All Access Pass–A Tip for Dungeon Masters
How much of your game time is spent just dumping information on your players? And, when you do a mass info dump, how much of it is retained by the players? We live in an age that provides us with so many tools to make gaming better, and having out of game access is one of the best that I use for almost every game I run.
Whether you are looking to give background information about some important NPCs or provide maps of the local environment to the players, offering these things an online digital format will take your game to the next level. If you are playing games online with services such as Roll20, you already have a load of built in features to store and relay information to the players. If you are running an in person game, you still have tools you can use to the same effect.
I often use Google Drive to upload files and share them with the players. You can get the same effect with a Discord server too. You can provide a lot of those little extras that help your game really come alive, without having to chew up precious game time by reciting a bunch of tidbits to the players. Any service that allows you to set permissions is fantastic as you can then limit who sees what information and when they get to see it. That means these are also a great resource for sharing things with only specific players as opposed to everyone in the group.
Instant messaging is a great way to accomplish a ton of those little filler moments that tend to focus on a single player, letting them accomplish what they want and avoiding leaving the rest of the players sitting around the table doing nothing while the Wizard does their spell research or the Paladin chats with the church elders. Getting all of those little tasks out of the way before everyone gets together lets you get to the meat of the adventure that much quicker.
There is a potential downside to al of this you do need to be aware of though. Don’t let your players abuse this access. Establish boundaries up front of what they have access to, especially when it comes to your time. Let players know what times are acceptable for messaging and how long they should normally wait for a response. You may also want to keep a separate archive of everything in one lace for your eyes only, so you don’t have to waste your time searching through the messages from four different players along with all of your own game notes.
Play around and see what works best for you, as the options I have listed are just the tip of the overall iceberg of tools you can use to share game information with the players. Be adaptable, what works today for one group might not work for another. Make sure your players are on board as well. If you are anything like me, once you start down this path, there is no looking back.
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