You are DMing Wrong (Part 1)
In the movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, the two main characters are in a car going the wrong way on a highway. The driver of another car, traveling parallel to them in the other lane, yells to them, “You’re going the wrong way!” John Candy’s character says with derision, “How would he know where we’re going?”
Sometimes, when I am giving DMing (or other GMing) advice, I feel like that guy in the other car. I honestly don’t know where all DMs are going, but I can see that many might be going the wrong way. And, to be honest, sometimes it is I who is going the wrong way.
Paradoxically, often when we are DMing wrong it is because we are so used to DMing right. Why? Because there are so many variables into what makes a good session: player type, session type, game type, and a variety of other situational elements and preferences. What is good DMing for one group of players in one environment is absolutely wrong for another group in a different environment.
When we DM for the same gaming group in the same environment running the same type of game, the best DMs quickly discern the preferences of the players and the rhythms that work best. We hone our skills to match those very specific needs. DMing for a different group in a different situation can make all that previous training and constant reinforcement a hindrance rather than a boon.
Over the course of the next several blog posts, I will pick one particular aspect of DMing per post and look at it through the lens of situational and preferential elements. On Thursday I will look at pacing. If you have different aspects that you would like to suggest or comment on, let me know.