First Time Dungeon Mastering!

Advanced Dungeons and Lawyers by Cyril Van Der Haegen

Advanced Dungeons and Lawyers by Cyril Van Der Haegen

My regular readers may have noticed a gap in posting as of late. Apologies. Life has gotten in the way. And by life, I mean Dungeons & Dragons.

I’ve been playing D&D for over four years now, all in the 3.5 edition with the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. It’s what I chose to use for my first campaign as a Dungeon Master (or Game Master), which started two months ago. Despite being as familiar with it as I am now, learning the rules and knowledge for playing on the other side of the Dungeon Master’s screen continues to be a trial. A trial I really enjoy.

I’ve started with a small group of three close friends: a rogue, a ranger, and a wizard. After four game sessions, I have discovered that I picked an amazing group of smart and funny players. The rogue Daera cut the Achilles tendon of the head bandit and knocked him unconscious with drow poison. The wizard Vholor got the current bad guy banned from a bar with disguise self. The ranger Ryder mightily kicked down a sturdy door the rouge had trouble picking and single-handedly slew a zombie knight within two rounds. Especially after the zombie became single handed himself on a natural 1 roll.

It’s such a new experience, trying to build the sandbox instead of playing in it, but that’s not quite a true analogy. Building the world is playing in it. Every new character I create or plotline I thread along makes me so excited when I think of my players coming across  it. Without fail, their own interactions have surpassed all my expectations with gut-bursting hilarity.

And if they don’t go follow along the bread crumbs, that’s fine. I’m there to make their fun happen. If I need to start writing in a different direction, that’s why there are two weeks between sessions to build around whatever crazy antics happened in the last night. Plus it gives me story elements to keep on hand for the future.

Still being very new to the concept, I’m using the extensively-built Forgotten Realms setting instead of a world from scratch, but I’m finding areas light enough on their own lore that I can create whatever I want from the existing foundation. Every time I read something new in a book or online that strikes my fancy, I can manipulate it to work in the story my players and I are creating.

We don’t have a handle on every rule of the game, but that doesn’t matter. The rule of cool is the primary rule of the game, and if it sounds fun, we’ll go with it for the time being.

I do worry that I will eventually slip up, that I’ll be unprepared for a direction my players go in, and that I won’t be able to improv the scenario. Or that whatever I do come up with won’t be entertaining to any of my players. However, that’s been shrinking with every subsequent session. My anticipation of the joy in seeing what my players do next far outweighs the anxiety of failing to deliver an exhilarating experience.

I think a future post will outline some of the tools and techniques I’ve picked up running my own game, but that will be after I’ve gotten some more experience points under my belt. I’m still a novice, at a lower level than the characters in my own game. For now though, I’m content in reveling in the excitement and fun we all have when we gather together, act out our imaginations, and throw dice all over the place.


Do you play Dungeons & Dragons or any other table top role playing games?
Have you tried running your own game?
Did you have a good time?
What problems did you run into?

Share your answers and any great gaming stories in the comments below!


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One thought on “First Time Dungeon Mastering!

  1. Honestly, I think you’ve been doing fantastically. DM’ing is a very different experience, but it can be just as fulfilling as playing. And ultimately, as far as rules go, there’s no real “slipping up”, so long as everyone has fun, which is the point of the game, anyway.

    Keep at it. Like everything else in life, you can only continue to improve as you become more experienced.

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