D4 Gamemaster Guide

Rules for the GM:

Dirty little secret: Officially there are only two free-form descriptors on a character sheet: 'Motivation' and 'Trouble'. Unofficially there is one more: the line at the top that gives the race, class, and name. If a player does a good job roleplaying this line, they've earned a Luck token.

Brief adventure design: This is a format that works pretty well for planning adventures. It's a pretty traditional "hero quest" format. Completing one step takes them to the next.

  1. Hook: They hear a rumor about strange "goings on".
  2. Legwork: Gather rumors to point them in the right direction.
  3. Travel: Journey through wilderness, with accompanying hazards.
  4. Dungeoncrawl: Explore fortress/cave/dungeon full of monsters & traps.
  5. Showdown: "Throneroom battle" with the Big Bad Evil Guy.
  6. Return: Go back to hook-giver & report on the completion of their quest, get reward, etc.

Types of encounters: A good adventure should have a variety of encounters that give each player a chance to use the unique features of their character. Here are some types:

Legwork: Most of the time, this consists of talking to NPCs, visiting libraries, eavesdropping on conversations, and searching for other clues. Rumors they find should answer the six interrogative questions (5 W's + 1 H), all of which eventually combine to give them all the pieces of the puzzle. Here's a sample:

Dungeon design: For the "dungeoncrawl" segment (step 4), I like the "Five Room Model":

Sample monsters: These all use the outline given at the beginning of this doc and add some embellishments.

Sample hazards: These are naturally-occurring perils the adventurers may encounter while traveling through the wilderness or through a natural-terrain dungeon (like a cave).

Sample traps: These are man-made perils that the adventurers may encounter while spelunking thorough a dungeon.

Sample Skill Challenge: Imagine a nefarious sorcerer is trying to raise a giant purple worm from the desert to destroy a city. Here are some of the things the adventurers could do to try to overcome the challenge. Each test is TN=4 and they need to get 5 successes before 3 failures.

Puzzle Types:

Treasure Guidelines: When giving out treasure, you want to give out cheap / disposable stuff frequently and good / quality stuff rarely. Treasure you should give out are listed here from most to least frequently: