Beyond the Empire
As this is a "West Marches" style of game, there is a larger pool of DMs, all of whom share the duties of running games for the group. There is no "head DM", though the game is loosely corralled by Hailey, Jeremy, and Rory; larger decisions that affect the group may be put to a vote across all the DMs in the game.
Being a DM is something we encourage everyone to consider, even if you only occasionally do so. If you would like to become a DM, please speak to some of the existing DMs, and we can talk about onboarding you.
The following guidelines are provided to help make sure all DMs roughly share the same ideals when running a game in Beyond the Empire.
1. Respect your fellow DMs.
Ask permission before utilising the stories, plotlines, characters, and special locations created by other DMs. Collaboration is highly encouraged, but messing with someone else's creations is not.
2. Try to design appropriately balanced sessions.
It's impossible to make a perfectly balanced scenario, and indeed, you may want to include encounters designed to be unbeatable by the players in their current state. However, in the spirit of avoiding Player vs. DM sentiment, try to ensure you don't lumber characters with challenges they both have no chance of winning and no chance of escape from.
Due to the nature of this game, you may run sessions with characters of rather wildly different levels. Try to avoid running games where characters are more than 3 levels apart, and especially across tiers, because it becomes very difficult to balance the challenge appropriately. That said, if the characters involved insist on bringing their lower (or higher) level companions, simply be aware of that when designing the adventure.
Sometimes, players get lucky and defeat something powerful with gusto, good planning, and sheer luck—great! They should be rewarded appropriately. However, be mindful of the sorts of XP you might give out in a session to avoid excessively rewarding those players lucky enough to be on the gravy train express. Generally speaking, it should take a character between 4-6 sessions to level up (less at earlier levels, more at higher), so you'll want to avoid giving out more than 1/4 of the average total XP required to level up in a single session.
3. Be mindful of the rewards you provide to players.
Exorbitant amounts of gold and items may quickly unbalance the game for all players, as with providing them access to powerful items before the game expects them to have access to them. Don't simply rely on online treasure generators or the tables in the DMG. If you're ever unsure whether a certain reward is appropriate, always feel free to discuss it with other active DMs.
In particular, avoid doling out items which provide raw statistical benefits (i.e., +X weapons and armor, cloaks of protection, etc.). These types of items skew the bounded accuracy calculations that 5e is structured around and create issues with providing appropriate challenges. +1 items should be very rare until Tier 2; +2 items should be very rare until Tier 3; and +3 items should be very rare until Tier 4.
It is strongly recommended that you read and follow the Awarding Magical Items chapter in Xanathar's Guide to Everything, pp. 135-136. These rules are more explicit about which items and how many of them are appropriate to provide at each tier than the rules in the Dungeon Master's Guide.
4. Be creative in your rewards.
Feel free to go crazy in designing unique and exciting magical items with which to delight your players. Items with creative or novel effects are strongly encouraged. Often, items with unique and thematic abilities are more memorable than items which simply provide raw power.
You may want to provide non-item based rewards too—go right ahead! For example, you might have an NPC bless a character with an enchantment, have the player discover a new homebrew spell, or have one of their existing innate abilities change or be slightly upgraded.
Money and gold rewards should be on the lower side of the bell curve in this campaign. Though some trade and bartering will occur, there is little out in the wilderness to spend much coin on, and limited purchasing power even in the forward base. Consider providing certain gold rewards in terms of resources; for example, 100 gold pieces worth of quality lumber. These items can be used for trade and bartering as normal, but also provide players the ability to build structures and otherwise advance further into the wild.
5. Reward yourself!
Every time you run a session, feel free to reward one of your characters with (???) XP as a bonus for DMing.