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DMs/GMs: Build DF ahead of time or during play?
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TOPIC: DMs/GMs: Build DF ahead of time or during play?
#1031
DMs/GMs: Build DF ahead of time or during play? 10 Years, 3 Months ago  
A question for the DMs and Gms out there...Do you prefer to build the DF layout ahead of time or do you lay the pieces down as the players enter the area? I have experimented with both and have experienced pros and cons for each. Laying the pieces down as the players enter the area keeps them on their toes and doesn't give away dead ends, likely directions, etc...but can bog down the flow of the game if they are moving quickly. Putting it all together ahead of time solves the gameflow problem, but takes some of the surprise and guesswork out of it for the players. I usually cover the undiscovered areas with cloth or paper until they arrive there, but it can't keep them from noticing that "there's a whole lot of DF to the north under that cloth" and opting for north instead of the fun little surprise that lies in that one little room by itself to the east. Would like to hear some of your thoughts and strategies for or against setting up in advance.
Lao Draco
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#1032
DMs/GMs: Build DF ahead of time or during play? 10 Years, 3 Months ago  
A question for the DMs and Gms out there...Do you prefer to build the DF layout ahead of time or do you lay the pieces down as the players enter the area? I have experimented with both and have experienced pros and cons for each. Laying the pieces down as the players enter the area keeps them on their toes and doesn't give away dead ends, likely directions, etc...but can bog down the flow of the game if they are moving quickly. Putting it all together ahead of time solves the gameflow problem, but takes some of the surprise and guesswork out of it for the players. I usually cover the undiscovered areas with cloth or paper until they arrive there, but it can't keep them from noticing that "there's a whole lot of DF to the north under that cloth" and opting for north instead of the fun little surprise that lies in that one little room by itself to the east. Would like to hear some of your thoughts and strategies for or against setting up in advance.

I much prefer having things laid out beforehand. I just cover the relevant bits with 3x5 cards or whatever's on hand at that time and move the covers as the characters advance to those areas.
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#1033
DMs/GMs: Build DF ahead of time or during play? 10 Years, 3 Months ago  
Here is an idea with a very cool effect:

Occassionally, when we have a special get-together, I will set up the dungeon beforehand -- complete with all the accessories and monster figs. I then turn off all the lights and make it totally dark in the room -- except for one small "tea light" candle place on the floor of the master maze dungeon where the party's figs start the adventure. The candle creates some awesome shadows, and it simulates the party's torch. Therefore, whatever the player's can see -- the PC's can see.

It is very cool, and it helps to illustrate what each character can see.

The drawback is that having low light makes for poor record-keeping conditions, so I ususally have a small booklight behind my screen. The players keep all their characters on another table away from the dungeon with a small booklight as well.

Still, it is a great change of pace, and it works great in the cavernous sets. Just be careful with the candle!
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#1034
DMs/GMs: Build DF ahead of time or during play? 10 Years, 3 Months ago  
I always "build as we go" I have my pieces all ready and prepared in a box beside me. Speed is very fast and the PCs are usually planing what they are going to do anyway. Not much down time.

I can't see any value in ruining the surprise by building it all beforehand. Unless the PC know the area very well, I don't want them to see whats ahead in any way.
Thor
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Cheers !!!

--- Thor Atlanta, GA (Kauke@Juno.com)
*** E-Mail Me for a current Trade List (DDM,SWM, DF, A&A)!!!!
 
#1035
DMs/GMs: Build DF ahead of time or during play? 10 Years, 3 Months ago  
Admin: Your way sounds more romantic, you sly dog !!! :lol:

Do you serve red wine.......soft music.... :idea:

If I tried this my players would blow out the candle and steal stuff; and I have no doubt somebodys plastic mini would end up on fire.

Just Kidding (I think..............)
Thor
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Cheers !!!

--- Thor Atlanta, GA (Kauke@Juno.com)
*** E-Mail Me for a current Trade List (DDM,SWM, DF, A&A)!!!!
 
#1036
DMs/GMs: Build DF ahead of time or during play? 10 Years, 3 Months ago  
I usually build as I go. I find that it's pretty quick; I can slap the pieces down onto the table, and if they're simple layouts, my players can help me assemble them. I just have to indicate the general placement and they handle the precise aligning of the pieces.

However, in some cases it makes sense to pre-assemble the dungeon on the gaming table; for example, when the party is entering a dungeon that they know about already, or have a "native guide" or a treasure map to show them the way. And even then, they could be surprised because things may not be the same as what the map shows. Maybe conditions have changed over the years, or maybe their information is just plain wrong. I keep the rooms empty until they enter them, then I populate them with whatever they encounter and swap MM pieces if there are changes to the layout.

When I have a complex layout to put together, especially if I am using pieces from several different sets, I will sometimes pre-assemble sections on a card table on the side, so that I can quickly transfer the pieces to the gaming table without rummaging through the MM set trays for the right pieces. Another thing I sometimes do is to pre-assemble sections on cookie sheets - the kind without raised edges - so I can pick up a section, carry it to the gaming table, and slide it off the sheet onto the table more-or-less intact.
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#1037
DMs/GMs: Build DF ahead of time or during play? 10 Years, 3 Months ago  
Sounds like we're all on the same page for the most part. I tend to prefer the "lay 'em out as you go" method too, unless there is a very complex room (like a massive temple area) or we're covering previously seen areas. There were some good ideas in your responses though. I like the candle for torchlight idea. Might give that a try sometime. The cookie sheet idea was also helpful. I appreciate the input so far and welcome any additional perspectives.
Lao Draco
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#1038
DMs/GMs: Build DF ahead of time or during play? 10 Years, 3 Months ago  
Most of the time I build as I go out to the current vision of the party and their scouts.

At other times the group has done some research or otherwise aquired a map of the dungeon. They don't know what is in any room but they do know the general layout with perhaps some notes of what some rooms used to be for.
DaggerdaleDM
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#1039
DMs/GMs: Build DF ahead of time or during play? 10 Years, 3 Months ago  
When the PC find a large or complex area I usually call a break time and while they are away smoking or getting food/drink I set it all up. When they come back it's like Ewww & Ahhhh as they view the set-up.

A minor thrill but I'll take it !! :D
Thor
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Cheers !!!

--- Thor Atlanta, GA (Kauke@Juno.com)
*** E-Mail Me for a current Trade List (DDM,SWM, DF, A&A)!!!!
 
#1040
DMs/GMs: Build DF ahead of time or during play? 10 Years, 3 Months ago  
Wow - The vote is pretty even. But only 9 people voted. :?

I woulda thought "As we go" building style would be much more.... :!:

Like 70% - 30%

Maybe more votes are coming...............
Thor
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Cheers !!!

--- Thor Atlanta, GA (Kauke@Juno.com)
*** E-Mail Me for a current Trade List (DDM,SWM, DF, A&A)!!!!
 
#1041
DMs/GMs: Build DF ahead of time or during play? 10 Years, 3 Months ago  
Although i dont own anything yet. When i do ((more then likely my major purchase at origins. As best deals are at cons :D )) ill lay them down as i go. I really like the cookie sheet idea i read in there. and Admins idea was cool too.
MrThou
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Cavernous Passages, DoE (In transit)
 
#1042
DMs/GMs: Build DF ahead of time or during play? 10 Years, 3 Months ago  
It's a tough call really. I think the prebuilt dungeon takes away the "discovery" part of the quest. And the tension as well.

The only problem I can see is that if the PCs choose to run instead of walk through the dungeon at 60ft or even 120ft per round. You run out of DF real fast.

Of course you can be a sly DM and discourage that....torch blows out, slip and fall....and the threat of traps.

MUAHAHAHA :twisted:
SovS
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