When you first start up a campaign, there are many first timer mistakes that DMs make that should be fixed gradually throughout the campaign. With the image above, it gives a great representation of what Dungeon Masters do wrong when playing the game. I’ll give you a short description of each and things you can do to improve yourself.
- DM/ Player Expectations: After your first meet up with the players, it’s your job to ask the players what they expect from the DM and how you can make the game interesting for them. This is also where you’d ask the players what they would want to see more in game, whether it’s more roleplaying, more combat, or a mixture of both.
- Preparation: When preparing your session, a DM might over prepare and have too much information packed into a session. On the other end of the spectrum, a DM might have little to no information for the session and they’re unprepared for the next game. You want to find a balance when preparing your campaign. Make sure you’re prepared enough to have a few hours’ worth of gameplay but you don’t want to bore the players with too much information and you don’t want to confuse the players when you’re pulling the information from out of your butt. It’s completely fine to make up the story as you go, but make sure you have it all connect in the end.
- Improv & Acting: Some DMs act and go fully into character when they’re acting for the NPCs. This is completely fine and it’s really fun! I encourage you to get into character. What you shouldn’t do however is make the NPCs lifeless and uninteresting. You want to entice your players into interacting with these NPCs!
- Follow Through: If you choose to have the player party fight a horde of ogres, have them fight the ogres! Don’t chicken out and avoid the confrontation. When you makes plans to do something it’s in your best interest to see it through until the end. Unless it’s an unfair interaction between the PCs and NPCs you shouldn’t change anything. Following through also means that you should finish up the campaign and game, you should finish what you’ve started! I’ve been in so many games where the DM would cancel our adventures right in the middle of the action and this is very infuriating.
- Confidence: Be confident! If you’re uncomfortable being the DM in the game, get pointers and ask other players and DMs for help. It’s better to have a support group that will be there if you need assistance than ending the game where it is.
- Tactical Combat: Creating a combat scene can be pretty difficult especially when you’re a new DM. Having an interesting terrain that can hinder a player’s performance or give players an advantage during the encounter will add some interesting elements to the game. You also want to have interesting and memorable monsters that the players fight during the game. You don’t have to make them flashy or crazy, but you want these monsters to make an imprint on the characters in some way.
- Challenge Balance: Usually DMs have a hard time balancing the difficulty of the encounters and interactions. You want combat and interactions to be challenging, but you don’t want to makes things overly difficult for the players. Give them something to think about when interacting in your world but don’t make them think or stress out too much. Throw in some simple and interesting puzzles to shake things up in your campaign. Also throw in some easy and relaxing interactions in your game to slow things down if the game gets too intense too fast.
There we go, those are some tips to handling the stresses of being a DM! Have fun with the game, don’t stress yourself out too much over preparing and playing the game. Check out this fun link on DM problems! It’s a fun read.
Featured Image- Source
Improvising Image- Source
Death Image- Source