View Full Version : Tips for a First-time 4e DM

2008-10-27, 11:37 AM
Hey there! I'm in the process of getting ready to run my first 4e DnD session, and am looking for anything I should be wary of, or any tips you fine folks might have for me. I'm playing with two people who have never played any DnD before, and I've been playing 3.5 for about 5 or 6 years.

My party consists of
Erik du Vellidar, Half-elf Staff Wizard
A yet unnamed Elven Brutal Rogue
and the DMPC, Deran Regen, a Human Tac-lord

the Wizards mainly a blaster, the player made me laugh by being exactly like the 'new players' you hear about: "Which race has charisma bonuses? Can I seduce the chicks?!"

THe Rogue's player is pretty chill, and interested in a 'prince of persia' type rogue with all the flips and whatnot.

Since they've never played before, I figured no one would groan if I started them in a tavern, and had them be called into service to defend the locals from a Dragonborn mercenary raid. After that, they'll be alerted to the 'growing belligerance' of the Dragonborn mercenary companies, and eventually to a plot by the goblinoids and the mercenaries to re-build the ancient Arkohsia. I'm looking for any things I should look out for with new 4ed players?

Tadanori Oyama
2008-10-27, 11:44 AM
Give them power cards, or some other form of power tracking device.

Make sure they understand the usage limitations on their powers. I had a player go through two sessions before he realized that a Daily meant he could use each Daily Power once per day, not one of his Daily Powers once per day.

Make sure they tick of their surges when they heal.

Give them reason not to Extended Rest or set a minimum encounter number between long rests.

Oh, make sure they roll d20s, not d12s. Sounds insane but to new players they look alot alike.

Guinea Anubis
2008-10-27, 11:48 AM
I second the power cards.

2008-10-27, 11:54 AM
Status effect tokens can also be useful, to keep track of marking, and ongoing effects.
Power cards eliminate any painful PHB page shuffling and handily allow you to keep track of used powers they are worth their weight in gold, there are many out there in cyberworld check over on Enworld they have a sticky thread devoted to them.

2008-10-27, 11:57 AM

Don't use drow or smart monsters. Use orcs and ugga bugga ARRGH! type monsters.
Use color coded dice.
Don't give out D'oh dice. Too many giggles from old players laughing at confused new players. Trust me.
Make it kind of funny. Make it social. Ontense role-playing scares new guys unless they are in Drama.
Don't type in all caps on the cheat sheets you give them.
Yeah... make cheat sheets. [/anachronism]
Power cards.
Start the game with initiative and explain it with either A) a bar fight or B) they angered some guy on the street or C) they have to kill some vermin or rats for a innkeeper. Always works for me.
If they know in-jokes, incorperate them into NPCs. Makes them more familiar. Any time my players go near a theive's guild, they always hear some youngling yell something like "Sneak Attack!" or "I GOT A 4!" (Yeah. That was Elan, I know. But they still giggle at it.)
Avoid blue lightning of death or the head of Vecna. Or gazebos.

2008-10-27, 12:12 PM
Remember tactics matter a lot in 4e. I just had an encounter the other day with an Elite. The group took 4 rounds to get it to half health, then we changed our tactics a bit and killed it in one round more.
Help your players figure out what works well for them. Don't force-feed them tactics, but it shouldn't take too many combats for them to figure out what works & what doesn't. Our first 4e adventure included a fight in an open field, one where we'd set up the terrain, and one where the badguys had. The results showed the difference.

Mark Hall
2008-10-27, 02:19 PM
1) Set a action counter... the time they have from their initiative being called to them having to act. It can be a bit long, at first, but make sure you don't spend a huge amount of time waiting for someone to get his thumb out his butt. When he decides, let him act as if he'd delayed.

2) Keep track of initiative, either with it being written on the mat, or with someone in charge of telling the initiative order. Have a player do it; they don't have a lot to keep track of.

3) If you don't go with combat cards, have something which allows you to easily track which maneuvers you have, and if they've been used. My 4e character sheet does this; I've got a page just for maneuvers, and can expand to additional pages at need.