbalances the game.
Which, if this does happen, especially if you’re
new to the GMing system and after a while you
realize, “Oh, the players are really well decked
out in powerful stuff and they’re killing everything I
throw at them that should be a fair challenge.”
You’re in control of that spigot. Make it tight,
slower trickle. Give out different things for a
while and let it balance itself out.
Also don’t be afraid to customize and create
equipment and items if you can’t find something in
the books, or the Dungeon Master Guide, or any of
the treasure hoard supplements you out find out
there that fit what you want to give the players.
Feel free to create stuff. They can be tailored to
players, or tailored to in-game events, and if you
are worried about it not being balanced or being
too powerful or too weak, there’s a whole
wonderful thing called the internet. There are
wonderful tabletop RPG communities that are more
than willing to give you feedback on items before
you dole it out to a player. You can go on forums,
go on Reddit and be like, “Hey guys! Does this
seem cool?” and they might be like (angry), “No!
That’s too powerful!” or “No, that’s bullshit!” in
which case, you just go ahead and tweak it.
Criticism can be harsh on occasion but they’re all
there to help, they’re all there to help each
other make a better experience.
Don’t be afraid to ask the internet
for some balancing help.
There are also alternative rewards you can give
out, outside of both money and items. You can give
bonus experience points if someone does something
really cool in a game, or completes a really major
story arc. Just give them a little bump of XP to
get them to that next level a little faster.
There’s also jewels and rare art pieces or
contraband that can be found, that can be traded
or sold in other aspects of the world if you have
the right connections in that society. Which is
cool if you have the opportunity and the time, you
can create actual small props when you give these
out. You can find plastic jewels pretty cheap
online if you wanted to give someone a few actual
gems at the table. If someone wanted to find a
rare art piece, you can actually get like a really
cheap picture frame and pass it over. It’s cool to
create small props when you’re giving out some of
these rewards that might correspond to it as well.
It elevates the experience for the players at the table.
Some rewards could be alliances. If you end up
doing something really cool in a city or within a
society, you might through that experience gain
new allies. That can lead to access to new
merchants, and the ability to purchase things you
couldn’t previously have access to, having
discounts on those commerce, finding rare
equipment that now, as opposed to being found, can
be purchased and now readily at your access. Other
cool things, especially if they are dealing with
RPGs that have gods or magic power that is beyond
the mortal realm, you can be granted boons. These
boons can be like, if you do something really good
for a good deity and help defeat evil in a land
and cleanse it of some curse, the deity that looks
over that realm might come down and be like, “You.
“You are my chosen champion. For this good gift, I
grant you…” and they touch that player, and all
of a sudden they are given a permanent plus one to
their constitution. That’s a reward you can
totally do and it kind of fits into the theme, and
it’s a pretty awesome ability. It could be even
temporary boons, like for the next month or so you
have additional resistance against this type of
damage. They can be permanent or temporary
boons, but they also work as good story rewards.
Also, transportation! If you do a cool story, you
might get a new mount, or you might manage to
commandeer or be granted a great spaceship that
can travel twice as fast across the galaxy, or is
able to warp to previously inaccessible portions
of that galaxy. Even just faster transport to get
you from point A to point B a lot quicker. Those
make for great rewards and there’s overall the
progression reward. Which is the access to
previously inaccessible areas on your map. That
involves getting access to or paperwork that
allows you to bypass a barrier that previously you
could not. There was a landscape that was
previously at war with the kingdom that you’re
part of, and once you manage to stop that war, you
can now enter that kingdom without being attacked.
You have access to all the secrets and all the
knowledge and all the power that that kingdom has.
That’s a really great long term reward
to add to the story as well
that could tie into all the rest
of what I just discussed.
Looking over these, think of what different,
creative ways you can reward the players as your
story goes on to keep it both interesting, varied,
and for you at least, feel like you’re
appropriately rewarding different
cool actions and successes that
the party manages to achieve as they progress.
Thank you so much for watching! I hope this has
been somewhat helpful and entertaining for you as
a dungeon master, game master, or otherwise. You
can check out more of these videos on
geekandsundry.com and I will see you around, one
way or another.
and dungeon masters alike. Today we’re going to be
discussing a very interesting topic: player and
game master table setting and etiquette.
I have questions often about this, inter-player
and game master or dungeon master relationships,
and dynamics there, and I think this would be a
cool discussion to have. First and foremost,
many RPG campaigns and systems are very different.
Your experience at one table with one GM is going
to be wholly different from another, even in the
same system. I think before you start or join a
game, everyone should be up front and discuss
about the play style. Have the GM talk with the
players. Is he expecting to create it more RP
heavy, more role playing heavy? Do you want to
make it more combat heavy, more of a balance
between the two? Is it going to be created into
more of a Diablo style dungeon delve, kill stuff,
get loot, or is it going to be more about
political intrigue, and dealing with the
overarching political climate of a kingdom or a
space adventure? Is it a very high power campaign?
Is it a low power campaign? Is it a note taking
mystery campaign? These are all the things you
want discuss at the top of creating this game with
your players, so that everyone is on the same page
about expectations. There will be some players
that will be into it for some elements, and others
that will be disappointed if, five sessions in,
they didn’t get at all what they wanted out of
this experience. Being up front about it is a
really good way for you all to make sure you
understand each other and if you have any
discussions about those tweaks in the future, at
least you have a basis to build those discussions on.
Players, be respectful and appreciative of your
game master and dungeon master. They take a lot of
their free time to create this world and this
experience for you to enjoy, sometimes
thanklessly. When you’re at the game, when you’re
present at the table, best to your ability, listen
and be attentive, and acquiesce to your game
master’s judgement. I’m not saying don’t have fun,
don’t forget your snacks and stuff, but for the
most part when you’re in the moment, when you’re
in the game, try and pay attention, try not to
distract from the moment at hand and be attentive,
because they put all this time and energy into it,
it’s the least you can do. With that said, don’t
be afraid to debate a rule with your game master,
or clarify something they may have forgotten, but
just remember ultimately the GM does have final
say, and they may alter elements of the system or
of the rules to fit their story, their world, and
that’s how it is. Don’t get too argumentative on
those aspects. If it really bothers you, you
can take him aside after the game and talk about
it, and try to come to some sort of an
understanding. Communication is the key, in most
things in life, this definitely being one of
Share the spotlight with your party. There will be
moments and stories where your character will
become the focus, and you will be hoisted into the
center of attention, and that’s fine and embrace
that. If it consistently becomes that, and you
begin pushing the rest of your party out of the
way, and you take charge and you want to be the
answer to every solution, it can get a little
boring. If everyone else is like, “no, you’re
cool. You’re the leader. You talk. You’re the face
man of the group,” that’s different, but you want
to make sure that you allow the other players to
shine as well. This is a classic rule for stage as
well. You don’t want to upstage anyone. You want
to let everyone have their moment in the light,
make sure that everyone has an opportunity to be
part of this story you’re all creating together.
If you ever feel like someone in your game is
doing that, once again, after the game, take them
aside and talk to them. In a very respectful, very
warm way, let them know, “we’re starting to feel
you’re starting to take the spotlight a little
away. Just be aware, we want to play too, if
that’s cool.” Sometimes people do it without
even realizing it. Even just having that
conversation fixes the problem. Not always, and
sometimes when that happens, you know, either the
GM has to step in and have a conversation, and if
it gets really bad, sometimes players have to
leave the game. It happens all the time. But all
of you are putting your time and attention towards
this, you want to make sure that everyone is at
least working together to make it as fun as
possible. If it seems that you’ve unintentionally
commandeered the game, be open to feedback. Don’t
take it personally, don’t have a bruise to your
ego because somebody gave you a note after the
game about being maybe a little too heavy on
taking the game in your own hands. Just listen to
it and say, “okay, I didn’t know, I’m sorry. I’ll
be more respectful of that in the future.”
GMs, DMs, also be respectful and appreciative.
Your players are the life’s blood of your world. They
are the ones that make this story that you wrote,
and bring it to life, and play it through, and
they hang onto your every word, and they’re
essentially letting you scoop them up and take
them into your imagination, and that’s a lot of
trust there. Plus they’re scheduling their real
life around you and trying to make sure that they
can be part of this experience, so be respectful
and appreciative of that aspect, that they’re
putting their own side in this as well. Show equal
attention between players, even if one player
tends to be a heavier role player than the others,
don’t feel like you the just only focus on them.
Some people can start off a little shy, or
especially if they’re new role players, they may
not know how to really engage directly, and so it
helps to coax them. Have an NPC directly refer to
them and give them patience and let them find a
voice for their roleplaying character. It may take
some time, but make sure that you’re at least
trying to split your attention between the
players, best to your ability.
Be open to being corrected and to gaining
feedback. You’re the game master. You rule the
world. You are the god of this whole experience,
but you’re not infallible. We all make mistakes. I
make mistakes constantly. And feedback only helps
you to improve your narrative, to help how you run
the game, and being corrected sometimes helps you
better understand the rule system that you’re
running. You have a lot in your brain, a lot that
you’re constantly having to focus on, and
remember, and keep notes on, and keep working
together, and working towards long and short
narratives. You have so much in your head, you’re
bound to forget some stuff. Don’t be offended
or frustrated if a player corrects you with a rule
or something like that. Be thankful, because that
just means that you probably have a better chance
of remembering it in the future.
Players, GMs, be respectful of each other. Work
hard and discuss if there’s any weirdness going on
at the table, and work it out to the best of your
ability. Because we’re all there to have fun,
we’re all there to have a great experience
together, and I think following a lot of these
little guidelines should help maintain that quite
nicely. Thank you so much for watching. I hope
this has been somewhat helpful for your GMing and
playing experience. You can see more of these
videos on geekandsundry.com and I’ll see you