View Full Version : Advice for a New DM

Demon 997
2010-11-14, 09:16 PM
It looks like I will shortly be the DM for a new group. I am the only one who as role played before. The age range of the group is 12-16 but they're all rather mature so I don't anticipate problems in that direction. The group has 5 players and myself. I'm not sure of what system we'll be using yet.

What advice does the playground have for keeping the game fun, my players happy and keeping it focused? What are good resources for mapping/dungeon creation?

2010-11-14, 09:20 PM
Have you read this (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=76474) yet? (From the forum sticky)

2010-11-14, 09:22 PM
Go slow and go simple, your first encounter will be long and awkward so make it easy. Don't worry about huge campaigns yet with dynamic stories, they can come later when you realise what they need.

2010-11-14, 09:33 PM
Click the link in my signature!

2010-11-14, 09:51 PM
I always try to take note of the players who start stacking their dice or any kind of other obviously bored activity and what the group is doing at that time. This should give you a good list of group activities that you might want to change or even avoid.

Next be aware that the campaign will not go to plan. Your ultra-powerful enemy that the group wasn't supposed to be able to even fight well enough to retreat from will be beaten and he will be beaten with embarrassing ease. Your favorite NPC that you find incredibly interesting will be ignored or outright hated. Your subtle overarching theme of the campaign will go completely ignored by the group and every time you tried to work it in the group will only be confused by plot twists coming out of nowhere. The ultra cool scene that is the capstone of the entire campaign will be greeted by ultra bored looks that are one small step above outright coma.

Don't let these problems get you down. Try to figure out what went wrong and what clicked with the group and try to hit it next time.

And if the group gets excited about something that you know would never work... let it work. Let the Paladin chuck the halfling over the defense wall or the Force Barrage tear the cultist's car apart. I have groups that still talk about the insane stunts I let them pull off that resulted in insane outcomes.

Demon 997
2010-11-14, 10:05 PM
Thanks for the tips, they were rather helpful.

Tips for worldbuilding? Any useful programs I should know of as I will probably be using my laptop to keep notes?

2010-11-14, 10:06 PM
Don't try to play a character and DM at the same time. You won't be able to do either one effectively.

2010-11-14, 10:12 PM
Thanks for the tips, they were rather helpful.

Tips for worldbuilding? Any useful programs I should know of as I will probably be using my laptop to keep notes?

Start small, with a village or farmstead and then build from there as you need to. And don't be afraid to say "Yes".

2010-11-14, 11:08 PM
Ahh, I remember when I had a thread of my own with this exact purpose.

1: When you DM, you have to remember that you're not simply the final say on how things go. Like the players, you have to follow rules. Your character is named "The Universe." The Universe is in charge of vividly describing everything that happens around and to the players. Just remember that there are Universal laws that need a good reason before they're broken.

2: Flavor text is like salt. Sprinkle a little of it on everything to make it perfect.

3: The story must be kept intact. If you have to, break the rules in order to keep things moving smoothly. If you find that what you planned for the story is not what the story becomes, jump on the horse and see where it goes.

And lastly,

4: Your job is not to kill the PCs. Feel free to push them as close to the brink as they can possibly get, but their blood must not be on your hands. If a PC dies, make sure that it was their stupid idea that killed them, and that they had sufficient warning ahead of time.

2010-11-14, 11:55 PM
Broaden your amount of descriptions-- make each bit short and sweet.

When your players walk into a room, describe it as if you were selling it.

Example: You reach a small town.

Better: The horizon creeps over a hill as you approach a small sunset town, the wind sweeps the tall grass near you and you can see a few townsfolk walking their daily routes.

Example: You enter a cave.

Better: The air turns moist and cold, the smell of mildew lightly hangs in the air, the ground is slippery and made of smoothed natural stone, and the darkness seems endless.

Example: You find an abandoned campfire.

Better: You hear and smell the crackle and smoke of an unattended campfire, there is a tent set up, but it has massive tears in it and no longer seems usable.