Dungeons and Dragons is a tabletop roleplay game that uses dice to push forward a storyline. Each participant creates a character they wish to play as, and only one person is the Dungeon Master who plans out the story and furthers the plot.
Whether you’re a storyteller, creative, author, or just someone who enjoys it, Dungeons and Dragons is shockingly easy to get into as a player. “DMing” (Dungeon Mastering,) however, can be stressful and upsetting for everyone involved if done incorrectly. I’ve been playing for over two years, and here are some tips I’ve found on how to create the best gaming environment possible.
1. Safety First
The goal of any roleplaying game (tabletop or otherwise,) is to enjoy yourself. Dungeons and Dragons has very few restrictions and can be easily shifted to accommodate every player’s needs.
Before your first game, ask your players privately for their boundaries, or for something called “Lines and Veils.” Lines and Veils are hard and soft limits to your game that make your players more comfortable! A veil might be that your player doesn’t like heavy gore, but is okay with general violence. A line could be that they don’t want the campaign to have any sort of guns or realistic weaponry. Accommodating for every player and making sure they feel safe and included is the first step to a great campaign. An incredibly helpful video on the specifics was made by Dawn of Roll 4 Initiative. Check it out below.
Every player table is different. You might have played with people who were more interested in combat than storyline, or who spent more time building character development than rolling dice and both are okay!
The only real requirement is knowing which is which. Ask your players what they’re focused on with their characters, and tweak your campaign to match! Your story doesn’t have to be completely reworked, though. If you wrote a story-heavy campaign, and your players enjoy more combat, try to add more interesting villains!
3. Character creation
By far the easiest method of character creation I’ve found is dndbeyond.com and their Fifth Edition D&D system. It’s a step-by-step process that’s great for beginners but still gives creative freedom. It is, however, behind a paywall for several functions. Roll20.net is far less thorough, and is definitely for those who understand the system better, but is completely free and works well.
4. Do your research
By far the easiest way to build confidence is to know what you’re talking about going in. The Official DM Handbook is incredibly helpful with mechanics and mathematical tips. There are also subreddits and amino communities that answer more specific questions, and going through hashtags on any social media platform can help you find advice. By far the most comprehensive resource I’ve found is Matt Mercer’s DM Tips series on YouTube. Matt Mercer is incredibly influential in the Tabletop Roleplay community, and his videos perfectly sum up what information is needed to begin DMing.
5. Communication is key
The most important thing about any game is making sure every player- including the DM, is having fun. Communicating with your players and building a positive environment is the best possible thing you can do.
At the end of the day, the point of D&D is to have fun. The systems and rules are there to help, but you can change them to make it easier if you want! Good luck and have fun!