This blog is about gaming, but D&D is top on my list, from D&D 5e, Pathfinder to good old AD&D 1e (where my roots come from!). I'm an Evil DM, I have been for many years, to the point folks enjoy my games and style but fear things in game. Paranoia is great and fuels a lot of awesome roleplaying situations with characters in game. Have a question? Feel free to contact me for advice about 1e, 5e or Pathfinder - ASKTHEDM(@)THEEVILDM(.)COM
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Actual Play Podcast and why you SHOULD listen to as many as you can!
Most people can't stand actual play podcasts, mostly find them boring or the audio quality is SO bad, it makes your ears bleed to the point everyone around you feel like Ash from the Evil Dead movie.
Sorry Bub, that podcast was really bad!
But luckily these days the audio on MOST podcast are better then the past and you can sit in comfort, sipping your little umbrella drink on the beach to steal get ideas for your own campaign!
Reason 1 - STEALING IDEAS
No joke here, find a show (that you can tolerate) get into it, sit down and listen. Have a notepad with you, or even have onenote/evernote open and ready in the background. I highly suggest the electronic note route, because you could be anywhere and hear something that sparks an idea.
I've listened to a ton of APs and there is always an idea to take and run with, could be as small as something happening in an inn with the current show.
Reason 2 - Learn to play because you've never played before
Listening to as many shows as you can, you will quickly learn how D&D 5e works or at least how it may work. Let's face it, not everyone plays the same way, nor does everyone play the game correctly, there is always house rules in the games, so variety is a good thing here, but AT LEAST it will give you a starting point.
Reason 3 - Learn how to run games, style wise.
This kind of goes along with reason #2, you can listen in and see how a DM reacts, how he handles situations and resolves conflicts and questions. WHILE this really won't teach you HOW to be a DM, it will prepare you how to resolve situations that come up, and how to react to them during a session.
Should you stop the entire game for a question or make a decision?
This is a big debate around the table for years and years and years and years. The only way to determine this is decide before your game what you want to do, either stop the game, take a few minutes to talk about it or just make up a rule, hold off until a break or after game to chat about it. Most DMs will field a question or two during games that is a quick answer, but anything more will result in afterwards or on a break.
Reason 4 - The Drama
Sometimes you find a show that you start enjoying a lot to the point you look forward to it, enjoy the personalities of players and how they play their character that you actually feel like you are sitting with them playing the game. I know a many of times I tuned into shows to hear what happened with my favorite character, laughing out loud at the gym or on a walk because that character did something so funny you can't believe it! Sometimes you even cry because of a death of a NPC (or character, but those make me evil cackle!) Hey whatever it is, its like your audio drama that entertains you and helps you pass the time.
Something that has always bugged me in D&D and this dates back to the days of playing D&D in the '80s, but its more of a thing since the "MMO/video gamer generation" (let's go with that for now) has moved into playing D&D, was that all their stats have to be high, and anything less then having a +2 modifier on your stats was a "waste of time".
Another email came into the "Ask a DM" email box, by "Ralph", as that's how it was marked on the email form that asked me a question about Monsters, their stats and encounters. Mostly asking me if I reference the book during a game, hand write them/print them on a sheet a paper. He was having trouble with encounters and wanted to know what's his best option and what should he do to keep it easy for him? also wants to know, when should he throw encounters at his group?
A question was asked to me today (via email at the top) about writing up custom spells and the person was worried about if the spell already existed, not so much to save him time or work, but because he didn't want to be unoriginal in his spell idea.
I said to him to get more information, "if you have an idea in your head, why not just talk to your DM, work with him and make a custom spell to the way YOU like it?"