DM Minute: Pacing and Immersion
The crux of any good role playing experience is to maintain immersion. Nothing will break immersion quicker in your game than pausing the climactic battle to spend ten minutes flipping through charts and rereading the exact particulars of abilities in the rule book. To minimize this, it is your job as the Dungeon Master to keep the story flowing without getting hung up on particulars.
As referee you reserve the right to arbitrate the game in ways that do not break player immersion in the story. Whenever you come upon a rule you don’t know the exact answer to, rather than stopping to look it up, make an executive judgment call. Come to a decision that you believe is fair, and keep the game moving.
Suppose a player wishes to tackle a creature twice his own size. You’re not exactly sure what the penalty should be for this, but the answer lies buried somewhere in one of those lengthy reference tomes you possess. Rather than flipping through them right now, suppose you reason that a -3 Penalty sounds fair, and proceed with the game using that penalty for the rest of the session. Then, after the climactic story has resolved and the game is winding down, take a moment to find the actual rule, and implement it at the start of the next session.
It is important to include your players in this arbitration, and to make sure it is known why you are making these decisions. You can allow suggestions for fair rule interpretation, but must maintain the authority as the arbitrator to make a decision to follow for the remainder of the game. Doing this will ensure that your story remains on track, and that the focus stays where it belongs; On the Adventures of your intrepid Heroes, Not on the particulars of Chart 37C.
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Originally published by Donald