So about a month ago, a few friends and myself thought it would be interesting to try the new 4e rules out. Long prior to that we had done a little 3.5 but it didn't hold together very long.
So naturally the idea spun around the group, and everyone wanted to play. I decided to take the bullet and try my hand at DM'ing. How hard could it be?! New rules! New settings! Oh the excitement!
Oh man, our first session was complete chaos. Everyone talking at once, learning rules, the joys of the first encounter as kobolds burst from the woods. The joys of DM'ing your very first encounter where you decide to track all the minion initiatives separately AND don't have any good way of distinguishing them from each other since you're using a bunch of the same mini's from your Warhammer Fantasy army.
Thankfully the adventure module was set up nicely and I somehow managed to keep it all together. The adventurers survived a couple of kobold ambushes, and made their way to rescue their mentor Douven. This is where things got even more interesting. I had failed to read that Douven was bound and gagged under a blanket. So as my group walked up they saw their mentor bound and gagged in the corner of the excavation site.
Time for some quick DM improv! To lure them in I had the gnome call out a greeting and basically bluff the PC's by telling them Douven was crazy, completely out of his mind and they had to gag him and tie him up so he wouldn't hurt anyone. Naturally they didn't buy this as there was a scary looking shadow specter staring at them from the top of the hill. The wizard rolled a insight check and failed miserably.
And thus began the argument of "I as a human being know its a trap, but my character doesn't sense anything is off...why should I be forced into walking into it" Ultimately it was all resolved by letting him walk over to the shadowy specter while his friends walked towards the gnome, and the battle began! It actually brought up interesting things in combat as they tried to free their mentor to help them out.
Overall it was a successful first night, everyone had fun...the beer/chips/friends help that out quite a bit. My main lessons learned are as follows:
1. Go read newbieDM's blog...make some tokens for the monsters. It makes life ridiculously easier AND really helps the players visualize what they are fighting.
2. Set up a way to track initiative, and group monsters of the same type into one block. I use Initracker...it works great.
3. It would have been easy to say I screwed up the trap with Douven, but ultimately I found a way to make it work. The key? You have to remember *you* as the DM know a ton about their adventure and how it's *supposed* to work. They as players are a blank slate. You can wing it and pull it off if you have some confidence.
If you guys have any questions/comments about my first time out the gate, or the shadowfell module let me know in the comments below. I've run a couple more sessions since then and I'll eventually update with a little battle report/lessons learned from those. Thanks!