View Full Version : New DM Looking for advice

2013-02-18, 10:12 PM
Ok, the title is normal enough, however, while I have played several pbp(about 6 months), and I think I have a decent grasp on the rules, there are a few things that I would like advice on.

Character generation

First: 3 of the players are completely new to d&d. I was going to lend them some of my books, so give them a head start on the game, however, I also suspect that they won't read them.
In an effort to streamline character creation, I was thinking of asking them what they want their character to do, and then presenting them with a limited set of classes to choose from(with the agreement that they can change later, if they want to). Similarly, I would present a limited set of races, feats, that sort of thing.(was more or less going to tailor the feats to what they want the character to do, with some variance)
I was going to guide them through character creation, telling them what the numbers on their sheet do, that sort of thing, then walk them through a sample, easy, encounter. I was thinking that would be enough to get them started.
Any opinions on this?


So, I was hoping a somewhat engaging first adventure, meant to introduce them to the game.

Basically, they start off as part of a caravan to a village in the middle of nowhere.
As they come in, some bandits attack the caravan(intro to combat). The guards beat them off handily(bandits will probably flee)
Once in the town, they can talk to people(have some main npc's made up, make up the rest on the spot) A murder mystery as a possible side quest.
If they choose to explore the village well, they can find some masterwork items(possibly stealing some).
They can also choose to go after some nearby goblins, or the bandits.
The caravan moves on in 2 days(so, hopefully, they won't choose to move on without the caravan)

Any tips for this?

Other stuff

I was also going to ask them what difficulty they want to play at
Easy: yea... more or less auto win combats, focus on the story
Normal: challenging fights, but they would need to screw up fairly badly to die(I would need to modify dice rolls on the fly)
Hard: Challenging fights, enemies act intelligently, I leave the dice as they fall.
Really hard: Enemies are decently optimized, and are more numerous.(readied actions, crossbows, not slings...)(Will warn them death is probable)

Exact system is 3.5, but I don't think it is really all that relevant for the question

2013-02-18, 10:44 PM
Looks like you have it sorted out for the most part.

Character creation: Maybe have default stats ready to go, they just choose what attribute gets what score (eg 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8 or whatever point buy you want). Have a chat with each player to see what they want to do, then provide them with two or three classes that can do what they want. Then you explain the basics.

Story: To begin with, run it like an actual story you are all writing. That's how RPGs roll. As they want to do things you explain the mechanics in a rules-lite way so they know what to do next time they want to do that. Combat-wise, introduce new elements one by one, the same way a tutorial on a videogame might. One fight will introduce flanking, while the next introduces charges, and later on enemies start tripping and sundering. If the players think to do those things themselves then by all means let them.

Also make sure the story is simple to allow the players to do what they want, yet not too open as to leave them directionless. Try a quest with little importance in a somewhat open world, so if they arent interested in that quest they can pick up another in a few minutes tops.

On the other stuff, i'd probably exclude the very hard option. Otherwise, letting them test the water of a dificulty they think they want might be good.

2013-02-18, 10:48 PM
Thank you.
The idea about having a point buy ready to go is brilliant. I will write out the story in more detail than I was originally thinking, since I suspect that, as you say, that will help draw them in.
You probably have a point about very hard. Low level is probably rocket tag enough, without me helping the enemies more.
Perhaps introduce it at higher levels, if they keep playing(as an option, not just start)

Any tips for party balance? I have a suspicion that one is going to go for a t handed fighter(Was planning on suggestion warblade, barb, and one other melee class), one goes sword and board(house rule to make shields decent)(crusader... not sure what else here)

2013-02-18, 11:04 PM
If they are new to DnD don't worry about party balance, it shouldn't really be an issue.

I also wouldn't give them difficulty options, i would just start them on normal and go from there. Adjust as you see fit down the track.

If they are new to p'n'p RP as well as DnD i would leave the murder mystery untill second or third session.

Stick to a "retrieve the McGuffin" style mission for the first session. Let them get there heads around the rule system and interacting with the world.
Dumping a murder mystery on them at the same time might be a bit to overwhelming for a first session.

2013-02-18, 11:44 PM
There is also the option of just pregenerating characters. It might be a lot less intimidating for brand new players if you don't ask them if they want a half caf grande soy vanilla mocha latte with one splenda and a shot of caramel or some variation of that. Maybe just pour them a cup of coffee and go. If during the game or sometime after they want cream and sugar let them add it.

I don't know why I decided on a coffee analogy??? But I've had sessions with my long standing group were we play pregens and had a blast. I also remember when I played with new players whole sessions were dedicated to making characters and alot of those people never played. I think sometimes just jumping in and hacking stuff with a sword or magic missling a goblin or bandit goes along way to capture your audience.

anyway thats my two CPs.

2013-02-22, 12:54 PM
I like Pathfinder, especially for new players, because all the material is free and there's a lot less of it.

2013-02-22, 03:08 PM
There is also the option of just pregenerating characters. It might be a lot less intimidating for brand new players if you don't ask them if they want a half caf grande soy vanilla mocha latte with one splenda and a shot of caramel or some variation of that. Maybe just pour them a cup of coffee and go. If during the game or sometime after they want cream and sugar let them add it.

Err, what he said. :smallbiggrin:

I've recently done more or less the something myself in that I started a game with players of no D&D experience. I think that pregen is the way to go, you just overwhelm them with rules otherwise.

The ones that are up for reading did so as we played in response to things like: Player looks at char sheet: “I cast a magic missile” and me saying “Okay, look up magic missile then and tell me what it does” The ones that got into it read up on how to work their characters as we played and I did/do a lot of hand holding for those that just want to get on with it.

From a DMs pov you pretty much play combat by yourself for a few sessions but it works really well. As the game progresses you slowly introduce things. I remember a few sessions in a big battle was coming up which I knew was going to stretch them so introduced the fighting defensively and total defence rules. At a suitable juncture, about 2 weeks’ worth of game days later, I gave them the option of rolling up something different if they wanted. Surprisingly they’d become attached enough to the pregens I gave them that only one did and he was an ex AD&D member so I guess he’d picked up enough by then to carry it himself anyway.

On the scenario point though I have to go with, don’t wing it. Be prepared. Even in the simplest scenarios they’re bound to go off and do something unexpected and if you have the general overview of where they should be going ready and at hand when this happens you’ll be better prepared to deal with it.

On the rules issue I’d say play the ones you're most comfortable with.