View Full Version : [3.5]Newbie DM, older group, new campaign.

2010-12-30, 05:51 AM

First, a bit of an introduction:

This monday, during our regular session at a local gamestore, a guy who I've seen at the store the last couple of weeks approached me and asked if I wanted to DM for him and his groups of friends, at the house of one of them. He knows the owner and many of the 'regulars' there, so it seemed like he was serious; additionally, he offered to cover cab fare and snack money, as well as provide anything needed, namely sheets, books, dice, minis, tiles, etc. (I dont really have many myself and constantly improvise on the fly with bottlecaps, boxes and random things. Its part of the fun to me but maybe it looks weird to others). Apparently their group's last DM took a break from DMing due to work, and now wants to just play.

Since I havent been playing for long (1 and a half years since I learned the game, though I have DMed for most of it) and am not really familiar with the 'scene' here, it caught me by surprise. So I agreed. It seems like a pretty sweet deal and the guy is a decent person.

Anyways, after the session we got to talk some more and as it turns out, he is the youngest of the group, being around my own age (mid 20s). The rest of the group is in their late 20s / early thirties, with two married couples included. They've been playing D&D since 1998 or so, started with AD&D and had a few short runs with other systems, and a lot of 3.5 games, including a 5 years long campaign. They've ran several of the 'classic' modules (City of the Spider Queen, Temple of Elemental Evil, among others) and read many of the D&D related novels. So it was very. . . intimidating and Im now having second thoughts about it.

Its not really the age that is the problem, but the experience. I dont know much about the 'default' setting of D&D; whenever I ran a game I made most things on the spot or a couple of weeks previously; Ive never been a fan of heavily detailled pre-existent worlds, I like to discover it alongside the players, to make up town names, factions, locations, etc. as we go along. I dont really feel my crappy, improvised dramas about 'monster' races being not-so-bad and 'shades of gray' moral dilemmas can measure up to the legendary modules and adventures published by WotC and the D&D novels. Im feeling very small time right now, and I think I may have bitten more than I can chew when I accepted. We will be meeting next tuesday for introductions and character generation, and until before he told me just how much mileage everyone had behind them, I was actually very excited and my mental wheels were already weaving my next story. . . now... I dont know.

The group has had several other DM's in the past, from inside and outside the group. There have been cases of strong disagreement and rapid expelling of some of them, although they apparently did suck very much from what I was told (one of them was running a carbon copy of the Warcraft III campaigns and another had a huge folder of 'apropriate fantasy names, family lines and custom world house rules').

So, finally, to make this more useful than ranty, Id like to ask if anyone has had a similar experience, where the group they joined to DM had a lot more experience than them, and if you could offer some insight or suggestions. I may post my initial adventure ideas later; this board is a HUGE asset and I dont think Id ever entertain the possibility of doing this if I hadnt discovered it. In fact, the idea I was already starting to consider was based directly on some very interesting concepts I found here. So. . . halp? :D

2010-12-30, 06:08 AM
My suggestions:

Don't be intimidated. Since they are more familiar with the default settings use a custom one. Not much edited from a default setting you like/play just to cover the fact that they want to go to XXYY where is the center of worlds sorcery, which you never heard of. Thus you reduce the amount of work/reading you have to do. Since they are veterans I guess that they will spoil some of the genius traps which you thought of and never read about them anywhere. Also since they are veteran players they should know most cliches so throw several of them at them, then make one with an unexpected twist. The best way to make them say "WHAT!!" is for you to make them think they figured everything out and yet for you to know that they figured it all wrong...

When I started DMing some players have gamed several years longer than I, but it wasn't a problem. Also change monster descriptions, not stats, since your players will know them all...

Also an important thing is to have player feedback. You should respect their opinion, listen to them and you may hear/learn useful things. You do what you think you should do, not what they tell you. The point of player feedback is not them running your game instead of you.

My 0.02$

2010-12-30, 06:21 AM
I have DMed for people who have been playing since before I was born. I have DMed for established groups, where I am the newcomer. I have DMed for the people who taught me D&D. It works just fine.

You're "just" being nervous. Don't be. :smalltongue:
Them having a huge pool of experience doesn't make you a worse DM.

Also, what Kaww said.

2010-12-30, 07:11 AM
Great advice there, also if they are nice folks and not the sort to mess you around for kicks then they will more than likely help you out and not be too difficult and penantic (For the first game at least, then they might step it up a bit :smalltongue:)

Oh and just relax, they are there to have fun and play some D&D, if you run the most cliche'd princess in a castle with a dragon adventure they would still enjoy it.

Actually thats a point, seeing as they know everything and every trope going why not just put them in the most generic old school adventure you can think of, fill it with cliches and of course the odd twist to keep it fresh, they probably havent played a game like that since day 1! Then sit back and let the nostalgia take care of the rest :smallbiggrin:

2010-12-30, 07:27 AM
Actually thats a point, seeing as they know everything and every trope going why not just put them in the most generic old school adventure you can think of, fill it with cliches and of course the odd twist to keep it fresh, they probably havent played a game like that since day 1! Then sit back and let the nostalgia take care of the rest :smallbiggrin:

Minor pet peeve of mine actually with that sort of thing: Im not really a fan of human/elf/dorf-centric fantasy; dunno why, always found 'monster' races more interesting. Part of the fright is having to run a world full of prancing elfs and thieving gnomes to suit the party's interest. I jsut never found the appeal of elves in general, or drow and their OMG DARKZ world, but this guys love them dearly.

2010-12-30, 09:16 AM
It sounds a little like you think they want you to DM a setting that you don't really care to DM. Like, they want Forgotten Realms (or is it Greyhawk?) or something. If that's the case, you should talk to them about their expectations. I can understand if you feel indebted to them, like you should give them what they expect if they buy you stuff :3

I suggest just doing something small scale and unpretentious for your first few sessions. Get to know each other and you'll just get over your pre-game jitters.

My group is more experienced than I am. I've DM'd for us a bit. If anything their experience was an asset. Like, they knew some rules I would've had to check up on. I think that might have been awkward if they didn't already know me, like they would think I didn't know what I was doing or something.
Mostly though, DM'ing for a group of experienced players who like each other is, in fact, a good thing :P

2010-12-30, 12:48 PM
I don't have experience with this kind of situation yet, but I am gearing up to DM an adventure with my friend who introduced me to the game a year and a half ago (he's been playing for 15 years now) and my current GM (who's been GM'ing for over 30 years).

I brought up many of these same objections to them, nervous as I was. Their advice? Do my best. They'll help me if I falter. Worst case scenario? They'll hate how I do things and talk with me about what they don't like so I can take things in a different direction.

It sounds like you have a little bit of history on them, and from what you've said it sounds like the only GM they won't tolerate is an unimaginative rube or a "my way or the highway" type.

You're neither, so no need to worry.