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I could look around in my stock, sure. I might have some lower level stuff that you guys are past already.

As for mapmaking, like I said, go for a program that let's you place things. Maptools is usually good for this since you can find images all over the net to serve as backdrops. I recommend making several maps to start out with that you can re-use, like 4-6 blank dungeon rooms. You can then take these and piece them together to make a dungeon map.

Encounter planning is relatively easy really. In my mind, 70% of the dungeon 'rooms' should have an encounter of some type even if it's something small like a minor trap or a puzzle and the other 30% can be those random rooms, secret rooms or treasure troves. Calculating CRs is covered in the DMG, so I'd recommend reading that section quite carefully. Most of the time it's pretty straight forward, other times it's DM's intuition. I always ask myself "Now...what chance do they have of surviving this?" and go from there. I always start my games with a range of different battles to see what kinds of threats the party can handle and what they have trouble with, that way I can easily more effectively provide a good challenge but wont slaughter them in the process. Otherwise doc gave some good examples in his post, just kind of give everyone something to do.

NPCs are easy as well, I usually just use the NPC classes in the DMG or I use full classes for major NPCs. The difficult part is making the character interesting, which all you really need to do is figure out two things: the npc's personality and why they would want to interact with them, cause otherwise they wont. Most of the time those NPCs have something the party wants whether that be information, and item, or something else that they would be seeking.

Originally Posted by Khakhan View Post
But that doesn't exactly help design suitable encounters, or come up with a compelling and usable story.
Trial and error is an effective teacher for the other things. Though I guess people generally attempt to avoid the error half of that process...

Hmmm... quite a few things you have written for me to think and practise on. I'll definitely have to spend a little bit more time on maptools or another mapmaking tool to make those blank dungeon rooms.

As for the CR's, I've tried to go through the DMG guidelines, but I usually mess it up when I try to join together different creatures with different CR's. But I guess I can use the CR calculator in the d20SRD.

Thanks for the imputs, guys! Every one of them has been a great help. Let's see if I can get this kick started. ^^

CRs are relatively well-outlined in the Encounter Numbers table on page 49, though it's only suitable for creatures of the same CR and has vague rules regaurding mixed CRs. In the case of lots of mixed CRs, then yes, the calculator would be helpful. For me, it's mostly intuition, though :P

Originally Posted by Ravenborn View Post
The one piece of advice I give to every DM who asks me for help is this:

Never plan too far ahead. The difference between role-play and a book is you can't skip through a few pages and see what happens. Role-play happens as it happens, like a living creature it is subject to change and no amount of planning, no matter how intricate, will never fully prepare you for the choices your characters will be making.

Templates are actually my best friend as a DM. I have scores of encounters that I make and store away until I want to use them, countless 'clues' I plan to give out, and more notes of random information I can count, all of which is hidden secretly behind my DM screens in the forums. If you want to plan ahead, then templates and 'hidden' lists are probably the best place to start.

Aside from that, if you need some help, just ask.
Better. Don't plan at all.

That's how I run my campaigns (check my profile for examples)

Not one of the games I'm running has a plan...Players are too fickle...Things change too fast. I plan nothing. I just have "ideas" as to where it should go...

Well it's best to plan ahead at least a little bit in my opinion, have a good solid idea of what the next dungeon will look like so you don't have to make up everything as you go, what encounters they'll be facing, so on and so forth. That way it flows well and you have a lower chance of producing inconsistancies.

I can see myself going on with an unplanned campaign. The only problem is that I don't have the time to make things on the fly; hence the necessity of having stuff pre-made.

I'll get around this the next few days and I'll feedback on how it's going.

Well. I myself have been a D&D GM for quite some time now. I would be more than happy to answer any questions that you may have now or in the future. Feel free to send me a private message and I will get back to you ASAP. Though, keep in mind, I don't know much about Forgotten Realms/Faerune.


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