No matter how many years of experience you accumulate as a Dungeon Master, there are things you’re better at than others. For instance, I’m excellent with pacing and I bring stories from zero to epic in mere minutes.
(I once ran a game from character creation to driving A moon-sized dragon into a planet core to save civilization from a gnome zombie apocalypse… in about 90 minutes).
I’m not as good as I’d like in other areas though. I dislike keeping notes, I often need help with rules, and I sometimes struggle to provide rich, vibrant descriptions.
Luckily, I’ve found cheats to cover for my Dming blemishes. For instance, I use Index Cards stacks to prep for my sessions and document their outcome. I also delegate rules-checking (trust has long been established in our group), which lets me focus on running the game, making calls when rulings can’t be found in a timely manner.
I lately stumbled on a fun and practical trick to shore up my description skills. It’s a variation of “players are allowed to describe PC’s actions in the third person”. As gamer geeks, we often consume the same kinds of stories, games and media. So when I describe a scene, I shamelessly steal visuals left and right.
Chatty: Yeah, the town is a hot and sandy, pretty much like Mos Eisley in Star Wars. A flying fortress looms over it, raining dead bodies. It’s got giant skulls carved on all sides, like the Lich-King’s fortresses in World of Warcraft.
It works wonders. It’s the narrative equivalent of a shortcut, letting all players picture something with minimal effort on my part…
Hey, that’s exactly what a trope is!
What about you? What are your weaker spots and how do you go about trying to deal with them?