Content of the article: "A Beginner DMs advice to other new DMs"
So I can't claim to be the most well versed and knowledgeable DM. I started DMing about three years ago, I started with an Edge of the Empire Star Wars campaign which fell off the rails due to low attendance but mass love for the campaign.
I had been a player playing 5e for about 3-4 years prior in a variety of campaigns since then with the same small group of friends which always fell apart for the same reasons. Then this past winter I decided I would give d&d one more try and try to DM for myself again. And this time, we've played for a total of 40 sessions since early January and 1 one-shot. We've remained consistent and even made the jump from tabletop to online when covid closed things down.
I know this may not work for everyone but what I found that has made for a success engaging campaign is:
- Laying out ground rules: From the start, I encouraged creativity and laid out the expectations and rules. We had a schedule and even a session time frame to play. We started playing bi-weekly and have since made it almost a weekly thing and limited our sessions to 4 hours with some flex time if required. Also, I asked for backstories and started everyone at level 2.
How death worked. Making Crits more impactful.
Milestone leveling: Wow has this helped keep players engaged and thinking outside of the normal hack and kill everything approach. It's brought more roleplaying to the table and led to some even more epic encounters both with combat and peacefully.
One-Shots: I can't recall where I found this but i read about making one-shots linked to backstories or events in the campaign. We've only done one so far that linked to the creation of the potential BBEG engrained in the lore of the story.
They were set up to fail as I told them and they loved playing different characters and learning more of the story in a way they actively participated rather then me telling them. We've even have two more planned to learn more about what an NPC has been up to since they left the party and another around a second historical event.
Feedback: I have asked for feedback and try to listen and take notes when people are engaged and when they aren't. Did something fall flat? Then I'll change it for next time or remove future occurences.
Plotting out the story: I decided early on that I wanted to plot out the story. We originally started doing LMOP which I gave my homebrew world spin on it and I didn't like nor did anyone else like the limitations within the book so I took the plot and adapted it to just be points that connected and could be moved around. They actually skipped two chunks of the LMOP because narratively it would've railroaded them so I moved things around to fit where they were and what they were doing.
New players/New group: I strongly believe if your campaigns are failing because of low attendance and scheduling, sometimes it's who you choose to play with. I taught the game to my sister and her boyfriend. Brought in two newer players who only played with us before a handful of times and got 3 veteran players who I knew were always the most reliable. We may have a large group but they are always at sessions and always find time to schedule one in.
Love the game: make sure everyone is having fun and enjoying themselves. Spread the spotlight around and reward their creativity. And have them reward each other, I started allowing players to give inspiration points out and that worked wonders to get some of the quieter players to speak up and do things differently.
Overall I can't say I'm an amazing DM but I know I have an amazing group. I love playing with them and look forward to going as far as they want to in this campaign. They're currently at level 8 and absolutely are itching to play every week right now. They already plan to bring back an NPC from the dead who sacrificed themselves for one of the party members. They keep talking about level 17+ and that's when I know they're in for the long haul.
This may not be the best advice but maybe it'll help some new DM with their game.
- Consider having a side campaign
- I had to bin my campaign, but I kept my players
- I’m an experienced-ish DM who doesn’t like DMing for my completely new players/friends, should I quit or push through?
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