Running the Game


Describing the Unknown

When describing what player characters experience during an adventure, the referee should be careful to keep an air of mystery. The best way of achieving this is to only describe what characters see, hear, smell, and so on, without providing the players any additional information.

Monsters: Should be described, rather than referred to by name. Players will come to recognise different types of monsters by their descriptions and behaviours.

Surprise attacks: When characters are attacked by surprise, the referee should simply describe the attack itself, rather than giving players the complete description of the attacking monster. For example, a character may just see a clawed hand reaching out of the shadows. Only in subsequent combat rounds should a more detailed description of the monster be provided.

Monster and NPC game stats: The game statistics (e.g. hit points, level) of monsters and NPCs should never be revealed to players. In combat, the referee should describe the effects of damage on a monster, rather than telling the players how many hit points it has remaining.

Magic items: Should be described, rather than referred to by name. Only by experimentation can players find out what powers a magic item has (and indeed whether an item is magical at all!).

Describing Explored Areas

The usual procedure is for the players to draw maps of areas being explored, based on the referee’s descriptions.

Squares: One way to speed up mapping is to specify dimensions (e.g. the width and length of rooms in a dungeon) in terms of map squares, rather than in feet. Of course, the referee and the players must agree on the size of one map square.

Known areas: Sometimes, characters may already know the shape of an area being explored. In this case, the referee may draw the parts of the map which are already known.

Complex areas: In the case of extremely complicated areas, the referee may draw directly on the players’ map. This is not generally to be encouraged, however, as this does not help the players to improve their own mapping skills.

Using Miniatures

Some groups like to use miniatures along with a gridded tabletop surface to track exploration and combat.

Play surface: The most convenient type of surface is something on which maps can be drawn with erasable pens. The surface should be gridded for ease of tracking the movements of characters.

Scale: The typical scale used is 1” on the play surface = 5’ in the game world (or 5 yards for outdoor encounters).

Miniatures: Miniature figures are available to purchase from many different companies. Alternatively, simple tokens like dice or beads can be used.