In the time of COVID-19 and convention cancellations, most if not all opportunities for applied and therapeutic DMs to interact and network in person have been limited, and as such I have decided to start hosting regular DM round tables. The first one was more of a training, but based on the feedback I got, a round table model was better, so today I did just that. A number of DMs across different backgrounds attended, including educational, therapeutic, and even ministry based DMs, and it was a fantastic opportunity to talk shop and discuss ways to add cool concepts to our groups. As such, this will become a regular bimonthly event.
A few interesting things discussed:
How to make XP work- Milestones, XP rewards for nonviolent encounters, XP for creative solutions, and other ways to make the concept of character advancement feasible for activities other than murdering monsters. I personally use milestones, but also offer the group a choice of magical items that will help their character, but are not weapons- i/e a ring of keys that can open any door, an amulet that blocks detect thoughts, or a compass that points to their desired destination. Also, it was pointed out that D&D didn't base XP rewards off of monsters killed, but when that became a thing the game fundamentally changed to reward violent behavior over problem solving.
How to support the only girl/only boy in the group- A lot of this seemed to come down to context, but DMs who have had a sole boy/girl in a group of the opposite gender had a lot of ideas on how to support that student without making them feel overwhelmed or intimidated, largely by creating safe and supportive table culture.
How to win over parents- Lots on this, including giving the parents an opportunity to play, as well as coming up with specific goal based achievements that you could highlight. In a narrative game, telling an amazing story about their child succeeding at something they've historically struggled with can really get them enthusiastic both about the work that's happening in the group, as well as proud of their child.
Alignment- Good? Bad? Convoluted? Depends on how you use it. I was in the minority because I like to use it to challenge characters to play outside their comfort zone (at least towards good, I don't allow evil characters.)
Building non-combat options, whether that be by creating actual, significant lethality and consequences to combat, or offering a plethora of different solutions and allowing kids to get creative.
There were many other topics discussed, too many to review here, but I'm looking forward to next one. These will be occuring every other Saturday at 2pm PST for about 2 hours on Zoom, reach out to me @rollforkindness if you're interested!