View Full Version : New DM for new players

2009-11-26, 04:17 PM
So, my friend, a fairly hardcore gamer, has decided to play D&D. The players will be him and a bunch of his friends who I don't know. He knows little about D&D, and neither do his friends, and they often joke about it. They all play WoW, and I know my friend to be a fan of Unforgotten Realms (http://www.urealms.com/). I was not at all surprised when he asked me which classes could cast flare, and what advantages he could reap from being a lumberjack. He knows I play D&D, and asked me for advice.
The problem came when I asked him who was going to DM for them, and he responded "You." I have close to no DMing experience, but I'm the only one who knows the game that they have. I'm planning on running some published modules for practise, and naturally we shall be playing Core-Only. But I still lack DM experience, and if I seem amateur in front of a group of people who don't know what to expect, they may simply dismiss the game forever.
And the problems continue to pile up, as there will be group issues too. For one thing, my friend follows the ganker mentality in WoW, and wants to play Chaotic Stupid Evil. And as if the gaming gods decided things weren't bad enough, one of the people who will likely be playing is apparently rather disliked by my friend, who said he would try to kill him in his sleep. I said that I wouldn't let it happen unless everyone wanted a PvP game, but I fear that with his group's style, they won't realise what that truly means. I could always Rule 0 it, but that might put them off the game.
Don't get me wrong, I think they could have great fun playing the game if they got into it and understood it, but I'm worried they will never get the chance.

Does any kind soul have any advice I could use to help keep this alive? I will be starting above 1st level, they are generally more hack-n-slash with a bit of puzzle solving type gamers, and I will help them build their characters. Anything else that would help?

2009-11-26, 04:30 PM
If they like hack and slash, give them hack and slash.

You could even try the trope of making their lives tough enough that their self interest (as characters) would be boosted by working together.

A decent start would be "you are all slaves, and then you break free". Now you are in the middle of a slave camp, with the slavers all around, slaves you could recruit to help you (or you could kill them).

The slave camp is a mining camp, at the edge of the humanoid civilisation. From the camp, they can scavenge equipment. They can then go up the road to more humanoid civilisation, or they can try cutting through the wilderness, following a map to a non-hostile civilisation (which they find in the camp).

Now your characters can be as evil as they want; but survival isn't guaranteed.

2009-11-26, 04:31 PM
Since your group is composed of gamers, I don't think the learning curve will be too steep. My group was mostly kids in their teens with little gaming experience, but they took to the rules rather quickly. Core-only is not exactly necessary.

Furthermore, I was able to start them at Level 5. (That's the level I typically start with.)

Frankly, though---you as the DM have to tell them it's about everyone's enjoyment, not only theirs. As such, you reserve the right to explain to them that you don't really like it when they beat the crap out of each other. The game's about cooperation, evil or otherwise, and if you're not going to enjoy sitting there watching them stab each other to death, I honestly don't think it's worth the trouble. If they kill each other and they don't like it, the game will grind to a halt and everyone else will just pull out their PSPs and DSs or sleep. If they don't want to play just because the game requires some reciprocal consideration, I don't think the game will be fun at all for you.

2009-11-26, 04:46 PM
Video gamers probably won't want to read the whole manual at first, but they may get drawn into reading it after they enjoy the first few months. Make their characters for them at the start, but plan a free rebuild at a certain level, like 3rd or 6th, after they've developed their own ideas.

Because video game characters are limited to doing what the game is designed to do, make a point of giving the players options they wouldn't normally have in the video game, like climbing a tree, or grappling an opponent, or being swallowed by a huge creature (and still being alive to fight their way out). Describe smells, textures and body language whenever it would be useful.

2009-11-26, 05:04 PM
The major difference between Dungeons and Dragons and video games is that Dungeons and Dragons is a social experience first and a game second. Video games are games first and a social experience second.

Explain to them following things before starting:

Unlike WoW, where the goal is fight monsters and get loot, the goal of DnD is to have fun. If you're doing things that aren't conducive to everyone having fun, you're doing it wrong. Furthermore, though you as the DM will be controlling the opposition, you're ultimately on the players' side and working towards the goal of everyone having fun. Players who don't know that stress too much.

You don't need to roleplay if you're uncomfortable with it, or if you think it's a hassle. You do, however, need to respect your fellow players who DO choose to roleplay if only because they're sitting right next to you rather than being some random guy on the internet.

Leave your personal baggage out of the game. Running a DnD group is just like raiding with your guild. You're not allowed to throw a tantrum and refuse to heal the main tank just because he called you a jackass over Vent last night.

The DM is the absolute God and Dictator of the game.

2009-11-26, 05:26 PM
Thanks for the advice so far guys. I think I will be able to keep them under control when it comes to PvP, but it'll be useful to explain pretty much what you guys have said. As for roleplaying, I talked to my friend about it, and he seems to be pretty weird about it, so I gave him permission to be Chaotic Stupid, since it is the only persona he can adopt non-ironically right now. And I still know he is going to say "Excelsior!" in his nerdiest voice at some point. But again, thanks for the help. I'll make sure to meet his friends better and see what they all want to play before I make any definite campaign decisions. And apparently, one of them is really into it, and originally wanted to LARP, although nobody else likes the idea of it, me included.