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The Basics of Running Your First Game

If you read my previous post Introduction to Being a Games Master then we now know what adventure book we are running from the Official Sourcebooks. Now it’s time to read, read and reread the adventure! You don’t need to know the adventure word for word, but it is good to familiarise yourself so that when you look back at your notes, it jogs your memory. Nothing kills the tension for your players getting to a really exciting part, only to turn and see your nose in a book trying to figure out what happens next!

As an example, we are going to use a very simple adventure structure to help facilitate this part: Your party of Level 1 adventurers has been asked to clear out a local Goblin Nest that is plaguing the farming village of Cowsend. The Mayor of Cowsend, Mr. Bullbreath, has said he will pay them as long as proof is provided.

In these two sentences we have created what is called a Social Encounter. The NPC (Non Player Character) Mr Bullbreath, will pay your players for their time and skill. Your players will likely want to haggle on the price and so you will talk in character back and forth until you are happy with the outcome. Your players may also wish to wander around town, so have a few random names to hand in case they decide they want to talk with Jim-Bob the local Fisher.

Social encounters are one half of the core gameplay in DnD, allowing your players to interact with the world, find out new information, and be given quests. In this process, you will be speaking as the NPC. Don’t worry – you don’t have to put on any accents or silly voices, you can talk as you just with different emotions to highlight that it’s the character.

We will go in to this in more detail in a future blog post: Coming Soon

When your players have decided they are no longer interested in haggling with Jim-bob over the price of his trout, they can head out for some Goblin hunting. Along the way, you will have the chance to tell your players about the world. Is it a lush green forest or an arid, beige desert? Are there sparrows and crows flying around or is the sky dominated by Airships and massive flying beasts? 

When you are traveling, take the time to let your players talk to each other, or ask you more about the area. The travelling is not that important, not unless they get attacked. Use the time to let your players really get invested in the game, many want to talk amongst themselves in character and try to plan their next move (not that this always works in their favour). 

A favourite saying of a good friend of mine is ‘A quiet GM is a Happy GM’. The more your players talk, the more invested they are and the more fun everyone is having!

We will go in to running travelling gameplay in more detail in a future blog post: Coming Soon

Finally, after all that walking, the party will eventually arrive at their destination!

Whether it be a damp and dreary cave system, a collection of fur and leather huts, or even the ruins of a once mighty fortress, now we get to the meat and potatoes of the game.

Combat is where most people think they will spend most of their time when first playing. The Barbarian wants to smash them with their Warhammer, the Bard wants to insult them to an early grave and the Wizard has realised they don’t have Fireball yet, combat is where most characters really get to show off what they are made of.

Combat is both one of the most interesting and most boring aspects of the game, depending on how it is run. But fear not! It is a simple fix to get this on the right side of the fun scale, because who doesn’t love being the baddest of all badasses to ever walk this world?!

We will go in to this in more detail here: Coming Soon

Don’t forget however, there doesn’t have to be combat in every game! Remember that as a first game as GM, it is recommended to lead into combat, so you can begin to get to grips with it  but that there are other ways to get to succeed. Maybe your Ranger manages to kill the goblin chieftain to convince the others to leave the land, or maybe they decide they would rather work with the goblins! Maybe your players will throw you a proper curveball, with something you never thought to prepare for. In that case, looking at our ‘Improv’ Blog post may help to resolve the worries of what to do.

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