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First time dungeon master

This section of our website is dedicated to DMs and is designed to take you from absolute beginner to DM mastery, in hopefully less time than it takes learning the role of the dungeon master through random guess work.


Becoming a Dungeon Master (DM) for the first time can be a daunting task. You are in charge of making a whole world, coming up with encounters, and leading the players through the story. However, with a little preparation and some practice, anyone can become a great DM. It might seem like a lot of responsibility, but it doesn't have to be, You and the D&D players have a common goal, you are just trying to tell a story together.


Here are some tips and advice for new DMs to become awesome first time Dungeon Masters:

  1. Start small: As a first-time DM, it's important to start small. Focus on creating a small world or a few encounters, and gradually build upon them. This will help you get a feel for the game mechanics, and give you the confidence to create larger and more complex adventures. A starter adventure can be a really great, self contained journey into the world your players inhabit

  2. Be prepared: Preparation is key to being a successful DM. Before each session, make sure you have  everything you need, including the basic rules, maps, character sheets, and any notes or materials you may need. Familiarize yourself with the rules and game mechanics, and have a basic understanding of the story and world you are creating.

  3. Communicate with your players: Communication is key when running a D&D game. Before the game begins, discuss the rules and expectations with your gang, especially if they are new players. Make sure everyone is on the same page, and encourage them to ask questions and offer their own ideas. During the game, be open to feedback and adjust your plans as necessary. Remember, if you are a first time dungeon master, your are facilitating social interaction and the one of the most important things is that if can happen within the game in ways that everyone feels comfortable with.

  4. Create a flexible story: All we're trying to do is to tell a good story, it might seem more complex than that but it really isn't, the role of the dungeon master is to take the players through a narrative that they also contribute to. While it's important to have a general story and plot in mind, it's also important to be flexible. Your players may take the story in a different direction, or they may not follow the plot as you intended. Be open to these changes, and be willing to adapt and adjust the story as needed. You might want to start off with shorter adventures which link together to tell an overall story in future sessions, this is good way of taking players on a journey from their first session (which is often just a time for character creation), all the way through a long campaign buy building on the narrative week by week. You can add new adventures, side quests and see how the characters grow from the first game as they journey through the game world.

  5. Encourage creativity: One of the great things about D&D is the opportunity for creativity. Encourage your players to think outside the box, and be open to their ideas and suggestions. Reward creative thinking and problem-solving, and allow your players to explore and interact with the world in their own unique ways. One of the best things about any role play game is the the players don't have to stick to the guidelines or suggestions in the adventure; they might have dozens of innovative ways of solving problems. Random encounters might turn out to be more interesting and fateful in and adventure than the main narrative, so you as first time DM can also be creative and nimble in your DMing.

  6. Keep the game moving: While it's important to allow for creativity and exploration, it's also important to keep the game moving. Make sure the players are engaged and involved, and keep the story and encounters moving forward. If a particular scene or encounter is taking too long, be prepared to move on or adjust it as needed. IF you get to a point where everyone is tired, low energy and need a break then call time for the day and start the excitement again in the next session. Remember, you are asking your players to take in a lot of information during a 2-3 hour game session and when the game stops flowing, let everyone go away and recharge. You won't need to run an entire campaign in one sitting.

  7. Be fair and consistent: As a brand new DM, it's important to be fair and consistent in your rulings and decisions. Make sure everyone is playing by the same rules, and avoid playing favorites. Be consistent in your rulings and decisions, and avoid changing the rules or mechanics mid-game.

  8. Don't worry if you don't know everything: There are DMs who have read the Dungeon Master's guide, every Monster Manual ever written, have purchased pre-written adventures and watched critical role and still don't know everything about the game. This will no doubt be you too for a long time. Don't worry, even if you're DMing to experienced players, you aren't expected to understand everything. In the era of easily accessible youtube videos, you can quickly access expert advice on the best way to run adventures and to understand how various rules and dice rolls work. You can take your time in game sessions if you need to work out how skill checks function or who gets to roll iniative. Your players will be more than understanding and over time, you'll get better.

  9. Have fun: Finally, remember to have fun. D&D is a game, and the goal is to have good fun and enjoy the experience. Don't be too hard on yourself, and don't take the game too seriously. Relax, have fun, and enjoy the adventure with your players. All you need is a set of dice, some good friends and a lively imagination, the rest you'll figure out.

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