While at a convention recently I overheard a DM that was running the same session multiple times say to a group: "When this is over remind me to tell you how the previous group handled this encounter - it was so awesome" - this was while this second group was still in the middle of that encounter.maybe . . . after the game you can discuss how the different groups handled certain encounters - but not during and especially not with a heavy insinuation that the other group handled it better.
In our last session my players were about halfway through dealing with the Redbrands (LMoP), but encountered a young cleric who seemed way too excited by for a beheading.They later investigate her house, and find demonic ritual materials everywhere, and her neighbors says the cleric had left for the nearby forest that morning.So, here I, the DM, am thinking: Cool, they can either follow the cleric OR they'll go finish off the Redbrands. Nope! They wait at the cleric's house, planning an ambush for when she returns. I did not intend for her to come back. So they spend most of an in-game day sitting at this random cottage. It all worked out in the end, but since then I've made a habit of, sometime between sessions, just asking the party their plans for our next game.Not only does it help me prep, but they've given me some great ideas!
Simply saying the name aloud once or twice will prevent you from making names that look pretty but are a phonetic disaster.Example - I have two names, one for an elf woman and one for an island, that I made without speaking them aloud. Maglorwyn and Irezure (respectively). "mag-glor-win" is easy enough for ME to say, but it's a nightmare for my players so she told them "just call me maggie". Irezure doesn't really roll off the tongue until you say it 15 times (and decide HOW to say it). I eventually decided on "ee-reh-zuhr" but the first attempt came out sounding like an electric razor.
Subtraction when calculating damage is a fools errand. Having to borrow, visualizing the carrying of numbers, etc. Your mind has to switch gears for it and that means you no longer have your mind on the action at hand.Instead, add your damage up.As a DM, this means you can publically record damage as well, showing players how much damage a creature has taken, without having to reveal how much more they can take.