You want to play D&D? You want DM Immunity?
You want players to come see? You better work bitch.
- Britney Spear +2
All right, fair enough. I do preach this refrain consistently and no, it doesn't help those craving lazy DM tips.
Okay, okay, okay. I used to write for real estate magazines, dragging together articles that more or less translated into 8 Tips Even a Fucking Moron Can Remember When Buying a House [yep; once you've got those, real estate is easy!]. I can do this.
Seriously. I've said this before on the blog and I included it in How to Run. Ditch it. Have a summer ceremony in the back yard and burn it. Don't tell me about how convenient it is for looking up to hit tables and such, the thing is a barrier between you and your players, a wall, a great big 'fuck you' that screams, "I am the privileged class and you are DIRT! Acknowledge my greatness!" It promotes fudging, better known as cheating, it soothes the DM's need to be subversive while at the same time succoring the inner chickenshit coward. Get out from behind that thing, lower yourself to being one with the great unwashed at the table and stop putting on airs. Your players will appreciate it and - when you get over yourself and your fear of being held accountable - you'll appreciate it too.
2) Get out of your chair
Yep, that's right, lift your fat, lazy ass out of that chair and try moving around a little when giving advice, watching the players roll dice, delivering descriptive speeches and so on, to give yourself a little character and presence. Nothing screams "I can't be bothered to run this shit" like a fat oaf wallowing in a chair. Try it. Your legs will support your weight and it will inject energy into your campaign when it turns out you're not actually a slug. At the same time, a little blood circulation might kick a few of the cobwebs out of your brain and start your creative process on a level well above your numb ass.
3) Roll the damn dice where everyone can see
That's right, in front of people. Proving that you're not a fudging, manipulative, supercilious asshole. Roll the dice so that the players can have proof that you're subject to the rules of the game just as they are. Oh, yes, I know, it means you'll actually have to be subject to the rules and I know that for a lot of you that is a hell of a long way out of your comfort level. But you see, if you obey the rules, you'll have to get more innovative in your storytelling. Nope, no more making sure the monster knocks out the paladin when it suits the narrative! You'll have to figure out a plan B for when you can't roll above a 4.
4) Stop acting
Get a hold of something - you can't act. No, really, you can't. Yes, I know you think you can, and I know the players suck up to you, but the fact is, you can't. You suck at it. Just tell the players what the NPC says. For the love of gawd, paraphrase. Make everyone happy. It's been long enough. It's time to let it rest. Believe me . . . the sigh of relief that arrives when you take this advice will hurt your feelings, but in the long run it will save your energy for other things and the players will just . . . they'll just be glad.
5) Please take off the baseball cap
And anything else that reminds us that were not actually adventuring in a fantasy world. It really is hard enough to find a little immersion without looking into a BlueJays Logo while you describe the slime monster's steady passage along the hallway towards us. And while we're at it, could you leave the Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey shirt in your closet on D&D nights? I'm not looking for more reminders that I'd rather be drinking.
6) Let's just play D&D, all right?
No, I don't want to change editions. No, I don't want to play Pathfinder. No, I don't want to play your D&D-meshed-with-RIFTS game. Or the Champion variant, either. Seriously. I don't have anything against those other games, its just that when you keep changing the game from night to night, you just stay, well . . . shitty at all of them. Sorry. But since you suck at remembering which rules apply to which games and since we have to spend half of each night reminding the slower players at the table again that No, that's 5e, not 4e, it gets pretty fucking tiresome. See, if we just played the same game every time, we'd actually get comfortable with the rules and learn how to play the fucking game. More precisely, you, the DM, would learn how to RUN the fucking game. So let's not change it up, okay?
7) Stop talking
Please, honest . . . just hear me out here. Shut up. You've described the room, you've told us what's in the next room, you've given us all the details we need . . . just give us five minutes to talk about it without your contribution. We already know what you want us to do - oh, no, really, we do. It's the same thing every time. This time around, we'd really like to just figure it out for ourselves, all right? Do something else, keep yourself busy, roll up some hit points or something.
8) Just leave
Okay, I'm not talking as a player this time. This time, it's DM to DM. Trust me on this. Take a break from the game. Do it as soon as you notice the players are less concerned with asking questions and more concerned with making a plan. Get up, excuse yourself, don't say where you're going and just go. Why? Because sometimes you have to let the players play without you looking over their shoulder or making notes on their every word. Sure, maybe you don't do that, but the players are plenty sure that you are, so give them a break. Let them have a little personal time, a little time without monitoring. Don't worry. Your absence will be noticed. And when you come back after a five minute constitutional out to the end of your front walk and back, you'll be amazed at how easy it is to get the players to fall in line and come to attention. Yes, they will say things about you behind your back. They do that anyway. Only now, they'll be able to do it during the game and get it out of their system.
What, you're not comfortable with that?
Hey, all of these things are easy. None of them require any planning, worldbuilding, game design or clever detail. All they ask is that you stop being you.