New to DMing, and the forums

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Hello, I'm new to the forums and D&D in general, I figured it would be advantageous to gain some ideas/feedback from the community. A group of friends and I have all decided to start playing D&D 4E, considering none of us have any experience in D&D besides hearing tales of great adventurers and wonderful treasure Smile.

Anyhow my birthday is in the coming months and i shall be purchasing a number of D&D products so that we can begin our adventures (I'm buying the red box, dm kit, monster vault etc... along with the core books and the master sets of dungeon tiles).

Once we have worked our way through the prepackaged adventures and know the rules, I plan to begin again with fresh characters and a world i am currently creating (mostly in my head). Any tips for dungeon master preparation, rulings or just general DMing would be great as well as maybe tips for the world building process and maybe even some feedback on a few ideas i had.

Thank you for reading this, and thank you to those who post any comments. 
If you are getting the DM's kist, Monster Vault, and the Heroes of... books then the Red Box will be a waste of money.  

Everything in it is duplicated in the other books and some rules are not super clear in the Red Box.

Other then that, have fun!
I mainly want the Red Box to introduce my friends and I to D&D, as well as running level 1-5 essentials characters before actually jumping into a custom campaign... as for the Heroes of... books, i'm not sure if i should get them, i mainly want them to repurpose some of the encounters or plot hooks etc.


In case anybody would like too know my party will consist of a party of 5. I have had a few odd requests for their eventual characters, one being a cat person which i have covered with the stats of a 3.5 race. Another request was for a necromancer, i've searched the web and most are repurposed warlocks or a class from heroes of shadow or something.

It would be great if someone could give me a little feedback on my campaign beginning:


Essentially my idea was to avoid the whole 'met at an inn' cliche' and instead i came up with what i think is a pretty cool idea. I would have the players chained/tied to an obelisk in the middle of the desert, woken by desert dwelling kobolds looking to scavenge from them ( the players have nothing but the clothes on their back). This would have the players have the break from their bonds (strength to break, stealth/thievery to slip out, arcane to magically untie the bonds, and maybe anything like flame based powers to burn through the bonds or any other ideas my players can concoct) and overpower the kobolds (minions, with maybe a pack animal carrying water/food, some gold and possibly even basic weapons for the players to commandeer). After this beginning I'd have the players face the peril of the deserts to seek civilisation or shelter...


anyway thats one idea for starting a campaign, any feedback/constructive critisism is welcome. Smile
I like that you're going away from the inn trope which is tiresome. I also like that you're starting with action. That sets the tone for the whole session right there.

As far as the specific encounter, I'd start with the PCs already released from their bonds and with their gear intact - or maybe the kobolds have just gotten their hands on some of their mundane supplies like their adventuring gear, food, and water.

Before you start the scene, you should have a discussion between yourself and the players about how they know each other, what they're doing in the desert, and what their group does in the context of the world (explorers, pirates, mercenaries, crusaders, thrill seekers, etc.). Part of the crappiness of the inn scene is the whole "Gettin' Ta Know Ya" aspect of it. Start with action and with the PCs already having bonds and history and you'll avoid that awkwardness. Whatever the players tell you about themselves or the world in which they find themselves, write it down and use it.

As well, look at every encounter you build and ask yourself, "How can the PCs fail this and still survive?" If you start doing this now at the start of your DMing career, you will take your game into some seriously interesting directions.

Good luck.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals  |  Full-Contact Futbol   |   Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs  |  Re-Imagining Phandelver  |  Three Pillars of Immersion

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Thanks, its good to know i'm sort of heading in the right direction. I was thinking that if the players didn't succeed in this first encounter (kinda hard not to) i would have them not die but in a sense be incapacitated, and then have the kobolds tie them to long sticks 'cannibal style' and  carry them to a certain cave or rocky mountain presiding over the desert or something. The idea behind this is having the kobolds bring the players to their master (obviously a dragon) as an offering. It doesn't kill the players and it gives them a possible enemy to fight in later sessions as well as giving some background context to the presence of the kobolds in the desert.

Thanks for the advice, hopefully my friends aren't as game breaking as some people, so i can at least run a semi-linear campaign without having to make up 4 hours of content on the fly. 
Thanks, its good to know i'm sort of heading in the right direction. I was thinking that if the players didn't succeed in this first encounter (kinda hard not to) i would have them not die but in a sense be incapacitated, and then have the kobolds tie them to long sticks 'cannibal style' and  carry them to a certain cave or rocky mountain presiding over the desert or something. The idea behind this is having the kobolds bring the players to their master (obviously a dragon) as an offering. It doesn't kill the players and it gives them a possible enemy to fight in later sessions as well as giving some background context to the presence of the kobolds in the desert.



Capture's an okay failure condition if it's not overused and is a ticket to something interesting rather than a punitive exercise.

Thanks for the advice, hopefully my friends aren't as game breaking as some people, so i can at least run a semi-linear campaign without having to make up 4 hours of content on the fly. 



You're welcome. I'd add that if you're running a linear game, let it be known to your players in advance so they can buy-in and help you. Some players don't like that style and will go out of their way to make it a problem for you.

If you'd like to discuss how to make the game nonlinear, but prepped enough to be manageable, let me know. 

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals  |  Full-Contact Futbol   |   Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs  |  Re-Imagining Phandelver  |  Three Pillars of Immersion

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Thanks, its good to know i'm sort of heading in the right direction. I was thinking that if the players didn't succeed in this first encounter (kinda hard not to) i would have them not die but in a sense be incapacitated.... 



Failure is always an option, and it's a fine option as long as it is interesting, entertaining, and fun.

I think you're definitely on the right track, you'll do great.

Welcome to the forums, and to one of the most rewarding and fun roles in the game - I hope you enjoy it as much as I do

[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
I don't necessarily want to run a fully linear campaign, I really just hope that the players don't break everything they touch. One of my friends goes to a local club and plays various RPGs and i think i shall name him the anti-midas. Anything he touches turns to crap.

More over then a fully linear, Elder-Scrolls-esque set of quests (villan, attacking force, or various other disasters or forces don't act until you achieve goal X or go to position Y) I want to have an idea i was reading about which seems like a great one: having consequences for both the action and inaction of the players. Basically if the players do not go to defend X village from the horde of Y monster, then the village will maybe be destroyed, people kidnapped, or a favourite NPC of the party kidnapped, or killed trying to defend the village.

Thanks for the tips, as much as i'd like doing things as a player I can definately see my place as a DM, the sheer power of creating it allows. 
I don't necessarily want to run a fully linear campaign, I really just hope that the players don't break everything they touch. One of my friends goes to a local club and plays various RPGs and i think i shall name him the anti-midas. Anything he touches turns to crap.



Goes without saying that the DM should never put anything out in front of the players that he's not willing to see destroyed seconds later. This can be a big problem in a linear game and leads to all sorts of issues. It bears watching.

I want to have an idea i was reading about which seems like a great one: having consequences for both the action and inaction of the players. Basically if the players do not go to defend X village from the horde of Y monster, then the village will maybe be destroyed, people kidnapped, or a favourite NPC of the party kidnapped, or killed trying to defend the village.



Yes, this is ideal. The PCs can't be everywhere all at once and when you design a game in this manner, they actually have to make meaningful choices. In a linear plot game, there is no real meaningful choice - you ride the rail dotted with encounters till its conclusion. What you're describing is not linear or rather it's probably not linear, if you're doing it right. Pacing is very important in this style. If you're not writing and playing in closed locations-in-motion, you'll need to arrive at decision points at the end of each session so you know what to prep for the next one. The PCs will then need to "go along" with whatever decision they made last week so that your prep isn't wasted.

Thanks for the tips, as much as i'd like doing things as a player I can definately see my place as a DM, the sheer power of creating it allows. 



The best games in my experience have more parity between the players' and DM's narrative control than in most traditional D&D tables. Everyone's a storyteller and not just for their particular sphere of influence. This requires a certain measure of trust at the table.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals  |  Full-Contact Futbol   |   Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs  |  Re-Imagining Phandelver  |  Three Pillars of Immersion

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />Goes without saying that the DM should never put anything out in front of the players that he's not willing to see destroyed seconds later.



Or stolen.  Giving your big bad a huge impressive home-brew awesome unstoppable magic sword?  Bad plan.  The PCs *will* get their hands on it.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Or stolen.  Giving your big bad a huge impressive home-brew awesome unstoppable magic sword?  Bad plan.  The PCs *will* get their hands on it.



Oh hell yes. In recent years I've very much taken on the role of "spectator" as DM. I watch the PCs like people in a reality TV show. "You want to do what? Oookay... let's see what happens!" I find I'm more excited by the game that way because I get to play to find out what happens. Now I'm thrilled when they want to kill the NPC or steal the unstoppable magic sword instead of annoyed.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals  |  Full-Contact Futbol   |   Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs  |  Re-Imagining Phandelver  |  Three Pillars of Immersion

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

...Goes without saying that the DM should never put anything out in front of the players that he's not willing to see destroyed seconds later.



Or stolen.  Giving your big bad a huge impressive home-brew awesome unstoppable magic sword?  Bad plan.  The PCs *will* get their hands on it.



Good point... we are talking about a game where players regularly ask how much money they can get for selling the mangy rags looted off dead orcs' backs:  PCs will loot and steal and sell almost anything that isn't bolted down, and EVERYTHING that IS bolted down.

Show

Seriously, try it sometime:  put an easy-to-get, unguarded bar of gold in a really obvious location laying around somewhere.  The party might take it, but they have a good chance of casting suspicious glares at it and avoiding it like the plague.

And, put a useless rock somewhere, bolt it firmly to the floor, guard it, trap it, and make it tough to pry loose and run off with.  I guarantee they will exhaust their strength and creativity in prying that rock loose, and they will then carry it with them as a trophy for the rest of the campaign....
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
I like the idea of the uber magical sword that the PCs steal from a villain, or leader or whatever. It would be more interesting i think if they stole an item that wasn't necessarily a weapon, but something that is just as powerful but in other ways/circumstances. I'd love to try something with cursed items, like a ring that bolsters fortitude or armour class, and eventually the ring will begin to encase the PC in stone, starting with the area around the ring, then the finger, then the hand, and slowly creeping up the arm to cover the entire body. This would force the PCs to look for a solution, whilst it may take three sessions for the ring to begin to affect the player. but once the players realise this, they may have to spend several sessions searching for and implementing a solution. Unfortunately a lot of these interestingly evil cursed items have to be used sparsely and in moderation, to avoid a large portion of a whole tier spent searching for solutions to several cursed items which would overall probably make my players avoid picking up any item, for fear of the massive waste of time it would be visiting every wizard, druid, and alchemist in the area to remove a cursed, sentient or otherwise malevolent item for the umpteenth time.

Also, could anybody possibly give me some tips on pacing and such. I know how much of a difference good pacing can make in everything; books, video games, movies etc.

Absolutely loving the amount of posts i'm getting, good to see such an active community.