The purpose of being a Dungeon Master is not to beat the adventurers. There are no winners or losers. Your challenge isn’t to kill them, or torture them. Your goal is to facilitate, bend the rules so they accomplish their goals all while finding it equally as challenging. The rules are a guideline, and are definitely meant to be broken. Overall, your purpose is to make the game fun for you, and the adventurers.
The end is here, and what have I learned. Oh boy.
When I first chose to Dungeon Master (DM) it was for a multitude of reasons.
- I am poor. So I needed something that I could do without investing a ton of cash in.
- I suck at committing. When I take on a new project, I often find I can stick with it for a short period of time, and then I get bored of work gets busy. I needed something with accountability, that can be done on a semi-regularly, and it needed to keep my interest.
- I wanted to learn something that I WANTED to learn. I didn’t want to take on a project for convenience, ease, or because I should. I wanted to take on a project for me.
So here we are, the end of a four-month project learning how to become a Dungeon Master, and all I really have to show for it is a bag of library books and a binder full of spent adventures. Oh, and a fire hashtag on twitter #DnDPowerHour.
In the beginning, I had only ever played Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) once before. The game itself is incredibly complex and requires a minimum of 3 players and a DM. I reached out to my fabulous group of friends to see who was able to commit to by-weekly game nights and quickly we became a party of six plus me.
First, there is Quenriel. A Dragonborn bard with a desire for riches and a passion for glory and fame. Next, our Dragonborn Paladin Baldrik. a 7 foot 5 brute who with strict beliefs and a distrustful nature. Alone, our warlock halfling with intense and wild magics. Galbaghore, a stealthy rogue gnome who can pick any lock. Glimmer, our resident elf who suffered from debilitating DBD, but can always be trusted to utilise her long bow in times of need. Finally, Christina Angel, a half orc who will stop at nothing to befriend all animals, beasts and monsters- even when this isn’t how animal friendship works. Oh ya, and me.
The first challenge was learning the rules. To this day I can tell you confidently that I do not know them very well. There are two book dedicated to general rules, and they are overwhelming. Thankfully, the Regina Public Library had the entire set that I could access for free!
The next challenge was creating adventures. I had no concept of what a challenge this would be. Characters need to fit within a world, and be able to work together. The challenges presented in the adventure need to be scaled to match the abilities of the adventurers. I needed to be able to describe each; room, town, movement, battle, puzzle, random encounter, and all the moments in between vividly and create a world picture. The first session I DM’ed, I was mentally exhausted afterwards.
The most challenging part of this was learning through online resources. DnD is a well-established game created in 1972 that has been written and rewritten since. There are hundreds upon hundreds of advice columns, YouTube videos, and websites dedicated to DnD gameplay.
While I relied heavily on the books from the library, as they were invaluable, there were a host of online resources that I utilized constantly! The following are what I recommend for any future DMs who made be reading this.
- Roll20: A webpage dedicated to role-playing game (RPG) community with hundreds of resources for a variety of resources. As a team, we use this website often to do quick rule checks, and make sure that our character scores are calculated correctly!
- DnD.Wizards: Yet another community built website where we were able to access digital editions of the character sheets and prerolled characters.
- Geek & SundryGeek & Sundry: Wrote an incredible article for novice DMs with expert advice on gameplay, and the role of the DM.
- Spell Card Generator: With magical players came magical responsibilities! About halfway through our learning adventure, we learned that spell cards were a thing, and it made spell casting so much more efficient. Having cards in front of us on the table is much quicker than shuffling through the Players Handbook.
- Dungeon Masters Guild (DMG): This was, by FAR, the most important resource while I learned the ropes of DMing. The DMG is a huge online community of DMs and players who come together and share their content. There are so many incredible writers who have invented time in created incredible adventures that they make accessible for DMs in a huge variety of languages. They are all accessible online, for low prices if not free. This is where I found Ashley Warren, a writer and creator. For $4, I was able to access the first three parts of A Requim of Wings. I was thrilled to find a resource that supported writers and artists!
- Google Drive: Is the perfect hub to collect and share resources! It allowed me to access and prepare all of my work ahead of time, from anywhere! This folder is shared with my brother and my roommate, who are both aspiring DMs. It allows up to collaborate on documents and share what we have with one another!
Overall, this was one of the coolest learning experiences I have had. I was able to come together with 6 other pals to create a vast world of mystery filled with laughs and one feisty bard. While other options may have been more practical, this learning project will continue to move forward, as I have only just begun!! There is so much more to learn, worlds to explore, and dulcimer strings to break. You can continue to follow along this now life long journey on Twitter at #DnDPowerHour.
I am so fortunate to have such amazing people to join me on this journey, even though most nights feel like this:
I am grateful for the Friday nights spent together, the learning experience shared and the laughter poured all over the table. Without this crew of adventurers, I would not have been able to do this project, and I would have been stuck learning how to make cheese or something much less fun.
To conclude this learning project, I created a short 15-minute “podcast” using Audacity where you can listen to our adventurers arrive at Magra, where a local luthier enlists them to find the Starlight relic. An ancient item that can cast a shield against both angels and demons alike, in hopes that this will stop the war of Emberez.
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(thanks for reading- pce ouuuut)