What skills has a "Good DM" to really be a good DM?
A good DM is half a good writer, actor, storyteller, game designer and referee.
The other half is improvisation.
Let's see those skills.
You DMing because you have something to tell, just like any writer.
Use your creativity to flash out:
- a world
- a tale or a story
- a character or a "Big Villain"
- a place
- an object
and make all be realistic for your readers (your players indeed).
Players has only the role of their characters and maybe a couple of henchmen.
You are every NPC (from the King to the last beggar), every villain and its minions, every monster.
You change many roles in few minutes, just like a professional actor.
You cannot be the new Robert De Niro but you have to change some NPC's traits (voice, manners, habits...) from time to time.
I think it's the most difficult skill to master.
You might be able to create a story (writer) or to act in many roles of it (actor).
You may be able also to tell it in the right manner.
Keep high your players' attention, and learn how to introduce a scene, a character or a place and how and when to skip to a new scene.
Use cliffhanger, coup de theatre, plot twists and any other thing will make your players think "I want to know more!".
Any DM use own House Rules, or add to his campaign some new spells, monsters or magic items.
Anyone wants to something of his own in the game and it's really a good thing.
By doing it you develop new ideas or mechanics of the game and therefore you're a game designer.
Think carefully about the impact of something new introduced in the game and ask to someone else his opinions about.
Study the rules.
Rules Knowledge is fundamental for a good DM.
But to know them isn't enough.
Rulebooks don't contain the answers to everything can happen around the table.
You'll have to make a lot of calls.
Be fair, equal, coherent in your calls and try to keep the right pace of the game.
It's by far the most important skill.
Often you must use the previous skill without preparation.
Follow this Rule of the Good DM
Now matter how much you'll prepare yourself, your players will always find something you didn't think about.
When it happens don't be afraid to create something very quickly, even picking from movies, books, TV series and go ahead.
It's the essence (and the fun) of DMing
In the next weeks we'll analyze every skill with a dedicated post.