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Thread: DMing my first game.

  1. #1
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    DMing my first game.

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    Hello everyone. I'm DMing my first game this saturday, and I need a lot of advice. First of all, it's me and 2 other players, and none of us have played before. I've read through the PHB and grasp the core rules pretty well. Is there anything that I should know about setting the game? Or anything in particular, but mostly the map/miniatures. All in all I'm a little worried this won't work out and no one will want to play again.

    Edit:
    Forgot to add I'm using the adventure A Dark and Stormy Knight. It says that it's for four PCs, but I think I could just cut some enemies out/make some weaker. Wise idea?
    Last edited by KylePhillipsFTW; 06-19-2009 at 02:23 PM.

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    It's a little close to the wire to be posting this.


    The basics, as I see it:
    • Read the Dungeon Master's Guide.
    • Are the characters generated? If not, that's what you're doing this weekend, and I hope your players like it.
    • If the characters are generated, have you familiarized yourself with what they're like, and what their capabilities are?
    • The pessimist in me says to have another activity ready to go, so in case the actual session is starting to look like a train wreck, you can preserve some fun memories of the weekend, and maybe everyone will be willing to give it another go in the future.
    • Make sure your players understand that running a first-time role-playing game session is not a cake-walk. I'm not saying you should ask for their sympathy; they just need to understand that a first session is not always smooth sailing, nor is it necessarily indicative of what the whole game's going to be like.
    • I'm not familiar with the adventure, but if it's for four PCs, take some pruning shears to it. So, yes, it's a wise idea to weaken or remove the enemies.
    • Make sure you understand the flow of the adventure. What is each encounter and event supposed to accomplish? How do the events and and encounters occur? How does the adventure begin?
    • Rather than forcing the PCs along the pre-arranged route of the adventure, what are interesting and fun events that will happen if they deviate from the main path?
    • If the players are defeated or fail to solve a challenge, do you have a plan to make their failure interesting and engaging, rather than demoralizing?
    • If the players decide they're going to have their characters behave like anti-social psychopaths, do you have a strategy for talking them down?
    • Most groups I'm familiar with go through one to three challenging encounters in a three-to-four hour gaming session when they play 3rd edition. Unless that's all this adventure is, or you're playing all day and all night, don't expect to finish it off in one go. Having only two PCs will speed up play, but this being your first time will probably slow it down again.
    • You might want to stage a mock combat with yourself ahead of time to make sure you know what's going on.
    • If no one wants to play again, it's not the end of the world. Some people don't like role-playing games, and didn't know that until they tried them. Still, your responsibility as the Dungeon Master is to make this first game as fun and positive as possible, so do your best on that account. Despite the length of this list, sometimes just shrugging my shoulders and smiling helps a lot more than fretting about whether I did enough work ahead of time.
    One more thing. If you follow the web comic Penny Arcade, I'm sure you know that Mike Krahulik, the artist, is a new Dungeon Master. There's documentation in the form of posts and podcasts from the time he was a beginning player, to his considering taking up Dungeon Mastering, through his first session, and on to what he's up to now. If your eyes are too glazed over to read that next page in the Dungeon Master's Guide, you might spend a few minutes investigating someone's parallel experiences.
    Last edited by Umiushi; 06-19-2009 at 03:17 PM.

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    Since all of you are new to this, I would definitely have something else in mind as an activity should things not go well, whether it be a board game, cards, a movie, whatever.

    My advice to you is to study, study, study. You can't get everything crammed into your head so quickly, but it sounds like you're running a pre-made adventure, so make sure you know what's going on and why. You might not need to cut out too much for encounters, but if you do, make sure it's not something that's essential to the story line. Also, even though the PCs are new to this, they should have the common sense to know when they are over-matched and try to make other plans. Over burdoning them by playing 2 characters each is probably unwise at this point, but you might be able to take on one of the extra 2 suggested characters as an NPC they hire for the adventure. That could help even things out a bit. More work for you though.

    I would also suggest trying to find more people to play, as that will lighten the load for all involved. Even one additional person would be a big bonus here.

    Just keep yourself focused and aware of what's going on. Everyone was a 1st time DM at one time, so don't feel alone. Use this as a learning experience, and pass that attitude on to your players as well, and you should all do fine in the end.

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    Golden Rule of all RPGs... WING IT

    dont spend an hour flipping thru pages looking for an obscure rule, monster stat block, spell... whatever

    get imaginative & make it happen. its a FANTASY GAME. Some of my best memories of D&D are when I first started playing as a kid, and had next to no idea how the rules really worked. We made half of it up as we played & had fun doing it. That's the true spirit of the game...

  5. #5
    Arch Lich Thoth-Amon is offline Cursed by the Gods
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    RealmsDM advice is good advice.

    Two rules: wing it and have fun. If you follow these two rules, i guarantee everyone will have a great time.
    Thoth-Amon, Lord of the Underworld and the Undead
    Once you know what the magician knows, it's not magick. It's a 'tool of Creation'. -Archmagus H.H.
    The first step to expanding your reality is to discard the tendency to exclude things from possibility. - Meridjet

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    in terms of winging it, keep in mind the rule of averages. If there is something they want to do that seems menial, make the target roll low, but if it is something impossible, make the roll impossible.
    "I'm not going crazy. I'm going sane in a CRAZY world!"

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    Thanks for all of the advice, everyone. As I had hoped, our session was postponed due to one of the players having to go out of town for Father's Day. So we're rescheduling for sometime next week. I've been reading both the PHB and DMG in bursts and taking notes on things I feel are important, to help stick them in my mind. I've also been rolling random characters to get used to the creation process, and staging mock combat as well, and so far it seems to be helping.

    But by all means, don't stop giving me advice, it all helps

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    Arch Lich Thoth-Amon is offline Cursed by the Gods
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    Be sure to keep us up to date on your game, KylePhillipsFTW.
    Thoth-Amon, Lord of the Underworld and the Undead
    Once you know what the magician knows, it's not magick. It's a 'tool of Creation'. -Archmagus H.H.
    The first step to expanding your reality is to discard the tendency to exclude things from possibility. - Meridjet

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    I certainly will, I'm pumped for it.

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    Have you already decided how you're handling character generation? If not, now that you gained a reprieve, it's time to figure it out. Whether you decide to use pre-generated characters or have the players generate their own characters, I think it's best if you let the players know as soon as possible. You don't want them to show up thinking they'll create their own characters only to be handed some premade ones, or vice versa.

    The one method I don't recommend, especially for beginning players, is to ask them to make their characters in advance and then present them to you on the day of the game. That's an invitation to hard feelings and misunderstandings before play has even commenced: players may misinterpret the rules and have a character concept that hinges on that misinterpretation, or they may simply not be ready in time.

    Making the characters in advance allows you to have an idea of what the party's capabilities are and how to adjust your game accordingly. Letting the players make their own characters gives them some stake in their characters from the outset, and as you're supervising the process, you gain both an understanding of the character's abilities and the player's mindset.

    As RoryN recommended, stick to each player having one character and recruit another promising player if you feel the party needs more characters. Otherwise, I would settle with adjusting the adventure itself. I think it's best if you concentrate on refereeing, rather than trying to run an NPC alongside the PCs, at the outset.

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    The players and I have previously discussed it and decided to generate characters just before our first session, and maybe running through some mock combat scenarios to gain our bearings before starting the adventure. I'm also going to be helping them create their characters as much as possible because neither of them have been through the process before.

    I had some questions... but forgot them while trying to decipher this superfluously confusing rulebook >.<

    If I think of any I'll make a note and post them here.

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    *mumbles around a mouthful of chow mein* Good luck.

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    Unfortunately, D&D is a game that is best learned by being lead by someone who's familiar with the game... If you can FIND someone who knows how to play to Dungeon Delve you and your players that's honestly the best learning ground I can think of. When you see the game in action, it's easy to learn. Question though... why 3E? I know some people still stick to it, it was a great edition... but it's still a really random choice. Did you inherit the books from someone? Or were they just super cheap at a game store? Because frankly I'd steer you to either 4E or Pathfinder (a 3.5E reimagining) myself over 3E.

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    I bought the 3.5E books awhile ago before 4E even came out (not exactly sure when I got them) because I was interested in the concept. Now that I finally have a group, and have read the books on and off for the past... hmmm... maybe 2 or 3 years, I decided to stick with 3.5E, since I'll at least know more than the players.

    But as to finding a DM, Grove City, Ohio is not the place to do so I just happen to know the only two willing to play. I can't drive either, and neither can the players, so us 3 playing together is difficult enough.

    So... yeah.

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    Arch Lich Thoth-Amon is offline Cursed by the Gods
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    Thumbs up

    And remember, if you feel like looking up a certain complicated rule will be to time consuming, just use your DM's power and make it up if you feel the conditions are conducive to game enjoyment. Your players will know no difference, and will appreciate that you kept the game flowing at a pretty consistent pace. It worked great for old school gamers, after all.
    Thoth-Amon, Lord of the Underworld and the Undead
    Once you know what the magician knows, it's not magick. It's a 'tool of Creation'. -Archmagus H.H.
    The first step to expanding your reality is to discard the tendency to exclude things from possibility. - Meridjet

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