@ Chronische: Dear DM, have you ever played or run a Ravenloft campaign? If so, can you give me some advice on setting the tone?
Think Bela Lugosi vampire movies. Black and white, where the bad guy never runs, just inexorably stalks…
Technically, here are some things to think about. You want your characters scared and off-balance. Think about sounds that come from unseen sources. Heavy stones sliding against one another. Foot treads on the floor above. A sudden CRUNCH! from the room they just left. All without an easy explanation.
Split the party up, either with multiple objectives of supreme immediacy, or some kind of trap. Being alone means having no friends to depend on. Unnerving in a hostile environment where red glowing eyes are staring at you through the slits in the walls.
Give someone a powerful weapon… a +5 sword of kicking necro ass. It’s awesome, and does huge extra damage to everything they fight, until they meet the vampire, when it just… winks out… You can do a similar thing by just having a dispelling effect in an area that allows powers but negates magical items and their bonuses. Good for vampires, less so for characters. But mostly it knocks people off their game and makes them scared, which is of course the idea.
@Layne: Dear DM, does playing “Mr. Telephone Repairman” involve low volatage wires applied to areas that shouldn’t be that close to electricity? If so, my wife likes that game but I think it hurts. Oh, and those alligator clips she uses to connect the wires don’t feel too good, either. And I’m pretty sure that’s not where the phone plugs in, either. In fact, I’m not sure if I like this game at all. And you said Lena invented it? Can you tell her to quit talking to my wife?
Mr. Telephone Repairman is not for sissies!
@Alan: Dear DM, I have been thinking of using visuals in games. Not being as good an artist as you, any ideas where I can source images to have pictures of various characters, people, places, or monsters etc?
Any image you find pretty much anywhere (except money) is fair game for your personal use as long as you make no more than one copy and do not use it in such a way as to harm (financially or personally) the source. Google Images is your friend. There are a gazillion images out there of all manner of fantasy things. Towns, buildings, people, monsters, what have you. Sharpen up your Google-Fu and the internets is your oyster.
@Terran: Dear DM, if your players just aren’t “getting” and following clues that have been left for them (as opposed to simply ignoring them) how do you determine whether you left poor clues, or if your players are just doofus’? If the problem is poor clues, how do you go about rectifying that?
Also: Could you tell us all a bit about the history of the DM family, like their early days and how they eventually came to the U.S. ? I’d also be interested to learn if “Dear” is a traditional name in your family and if so, who the first “Dear DM” was.
Bad news, dude. If your players aren’t getting your clues, it’s always your fault, no matter HOW stupid they are. You have the ability to play to their level, they may not be able to return the favor. In a case where someone completely blows past a clue, give them something else some<i>where</i> else that either leads them back to it or gives them similar information. One really easy way to do this is to listen to whatever irrelevant idea they have come up with and let them run with that. For instance: The Police Constable is actually the trigger man for the hidden Cult of Baal in the city sewers. The party all ignored the sewer smell coming off the constable and decided to take the train to Cork instead because someone had heard that cultists all like knockwurst, and the best knockwurst comes from Cork. Fine. They go and discover nothing about cultists dietary habits, but they DO run into Charlene, the constable’s sister. She asks how her brother has been, worried over him because of “those new friends of his. They seemed a nasty sort. Robes and chanting and smelled like a sewer they did!” If they still don’t get it, Charlene could give them a “care package” of twenty pounds of knockwurst for her brother. “It’s his favorite.”
DMs fell from the sky to save your planet some forty-odd years ago. In that time they have averted numerous catastrophic occurrences such as the nuking of Wales, the sinking of Africa, and the spread of Cyborg Commando. “Dear” is just a name, like any other in the DM world. There is also Roger DM, Stan DM, Goddamn DM, and Motherfucking DM just to name a few.
@Jesse: Dear DM, did you ever watch the old D&D cartoon as a kid and think it was just the awesomest cartoon ever? Have you re-watched it as an experienced D&D-playing adult and thought it was the lamest show ever? What happened? How do you think it could be re-made to re-capture the awesome factor for adult fans of the old show?
Unfortunately I was already old enough when that cartoon came out that I never really thought it was any good. I’m pretty sure I could recreate all the awesome for me by dropping a hammer on my toe.
@Anonymous Coward: Dear DM, what household chores and loot have you successfully scammed by being a DM?
Dear Anonymous Coward,
Dear DM only uses his powers for good beer.
@Christina: Dear DM, please enlighten us as to the special feats and superpowers the DM class has granted you.
In a nutshell, I control the entire universe aside from six kind of myopic idiots who run around in MY world like it was their own plaything. It’s not so bad though. In a pinch, rocks always fall and everybody dies. That’s reassuring.
Dear DM, what’s a good way of recruiting friends of specific skill sets (for example, programming) so that you can scam them into helping you with your own personal projects? A variable particularly noteworthy is when you currently lack any friends with such a skill. Kidnapping is not a viable option, for a variety of reasons including but not limited to differences in the American / Canadian legal systems, a general malaise known as a ‘conscience’ and the unlikelihood of specific skills being found in the victims of human trafficking. (Also: I just discovered that this is my favourite time of year. Why? Because I can buy solid blocks of white chocolate (unfortunately, rabbit shaped) for CHEAP. What is your favorite time of the year?)
An oldie but a goodie, they best ways to increase your personal cache of skills are either to buy people with the skill sets you require, or marry them. Since buying people is <i>illegal</i> and you will always be ratted out by those meddlesome kids and their loopy dog, marrying is the way to go.
My favorite time of year is my birthday. This year it’s Dragoncon!