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Author Topic: [D&D/Rifts Style Games] DM burnout- what's a DM get out of it?  (Read 3614 times)
Natespank
Member

Posts: 97

I usually use the male pronoun to mean either sex.


« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2011, 03:03:27 PM »

Quote
3) Use their greed to split them up
4) Force them to cooperate or lose individually.

It's an interesting conflict of interest. Ever play Counterstrike or Killing Floor? Your score is tallied individually, but your survival depends on your team- so you compete for points to the maximum extent you can without letting it destroy you. You don't really pull together as a team until the last few waves, or against a strong cs team.

This is extremely easy to do though- extremely. My last session 2 PCs were killed by other PCs- conflict isn't hard to do!

Quote
2) Change it up -- look for and challenge the parties weakspots.  Avoid their strengths and hit them where they are vulnerable.

This one's tricky.

Consider swarms: controllers destroy them in 4e. However, my group has no controller so a single swarm can sometimes nearly TPK the group. There's no way for them to combat it fairly- their best strategy is to replace one character with a controller. I dont' want to encourage that sort of strategy.

Then, consider "fireball." What if the mage just got some cool fire spells- how abusive is it to throw fire-resistant enemies at the party after that?

Finally, my tank player is weak against attacks that target his will. In one encounter the party fought 8 artillery wizards who had vs will attacks. The tank was blind the entire fight and basically couldn't do anything but take hits for people. It was fun, but if the entire game was like that it'd be really lame.

I don't think I should specifically target the party's weaknesses unless an intelligent foe is doing the targeting when he builds his gang. It seems like it should be an occasional thing.

Oh- ever play Magic the Gathering? My friend used to use artifact decks. In response, we built decks that did nothing but kill artifacts- it worked great! However, we can all agree that's a pretty freaking lame strategy for regular play- it's only really appropriate for special occasions.

"6) Once you have determined the right amount of opposition, your devious strategies and tactics -- have fun!  play hard but scrupulously fair - try to win.  Narrate the monsters having a victory celebration if they do win!  Let the monsters steal some of THEIR stuff if they do win."

PC failure needs to be spectacular. Last time the dragon ate a PC the dragon took him alive, ate his arms, and then over a week nibbled off the rest of his bits. The players prefer for their deaths to be excellent and spectacular.

Quote
1) The level of opposition should be pitched so that if the players play well, they win, and if they dont they lose.  Thats still a judgement call, but at least you have a clear guideline.  It means the players fate is in their own hands.

Is this the DM's goal statement? To challenge the players? The rest is more of a tactics section for pursuing this goal.
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stefoid
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« Reply #16 on: March 22, 2011, 03:19:33 PM »

Not exactly 'challenge the players', which is a side effect, but the point to it is  make their decisions matter.  Thats all any players really want.  If the fight is mismatched on one side or the other then it doesnt matter what the players decide -- the outcome is going to be the same.  And it also makes the GMs tactics matter too, which hopefully will give you the fun youre after.

On targeting the characters weakspots.  different weakspots at different times -- not all weakspots all the time.  change it up so that they have to alter their tactics continually.  and when you target a weakspot, lower the other parameters of the opposition accordingly.  The point to it is to make the players make decisions and those decisions have to matter.  The players have designed these characters and some of the designs will be min-maxed, which is a perfectly valid design decision.  But it has consequences.  Hit them in their 'mins' occasionally, forcing them to adapt.  this also highlights the players who have designed with a 'strength through diversity'  pattern -- it allows them to shine when the narrow-focus characters are floundering.

basically the game is squad-based tactical combat right?  keep that in mind at all times.   Dont have bits in your campaign where the game stalls because someone failed an 'observe' or 'persuade' roll and so the game doesnt move on to the next high-stakes fight. 
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Callan S.
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« Reply #17 on: March 22, 2011, 03:24:53 PM »

Quote
But in gamist terms, the GM only really gets to be a referee and facilitator- not a gamer himself. He's partially excluded from the creative agenda. His gamist challenge is merely to challenge the players and keep them on their toes- mostly a design aspect, not a gameplay aspect.
I wasn't neglecting it, I just agree so much I moved on!

Primarily because your describing another aspect of the broken D&D hull. Yep, there's a massive break there, as well!

So are you trying to make something new, or trying to raise that sunken hulk to the surface?

I'd suggest making something new & simple, like a square room with nothing in it except for the PC's, and one or two NPC's you've made, by the PC rules. Then go at it - have some rescue mechanic so it isn't the end for the PC's if they lose.

I'm kinda betting you'd say 'But that's too simple - where is the buying of oil to destroy the lizard folk mound?' or such?

If so, for that scope of action I'm thinking either you don't have it, but as GM your actually playing, or you do have it, but as GM your not playing, merely designing the game in the moment it's being played. Can't have both, as far as I can tell.

I'd really suggest taking my PC's Vs NPC PC's (lol) and talking about adding mechanics onto that that expand it, rather than trying to grasp the capacity to drive away goblins with a forest fire and trying to build rules upon rules until you get right to the very start of play (ie, avoid trying to build from the outside, inward).
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stefoid
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« Reply #18 on: March 22, 2011, 03:25:35 PM »

Quote

"6) Once you have determined the right amount of opposition, your devious strategies and tactics -- have fun!  play hard but scrupulously fair - try to win.  Narrate the monsters having a victory celebration if they do win!  Let the monsters steal some of THEIR stuff if they do win."

PC failure needs to be spectacular. Last time the dragon ate a PC the dragon took him alive, ate his arms, and then over a week nibbled off the rest of his bits. The players prefer for their deaths to be excellent and spectacular.

no, thats not what I mean.  I dont see the point in PC death, unless the player was bored/disatisfied with that design.  losing the contest has to be consequential, not necessarily spectacular.  There has to be something substantial on the line other than PC death.  Generally it will be opportunity lost - some phat loot they dont get, or even worse, some of their own loot lost.  And make it permanent, for whatever fictional reason, there are no second tries.  the stakes are on the line one time only, now fight and win to get them!  
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contracycle
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Posts: 2984


« Reply #19 on: March 22, 2011, 05:47:08 PM »

Play that is oriented exclusively on the dungeon fighting type thing struggle with any kind of consequence, IMO.  Even fairly rigid mission style play can do this better.  In that structure there is a mission to fulfill, and the means are not necessarily strictly defined.  The GM may introduce surprises, previously unknown dangers, twists etc, all of which can present a risk of failure in terms other than winning or losing fights.  It seems to me that successive versions of D&D have moved away from that style of play, and put almost all their effort into the dungeon crawl style.
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Caldis
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Posts: 392


« Reply #20 on: March 23, 2011, 08:40:45 AM »


Yeah I think I agree with Contra, mission based play may work better for what you want than dungeon crawls do.

Take a look at this link.

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?topic=21227.0

It's a very gamist game, mission based, the GM is getting a bit of drama and a lot of design and critiquing of the players abilities.
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Roger
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« Reply #21 on: March 23, 2011, 09:14:29 AM »

Well, I can speak for myself.  I've been DMing a D&D game for, oh, six months now or so, roughly once every two weeks (down at the Sentry Box -- woo!); the PCs just hit level 4.

I've flirted with burnout now and again.  The thing that really strikes me about your description is:

During an encounter his (the DM's) role is to just run the monsters.

On one level, yeah, that's obviously what the DM does.  It's obvious too that the players' role is to just run their characters.  That's objectively what an encounter consists of.

What's missing there, of course, is the Agenda of the people involved.  That, I suspect, is where this sort of burnout comes from -- being substantially frustrated in one's attempts to pursue a meaningful Agenda.

Unfortunately lots of games give a lot of really worthless advice about how a DM is supposed to pursue his own Agenda.  (For a rare example of one that gets it right, consider Apocalypse World.)

Speaking for myself, outside of combat I find I tend to pursue a certain amount of Right To Dream and a certain amount of Story's Around Here Somewhere, at various points.  Within combat, however, I'm probably as much a hardcore Step On Up kinda guy as any of my players. 

I'm saying that purely descriptively, though -- don't take it as a prescription.  My prescriptive advice is this:  think about what sort of Agendas you want to pursue, and when.  This positions you to be better-informed about what to actually do in order to meaningfully pursue those Agendas.



Cheers,
Roger
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Chris_Chinn
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Posts: 280


« Reply #22 on: March 23, 2011, 10:41:32 AM »

Hi Nate,

Quote
2- Actual Play Step - Put on your Angry DM hat, dedicate yourself to the PC's failure and try to destroy them every chance you get throughout the game. The DM "wins" from a play perspective if the PC's fail the quest.

Nope!  Who said anything about angry?  Playing hard isn't playing angry.

You don't use "omnipotent power" to win, you use the encounter rules given to you and then you play hard within those restrictions.

4E balances itself such that a single encounter is weaker than a party of PCs.  The PCs are expected to go through several encounters, which means a DM can play hard and is unlikely to get a TPK.

And, as I said, if everyone's on the same page for gamism, they're expecting you to play hard so they can play hard.  Ever play a competitive game with someone who was half-assing it?  You don't have fun because part of the point of play is to challenge each other.

The DM's gamist kick is in playing hard which produces challenge but isn't the same as "just winning".

Chris
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Natespank
Member

Posts: 97

I usually use the male pronoun to mean either sex.


« Reply #23 on: March 25, 2011, 10:04:22 PM »

Quote
Nope!  Who said anything about angry?  Playing hard isn't playing angry.

Sorry, reference to a blog somebody linked to earlier:

http://angrydm.com/2010/07/winning-dd/

I really used to get a kick out of running encounters that scared me I'd TPK the party, but I was curious to see if they could do it so I rolled in the open, no fudging.

It was a lot of fun seeing the players step on up for the challenges- however, the stat blocks matter so much that it's more a matter of encounter design than how you run it.

I'm considering a house rule where situational combat modifiers are doubled- ex, +4 w. combat advantage, -8 vs heavy cover. That would make in-game decisions matter more.

As for DM Goals- I wonder if some arbitrary point system could be conceived of. +1 point if a PC spends a healing surge, +5 if a PC is incapacitated, +20 if a PC dies, -50 if 2+ PCs die, etc.

It would give the DM a clear goal that won't TPK the party; also, he could compare points at the end and try to "beat" the PC's points. They'd get a minor quest reward if they got too hurt during their adventure- you could build it into the fiction too in the form of some time restriction or some obviously hard fight they might lack the resources for near the end.

In terms of specifics... I'm dry. My friend agreed to DM tomorrow so I've spent all week on Calculus! Sorry for slow replies!
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Chris_Chinn
Member

Posts: 280


« Reply #24 on: March 26, 2011, 09:44:53 AM »

Hi Nate,

Quote
It was a lot of fun seeing the players step on up for the challenges- however, the stat blocks matter so much that it's more a matter of encounter design than how you run it.

Encounter design is part of it, but if you have a good design and don't play the monsters strategically, you basically cut their effectiveness by half or more...

Here, useful links:

http://bankuei.wordpress.com/2008/06/24/4e-tactics-pt-1/
http://bankuei.wordpress.com/2010/01/12/4e-stunting-and-fight-sets/
http://bankuei.wordpress.com/2010/01/23/dms-dilemma/

Chris
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Callan S.
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« Reply #25 on: March 26, 2011, 02:07:44 PM »

Quote
As for DM Goals- I wonder if some arbitrary point system could be conceived of. +1 point if a PC spends a healing surge, +5 if a PC is incapacitated, +20 if a PC dies, -50 if 2+ PCs die, etc.

In terms of specifics... I'm dry.
That sounds fairly specific already! And the players one could be kind of the reverse - X amount of points if they do not spend a healing surge, Y amount of points if no one is incapacitated, etc.

That'd raise the bar, because of 'As long as you didn't all die, you win', this would encourage tighter combat form, so as to put down that scarulous GM's bid to point win! While having that -50 thing kind of stops absolute overkill scenario design (rocs fall, everybody dies).

Sounds pretty solid to me already! Why don't you write it up a bit more and we'll look it over?
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Natespank
Member

Posts: 97

I usually use the male pronoun to mean either sex.


« Reply #26 on: March 28, 2011, 12:33:55 AM »

I'm really liking that stunting article.

I'm too busy with school this week to DM, a friend will take over this weekend. I'll try it when I get back to DMing.
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