Tips For Dungeon Masters (or How To REALLY Impress Your PC's)
The Number One Thing To Do
- Evaluate your Players. Do they want an ultra-realistic game, or are they more interested in just having fun and being kind of wacky? The worst thing you can do is bore a crazy player with a game where every d&d rule is upheld, even "encumbrance," or dm'ing a game with seasoned players who expect extreme detailing of each scene and saying "You're in a town with orcs that hate you...what are you going to do?" So always remember, D&D is supposed to be fun, and so is any incarnation of the rpg phenomenon; the question is: what kind of fun?
For Ultra-Realism, or Just Good Backgrounds/Detailing
Remember that towns are very, very important, even in traveling adventures. A town can lend the realism that your game is missing...as can a nation, a culture, an economy, a religion...you name it, it belongs somewhere within your world!
Some Questions You Can Answer To Improve Your Campaign SettingHow many continents does your world map have (I suggest drawing a map for any campaign, even if you don't show it to your PC's)
How many towns are on each continent?
Where are the rivers, lakes, streams, freshwater or saltwater?
Where are the mountain ranges, are there any active or inactive volcanoes?
Map out the different regions...Rainforest, Tundra, Grasslands, Savannah, Mesas, Deserts, Forests, Swamps...Get detailed! It'll help!
How many days does it take to travel from one region to another; from one continent to another?
Are there any oceanic civilizations?
Where are the major ports of each continent?
Where are the nations' borders on each continent?
Are there any "no man's land" territories?
What is the capital city of each nation? Look in the town's inventory lists for more in-depth towns...
What nations are allies and which are warring?
What is the ratio of humans to demihumans in the nations? Does that breed racism?
Don't forget about evil nations...the goblins and orcs have to live somewhere too!
What are the major transportation routes of each nation?
What is the nation's/city's major export and import?
How does the city raise money (sale of lands, high taxes, tariffs, etc)?
What is the ratio of urban poor/middle class/wealthy?
Is the nation mainly agrarian (subsistance farmers) or urban or what?
What is the nation's unit of currency? Paper, coin, or both?
What is the nation's exchange rate with other nations?
What is the rate of class movement?
What is the nation's government? Is it a monarchy? democracy? tyrannical govt? dictatorship?
What is the need for work? The unemployment rate?
What is the nation's main religion?
Is the nation tolerant of other religions?
Does that religion breed intolerance of certain races or lifestyles?
What is that religion's figurehead?
What is that religion's idea of an afterlife?
What requirements does that religion make of its followers during their lifetime, and for what reward?
Is the religion a popular one?
Does the religion tax the people?
Does the govt. appoint the religious leaders or vice versa?
Other Fun Stuff
Does your world's year run on a 12 month, 365 day year?
Are there 24 hrs in your world's day?
Are colors perceived the same way?
Is the sky blue? It could just as easily be purple, orange, red...
Do your PC's still breathe oxygen?
Is night longer than day in certain parts of the world? Day longer than night?
Is north, north? south? Perhaps the axis lies east to west...
Think about original wildlife...mammals, birds, trees, underbrush...
For a wacky campaign, refer to Piers Anthony for puns.
What time frame is your campaign set in, or is it a mishmash?
Does gravity work the same as here on earth?
Well, I hope this has helped...I'll try and update this page soon with new ideas to improve your game!!