5 Tips for First Time Dungeon Masters

Written by Kanyon Pierce

So, you want to be a Dungeon Master? Not to brag but I have been regularly Dungeon Mastering for almost 3 ½ years now, and I am well-versed in the rules and techniques of 3rd, 4th, and 5th editions. Just for a reference, the 3rd edition came out in October of the year 2000. This means that I traveled back 5 years before my birth and got used books that have not been printed since 2008, (Which for the record made them stupidly overpriced, but was still totally worth it.) all just for the sake of advancing my knowledge in Past editions of D&D. I don’t know about you but, I think it is safe to say I am an avid player. But besides that, I am to help you become a great and engaging Dungeon Master with just ten tips. Let’s get started, Shall we?

#5 Always Round Down!
This may not be the tip you use the most, but I guarantee you that this will save you from a lot of trouble and chaos. It mentions this at the beginning of the 5th edition DMG too, but I want to emphasize that this rule is very, very important. It could mean life in life-or-death situations for your players. If you still don’t understand trust me when I say, soon enough you will.

#4 Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!
I hate to say this because it might scare away some future Dungeon Masters but being a DM can be a lot of work! And it can sometimes be sad when you put a lot of effort into an encounter and then your players somehow escape it. I too am a victim of feeling like not preparing and I can tell you right now if you don’t things will not go to plan! The game will not run smoothly, and you will most likely run into a situation where something that your players think you have ready, isn’t and you have to stop the session early! I promise that the time you spend preparing is directly correlated to how fun and engaging your session will be!

#3 Use your Resources!
Don’t be afraid to look up a rule! I am 100% sure that if you are open and honest about the fact that you need to look up a rule, your players will understand! So, have all of your books and resources ready at hand!

#2 Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”
I personally know how hard it can be to say no to something that my players are hyped and ready to do, just because it could lead to the death of an important NPC or the potential obtaining of an overpowered weapon magic item. Saying no is especially hard when they think the idea is super creative! But I promise you that 99% of the time you let them carry out these plans, something will become broken and/or overpowered. If there was one thing, I wish I had been taught earlier it is this.

#1 You’re the master!
When you are preparing you can break and/or bend rules in the Handbooks just because! When being the DM you always want to create a unique and fun experience and doing that sometimes means you have to break a rule! It could be changing a monster’s stats, making a critical hit a normal hit, or making a table slightly different. One of my favorite Dungeon and Dragons Designers said something that I will always remember when the DM. being “Dungeons and Dragons is a game of Imagination. It was made to entertain and fulfill the desires and dreams of people young and old. Because of this, the books that we make are no more than guidelines made to direct and sharpen your Fantasies!”. As long as you remember that you’re sure to be a great DM!