View Full Version : First time DM with First time players

2010-12-21, 03:36 AM
Im going to be DMing a group of my friends who have never played D&D before but are very interested in it. Ive played for about 2 years but never been a DM before and was wondering if any one had any tips other than the stuff covered in the "so you wanna be a DM" thread.

Any tips or tricks would be appreciated! thanks!:smallsmile:

2010-12-21, 03:50 AM
If you read the thread it covers just about all basics.

1. Have fun.

2. Try to make fun sessions for your players.

3. Be prepared to improvise a lot.

4. Don't be hungry.

5. Don't dehydrate.

2010-12-21, 04:16 AM
These are how I see DMing, and since I've gotten nothing but good reports in my few weeks of doing it(combined with much of it coming from this board in the past), I feel it bears some repeating:

1.You're a DM, you don't write plot. You write backstory and "elsewhere in the kingdom" stuff. Noting this will save you a *LOT* of frustration when your PCs decide that the petty bardic thief you wanted them to kill was let go instead, and then, when you gave the thief some brothers to rob the PCs with, the PCs instead befriend him.

2.I did something highly unique in my game. I started at level 1, but gave my PCs 24+3Con HP, +2 saves and +3 BAB temporarily. This allowed them better rolls, and made it harder for me to kill them with "CR appropriate" stuff. A good thing all around. And, as they leveled, the bonus evaporated, such that by level 4, it will be gone. I'm not suggesting you do the same, but I am suggesting you start with at least 3 HD worth of HP on your PCs for your first game.

3.The four rules of gun safety: http://corneredcat.com/Safety/fourrules.aspx These apply to DMing, imho. Your players will respect you more if you're willing to kill them when the dice roll that way.

4.Learn balance such that PC deaths are the result of PC decisions or bad rolls. I don't think a PC should ever die 'inevitably', unless it is as a direct result of his own choices(such as "I stick my head in the guillotine") You control an entire setting, let the PCs have their victory.

5.*Don't* optimize DM tools. If you optimize, attempt to stick in bounds your PCs are allowed to use. DM optimization is painfully easy, and as an example, a CR 14 Adept can have epic spellcasting RAI. *YEAH*.

6.Know the game better than your PCs, and use a forum to double-check things(like, oh hey, this one!).

Good luck!

2010-12-21, 05:56 AM
It's your first game: go easy on the rules. You will make mistakes, and misremember stuff.

If, during the game, you are not sure how a rule works, don't go digging through the books right away. Instead, try to keep the game flowing and look up the rules after the game.

When the players want to do something not covered by the rules, don't forbid it. The player wants to swing from a chandelier? Don't say "there's no rule for that". Say "that's a dexterity check". Make things difficult, but rarely impossible. Now, as a first time DM, you'll have some trouble finding appropriate DCs, and that's okay. Look at some skill checks. It's usually 0-5 for really easy things (hearing a conversation 10 feet away), 10 for trivial stuff (walking up a steep slope), around 15 for challenging things (climbing a cliff), 20 for difficult stuff (climbing a wall), and more than that for things most people can't ever do.

2010-12-21, 11:35 AM
Have fun. Relax. Say yes more often than no. Be fair.

If you get stuck and aren't sure where to take the game next, ask for a short break, let the guys stretch, and work up a plan. Don't be afraid to ask for some time to plan if you need it.

2010-12-21, 11:51 AM
I didn't see these listed explicitly, so:

Ask your players what they want their characters to do and what kind of story they want to be involved in, then, strive to give that to them.

Players are most involved and excited when they are doing what they envisioned. Make their choices valid and important where possible. That said...

Let your players' characters fail.

Succeeding 100% of the time at everything is boring for all but the most hardcore munchkin. Victory without the chance for defeat has little meaning. Don't set out to screw the PCs, and don't retcon encounters to make otherwise easy wins impossible to overcome, but make sure the players feel like their characters are being challenged so that they can feel heroic in overcoming those challenges.

2010-12-21, 12:04 PM
have a list of names for yor NPCs. is very akward have to swift improvise names for your npcs, specially if they have some meaning for the story.

have some backstory of the place where the party are and try to avoid the hard railroad plot.

improvise a lot and have fun.

2010-12-21, 12:19 PM
Your players have never played before, so they have no expectations. You've got nothing to worry about.

Have a few good plot points and creative NPC's. Improvise a lot and make rules up. They won't know the difference. Do whatever it takes to keep it fun.

2010-12-21, 12:23 PM
It will be messy and people will make mistakes, but try not to get bogged down arguing the rules. Make quick and fair (even if incorrect calls) to keep the action going.

My first tiem was a mess and we probably got less than half of the rules right, but a lot did a lot of stuff and had tons of fun.

2010-12-21, 05:12 PM
The rules don't really matter, in the end. Yes, they're important, but they're secondary to the players having fun. Don't worry if you don't remember a rule.

Remember that all rules come down to a pretty simple mechanic: The player wants to do X. There's a chance they'll succeed. What's that chance? Roll against it to succeed.

That's it. That's the core. So if they want to do something, that's all you need to do. Come up with an appropriate number, let them add some appropriate bonus, and go for it.

Focus on what's happening, not the dice rolls. Even if the players just say things like "I attack the orc," it's then your job to take that and make it come alive. "You swing at the orc, catching him unaware and leaving a nasty gash in his leg. He spins towards you, howling a warcry in his gutteral tongue."

Listen to the players. Watch the players. See what things they respond well to, and which things make them sit back in their seats and look bored.

Be ready to improvise. In fact, plan on it. As a DM, a lot of your job is taking the random things that get thrown at you and turning them into a coherent whole.

2010-12-21, 05:43 PM
While it is true that first-timers won't have much in the way of expectations, some of them have more expectations than others, especially those who have gaming experience of some other kind (esp. Final Fantasy and other JRPGs, or WOW, Ragnarok, or some other MMO). Given that these games have very different power structures and different assumptions from any edition of D&D, you just have to make that clear.

I often get these two questions from interested people:
1. Is it a computer game/board game?
2. Is there PVP? (This question more often than not)

YMMV, but often I make sure my players assume that they're meant to cooperate, as annoying as others may seem, and not be jerks to one another the moment the opportunity presents itself. Thankfully they know this and aren't jerks to each other on purpose. The same dynamic is not always present in other groups.