I am pretty good at the skill described in the following advice-tool:When something cool can happen ... it happens ( on 1-3 on d6 if likely, 1 on d6 if unlikely)When the players want to do something ... let them do it (with a "but..." if necessary)When they don't want to do something ... let them do something elseWhen things are getting boring ... something happens
Erm, voices. I'm not really sure what training one could do for that. Actually I can. My theatre training could be useful here. Blog post perhaps.
Characterful and engaging NPCs, at least according to my last batch of players. I guess I could make a table of verbal habits and demeanors for different NPCs.
Great, keep 'em coming.@Roger: When things are getting boring ... something happens I usually default to rolling for wandering monsters, but there could other cool options I'm not even thinking of. Perhaps a chart?
I think my strength is the ability to improvise. I can rustle up an encounter in a matter of seconds, if no one minds a basic one :) Tool-wise, random tables for inspiration would be the way to go; or else, go in unprepared to a game and wing it, you'd be amazed how quickly you pick it up.
Hmm interesting one. Maybe: coming up with logical and natural-sounding explanations or backstories for quite far fetched circumstances.
Thanks again. I guess this veered more into DM best practices than I had imagined. Though there might be tools to help with some of these. I'm thinking of Zak's post on voices where he shared how he used key phrases to help him remember accents, to prime the pump so to speak.Also, surely there are tips and guidelines to improv? I've never taken a class in it but there must be rules of thumb other than never say no? Maybe like in comedy, the rule of three where you try to weave stuff seen earlier back into play. Or going meta, where you weave in names/vocations/stuff from the players life into play.
I've created a super-random DM prep document. It helps me have plenty of pre-rolled random fodder for my in-game improvisation. I built the file using all the random goodness from the OSR blogs and then an extensive series of vlookup and randbetween commands within OpenOffice Calc.It seems to work pretty well. It keeps me from using too many scattered random tables during play. It helps me think about the "random" encounters that might happen during play -- in advance of actually needing the encounter. It provides me plenty of food for thought...