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NWC backup topic DMFI

Posted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 8:50 am
by Skunkeen

If anyone would like to take up organizing and teaching DMFI 102, I am posting my draft DMFI 102 curriculum outline. My schedule does not allow for running classes.

DMFI 102

Draft Curriculum
March 19, 2006

Goal: Create a plan for a simple two hour live class module that could be a venue for sharing led by one or two experienced NWN DMs.

The original DM 102 was a live classroom with automated widgets that narrated the text, with at least two Fleet Street DMs as the teachers coordinating via voice chat. It ran 2.5 to 3 hours depending on the curriculum. DMFI 102, like DM102, assumes that students already know the basic mechanics of the DM Client and DM wands. The original admissions criteria was DM101 and DMing at least one game.

This DMFI 102 outline could be adapted to create a similar live DM teaching module, perhaps using voice chat. A small voice chat class in a sound stage mod would be the fastest and most flexible option to teach hands-on practice.

Re: NWC backup topic DMFI

Posted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 8:50 am
by Skunkeen
I. GAME ORGANIZATION [Classroom Area: City Interior]

1. Preliminaries
a. Via scripting issue each player a DMFI Wand Exploder
b. Ground Rules , Introductions
c. Brief Overview of Interface Tips (windowed mode, enlarging chat window, logging NWN client text)
d. Class Plan – Teachers Share Their Thoughts on Each Point, After Which Discussion or Hands On Follow
e. Hold up a torch to ask a question.

2. Pregame Organization for DMs
a. What is NWN DMing?
i. A real time strategy game and improve theatre event in which the DM is the host, director, and the real time strategy player running “game behind the game” that creates a story in interaction with players
ii. Keys to a Successful Game: Preparation, Clear Expectations that Match Player and DM Styles, Creative Willingness to Adapt to the Unexpected
b. Handling the Hectic Pace: One DM or a team?
i. Solo DMing: Why small parties are good
ii. Tactics to Control Players’ Speed without Slowing the Story
iii. Team DMing – Organizational Tips
iv. Voice Chat (TeamSpeak, Ventrilo, etc.)
v. Pregame run-throughs
c. Knowledge
i. Preparing the Module
1. DMFI Modules
2. Scripted Vault Modules
3. Easy to build yourself Sound Stage Modules.
ii. Game Organization
1. Have a game plan, with important plot points, events etc. A brief outline can be helpful.
2. Locate important items and NPCs – (I use custom 1-5 areas, with 1 for important NPCs, 2 for generic NPCs, 5 for hostiles, plot items for plot items etc)
iii. Toolset: Add all important NPCs to the palette, familiarize yourself with factions and how they work/break, make a neutral to everyone faction.
iv. Chooser and Palette Organization – Importance of logical naming.
v. DM Tools: DMFI and other useful widgets
vi. Pacing and Module Size
1. Why smaller is better to start
a. Party Speed: Two hours = covering 4 to 5 8x8 areas, max, with a mix of combat and RP
b. Smaller modules often have better hosting and playing performance, especially on older servers, older player hardware, and hosting that is not particularly fast.
vii. Class Discussion: What ways do you prepare to DM a game?

Re: NWC backup topic DMFI

Posted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 8:51 am
by Skunkeen
3. Pregame Organization for Players
a. Most important key to a game’s success: Finding players whose play expectations match your expectations as DM.
b. Importance of Communication – NWC Game Descriptions, Game Styles, and Types of Enjoyment.
c. Getting in Character – Role-play threads & character bios
d. More on expectations: conveying ground rules & game style
e. OOC DM Reception Areas
f. Common conventions in DMed games (bleeding, death, XP etc)
g. Why taverns are so common in modules - The importance of characters getting in acquainted in character early on.
h. Class Discussion: How do you communicate starting expectations about your game?

4. Pacing
a. How to control the players’ pace in the hectic live game: strategies and tips
b. Telling stories in cooperation with players
i. Scripted or Unscripted: Things to keep in mind when you consider which will be most enjoyable and practical for you to DM
ii. Within sessions, variety is good (mix of combat, roleplay, exploring, puzzles, etc.)
iii. Beginning, Middle, and End, with heightened tension at the end.
iv. DMed games have two types of content
1. Scenes - dramatic story or character defining moments of choice where the party lingers – major NPC discussions, climactic battles, etc.
2. Less intense interludes of travel, rest, shopping, etc. between scenes.
3. Spend most energy organizing and preparing scenes with interludes as breaks
4. Pacing – About one scene per hour.
5. On the fly or scripted? How live DMing can add to both and keep a team of DMs occupied.
v. One Shot and Campaign Storytelling
1. One shots – usually an urgent and focused scenario, often with a linear goal, game-play often centers on how players deal with the challenge of getting to the goal, whether in roleplay, combat, puzzle-solving, etc.
2. Campaigns – story telling through linked episodes, with session having a beginning, middle and end. Campaigns often have more background information, a long term plot, and room for extended character growth in interaction with fellow PCs and the game world.
vi. When Players Surprise the DM
1. Inevitably, players will do the unexpected. This is one the joys of live DMing, but can also be challenging.
a. Tips for adjusting the story on the fly
b. Dealing with players who turn out to have different notions of “fun”, i.e. a one shot where half the party wants action and half wants leisurely role-play.
c. Class Discussions:
1. Share a successful scene from a game that you have DMed.
2. Give an example of when players’ surprised you. How did you respond?

Re: NWC backup topic DMFI

Posted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 8:51 am
by Skunkeen

5. Playing NPCs
a. Importance of personal interaction and emotional involvement in creating a dramatic story
i. Personal ties with NPCs and among party members
ii. Examples from games I’ve played or DMed
iii. Can be part of the game design or evolve with play
iv. Importance of role-play in taverns, around campfires, etc.
b. Strategies for creating NPC backgrounds and personalities that are easy to play
i. Arawen: Important NPCs – a background bio, motives, 3-4 characteristics (1-2 good, 1-2 bad), Sweeney Todd: model NPCs on characters from TV, books, movies and people you know. Try to sum them up in one sentence for easy recall.
ii. Arawen: Background NPCs – improvised, but try to make them alive and with a stake in the situation
iii. Arawen: Always keep in mind the background situation and give NPCs a mind of their own.
c. Hands On Practice: The Classic Tavern Roleplay Get a Quest Situation
i. Half of the Class Plays PCs, Half Play NPCs for 20 minutes, with the NPCs conveying a “story hook” for a quest.
ii. Players like to get into character and get warmed up. This happens at the start of every campaign and it is useful to do at the start of one shot. Good warm up for DMs too.
iii. Most players want to know about each other and care about people in the game world, especially their fellow PCs.
iv. Quiet moments such as taverns, campfires, etc. are great for developing character/party group dynamics.

Re: NWC backup topic DMFI

Posted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 8:51 am
by Skunkeen

6. DMing on the Fly: DMFI Wands
a. Story Telling with DM Fx, Sound and Emote Wands
b. Tips and Tricks:
i. Logical consequences and the Affliction Wand
ii. DM Wand – destroying objects, backing up characters, and more
iii. NPC Control Wand for Factions (what to do when faction mayhem breaks out)
c. Creating Scenes with on the fly Placeables
d. Flexibility with scripted mods: Encounter Trigger Toggle (DMFI 1.08 alpha only), locking placeables with DM-Forcelock, toggling on/off NPC conversations
e. Practice: break into two groups, plan and improvise two short scenes.

7. Roleplay and Combat Challenge
a. Know what challenge level and types fits your players’ characters and your players
i. What roleplay challenges have your players found appealing?
1. A difficult choice with a personal investment
ii. Combat Challenge: tips
1. Arawen: practice pitting copies of players against critters in the DM client
2. Quickbar critters and console commands to adjust them
3. Have a wide variety of custom critters available with differing abilities and strengths so that each player has a chance to shine and the game does not get repetitive (I usually hot key 5 or 6)
4. Area layouts – create areas with places that the DM can spawn critters or NPCs ahead of the players
5. Always have a reason for why creatures fight or flee – make combat should advance the story.
6. Critter leveling up and down using scripted widgets.

Re: NWC backup topic DMFI

Posted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 8:52 am
by Skunkeen
1. Players will most vividly recall the final fifteen minutes of a game session. This is a good time for unexpected twists, rewards, session enders, cliff-hangers, or returning to their home base for shopping and public reaction to characters’ exploits. Episodic storytelling should be thought of as serial that both gives a satisfying ending with some sense of the story progressing, and if applicable, encourages players to “tune in next week”

b. Sharing tips about resources to learn more about DMing
i. NWN Resources (LB’s Guide, Builder’s Guide, etc.)
ii. Using pen and paper DMing resources to improve an NWN game
iii. Using computer game design literature
iv. Best way to learn to play or co-DM in a DMed game
c. Open Question and Answer

Fellow DMs, please feel free to take up this project.

With voice chat, running a practice and sharing oriented DM class would be fairly simple, though it would still require a considerable time commitment from instructors. DM101 and DM102 caused a real strain for Fleet Street DMs because of the time required.

Personally, I feel that hands-on practice and playing as a co-DM with more experienced DMs taught me more about DMing than any single class could convey.

However, one of the most important things that DM101 and DM102 did was build a DM-community at NWC. Interacting with fellow DMs really helped keep DMing fresh and exciting, and gave a sense of discovery about what this medium can do.

Good luck and good gaming,