Starting out as a Dungeon Master in Dungeons & Dragons is more than a little terrifying. It’s not just that you’re going to be playing a new game, you’re effectively going to be writing it. That means that your ability as a DM is an essential part of the game, not just for you, but for your players.
Worry not, it turns out that you can relax a bit more than you might think, you just have to get into the right mindset. DMing is less about knowing the rules inside and out, and much more about your ability to be flexible and keep things fun. After all, nobody will commend you for running a rule-perfect game of D&D if it wasn’t entertaining. That’s why we’ve put together this list of Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master tips.
Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master Tips
The aim here is to make sure you can relax a bit; it’s meant to be fun for you too. Keep that in mind throughout, in fact, just consider that the first tip.
D&D is basically just gamified improv. This means that no matter what happens, your job as a DM should be to keep things going. For example, if a player manages to roll a critical failure on an important task, rather than simply having them fail that task, make it theatrical. If they were trying to find a hidden pathway, maybe have them stumble as they are searching and fall into a barrel or have them poke themselves in the eye as they slip.
Plan Your NPCs
Make a big old list of names as soon as you know the setting you are working with. You can then give each of them a job and a couple of personality traits. That way your players bump into them, you won’t find yourself at a loss. You know that the town blacksmith is called Noir Maker (atrocious name) and that he is a big fan of cats and rainy days. Then, you can use those characters to direct your players where you want.
Rules Are Made To Be Broken
As the Dungeon Master, you are the alpha and omega of the worlds you create. That means that if something should happen as per the rules, but you feel it would ruin the game, then don’t do it. Fun comes first. Don’t let all that power go to your head though. Nobody likes a megalomaniac.
Make The Enemies Intelligent
You know how when you’re playing a game, things are more interesting against other players than AI? That applies to D&D too. That doesn’t mean you should have super smart goblins running around – although you can if you want to – it just means that if your party is facing off against bandits, make the bandits wily. If one of your players falls, have them demand a ransom, it’s much better than merely massacring your adventurers.
Use A DM Screen
There are a lot of games that mess around with mechanics to make the players feel like they are more powerful than they are. Sometimes that means making the last section of health have the double the value of all of those before it, sometimes that means giving the player more time to block attacks than they should have. You can recreate this by having a DM screen. By hiding all of your rolls, you can manipulate things however you want. It also means you can iron over any errors you’ve made as a DM. If the party wonder into a dungeon and the enemies are far tougher than you’d realized, it’s easy to fix if you just give the monsters terrible luck.
These are just some of the Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master tips around, but they’re our favorites. If you want more on D&D, then you should check out our Hub for all kinds of guides. It’s worth heading on over to Prima Games on Twitter too, that way you can keep up to date with all things gaming.