From the Newbie DM blog, an interesting discussion on whether the role of the DM has changed in successive editions of D&D. I thought it was interesting given my rather outsider view of D&D 4e, but it also throws into relief the different styles of rules and GMing available in the games out there.
One thing that I’ve thought about a lot lately is the role of the DM through the years, and it came back to me because I am currently running two very distinct fantasy role playing games, with two very different roles for the DM (apart from crafting the story, of course).
Dragon Age is a game with a different approach than modern D&D. It’s fairly rules light, and a lot of calls are left for the Dm to decide on using his judgement. Fairly similar to the experience that AD&D, or the D&D boxed sets provided. The DM is a judge and arbiter, his rules are the law at the table. ”Do I have cover from the archer?” “Sure, you have light cover, provided by the boulders, he attacks at a -2″
4e D&D, which I still run weekly, is a different animal. There are plenty of rules for both the players and the DM to learn and memorize. The DM’s job changes a bit then, he has to remember the rules, rather than judge the situation and make a call. ”Do I have cover from the archer?” “Lets trace a line from the corner of your square to a corner on the archer’s square.”
Two very different ways of judging cover. One is in the DM’s hands, the other really isn’t.
There’s plenty of interesting discussion in the comments. I recommend having a look.