Guides for a New Young DM?

jayoungr

Adventurer
I've been running D&D for a friend's family lately, and the 12-year-old daughter wants to run some games for her friends. She's got the germ of a campaign idea (assemble three dragon-related artifacts), but wants to know how to design adventures. Of course I've said I'll work with her on this, but I'd like to point her to some good advice on the web as well. Can anyone recommend any blog posts, articles, or videos aimed at helping a brand-new GM design and/or run her first adventure?
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
I've been running D&D for a friend's family lately, and the 12-year-old daughter wants to run some games for her friends. She's got the germ of a campaign idea (assemble three dragon-related artifacts), but wants to know how to design adventures. Of course I've said I'll work with her on this, but I'd like to point her to some good advice on the web as well. Can anyone recommend any blog posts, articles, or videos aimed at helping a brand-new GM design and/or run her first adventure?
Matt Colville on YouTube. Videos all about being a dungeon master, including coming up with and running adventures.
 

S'mon

Legend
Matt Colville gives the best advice (Mercer is good too; personally I'd avoid Angry), but I think the best thing she can do is take a look at how the old masters designed adventures. B2 Keep on the Borderlands for dungeons, and X1 Isle of Dread for wilderness, are two good places to start. U1 Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh is also worth looking at, but omits the home base, whereas B2 and X1 pay lots of attention to the home base element. Orange B3 Palace of the Silver Princess is also a good tutorial module.

She could also look at some of the free adventures at basicfantasy.org that riff off those, eg J N Neal's Monkey Isle (X1) and Chaotic Caves (B2), Fortress of the Iron Duke (in Fortress Tower & Tomb) riffs off B3, and has that romance/betrayal element from B3 the chicks dig. Groovy. :D
 

ParanoydStyle

Peace Among Worlds
Matt Colville gives the best advice (Mercer is good too; personally I'd avoid Angry), but I think the best thing she can do is take a look at how the old masters designed adventures. B2 Keep on the Borderlands for dungeons, and X1 Isle of Dread for wilderness, are two good places to start. U1 Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh is also worth looking at, but omits the home base, whereas B2 and X1 pay lots of attention to the home base element. Orange B3 Palace of the Silver Princess is also a good tutorial module.

She could also look at some of the free adventures at basicfantasy.org that riff off those, eg J N Neal's Monkey Isle (X1) and Chaotic Caves (B2), Fortress of the Iron Duke (in Fortress Tower & Tomb) riffs off B3, and has that romance/betrayal element from B3 the chicks dig. Groovy. :D
Also In Search of The Unknown. In Search Of The Unknown is my favorite "my first D&D" type module/adventure. Anyway personally I'd give her the same one piece of advice I give all GMs of any age and experience level: smile knowingly. Just smile knowingly. No matter what you've goofed up or how badly, just smile knowingly like it's all going according to plan. From a twelve year old girl's friends to grognards with 30+ years of dungeon delving experience, D&D players are must more likely to believe that anything that doesn't mad up or doesn't make sense is some kind of sinister plot against the party than simple human error, so long as you smile knowingly.
 

Ath-kethin

Explorer
There is literally a book called the Dungeon Master's Guide. And the best thing is, you probably already own it! The abbreviated Basic version is also a great starting point.

Experience is the best teacher.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
There is literally a book called the Dungeon Master's Guide. And the best thing is, you probably already own it! The abbreviated Basic version is also a great starting point.

Experience is the best teacher.
This. Really, this is all you need. Rather than reading lots of how-to guides, browse the DMG and then watch some recorded live-play streams.

I recommend anything run by Chris Perkins. A while back, Chris Perkins recorded some videos where he ran a game for the Robot Chicken writers that included voice over explaining what he was doing and giving other advice. The purpose was to help new DMs see how to run a game and give advice. It was for 4th edition, but I think they are still excellent and applicable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HA92_Hp04Sk


Another good one to watch is the Celebrity UK game with a group of new players, so he is explaining the rules as he runs the game. Again, it is for 4e, but still worth a watch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FeiNEsLElA
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I disagree about the Dungeon Master’s Guide. The 5e DMG is really not a guide for dungeon masters. It’s a pile of optional rules.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I disagree about the Dungeon Master’s Guide. The 5e DMG is really not a guide for dungeon masters. It’s a pile of optional rules.
That describes very little of the DMG. One can argue on how useful the DMG is for a helping a new DM understand how to run the game, but a large portion of the book is advice on how to structure adventures and campaigns.

A more easily digestible summary of how to run a game is the DM advice in the 1e module Keep on the Borderlands. Goodman Games updated it for 5e but it is unfortunately very expensive. Still, I think getting the original PDF and printing out the section on how to run games is still useful.

That said, I think you could read over the basic rules and watch a couple Chris Perkins live-play videos on You Tube and you'd be off to the races.
 

S'mon

Legend
A more easily digestible summary of how to run a game is the DM advice in the 1e module Keep on the Borderlands.
Yeah, that is my #1 recommendation.

I think the 5e DMG is a bit much for someone just starting out, though worth a look. A better/more concise recommendation would be the GM's book in the Pathfinder Beginner Box.
 

Ath-kethin

Explorer
I disagree about the Dungeon Master’s Guide. The 5e DMG is really not a guide for dungeon masters. It’s a pile of optional rules.
The book literally starts with a description of what a Dungeon Master is, then proceeds to offer advice on creating and running a campaign. A strong understanding of the Player's Handbook is necessary, but I feel it would be somewhat foolish to try and run a agame without that anyway.

There's no better way to learn how to DM than jumping in headfirst and just doing it. The Starter Set is actually ideal for this purpose as well.

Running on the assumption that the kid a) has played time or two before (which we know to be true), b) can read, and c) isn't afraid of polysyllabic words, there's no reason the DMG can't do the trick.
 

collin

Explorer
Given your daughter's idea for her adventure, along with others that have been mentioned, I would recommend "mining" The Lost Mine of Phandelver for ideas. It comes with the basic boxed set of the rules, which is better to use in general when starting out (DMing or playing) than getting into the more detailed full rules set of books.
 

cmad1977

Adventurer
AndrÃ[emoji2398 said:
Soares;7565670]Satine Phoenix and Kingsmill are two good options too. Both have videos with DMtips and would show her cool women who also DM.
Satine ran the only session of 4e I enjoyed as a player. She was a really amazing DM.
 

jayoungr

Adventurer
Thanks for the suggestions, everyone, and please keep them coming! I'll just park a few more things I found here, in case someone else is using the thread for ideas:

1. I lent her my copy of Odyssey: The Complete Gamemaster's Guide to Campaign Management.

2. Sly Flourish's series of articles for the new DM, especially the guide to building combat encounters (http://www.slyflourish.com/new_dms_guide_to_encounters.html).

3. And I'm also going to introduce her to the Five-Room Dungeon technique: https://www.roleplayingtips.com/5-room-dungeons/
 

thorgrit

Explorer
Lots of great sources so far, so I can only add:

Don't get overwhelmed by sources, or too worried that you have to learn and memorize all this stuff before you can jump in! Do however much studying you feel comfortable with ahead of time, and when you're satisfied or feel you can't learn any more, just run the game. When you mess up, just take notes on how to do better next time. Once you see how some things work at the table through experience, you'll have a much better understanding of how advice is given, and can revisit anything that didn't seem to make much sense at the time.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
I disagree about the Dungeon Master’s Guide. The 5e DMG is really not a guide for dungeon masters. It’s a pile of optional rules.
I’ll also disagree with this description, but I do think the guide is quite user hostile. It front loads a bunch of heavy stuff and puts the immediately useful stuff at the back. The sections need to be completely reversed. But it does include a lot of useful stuff for adventure building (when you find it).

I think a book that is very helpful to new DMs is Xanathars, its encounter tables are very quick and easy, and its monster + environment tables are also super useful.
 

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