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September 23, 2010 / jadettman

D&D 4E: GM Thoughts

I have mixed feelings about running my 4th Edition D&D game. On one hand, much of the mechanical substance of the game hasn’t changed. If you’ve played one of the 3.x editions of the game then you mostly know how this one works.

Where things get different is in the way characters work. Now, all character’s have powers and formalized roles in combat. The combat roles aren’t really new so much, they’re just called out now when before they weren’t. The powers thing is new and, in general, interesting, I think. I may talk about that more later.

(It should be noted that I’m running the game using only the material from the PH1, DMG1, and MM1 despite the fact that more books are available. I’ve set the game up like this because I really wanted to understand how the game play worked from day one. As we go along, I’ll look at how things have evolved in the game and may bring new stuff in. Especially with the advent of the new Essentials line, I want to look at some of that material and see if it is worth incorporating.)

With the current series, I’ve been really trying to focus on getting back to basics. I feel like I’ve gone through a fallow period with my GMing that has put a layer of rust on my game running skills so I’m trying to be better prepared for the game and stick to the rules as much as possible. (Though, of course, stints of running Amber locally seem to indicate that those muscles still work, mostly.)

The downside to this is that I’ve been focusing so much on the rules that I haven’t really been thinking about the roleplaying as much and it has suffered as a result. It’s like I sit down to run the game and I’m so focused on making sure I use the rules that I lose sight of the NPC characterization and motivations. This was brought to my attention last session in particular when the party was interrogating a prisoner and I was responding in character with very weak and lackluster responses. It was like the character just didn’t care that he was being threatened and intimidated by the party.

My players called me on it, and I’m glad they did. It was a wake up call I needed and it made me sit down after the game and look back at what I was doing. Now I can try to fix it in the future.

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