Get Your D&D Campaign Past The First Session
Dungeons and Dragons is an incredible experience that often leads to new friendships and unforgettable memories. However, as a new Dungeon Master, it can be rough to group a new group of friends to buy into your campaign and want to play for more than a single session. I’ve played D&D for years, ran multiple campaigns to a complete finish and DM’d for various groups at the same time(Not having a girlfriend and being in college helped a lot). Here are a few pieces of my advice that will help you get your group excited to game.
As a Dungeon Master, a lot of your job is the mental game. You need to look at your chosen group of players and guess whether they are power gamers who would love to dive into combat only, if they want to role play and yearn for an immersive story, just there for fun and want to have a casual good time, or even they simply got dragged along and do not want to be there. You can take any of these gamers and morph them into die hard D&D players. This will help immensely with the next step.
Decide Character Creation
Once you have your players tastes in mind, you can decide whether or not to let them create their characters or do it yourself. Many times I hear friends who Dungeon Master for the first time give me their stories of how they had an incredible story line written out just to get to the first session and the players could not get past character creation and they never met again. I’ve been there myself and it really does suck. To resolve this issue, offer them the choice of creating their characters and promising a balanced character. Most times players will agree because they’d rather test the waters to see if they actually want to invest their time and energy into learning the game than being forced to.
You may have gamers who believe they are above casual players and demand to make their own character, this is completely fine as well, so long as they show up early or come to the session with the character already created so that it does not interfere with the next step.
Apply A Strong Hook
Now that the characters are created and everyone is ready to be led to an awesome journey filled of swords and magic, give them what they want. A D&D campaign and a TV show are very similar, you need to hook the players in order to get them excited for future sessions. If you noticed everyone loved combat then offer them a taste of combat, if they loved roleplaying, make them feel important by offering them a big decision that has difficult moral choices to spark debates.
Some of the worst sessions I have ran and been apart of are sessions where the players yearn for certain aspects and the DM refuses. It kills everyone’s spirit and just like a TV show, they’ll one day stop watching/attending.
Make Them Feel Important
Often times players flock to D&D because it gives them a chance to be a more powerful version of themselves. Obviously there are story lines where players are nothing but mere commoners who must rise to greatness, which is a ton of fun, but even then the events that unfold before them make them feel vibrant and special.
You have to add an aspect in your session that separates them from the non player characters and even their own party members. If one player stumbles upon a mage offering them a wish, let them and them alone decide and make the reward meaningful(But not too powerful). It will show them that this is no cookie cutter adventure and anything is possible. Speaking of cookie cutter…
Never Railroad The Session
For those unfamiliar with the term ‘Railroad’ it means to force the story into the direction you want. when players find a solution that avoids a trap or anevent and you flat out say no, you’ve just killed your group’s morale and discouraged them from being creative.
I know it can be difficult as a new DM to improvise new events but I can not recommend struggling to find a new event out of your ass than to shut them down. With this being said, only allow them to think of solutions that is within the limits of the rules and is plausible.At the same time remember…
You Are Their Leader, So Lead
This goes for both life and D&D, remember to be a leader in your group of friends. If you don’t know an answer to a question either stop and look it up or make an executive decision and move on. If players get too rowdy or if a player takes too long to take his turn, step in and speed things along.
I know it might seem weird commanding your cherished friends but everyone will appreciate it in the long run. Have convictions in your decisions while also bending the rules at your whim but be a fair and just god. Put aside your wants and desires and do what needs to be done for the good of the group.
If a person has been rolling low all night long and is getting frustrated, throw a bone their way for sticking through everything. If a player goes above and beyond roleplaying or character creation, reward them for their effort and let everyone know that you encourage that behavior. The group will bend to your playstyle overtime.
Above All Else, Have Fun
Yes, your players will get off track and debate who would win in a fight between Superman and the Hulk but it’s completely fine. As long as every one is having a good time, let it go. If your players want to explore every room of a tavern while you have this elaborate dungeon ready for them, let them get it out of their system. Just as long as the group as a whole is in high spirits. If only a few players are happy while the rest are annoyed then you start dropping the DM hammer.
These are a few pieces of advice I have to any new Dungeon masters looking to have their Campaign last longer than a single session. What pieces of advice do you have that I didn’t mention? Comment below and let us know!
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