D&D 5E Help with new DM


That is a lot.

When coming up with an idea first and foremost think about where the decision points will be for the players.

A huge misstep homebrew DMs make is writing a novel and then leading the players through it.

Your design goal should start with providing the players with interesting and impactful decisions.

Everything else is secondary.

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That is a lot.

When coming up with an idea first and foremost think about where the decision points will be for the players.
okay great advise... so not a season of netflix but a season long choose your own adventure with open ended choices.

that seems hard, I have to say DM looks easier from the player side
A huge misstep homebrew DMs make is writing a novel and then leading the players through it.
right I want a setting a bunch of hooks and some cool NPC with concepts for more. I am going to write this all down.
Your design goal should start with providing the players with interesting and impactful decisions.
Okay so I need to figure that out before or after the starting local?
Everything else is secondary.


yeah... that I suck at, when I start talking I go on and on. I need to work on that, any suggestions?
When you get going, you need to learn to stop. But that can be hard. Maybe start by learning to turn the corner. You need 3-5 concise bullet points. You're working on the first one. You get a couple sentences down, and you feel that urge to just go with it. Open a different file, and vent the urge in there for a while. Then go back to your bullet point and make sure it's clear and concise.

Later on down the road, when you are low on ideas, go to the file where you vented the urge. Mine that file for an idea or two and get back to work.

Or maybe have sessions where you just spew ideas into bullet points or 3x5 cards. Then go back and pick a few of them out to concentrate on.


B/X Known World
MY BIGGEST FEAR, I may not be cut out for this.
As long as you don't try to do too much too soon, you'll be fine.
I don't think of myself as new to D&D but I am sure most of you will. I have twice tried to DM once a Adventure League adventure and once a homebrew and both went different types of bad.
Everyone starts at the bottom. The good news is you can only improve from there.
Now I need to be more organized. I tried to ask on redit and got some okay suggestions but also a bunch of pushback, I am hopeing that someone here or some of you may be more help. I have been reading up here for some time.
Yes, as a DM you need to be organized. And yes, reddit is mostly trash.
No one in the group is interested in playtesting the new 1D&D, I have looked at it and like some of it even though I have not played it. So we can assume we are using the 2014 PHB and I as DM get to pick if I add any other books. The DMs I have been under have allowed most WotC stuff and some 3pp stuff and even made up their own but that feels a bit overwhelming right now.
I would suggest limiting things to WotC-only products at first. And honestly, only a few WotC books. Some of the 3PP stuff is wildly unbalanced...and some of the official WotC stuff is wildly unbalanced.
SO here is my crazy pitch… and this is one fantasy world not spelljammer: I hope you have heard of Stargate. If not here is the elevator rant, a group of aliens that pretend to be gods of different pantheons create soldiers and a really dysfunctional feudal emprire… I assume everyone knows what starwars is, if not the important part is the sith, a dark psychic cult of psi warriors that wants to rule the universe. Less likely to have seen/heard is Thunder cats, a fantasy setting that is really post apocalypse super high tech with a series magic/tech stones that are totally not infinity stones that grant massive power when put in weapons. Really really less likely to know is Necroscope, important part like SW is the villains a empire of flesh crafting alien mushroom creatures that act like vampires in every way that can create thralls of power. Now some comics stuff Dr fate is a person possessed with a god of order as a way to act as an avatar. The 'host' is powerful as is but with the helm they are pretty close to the god. Gem world is kind of like the anti dr fate, it is a world made by gods of chaos to have fey like magic with gem based magic. Ghost riders are angels and demons or maybe both bound together with human hosts to do things on the prime plane. Spawn is an entire army of lesser spawns that are beings that made by making infernal deals for there souls but are powered by necromantic symbiot armors…

Okay so there are 3 or more pantheons of gods, and they are at war. However they can not enter each other's domains, and they FEAR entering the natural ground of prime material or fey/shadow/elemental planes. So they make Avatars that do. This is where the stargate stuff comes in… instead of aliens pretending to be gods they are real gods, however like the ghoal system lords these guys are at war with each other for influence but with avatars on PM and the Jafa are paladins. They rule about 2/3 of the world. There are a handful of freehold that are 'protected settlements' that a second pantheon says they will protect but it is really a bluff cause that pantheon is at war with a demon host (this is like the asgaurd) There is then a third pantheon of neutral fey gods (like knox) that just want to be spiritual advisors and avoid the war… but they may be more powerful than the others. The Demon host that the second pantheon is at war with has two ways to corrupt people on the prime (see warlocks) that allow them to create spawn like creatures to fight that war. Once upon a time there was a greater set of gods, a pantheon now long since gone (ancients and Ori) that had control of everything… the magic items they made are sought by everyone cause they are the most powerful artifacts. However some of them have the essence of the god in them (helm of nabu like). They had two types lords of order and lords of chaos. The lords of order stayed on prime realm and the lords of chaos went to the fey wild where they made a gem world. However there is also ANOTHER realm… the shadowfel, and it is ruled by mushroom like parasites that are basically flesh crafting vampires, and they have there own empire there in the shadows.
That's a whole lot of grand, sweeping, and epic worldbuilding, but I don't see anything about what the PCs are supposed to do.

It's generally a much better idea to start small, with a single town or village where the PCs start and build up from there. When DMs start with the grand stuff, they tend to be very precious about it and force it on the players. You're running a game for your friends and facilitating their good time. Not forcing your world or story on them.
I have this idea of a group of adventurers that grew up under the thumb of the 1st evil pantheon… but remember each lord, each god has there own army and area so the PCs might have been at war with each other at some point… that have heard stories of 'protected freeholds' but have not been to one yet, and will stumble on an ancient temple to long forgotten lords of order. I also want a secret conspiracy to overthrow the gods, but it to be an EVIL sith like psychic consepracy but I don't know how to work that in.
Anything where you assume player/PC actions is red flag bad news. You control the world and the NPCs, not the PCs.
As you can tell this is all over the place. I may be overdoing things for a first time. I may need to think through more. I need to figure out what I am allowing and I need to actually craft the world and the adventure and then I can pitch it maybe better. Any help or insight from other DMs would be appreciate (I know you are here Tommy, so tell people if you post that you might be a player)
It definitely reads like overdoing things. I mean, most of that is very high level stuff that the PCs would only really interact with post 15th level or so. Unless you're starting at 10th or higher, that's a whole lot of stuff you have to fill in to get to your setting material.
my first idea is I like the Strixhaven rules where you make friends with NPCs to get bonuses, and you can study lore books to get bonuses, but not in a school setting

my second idea is I like the new setting Dragon Lance feats that allow for fighting style type things

my third idea is I like the Kender but I want a kender that is less chaotic and easier on party cohesion
Start small. Run the game as close to core-rules only as possible. You don't need to push for a grand, sweeping, epic and make lots of rules changes to accommodate it. The simpler the better when you're just starting out, honestly.
my first fear is I have no idea how druid will work with all this

my second fear is I don't have 'normal' low level threats here like Orcs and Kobolds

my third fear is half the name of the game is dragons, and we often have dragon slaying as at least an option, but my ideas don't use dragons

my fourth fear is that I don't know what to allow people to play
All valid fears. Honestly, you should tone down the concept. Basic, straightforward D&D adventures are just fine...especially when you're starting out. If your players are also your friends, they'll understand you're new to all this and work with you. It's much easier to ramp up the weird, crazy, epic stuff than it is to tone things down.

I'd recommend watching some of Matt Colville's videos on YouTube, his Running the Game series is perfect for newer DMs trying to learn the ropes.

Good luck and have fun.

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Okay so I need to figure that out before or after the starting local?
That is complex but both.

You need a bar and a kobold cave before you can give an NPC in the bar a hook for the kobold cave. BUT also you need a reason why you are making a bar.

3 hooks is a great rule of thumb. If you are going to use them or not doesn’t matter each location you plan on spending 5 or more minutes on during prep you have to be able to imagine at least 3 plot hooks. Now you can go back and forth between the orginal location and the hook/quest or keep working on the location.


B/X Known World
oh boy... okay getting to work
It's honestly not as hard as it sounds.

It sounds overly simplistic, but all you need is to keep asking "who?" and "why?" and to keep in mind action-reaction.

You want to give the PCs a hook that leads them to a kobold cave. Okay, cool. Who gives them that hook and why? You decide it's the bartender who gives them the hook, okay but why? Something personal to the bartender. Maybe because the kobolds stole a shipment of booze for the bar. Okay, then why did the kobolds steal the booze? Again, something personal. Maybe they're starving and were bribed with food by someone to steal the booze. Cool...but who and why? Maybe there's another bar that's in competition with the quest-giving bartender's bar. The new bar bribed the kobolds to steal the booze. They will sell the booze, make lots of money and drive the quest-giving bartender out of business. Cool. Then comes...why? Maybe make it personal...spin some kind of link between the two bars...or just let it be greed. But then there's also the starving kobolds. Why are they starving? What happened there and why?

You just need to drop clues that the PCs can discover to make these connections. A note in common for the kobolds, big bushels of grain in their cave, the quest-giver's booze in their cave, an NPC from the second bar there making the payment, etc. It can be anything really. Just something to let the PCs connect the dots.

That's the who and why, but what about action-reaction?

The PCs bite the hook and get involved. They go find the kobold cave and do their thing. They find clues, talk to NPCs, etc. They discover that the kobolds are starving, that they were bribed, and they discover the shipment of booze. Okay, now what? It's up to the PCs. Do they keep the booze or deliver it to the bartender? Do they pursue the leads about who bribed the kobolds? Do they follow up on the kobolds lack of food? It's not up to you, it's up to them. But, as the DM you control the NPCs and the world. So you have to keep in mind how the NPCs and world would react to the PCs' actions. What does the bartender do? How would he react to the PCs keeping the booze or trying to sell it back to him? What do the kobolds do (if there are any survivors)? What do the owners of the second bar do? What happens to the kobolds' cave? Something's going to move in there, but what?

You start with "kobolds in a cave" and "bartender quest-giver" and end up with...well, whatever it is you end up with because a lot of this depends on what the PCs do. But it doesn't take much to spin out a complex inter-connected setting from the ground up.

When you get going, you need to learn to stop. But that can be hard. Maybe start by learning to turn the corner. You need 3-5 concise bullet points.
  • The Gods have sent Avatars to ‘earth’ to create a great kingdom, and Boccob is the king of kings, with each lord under him controlling small territory.
  • The whole world has not yet been shown the light, but slowly you and others are expanding to bring peace and prosperity to the world
  • You live in Eastern Edge of The Great and Honorable Hextor’s domain, in the small town of Alamouda
  • Alamouda is 2 hours north of the mines that supply Hextor’s army with Adamantine, and Hextor himself with diamonds
  • Alamouda is a few hours east of the monastery and training grounds where Hextor’s soldiers and Holy people are trained (at least 1 of them)
  • Kord is another god, and he and Hextor have had wars for domain control… and his domain is only a bit (one walled city) away.
  • Growing up in Alamouda was hard. You knew you only had a few options. You could be a soldier, especially a paladin or you could work a farm where you will be paid in just enough food for you not to starve, or at the mine where you will make enough money that you can almost buy food for yourself. The idea of “getting ahead” isn’t really a thing you thought of

Game will begin 1st level... WotC products only characters will be made at session 0 with 4d6 drop the lowest place as you get them.
-no tasha upgrades
-subclasses will be PHB and Xanathar's unless you ask ahead of time
- Religions are restricted to gods mentioned, but if your not Hextor you need a GREAT reason.


Even with an grand scheme like this, you need to start small. Yes you have an outline of a
lot of big things going on, but they don't really matter at the very first. I'd focus on low level games for quite a while until you feel more comfortable. Heck, you don't even need more than a general idea of the local area you're in, a lot of times my intial "map" is just "The town is X size, to the east there's ___". If you just want to randomly generate a starting town, take a look at https://watabou.itch.io/medieval-fantasy-city-generator.

Next, you have a big overhead plan, you know who's really running the show. Great. They don't need to have much of anything to do with your campaign for quite a while. Enemies can be associated with different factions, but at the very first? At the very first if you just want to have the group fighting orcs, goblins or giant spiders go for it. You can even go as far as take something like Lost Mines of Phandalver as a starting point, just changing names and allegiances as necessary.

So for example, let's say you want to use orcs. No problem! They're foot soldiers created
by some godling or other, or perhaps they were originally created by one of the godlings that has since fallen and they're now just bumping around causing chaos. You know they're orcs, but you can describe them any way you wish. Same with any other monster, I've had hobgoblins that were just human enemies, I've had ogres that were fallout-inspired super mutants. Use the rules for the monsters but make them your own.

Also, whenever I'm starting up a new generator, I just google for random generators. Try out a few, find out which one works for you. For example for NPC names I generally go to https://www.behindthename.com/random/ which generates real world names for different countries. There's also generators for elves, dwarves, taverns, businesses ... the list goes on. Just search for random fantasy ____. I keep a small list handy so if they want to go to the tavern, I just grab the next one from the list as I reference my "notes".

I try to start with a session 0 just to get ideas and feedback from the players. This can be done offline as well, set up a discord group to discuss ideas, who's going to play what and so on. Get ideas from the players about why they know each other and are adventuring together and so on.

Last, but not least, take a deep breath. Start small, start local. Keep the big picture in mind but don't worry about it too much other than to drop hints here and there. Just start writing some of your thoughts down. I typically have a big overview draft (that can change up until something is confirmed in-game) and an actual plan for the next session.

Don't worry too much about failing. We all fail, all the time. I've been DMing for a long time and I still feel like I don't know what I'm doing most of the time. Just remember these people are joining your game to have fun and nobody is perfect. Good luck!

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