So You Want To Be A Dungeon Master

Alright, everyone, you guys are about to enter into the city of Eilsborgh what do you do - DM
We run the other direction get on a ship and cross the ocean - Party
*sigh* Why do you guys hate me - DM

Introduction (Skip if you don’t like reading)

Alright so if you remember from my post about how to play Dungeons and Dragons: How to Dungeon and Dragons The definition of a DM is:

A crazy being with unlimited power shooting magical rays from their voice at unsuspecting adventurers

Me

And you are ready to learn the power of shooting magical rays from your voice. You have stepped into the right blog. Now usually people will tell you that you should master all the rules, know all the locations and wear awesome leather wrist bands to look like you know what you are doing. However, you can throw all that advice out the window and learn the true ins and outs of being a DM here.

Dungeon Master Tools

There are no tools there is just a story, you, and a bunch of dead goblins along the way. Here are some tips to help amplify your player’s experiences.

  • Dungeon Master’s Guide
    • You want this as a replacement for this horrible article and actual good advice on being a DM
    • It also has tons of items and drops tables you can use, so you can actually reward your players with something other than a pat on the back
    • Buy this from:
  • Monster Manual
    • This has all the monsters in the official DND universe and it will take the time out of you trying to reinvent the wolf stat block.
    • Buy this from:
  • All the dice
    • You need dice for your NPC’s
    • Dice for your monsters
    • Dice to make your players think something is happening, but you are just rolling to make them fear your power
    • I usually have 3 sets of d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20
      • This will usually be good enough for you, but I also keep another 3 or so sets nearby to help in case I need more dice (or fear)
  • Pen and Paper
    • This is what you use to make sure that you actually remember that random thing you told your players that you thought they would forget, but they bring back up 2 sessions later and you are the one who actually forgot. The disappointment will be real.
    • The moral of the story is that this helps keep them fearful of you because you remember all the stuff your players don’t remember and then you bring it back to haunt them in their real and fictional dreams.
  • Some prep time
    • Alright, let’s address the elephant in the room… If you do not have two hours to prepare for a campaign why do you expect your players to engage for two hours?
    • Now some people are going to argue and say that improv is the way to go. That is true, but unless you have every rule mastered, a plethora of names on hand, and every monster stat blocked mastered, you will be spending time flipping through pages to make sure you get things right.
    • Alright fine, you might be able to fully improvise, but it is common curtsey to your players to give them something worthwhile. Maybe you hate your friends so that’s why you don’t prepare. If so, all the more power to you.

Weird things your players do

Alright so this is a social game and people act like they do in real life. They might say something you don’t like or do something you don’t like. You are the DM so you rule the game, if someone is doing something that is ruining the fun of the game (like making everyone pay to join the party. I have definitely not done that with 18 charisma) Then pull them aside tell them to stop or the wrath of the DM will befall their PC, or they could get kicked from the group. It might seem harsh, but if you want the majority of your players to keep playing with you, the majority wins over the minority and that’s just life.

Preparing for your first session

Alright we walk out of town and are trying to find the Gael's Forrest - Party
How about you guys go back to the Tavern for 10 minutes while I figure out what you are actually doing - DM
*Scowls from your friends because you didn't prepare*

Alright so you got your Dungeon Master tools in order, now you are ready to prepare for your first adventure. Maybe you read the Dungeon Master’s Guide book, then you can skip this section because I don’t give good advice, I give decently passible for acceptable advice.

  • Create a small town not a city
    • Too much time and effort which you don’t and won’t make time for
    • It’s easy and every adventure starts in a Tavern because of alcohol (you’re the drunk not me)
    • You really only need 5 NPC names, what they look like and who they are. (Or if you play with my friends you just need to have a story because no one cares about their names or who they are)
    • Also if this town happens to burn down in a pit of fire from a demon being summoned by cultists, you won’t feel bad because you only spent 10 minutes on it and now it’s your main plotline. #easy #wins
  • Create a simple quest
    • So you want all these level 1 adventurers who still pick their noses to go slay a dragon, I guess everyone is dead before they even hit combat because let’s be real dragons are too hard.
    • Okay cool, so you want them to go kill a horde of goblins. Wrong again – without NPC help even easier encounters in large numbers can overrun small parties of 3-5 adventurers.
    • Go easy by giving them a small encounter with just a few enemies. If you do goblins, break them out into groups of three to the number of characters minus 2. Build up your group and help them to feel like they are actually getting stronger.
    • Good simple RPG quests
      • Gather
        • 5 easy resources right outside of town
      • Protect
        • a caravan against a few simple attacks
      • Kill
        • A small goblin camp and loot their worthless stuff
      • Rescue
        • A damsel who really just ran away from her Dad who is giving her away in marriage
  • Figure out some cool voices you can manage and use those for your NPC’s
  • Let their contact be stronger or wealthier than them so they don’t think to avoid this task because they might try to get more out of it. Fear is your friend as a DM, but don’t make them too scared, just scared enough

Running your first session

Alright so you managed to prepare your first session and now you want your friends to enjoy the ride. Here are some quick tips to be better.

  • Take notes!
  • Take deep breaths
  • Let your players do most of the talking
  • Embrace the randomness as your party runs in the other direction because of randomness
  • Laugh and make your friends laugh (it’s more memorable this way)
  • Try to engage each player and help them to introduce themselves
  • Ask people what they enjoyed after the session

After your first session

Alright, you made it this far you probably are feeling pretty good about yourself. Now you have to keep expanding on your world and what is going on. Don’t worry, your players will help with that since they do stupid things that you don’t prepare for and now you just have to make stuff up. There are also tons of resources online to be better and think of new ideas. Here are some things you absolutely need to do though:

  • Make sure you schedule your next session
  • Check if people want to change their characters
  • Make sure everyone is having fun
  • Talk through any issues that happened during the first session with the players afterward (probably not in the whole group setting)
  • Plan for the next session (consider a bigger story and start looping it in each session, or let your players create one by their randomness)

Conclusion

So I went for a more serious tone the latter half of this article. Maybe my sense of humor left me for a better blogger, but who knows. There is a lot that goes into being a mad man creating magical rays from your mouth for your players. All you need to know is you got this and you’ll make mistakes, but true friends stick by you through your horrible campaign and help you get better. If you don’t have true friends then try playing a Bard and join someone else’s campaign, because everyone loves people who play Bards.

Why do I keep having these strange dreams about unicorns and fairies and fires surrounding me - Your Character
Your character begins to question his existance, maybe he is the dream and what he perceives to be the dream is actually real life - DM
Dangit why did I take Charisma over intelligence - You