How to DM your first D&D game

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Everyone remembers their first time.

With a tiny bit of planning and preparation, you won’t remember your first time as a Dungeon Master as a complete disaster.

It’ll be fun.

Don’t be intimidated. If you can play as a character in D&D, you can run a game as a DM. Really.

Let the players run their characters. You just worry about running the monsters and keeping the story moving along. Lean on the adventure text, keep your rulebooks handy and have a good time.

Pick a published adventure. If this is your first time, maybe avoid the lure of running your homebrew campaign world. It sounds like fun, but you can get lost in the complexity. Get your feet wet running a game by running a published adventure, which means it’s been play-tested and vetted.

Pick an easier adventure. A massive sandbox campaign might not be your best bet. Something with a set series of encounters might be much better for your first time as it won’t force you to make many decisions on the fly. You can follow the text and won’t have to stray too far.

Read the entire adventure. Simply put: It’ll help you run the adventure when you know what’s coming next. So, read up. You’ll have a good base of knowledge before you start the adventure, and little should take you by surprise.

Remind your players it’s your first time. In case they’re not aware, remind everyone at the table that you’ve never done this before. To bear with you. To be cool with your rulings. To roll with things. To take it easy on you.

Don’t judge yourself too harshly. So, you’ve been watching a lot of Critical Role or another popular D&D webseries? Cool. Don’t think you have to do the same thing. For example, Matt Mercer is a professional actor. And he’s presenting only one style of DMing. You don’t have to do it just like him.

Don’t worry about the rules. There’s a reason they publish the rules in books. It’s so you can look them up whenever you need to. If there are rules you forget about often, flag them with a Post-It note. You can flip through the books when you need to figure it out. If something seems complicated, take a quick break to look it up. And it’s OK to ask your players what they think the ruling should be and, after you make a decision, if they think it’s fair.

Don’t worry about voices. You don’t have to have voices for every NPC or monster. Really. You’re not a professional voice actor. If you wanna do a voice, go nuts, but try not to spend five hours practicing your dwarven king voice.

Have fun. Lean back and have a good time.

 

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