Personal DnD Exercises

Sam W

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Exercises for DnD

There are a couple things I need to work on as a Ref and sometimes-designer. I often get overfocused on developing sytems, rather than focusing on interesting gameplay, and I can be a bit bogged down in rules. Here are some personal exercises I want to run, to improve my Refship.

  1. Run an Adventure without a named system. That doesn’t mean strip the name off the pdf of your favorite system and just run the adventure, it means run it without concrete mechanics that are preestablished. It also doesn’t mean no dice or no mechanics, just not some formalized structure. I would be happy to run this exercise with a vague idea of a mechanic (percentile dice, contested 2d6, etc.) but no formalized ranges, bonuses, etc…

I want to learn to let go of defaulting to dice, and explore the in-game world and the ideas players have. I would also love to play in a game like this, to see it on both sides of the screen. This exercise teaches the Ref and players to explore the game world rather than the bonuses.

  1. Create One Small Dungeon per Week. This is just an exercise in creative output. It’s not as strenuous as dungeon23, but provides a regular schedule to do creative work, whether you are in the mood or not (mood is a thing for cattle and love-making, after all). Use any dungeon-building procedure you like, in fact, it may be a good idea to vary your dungeon-making structure. This will keep the process fresh and let you look around for what ideas are helpful for creating interesting dungeons.

This exercise teaches prospective designers to keep going in their prep and always have an idea.

  1. Run several public games. It’s one thing to run for your home group with your ideas that you know they’ll love, it’s another to come up with generically interesting ideas that can appeal to a wider audience. It also teaches you how to deal with actions and ideas your home group wouldn’t come up with. It adds a lot of variety to the gameplay, and by adjudicating the new ideas, you learn what more people find fun and can learn to incorporate that going forward.

This exercise teaches Refs to learn new tricks, even if they’re old dogs. It will increase your versatility, and hence your creativity at the table.

I plan to work on these for the next year, maybe more. Honestly, these are lessons that may last indefinitely. I hope they become avenues for growth, rather than simple achievements to feel vindicated in how I run games.