D&D 5E Good Lord - I'm Taking Over 20+ Teen D&D Players

Retreater

Legend
A little background. I'm a librarian by trade, and word has gotten around that I'm experienced in the RPG hobby. A library in a neighboring county has created a successful D&D program with over 20 teenagers participating on a biweekly basis. The problem is that their staff member/resident DM/etc. has resigned his position. So now I've been asked to teach others on their staff how to DM (many the first time playing the game) to be ready in a couple weeks. I'll be there to help transition the club to new DMs, show them how to run, etc.
Has anyone been in a similar situation? Or do you have words of encouragement? Or just want to laugh at the predicament of the resident ENWorld pessimist who regularly laments "I'll never be able to run an in-person game of D&D ever again."
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Parmandur

Book-Friend
A little background. I'm a librarian by trade, and word has gotten around that I'm experienced in the RPG hobby. A library in a neighboring county has created a successful D&D program with over 20 teenagers participating on a biweekly basis. The problem is that their staff member/resident DM/etc. has resigned his position. So now I've been asked to teach others on their staff how to DM (many the first time playing the game) to be ready in a couple weeks. I'll be there to help transition the club to new DMs, show them how to run, etc.
Has anyone been in a similar situation? Or do you have words of encouragement? Or just want to laugh at the predicament of the resident ENWorld pessimist who regularly laments "I'll never be able to run an in-person game of D&D ever again."
I've never been in that situation, but I'd say running the stuff folks through Loat Mines of Phandelver and doing a detailed breakdown of what you did and why after the sessions is a good way to start.
 

Oofta

Legend
Does "good luck!" count as words of encouragement? :)

I'd give the staff members some pregens and then do some simple scenarios for the staff after explaining basic concepts. It doesn't even have to be an adventure per se, just "how do you handle a fight, how do you handle social scenarios". Walk them through actions, attacks, that sort of thing.

I was also going to mention LMoP (ninja'd by Parmandur), it's a great starting point but you kind of want to give the staff an overview first where you walk them through step by step. If you can monitor/co-DM some of the initial sessions that would be helpful as well. I don't know the exact setup, but even if there are multiple DMs you can kind of be a backup. Also encourage them to discuss any issue they may have after the games.

Also, don't worry too much. Kids pick this stuff up all the time and it doesn't really matter if they're doing it "right". Good luck!
 

lol sucker!

You're lucky in that you need to train the trainers, and not the teens. I'm also assuming that the teens already know how to play, they just need adults there who can "manage" the teens and keep things moving along. More organizer than DM. Hopefully some of the teens are DMs. If not I would emphasize trying to get that up ASAP.

As such, I would not focus on the rules, but the techniques to manage a table and keep play progressing. Start with a short one shot, like Impenetrable Fortress of Dib. Then a quick overview of character creation. Then talk about how to keep play progressing. The importance of Rulings over rules, and to shy away from a competition, but focus on a story and team work to overcome challenges. And on sharing the spotlight.
 

South by Southwest

Incorrigible Daydreamer
I advise keeping a psychiatrist on retainer who can prescribe anti-anxiety meds.

Okay, no. More seriously, if they've never even played before I'd just take them through something really basic like Keep on the Borderlands. That thing works well as a set of training wheels.
 


I used to do that weekly.
1) Take notes on who's who and who's playing with whom. When I had 16 different groups playing every two weeks, you can not imagine how much taking notes was important.

2) Keep it simple. Most integration need only to go up to level 3-5 range. Then they are good to go on their own.

3) Use only the rules in the PHB. They will read the rules, and some will be even contesting your ruling. Be ready to show them rule #0, the DM has the final say in a ruling. Be consistent from group to group.

4) Use "basic" adventures. Such as the: Keep on the Borderland (B1). Goodman Games did an astounding job with their conversion, but you do not need it. Most "basic" modules are on the Dungeon Master Guild as PDF. As a Librarian, you have access to a good printer I am sure. This means you only have to procure yourself 4 or 5 adventures to get the party going. I would go with: Keep on the borderland, The Lost City, Rahasia and Horror on the Hill. These are fairly easy to convert and not overly complicated. You could also go for the 3ed introduction adventures but the "basics" ones are really easy for a young audience to grasp and acclimate to.

IF you want to go up to level 5, then the "X" series will help a lot. But I would go with AD&D ones. Those with level 3 to 5 will be especially good. The Temple of Elemental Evil might also be a good choice. But usually, going up to 3rd and letting them go is the better solution. Be ready to have phone calls for clarifications at times.

5) If they have a DM (or one that is willing to take the role) just coach that person as that person is DMing. Help these persons to learn how to prepare and run the game. Just be a watcher and act as Co-DM. It works wonders.

I could go on, but these are the basics.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
Has anyone been in a similar situation? Or do you have words of encouragement?
I teach people to play the game, though never for a job - that's new!

I also know a lot of librarians due to my wife's occupation and IME librarians are generally awesome and teen librarians (who I assume you're working with here) doubly so. They're going to be interested in seeing how this stuff works if only from a professional perspective given that D&D is growing in libraries by leaps and bounds. And if there's already a club that large at the library it's very likely that they're going to be interested just from that perspective. (Also if there's a club that big the job might be easier than they think - the local library clubs around me have members who DM their own side games in addition to the staff member who is generally DMing for the new people who show up and need to learn the game).

The library probably already has an extensive collection of books. I'd honestly probably use either the Essentials Kit or Lost Mines as a demo for them. And since you're training DMs, you want to make time when you're done to show them the material you ran the game from, notes you might make, generally what your DM process is like on the other side of the screen. Demystifying DMing is a good way IME to get folks on board with running games.
 


payn

Legend
A little background. I'm a librarian by trade, and word has gotten around that I'm experienced in the RPG hobby. A library in a neighboring county has created a successful D&D program with over 20 teenagers participating on a biweekly basis. The problem is that their staff member/resident DM/etc. has resigned his position. So now I've been asked to teach others on their staff how to DM (many the first time playing the game) to be ready in a couple weeks. I'll be there to help transition the club to new DMs, show them how to run, etc.
Has anyone been in a similar situation? Or do you have words of encouragement? Or just want to laugh at the predicament of the resident ENWorld pessimist who regularly laments "I'll never be able to run an in-person game of D&D ever again."
I've never done adventure league, but I did run through a bit of Pathfinder Society. Paizo had really good modules for rando parties to do in about a 4 hour window. I'd find a few and learn them as best you can. Teach them to the new DMs. Get the students a copy so they can learn to DM too.

Keep in mind clubs tend to have a lot of different personalities. In PFS I always set my mindset on meeting new players and just enjoying the hobby together. It really helped when I ran into immature players and/or playstyle conflicts. I just settled back and remembered its about community and not the best game I can run. This club sounds like it will be more important to teach the ropes than expect a seasoned game from them.

Good luck!
 


aco175

Legend
I would come up with a few good maps to place minis on and be able to pass them to the new DMs to have as a starter. Maybe some cardboard minis and such to have a ready-made dungeon to use as the 1st adventure. Emphasize the visual and the combat pillar since that part has the most rules.
 


Since you’re working with librarians, I would emphasize the story aspects of the RPG. I’m sure the librarians are familiar with stories!

However, you need emphasize that the children are telling the stories. The librarian/DM is only facilitating. They keep the story moving so to speak. I could see some wanting to hijack it for themselves.

Good luck!
 

What a fun experience! Good luck!

I have run D&D clubs in several schools. Here is what I have learned:
  • Keep it simple. The kids will pick up stuff quickly, but it seems to help if you start small. The PHB is more than enough.
  • If you are training DMs, have them start DMing by doing a simple dungeon crawl. A basic: The mayor hired you to search these ruins or caves or haunted house. This will limit the RP which doesn't need a lot of rule explanations, and instead focus on learning the rules so that forward momentum can happen in all the games. If possible, get this to the DMs two or three days before.
  • Make sure they all have dice, character sheets, pencils, etc. Set it up and print ahead of time. If they don't have characters, guide them through as a large group. You will be tempted to help each and every one of them individually. But, doing it as a group will keep a pace. Walk them through the steps just like a lesson. It's okay to let other players that know the game to assist individually. In fact, it's great.
  • This has worked for me, but might be very individual. I really just sit back, enjoy watching (while grading), and when they have a rules question, I answer. Things are not always smooth. Some kids don't "play fair," some are upset because the girl they like is paying attention to the DM and not them, some purposefully go against everyone else or try to fight people in their party, etc. It's normal. Most groups just figure it out. The ones that don't switch tables. They are kids, and they see things like social structure very differently than adults. I mean, I once had a girl DM come tell me she couldn't DM because she lost her hat and was having a bad hair day. She was in tears. And while, it might have been other issues, after getting to know her, this was a plausible response to not feeling like you can lead five teenage boys on an adventure.
  • Lastly, have fun. Show them your passion and it will spread. You won't need to recount your adventures or explain in great detail your past characters. Just show interest in theirs, even if they are run of the mill tropes or taken directly from a book, movie, anime, etc. The characters are new to them, and that is really fun to watch.
Hope this helps and enjoy! :)
 

Greggy C

Adventurer
Supporter
So now I've been asked to teach others on their staff how to DM (many the first time playing the game) to be ready in a couple weeks.
Lost mines is free on dndbeyond. So I would have them watch this video to get the story part and then teach them enough to survive session 1 or 2 (dont tpk)

 

Retreater

Legend
Apparently the previous DM who is leaving the duties had been running them through his own campaign world. So I'll have to shift those expectations a bit - I can't take over an original setting I know nothing about.
The group of players apparently have some experience since the club is a few months old already (though new ones come now and then). I don't know who is running the game other than the library director (who has never played a game), her husband who volunteers when his schedule allows it, and one other staff member who has been an assistant DM to the person who is leaving. I'm doing an organizational Zoom call next week for a bit more information and to give the staff a "crash course" about how to DM.
My wife (a gamer herself) was surprised I took this task, thinking that DMing is something that is really difficult. I explained to her that I don't believe it is - at least to learn to be a novice DM. (Sure, to be an amazing DM that takes training.)
The library apparently has access to a 3D printer that it uses to print the character miniatures. They also make custom maps on Inkcarnate and have them printed at a local shop. It sounds like they have been sparing no expense, but I think all that accoutrements will be intimidating for new DMs.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Apparently the previous DM who is leaving the duties had been running them through his own campaign world. So I'll have to shift those expectations a bit - I can't take over an original setting I know nothing about.
The group of players apparently have some experience since the club is a few months old already (though new ones come now and then). I don't know who is running the game other than the library director (who has never played a game), her husband who volunteers when his schedule allows it, and one other staff member who has been an assistant DM to the person who is leaving. I'm doing an organizational Zoom call next week for a bit more information and to give the staff a "crash course" about how to DM.
My wife (a gamer herself) was surprised I took this task, thinking that DMing is something that is really difficult. I explained to her that I don't believe it is - at least to learn to be a novice DM. (Sure, to be an amazing DM that takes training.)
The library apparently has access to a 3D printer that it uses to print the character miniatures. They also make custom maps on Inkcarnate and have them printed at a local shop. It sounds like they have been sparing no expense, but I think all that accoutrements will be intimidating for new DMs.
This is genuinely exciting: I know that you have had a number of playgroup frustrations, and though this is significantly daunting, thus could be extremely fun. Especially if the staff are there for it.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
I estimate that I've taught somewhere around a thousand people to play D&D (various editions) over nearly thirty years of owning my comic and game store. All ages (even grandparents).

It's going to be a big job, but it should be fun and rewarding. I can't think of anything off the top of my head to add to what others have said. You sound like you have it under control, though.

Oh! One piece of advice: Always use pregens for first-time players. There's nothing I find more annoying than watching (or hearing about) people trying to teach a new player the game by starting out making them make characters. You can't make decisions for your character when you don't know what any of it means. Get everyone to play at least one solid session first before they make their own character. (You can, however, get them to choose from a stack of pregens, but I'd limit each player to choose from two or three, tops.)
 

Endroren

Adventurer
Publisher
Well - I can't offer much that hasn't already been said, BUT if your club has a library and you'd like some new 5E compatible books, let me know! I'd be happy to hook you up with a few Aetaltis books for your club's collection. (All teen friendly!)
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top