I am The Dungeon Master, and I would like to welcome you to my blog. We are going to be discussing many topics that Dungeon Masters face in preparing and running sessions of D&D and other Role-Playing Games. From how to get started, to how to deal with problems that arise, and everything in-between. So without further ado, let’s begin by discussing how I got started as a new DM…
Before I ever owned a D&D book, I only ever played generic, homemade rpgs using decks of cards, hand drawn boards, or just our imaginations (and perhaps a few sticks to swing at each other lol.) All of that changed though when I was 12. My Grandfather passed away and left me the now infamous Red and Blue Boxes of D&D and AD&D, respectively. I opened them up and saw that my Grandfather had started the solo adventure contained in the Red Box. I attempted to run it for myself, but quickly lost interest. For me, it was like playing chess against myself, I just did not feel challenged enough to maintain interest.
Flash forward a few months and I have now convinced my younger Step-Brother to roll-up a Human Fighter to accompany my Elf (magic-user) on a adventure that I had written. We were supposed to travel through the woods, into the hills, find a cave, and “liberate” some treasure from some goblins that had taken up residence there. Our first encounter was with three wolves. The Fighter moved forward to protect my Elf, since I had rolled poorly on my 1d4 and had only 1 Hit Point after subtracting 1 for my low Constitution Score. I cast Magic Missile at the lead wolf, damaging him, but not putting him down. The wolves charged in, and the first one bit the Fighter, and then tripped him, leaving him on the ground, prone. Things went south quickly from there. The next wolf charged in and bit the Fighter, leaving him with 0 HP, and the last wolf finished me off with a single bite. My first official session of D&D ended with a Total Party Kill in the first (and only) round of a warm-up encounter with three ordinary wolves… I was devastated. I thought that I was the worst DM in the world, and that I had failed miserably at my first, and what would probably end up being my last, chance at running a session of actual Dungeons & Dragons.
“It doesn’t matter what happens, as long as everyone has fun at the end of the day. A Total Party Kill can be the most fun and memorable session ever, it all depends on the DM and the Players.”
But then something unexpected happened. My Step-Brother laughed, and said “Well… that was fun. Want to try it again?” I was absolutely dumbfounded. I didn’t understand. How could that have been so much fun that he wanted to try it again? I didn’t want to waste time overthinking it, so I said yes, and we reset the encounter. This time I had us encounter only a single lone wolf, and it still almost finished us! We never did make it all the way to the Goblin cave, but we had fun playing, and that was the greatest lesson I could have learned as a new DM. It doesn’t matter what happens, as long as everyone has fun at the end of the day. A Total Party Kill can be the most fun and memorable session ever, it all depends on the DM and the Players. Whether you are writing up an original adventure, or using a pre-written module, remember that at the end of the day the goal is not, and has never been, to complete the dungeon, rescue the princess, save the world, or kill the party. The goal is, and has always been, to have fun…
Good Gaming my friends!
– The Dungeon Master