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Actually Running the Game: TTRPG Week 7

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Running the game is one of those things that, on paper, is very easy. In practice however, it has a lot more nuance. In essence, the GM sets the scene based on their preparations, and the players interact with the scene as if they were their characters. It can be likened to making a movie, with the GM as the Writer/Director working up a set and using extras, with the players as the main actors being told to improvise based on what they see/encounter/find. One thing to keep in mind is that due to the nature of the dice, or the whim of the players, situations can change quickly. Be prepared to improvise.

The nature of play doesn't translate to the written word all that well. I will forgo examples of play and direct you instead to games broadcast online with archives found on YouTube. These will give you a better idea of how a game should roughly go, and may give you some inspiration as well. The first is Critical Role, a homebrew D&D game with published content. Keep in mind that Mr. Mercer puts in an exceptional amount of effort, has a production budget, and is a professional voice actor (as are the players) - most games aren't going to turn out quite that spectacularly. Second is High Rollers, a group of Yogscast members playing D&D homebrew campaigns. Lastly, The Unexpectables - members of the Team Four Star fan voice acting group playing D&D on Roll20.

Role Play encounters

These situations can be tricky as they typically focus on the party “Face”, the character with the highest Charisma or social skills, and dragging it out can bore other players. In addition, players themselves may not be good at these situations whereas their characters are; a good idea is to allow the player to describe what they are trying to accomplish and filling in the blanks yourself. Focus should be placed on body language and tone of voice of the NPCs so players have a gauge on how things are going. Do note that the environment can be used to great effect.

Environmental/Travel encounters

The environment is a great tool either on its own or as part of other encounters. Much like a movie set, it can be used to evoke emotion with epic panoramas, or challenge players with cleverly crafted hazards. Likewise, players can be very creative in utilizing it to their advantage. Do take the opportunity to foster teamwork and creativity; as character builds vary, some characters may not be able to overcome hazards easily without aid or creative use of mechanics or items. Keep in mind that travel can get boring, and while random encounters can alleviate it, over use can end up as more of a punishment.

Combat encounters

Players will often have an advantage in combat encounters due to the “Action Economy”. In short, all characters (player or NPC) have a set amount of actions per round and the side with the most actions in total tends to win. Also, some enemies have abilities that make them more powerful than the game may set them as. Adjusting on the fly can be difficult; typically you only want to adjust the HP (health points) if necessary. Also try to encourage creative use of Items, abilities, and the environment as they make things more interesting.

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