- Don't panic. You will do this and have a lot of fun learning. You are destined to be a Dungeon Master!
- You are not in charge of the fun
- You do not need to know all the rules
- It does not take a long time to run your first game
- You do not need to be a great storyteller
- You are not the adversary
- Use tropes without apology
- Embrace the beginner's mindset
- Give a warm welcome and review expectations
- Review the character sheet structure
- Deliver the start signal
- Tell the characters why they are here 🐉
- Have each player describe their character
- Deliver the strong start 🐉
Running the Adventure
- Don't be afraid to pick up the pace
- Take a 10 minute break after the first 2 encounters
- Do not judge the quality of the game while playing
- Address players by their character names
- Only roll dice when there's a possibility of failure
- Encourage player ideas
- Add more with Yes! And..
- Add interesting decisions with Yes! But...
- Reveal other options with Yes! Or...
- Soften the blow with No. But…
- Introduce complications with “No. And…”
- Use the 5 senses 🐉
- Show pictures of things you describe 🐉
- Bring the characters to the action quickly 🐉
- Make the world seem real
- Use voice acting or third person voice to bring NPCs to life
- Give NPCs motivations 🐉
- Roll dice when players want something to happen that an NPC would resist
- Track initiative in plain sight
- Describe the situation at the start of each turn
- Describe monsters with visible quirks to help keep track of who is who
- Think like your monster would 🐉
- Give roleplaying opportunities
- Bias to action. Keep the action moving instead of looking for the "best" move.
- Combat can end many ways. You do not need to kill everything. 🐉
When you feel stuck
- Remember the Core Loop of D&D: The DM describes a situation → The Players describe what they want to do → Roll dice to determine success or failure
- Remember to slow down
- When a ruling is uncertain, make a judgement call
- When you are struggling to make a decision:
- Ask your NPCs. What would they do in the situation?
- Ask your players. They can help describe the world or provide suggestions.
- Let the gods decide. Choose a number and roll dice to see what happens.
When your players seem stuck
- Ask simple questions. "So what do you want to do?"
- Put the focus on one player using body language. Help them ignore the distractions at the table.
- Ask roleplaying questions. "What would you do if you were your character?"
- Have NPCs prompt them with ideas
- Summarize accomplishments
- Leave them with a cliffhanger 🐉
- Establish the time and place for the next game
- Talk about the game
- Take notes about what happened
Continue to the next section
Frequently Asked Questions we hear from new Dungeon Masters.
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