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Dungeons & Dragons Boom!

nobody69.420

Explorer
Most of us know that D&D has had a boom in popularity recently due to the many references to it in modern pop culture, with it's appearance in Stranger Things being the highest contributor to it's rise in popularity. "In 2017 alone, we had more than 7,500 unique broadcasters streaming live play D&D for more than 475 million minutes watched over the course of the entire year." -Greg Tito, senior communications manager for D&D.

D&D
While this boom in popularity is welcome by all, a small problem has been noticed. Most of the people that have recently started playing D&D have started playing as the players, not the DM. This makes sense, but what ends up happening is most of the DMs only welcome 4 or 5 in their group, so many players end up without a DM. How can we stop this from happening? Well for starters, I advise DMs to take as many adventurers as you feel comfortable with, then build off of that. If you only feel comfortable DMing 4 adventurers, do 5, 5 adventurers, 6, and so on. It's easiest to use this method when playing D&D online. If you're DMing a pre-made adventure that is only built for 4 or 5 players, just add more monsters. Xanathar's Guide to Everything gives a good encounter-building method that is helpful if you are taking more adventurers than recommended for certain adventures. Also, while it is good to have more adventurers, I wouldn't recommend DMing more than 8 adventurers. This adventure would not only be difficult to DM, but combat would take forever, and the adventurers would lose interest. Another thing I recommend is for DMs to teach on or two of the players they already have how to be a Dungeon master. This is especially recommended if you have too many adventurers. I hope you take my advice, and I wish the best adventures for everyone!
 
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nobody69.420

Explorer
OH! Dang it! Sorry, I can't believe I misunderstood that. But I agree, one of my adventuring groups we does have another with DMing experience, althoug he doesn't get "behind the screen" much.
 
More players can, after a certain point (based somewhat on the skill of the DM), result in a poorer play experience.

What we need is for current, experienced DMs to teach and mentor new DMs. I am, just by way of example, running a DMing 101 game at one of the mid sized regional cons this fall. If it goes well I will do more of that.

This hobby lives and dies off people willing to run the game. We should be encouraging folks to step up, not demanding existing DMs take on ever more players.
 

ad_hoc

Adventurer
I guess I'm not one of the 'most people' who know that.

I disagree about Stranger Things being the greatest contributor to 5e's popularity.

It came out a full 2 years after 5e was released. The momentum train was already well underway.

I actually think the greatest contributor is what you think is lacking. I think 5e is easy to teach and people are becoming DMs and starting new groups shortly after introduction to the game. The new table has new players, some of whom will start new groups and so on.

Further, D&D has been featured in popular culture for a long time. Yes, the rise of streaming helps, but I think it is mostly the game itself doing the work here.

No amount of streaming or shows/movies (we have had movies) could make 3e or 4e this popular. In the case of 4e not even more popular than Pathfinder.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
When I first started back in 1E, being a DM was hard. Only you had all of the rules, so you had to know them really well (and the 1E mechanics were not the simplest by any stretch). My understanding is that in OD&D and 1E, almost everyone started out as a player, learning the game from an existing group. To become a DM, you generally needed another DM to take you under their wing and help you get started. This created a sense of duty in most DMs, to look for potential DMs from among their players, and tutor them if they're interested. Later editions, mostly starting with the Basic books, they started making it easier to DM without having ever been a player first.

Since I was an apprentice DM, I still feel that sense of duty. I think that more DMs should do this, both in their own games, and online. I try very hard to comment on these forums (and Reddit, whenever I'm there) to help a new DM that has a question or issue. The more help newbie DMs and potential DMs can get, the great our number. I'm blessed in that my regular weekly group of 7 people has: 2 veteran DMs, 2 are casual DMs, and 1 has just started her first major attempt.
 

LuisCarlos17f

Explorer
We are with a new generation years after the movies "lord of the rings", World of Warcraft and "Game of Thrones" last season ended months ago.

The pencil and dices RPGs are for geeks who love to create their own fanart, and D&D allows to choose options aren't possible in "frozen" videogames. And D&D is maybe the most ideologically neutral franchise when now lots of fans are angry because speculative fiction is used like propaganda (White Wofl, 7th Sea, I am watching you!).

It is curious because the videogames haven't killed the boardames, but now these are enjoying a new golden age. The miniature wargames aren't so lucky.
 

Bitbrain

Explorer
I actually think the greatest contributor is what you think is lacking. I think 5e is easy to teach and people are becoming DMs and starting new groups shortly after introduction to the game. The new table has new players, some of whom will start new groups and so on.
This right here is what I believe is 5e reason for success. It is amazing just how easy it is for a new player to figure out the basic mechanics of 5e.

I had an absolutely new player join my homebrew campaign four months ago.
Up until the day he joined our group, he had never even heard of D&D, and knew nothing whatsoever about it.
All I needed to do was tell him which dice to roll, when said dice were meant to be rolled, what numbers to put where, what these two particular class features meant, and he was able to keep up with everyone.
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
This right here is what I believe is 5e reason for success. It is amazing just how easy it is for a new player to figure out the basic mechanics of 5e.

I had an absolutely new player join my homebrew campaign four months ago.
Up until the day he joined our group, he had never even heard of D&D, and knew nothing whatsoever about it.
All I needed to do was tell him which dice to roll, when said dice were meant to be rolled, what numbers to put where, what these two particular class features meant, and he was able to keep up with everyone.
That's basically what we did in the 90s with B/X and 2E


Less moving parts help.
 

nobody69.420

Explorer
I actually think the greatest contributor is what you think is lacking. I think 5e is easy to teach and people are becoming DMs and starting new groups shortly after introduction to the game. The new table has new players, some of whom will start new groups and so on.
I do agree that being a DM is easier in 5e, however I just recently started playing D&D on Discord, while also using roll20 and D&D Beyond. What I have discovered is much more players looking for DM's than DM's looking for players.
 

JeffB

Adventurer
By their nature RPGs will always require GMs to do far more work than players. There are newer games though that require far less GM prep work (or almost none at all because the games are focused solely on narrative at the table and not focused on intricate rules/mechanics to adjudicate everything)

I also agree that 5E's success is in large part to a game that is much easier to teach and play than anything since Mentzer's BECMI sets (And probably easier- because of unified mechanics, higher always = better rolls, A/D vs. multiple small modifiers, etc.) but WOTC's adventure path business model makes for a large and intimidating burden for new DMs. "Here is 900 pages of rules, and oh yeah- here's another 300 pages of adventure material....have fun!" That will always be a barrier to making new DM's. New DM's need adventure material in much less intimidating "bite sized" pieces.. I.e. "modules"-however we know WOTC doesn't find that profitable enough. Products like Tales and Ghosts are a good thing IMO, but I believe that new DM's need more books like B1/2/3/4/5 and T1. Not more like POTA,OOTA or SKT.

As I have said many times- If in 1977 I had to learn the game from 3 giant hardback books, and a 250 adventure path, I would never have got into the hobby. D&D has become less intimidating for new players, but not for new DMs.
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
By their nature RPGs will always require GMs to do far more work than players. There are newer games though that require far less GM prep work (or almost none at all because the games are focused solely on narrative at the table and not focused on intricate rules/mechanics to adjudicate everything)

I also agree that 5E's success is in large part to a game that is much easier to teach and play than anything since Mentzer's BECMI sets (And probably easier- because of unified mechanics, higher always = better rolls, A/D vs. multiple small modifiers, etc.) but WOTC's adventure path business model makes for a large and intimidating burden for new DMs. "Here is 900 pages of rules, and oh yeah- here's another 300 pages of adventure material....have fun!" That will always be a barrier to making new DM's. New DM's need adventure material in much less intimidating "bite sized" pieces.. I.e. "modules"-however we know WOTC doesn't find that profitable enough. Products like Tales and Ghosts are a good thing IMO, but I believe that new DM's need more books like B1/2/3/4/5 and T1. Not more like POTA,OOTA or SKT.

As I have said many times- If in 1977 I had to learn the game from 3 giant hardback books, and a 250 adventure path, I would never have got into the hobby. D&D has become less intimidating for new players, but not for new DMs.
This one starter set doesn't cut it. Sure you can go find shorter adventures but you don't see WotC ones in store shelves for cheap.

Most APs don't seem to get completed either.
 

MarkB

Hero
I do agree that being a DM is easier in 5e, however I just recently started playing D&D on Discord, while also using roll20 and D&D Beyond. What I have discovered is much more players looking for DM's than DM's looking for players.
That may be somewhat skewed in online play. It's pretty easy for a player to participate in multiple games online, so long as schedules don't clash. It's less easy for a DM to prep and run multiple campaigns. As a result, players may still be looking for more games even if they're already in one or more.
 

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