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Honorlord is a handle, signature name, posting name I have used since 1977. I first became a DM pre-Adavnced D&D. Games I run have never been hard to the rules, they have always been flexible and free form. The game has evolved, changed, grown to what it is today and other gaming platforms have expanded the feild of gaming. The power of running a game is the ability to create a player experience that will bring players back and give them an experience that is enjoyable and challenging. There is a balance between mechanic, storytelling, rules and imagination. If you ran a by-the-book game perfectly in compliance with every rule and detail, but when you were done nobody wants to return to your game, you missed the mark.
My insight is flawed, my gaming style cprrupt, but those who like to play in my game enjoy a fast paced fun game.
DM, Player Parley
Being both a player and a DM broadens the perspective. Every Game Master should be a player in game run by another Game Master, preferably one with a different style of gaming. Empathy with players is an important part of effectively running a game. This being said, there are times and places for conversation between players and DM and considerations that should be granted on both sides that differ in and out of game session time.
As a Player, if you can cite the rule that disagrees with what you think the DM has stated, you can offer it up in game play, but do not argue or belabor the point while in session. Be considerate to the time of other players and respect that you do not know what may be happening in the background that may alter the results from the rules you know. If the DM states, “In my world this works this way.” make a note of the ruling either mentally or on paper you you can refer to it in the future. It is their world, their rules, although for the most part a DM will not just crush your characters because you did not know unique rules and generally will not pull them out of a hat as a surprise rule often or intentionally to mess with you. Be clear about what you are saying and speaking of as a player and what your characters are saying and doing. Consider the fact that you as a player have to keep track of your character or characters and all their abilities, gear, actions, situations and anything else relative to what you are playing, but the DM has to keep track of all the characters that players have in the game, plus the rest of the world you are playing in. During game play is not a time for long drawn out discussions of how something should be played out, if you can make a quick point speak up, but accept decisions and move on, additional discussion and possibly agreement can happen outside of game session time. Now conversation outside of session time can cover a lot more territory, and you can both do a little research, but keep in mind it is their world and their game when all is said and done, their decision is and will be final. One more thing as a player your parley with your DM is not your characters parley, do not play your character based on what you know, play them based on what they know, which sometimes may be more than you know and sometimes less. Taking information that your character does not know and playing with it has a couple different names I know, the two most common are metagaming and playing with privileged. This is frowned upon, and penalized by most DMs and as often as not most players.
As a DM it is important to listen to your players. With hundreds of rule/guideline books on the game, you do not know it all and you have to listen if you are going to know whether you need to apply their knowledge or make another decision and be clear with the player why if reasonable. Keep it simple, if the player is right, adjust, there are ways to keep continuity of plot-line and protect game resources hidden from the players without walking all over rules. Always know more of your world than your players have access to and anticipate that they are going to move in directions that you did not expect. Run an NPC(Non-Player-Character) with the group of players, it can be a hireling, or a henchman from the lord they are questing for, or a guide, you can even have a “player” character or characters of your own that are just part of the group, playing both sides of the fence. Among other things this can help you lead the players away from directions you have not prepared without overtly having to say,”you can't go that way, I have not developed that part of my world yet”. I have a world that I know, with history and future time-frames, yet not long ago I started a group of players out in a part of the world that prior to their game session did not exist. Yes, I can create an entire world on the fly and if you are good at this there is no such thing as a direction your players can not go. So maybe you need to have all your details in order before every session. Maybe you can create the entire world, but you have to spend hours between sessions developing it piece by piece, weaving plots and building from the tangents your players already took. There is nothing wrong with having to invest time in order to be ready for the next session(always over prepare), but keep NPCs ready to help you keep, guide your players to keep them in the material you have prepared. As the party starts traveling that road into the blank area of your map, an old lady walking the opposite direction intercepts them as they have to stop or run her over. An NPC you had at the ready, she sees into the future and tells them if they help her make it back to town past the goblins or bugbears that will cross your path, she will give them information that will help their quest. Or the a henchman comes racing up to the party, letting them know it is urgent for whatever reason for them to return with him to town, an NPC and a side quest you had prepared for contingencies. Remember anything you build on the fly you need to add to your permanent world, any decisions or rulings you make for or against a character make note so you can refer back if you or the player happen to forget. As a DM, you have to take into account, that the player does not live in your world, but their character does Things I reward player characters for include role-playing situations, thinking outside the box, making the effort to keep lower level characters in the group alive, and special accomplishments.