How to DM II – a quick overview

My last post focused on the Why of DMing, so let’s make a start on the How of doing it.

There’s a bunch of places you can go to pick up some quick tips for starting out.
Run to YouTube, watch people run games in person and virtually. Watch videos of people giving advice for running games.
Listen to podcasts of people doing the same.
Read blogs and forum posts of plenty of other people giving you similar advice.

OK, done with that? Let’s have me repeat everything you’ve just learnt in my own words!

First of all, remember that whilst you are trying to steer the game and keep it going, you’re also a player at the table. You’re not the only person keeping things going.

Secondly, read up on your chosen rules.
You do not have to learn them completely! You will, however, have the final call at the table to keep the game moving. Make sure the other people in the group understand that’s what you’re doing (I’ve known people to hold grudges that have ruined friendships, even when they’re arguing the wrong ruling).

Third, you either pick up an adventure or come up with something yourself.
If you’re using something written by someone else, read it all before you play. There could be a reference you could drop in session one that will pay off down the line but the writer has buried it in the final act of the story.
If you’re coming up with something yourself, start small. One town and it’s troubles are enough to begin with. If you want the troubles to stem from some great world-changing event, that’s cool, but sometimes a wandering monster making trouble is all you need.

Finally (for this post), have fun, and try to make sure others are having fun too. If that means you have to sit down with everyone before playing and come to a group agreement on what to focus on and what to avoid, do. If it means trying to spend each session focusing on a different character for the spotlight, do that. But again, talk to your players about that.
Communication is key in a shared fictional world!

I’ll be returning to each of the points above in future How to DM posts. You can also check out my inspirational material page Appendix ï for more help and ideas.
For now, check out the How to Be a Great GM YouTube channel, specifically this video on things you might want to know before starting the DMing adventure (and where you’ll also find a video about how to start).

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