What I would like to cover today is the small things that you pick up when you DM and you go back to being a player. Everybody DMs differently: even though the module is pretty straight forward everybody adds or remove stuff from it. That is to say, to a certain extent. Here are some things I found after 2 weeks of DMing and going back to the player’s seat.
As mentioned before, I did DM 2 of the “official module” during the time our current DM was on vacation. It was a very enlightening experience and I also learnt that you should not take your DM for granted. The amount of preparation that goes into each session differs with each DM but most would agree that it would be almost equal to how long the session would go for.
Well now that I am back into the player’s seat I picked up a few things that I would have done differently. Granted that once you are in the DM seat you have a million things going through your head so it is easy to forget here and there. I realized that the DM was giving us a lot of freebies for example wanting to search the room, or trying to do an insight on a person. Now I don’t know about you, but if something is just simple I would probably ask for a roll of over 10 for an easy inquiry and 15 up for a harder one. From my perspective rolling dice runs the game, it gives the game a bit of randomness and not like a computer game where you head to a corner and search to find a hidden item.
Another example is in battle, one of our party member killed a black dragon in a couple of swing. We weren’t sure if that was right or not but the fight was nonetheless anti-climatic. Now that I know of the increase in difficulties maybe that encounter should have gone up a notch. It just does not feel right for 1 person to kill an adult black dragon or our character might just be over powered.
We are at the point where battles are too easy, we breeze through them without losing any health. Most of our enemies do die from a fireball or a couple of bolts to their chests. Where it does become exciting is from the environment effects. For example, you have 2 rounds to get out of the house before it explodes, etc.
The other aspect of DMing that I is impressed with is the voices. Different NPCs have different voices and kudos to the DMs that are able to remember which voice is for which NPC. Even the fact that they can do voices is impressive. I myself tried that but it did not go too well so I defaulted to my regular voices with a few tone changes.
I talked to DMs and when I asked them how they deal with situation where they never really prepared. Their answer is guide the players without them knowing. As the DM, you can always redirect the player at your own pace. As a player I am able to see that now, the way how the DM will redirect us from a side quest back to the main story seamlessly.
In short, being a new DM did make me realize that no DM is perfect and that practice will eventually help you improvise more. It’s definitely not an easy job, but I feel that it’s something every player should try to do at least once. It’s made me appreciate the game a lot more than I already do, especially when you take into account the amount of prep work people put in. Heck, if homework was this interesting, I would’ve put a lot more time into it than I did back when I was younger. It really adds a different perspective on an already pretty amazing game.