There are many ways a DM can help their players without railroading them. Sometimes they get stuck going down the wrong path, or are just plain stuck without direction as to what to do next. Some DMs will just outright tell their players which direction to go, but the better ones will adopt new uses for old stand-by abilities and hint to the players at the alternate uses of their skills. NewbieDM has some great uses for some standard D&D 4e skills.
Have a player that is having a hard time breaking out of roll playing and you want them to do some role playing instead? Point them to this article and it’ll surely help the player come up with something outside the bounds of the numbers representing their character on the sheet.
I’m in the camp of random treasure is the best kind of treasure. It can sometimes point a game in new directions or give the players abilities outside their strengths, which will make them stronger characters. Having the players give a wish list to the GM for what they want to find just seems wrong to me. I realize that with D&D 4e this is almost a requirement because of the stated book rule that an item can only be sold for 20% of its full value. Instead of tossing out items that the players want the most as “treasure”, I’d rather see the 20% rule tossed and go back to the traditional 50% market value rule. Jonathan over at d20 Source has some other alternate systems that can be put into place to replace the “wish list syndrome” that drives me batty.
Not all games have to be multi-year epic tales. Honestly, most are not. It’s rare for a game to last long enough without some or most of the players losing interest. Sure, you may drop a game with the intention of “coming back to it later”, but how often do you really come back to a dropped game? Probably rarely, if ever. ChattyDM has some ideas and thoughts on the matter on how to more smoothly transition from one game to another and he writes about the problems of starting over with a new campaign and how to alleviate some of those issues.
I just found Jeff Grubb’s blog this week. I haven’t made my way through his archives yet, but his most recent post really made me smile… lots. Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m a Forgotten Realms whore. If TSR/Wizards ever published a book entitled, “This is the crappiest book ever, but it mentions FR”, I would be one of the first people to buy it. No. Seriously. I would. Jeff’s post about the insider information of the development and growth of FR really pleased me. It was like pulling back the curtain and looking at the wizard pulling the levers and pushing the buttons. Good stuff there.