Page 665 - Quest Chain Train

27th Oct 2015, 6:00 AM in The Last Roundup
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Quest Chain Train
Average Rating: 5 (2 votes)
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 27th Oct 2015, 6:00 AM edit delete
It's not very often I find a screencap that lets me do bigger panels over many smaller ones while allowing for structured conversations, but when I do it makes my job a lot easier for a day.

In other news, this October outside the comic has been pretty difficult for me overall. I'm approaching "well" levels of "done"-ness.

Notice: Guest comic submissions are open! Guidelines here. Deadline: January 27th, 2023.



Digo 27th Oct 2015, 6:18 AM edit delete reply
Oh neat. I was following the conversation correctly in the last panel without realizing it. Guess that means you did a great job with flow.

Sucks about the difficulty of your month though. Hopefully November is better!
Philadelphus 27th Oct 2015, 10:39 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, nice job on the flow in that second panel. It works really well. And I too wish you a better month next month.
Masterweaver 27th Oct 2015, 6:21 AM edit delete reply

The NPC is a disguised Bonbon, who will later be revealed to be an agent of the crown!

I'm good at predicting plot twists. Sometimes I predict them even before the author!
Digo 27th Oct 2015, 6:30 AM edit delete reply
LOL, I like it! Maybe she's the one trying to catch this mysterious Elusive and has messed with Rarity's plans?

Also, the comic title put an earworm in my head~
PC of the world, join hands
Start a Quest Train, Quest Train...
Greenhornet 27th Oct 2015, 10:58 AM edit delete reply
Did the pony wear a battered top hat and honk a horn? Was there another pony nearby with who had a cheesy "Italian" accent and was selling "Tootsie-frootsie ice-a cream"?
Classic Steve 27th Oct 2015, 7:09 AM edit delete reply
Maybe Pinkie Pie's player will have to go to the bathroom, thereby inspiring the unnecessary tension.
Greenhornet 27th Oct 2015, 10:55 AM edit delete reply
NOOO! Don't split the party!
Also, make sure that the Pinky Pie that comes back isn't an evil clone!
Digo 27th Oct 2015, 11:36 AM edit delete reply
I'm pretty sure we can split the party for a bathroom break. :3
Specter 27th Oct 2015, 2:22 PM edit delete reply
Trust me, you can't. The one time I decided to take a bathroom break in the middle of a game (both in and out character) my party got visited by a dragon. The dragon turned hostile because of one of the other pc's, and nearly killed everyone. It left moments before I got back.

It made me mad and sad, cause my character was a dragon priest hoping to meet a real one someday, and the one time it does, I'm not even there. Two sessions later, I confrotned the dragon and killed it in spite, quoting "It's just not fair."
Digo 28th Oct 2015, 5:21 AM edit delete reply
Good gravy but your fellow players work fast in getting into trouble. O.o`
AnonymousUserTheOnly 28th Oct 2015, 7:32 PM edit delete reply
Don't you know?
AND YOU NEVER LET THAT DAMN THIEF OUT OF SIGHT. <i>NEVER.</i> damn thief stole all the treasure before we even got there...>_<
Venellian 27th Oct 2015, 7:15 AM edit delete reply
The reason she couldn't talk?
She has been cheering too much at the rodeo,
And now she's a little horse.
Boris Carlot 27th Oct 2015, 2:13 PM edit delete reply
I both hate and love you for that one.
j-eagle12212012 27th Oct 2015, 3:56 PM edit delete reply
The Sigh from Spud when he reads that pun will be heard around the world
terrycloth 27th Oct 2015, 8:11 AM edit delete reply
She's an actor in old western-style silent movies, and got in the habit of pantomiming everything.
Mykin 27th Oct 2015, 8:54 AM edit delete reply
In other news, this October outside the comic has been pretty difficult for me overall. I'm approaching "well" levels of "done"-ness.

I'm in the same boat myself. What makes it worse is that it's month end this weekend. Not only do I have to work Graveyard on Halloween night, but I get to stay at work for an extra hour because of Daylight Savings Time happening at 2 am on November 1st during my shift. I think the only bright side is that I get paid extra for the trouble. At least I can look forward to Fallout 4 coming out next month.

Anyway, in our FO:E game, we have an npc that I thought was a silent npc since she never talked the entire time I was in the game. Imagine my shock when, after gaining confidence from standing up to his Overmare, my character decided to finally talk to his only friend (ok, actually he's had two, but that's a story for another time) and she proves that she can speak! Combine that with the revelation that she's also a pretty good break-dancer and we have one of the more awkward (for my character) conversations that ended with my character indirectly asking her out before quickly running away once she said yes.

Ah, gotta love unexpected revelations like that.
Evilbob 27th Oct 2015, 9:14 AM edit delete reply
... Why the hell did you think Pink Floyd couldn't speak? She was quite the garrulous talker, even when we first met...
Mykin 27th Oct 2015, 11:18 AM edit delete reply
Please do note that I only had two encounters with her up until that point and, last time I checked, she didn't utter a word at either of those times. So that was my assumption until I finally got the chance to actually talk to her and find out that I was wrong. Basically, all the times you guys actually had a conversation with her happened before I even joined the game.

And no, I haven't had the time to go through the backlog of recordings we have for the game to see if I'm wrong on this. I'm having enough of a hard time trying to catch up with FiD as it is.
Desparil 27th Oct 2015, 1:08 PM edit delete reply
Never underestimate the ability of players to mishear, hear what they want to hear, or totally ignore descriptions. I once had a group convince one another they were in a forest at night, when they were actually in the plains during the day.
Digo 27th Oct 2015, 11:39 AM edit delete reply
Bleh, graveyard shift. Hope it goes by quickly!

Unfortunately I do not have FO4 to look forward to. My computer is too old to run it.
Mykin 28th Oct 2015, 10:06 AM edit delete reply
I hope so too. I just barely got out of that shift a week ago and I still in the middle of transitioning to a more normal sleep schedule. Combining that with Daylight Savings Time and I'll be lucky if it doesn't feel like I've been working for an eternity or so.

As for computers, I just spent money upgrading my rig (and then had a whole host of problems with my Windows 10 to the point where I had to downgrade back to Windows 7. Then had so many issue with that that it basically ended with me getting a new Windows 10 key for my system) so I'm hoping the game will be worth all the trouble I've gone through in life lately.
Jennifer 27th Oct 2015, 9:00 AM edit delete reply
Storytime: Using cryptic language and conversations to keep players interested and guessing?

I have a dragon encounter coming up, and am hoping to make the dragon menacingly laconic. It will say things like "Give the Queen's uncle my regards" when the PCs know the Queen's father was just assassinated for unknown reasons. I'm planning this for the same reason the FiD DM is doing so -- I'm not sure where I'm going with it yet.
Raxon 27th Oct 2015, 9:45 AM edit delete reply
I should do that. I should have a cryptic riddle that doesn't really relate to the plot.
Winged Cat 27th Oct 2015, 10:57 AM edit delete reply
Sadly, I've not been able to pull that off much on purpose. (Then again, I tend to know where I'm going with plot elements I deliberately introduce.)

Now, players misunderstanding what I thought the NPCs were clear about, and generating plot from that? But that is a different story.
Greenhornet 27th Oct 2015, 11:03 AM edit delete reply
I played DC's Zatanna in a game. Her super power (In case you didn't know) was to speak spells backwards. I wrote down several sentences for the game, even though I was tempted to speak PIG LATIN.
Digo 27th Oct 2015, 11:43 AM edit delete reply
Just had something happen today.

My character cooked a tasty stew for an NPC businessmare. She tried it and thought it wasn't bad. Then she beamed happily that it was a nice gesture on my part and finally stormed off angrily with a weird excuse to check her messages.

Still trying to figure out what that was about.
Aerion Snow 27th Oct 2015, 11:57 AM edit delete reply
Digo, I thought you said you cooked a tasty STEAK, which made the story quite different.
But I guess that's a bit too far, amusing as it'd be.
Toric 27th Oct 2015, 12:55 PM edit delete reply
Especially in light of recent findings about red meat and cancer
Digo 27th Oct 2015, 1:03 PM edit delete reply
Meh, I am convinced that pretty much Anything eaten to excess will cause one or more of the following: cancer, diabetes, kidney failure, brain damage, heart failure, liver damage, halitosis, and stomach ulcers. Moderation is key with any diet. :D
Platonix 27th Oct 2015, 2:02 PM edit delete reply
Research causes cancer.
Digo 27th Oct 2015, 1:00 PM edit delete reply
Did I actually say steak before? Wow, that's an oversight on my part if I did! We're playing ponies that aren't supposed to be eating our neighbor Bessie. ^^;
Raxon 28th Oct 2015, 10:07 PM edit delete reply
Bessie was damaging the town's image. Without the quaintest village award, our town would flounder. It had to be done for the greater good.
Tadaboody 27th Oct 2015, 11:00 AM edit delete reply
I just started reading and notice you write the story with 4d D&D, I myself play 5ed and understand it a bit better so I was wondering if you shifted or plan to shift sometime?
Jennifer 27th Oct 2015, 12:36 PM edit delete reply
Welcome to the site! I've never seen a campaign comic switch rules midstream, and it's not really necessary to worry much about the rules anyway, as they don't enter into the story much. I've never played 4th ed and have no trouble following along; many comics just use a generic undescribed system, and FiD is rare in that it technically uses actual rules, but I've never noticed anywhere that this has really made a difference.
Newbiespud 27th Oct 2015, 6:56 PM edit delete reply
It's generally not good practice in real-life tabletop to switch systems mid-campaign, even if a new system is "better" (which, after years of reading discussions in these very comments, I can safely say is subjective to a degree you don't even know). The only exception is if everyone agrees that they're sick of the old one and are willing to put in the time to rebuild their characters (and let the DM relearn how to run games) in the new one.

You should've seen the early days. Back in the first hundred pages or so, I got a lot of flak for using D&D 4e as the base. It was the latest one out at the time, and it was the roleplaying system I was familiar with. I'd had a great time with it, mostly thanks to running and playing campaigns with a group that was awesome regardless of system. But a lot of people took to the comments to complain about how 4e was the salt of the earth, and several more pushed back. That was something I had to endure, to stick by my decision. I plan to keep sticking to it.

Besides, as several people pointed out back then: There's a neat parallel between this being 4th edition D&D and the 4th generation of My Little Pony. It's a small detail, but it would be lost if I just up and changed things.

So, to answer your question: No, I don't plan on shifting the system this little campaign comic is using. On so many levels, that would be a pretty bad idea.
Specter 27th Oct 2015, 3:24 PM edit delete reply
I like the silent helpful pony.


Unless she says something, that's pretty much it.
Dusk Raven 27th Oct 2015, 6:37 PM edit delete reply
Just a random thing that came to my attention while reading a troll's comments a few dozen pages back... why is it I see "autist" getting thrown around as a insult in the fandom? It seems weird, irrational, stupid, and offensive. So why do I see it used? Or is it culture in general that's doing it and the brony fandom isn't exempt?
Guest 27th Oct 2015, 7:00 PM edit delete reply
If by "culture in general" you mean 4chan and anonymous culture, in which MLP fanculture has a lot of its roots, yes.
Truly Mad Moves 27th Oct 2015, 11:55 PM edit delete reply
Truly Mad Moves
The way I see it, it's used as an insult because of the frequency with which it's used as an excuse. How many people who embroil themselves in nerd culture self-diagnose themselves as autistic and use that as an explanation when they're called out for their lack of social grace? It could jade people into not believing in REAL autistic people. Because way too many people on the Internet claim to be autistic for it to be true of all of them.

Alternatively, maybe I'm completely wrong about all of the above. Looking at it from another angle, I find that most corners of the Internet where people gather to discuss things in-depth do tend to attract two very specific types of people: 1) people with the mannerisms and tendencies associated with autism, and 2) complete jerks. So, there's all the history you need for why it's used as an insult.
Disloyal Subject 28th Oct 2015, 8:26 AM edit delete reply
Disloyal Subject
Guest and TMM pretty much have it. What amounts to playful ribbing on /mlp/ is just being an asshole pretty much anywhere else, but not everyone is socially aware enough to tailor their language to their audience, or to distinguish friendly insults from genuine in the first place.
Truly Mad Moves 28th Oct 2015, 12:23 AM edit delete reply
Truly Mad Moves
Okay, I'm here to... I don't know, I guess cry out for help? I really hate to drag people into my problems, but this is the only place I know to find people who know anything about roleplaying games, and you're all nice, and I don't want to try some unfamiliar place and run the risk of everybody there being a jerk.

I've been DMing for, I don't even know how long, and I've been particularly prolific and passionate about it lately, and it drove me to a nervous breakdown. And that's a *daily* nervous breakdown, every time I start to dwell on the campaign. After weeks of being touch-and-go, I finally officially killed the campaign the other day. But that hasn't stopped the breakdowns, because there's a HUGE part of me that wants to finish what we started, so cancelling the campaign hasn't helped me stop thinking about it.

How can anyone be a DM? It's the most grueling, torturous, thankless thing I've ever experienced. Going through a whole week's worth of preparation for the payoff of only a few hours of gaming, which is likely to go off the rails and render all your planning entirely worthless, plus no chance of events ever being fun or exciting because when you're not rolling dice or looking up rules you're having to think up what happens next, and the pressure, MY GOD, the pressure of being the one person holding it all together - where on earth is the good side?!

The answer to that, the good side, is that all my players love the game and love the story. And that's so much fun to see. But I... don't. At all. For years, I dreamed of playing D&D, before I ever sat down at a gaming table or had looked inside a single book, but from the first time I ever played... I found that I kinda hated it. And every time I play, I hate it more.

And I know I'm not supposed to, I completely hate myself for not being able to find the fun in it; I don't WANT to feel this way. I know I'm supposed to be enjoying it just as much as everyone else does, but I don't. I just want to be a normal DM who has fun, but in practice I don't see how that's possible. I still feel a sense of wonder and excitement when I thumb through the rulebooks, so why don't I ever feel that at the gaming table? I have so many great ideas for this campaign, but I don't have the will to see them through. I love what my friends and I have created, and I want to see it through to the end, but I just can't figure out how to do that without crushing my soul completely.

So... when it comes to being a DM, I can't survive it, but I can't survive without it. This torments me every single day. I need help and I don't know where else to turn. Please, someone... just tell me what I'm supposed to do. This is killing me... I'm at the end of my rope.
Tatsurou 28th Oct 2015, 4:22 AM edit delete reply
While I've never come across a situation like this in D&D, I have come across this situation in one of my other passions, fanfic writing.

I write a lot of fanfiction, for MLP and other things. However, every so often, I find I just can't crank out what I feel I should in my stories.

When that happens, I take a break from trying to create what I feel the story *should* be, and instead write an entire chapter based around what amuses me as related to the story setting. A joke chapter...or, as it's referred to in Anime, an Omake.

Perhaps you can try something similar with your campaign. From the sound of it, you have a good natured gaming group who would likely be pretty upset to know their fun is doing this to you. I suggest telling them the problem you're having, and asking if it would be possible to run an Omake session to find the fun again.

The rules of the Omake session would be simple. Nothing that happens in the Omake session carries over back into serious sessions. Nothing has to make sense. Nothing has to even be logical in terms of the world.

Anything long as everyone's having fun. The best part about such a thing is that no research is necessary. Literally make things up on the spot, everything from names to stats and quests, without balancing concerns, and roll with it.

From what you've said, it sounds like your players would go for that, especially if it helped you get out of the dumps.

Course, that's just my two cents. You should probably hear what the other regulars here have to say, too. Either way, I hope things work out for you.
Disloyal Subject 28th Oct 2015, 8:41 AM edit delete reply
Disloyal Subject
Tatsurou's omake idea seems solid. If you're hating keeping track of everything so much, it might be worth looking into finding a new DM and subordinating yourself to advising them - you write the campaign, they run it. Even if you have midsession input, though, it'll change from your vision eventually, and there's a risk, however small, that the new DM will screw the game up for all involved.
"How can anyone be a DM? It's the most grueling, torturous, thankless thing I've ever experienced. Going through a whole week's worth of preparation for the payoff of only a few hours of gaming, which is likely to go off the rails and render all your planning entirely worthless, plus no chance of events ever being fun or exciting because when you're not rolling dice or looking up rules you're having to think up what happens next, and the pressure, MY GOD, the pressure of being the one person holding it all together - where on earth is the good side?!"
At the least I'd advise you take a break. Soak in a hot tub, drink some tea, lift weights, 48 hour Dark Souls marathon, whatever your coping mechanism is, indulge a little.
As for planning ruined, I try to keep my plans sketchy for just that reason. My intensive planning boils down to making generic encounters that can be adapted to many situations, distinctive sidequests and random encounters that can be thrown in whenever I need to stall for a few sessions, or actual dungeons. Oh, and local politics; since I make up most of the fine detail on the fly, knowing what the political climate is like makes it a lot easier to invent and roleplay plot-relevant NPCs.
Sometimes I'll have a day where my heart's not in it and struggle through for the group. They've put up with my scheduling difficulties enough that running is the least I can do when we're all gathered. More often than not, I'm having a blast with them by halfway through.
You're right about the game being meant to be fun. If you aren't enjoying it, that's a problem, but your desire to finish what you started makes sense too. I can only reccomend you find a way to relax and then deciding whether to suffer through enough to finish the plotline, find a new DM, or something I haven't thought of.
Truly Mad Moves 28th Oct 2015, 12:15 PM edit delete reply
Truly Mad Moves
Mm, yeah, fanfic writing. Had that problem there too. Had no problem just cancelling my fics, because I figured no one would care. In this game, there are at least four people who definitely want it to continue. I don't want to let them down.

The omake idea sounds like a good place to start, but I'm scared. I can't improvise - like really, seriously CAN'T - and humor at the gaming table has always infuriated me. ...Yeah, I'm a terrible DM. I can't imagine why the others are enjoying it so much, but they are. I've talked to them about this, and they don't understand why I feel the need to overhaul the whole thing, they like it just the way it is. Which is great, but... it's just not working for me. I need a serious change to get my passion back. I'm gonna try it, the omake thing. And try really hard. I'm just really scared of how it'll turn out.

And finding another DM... I don't know, I'm already playing with everyone I know who's interested in D&D. And they're only interested in it because of me, they don't really know anything about it, I'm the only one who actually owns sourcebooks. One has a sister who's a gamer... so I'm gonna try to sit in on her group, learn the ropes a bit.

Mmph, yeah, I really should give myself a break. Especially since I left all my books across the country and have to wait for them to be shipped to me. It's just so hard to get it all out of my head.
terrycloth 28th Oct 2015, 12:31 PM edit delete reply
I've been a very lazy DM lately (running modules), but when I wasn't I still tried not to do more than a couple of hours of prep work for each session. Basically...

Improvise a lot.

Dungeons (meaning, mazelike structures that the party has to navigate through) have a high play time to prep work ratio, so use them as much as possible.

Dungeons have SUCH a good play-time to prep-work ratio that you can often make one up as you go along and no one will notice, because while they're turning over every stone in the entrance hall you can be sketching out the next few rooms.

Re-use custom NPC stats. The boss from 5 levels ago is a good mook now, so throw six of them at the party. (This is 3.5/pathfinder specific; 4e works differently.)

If the players avoid an encounter, that means you can use it later for a different scenario and don't have to come up with a new one.

Ace Jackson 28th Oct 2015, 12:38 PM edit delete reply
Ace Jackson
Agreed with Tatsurou and Disloyal's points.

If you haven't heard of it there's a program called DM Minion which can be a tremendous help, if only in the initiative tracker and monster databases.

I admit to not having nearly as much experience as others on here, but here are my thoughts if you'd have them.

You've mentioned that you don't get to see the satisfaction or wonder of your players. I don't know your group's composition, but I can think of at least two possible stumbling blocks. If you DM for people you've known for a while before, they might be upset because your upset, the way you describe it, it would seem like it'd be transparent to anyone who knows you well that, even if they can't claim to know it's this, something has got you down, and so, since they care about you, they try to handle it carefully, but still go off the rails since they can't read your mind. Alternatively, if your group is, honestly speaking as I know that for myself I'm a little liberal with the "friend" marker, mostly strangers and/or loose acquaintances, they may simply be put off, to varying degrees in varying ways, that your put off. It's basic human empathy, you don't generally smile and laugh when someone you know, at least passingly well, and can see in front of you is clearly pained.

If you haven't already reached out to any friends outside the hobby, I'd try to do so, they might introduce you to something new and helpful. Even if they don't introduce you to something new and helpful, they'll likely at least try, and knowing they care to try can be uplifting.

Then, and this is anathemia to the DIY DM I know 'cause I am one, run a basic pre-made adventure, Lost mines of Phandelver/the 5e starter set is only $12.95 on amazon at the moment.

As I said, this is anathema to DIY DMing, but at the moment, the offerings might be worth the cost, it cuts down the prep time considerably, if you need a new group who will support you even if they don't know how, it can help you teach them how do so as a player, and it's brief enough that you can even take turns and run a few iterations, letting them learn the basics of DMing, and giving you some time to just kick back and be a player for a while.

Whether you try that or not, if you trust your group, or you form a new one. Another thing to consider trying is to have an honest discussion with your players, let them know where you'd like the story to go towards. Let them know that's it's really unhelpful to you, and thus by extension, unhelpful to them, whether they want challenging, well sculpted content, or just because a glum DM makes for glum, or tense, players among groups populated by decent human beings, to go running in the opposite direction. Some would decry it as railroading, but again, you're clearly hurting, and you'll need to heal some before anything here works quite right and normally again. Also, it's not as though you are deliberately taking control of the character's away from the players, you're not even necessarily soft railroading by making the path of least resistance the only path that's really possible. You are having a frank conversation with a group of peers. That's all.

Those are the approaches I'd recommend considering in addition to the other suggestions thus far.

I truly hope that something you find here helps.
Truly Mad Moves 28th Oct 2015, 12:57 PM edit delete reply
Truly Mad Moves
"You've mentioned that you don't get to see the satisfaction or wonder of your players."

I never said that. My players are having a blast. I'm the only one who isn't.

I've been talking to the players about the change I need. I have no idea what that change is, I've been asking them for suggestions, but they don't see the need for any change; for some reason, they love it the way it is. Which is just bizarre, because it's nothing but soul-crushing for me. I want to have fun like them!

*sigh* Well, since apparently I can't get this out of my mind, I'll just keep trying all these solutions. Thanks, all of you.
Ace Jackson 28th Oct 2015, 12:59 PM edit delete reply
Ace Jackson
Oh, my apologies for misreading.

Best of luck with the experiments.
Specter 28th Oct 2015, 1:51 PM edit delete reply
Well, from what I've read it seems like the game is fun, to a point, but the preperation time for you is the biggest let down (A week's worth of prep for a few hours of play time). I kind of know what you mean, exspeccialy when my players want to play beyond the amount of area I have already created for them, or they take paths or choices I never intended for them to take.

Definitly some rest and relaxation is needed, and sitting in on other people's games can help you formulate a few ideas (or tricks) to use while making your story continue. This last part isn't so much as advice, as just a little bit of how I tend to do things when I DM, and that's just to similtainiously play as the DM, and spectate what is going on as if you were and adventurer with the group. Like I said, bad advice, but if that helps you find the bits and pieces of the game great or bad, then you'll be able to adjust your time on the things you actually need to worry about, and not just everything.
CCC 29th Oct 2015, 4:58 AM edit delete reply
Okay, so, to summarise:

You are DMing for a small roleplaying group. You have four players, who are all having a great time in this campaign. You are *not* having a great time, in fact, you find it "soul-crushing".

The obvious answer at this point is to swap it out - let someone else take a turn being the DM. In fact, I'd recommend that for the next four sessions, you have each player take a turn at DMing - while you create a character and join in as a player.

It is possible that one of the other four will find that he actually *enjoys* DMing once he tries it. In this case, your problem is solved - hand the DMing over to him, and either join in as a player or sit out entirely, depending on how much fun you have as a player.

Alternatively, it may be that *everyone* in your group finds DMing as soul-crushing as you do. In this case, the only reasonable response is to draw up a roster - take turns doing the DMing, either in separate worlds or in different missions in the same world.


Another alternative is to try one of several DM-less systems out there - then no-one has to DM. Capes ( ) is a good one if you're looking into superhero type games - and yes, it actually works really well without a GM, but it does help if everybody has something to push for.
Beaches 28th Oct 2015, 7:29 PM edit delete reply
It sounds like you have your standards set too high. That if everything isn't perfect then it's a disaster and you're a failure. I felt that way when I first started to DM but then I just relaxed because I know that I'll never be perfect. I'm a beginner DM and even though I have all the adventure books for 5e, I'm making my own story. I create the plot, the side quests, the factions, the guilds, the maps for the towns, the dungeon maps, all the ncps, monsters, plus I'm actually playing with two characters. A bard, and a Druid. So not only do I know everything, I have to think, plan, and play through my characters eyes so that they don't just sail through everything. Finally, each adventure leads to the next so there are times where it'll take me weeks to plan everything.

That said, I do get stressed from time to time when the pieces don't fall the way I want to. But then I just ask my friends for ideas until a solution is reached.

What good is it being the DM? Seeing how much my players enjoy my creation. The map details, the setting, the story, the sudden danger of the hidden traps, or walking into an ambush. I'm even trying new things like magic puzzles in order to move ahead. They really like that and having them enjoy what I've made from scratch is all worth it in the end. So, if you can't enjoy that, then DMing is just not for you.

Bottom line - lower your standards of perfection, talk to your players about needing more time to plan things. Relax and have fun, even if there are tons of mistakes. In the end, if it never was any fun for you and doesn't ever change to become fun. Then you should step down before your stress makes you sick.
Truly Mad Moves 29th Oct 2015, 12:05 AM edit delete reply
Truly Mad Moves
"It sounds like you have your standards set too high. That if everything isn't perfect then it's a disaster and you're a failure." I have no idea where you got that. That's a completely different thing, isn't it? ...I mean, it's totally, totally true, but I don't understand how you got it from this situation. How odd... and telling...

So... wow, that's... wow. So... you're a beginner... and you do all that... and it stresses you out "from time to time"? ...I can hardly believe that. The stress of DMing is wrecking me and I've never even CONSIDERED doing sidequests, factions, maps, or being a PC, because I know any one of those things would push me over the edge. ...What is wrong with me? These are supposed to be normal DM things!

Hmph. I'd love to do that when I'm stuck, but my friends never HAVE any ideas. Why do you think I came here before going to them? Why do you think I'm so stressed? Because they have NOTHING! I am ALONE at that gaming table! I am the ONLY force that moves things forward! It's too much pressure!

Seeing how much they enjoy it is the only reason I'm even bothering. I'd rather just pull the plug on the whole thing. But I can't let them down like that. But the LAST thing I need is more time to plan. That can only end in tears.

*sigh* Looks like another sleepless night doing nothing but fret about this.
Winged Cat 29th Oct 2015, 10:53 AM edit delete reply
Late to the discussion, but my two cents: what terrycloth said. Improvise.

It sounds like maybe it's the amount of preparation that's the problem? Being willing and able to improvise cuts down on that dramatically.

Now, improv is a skill that takes some learning to do well. (In my case, I learned it from theater before I GMed anything.) But you probably already have the essentials: what do you do when your players go off the rails?

Well...what if you turn that on its head, and count on it? Make the rails phantasmal, if that makes sense: even if they go perfectly on the rails they'll soon go off them anyway. (You need at least a bit of rail - more like a suggested path - because sometimes the PCs won't come up with their own things to investigate.)

Yes, you have to think up what happens next. That's the core of improv: get to a state where you're always planning ahead on the fly, by nature instead of having to put a lot of effort into it.

As to rolling dice and looking up rules, think through the stuff you look up and try to have that already memorized or easy to find. In particular, if there are any on-the-fly calculations, try to have these done before play begins if the data is available beforehand. If these are calculations of PC ability in common situations, ask your players to have them done before session. (For instance, "my standard attack's damage is (1d8+20)*3" should instead be "my standard attack's damage is (3*1d8)+60", or maybe just "my standard attack's damage is 3d8+60" - which has a slightly different distribution but the same minimum, average, and maximum, and is faster to play.)

Also, maybe look at other systems. D&D is not the only thing out there; other systems have more or less crunch - which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your tastes and your players'. For example, Fate is one of the more popular alternate systems, designed for more on-the-fly-judgements and less rules lookup; running it is a whole different experience from running D&D. Or maybe one of the World of Darkness systems, depending on your players. Or GURPS.
Truly Mad Moves 29th Oct 2015, 12:49 PM edit delete reply
Truly Mad Moves
Willing to improvise, not able. I can't even answer the phone when I'm not expecting a call, that's how bad I am at thinking on the fly.

What do I do when my players do something unexpected? I freeze up and spend an hour trying to figure out what to do next. And that's when all they've done is crack a joke in the middle of a conversation. If they ever actually went off the rails - which they don't, because they never have any idea what to do until I explicitly tell them what's supposed to happen next - we'd probably have to quit and come back the next day. It's a no-win for me. If they could act independently, I'd be stuck; since they can't, I have to do everything myself, which is killing me.

Another system...? I don't see how that's possible, what we're trying to do is finish the story we started. Can't change systems in the middle of that. Look, it's glaringly obvious I'm not cut out for this DMing thing; if I didn't have a story to finish, I'd just be giving up on the whole concept. What I'd really like to do is hand off the story to another DM, but I don't know anybody who knows the first thing about roleplaying games, and that includes my four players. And they're all fired up and ready to continue, and I just can't do this!

Ugh, I promised myself I wouldn't even think about this today. God...