I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. However, I may make an exception this year in my role as Dungeon Master of two long running campaigns.

I’m well aware of my weaknesses as a DM and the new year seems like a good time to address them. So, what have I identified as my new years resolutions and how am I going to achieve them?

I need to work on my NPC dialogue

One of the things I’ve struggled most with is NPC voices and dialog. Pretty much all of my NPCs sound the same whether they be villainous, innocuous or somewhere in between. My ability to do voices is poor. Now, I appreciate that’s not the be all and end all of running NPCs but paired with the difficulties I have with NPC dialog then it becomes a much bigger issue. I’m often left floundering around trying to respond to PC questions or challenges to NPCs and it really shows.

I did however recently pick up the excellent Murder in Velen from the the DM’s Guild and found that this module actually went to the trouble of mapping out possible questions the PCs might ask and potential responses. This was incredibly useful and I plan to use this from now on when prepping my sessions. It will certainly lead to more prep time but I think that’s preferable to struggling my way through poor, disjointed dialog.

My monsters need to be more intelligent in combat

I find that my monsters are very much of the ‘throw themselves at the characters and die’ variety. They don’t always feel like sentient beings when I play them round to round. Often they are very static and easily disposed of by the party. I need to breathe life into them. I plan to adopt the Dungeon World concept of listing each creature or NPC’s “instinct” in it’s entry. It’s got the potential to be incredibly useful in terms of guiding what the creature will do in a given situation.

I plan to GM some Pathfinder

I play a lot of 5th Edition. In fact, that’s all I play. However, I love Pathfinder as a product. The books are beautiful, the artwork amazing and the adventure paths (I’m thinking Rise of the Runelords as one example in my library) are really well written. I don’t think I’d want to step away from 5e long enough to run an entire Pathfinder campaign but I’ll definitely look at running a one shot.

Three resolutions sounds like enough to be getting on with for just now. I plan to report back on progress on these resolutions so check back regularly.

Oh, and Happy New Year. May the dice fall in your favour.