My friends and I are brand new to D&D with no DM. Should I step up and learn?

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Hello all,

So my friends and I are all brand new to D&D and we'd like to learn get our adventures started. However since none of us are experienced, we don't know how to be a DM. Now there are only 4 of us (myself included) for right now, and I just bought a bundle of books off ebay that contain 3 player's handbooks and the dungeon masters guide (all 4E; super convenient given my group's small size).

My question: Should I just try to learn how to DM from the beginning? Or is it better to go out and search for a DM who can help us?

I don't mind being a DM, it's just that because I am just as new as everyone else in my group, it's going to be really difficult/confusing for me to keep up with both creating the adventure and being a part of it (being the DM vs. PC). I also want our first meeting to be smooth and fluid because I'd like to keep my friends interested in the game. 

Has anyone been in this situation before? Can you offer me any advice?

Thanks in advance!
 
Hello all,

So my friends and I are all brand new to D&D and we'd like to learn get our adventures started. However since none of us are experienced, we don't know how to be a DM. Now there are only 4 of us (myself included) for right now, and I just bought a bundle of books off ebay that contain 3 player's handbooks and the dungeon masters guide (all 4E; super convenient given my group's small size).

My question: Should I just try to learn how to DM from the beginning? Or is it better to go out and search for a DM who can help us?

I don't mind being a DM, it's just that because I am just as new as everyone else in my group, it's going to be really difficult/confusing for me to keep up with both creating the adventure and being a part of it (being the DM vs. PC). I also want our first meeting to be smooth and fluid because I'd like to keep my friends interested in the game. 

Has anyone been in this situation before? Can you offer me any advice?

Thanks in advance!
 


welcome to the game. i think you sound the most motivated so typically, that makes you the dm. you will likely see a lot of advice floating around, but ill try to make it as simple as possible

you have good books in your hands, the dungeon masters guide (im assuming 'dmg 1' by james wyatt) has a ton of good advice on running games. for adventures, youre in luck, they give you this puppy free on the site, it is more than enough to keep yall playing for a while

www.wizards.com/dnd/files/H1.pdf

while i enjoy making characters a lot, some dont. if you need some pre-generated characters try here, starting at page 16

www.wizards.com/dnd/files/QuickStartRule...


you can find more "pre-gens" here*

dungeonsmaster.com/pre-generated-charact...

*note that some of these classes are not in your books


there have been a lot of additions and changes since the game came out. best not to worry about that right now. with your books you have everything you really need to play. you might want to buy tiles and a battle mat and some minis or tokens, but you can get by with graph paper and buttons if you have to

if you dont like how skill challenges run, just skip them or roleplay it

good luck, im sure you will have fun. as you learn you can make it as complicated and complex as you want but my advice is keep it simple, go with what i told you until you learn


*also, as you will just have three players, you will want to adjust the difficulty down. the dmg has advice on this. i have run a three person game and its quick and fun but i would encourage at least one player to be a 'leader' (healer type)


 Holy wow! Thanks for taking the time to create a really insightful post! :D

Yeah, I think i am the most motivated to play, since I've been really interested in D&D since I was a young teenager (I'm 24 now). I never had anyone to play with or anyone to guide me in the right direction, so that's why I'd like to make things run as smoothly as possible for my friends, so that they'll stay interested in it.

And thanks for the links ! That pdf is pretty handy! It's funny because the bundle I bought actually includes a hard-copy of Keep on the Shadowfell, as well as a copy of Thunderspire Labyrinth, and a Red Box Starter set. Haha, so I *think* I'll be good on extras (tiles, minis, etc.) for now?

Thanks !
 Holy wow! Thanks for taking the time to create a really insightful post! :D

Yeah, I think i am the most motivated to play, since I've been really interested in D&D since I was a young teenager (I'm 24 now). I never had anyone to play with or anyone to guide me in the right direction, so that's why I'd like to make things run as smoothly as possible for my friends, so that they'll stay interested in it.

And thanks for the links ! That pdf is pretty handy! It's funny because the bundle I bought actually includes a hard-copy of Keep on the Shadowfell, as well as a copy of Thunderspire Labyrinth, and a Red Box Starter set. Haha, so I *think* I'll be good on extras (tiles, minis, etc.) for now?

Thanks !


youre welcome. just so you know, there is more than one way to get started with 4e. i didnt realize from your first post that you had the red box. you could always just start with that and the adventure in there; it might be more fun to make your characters that way. either way, it isnt 100% compatible with the rest of the game. not to the point that it is its 'own thing', but there are some fairly significant changes you would need to make if you start with the red box then move on to 4e proper

here is the link to convert red box pcs should you need it, but note they convert to classes that arent in your books. that might be reason enough not to use the characters from it, although the adventure would still be fair game. or you could buy the other book

wizards.custhelp.com/ci/fattach/get/8096...

wizards.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/...

the adventure in there is pretty good though

sorry if this is confusing, i am trying to keep it simple but the way they released products for this edition was pretty bizarre and sometimes hard for new players to grasp
 sorry if this is confusing, i am trying to keep it simple but the way they released products for this edition was pretty bizarre and sometimes hard for new players to grasp



Hm... I didn't know that you couldn't just carry your Red Box characters over to the 4E stuff. That's interesting.. And yeah, for a completely brand new player, the product line is incredibly hard to grasp. So many "What do I buy first? What do I buy next?" moments.  Yell

Again, thanks for your help! I'll pass this information on to my little group. :D
Also, since the advice in this thread has been awesome thus far, maybe you can answer one more question:

I know there are 3 players handbooks for 4E, but does each player have to play with the exact same book? like, in a party of 5, can 1 player use phb1, another use phb2, and the rest use phb3 ???  
Also, since the advice in this thread has been awesome thus far, maybe you can answer one more question:

I know there are 3 players handbooks for 4E, but does each player have to play with the exact same book? like, in a party of 5, can 1 player use phb1, another use phb2, and the rest use phb3 ???  



yes. now the qualifier is that only the phb 1 really has a lot of rules content. there are some extra and new rules in the other phbs, but the majority of the rules are in the phb 1. but all of the classes can be used together; in fact phb 3 lets you 'hybrid' them all together, which is one of my fave things in all of 4e

if you want to give all the players a little packet of rules, check out that link i posted about, the quick start rules, everyone can have those for free and it could help you teach them
Greetings N0ahhh!

Frostsof has good advice as to helping you DM. If you aren't already aware, you may want to try and find a hobby store in your area that runs the D&D Encounters program. It is free (in most stores) and is designed to help introduce new players to the game, as a side benefit you will gain a bit of a network of people in your area who also enjoy playing.
Greetings N0ahhh!

Frostsof has good advice as to helping you DM. If you aren't already aware, you may want to try and find a hobby store in your area that runs the D&D Encounters program. It is free (in most stores) and is designed to help introduce new players to the game, as a side benefit you will gain a bit of a network of people in your area who also enjoy playing.




Thanks for the warm welcome! <3

Funny that you mention D&D Encounters, I've been sitting here at work watching the youtube series of the same name, and I'm going to a game shope after work with one of my co-workers to see if they have good D&D Encounters events. Laughing  My group is only 4 people, so if I DM that means only 3 adventurers, so I'm going to try to get some advice from them as well.

Thanks! 
Greetings N0ahhh!

Frostsof has good advice as to helping you DM. If you aren't already aware, you may want to try and find a hobby store in your area that runs the D&D Encounters program. It is free (in most stores) and is designed to help introduce new players to the game, as a side benefit you will gain a bit of a network of people in your area who also enjoy playing.




Thanks for the warm welcome! <3

Funny that you mention D&D Encounters, I've been sitting here at work watching the youtube series of the same name, and I'm going to a game shope after work with one of my co-workers to see if they have good D&D Encounters events.   My group is only 4 people, so if I DM that means only 3 adventurers, so I'm going to try to get some advice from them as well.

Thanks! 



First, welcome to the game N0ahhh. :D

I just wanted to go ahead and say if you have any more questions feel free to ask us. We are a pretty informitive group here. 

Come to 4ENCLAVE for a fan based 4th Edition Community.

 



First, welcome to the game N0ahhh. :D

I just wanted to go ahead and say if you have any more questions feel free to ask us. We are a pretty informitive group here. 



Thanks! :D

Just to clarify, what frothsof said above regarding the different phb's... So it's okay for players to use different phb's in the same game? I understand that they contain different races and classes and what have you, I just want to make sure it was okay. My friend wanted to play a race that was in phb2, but I was under the impression that each player had to use the same book for continuity purposes.

Regarding the DM thing: as someone who is entirely new to the game, should I just not make a character and focus entirely on DM'ing? Because while I love the idea of being a DM and shaping and telling the story for the adventurers, I would like to actually play my own character. I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. Hahah


First, welcome to the game N0ahhh. :D

I just wanted to go ahead and say if you have any more questions feel free to ask us. We are a pretty informitive group here. 



Thanks! :D

Just to clarify, what frothsof said above regarding the different phb's... So it's okay for players to use different phb's in the same game? I understand that they contain different races and classes and what have you, I just want to make sure it was okay. My friend wanted to play a race that was in phb2, but I was under the impression that each player had to use the same book for continuity purposes.

Regarding the DM thing: as someone who is entirely new to the game, should I just not make a character and focus entirely on DM'ing? Because while I love the idea of being a DM and shaping and telling the story for the adventurers, I would like to actually play my own character. I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. Hahah



DMing and running a character at the same time is never a good idea.  There's a good chance that you'll discover you get at least as much enjoyment from DMing as you would running a character.

No real issues with using multiple player's books; they just add more options and PHB2 in particular contains a few of the more iconic classes (bard, druid, barbarian for example).
DMing and running a character at the same time is never a good idea.  There's a good chance that you'll discover you get at least as much enjoyment from DMing as you would running a character.



Well, when you say at the "same time", are you refering to the one gaming session? Because I don't want to do that. Are you saying that if I DM, I should DM until the end of the campaign/adventure? Because that I can totally understand. 


Just to clarify, what frothsof said above regarding the different phb's... So it's okay for players to use different phb's in the same game? I understand that they contain different races and classes and what have you, I just want to make sure it was okay. My friend wanted to play a race that was in phb2, but I was under the impression that each player had to use the same book for continuity purposes.




youre totally fine using the books with one another, it all works together. if a player wants a race from phb 3, class from phb 2, and feats from the phb 1, it is totally fine, even expected.
DMing and running a character at the same time is never a good idea.  There's a good chance that you'll discover you get at least as much enjoyment from DMing as you would running a character.



Well, when you say at the "same time", are you refering to the one gaming session? Because I don't want to do that. Are you saying that if I DM, I should DM until the end of the campaign/adventure? Because that I can totally understand. 



lots of groups switch off dming from adventure to adventure, even session to session, it is just that dming takes the most work, so it is usually, not always, the person most passionate about it that dms. if one of your friends discovers they really love it and want to run something, by all means let them

i also disagree somewhat with one of the above posters. there isnt anything wrong with running a companion character or NPC with the party. you dont want to be the one driving the story since you know the adventure, but you can certainly "play" a character while dming without hurting anything.


First, welcome to the game N0ahhh. :D

I just wanted to go ahead and say if you have any more questions feel free to ask us. We are a pretty informitive group here. 



Thanks! :D

Just to clarify, what frothsof said above regarding the different phb's... So it's okay for players to use different phb's in the same game? I understand that they contain different races and classes and what have you, I just want to make sure it was okay. My friend wanted to play a race that was in phb2, but I was under the impression that each player had to use the same book for continuity purposes.

Regarding the DM thing: as someone who is entirely new to the game, should I just not make a character and focus entirely on DM'ing? Because while I love the idea of being a DM and shaping and telling the story for the adventurers, I would like to actually play my own character. I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. Hahah

PHB2 and PHB3 add on to what you get in PHB1 in that the rules for combat etc are all in PHB1. There are classes in PHB2 and 3, but the rules for what all the numbers mean and how to do up your ability scores and whatnot are in PHB1. There are complete races and classes in 2 and 3, so if you know the rules reasonably already you can mostly do up a character and reference those books.

The only book you haven't mentioned is a monster book. If you don't have MM1 and/or MM2 you can start with Monster Vault, which has some extra goodies (you may be able to get it cheap, maybe even 2nd hand). MM3 is a good book too. The adventures have all the stat blocks you need anyway. H1 can be a little sloggy.

Another trick to get tons of adventures is to pay for a month of DDI ($10) and you can download all the Dungeon and Dragon stuff going back to 2008, it is all PDFs. There are 100's of adventures and many books worth of extra material. Using the Character Builder is pretty handy too, even if you only use it for a month it starts you out pretty quick. There are a lot of good articles on DDI about DMing etc to, you can get those, and many of them are even free.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
DMing and running a character at the same time is never a good idea.  There's a good chance that you'll discover you get at least as much enjoyment from DMing as you would running a character.



Well, when you say at the "same time", are you refering to the one gaming session? Because I don't want to do that. Are you saying that if I DM, I should DM until the end of the campaign/adventure? Because that I can totally understand. 



lots of groups switch off dming from adventure to adventure, even session to session, it is just that dming takes the most work, so it is usually, not always, the person most passionate about it that dms. if one of your friends discovers they really love it and want to run something, by all means let them

i also disagree somewhat with one of the above posters. there isnt anything wrong with running a companion character or NPC with the party. you dont want to be the one driving the story since you know the adventure, but you can certainly "play" a character while dming without hurting anything.

Yeah, running a DMPC can be either horrible or fine. As long as the DM makes a companion that is not going to be as important as the PCs aside from whatever specific supporting role he has its good.

My favorite is 'sarge', the guy that taught you all to fight in the militia. He's a grizzled old guy, but since the orcs came he's back in the field, bossing everyone around and tossing a Commanders Strike or sliding a PC into flanking, all the time yelling "No, no dwarf, get over THERE!" lol. That's about as much as you want to push it. The old guy will retire after a couple weeks or get used for a plot hook, etc. before it gets annoying.
That is not dead which may eternal lie

i also disagree somewhat with one of the above posters. there isnt anything wrong with running a companion character or NPC with the party. you dont want to be the one driving the story since you know the adventure, but you can certainly "play" a character while dming without hurting anything.


We probably don't disagree on that; just a poor choice of words on my part.  Companion characters/NPCs are totally fine IMO and something that I've used countless times over the years.  It's the dreaded DMPC that you need to avoid; a fully fledged PC played by the DM.  Using a monster stat block for and keeping them out of the spotlight are the key distinctions.  I'll typically get the players to roll for NPC party members to minimise the amount of time I spend sitting there playing D&D with myself while they sit and watch.  There is a hilarious, recent post here somewhere with an extreme example of how bad the DMPC thing can get.  

Switching DMs between sessions is perfectly fine, you just need to find a good reason for each DM's PC to be elsewhere for the sessions they run.  AbdulAlhazred's suggestion of a DDI sub would work well with that approach as it will give you access to a load of short, loosely linked adventures (the CHaos Scar series) that can be run over 1-2 sessions.

Rather than getting PHB 1 2 and 3, I would get Heroes of the Fallen Lands and Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms, the 2 essentials players books.  They have the errata'd rules and have plenty of races, classes, and feats to get started.  And the classes have much few choices to make on progression of levels, so they are much less intimidating as you learn the game.  Then when you want to branch out, get a DDI subscription and you will have acess to all the races and classes from every book through the online character building and access to all the crunch through the online compendium.  Also the 2 essentials books can be had retail for less than 1 of the PHB's.   


TjD


Rather than getting PHB 1 2 and 3, I would get Heroes of the Fallen Lands and Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms, the 2 essentials players books.  They have the errata'd rules and have plenty of races, classes, and feats to get started.  And the classes have much few choices to make on progression of levels, so they are much less intimidating as you learn the game.  Then when you want to branch out, get a DDI subscription and you will have acess to all the races and classes from every book through the online character building and access to all the crunch through the online compendium.  Also the 2 essentials books can be had retail for less than 1 of the PHB's.   


TjD




not to be rude but hes already got the books so this isnt helpful. errata is honestly a needless complication for brand new players just playing a home game, so thats also not helpful. basically id recommend reading the thread before posting

i will also add that not everyone finds essentials any easier to learn than the 1e phb. every new player i have ever taught has found it very, very simple to grasp aedu classes. not only that, but classes like the mage and warpriest, while falling under the banner of 'essentials', are every bit as complicated as anything before, if not more so. so, i feel that that 'advice' is also not helpful, even misleading
Welcome to the Forums n0ahhh and welcome to D&D ! Its a wonderful game you'll see !

I think everyone covered up well so i'll just add that if you have any Rule Question about D&D 4th Edition, feel free to ask here, usually it doesn't usually take long before someone answer you. community.wizards.com/go/forum/view/7588...
  

Happy gaming !

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Welcome to the game!

I would suggest staying away from the DMPCs. That said, an occasional NPC guide may prove helpful to move the story along.

But whatever you do, try not to put yourself on both sides of the table during a tactical encounter. Either (1) enemies will attack your character making it look like you are being easy on the players or show preference to play with yourself , or (2) enemies will attack other characters making the players think that you are tactically avoiding your PC. It's not worth the drama.

 
Welcome to D&D!

Being a DM is the most difficult part of D&D - or any RPG for that matter! - but I personally find it the most rewarding.

There's lots of good advice in this thread. I can also recommend joining enworld.org where the forums are even friendlier than here and very welcoming of new DMs and players.

Ideally, before you DM for the first time, try out a game as a player. It really will make much more sense.

Good luck with it all!
Cheers Imruphel aka Scrivener of Doom
Being the DM is the most exciting part of D&D. I would highly recommend that all of you learn. You can all create campaigns and play them, one at a time. I've only been playing the game for a few months, both DMing and playing, and I much prefer DMing, because of the creative potential it brings.
I fight for freedom. I fight for justice. I fight for honor. I fight for VENGEANCE.Beware, all you monsters, all you villains, for you have unleashed the wrath of Edward Darkforest. May your god have pity on your soul. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDDGJr6LOiw&feature=share Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

DMing and running a character at the same time is never a good idea.  There's a good chance that you'll discover you get at least as much enjoyment from DMing as you would running a character.



     Now there are definitely dangers to running a character when you are also running a game.  You can guess most of these by imagining a baseball game where the pitcher is also the umpire.  With some, a pitch that didn't bounce more than twice or fly over the backstop would be a strike.  In addition, D&D has glory hog problems and a DM with a PC can turn the other players into his audience and cheering section as he does everything [briefly.  Most players find this boring and stop playing.]  Also as DM you have quite enough to do running all the monsters and other tasks.  The game can get boring if you try to do too much and the players have to just sit and wait.  So it's not to be done without a determination to be fair and to allow the player at least their share of time in the spotlight.  [One of the advantages of being a DM is that you are always on stage, and so you shouldn't need the extra attention of star PC.]  It is not something to casually try.
    However, you have a small group as it is.  And 4e is designed with the idea of a minimum of 4 PC.  [You can manage it solitaire if you want, but...].  So if you are content with your PC as a second banana, the game can be better for you playing in your own game. 
There is some great advice here.  I would like to add a few ideas that you can try.

Ask a local gaming store if they have someone who can teach you how to play and DM.  A couple hours will be great, even if it is one on one, but even better if all your players can make it.

If you run modules, you can either reduce the bad guys in the modules, or let each player manage two characters.  That would give you a group of six characters, and make it easier for each player to experiment with different styles.   

If you are making your own encounters, have the first few be really easy for the players.  This lets you get comfortable as the DM and lets your players learn the game and their powers without being overly punished for mistakes.

The great thing about gaming with friends is that it is about fun.  Don't worry about making mistakes or accidentally breaking rules.  Create some stories, fight some battles, and learn as you go.