I. Introduction

What this guide is, who it's for, why we wrote it, and how to use it.

This is part I of a guide for running your first Dungeons & Dragons game.

Artwork Β© Dean Spencer

What is this guide all about?

For one reason or another, your quest has brought you here. You want to become a Dungeon Master: leader of game night, teller of tales, builder of worlds. But you don't know where to begin.

The purpose of this guide is to show you where to begin. It provides the information and resources you need to host your first game of Dungeons & Dragons as the Dungeon Master. It will prepare you to host in-person or online. We have carefully curated the content to keep things simple and to save you money. Think of it as your one-stop shop for running your first game.

What's included in the guide?

  • Links to the basic rules and supplies you actually need (it's less than you think)
  • A step-by-step method to prepare for the game
  • The Green Blight πŸ‰ – an original adventure designed for first time Dungeon Masters
  • Pre-made character sheets, cheatsheets, and templates
  • Ways of thinking to boost your confidence and support you during the game
  • Suggestions for what to try after your first game


A Dungeon Master (or DM) can go by other names, like Game Master (GM), Referee, or Guide. Either term is correct, but we're going to stick with Dungeon Master or DM for consistency.

Why does this guide exist?

First things first: thank you for choosing to become a Dungeon Master! The world needs more of you.

By this point, you've probably looked online and discovered that there is an overwhelming amount of information out there about how to be the Dungeon Master. You might feel like you need to know everything before you start. The truth is, you can learn most of that stuff later on, and you definitely don't need to learn it before you start. It's easier than it looks.

That's what we're here for. We're going to cut away everything you can learn later, and focus on helping you run your first game. You don't need any prior experience as a Dungeon Master (though you may find some useful tips even if you've run a few games before!).

Being a Dungeon Master is a deep and rewarding craft. There is a large world of knowledge, tactics, and interesting supplements to discover, but you don't need any of it to get started. Today is only about running your first game.

You're going to do great.

I've never played D&D before

This guide is for beginners but it assumes you have already played a Tabletop Roleplaying Game like Dungeons & Dragons at least once.

If you have never played before, we recommend you check out our Basics guide.

How should I use this guide?

This guide gives you everything you need to run your first game. Read it in order, and complete the game preparation along the way. Don't worry about taking notes β€” we'll give you a Cheat Sheet you can take to your first game. The included adventure also contains the most important notes for you.

Once you finish reading the Wrap Up section, you will be ready to run your first game. The last sections of the guide include extra resources like the Glossary and Next Steps you can take to learn more.

Reading the complete guide and its supporting material should take about 2.5 hours total. It's about 50 minutes for this guide (even less if you don't read the optional sections at the end), 1.25 hours for the D&D Basic Rules (only reading the sections we recommend) and 15 minutes for The Green Blight.

You certainly don't have to read it all at once. Each section has an outline and clear stopping points along the way. When you're ready, go grab a drink, get comfy, and let's get into it!

Lookout for the πŸ‰

The πŸ‰ emoji marks concepts that are repeated in our included adventure The Green Blight. When you see that mark, you can rest assured that the adventure PDF will remind you of the idea!


By now you should have a sense of what this guide is about and whether it will help you on your quest to become a Dungeon Master.

  • This is a complete system focused on preparing you to run your first game of Dungeons & Dragons. It comes with a free adventure and other useful resources.
  • We worked hard to make sure you get just enough information and no more than that.
  • You should read the whole thing top to bottom but the sections at Next Steps and beyond are all optional.
  • Case Studies for Encouraging Ideas is also an optional section but we highly recommend reading it if you have time.

Continue to the next section

II. Mindset

Being a confident Dungeon Master is all about mindset. We encourage a beginner's mindset and address common concerns that prevent people from starting.

4 min read

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