So you’re Dungeon Mastering for the first time?

You’ve decided to bite the bullet and run a game. Great! I honestly think DMing is a deeply satisfying hobby and a special way to enjoy Dungeons and Dragons beyond just playing it, though being a player has it’s own rewards. If you’ve never DMed before I really recommend reading the Dungeon Masters Guide, not only for the rules but the huge amount of advice it provides on how to manage and run the game. Much of what I would say has already been said in those pages and I particularly recommend sections on pg4 and pg34 to learn what it means to be a dungeon master and think about the world you want to play in. That being said you can do a at least a couple of other things to get ready, and I feel it would be wrong of me to suggest my setting before you think over them.

Most important questions when prepping for being a DM

So besides getting your head round the most important rules, generally being combat, attribute/skill checks, the basics of magic and how to build characters, your going to want to decide on a few things.

What kind of game do you want to play?

The first an most important question. DMing takes almost always takes more time and energy than being a player. You are forming the world that is the backdrop of their story and as such it should be a world that you enjoy building. Thinking hard about the kind of stories that excite and drive you to put in the time is a big part of getting a good campaign. Do you want to play a gritty realistic world where death is round every corner? Or perhaps a slapstick adventure where it’s all about what makes you laugh?  Think about this, find the balance of what you want, how you imagine the game going, how you’d like people to react to certain threats or rewards. Then build your play style around encouraging that kind of game. It will take experience and you might not even realise your adapting one story to better fit your idea of a good story. That is, until you find that in your ‘Game of Thronesesque’ world you thought you wanted, characters that are a better fit in a Monty Python sketch keep . This isn’t a problem though, adapting the game to fit your tastes means your making the game your own, it makes you more captivated in your work. Knowing your preferred tastes in advance though helps you plan better and build a more cohesive world.

What can you expect from your players?

The other core element of any D&D game is the players. In an ideal world what you want and what they can want will be a perfect overlap. We don’t live in a perfect world, this does not however stop you having a perfect game. Talk to your players, ask them what they would enjoy about playing D&D. This could be navigating political machinations, fighting terrible beasts, becoming a lauded hero or even delving deep into dungeons.  Each player will likely have different expectations of a game, but that’s fine. Talking about the type of game they want to play allows you to look at what you have planned and try and make them meet in the middle.

I think these are two very important questions to ask yourself and your players before you start. A lot of problems I’ve had or my friends have had came from us not considering these two questions.  It’s not the end of the world if you don’t overlap completely and many games come from people being outside of their comfort zone. However if you want to run a high politic murder mystery, and your players want to just go run around in the woods hitting things it might be time to compromise. Building a game around elements of the world that both you and the players find interesting is the best way forward.

You may also decide that you want to run a premade adventure that covers what you want to do and what they want to do. You may even want to run the Alterlands Campaign! If so read on with my What are the Alterlands section.

About The Author

Related Posts

Leave a Reply