We’re working on fleshing out PATV so it isn’t just shows about Penny Arcade. Ledo and Ix is one such show. The third episode went up on Monday and you can see it here.
I recently started playing in a pretty regular D&D 4e game. I’ve played before obviously but it was always a one shot or something similar. I’ve got a handful of games under my belt in this campaign now and I’m really having a good time. More than that though I’ve gotten a ton of great ideas to take back to my own game.
As a DM I am always searching for inspiration. Books, games movies anything that might spark an idea is fair game. Now that I’ve been playing in this other game I realised just how many great ideas you can get by watching another DM.
The first thing our DM told us when we sat down was that we would not be keeping track of our own health. This sounded strange at first but he asked us to trust him and now I’m sold on the idea. The way it works is when a monster hits you the DM describes the hit, “it was a glancing blow.” or “The blade bites deep into your arm and your vision swims.” but never tells you how much damage you took. instead he keeps track of that on his side of the screen. He gives you general ideas sort of like a terrorist threat level. You are winded, bloodied, injured or teetering on death for example.
This does a couple things that I think improve the game. First it removes the ability to meta game damage. As a DM I’ve heard my players have this conversation more than a few times: “Monster X has only been hitting us for around 12 so you should be able to take another couple hits before I need to heal you.” It also takes away a bunch of number crunching and gives the players more opportunity to role play the combat. I’ve since stolen this idea and used it in my own campaign and my players fucking love it. I highly recommend giving it a try in your own campaign.
The other idea I’ve stolen from my new DM is to run the game on a laptop. I’m personally using the suit of tools over at Dungeon Mastering. They let you build your own monsters,traps,items and encounters. It’s a really slick set of tools. I’d like to see a couple more options like the ability to import monsters right from the online compendium and an initiative tracker that keeps track of health (see above) similar to this one.
So my recommendation to DM’s is to try playing in a game. You’ll be surprised how much better your own game will get as a result.