How to be a Dungeon Master

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You have friends. You have dice. You have miniatures. You have Dungeon Crate.

(If you don’t have Dungeon Crate, come on.)

But someone needs to run this game.

After much consideration, the group has named you as its Dungeon Master. Congratulations! It’s a big honor. But now you’re also realizing that it’s a little bit of work.

Don’t panic. It’s not that hard. Maybe you’ve seen Critical Role and think all DMs do crazy voices. (They don’t.) Maybe you think a Dungeon Master knows every rule. (Trust us, they don’t.) Maybe you think it’s your responsibility to make sure everyone has fun. (It isn’t.)

Your job is a simple one. First, you tell the story. Second, you are the judge. Third, you play the monsters. So, you get to tell the players what’s going on. When they roll dice, you tell them whether they’re successful or not. Last of all, it’s your job to challenge them by playing the bad guys. (And playing the bad guys is really, really fun.)

Gather your materials. For starters, you’ll need the game rules, some dice, an adventure, and some pencils and paper. That’s really it. You can get more involved with rulebooks and miniatures and all kinds of other accessories (did we mention Dungeon Crate?), but you can start your first game with the basics.

An adventure? Do I have to make everything up? No, you do not. If you’re into that sort of thing, you can build a campaign world, craft an epic adventure, and send your players into it. But there are loads of pre-written, tested, and fun adventures of all different flavors out there waiting for you. You can buy a big, epic hardcover book or get a small, short adventure. Whatever you like, really.

What should I have prepared? At a minimum, read through the portion of the adventure your group will play next. If it’s the first game, be sure to read the introductory pages, too. It’ll help you know what to expect when you’re at the game table and how things might unfold.

How much improv is involved? Depends on your play style. It’s totally OK to play things straight out of the book. It’s also OK to make things up as you go along. Just do what makes you comfortable.

What if I don’t know a rule? That’s fine! Most DMs don’t know every rule. We like to handle it one of a few ways: Simply say, “Pause. I have to look up that rule really quick.” Or, if you think you know the rule, go ahead and make a quick ruling at the table now and look up the exact text at the next break. You could also task one of the other players to look it up for you.

You don’t always have to be the Dungeon Master. If you don’t want to be the one always running games, your group can rotate. You can do that every few sessions or every time you finish a small adventure or whatever is comfortable for your table.

You’re going to do great. We believe in you.

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