If you want to be an Open Table DM at Kenmore Role Playing Society then here are the things you need to know and some resources to help you along.
Open table is to full role playing
as playing catch is to professional sport.The Open Table Manifesto
The aim of our set up at KRPS is that people gather regularly and play some D&D. There is no commitment either for players or for DMs. Show or don’t show, DM or Play. All spur of the moment when you arrive at the session (or don’t).
The players can learn role playing here, joining in with no prior experience. The social network this produces creates a pool of people who may be able to join your more involved dedicated tables.
To achieve this and sustain it there are a number of requirements.
The DMs all set their games in the same world.
The players have characters that live in the world and can move compatibly from table to table.
All adventures begin and end at a player character home base town or village at roughly the centre of a DM’s realm. We hand wave the movement from realm to realm between sessions saying the trip took about 5 days if needed, without detail.
DMs do not have to prep much and cannot be given “homework”.
DMs cannot unilaterally make changes to the world scope but consult with all other DMs and may add agreed things to history, geopolitics etc.
Within a DMs realm they can do pretty much what they like that doesn’t leak out to other DMs realms.
We play with vanilla rules from the core books, 5th Edition Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Masters Guide. No mods, no Unearthed Arcana, no special classes or cool spells from some web site. You can have all that and more in the dedicated games. Magic Items are as given in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, monsters are as given in the Monster Manual.
The one exception is the way we treat experience. Experience given by the DM is “raw” experience. Raw XP must be converted to “trained” experience before it can be used for leveling up purposes. The Downtime Reckoning system allows Raw Experience to be trained up. This has these effects:
- It throttles level advancement to a roughly even pace regardless of XP awarding habits of the DMs.
- Makes treasure valuable in ways that other expenses don’t.
- Keeps a spread of character levels among the players.
Obviously, during play, action may carry over several days and we don’t care how many days a session encompasses. Time for these players just magically sets back to keep session starts in synch across all the game tables.
Story arcs for player groups do not exist. Don’t give characters multi session quests. Its not much good building something around the “one ring” if Frodo doesn’t play at your table for the next 10 sessions. Making a Frodo character as an NPC is also a bad idea as then adventures become about your NPC and not the players having an adventure.
This is different for bad guys who will be creating situations for players to react to session after session. Bad Guy persistence is a good thing, as is having them further their ambitions between sessions in such a way that the players are aware of it.
Allow things to happen in your realm as time passes, a dragon takes over a location, an orc army builds up for an assault and so on. Just remember that player groups come and go. Keep structure loose, react to player actions. Give them lots of freedom to choose where they want to go and what they want to do.
As a DM you create a 120 x 120 mile region with a player character home base somewhere in the middle.
The hex map here is 10 hexes across, and has 100 hexes numbered 00 to 99, so each hex has a unique Id and a hex can be chosen with a percentile roll. There is a larger hex drawn over the top which allows the hexes to represent the content of higher scale hexes. So you could use the same grid to represent 1 mile per hex inside a single hex of your larger scale map.
DM Map / Player Map
For a map of your realm you should have a private, detailed map, and also a “new player” map that characters at your table can have a copy of. Only the main features are shown in the new player map and the rest of the realm is more or less blank. Players can fill in details as they discover them.
Encounter Challenge Levels
Roughly challenge levels for encounters should be low level (Cr 3 or less) near your home base and climb to higher levels (CR 7 to 8) further away. In a multi-level dungeon the CR range is the same as the hex in the upper floors but may climb to higher CR for dungeon levels further down.
Players are expected to gauge the challenge level they are willing to face and it helps if you provide clues as to how dangerous any location is. Lots of foreshadowing.
Impact of 8th Level Character Limit
No 5th level spells, hence no resurrection (7th) or Reincarnate (5th). This is intentional. Characters that die in the open table are gone.
Also no Teleport (7th) or Teleportation Circles (5th). Again intentional. Leave such things out of your region unless via powerful magic items or artifacts.