Greetings folks! This week I’m starting up a new feature, sharing some of the resources that were discussed at this week’s Gamemaster Support Group. We had some great discussion this week so there is a bunch of resources we can share with those gamemasters who couldn’t make it to the session.
This month, we focused on talking about what sort of materials different gamemasters bring to aid the roleplaying experience for themselves and their players. Here are some of the highlights.
A common problem that gamemasters can experience is absentmindedness from players. Everyone forgets things from time to time but when a player shows up to a session without dice or even their character sheet, it results in major problems for a session, sometimes even making it impossible to play it properly. Therefore having extra copies of your players character sheets, as well as other materials like dice, pencils, and paper added to your gamemaster kit can be a great way to reduce any potential problems that could show up during the start of a gaming session.
A good gamemaster screen can be an amazing tool in the repertoire of a gamemaster. You don’t even need to spend a bunch of money to create a good screen. One of our members pointed out all one needs are two $1 binders from Staples or similar stores held together by smaller binder clips.
Not only can they keep information secret from the players but they can be used to keep quick records of a ton of important information about the characters. Keeping stats that are referred to often posted on their as well as index cards of often used NPCs or extra copies of your players character sheets can avoid some of the common questions that come up during challenges. One attendee at our meeting also pointed out you can fold pieces of paper with character initiative information over the top of your screen to have an easily viewed/changed record of the current initiative order. If used well, this tool can prevent a lot of the fumbling for information that can happen during a play session.
A great tool at the disposal of gamemasters is that of audio. Including music as background, or to create a certain mood can do wonders towards forwarding a specific tone of story. Whether it is giving certain antagonists theme musics to hint at their influence to using creepy music to unnerve your players as they wander into a new area.
One of the best sites to help create these atmospheres is Tabletop Audio (http://tabletopaudio.com/). Their soundbites are well organized allowing you to discover a certain feeling or vibe quite easily, cutting down on research time to find the perfect sound.
While these aren’t needed to play they can do wonders to enhance the roleplaying experience for your players. Making physical representations of characters and locations, allows your players to all be on the same page with how the events are going.
To start having maps can go a huge way to organizing the events for both yourself and your players. The level of complexity is up to you but even having an extremely rough sketch of a map with some sort of icon can make sure there is no confusion as to the logistics of an encounter for your players. The more time you are spending in an area should lead to a greater level of detail in the maps you put together. Players want to explore an environment if they are going to be there for some time. Adding in some details can be a great way to spark curiosity.
As for the icons you use any sort of visual can serve the purpose. If you have the resources, full out miniatures can capture the action in great detail, but even a piece of paper with the character name or paper (folded in half to stand up) can do the job of illustrating your ideas. Simplicity can be a great aid to time management for a GM
These tools are a great way to streamline the creative process when putting together a session or to come up with a necessary character you hadn’t planned for on the fly. The internet has a ton of great generators focusing on a wide variety of different subject areas. I’ve listed a few in the website links below but a simple google search often gives you the exact generator you could need
Overall, we came to the conclusion that when planning materials for a session, your main goal should be making decisions that benefit both yourself and your players. Don’t kill yourself designing the perfect map for a session when the group is only going to spend a small amount of time in the area the map is for. You should always ask yourself. Is this an idea that the players will be spending a lot of time with? Is it really worthwhile to flesh the idea out or would a simple description work out just as well? You don’t want to dread your material preparations, have fun with it and make sure it is well worth the time you’re putting into the effort before diving into it.
But that wraps up our first Gamemaster Tips blog post, I hope folks find the resources we’ve gathered here to be useful. Take a look below for a bunch of links to materials we discussed above. Our next session is going to be on Monday, March 13. We’ll be focusing on using puzzles during gaming sessions. What sort of challenges can you put in front of your players beside those that solely involve dice rolling. We’ll all be bringing along some example puzzles that we can share and go through to explore the different possibilities available to us. Hope to see you folks out at the session.
List of website links
http://tabletopaudio.com/ (a gigantic library of background sounds to set a mood for your session)
Monster Manager: http://mm.blackweb.dk/ (a tool for D&D 5e that helps you manage monsters for a session with easy visuals)
Custom Cards: https://crobi.github.io/rpg-cards/generator/generate.html (a tool to help you create printable custom index cards to organize information in an easy format for your sessions)
D20 SRD: http://www.d20srd.org/ (a collection of generators and tools for use in D&D 3.5 and 5e)
Kobold Fight Cluc: http://kobold.club/fight/#/encounter-builder (a random encounter generator for D&D 5e
Random Tavern Generator: http://archive.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd%2Fdnd%2F20010223d (Creates a random tavern with rumors and menu for your parties to stop at)
Donjon RPG tools: https://donjon.bin.sh/ (a variety of generators in one place for a wide range of different styles of campaign)
DM Screen: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.awedsoftware.dungeonsanddragonsrandomtables&hl=en (a random generator app for android to create NPCs, plots, monsters, and more!)
Fantasy Name Generator: http://fantasynamegenerators.com/ (a huge resource to help come up with character names for whatever purpose you need)