What makes a good Dungeon Master?

What makes a good Dungeon MasterThose of us that sit around the gaming table often talk of days gone by. We talk of sessions when there were legendary battles fought and epic tales were told. When you look back at those sessions what do they all have in common?

A Dungeon Master at the top of his game.

Over at Power Score, Sean tackles that very topic in a recent post, The Difficulties of Being a Dungeon Master.

What’s nice about this article is that it isn’t just your usual post about what one person thinks makes a good Dungeon Master, instead Sean goes to reddit and actually asked others what kind of DM they were.

I decided that I wanted to see where other DMs of the world were at mentally. So I asked people on reddit to talk about what kind of DM they were, and I collected the responses. I have sifted through this information, looking for trends and common themes, to see if there are any particular things that most DMs have in common. What are people struggling with? What kind of games do they run?

And find some common themes and ground he did.

In fact, some of what he found was near and dear to my heart in his sections on style and campaign.

It appears, at least based on the responses he got, that as many as 1/3 “make it up as they go” (I’ve heard something similar to that statement before). I have to admit that while I do envy those that can pull it off I’m more of a partial prep type. The kind that has an outline for the session, maybe a couple of prepared encounters in my back pocket but then just goes with the flow.

The other item that hit home from me is the overwhelming stamp of approval on home-brew campaigns. It would appear that although there is a huge amount of material published every year for a DM to use, many prefer to develop their own. Many use an establish setting as the starting point but then take it in a direction all their own. For me, I’ve always built it from the ground up, the setting and the campaign – I like the intimate knowledge it gives out which makes the “winging it” during a session easier.

Sean also brings some attention to general issues, like the game being to easy or two difficult, and problem players (“you forgot a pencil?”) which rounds out the post and makes it well worth the read.

May your dice roll well.

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