OpenD6 Fantasy Gamemaster Tips
You've made it this far, so you probably don't want even more
"rules." We'll keep this chapter short by offering a list of helpful ideas.
If you want more guidance, you can find more gamemaster resources
online at www.od6.org.
The most important rule to remember is have fun. All the other
rules are intended to help you worry less about being
fair and more about enjoying developing a fantastic story with your
friends. Here are some ideas to help you with this.
- Before beginning play, skim the rulebook at least once. Refer to
it during the slow parts; make up the difficulties you can't remember
during the exciting scenes.
- You're in charge of the rules, not your players. However, find that
balance between being too strict and too lenient. Players need to feel
both challenged and like they accomplish something. If the players
contend you made an error in judgment or presentation, rectify the
matter or make it up to them later.
- You are permitted to place restrictions on character creation if
you don't think you can come up with obstacles challenging enough
for the players to run wild.
- Be descriptive. Keep in mind the old rule of "show, don't tell."
Make your characters and scenes as interesting as you can. Try to work
as many senses as possible into descriptions. Think about how novelists
do it, and follow their example. (All right, it is possible to overdo
it — you'll figure that out when your players start nodding off.)
- Players know only what you tell them, so don't expect them to
use a clue later that you don't give them a chance to find now.
- Have the players come up with a situation that you know is not in
the book? Flip to the generic difficulties descriptions (if you've nowhere
else to start) or the generic modifiers (if you already have a difficulty).
Then pick a number based on the descriptions therein and go with it.
You can also use this technique to reward player ingenuity.
- Hide the adventure's text or notes, so your players don't know
whether you're changing something. It also increases the level of
suspense and excitement, because they don't know what's going to
- Adjust the dice totals to make sure that neither side trounces
the other too fast (although sometimes, that just can't be helped,
so you have to add a few more henchmen, swarms of rats, or a sudden
- Keep a few appropriate filler obstacles handy, like game characteristics
for henchmen, rolling boulders, booby traps, critter swarms,
zombies, or whatever, for those times when you need to slow the
players down. Also, have a list of suitable helpers, such as a lost key
in a niche, some handy berry bushes, a reformed thug, or a talkative
child, just in case the players need a hand.
- Don't give your villains more firepower (or damage-dealing devices
or abilities) than could kill a player's character in a single blow.
- Never let a player's character die unless doing so is particularly
dramatic or heroic. Your characters come and go, but players use only
one or two, so they invest a lot more into their development.
- Give new players leeway, but show players who persistently
make bad choices for their characters that there are consequences
to their actions.
- When there's tension between the players, call for a break. It
might be as simple as getting a snack, or as challenging as reminding
the players that they are not their characters and they're supposed
to have fun together.
- If you need to encourage players to get into their characters, give
them immediate, but small, rewards for doing so, such as a bonus to
a skill roll or a reduction in difficulty.
- Customize your scenarios to the skill levels, character options,
backgrounds, and goals of the players' characters, as well as the kinds
of things that the players like (particular types of rewards, jokes, villains,
and so on). The players will feel like they're actually participating
in creating the story, rather than being dragged along.