Dungeons & Dragons Online

First Time DM- Best practices regarding pacing and rules

Content of the article: "First Time DM- Best practices regarding pacing and rules"

A few months into the pandemic, I started DMing a DoIP campaign with a group of friends and acquaintances. We've only been able to meet a few times since character creation, but we've agreed that we'd like to start meeting every weekend if possible, as no one has much going on right now. Last meeting, due to the weather we met online (R20, specifically) and it's got me feeling in need of some advice on how to manage the campaign.

We have a mixed group of folks, running the gamut from "DMs their own campaigns often" to "oops, no I still haven't gotten around to going through the beginner's rulebook. What do I roll?". This has lead to some friction when it comes to pacing and rules. With a group that had it all together I think we'd be fine, but it seems like every encounter becomes a real slog and we all end up fatigued and ready to call the night pretty quickly. While I feel like this may change as they learn the rules over time and level up, getting more toys and abilities to play with, it leaves me feeling like I'm dragging half the group along to finish wiping out the last few enemies.

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For the time being, I feel like there has to be some kind of balance I need to strike between giving everyone agency, pushing the story along, making sure we stick to The Rules, but also playing enough calvinball with the game to keep it light. I think I've given enough background here, so I'll just bullet point some actual questions below. Thanks in advance!

  • Is there something I can reliably do if it seems like the party has lost interest in an encounter? (e.g. half is dashing further away every turn, half are rolling straight attack rolls every turn)
  • I often find myself waiting for someone in the party to do something after I describe a new area or event taking place, how do I let my players know I'm letting them loose? Is it common to only have, say, one player that pretty much always takes point in situations?
  • Generally, how might one deal with a group where some know the PHB inside and out and some have very little experience (and need a lot of help in-game)?
  • Those who DM online- how do you deal with the fatigue that comes with essentially having an hours-long zoom meeting?
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Source: reddit.com

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