How to be a great DM? Get an overview of the legendary D&D game and ways on how to master it.

Dungeon Master

Being the Dungeon Master (DM) in a Dungeons & Dragons game is a role of great responsibility and one that takes no lack of creativity and depth. Only the most imaginative, charismatic, and skilled D&D players should seek to become the DM.

So who or what is a DM? Well, the DM is the most important person in a D&D game as without the DM there is no plot, no story, no characters, and no game. It is the DMís role to create a world and a storyline with plenty of twists and turns to keep players engaged and active.

A DM does not play as one of the characters or a player in-game; instead, he or she leads by narrating a storyline and facilitating players involved in the game. The DM has a big responsibility to keep the players engrossed and entertained so the game flows smoothly with intense adventure and fun.

The realm of table-top RPGs such as Dungeons & Dragons has gained popularity, especially with digital installments now available online. The newest offering D&D 5e has made the game fun and accessible to all, throwing in a mixture of unique character classes and new and improved gameplay.

Who Has The Most Important Role In A D&D Game?

The DM of course! By far, the DM has the most important role to play as they control everything from the storyline, character development, heroes, villains, and everything else in between. Being a DM is the most fun job that a devoted D&D player could ever wish for. It is a chance for the DM to be as creative as possible and create a story with endless possibilities and heart-pounding action and suspense.

A game of D&D can be played with up to 10 players excluding the DM. However, the most ideal game setting is to have a maximum of 4-6 players as it makes things a lot more manageable and less chaotic. The DM plays the role of being the monsters and villains of the game. They can also play other characters that are there to guide the main players in the game by offering clues and vital information to help them along their quest.

Learn how to DM and get a complete guideline to master the skills powered by consistency and hard work in this extremely detailed guide.

What do you need to play Dungeons & Dragons?

If you have never played D&D before and are eager to try here is what you will need to get started.

  • The D&D 5th Edition Game: First and foremost you will need to get your hands on a 5th Edition Playerís handbook. The handbook has everything you will need to know about D&D and how to start playing. The more advanced gameplay consists of three books: A Playerís Handbook, DMís guide book, and Monsters Manual.
  • Dice: There is one set of dice included in the game with varying numbers of sides used for different purposes. The minimum number of sides on a dice is four and the maximum number of sides is twenty. 
  • Character Sheets

The participating players get a character sheet describing his or her role in the game. These sheets can be photocopied from the Playerís handbook or can be printed from PDF files available online.

  • DM Screen

This is a must-have for the DM because this acts as essentially a sketch of the world and a rough guideline of the story and its progression. The DM can hide sheets, maps, and other materials behind this screen when managing the game.

  • Battle grid and miniatures

The battle grid and miniatures are included in the game pack to set the game and give different situations to the players to have a fully interactive session.

  • Pencils and papers

It is vital to have paper and pencil in hand to record the moves, treasures found and other tactical steps that help track down the progress of each player. These notes come in handy for players who want to play smart or when you are playing at a more advanced level. 

Top 8 best practices of a skilled Dungeon Master

The Dungeon Master is after all the master of the game. It is the DM that decides the consequences of your actions and decisions during gameplay. Being a DM requires a massive amount of time and energy that has to be put in even before the game can begin. The DM will first need to design a plot, decide on characters and monsters, and think of varying situations and scenarios to make the game interesting and thrilling for all players involved.

To make lives a bit easy for all you new DMs, there are predesigned scenarios available online from which one can derive inspiration. However, the more polished DMs prefer designing scenarios themselves and even sharing them with others playing the game.If you want to be a highly skilled DM then follow the given steps to excel in the game.

  1. Getting Started

Before progressing to being a DM it is ideal to first play at least a few games as a player. This will allow you to get a hang of the gameplay as well as give you ideas on how to narrate the story in a way that keeps players attentive. As a DM you must also be aware of the nature and strengths of the players, non-playing characters(NPC), and monsters you plan on featuring in your adventure. The DM should also work on maps and is also responsible for keeping track of playersí skills, abilities, and unique characteristics.

  1. Be diplomatic and liberal

DMs have to be smart when dealing with NPCs’ predefined responses with the playing group. Adjustments are advisable to add life to the game else dull responses may bore the players. Adding-libs as per the player’s reaction without faking it would be a difficult job but try to make it interactive depending on the playerís chosen method.

  1. Be flexible with your plan

There would be timeswhen the DM will have to change the plan because thatís what the players want. Considering a change in the plan is always good, do not be too stiff and stubborn with the game plan.

  1. Be ready for the unexpected

At times the game gets far more technical and complicated so make sure to set limits to reaching the finishing line smoothly. Be ready for tough times to handle aggressive situations in a very gentle yet stern manner.

  1. Be firm with your decisions

The DM is supposed to keep players entertained, but if the game isnít challenging it isnít any fun. Hardships and tough circumstances will fire up the fun. It is the DMís job to be unpredictable and keep players on their toes.

  1. Take necessary actions of change

Railroading the playing party is important but varying situations at specific times and places may need a change in action to keep the thrill ignited.

  1. Take players suggestions

It is appreciated to take suggestions and ideas from the players so that they acknowledge that the DM cares and respects their existence and role in the game.

  1. Do not overpower your position

The DMhas all the authority to do as they please but that does not mean that the DM should take leverage of the position. The best DMs make the players feel in control and thatís a skill that comes only with practice.