DM Tips and Tricks: Pacing and Detail

So, you’re trekking through the woods, and uh, you see four goblins. What are they doing? Uh, well, they are just standing around. Oh, you want to attack? Ok, so roll, yeah that hits, ok, you do 10 damage? He dies.

How does that narrative sound? Horrible right? Well unfortunately I’ve had to sit though such sessions where the DM would sound monotonous and give lack luster details. Have you ever read a book? Seen a movie? Seen a TV show? Any form of entertainment? You gotta tell a story and make it juicy for the players. Let me give you a better example of how I run my game:

The low daylight causes the shadows of the trees to be long and ominous in the woods. The passing rainstorm has left behind puddles and that fresh smell that is telltale of rain on a fresh layer of dirt. Roll a stealth check. *Insert rolling die*. You seem to move through the underbrush with silence. Ranger, you notice there is a goblin relieving himself by a tree, he doesn’t seem to be looking your way.

“Do I see any others?”

Roll Perception. *Rolling dice*. You see a small fire pit, dug into the ground and small as to not garner attention. You see three goblins feasting on some squirrels they apparently caught. Does anyone speak goblin? *If no one does you can just say they speak jibberish. If someone in the party does you have a few choices. You can make it a simple but funny conversation, or you can give them valuable information on their quest, or you can roll for it :)* What do you want to do? How are you going to go about doing that?

“I want to stay where I am and throw a dagger into it’s eye.” Roll an attack! You hit and do 10 damage? The dagger careens through the air and with a sickening thud. The goblin gurgles *Insert your own goblin sound effects here*


“I want to slowly creep up on him as he isn’t looking at me. I can feel the soft dirt underneath my feet and I know that he won’t hear me coming. As I get closer I can smell his goblin stank and I try not to gag. I slip my dagger from my belt and slowly bring it up to his neck and with a quick movement I cover his mouth and slit his throat.” In instances like this I won’t even make a player roll for it, especially if it’s a rouge. I like to reward my players on their creativity.

The point I’m trying to get at is that I told the same story twice, but the second time around had detail and pacing that allows the player’s to become more immersed in the game. Don’t be afraid to throw in a little detail to flair up your game. You could even write down a couple of details about where the players are. Start small. Even the smallest detail can make all the difference. It’s a game, have fun. Don’t be afraid to have fun with the details.

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