D&D General Was your first experience with D&D as a player or as a DM?

Was your first experience with D&D as a player or DM?

  • As a player with an experienced DM

    Votes: 54 42.9%
  • A a player with a first time DM

    Votes: 38 30.2%
  • As a DM

    Votes: 34 27.0%


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I'm actually a little surprised how evenly spread the votes are. From this data, meager though it is, there's at least the suggestion that many groups actually do start out with a first-time DM (since option 1 is the most common, but the other two combined, both of which have a first-time DM, are 55.9%.) Meager data, forum poll, early days, etc. etc., I know not to make much of these results. Just surprising, since I expected something a lot closer to like...80% "player with an experienced DM."

(To explain a bit further: in order for us to get to 80% "player with an experienced DM," assuming no one changes their vote, we would need to rack up 61 more votes for that option without even one person voting for the other two. Even getting 30 votes all going to that one option would be pretty dramatic at this point, so these results are significantly different from what I expected.)
Sure, but there is another way of looking at it and that is why perhaps there should have been a fourth option.

2a Player with a first time DM, but the DM having been an experienced player.
2b Player with a first time DM.
 

Sure, but there is another way of looking at it and that is why perhaps there should have been a fourth option.

2a Player with a first time DM, but the DM having been an experienced player.
2b Player with a first time DM.

I did consider breaking it down in the way you mention when I was making the poll.
I thought maybe people might not know/remember how experienced their first DM was.
I was also more interested in if people got their start as a player or DM.
 


I was a DM first, with the caveats that I had had a single brief experience as a player in a quickly aborted campaign 20 years earlier (we rolled up characters, but I don't remember if we ever even actually played) that I'm not counting, and, much more importantly, that I had substantial experience with D&D computer games, and some of those require learning a variation of the basic tabletop mechanics to play effectively (others, of course, are about as connected to the game as the D&D Magic Cards).

In any case I DMed having no memory of what any other DM did that I could draw upon. Probably not ideal, but I think the "oh you really need to be a player first, learning from more experienced people" myth has kept a lot of people from ever finding their way into the game. The best way to start is whatever way gets you started.
 
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Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
So two guys at my summer camp played D&D, and it seemed really interesting. So I got the Red Box Basic Set for my birthday (after camp ended), and had no one to play with. My first attempt was in an adventure I wrote called "City of the Underlings" about a lost race living under a castle that I tried to run my dad though. He didn't get it, couldn't understand the point of the game and gave up after 45 minutes. I'm sure it beign totally foreign to him as a concept, and my complete lack of experience was part of it. So my first time was DMing.

It wasn't until a long time (in child-time, so likely months) later that I found one of my friends was interested and we started playing, taking turns DMing or running a whole party, but I have no memory of which of us went first in that which I'd consider my first "real" play.
 

I lucked out in that my first game was as a player, with a DM who had quite a lot of practice at it, and several experienced players who were willing to let me sit in... they were running a one shot with new PCs, and were down a player, and let me join in. I had read the books, so I knew somewhat of what it was all about....
 

I did consider breaking it down in the way you mention when I was making the poll.
I thought maybe people might not know/remember how experienced their first DM was.
I was also more interested in if people got their start as a player or DM.
Just to confirm, experienced DM per your poll also equates to experienced player?
Because that may change things for some - certainly for me.
 


Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
My first D&D experience was with a some friends in high school, run by a guy one grade ahead who'd been running games for a long time.

My first TTRPG experience, though, was about a year earlier playing Earthdawn. A friend who'd never played or run anything similar bought the rulebook and we all wanted to give it a try. I think one or two people in that MIGHT have played D&D or something similar beforehand, but neither I nor the guy running the game had.
 

Same. Considering how wild and gonzo and far from the rules the game was, I likewise wonder just how experienced the DM was. He was a kid just a year or two older than I was, and I was pretty young, which meant he couldn't have been that experienced in the scheme of things. Still, it was more than enough to get me hooked for a lifetime.

I voted "As Player with an Experienced DM" - except that. . .

A. They weren't a very experienced DM and doubt that they run more than a handful of sessions before I got involved
B. After that one game I moved on to DMing

Sorry to be that person who chafes against the narrow options of the poll. 🤷‍♂️ :rolleyes: :sneaky:
 


I voted as a DM... but it's complicated.

Back in the summer of 95 I played a handful of Larps (fantasy and vampire), then right as school started around my birthday I got into a rifts game at my new friends house... but it didn't go well. 1 of those new friends had played and run D&D before, and 3 of those friends (brothers) had a dad who had played WAY back when in the late 70's. We wanted to try that instead... but no one wanted to run.

A few months before Christmas (I think after black Friday but maybe on black Friday) I was in a book store and saw a starter box and bought it (I was supposed to be gift shopping)... and I got the friend who had played and run before to draw up 3 PCs and then run through the starter set with me DMing... it went as badly as it could. So he gave me (to borrow not keep) his PHB DMG and 2 binders of MM... and at Christmas break my 6 person rifts game became my first campaign of D&D...

I had played rifts and 2 different Larps before though.
 


delericho

Legend
First time was as a player, with an experience DM. It wasn't long before I was DMing myself, though - indeed, before I even got the Red Box.
 

Oofta

Legend
A friend's older brother came home from college and ran a game for me and my friends, I have no idea if he had DMed before or not. After that first game we rotated DMs in a sort of shared world.

My dungeons were, of course completely logical and realistic with things like a mega dungeon where each level spelled a different word in the rooms and corridors. Something along the lines of DOOM, DEATH, DESPAIR and last, but not least DESTRUCTION.
 


Irlo

Hero
I started as a player with a novice DM. I bought the books as soon as I could, realized that the DM was doing it all wrong, and I dove into DMing with very little experience as a player. I'd be a better DM with more experience playing, I think, but I was stuck behind the screen for decades (with a handful of breaks).
 

Voadam

Legend
My first game I was a player. The game involved some of my friends and the older brothers of one of my friends. I have no idea whether it was the DM's first experience DMing or not, but I assume not. It was mid level 1e AD&D and I got handed a thief (5th level?) to play, I vaguely remember I had a magic dagger. There was something going on with an NPC high level evil cleric not attacking us and counting down from 100 thanks to a PC with a ring of human influence. Afterwards I mentioned how much fun I had to my parents and they got me the Moldvay Basic Set shortly thereafter. I was eight. "For 3 or More Adults, Ages 10 and Up"
 

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