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


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ArwensDaughter

Adventurer
One thing I am trying to find is a good list of 1-2 hour adventures that could be run in the timeframe of their meetings. I know Adventurers League has some of these, but I can't find a good way of filtering them from the 4 hour adventures.
Otherwise it's chopping up an adventure to fit in the timeframe or risking one group getting ahead of the others.

Have you found the AL content catalog? I don’t have a real recent one, but the one I have includes tables for each season, including run times. DDAL-07 Modules (TOA) are all 2 hours, as are DDAL-05 (storm Kings Thunder). Some of the Strahd ones are, too.
 

Retreater

Legend
I'm surprised no one suggested watching Critial Role yet. Isn't watching Matt Mercer how many new DMs learn how to run a game??
I have suggested it to the new DMs but when a single video can last 3+ hours, it's hardly good for a "crash course" in DMing. I also pointed them in the direction of Matt Colville's Running the Game series, which I think is more focused on advice.
 

Retreater

Legend
Have you found the AL content catalog? I don’t have a real recent one, but the one I have includes tables for each season, including run times. DDAL-07 Modules (TOA) are all 2 hours, as are DDAL-05 (storm Kings Thunder). Some of the Strahd ones are, too.
I went to the WotC site and DMsGuild, where they're all sort of lumped together. Those organized run times would be handy.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
I'm surprised no one suggested watching Critial Role yet. Isn't watching Matt Mercer how many new DMs learn how to run a game??
Don't get me wrong here - Mercer is great. But a lot of us here have been DMing much longer than he has. No disrespect to him, honestly. I am not saying we are better than him, but I might imply that we are not necessarily worse (though certainly less famous!)
 

I'm surprised no one suggested watching Critial Role yet. Isn't watching Matt Mercer how many new DMs learn how to run a game??
Matt Mercer has a particular style of DMing that draws on his considerable acting skills. The lesson to be learned is everyone DMs differently, bringing their own skillset to the table. Trying to learn to DM by watching someone else do it can lead to problems. I've had a couple of players in my group try to DM, and I've noticed them trying to copy what I do, and struggling to make it work. I'm me, and I do what works for me. That doesn't mean it will work for everyone, people need to develop their own style.

No one taught me to DM. I just picked it up from the rule books (aged 13) and developed it over the years. Of course I have taken advice from everything from White Dwarf articles to these forums. I'm continuously learning, but was never taught. I think the most important thing to being a DM is the desire to be a DM. If you have that the rest will follow, if you don't no amount of lessons will make you a DM.

So, I wouldn't try to turn library colleges who have no interest in D&D or fantasy into DMs. That aint gonna work. Let the teens DM, they already have the will to do it, you only need three or four to step up. You can provide logistical support and advice, and during the sessions act as senior DM, settling disputes, cooling arguments, and generally ensuring things run smoothly.

The good thing about teenagers is they have oodles of energy and enthusiasm. And for obvious reasons they learn faster than adults.
 
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ArwensDaughter

Adventurer

Can't say I've been in that exact situation, but I have been involved in multiple process improvement rollouts at work. I agree that running them through something like Lost Mines of Phandelver and then giving them a break down of what you did is a great idea. I'd add that you'll also need to talk them through how to prepare to DM a game.

Finally, when you're training them, look for the people that immediately get it, that are the most enthused. They can act as your deputies, to help take some of the burden off you. It also helps the people that are struggling a bit to have someone on their same level of experience as a resource with whatever new thing it is. Excitement and understanding can be contagious.

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.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
I'm surprised no one suggested watching Critial Role yet. Isn't watching Matt Mercer how many new DMs learn how to run a game??
As someone watching a lot of Critical Role recently, as much as I would love to play in their game. Matt does things I would not agree with or particularly like. It is just the good elements are so good. I would put up with it.

Critical Role has aspects optimised for viewer pleasure than player pleasure.

Also, a pretty intimidating standard. Newbies need to know you do not get that good without practice. And you can have a lot of fun with out being that good.
 

ArwensDaughter

Adventurer
I ran a D&D table at my local library before a move and the pandemic brought that to an end. A few observations/tips, some of which may not apply to your situation, so no worries if you don’t find them helpful.

-I required new players to use pregens for three sessions; then they were allowed to create new characters, at the level of their pregens.

-I found DnDBeyond invaluable for creating pregens. (I don’t remember how you feel about DDB, but serviceable pregens can be created while only using the free options).

-I found a dice “cheat sheet” on DMs Guild that I printed out and made available, as I found keeping the dice straight was a challenge for new players—and may be for staff/DMs new to RPGs as well

-I used both AL modules and a hardcover. Short AL modules were definitely a better fit for that setting (and I would think especially so given how many teens are involved in the program you are helping to transition). I shifted to a hardcover only because we had finished the SKT tier 1 series, that season was not designed to move from the tier 1 to the tier 2 adventures, and the only other AL season with 2 hour adventures at that time was COS. I can’t stand the horror genre, so that was out. We made TOA as a hardcover work, but individual modules would have been better. (And far less intimidating to new DMs)

-You probably know this already, but it’s a good idea for the library to have extra dice sets, one or more battle mats with dry/wet erase markers and the like available. I used Pathfinder pawns and Sorry! Pawns much of the time, although IIRC you said they can 3D print minis.

-D&D Beyond offers (or at least used to offer) a “club” program that allows for more campaign sharing etc. If that’s of interest to you/library staff in this situation and you have trouble finding info on it, let me know and I’ll see if I can track it down for you.

-It sounds like most of the teens have some experience, but another thing I found helpful when teaching newbies was to use a highlighter to color code their character sheet. (Presuming the player isn’t colorblind). Then when I asked for info from the sheet, I could say: What’s your AC? It’s that number in Green. Or “add your Perception modifier; it will be in the list that’s highlighted in yellow.”

-If you are wanting to run the staff through at really short (like 1 hour) adventure that introduces all three major pillars, I found one several years ago that my son and I modified to use for a D&D session at his high school’s “May Day” they let students choose from a variety of fun “classes” for the day. I’d have to hunt for it, but let me know if it would be helpful and I’ll post a link.
 

Oofta

Legend
Thought I mention quick - if you're looking for a lot of dice there are cheap options such as this one. We've purchased them in the past to give dice to newbies, you can get several complete sets if you want to sort by color. Of course, you can also have people use free phone apps, but then they're looking at their phone.
 

CatullusCato

Villager
Have you found the AL content catalog? I don’t have a real recent one, but the one I have includes tables for each season, including run times. DDAL-07 Modules (TOA) are all 2 hours, as are DDAL-05 (storm Kings Thunder). Some of the Strahd ones are, too.

All these AL adventures have five 1-hour mini-missions, that are good for a short time time slot and for beginning DMs:
DDEX1-1 Defiance in Phlan
DDEX2-1 City of Danger
DDEX3-1 Harried in Hillsfar
DDAL04-1 Suits of the Mists
DDAL05-1 Treasures of the Broken Hoard
DDAL07-01 A City on the Edge
DDAL07-02 Over the Edge (but this is Tier 2, so not recommended for newbies)
DDAL09-01 Escape from Elturel
DDAL10-00 Ice Road Trackers (has 4x mini adventures)
DDAL-VOLO In Volo’s Wake (6 Mini adventures starting near Phandalin)
WBW-DC-FDC 01 and 04
CCC-3MAGS-01 Vormestrand’s Scroll 5 1-hour mini adventures plus a 2-hour bonus
CCC-BWM-06 Introduction to Adventuring
CCC-TRI-30 Remnants of a Dream
CCC-BMG-MOON1-1 Moonshae Treasure Hunt (four 90-minute Tier 1adventures)

You should be able to find them on dmsguild.com.
 
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