I couldn’t make it to Evercon this weekend. Weather got shitty. But that allowed me to game with my long-time game group. You know, the one with Jeff. We’re still going through Tomb of Annihilation.
As I was running the group through this crazy prepublished module, it dawned on me. There are a lot of things that we do as GM’s that we really need to think about on the fly and have it make sense. Now you may be saying “uh, duh, Sean…you should already know this.” But here’s the thing. Everyone knows I run prepublished stuff, but even those robust description and rules of a game trips up GM’s - beginner or advanced. The latter may just have a quicker way to devise a mini-system to make an encounter work. How many GMs get to an encounter and say “oh shit, how am i going to do this?”
I’ll give you an example.
You enter a room. There’s an object that triggers a trap. Say, it’s “if a pc picks up a goblet off the altar it triggers this trap.” No problem. Pretty easy. Either someone detects it and then disables it, foregoes it, or triggers it.
Say it’s triggered. There are 10 secret doors that now open and release 10 beasties into the room. The room is a bit more robust, a teleportation mechanism moves the character into a space without another pc. You have teleportation spot, and once teleported, THAT pc then figures out how to teleport back into the room. So you have PC’s appearing and disappearing, while some are not, and the 10 beasties going after whomever they can.
But how do you as a GM manage this? Do you have all 10 swarm one person. Is that fair? Beasties have, I think, 4-6 INT, so they’re not that bright. I’m also doing this all theater of the mind, while pointing on a small grid/map “this is where this is, this is where this is.” I came up with an approach, as we do, but how many would stumped. The environment is laid out well, but how to handle all the moving pieces was not.
I realize this does not provide all the details without actually copy/paste the entire details of the room that take up one, 2 column, page.
I was thinking of doing a video of this encounter and then narrating how I tackled it. I think THESE situations are what could make GM’ing easier or more approachable to those that have a difficult time devising how to best run these encounters.