Welcome to DM In a Day, the series where I help you become the Dungeonmaster (DM) that you’ve always wanted to be! These tips, although framed to work for Dungeons and Dragons, would largely apply to any tabletop roleplaying game that you might crack open. That includes Pathfinder, Delta Green, Blades in the Dark, Starfinder, the Dark Souls RPG, Traveller, and the countless others out there in the world.
Whenever there’s enthusiasm within a group of friends to begin playing a tabletop roleplaying game like Dungeons and Dragons, there’s always that heavy pause: who is going to be the Dungeonmaster? And then, typically, the crickets start chirping and the game never gets off the ground because nobody wants to wear that hat!
Sometimes this might be out of fear or anxiety, or perhaps it’s because there’s this perception that if you aren’t a Dungeon Magician (DM) like Matt Mercer that you might as well not even try. Others of you might not even know where to begin! We’re here to hopefully ease some of the burden that comes with Dungeonmastering so that you can spend less time prepping and more time enjoying yourself at the table. After all, we do this for FUN!
This inaugural entry will mostly serve as your personal reference, as I compile and categorize the articles that we’ve written on this topic throughout the years. As future articles get written, I’ll add them to this master article so that it will be a one-stop shop for everything you need to be a successful Dungeonmaster.
Brand New Dungeonmasters
The Pressure to GM: Is it For Everyone? – we understand that not everyone wants to be a Gamemaster, and that’s perfectly okay.
Top 7 Things I’ve Learned As A Newbie DM – one of our resident Nerds was a first-time Dungeonmaster, and he had some tips based on his experiences.
Helping Launch a New Dungeon Master – if you’re a Dungeonmaster looking to help other aspiring Dungeonmasters, here are some tips to entice your new protege.
How to Play Dungeons and Dragons Remotely Every Week – we don’t always have the luxury of playing games in-person, so we give you some tips on how to play remotely.
7 Great D&D Blogs for a Roleplaying Newbie – here at Nerds on Earth we’re not the only ones providing Dungeonmaster advice; check out these other blogs for inspiration and tips.
5 Tools to Make DM Prep Easier for You! – cutting down on preparation time for your games is vital to keeping your sanity as a Dungeonmaster.
DM Tip: Not Everything is as it Appears – it’s easy to get into a rhythm get comfortable as a Dungeonmaster, but you should also keep your players on their toes.
Tabletop Takeaways: Points of Interest and Interesting Points – we discuss how to handling overland travel or extended periods of time that the party is on the road.
A Beginner’s Guide to Every Dungeons and Dragons Book – a primer on Dungeons and Dragons books that can help you out and serve as a reference resource when you’re running games.
Honey, I Shrunk My Homebrew: Details to Address When Worldbuilding – sometimes you can get overwhelmed trying to come up with every detail in your homebrew. Our advice: stay small.
Dungeonmaster Plot Hooks
100 D&D Forest Encounter Ideas – take to the trees with these 100 D&D Forest Encounters!
100 D&D Water Encounter Ideas – for seafaring and underwater adventures, check out these plot hooks.
100 D&D Sci-Fi Encounter Ideas – sometimes your adventures may take you to worlds unknown.
100 D&D City Encounter Ideas – cities are always hot and happening, so prepare with these plot hooks.
100 Dungeons and Dragons Roadside Encounters – when you’re not traveling in a forest, on a boat, going to space, or living in a city, you’re traveling between them all. Use this list of roadside encounters to help you prepare.
Tabletop Takeaways: Surface Tension – tips on how to create tension at your table, which can lead to a more engaged group of players who hang on your every word.
Let Your Party Add to the Story in Your TTRPG – remember that as a Dungeonmaster you’re not the only one creating a story; your players will contribute in a very meaningful way as well.
Information Collection and Dissemination in D&D – how do you get information to your players without holding out a spoon?
DM Tools You Should Use: Stat Trackers – keep everything in order by using a stat tracker!
How to Make an Interesting DnD Character – players aren’t the only ones who need to infuse some life into their characters; Dungeonmasters need to create memorable NPCs on occasion.
Remember the Name: Tips for NPC Creation – this article is more geared specifically to creating those memorable NPCs.
How to Use Choke Points and Other Combat Tactics in Your D&D Game – if you want advice on how to direct combat to specific points of the battlefield, using choke points might be a good start.
How Do You Make D&D Combat More Interesting? Use the HASTE Method – don’t get trapped in a long slog of combats! Instead, keep things snappy with this combat method.
How do you Make D&D Combat More Fun? Think Like a Cockroach – in a similar vein, fun combats usually have situations that are more than just two opposing sides rushing up to each other an staying in a deadlock for five turns.
Skirmishers: A Complete Beginners Guide to Fast and Exciting D&D Combat – different classes approach combat in different ways, and it’s important to know this when designing encounters.
How to Give Your High Level RPG Encounters a Proper Challenge – once your players reach a high level, combats can seem very swingy. Here are tips to keep things challenging.
Podcasts for Dungeonmasters
Step Up Your DMing with These Podcasts – if you want to hear more about how to be a better Dungeonmaster, then look no further than these auditory adventures.
DMing for Kids: Practical Advice on Leading Them Through an Adventure! – you’ll need to adjust your style if you’re primarily DMing for kids, and this primer will help guide you so that they have a blast.