So, you have decided to make the jump. Either through desire or necessity, you have chosen to take up the mantle of being your group’s Dungeon Master. And so now you begin the long journey of learning on the job, and how to survive the tumultuous challenge that lays before you. Take solace though in the fact that you are not going to have to brave these challenges alone. A large community of DMs, PCs, and RPG veterans are all rooting for your success. This same community also serves as a veritable well of knowledge, wisdom, and experience that you may draw upon to make your game that much more special. In this entry, I hope to present a summarized version of all the tips for new DMs that I have come across in my (admittedly short) experience as a Dungeon Master.

The purpose of this game is to have FUN

Before we start discussing anything else, one thing that every DM ought to keep in mind, is that the purpose anyone ever plays D&D (or any other similar game for that matter), is that we do it to have FUN.

Talk, talk, and talk some more

Communication is key in any good role-playing game. Not just because its through talking and communication that you and your players communally weave this epic story. But also because good communication is how you ensure that everyone at your table will have a good and fulfilling experience sharing this story together.

  • Setting — are we using a pre-written module? Or a homebrew campaign? what’s the world like?
  • Goals — are we playing as the good guys? Or are we playing as an evil campaign?
  • Characters — what characters are the players thinking of making? Are the characters compatible with the world the DM has made? Are the characters compatible with each other?
The infamous “flowchart” that every RPG community will default to. Source: /u/The_Unreal

Start small

Worldbuilding can be an intimidating experience. The sheer size of what you need to build can, quite simply, overwhelm. But while worldbuilding is challenging, it can also be extremely gratifying. To see your players running around this world that you have created.

You can certainly try

As your PCs start exploring your world, they will probably also start doing crazy sh*t. Perhaps they will try to walk into a brothel to gain some more information, or perhaps they will go and challenge a huge stone giant to an arm wrestling match to save the princess. I encourage you to not shut down these ideas with a definite “no”, but instead you can saying something like:

Don’t be afraid of the rails

However, as great as it is to let the players do everything they want, if you are still a new DM, there is only so much that you are prepared to handle. So when your PCs go in a direction, or try to do something that you are genuinely unprepared for, don’t be afraid to say out of character:

Learn from others

But of course, the DM trial by fire doesn’t have to be done alone. As I mentioned before, there is a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and experience available to all on the internet. In fact many of these tips that I outline above, I’ve learned from these different source. Some of the places that I highly recommend you look into are:

Consultant, tech-geek, and D&D enthusiast (read: addict)

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store