Pro Tips

Add whatever you think other novice or expert DM's should know. 

T001: Export your PDF's to JPGs if you plan to use Tablets. PDF's on tablets only loads the current page and a few pages before and after it. When having to jump to a page somewhere else in the PDF it requires load time. When looking through spell lists and the like- this can become very annoying. Converting them all to JPG's lets for quick scanning. The draw back is that you can not search for specific words. 

Communicate.  A group of like minded people can have a lot of fun playing a game.  Avoid surprises because no one communicated.

Ignore all advice.  Advice comes from those who have blazed their own paths.  Make your own path.  Create your own advice.  Make the game yours.  Do what you and your table need to do to have fun.  In the end, your enjoyment with your friends at your given location is the reason for the hobby.

sliceoffruit wrote:

T001: Export your PDF's to JPGs if you plan to use Tablets. PDF's on tablets only loads the current page and a few pages before and after it. When having to jump to a page somewhere else in the PDF it requires load time. When looking through spell lists and the like- this can become very annoying. Converting them all to JPG's lets for quick scanning. The draw back is that you can not search for specific words. 

 

  Faster tablets obviously won't have this problem, but you can also try to use a different PDF reader, other readers are often quite a bit faster than Adobe's.  You can also edit the PDF so it is simpler/smaller, some PDF files might be 2 gigs but can easily be shrunk down to a few megs.

Chakravant wrote:

Ignore all advice.  Advice comes from those who have blazed their own paths.  Make your own path.  Create your own advice.  Make the game yours.  Do what you and your table need to do to have fun.  In the end, your enjoyment with your friends at your given location is the reason for the hobby.

"Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself; and heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys."

-- Deteriorata, Tony Hendra (1972)

 

"Be careful whose advice you buy but be patient with those who supply it
Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past
From the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts
And recycling it for more than it's worth

"But trust me on the sunscreen."

-- Everybody's Free (to Wear Sunscreen), Baz Luhrmann (1998)

 

But seriously:

T004: A little planning is good, a lot of planning is bad, because you begin to feel you have to constrain spontaneous creativity in favor of the ever-elusive plot. Let your players write the plot with their characters' actions; it is best to treat the characters as stars of their own individual comic books, with the current party a "team crossover event" where everyone should have their stand-out moment to shine.

Not happy with the look of the new forums? Check out the Skin Your Forums thread for a solution.

D&D Next: VALOREIGN Home Game Development, Grifford's Protection cleric domain, gojirra's (Un)Death cleric domain.

General Campaign Stuff: Bawylie's Budget Dungeons

AlHazred wrote:

But seriously:

T004: A little planning is good, a lot of planning is bad, because you begin to feel you have to constrain spontaneous creativity in favor of the ever-elusive plot. Let your players write the plot with their characters' actions; it is best to treat the characters as stars of their own individual comic books, with the current party a "team crossover event" where everyone should have their stand-out moment to shine.

 

Maybe this is a corrollary or perhaps a minor change.  It's okay to plan but don't plan the lives of the characters nor depend on what they do.  Make an interesting world and let them intrude upon it.

 

 

Mablok wrote:

Communicate.  A group of like minded people can have a lot of fun playing a game.  Avoid surprises because no one communicated.

 

That's probably the most important piece of advice that can be given.

Have fun. 

The desire to be a good DM is probably the most important thing. When you're having fun the players will feed of that positive energy. When everyone is playing with the intent of having a good time any mistakes made are going to be negligable.

Big Model: Creative Agenda
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Reality Refracted: Social Contracts

My blog of random stuff 

Dreaming the Impossible Dream
Imagine a world where the first-time D&D player rolls stats, picks a race, picks a class, picks an alignment, and buys gear to create a character. Imagine if an experienced player, maybe the person helping our theoretical player learn the ropes, could also make a character by rolling ability scores and picking a race, class, feat, skills, class features, spells or powers, and so on. Those two players used different paths to build characters, but the system design allows them to play at the same table. -Mearl

"It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the publick to be the most anxious for its welfare." - Edmund Burke

Know the rules, but don't be a slave to them.   Keep the action moving and be fair.

 

Design for variety of encounters and experiences.   If you incorporate variety of encounters, encounter difficulties, exploration and interaction, there will be a natural ebb and flow for tension and relief. 

 

 

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

Embrace the idea that making a mistake does not make you bad at the game - but handling your mistakes poorly (by not acknowledging them so you can learn from them) very well could.

 

Seek to improve your game - even if it is good - but remember that you are the one that will (at some point) figure out what is best for you, so you can safely ignore anyone - even the designers themselves - if they are trying to say what is best for you.

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

Don't let anyone, whether it's on a forum or at your FLGS, tell you that the way you are playing is wrong, not fun, or not the "right" way. Enjoy the game the best way that you know how.

 

Also, irreverence is cathartic.

Role Play Craft : Crafting Ideas, Modules, and Options for your Role Playing Game.

As an extention to communication...

 

Know Your Audience. Find out what each of the players like and don't like so that you can customize the campaign to hit the "fun" notes for everyone (including yourself). At the end of the session, the most important thing is if everyone was enjoying themselves.... It's a game, after all, and games should be fun.

I’'ve removed content from this thread because Trolling & Baiting are violations of the Code of Conduct.

 

You can review the Code here: http://www.wizards.com/Company/About.aspx?x=wz_company_about_codeofconduct

 

Please keep your posts polite, on-topic, and refrain from making personal attacks.You are welcome to disagree with one another but please do so respectfully and constructively.

 

If you wish to report a post for Code of Conduct violation, click on the Report Post button above the post and this will submit your report to the moderators on duty.


"Lolth be praised; all victory is her doing."

It's often said, "A good story writes itself."

 

Therefore a good campaign writes itself, by listening to the players table chatter.

 

No matter what you've created the players will find a way to do the unexpected. And then come with ideas about what they think will happen next. 

 

Listen to them and they'll write the in between bits of your campaign for you. 

E. Tallitnics on Google+, Roll20, and Twitter.

Your players need the illusion of freedom to enjoy the game.

 

Railroad them, or slap them with IC consequences every time they step off your linear plotline and the game will suffer.

 

Be prepared, even when you have done a lot of prep work, to go with an unexpected player-led plot development once in a while - even if it changes the plot entirely!

 

You don't need to give free rein all the time - a game would become unmanageable for you - but allow it often enough to maintain the illusion - you're players will enjoy the effect, and if you do it well enough, they won't even realise...

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." Albert Einstein

Mablok wrote:

Communicate.  A group of like minded people can have a lot of fun playing a game.  Avoid surprises because no one communicated.

Also keep in mind that maybe no one actually knows what to communicate about.

 

The other person might not know how to describe how they like to play (or might even not know there is any way of playing other than their own). That means they did not deliberately try to clash, if a clash should happen.

 

Also, not everyone is into vermisilitude.

"In the game there is magic" - Orethalion

 

Only got words in my copy.

Caliburn101. wrote:

Your players need the illusion of freedom to enjoy the game.

 

Railroad them, or slap them with IC consequences every time they step off your linear plotline and the game will suffer.

 

Be prepared, even when you have done a lot of prep work, to go with an unexpected player-led plot development once in a while - even if it changes the plot entirely!

 

You don't need to give free rein all the time - a game would become unmanageable for you - but allow it often enough to maintain the illusion - you're players will enjoy the effect, and if you do it well enough, they won't even realise...

Is this deliberately self contradicting advice for humours sake? 'Don't let them change the plot! Let them change the plot!'

 

Otherwise no, they don't need that illusion except for playing in a particular way.

"In the game there is magic" - Orethalion

 

Only got words in my copy.

Noon wrote:

 

Caliburn101. wrote:

Your players need the illusion of freedom to enjoy the game.

 

Railroad them, or slap them with IC consequences every time they step off your linear plotline and the game will suffer.

 

Be prepared, even when you have done a lot of prep work, to go with an unexpected player-led plot development once in a while - even if it changes the plot entirely!

 

You don't need to give free rein all the time - a game would become unmanageable for you - but allow it often enough to maintain the illusion - you're players will enjoy the effect, and if you do it well enough, they won't even realise...

 

Is this deliberately self contradicting advice for humours sake? 'Don't let them change the plot! Let them change the plot!'

 

Otherwise no, they don't need that illusion except for playing in a particular way.

 

You misread it.

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." Albert Einstein

Azzy1974 wrote:

As an extention to communication...

 

Know Your Audience. Find out what each of the players like and don't like so that you can customize the campaign to hit the "fun" notes for everyone (including yourself). At the end of the session, the most important thing is if everyone was enjoying themselves.... It's a game, after all, and games should be fun.

 

Or seek the audience you want... Still I get that even within overaching preferences your point is still well made.  

 

I don't think though me trying to make a player that has the opposite preferences from me is a good use of time for either of us.  One of will likely be less happy.  I guess if it's a visiting cousin who just wants to play one time, you can grit your teeth but gritting your teeth on a regular basis is a quick way to burn out and quit.

 

 

More advice for the DM.

1.  Write up all of your table rules including any game houserules.  My advice is outside the core books make everything a DM approval only situation.  (I might just say the whole game for 5e).

2.  Ban arguments at the table.   Be fair and open to discuss anything between games.  Avoid rules lawyers in general.

3.  Work really hard to play the monsters fairly.  In fact once you think you've worked hard, work even harder.  Effort spent on this is well paid.

4.  Build NPCs like you'd build novel characters.  At least those that are significant.  Doing so will cause plots to fall in your lap often times.  (Meaning know their history, their desires, their relations, etc...)

5.  Make setting like you would if writing a novel.  A  good setting with depth can really add to the players immersion.

 

 

If you are using minis, and have more than seven of the same creature in play at once, it's handy to number them.

 

Make sure your descriptions move from most apparent to least apparent. Don't put the hoard before the dragon. Unless she's hiding.

 

Failure is always an option. Have an idea of the consequences if an objective is not met.

Caveat: This Tip assumes you are not playing with children as a learning or teaching experience.

 

Lie whenever it makes for a better game. Lie about Monster/NPC Hit points, Numbers, AC, damage dealt, intentions, weaknesses, and anything else. Lie early, lie often, lie unashamedly, and (most importantly) lie about whether you are lying or not. Never admit, until the day death takes you, to any of your players, that you ever lied.

 

I've never needed this advice of course, because I have never lied to my players. But I have heard it's useful advice for, y'know, other DM's.

 

 

DemoMonkey wrote:

Caveat: This Tip assumes you are not playing with children as a learning or teaching experience.

 

Lie whenever it makes for a better game. Lie about Monster/NPC Hit points, Numbers, AC, damage dealt, intentions, weaknesses, and anything else. Lie early, lie often, lie unashamedly, and (most importantly) lie about whether you are lying or not. Never admit, until the day death takes you, to any of your players, that you ever lied.

 

I've never needed this advice of course, because I have never lied to my players. But I have heard it's useful advice for, y'know, other DM's.

 

 

wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more.  

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

Tips that I have accrued over my years playing:​

 

  1. No plot survives contact with the players. They will zig when you expect them to zag; be prepared for that possibility (and know that all your preparations cannot predict what they will do).
  2. A large portion of D&D is improv acting. As the DM, look for ways to say yes instead of reasons to say no. Look up the improv concept "Yes, and...". Use it. A lot.
  3. Nothing exists until the players see it. If you have notes saying that "at the end of the cave is a secret abyss to another world" the players don't know that - and you can change it if you want, whenever you want, all the way up until you tell the players what is there.
  4. Be ready to burn the whole thing to the ground. Be ready to toss out your notes. Be ready to say to yourself "I spent 3 hours making this town and filling it with NPCs, but a player just gave me an awesome idea - instead of happy little hobbits, this town has been burned to the ground and is instead inhabited by ghost sharks!". 
  5. It's more important to be entertaining than it is to be super realistic. You should still be plausible (most people don't like cartoon physics) but don't get caught up in the thermodynamics of a fireball, or the mass equations of a giant spider. The "Rule of Cool" basically states "If it's really cool and people like it, you should do it - even if it wouldn't work that way in real life."
  6. It's more important to be entertaining than it is to be original. DM's don't get paid to be original. (Actually DM's don't get paid at all, so...). Steal ideas from books, from movies, form video games, from songs, from wherever. Change names, change ideas, so your players don't know, and use that story or snippit. It's cheap, it's easy, but it works and it's fun.
  7. You are not the only person at the table; neither are your players. It's a group activity, everybody should be having fun. If a player isn't having fun, if you aren't having fun, take a step back and try to figure out what isn't working and then fix it.
  8. It's everybody's story. Don't read a story to your players and enforce their roles; let them tell the story just as much as you do. It makes your life easier, and it makes things a lot more fun for them.
  9. The single most important rule - the one inviolable constant in all RPGs, regardless, is "Be entertained". As long as you aren't breaking that one rule, every other rule - including the previous 8 - can be thrown right out the window.
  10. Never, ever, ever solve out-of-character problems with in-character solutions. If a player is being annoying, doing something the group doesn't like, being "that guy", or anything related to that: Talk to the player, preferably in private. It requires maturity and courage to do it, but it's what works. Don't punish the character for things the player is doing wrong. It's a dark, dark path and it quickly gets out of hand - and it solves exactly nothing all of the time.

Supporting an edition you like does not make you an edition warrior. Demanding that everybody else support your edition makes you an edition warrior.

Why do I like 13th Age? Because I like D&D: http://magbonch.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/first-impressions-13th-age/

AzoriusGuildmage- "I think that you simply spent so long playing it, especially in your formative years with the hobby, that you've long since rationalized or houseruled away its oddities, and set it in your mind as the standard for what is and isn't reasonable in an rpg."

While I agree with a couple of your points blacksheep, I can see why we disagree a lot on what we want out of a game.

Eschew verbosity. 

Emerikol wrote:

While I agree with a couple of your points blacksheep, I can see why we disagree a lot on what we want out of a game.

I'm aware #3, #4, and #8 pretty much directly contradict how you play. The irony here is, I used to play that exact same way until I learned that letting go works so much better for me.

 

bawylie wrote:

Eschew verbosity. 

Show, don't tell. Same concept as in writing (books or movies).

Supporting an edition you like does not make you an edition warrior. Demanding that everybody else support your edition makes you an edition warrior.

Why do I like 13th Age? Because I like D&D: http://magbonch.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/first-impressions-13th-age/

AzoriusGuildmage- "I think that you simply spent so long playing it, especially in your formative years with the hobby, that you've long since rationalized or houseruled away its oddities, and set it in your mind as the standard for what is and isn't reasonable in an rpg."

blacksheepcannibal wrote:

Tips that I have accrued over my years playing:​

 

  1. No plot survives contact with the players. They will zig when you expect them to zag; be prepared for that possibility (and know that all your preparations cannot predict what they will do).
  2. A large portion of D&D is improv acting. As the DM, look for ways to say yes instead of reasons to say no. Look up the improv concept "Yes, and...". Use it. A lot.
  3. Nothing exists until the players see it. If you have notes saying that "at the end of the cave is a secret abyss to another world" the players don't know that - and you can change it if you want, whenever you want, all the way up until you tell the players what is there.
  4. Be ready to burn the whole thing to the ground. Be ready to toss out your notes. Be ready to say to yourself "I spent 3 hours making this town and filling it with NPCs, but a player just gave me an awesome idea - instead of happy little hobbits, this town has been burned to the ground and is instead inhabited by ghost sharks!". 
  5. It's more important to be entertaining than it is to be super realistic. You should still be plausible (most people don't like cartoon physics) but don't get caught up in the thermodynamics of a fireball, or the mass equations of a giant spider. The "Rule of Cool" basically states "If it's really cool and people like it, you should do it - even if it wouldn't work that way in real life."
  6. It's more important to be entertaining than it is to be original. DM's don't get paid to be original. (Actually DM's don't get paid at all, so...). Steal ideas from books, from movies, form video games, from songs, from wherever. Change names, change ideas, so your players don't know, and use that story or snippit. It's cheap, it's easy, but it works and it's fun.
  7. You are not the only person at the table; neither are your players. It's a group activity, everybody should be having fun. If a player isn't having fun, if you aren't having fun, take a step back and try to figure out what isn't working and then fix it.
  8. It's everybody's story. Don't read a story to your players and enforce their roles; let them tell the story just as much as you do. It makes your life easier, and it makes things a lot more fun for them.
  9. The single most important rule - the one inviolable constant in all RPGs, regardless, is "Be entertained". As long as you aren't breaking that one rule, every other rule - including the previous 8 - can be thrown right out the window.
  10. Never, ever, ever solve out-of-character problems with in-character solutions. If a player is being annoying, doing something the group doesn't like, being "that guy", or anything related to that: Talk to the player, preferably in private. It requires maturity and courage to do it, but it's what works. Don't punish the character for things the player is doing wrong. It's a dark, dark path and it quickly gets out of hand - and it solves exactly nothing all of the time.

 

This is a very good post.

1.  Removing rules have a cost,  all rules exist for a reason,  removing a rule will expose that reason.  Sometimes,  removing a rule will just completely break the game in terms of difficulty.

 

2.  Be consistent,  if input A gives result B,  input A should always give result B.  If input A results in different or contradictory results without a reason for it then you'll lose your players quickly.

 

3.  Do not let your player rest after every battle or every other battle without consequences.  If you do,  your mage is going to empty his arsenal in every encounter and take over the game.  Use wandering monster tables,  have the "Enemies" reinforce,  have them harass the party.  It's unreasonable to think that the enemies are going to stand around and wait for the party to rest and walk over to them,  they're going to do something.  Maybe they'll hide,  maybe they'll bar the door,  maybe they'll even sneak away.  They should never just be standing in rooms waiting for the PC's to get around to them.

 

4.  Challenge Rating and the idea of "Level approriate encounters" are a trap.  Encounters should vary,  you should consider events where the PC's cannot win,  you should consider events where they cannot lose.  Just because PC's "Outleveled" a monster doesn't mean it isn't a threat.  See Tucker's Kobolds.  If you live by Challenge Rating,  your game will be boring,  because it becomes a treadmill of walking through a predetermined list of monsters every time.

 

5.  PC death is not a bad thing.  If PC's never die,  then players are never challenged,  and they will never fully engage in the game as there's no reason to pay attention.  Games and PC's are at their best when there is a real threat of death.  That said,  unavoidable insta-death is always bad.  Think of it like this,  if you watch Nightmare on Elmstreet,  you know the main character is not going to die,  so there's never really any tension.  If you watch a Joss Whedon show or movie,  you know someone's going to die,  and you know it may very well be one of the main characters,  so those action scenes carry alot of tension.  You don't want to be killing someone every game,  but you do eventually want someone to die.  How you do it depends on your players,  if they're hardcore roleplayers or story people,  then it needs to be some sort of "Epic" death that slots in with the story.  If they're powergamers or strategists,  it needs to be avoidable and a consequence of the flow of the game.  If they're munchkins,  don't bother trying to kill them,  they'll figure out a way to reincarnate the character with a +5 to every stat or as a Dragon.  Killing a munchkin is going to hurt the DM alot more than the player.

 

6.  There are many,  many,  ways to play D&D.  The book's standard fantasy is only one way to play,  you can have a high magic campaign,  low magic,  monty haul,  munchkin,  comedy,  etc.  You can do "Killer DM" where the challenge is to be the last man standing,  gen-con has held such events and they've proven to be incredibly popular.  If you really want to,  you could use D&D to come up with a Harry Potter campaign,  or a Conan campaign.  Your game can be story driven,  or just random adventures and dungeons.  Your game can be *Anything*,  play the way you and your friends want to play.  

 

7.  Similiarly,  the books are guidlines,  not laws.  You can change rules if it better supports your campaign,  Elves don't have to exist in every world for example.  If some spell or feat is broken,  ban it.  If your players are powergamers and not roleplayers,  drop the roleplaying components.  If your players are roleplayers and not powergamers,  beef up the roleplaying components so it makes things like combat less painful.  In fact,  let them roleplay their way around combat if possible.

 

8.  Props help.  Doesn't matter what you use,  use battle maps and mini's,  use pocket lint,  whatever works.  Because at some point,  without tracking where people are at,  you're going to run into quandries.  There'll be major arguements when that white dragon breathes a cone of frost and you arbitrarily decide who gets hit,  especially if it kills someone. 

 

9.  As BSC said,  handle problem players early,  and privately.  If you don't handle it early,  it'll affect the other players,  and they'll start having "Unavoidable engagements" on D&D night.  If you embarass someone,  you'll either get a large fight or it'll kill the game.  Easy way to do it,  pull the player aside,  talk to them about the problem,  then give them hidden information so as to appear like the discussion wasn't "Disciplinary",  suddenly make the NPC guide a thief that his player suspects or something.  It lets him save face,  even though everyone really knows what went on,  A couple of weeks later and it'll be remembered as "That time Bob figured out the guide was going to rob us blind" instead of "That time the DM had to tell Bob to quit being a jerk",  even though that's really what happened.

 

10.  Use the level of detail your players are ok with,  and use it consistently.  If your players feel rations and arrows are unnecessary bookkeeping,  don't force it on them.  Whatever you do,  don't turn around and say "You're running out of food" at some arbitrary point if you've cut that detail,  it's the "Unavoidable death" problem,  your players had no way to prepare for or mitigate it,  it's not "Fair".  OTOH,  if your players want to track this stuff,  let them.  If they want to track arrows and you think it's unnecessary hassal and declare them infinite,  they're going to feel like they're cheating or on "Easy mode".  In either case,  you just lost your players because you forced them into some level of detail they're not comfortable with.

 

Bonus:

Generally,  old adventures can be played with any edition.  You'll need to use 5th edition's monsters,  you might even need to switch out monsters,  but with a relatively small amount of work you can use anything printed in the last 40 years,  or even Pathfinder material.  There's a mountain of material,  adventures,  Dungeon magazines,  you're not limited only to things that have "5th editoin" on them.  In fact,  quite honestly,  I recommend finding out the "Good" material from yesteryear and using it.  The Dungeon magazines are *really* great material,  those small adventures are perfect for that night where you just didn't have time to get anything ready or you need more time on your creation.  You can get alot of this stuff for a couple of bucks for a PDF.

 

Gatt wrote:

1.  Removing rules have a cost,  all rules exist for a reason,  removing a rule will expose that reason.  Sometimes,  removing a rule will just completely break the game in terms of difficulty.

 

2.  Be consistent,  if input A gives result B,  input A should always give result B.  If input A results in different or contradictory results without a reason for it then you'll lose your players quickly.

 

3.  Do not let your player rest after every battle or every other battle without consequences.  If you do,  your mage is going to empty his arsenal in every encounter and take over the game.  Use wandering monster tables,  have the "Enemies" reinforce,  have them harass the party.  It's unreasonable to think that the enemies are going to stand around and wait for the party to rest and walk over to them,  they're going to do something.  Maybe they'll hide,  maybe they'll bar the door,  maybe they'll even sneak away.  They should never just be standing in rooms waiting for the PC's to get around to them.

 

4.  Challenge Rating and the idea of "Level approriate encounters" are a trap.  Encounters should vary,  you should consider events where the PC's cannot win,  you should consider events where they cannot lose.  Just because PC's "Outleveled" a monster doesn't mean it isn't a threat.  See Tucker's Kobolds.  If you live by Challenge Rating,  your game will be boring,  because it becomes a treadmill of walking through a predetermined list of monsters every time.

 

5.  PC death is not a bad thing.  If PC's never die,  then players are never challenged,  and they will never fully engage in the game as there's no reason to pay attention.  Games and PC's are at their best when there is a real threat of death.  That said,  unavoidable insta-death is always bad.  Think of it like this,  if you watch Nightmare on Elmstreet,  you know the main character is not going to die,  so there's never really any tension.  If you watch a Joss Whedon show or movie,  you know someone's going to die,  and you know it may very well be one of the main characters,  so those action scenes carry alot of tension.  You don't want to be killing someone every game,  but you do eventually want someone to die.  How you do it depends on your players,  if they're hardcore roleplayers or story people,  then it needs to be some sort of "Epic" death that slots in with the story.  If they're powergamers or strategists,  it needs to be avoidable and a consequence of the flow of the game.  If they're munchkins,  don't bother trying to kill them,  they'll figure out a way to reincarnate the character with a +5 to every stat or as a Dragon.  Killing a munchkin is going to hurt the DM alot more than the player.

 

6.  There are many,  many,  ways to play D&D.  The book's standard fantasy is only one way to play,  you can have a high magic campaign,  low magic,  monty haul,  munchkin,  comedy,  etc.  You can do "Killer DM" where the challenge is to be the last man standing,  gen-con has held such events and they've proven to be incredibly popular.  If you really want to,  you could use D&D to come up with a Harry Potter campaign,  or a Conan campaign.  Your game can be story driven,  or just random adventures and dungeons.  Your game can be *Anything*,  play the way you and your friends want to play.  

 

7.  Similiarly,  the books are guidlines,  not laws.  You can change rules if it better supports your campaign,  Elves don't have to exist in every world for example.  If some spell or feat is broken,  ban it.  If your players are powergamers and not roleplayers,  drop the roleplaying components.  If your players are roleplayers and not powergamers,  beef up the roleplaying components so it makes things like combat less painful.  In fact,  let them roleplay their way around combat if possible.

 

8.  Props help.  Doesn't matter what you use,  use battle maps and mini's,  use pocket lint,  whatever works.  Because at some point,  without tracking where people are at,  you're going to run into quandries.  There'll be major arguements when that white dragon breathes a cone of frost and you arbitrarily decide who gets hit,  especially if it kills someone. 

 

9.  As BSC said,  handle problem players early,  and privately.  If you don't handle it early,  it'll affect the other players,  and they'll start having "Unavoidable engagements" on D&D night.  If you embarass someone,  you'll either get a large fight or it'll kill the game.  Easy way to do it,  pull the player aside,  talk to them about the problem,  then give them hidden information so as to appear like the discussion wasn't "Disciplinary",  suddenly make the NPC guide a thief that his player suspects or something.  It lets him save face,  even though everyone really knows what went on,  A couple of weeks later and it'll be remembered as "That time Bob figured out the guide was going to rob us blind" instead of "That time the DM had to tell Bob to quit being a jerk",  even though that's really what happened.

 

10.  Use the level of detail your players are ok with,  and use it consistently.  If your players feel rations and arrows are unnecessary bookkeeping,  don't force it on them.  Whatever you do,  don't turn around and say "You're running out of food" at some arbitrary point if you've cut that detail,  it's the "Unavoidable death" problem,  your players had no way to prepare for or mitigate it,  it's not "Fair".  OTOH,  if your players want to track this stuff,  let them.  If they want to track arrows and you think it's unnecessary hassal and declare them infinite,  they're going to feel like they're cheating or on "Easy mode".  In either case,  you just lost your players because you forced them into some level of detail they're not comfortable with.

 

Bonus:

Generally,  old adventures can be played with any edition.  You'll need to use 5th edition's monsters,  you might even need to switch out monsters,  but with a relatively small amount of work you can use anything printed in the last 40 years,  or even Pathfinder material.  There's a mountain of material,  adventures,  Dungeon magazines,  you're not limited only to things that have "5th editoin" on them.  In fact,  quite honestly,  I recommend finding out the "Good" material from yesteryear and using it.  The Dungeon magazines are *really* great material,  those small adventures are perfect for that night where you just didn't have time to get anything ready or you need more time on your creation.  You can get alot of this stuff for a couple of bucks for a PDF.

 

 

100% 

Communication is key.

Bawylie- I could not agree with you enough on your sentiment on verbosity. The glazed look that happens after 30 minutes of exposition concerning the duke's regalia, the tastes and smells of his banquet hall's refinements. Did I mention I could not agree with you more? Verbosity is something that should be eliminated by any DM who truly desires to keep their player's interests peaked. Unnecessary and lengthy description have the undesirable effect of making the players tune out. This is the danger of verbosity. Another danger of verbosity is that the DM him/herself may very well push what would have been a 2 hour game into a 4 hour marathon as narrated by you, the DM. Verbosity is wasted space. I once had a DM who was grossly verbose. Indeed, I still remember what I was wearing...or do I?....Honestly it seems that I cannot in fact remember. Oh well. The point is, verbosity takes up the valuable time of everyone involved, and detracts from an enjoyable experience..............That is my short agreement with you on the subject of verbosity.

 

:D In all seriousness, I do agree with that statement, as well as many of the points made here. Though I have not posted much, these forums have been an invaluable tool for me since I first began DM'ing; all due to threads such as this one. I will leave with my own small piece of advice:

 

1. When running a published adventure, don't worry about memorizing the whole thing (or the whole ruleset) before actually playing. Of course it is important to be familiar with it (the more the better), but it is not necessary to know it entirely. I learned this slowly when I first started DM'ing, as I had never played before, and truly thought that I had to know it all to do it right. This caused me to push back gaming nights at first as I always felt "unprepared". Once I finally dug in and went with it, it was a blast and I have never looked back.

Brock_Landers wrote:

Communication is key.

Learn the likes and dislikes of your players.

 

Ask for feedback after sessions

Protip: There is no One True Way.

A player may have a completely different understanding of a class/spell/concept/mechanic/etc. than you, so at least try to listen to that player's perspective before declaring "doing it wrong".

No player has any right whatsoever to mandate anything about another player's character.  Make sure they all understand that ahead of time.

PROTIP: Don't look for help on the D&D boards. Actually...don't go there at all.

 

...

 

sarcasm? You decide.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.