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Fixing GM Mistakes! (GM Tips w/ Matt Mercer)

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Critical Role's Dungeonmaster Matt Mercer is here with another installment of GM Tips! Game Masters create beautiful worlds, creatures, items and more, but mistakes can easily be made. One small mistake can throw everything off. Matt Mercer runs us through common mistakes and ways to resolve them! Subscribe to Geek and Sundry: http://goo.gl/B62jl Join our community at: http://geekandsundry.com/community Twitter: http://twitter.com/geekandsundry Facebook: http://facebook.com/geekandsundry Instagram: http://instagram.com/geekandsundry Google+: http://plus.google.com/+GeekandSundry
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Text Comments (752)
Remy B (3 days ago)
Had a campaign where the big baddie pulling the strings was a green dragon, and I screwed up a bit and they figured it out very early, then they even figured out a method to track it down well before they were prepared to fight it or remotely high enough level to even challenge it. Multiple npcs they'd been working with told them hunting it down was crazy or suicidal, one of the character's mentors tried to talk them out of hunting it down, and the guides and npcs they tried to hire refused them outright and one quit mid-trek when he found out what they were hunting. They had several encounters with minions they had to flee from barely with their lives and somehow, undeterred, they continued trying to assault the dragon's lair. I knew at this point if they really pressed an assault again they'd be getting a tpk because now the dragon is alerted and ready for them, so I had to totally switch gears. What would a green dragon do in this situation besides just murdering them? So the next session they snuck past the guards easily, patrols didn't notice them, door guardians were absent, and what traps they found seemed un-set. They strolled into the dragon's lair to find it sitting there, waiting, smiling. "I've been waiting, I have an important task for you, best not to keep your master waiting in the future". Campaign then took a very different direction...
Jonathan P (4 days ago)
Thank you very much, I ran Lost Mine of Phandelver last night and allowed a player to tame a wolf, but then three others tried and succeeded as well Luckily, the cleric used a dragon sound spell, after which both the wolves and all goblins fled the cave Now I'm thinking about letting those goblins attack and burn Phandalin,,,
Lyssa Fretz (8 days ago)
I was DMing with my group and set them against a swarm of chitines... thought it would be super easy cuz they were a low CR and had teeny health... only I overlooked that the chitines have 3 attacks per turn. Almost lead to a TPK, so when I realized my mistake I made it so when more than half of the chitines were killed, the rest fled.... the only problem was one player who wanted to chase them down and kill them.
Ugurcan Basoglu (8 days ago)
If you give someone overpowered sword. Just make a character who can break swords easily. Easy
glow milk (8 days ago)
as a baby GM, these vids are super helpful!
Conrad Werner (8 days ago)
Little heads up for everyone... "Exo-human" is the preferred term for any allied extraterrestrials - even if they do not appear human.
Conrad Werner (8 days ago)
They've been monitoring us for thousands of years... They'll give us meticulous records of all people's history - even previous existences you may have had.
Falon Sherrard (9 days ago)
I once had a player figure out that the BBE was posing as a bar tender in this tavern on the other side of the map from where he was suppose to be after about three lines of dialogue. PC then convinced the rest of the party to kill said bartender. Massive fight ensues, as well as a TPK. I ended up having a necromancer bring them back to do his bidding, but that's a whole other thing. Eventually they did encounter the BBE again and succeeded in killing him, but it really threw me off. When I asked my player how he figured it out, he told me the bar tender was being too nice. I didn't know what to say.
TheCarloCarlone (10 days ago)
The druid in my party (for several reasons) is convinced that doppelganger are everywhere. So if an NPC is suspicios she immediatly casts moombeam. And spoiler alert, there was only one doppelganger so far, and it was found out, but since it wasn't being suspicious, it wasn't because of moonbeam.
Quan Nguyen Anh (18 days ago)
Urban Druid (19 days ago)
Gesticulation! Camera angles! Comedy pauses! Forced & artificial Direction is detracting from the genuinely wise advice.
YellowStarCTC (21 days ago)
One of my villains is a changeling who pretended to be on their side for almost 10 sessions before betraying them and my party never trusts any of my NPCs now.
alain pilon (22 days ago)
About players misinterpreting clues: when we played Tomb of horror, there is a text somewhere telling a story, we managed to believe that the story was about how to beat the module so we over interpreted it in a way that made us miss traps and led us (almost) straight to the end. The GM was dying of laughter while we were trying to make sens of the text and how it was related to our surrounding. And all along the play session, we were telling ourselves how good we were and how we managed to overthink the module creator... Fun times!
Chaarad (23 days ago)
My group was playing a comedic anime highschool campaign where our characters went back in time to fix a lot of messes we had made ourselves. As we walk around in the medieval high school one of the group (who played an egotistical, greedy a-hole =P) tossed a stone in a random direction which hit the "current" headmaster in the head and killed him. Another member created Jap-Bucks (starbucks) and my character designed the school after the future version. Suffice to say we got back in our own time to find that our headmaster had amassed an army of different creatures that got created because of things we did in the past and was now going to punish/kill/whatever us because we killed her great great x 42 grandpa (the rock remember). Here's the funny part; every single member of the group looks at each other in real life and simultaneously says "nope" and goes back in time again. Our GM was not prepared for that outcome at all but decided to roll with it. After having killed ourselves, making more messes, fixing messes etc, the headmaster looks as all of her army disappears one by one until we return to our present time with the least amount of f-ups. She then rants about of awful we are and how much she hates us until a piece of the ceiling falls on her and kills her. Turns out she hadn't renovated the schools since the previous renovation by my character. We all laughed so hard at the whole event and it was the only time we managed to take our GM by surprise, which turned out gloriously!
"In which case, haha!"
Esch Soapy (1 month ago)
The nice thing about running low fantasy settings is that balance against the players is never really a challenge, it's trying to keep the monster in the box for as long as possible so that you can generate genuine feelings of creepiness and amazement at supernatural things. I am always happy when I can make a player freaked out by an event that would be excused as a level 0 wizard spell in normal D&D.
PikaRap Empire (1 month ago)
I dont Know how to fix that my party beat up a level 5 paladin and stole his op sword. Please help!
P. V.C (1 month ago)
Well Q1 how op is it? Q2 why did you players fight a paladin Solution use Matt's cursed idea. Maybe the paladins secret objective was to completely remove the curse and the weapon changing hands removes the work he had previously done weakening it down so it's still good but not broken. It still needs to be worth the effort put in to getting it never give an npc something the player shouldn't have this isn't a video game where characters can't be interacted with just because .
Albert Kermin (1 month ago)
Ok, I have to ask- does anyone else get headaches while GMing? I seem to get them about five minutes after the game starts, and they end almost as soon as the game does, and it's anoying.
amanda cabrera (1 month ago)
Sas the man wo still gets questions about a simple chair in a room.
Eternal Star (1 month ago)
Had an encounter where the PCs needed higher level magical items to defeat the Big Bad Evil. Afterwards, it was revealed the boss had a device that could siphon magic. They were allowed to keep the items, but they were one category lower than they were previously, not really a big downgrade. The whole event set up the next hook in the campaign because there were more of these devices in the world. Two of my players didn't like this and took every effort to sabotage the game afterwards. The lesson I learned from this is that the depowering of items will not fit with immature players, so only do it with a group that has ample emotional processing.
Platypus (1 month ago)
I was running a campaign where the first encounter had the players unconscious within two rounds.
Maraak .Nor (1 month ago)
I notice Matt did not mention the addition of mysterious seating furniture and the problems that can cause. Boy did that come back to bite him in the ass.
vazak11 (1 month ago)
Ooooh very clever!
Jjoosshh C (1 month ago)
2:51 so whats with the chair
Wickerless (1 month ago)
Dude. You have such a soft calming voice, I really have to work on not getting asleep. Amazing tips though!
slater janek (1 month ago)
These videos have increased not only my d&d experience but my party's. Thank you.
Dominik Rausch (1 month ago)
Tip #6 story that happened: they had to purify a tree, one of the PCs said "we're so gonna be sacrificed" - that was 3 hours bevore the reveal, that they, in fact, got sacrificed.
Toby (1 month ago)
What did the librarian say to the students? 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱 𝗠𝗼𝗿𝗲
Some Guy (2 months ago)
This is the video I need.
Vinny (2 months ago)
The DM is the paint. The players are the brush. You take them both, and now you have; a piece of living art.
Grant Lippenholz (2 months ago)
One problem I have a lot of is my party is to strong for most encounters I put out for them. Anyone have any tips to help with this?
Morpher X (1 month ago)
Probably already found something, but If they're getting too strong, then make your encounters stronger! Use an encounter calculator to help make a fight for your Vic- I mean players.
Daniel Nunya Bidnezz (2 months ago)
Contingency planning. Plan a MAIN scenario plan. Then, play it through a few times by yourself with your players' characters as pawns you are playing against the plan. Then use this as fodder to create a few contingency plans that you can work with or off of on the fly. Having a session zero, is ABSOLUTELY vital for this to work, as session zero is where your players do aaaalll of their character creation. Contingency plans, planned ahead of the main campaign, can help take out some of the stress of on the spot story making. :-)
TheCassiusTain (2 months ago)
5:19 The word is "Fucked" Don't be afraid of words
Jacob Collins (2 months ago)
The other day I accidentally gave players a piece of armor for too cheap. So the next session i told them it randomly disintegrated and the gold they spent on it appeared in their pocket idc lol
Philip Ray (2 months ago)
Yeah... I made the mistake of allowing my players to craft their own magical weapons with certain "elememtal materials" and some dice rolls. By the end of session 4 I realised how ridiculously broken some of these were and I've been posting announcements for upcoming "Balance Patches". Balancing some of the more broken items. We're currently in "Legends of Lorone: Season 2, The fall of Vikyron" Version 2.2.0
Unimportant Important (2 months ago)
A problem I've gotten is the pcs just not caring about the fate of allied npcs, as in letting the npc die or kept prisoner. I've combated this by making the clerics'/paladins' deity not giving the character their power in pivotal moments until it is proven the character is good and atoneing for their "sinn's" (thanks for the idea Matt), and making a new npc out for revenge that were friends or kin to the now dead person. A bigger problem is getting them to care about the npc out of pure emotion and not from in game threat of punishment or reward.
ShazaBlasta13 Ω (2 months ago)
When he listed several specific situations that has happened in my campaign lol
SerFaggot (2 months ago)
Awesome vid, helped me out a bunch
Pakinamac (2 months ago)
love this guy - can't wait to find enough friends interested in D&D
Rene Van Til (2 months ago)
Never forget, being robbed of your possessions after being black out drunk in a tavern.
Mark Rogers (2 months ago)
5:42 ... The super happy fun ball.... Goddamn it they should have kept it.
WhaleKit (2 months ago)
I thought for overpowered items it would be "have villians learn about it and try to counteract it and account for it when planning". But what do I know, I've never played, maybe there's things you just can't counteract.
CryptoJitsu (3 months ago)
So I have one guy who has done his character up really well (Half Orc Battlemaster with a little rage barb) and he feels way overpowered compared to everyone else in the party and even sometimes for the environment ... but I honestly think its playing according to the rules. I think it sometimes frustrates the other players but it's not his fault that he's carefully made the best character possible... not sure if I should do anything...??
VortexMagus (3 months ago)
If you want encounters to be more interesting and not just the "BARBARIAN SMASH" show, you could pick terrain that makes facemashing your way through difficult. For example, a group of magic users tossing spells down from high ground, with most of the melee approaches covered in webs. Or have them fight a neverending horde of undead that you can't just smash smash smash down, but you have to run away and avoid until you find the portal they're coming out of.
CLARK is/a/FO4/fan (3 months ago)
I can't wait to see this guy as a dad, that is going to be one lucky kid.
Joshua Ridgway (3 months ago)
I made an item that was excessively powerful. As in, solve my hardest challenges powerful without much thought powerful. I needed to get rid of it. I actually managed to dovetail a solution quite nicely. I wanted to include a character who knew a group of heroes from long ago that the party was emulating since their quest needed to be done again, and put an actual dragon in the game. A little talking and bartering and suddenly they were bros with an ancient brass dragon who helped them only once in any real sense. They still managed to avoid a fight with a death knight (actually they avoided that fight twice due to a good choice) but on the whole, it brought the balance way down.
Kyle Tipper (3 months ago)
One of the best DM moments I've ever had was a total mess up on my part. It's long but it's worth the story. The ranger was looking for herbs in the downtime between quests and rolled a natural 20. I describe him coming across a single rose with gray petals and an ivory, skull-looking center. It was surrounded by vines that it was centered on. No other plant life was visible with its reach. "Haha," I thought to myself, "Sounds cool, now he will bring it with him and I can figure out what its alchemical properties are before next session." "I cast speak with plants." He told me with a determined gaze. I looked back at him with a now stupid self satisfied grin that was quickly fading, "You cast what now....?" ""Yeah since last level up I took this as one of my new spells." ....... "it slowly begins to move and as the grass tickles your legs beneath you, the rose fixes its hollow gaze on you." Nailed it. Shit what does it do? Just wing it. As you all can probably guess I ended up having to make it up as I go and the story quickly spiralled into a quest to find a plains God who could identify this weird rose that I just thought sounded cool looking.
hairmann (3 months ago)
Matthew I have trouble when a pc or myself.forgets about a mechanic to the game(we are all inexperienced) then later brought up the players are not happy what are some ways to remember
As we are Core (3 months ago)
Shannon Samys (3 months ago)
I appreciate that you've given ways to change an OP item to something more tame instead of simply taking it back from the player because the DM made a mistake. That's really well thought out and I like it!!!
Eli on the Internet (3 months ago)
As a PC, I think the best way to balance a too-powerful object is to make everything more powerful; it's much more exciting for all the other players to get equally powerful objects than to get a new toy taken away. Of course, this works better for weapons/buffs than actual game-changing things (a deck of cards that can influence the world can't really be dealt with in this way).
Patrick Corby (3 months ago)
Do you mind giving your opinion on a problem I have? I'm running a game as the GM with my siblings. There's this group of rebels in the North, who have been recruiting people. The players have been given info that people are going missing, but don't know about the rebellion yet. They suspect a shifty town mayor of kidnapping people. Do you think, as a player, it would be more interesting to have it revealed later on, or be led back to the correct conclusion?
Anthan Krufix (3 months ago)
You can tell he's a GM. The thumbnail of the video is of a top tier villain look and pose.
DaeHyun Song (3 months ago)
This has been incredibly insightful
gsimon123 (3 months ago)
I'm potentially going to be DMing my first game soon with all brand news players. I intend to be really helpful and upfront about rules and trying to help them not all die where I can. However.... I do intend to Doppelganger the shit out of them >}
Djordje Simic (3 months ago)
editing did you good...
Elizabeth Kray (3 months ago)
Your party gets defeated, time passes with you all unable to notice or distinguish the surroundings before gradually light bleeds back in and your senses reassert themselves, you feel the lurching of a cart first and have found your hands to be bound, your environment is of the forests with soldiers guiding the cart and other prisoners around you. One of the other prisoners notices your awake "Hey you, finally awake. You were trying to cross the border, right? Walked right into that Imperial ambush, same as us and that thief over there."
Klespyrian (3 months ago)
Handcone of Clarity
Sofia Laya (3 months ago)
oh, this guy is kinda hot
ACEL713 (4 months ago)
Why are there 76 dislikes for this video? YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DISLIKE MATT MERCER!!
Psiberzerker (4 months ago)
Mistakes? What mistakes, i don't make mistakes, I ment to do that. Shut up!
CanOwisdom (4 months ago)
trust no one
Vince Evans (4 months ago)
Lol I just dreamed of TPK where they end up in those outer realms in the lore. & if they can find their way to the center of the wheel where’s that place with the room of doors to all the realms. Then they can go back to their original world. And if not they can let them go in the after life.
Johnathan Grishaw (4 months ago)
I like the idea of Villain overloading the magic item. especially if the villain is magic in someway. The party member swings their magic sword, the villain catches it, and there's a shockwave of magic energy that causes the sword to lose its magic. Showing how out of their league the villain is
DM -entores (4 months ago)
May i ask matthew mercer about how do you know you have talent for voice acting? Because im kind of looking over that matter
Kayley Andrews (4 months ago)
This man is too perfect.
Sijtze Roar (5 months ago)
i dont to die in a luck game.. its not a skill game at all.. which for me makes losing way harder do deal wich. the only reaon i lost. is cause i tossed some wrong die... its way harder to lose on bad luck. cause then you have to get a new character.. ( wich took alot of effort to make ) .. it would be way better. if deaths dont force a new character everytime you die. maybe they should introduce other penalties for bad rolling ! cause to me being dead totallly broke my Rp. and the game speed too -!!
Glitch_FACE (5 months ago)
one time I had the party discover a legendary sword in the first dungeon. ended up making the fighter ridiculously op 0_0 luckily, another person was looking to play, but they were out of town. So, I decided to let them skype in and introduce their character as a spirit trapped in the sword. for the next session and a half, the sword was intelligent, and chose when to be useful (the sword player was intentionally helping me maintain balance) until they decided to free the spirit. this was an adventure in itself, and resulted in the sword being destroyed. the spirit then possessed a suit of armour, and next session there was a new player sitting at the table irl. The possessed suit of armour was their PC. And it was the guy who had been playing the sword over skype. worth noting that the original players had never met this person before, and got to know them via their sword character. forged a pretty strong friendship, a cool character and allowed me to fix the game balance.
Jocose Sonata (5 months ago)
How do you deal with the players turning your NPC into a baby? Asking for a friend... kinda... well they're very friendly behind the screen.
PrettyIan (5 months ago)
I see now why there were so many friends turn into enemies in the first Critical Role campaign. Mistakes!
IDKWhatI'mDoing (5 months ago)
Once a fire elemental came out of a rune, against our 4 person 2nd level party, and the wizard hit it with ray of frost. Causing it to not grow to full size while coming out of the rune, causing it to be weaker, and the party was able to take it out
A Brittish Panfish (5 months ago)
why not just do what the writer of jojo's bizarre adventure does
Michelle M. (5 months ago)
Right now the biggest mistake I've made that my players know about is creating an extra grappling hook for them to cut. The biggest mistake they don't know about is that I didn't understand how barges work when I introduced one.
Orion Hammerfall (5 months ago)
5:10 had me dying, lol
Junglo Unglo (6 months ago)
My two man party almost died to one kobold, untill the lizardfolk calmed it down then stabbed it through the head
Menty (6 months ago)
I gave a to powerfull sword away whitsh was indeed curesed and was the reason for 3 Teamkills... They still keeped it -_-
HyperionRobit (6 months ago)
DnD with Jotaro Kujo
Matteo Copelli (6 months ago)
"Don't admit the mistake. OWN IT!!" I love you Matt
Michael Black (6 months ago)
If you literally make up everything as you go it's pretty hard to make a "mistake." Don't people have fun playing D&D anymore?
Gage The Navigator (6 months ago)
Very helpful thank you Matt
Wolf Ancap (6 months ago)
An overpowered magical item can show signs of damage the more they use it and If they decide to use It in a Boss battle as an ace in the hole, have the item break and unshackle a powerfull creature that may try to kill them as a revenge for being used all that time...
Jason Minter (6 months ago)
OK...favorite it? 510-5:25...am I right?
Negan's Evil Twin (6 months ago)
I personally think saying GM is a mistake.
DanteFahr (6 months ago)
Okay so I just started playing as a GM, I'm used to being a PC. I am ruining my own custom campaign and I was wondering where I could possibly discuss ideas with other GMs about it. Get their input and possibly make my campaign better for the players and get some insight into being a better GM.
Pygy (6 months ago)
Just imagined a DM doing only dead characters at his table, or maybe waiting at a convention. But then again everyone has probably already made their next character.
ironer100 (6 months ago)
The missinterpreted info... OH BOY i got one on me for this... Call of chuthulu, windows are baricaded from the INSIDE gets interpreted as someone is hidding in there waiting for us... NOPE the entire thing was a "go in and 50% nothing happens, 50% there is an encounter when you try to leave" we spent 16+ hours turning in circles for no reason in a one-sjot that could have taken 1h OR LESS...
TheOmnipresent (7 months ago)
To #1, the party should just be ready to cut and run.
WhoDis (8 months ago)
One solution to rule them all "Rocks fall fromthe sky and everyone dies"
Cara Chance (8 months ago)
We sometimes use retcons if everyone agrees to it. As for deaths, buy 100k gold re-tries or give something cool up. Disabilities and perma injuries also possible.
Loominal (8 months ago)
I think Matt's going to have to take his own tip and figure out what to do now that his villian was killed by PC's ... he didn't want that to happen... Dangit Lorenzo and not flying!!!
M. Fer Ashida (8 months ago)
Makes a huge discovery of missreading rules. *looks for this video *
Stinkfat (8 months ago)
Matt talks as if he's telling a toddler about monsters. Overacting hamboat.
sami hamdan (8 months ago)
I'm in love with you. No homo
Vierynbryn (8 months ago)
one thing i think can be a good way to go is to have a direction set up, but never REALLY nail down what you want to do until it is imminent. for example - in the campaign im running, i have dropped the occasional hint as to who the big bad could be - a thought-dead captain named Eldrith(i grew up playing Baulders Gate:Dark Alliance). however, within the last few sessions, i have started dropping hints of demonic corruption among some enemies. the last boss healed herself by siphoning the soul of a critically injured lackey. in my case, i decided to pull a bait and switch - the party has been led to believe eldrith is perpetrating all these events, but really, its a demon lord who has taken over Baulders gate from the shadows. Specifically, the Demon lord of Lies(i couldn't think of a name, so i picked Belial from Diablo 3). he has occasionally hijacked messages from divines to the party. for instance - the cleric used divine intervention to ask his god where a fallen comrades soul went(sent to belial). the roll was not good enough. i asked him to roll religion - he didn't beat belial's deception. so belial has now planted the idea in the clerics head that Eldrith is the one responsible for this demonic energy, under the guise of being the clerics god. the demon also had convinced the city that eldrith had betrayed them, when she attacked the city to kill Belial. now, when the party approaches her tower, she will magically talk to them as they fight their way up the tower. when they reach her, they ultimately have two choices. Eldrith will ask the party to join her in bringing down the demon lord. the character i have within the party will join, as she trained under Eldrith from a young age, and trusts her. the rest of the party gets a choice - they can either trust eldrith, and join her to bring down belial in grand fashion, or they can attack her and the party member(s) who join her. each player gets to make their call individually. so they can either accept the bait and switch, or they choose to believe that she is still the bad guy, and is just lying to the party. when we reach that point, hopefully the party picks unanimous either way, but the way i have chosen to set it up, they can sort of pick their ending. depending on what they choose, there are several ways for the storyline to end, which is always fun
Morganna WolfCry (9 months ago)
Sooo is this how Ryshan happened? Or however you spell her name? Green dragon chick.
Draconic Feline (9 months ago)
I once accidentally used the name of one gnome villain instead of the one I was focusing on. My party decided to obsess over it, even though I told them that I got the names mixed up. I had to amp up the explicit "that was not what I meant" until I showed that the characters weren't even related at all, in game. Unfortunately, my game dissolved soon after, but it was so frustrating that an accidental misspeak was taken as something more. Normally, I would have played along, but I really didn't want to.
Metrion77 (9 months ago)
Hearing "secretly cursed because two powerful" makes me think Craven Edge.
Jake Rance (9 months ago)
I accidentally gave my level 2 fighter an ice great sword. My idea to get it away from him is to have him give to a magical school so they can duplicate the magic for the final siege
May Tag (9 months ago)
I was playing a campaign once. Mindflayers and their minions were enveloping my position. I was on a rooftop, and was playing a tabaxi at the time. So i cast invisibility on myself, jumped off the roof, and used feline agility to dart out of combat. The gm's exact wording was "They are disinterested in you, and were only interested in the minatour." Next campaign, three of them SOMEHOW found me, and killed me in an ally. Here is the thing. Feline agility grants me a movement speed of 60 feet per second, i was also invisible. The NPC's they were following me had a movement of 30ft per second. Even with dashing, they would not have been able to catch up. When I looked them up in the monster manual, they did not have earthsence. Long story short, i lost a character i spent 2 months perfecting because the gm was incompetent.
halim lorette (9 months ago)
Great advice for overpowered magic items!
rickeymariu1 (9 months ago)
I miss these
Lollipoploopz (9 months ago)
Damn Matt ........ talk nerdy to me.

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