Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Professional" DMing advice

Just as an FYI, because here's a new resource I just became aware of.

I've always been a fan of reading advice on how to run the game well.  I think some of the best published advice is in the d20 Call of Cthulhu book, and some of the second best published advice was Ray Winninger's column on the art of DMing that ran in Dungeon Magazine during the last stages of 2nd edition and the early stages of 3rd.  In fact, I've very specifically referred to Ray's advice more than a few times.

I just became aware of another column, available on the Wizards website, written by Chris Perkins.  Chris is apparently a well-respected GM, even in Renton amongst Wizards employees, who play a lot of games and are exposed to a lot of serious gamers.  He's also a "professional" gamer in the sense that he works for Wizards of the Coast (and not in a mundane capacity, like he does their Accounts Recievable or something like that) and has written tons of material for D&D over the years.  That doesn't necessarily make him an expert at GMing, of course, but he does seem to be genuinely well-respected as a good GM.  And perhaps more importantly, he seems more inclined to run the kinds of games I would like, with focus on the kinds of things that I prefer.  He doesn't proselytize for any strange or fringe DMing styles--although he does have an innovative and unusual perspective or two up his sleeve.  I think his column is a good read, and any DM can't possibly be hurt by having had a look at it.

Granted, his approach isn't nearly as systematic as Ray Winninger's was.  There's no process.  There's no "here, do this, and then you're ready to run."  There's just an awful lot of good advice, peppered with examples from one of his two concurrent groups which he's running in the same setting.  Very occasionally, he'll post something that's a definite "4e-ism" and isn't as immediately useful to anyone playing any other game... but only very occasionally.

Here, check out his column here, most recent postings at the top.  I think it's a fun read in its own right, and heck, I may even have picked up a tip or two, even though I've been running games off and on for the better part of thirty years almost.

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