Tips for GMs:
– Player’s love it when the game is so difficult that they die all the time. Keep in mind that all the rules in the DM guide about balancing encounters are actually just guidelines. It shouldn’t just be hard, it should be totally hopeless. D&D is at its best when your friends make new character after new character to throw into the jaws of an undefeatable monster. The most rewarding thing after creating an in depth character backstory is to watch that character die horribly.
– Use a totally bonkers and off the wall campaign setting. It’s a common mistake to believe that players will be alienated by a setting that they don’t know anything about. The opposite is true, players hate a setting where they already know most of what’s going on and how to relate to everything. They would rather start in a world where everything is totally different from everything they have ever known. A steep learning curve is very enjoyable.
That’s why you should try the barbie campaign setting. There are several different kinds of barbies to serve as races, careers to serve as classes and tons of equipment. The players could go on a quest to get that pink convertible, the adventure almost makes itself.
– Don’t listen to any of your player’s ideas. In the words of one of my good friends “D&D is the only game where the monsters are always listening.” Players metagame by making assumptions about the game world based on what they know about you, and you can metagame right back by paying close attention to casual remarks they make. They will often betray what they think would be cool if it happened, and they often assume motivations for the main villain that are way cooler than what you were actually planning. Stay the course my friend, you always want to stick to exactly what you originally had in mind. Improvising never leads to anything fun.
Tips for players:
– When you are playing it is a good time to catch up with your email, text your friends and watch youtube videos. You don’t need to pay attention to anything until it is your turn. You have a whole table of friends who would love to catch you up on what’s happening and remind you which dice is which. The game basically plays itself anyway, just let the GM and your other friends decide what to do and where to go. If you participated by actually roleplaying or taking a creative action you probably wouldn’t have any fun.
– D&D is a casual game, so you don’t have to worry so much about being on time. Let everyone else get there on time while you are fashionably late. That way you can start playing as soon as you get there, and you get to skip troublesome things like the session recap. The only thing people love more than explaining what happened last time, is explaining what happened last time… twice!
– You want the party to have as much variety as possible. Chances are your adventuring companions all have some goals in common and a reason to adventure together. You want to spice the story up a bit by making a character that has absolutely no connection to any of the other characters, or anything they are questing for. That way you won’t have any motivation or reason to go along with the party on any adventure, and your character can go off on its own.
GM’s really love it when they are forced to make up a reason on the spot to force your character to go along with the plot. Even better is when they main adventure on hold and make everyone else wait while the make up a mini-quest for your character to do all by itself.
Have a terrible day!