It’s about time this site get’s back to what’s really important, right? Mapmaking is all fun and glossy and we all enjoy a good set of dungeon tiles, don’t we? Yeah sure, but do we need them unless we actually play the game? Noope!

So, here we go!What makes a gaming session into an outstanding gaming session, except for some shiny hi-rez maps?

In my humble experience, there are two things that make a gaming session into one of those that your team will remember and talk about around the gaming table for years to come. So, what are they?

Primary, there is the Flow.

You as a DM need to get into a good flow when it comes to your driving the story. You must never hesitate when it comes to the plot and the storyline. You either need to keep ahead of your players and know the adventure by heart or be really comfortable in improvising while still keeping close to the plot. You may of course combine them as long as you keep the flow of the adventure going. Personally, I try to do both and that seems to be my silver bullet. My team still keep talking about “the Sewer Incident” and that was some 20 years ago, while playing the Shadows over Bogenhafen in the by now classic Enemy Within-campain of the excellent game Warhammer FRP by Games Workshop.

If you ever find yourself needing to study your adventure during the game session for more than a very few minutes, it’s time to start gently improvising. If you can’t hack it and still keep to the general plot, send your players out for pizza or something. Dont ever let them loiter around the table while you are plowing through some adventure books. Loitering players will inevitably lead  to session rot. Not to mention a DM who just keeps putting his nose down some dusty old book instead of leading the game ahead.

Secondary, there’s rules management, which actually leads to… Yeah, you gessed it. The Flow!

Never ever allow the rules to stop you from doing something you want to do. After all, this is fantasy! Even if you are playing some Sci-Fi game like CyberPunk or something that’s runs in a present-day setting, like say the James Bond RPG, it’s still fantasy and should be handled accordingly. Your players characters are heroes and as such, they will do the unexpected and get away with it. (Well, sometimes they will… There’s always a chance of dumb-thumbing it!)

When it comes to rules management I have noticed that there are two ways to go. Either you go berserk (as I used to do during my WHFRP days)  and make all ruling issues your own affair or you go all mushy and make it some kind of democracy by making the players a part of it. There are advantages to both, but if you want to try the totalitarian style you’d better make sure your rulings are fair and to the point, every time.

Nowadays, I tend to lean against my players since I’m to lazy to learn all the rules by heart. I’ll try to be as fair and as consistent as i can while never letting the players get me into rules debates or tell me what to do.  Get to a quick decision if uncertain and make a note as to how ruled in this specific situation and try to stay with it, at least for the session.

The DM must always get the final say. After all, as DM’s we’re the Über-gods!


  1. admin on 12.28.2009

    Great post as always CmdrPrompt.
    I think this one links up rather well with the post back at newbieDM about “Is the encounter worth it?”.

    / Totte aka admin

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