D&D 5E What is the best way to learn how to be a DM?

What is the best way to learn how to be a DM?

  • The Dungeon Master's Guide

    Votes: 10 12.5%
  • The official starter set and/or essentials kit

    Votes: 22 27.5%
  • A wotc adventure book

    Votes: 1 1.3%
  • Watching or listening to an actual play series

    Votes: 14 17.5%
  • Mike Shea - Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master

    Votes: 9 11.3%
  • Other 3rd party products

    Votes: 3 3.8%
  • Matt Colville - "Running the Game" series on youtube

    Votes: 13 16.3%
  • Other videos

    Votes: 2 2.5%
  • Playing friends/family who are experienced players

    Votes: 64 80.0%
  • Playing at a convention or game store with strangers

    Votes: 12 15.0%
  • Playing with friends/family who have no experience, figuring it out as you go

    Votes: 31 38.8%

Someone you know wants to start up a game of dnd 5e. Aside from the players handbook and monster manual, what, if anything, would you recommend they consider to learn how to run the game? Choose 3.

This should settle it! :ROFLMAO:. Though I made this 5e specific, it is arguably an even more pressing concern for non dnd games, that have fewer venues for teaching new players how to play. What have you found is the best way to learn a new system? I don't follow actual play series for entertainment, but personally I have found watching an actual play video, particularly with the creator of the game, is very helpful in seeing how it plays in practice.
 

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Xamnam

Loves Your Favorite Game
I don't know if you can change polls late, but I would have voted for the PHB if it was an option. My other answers were playing with experienced friends, and Matt Colville's Running the Game.

Edit: I now see you mentioned aside from that, that's what I get for skimming. Adding a vote for non-experienced friends.
 
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What I would choose (and I've advocated for before) isn't represented in the above.

* Eschew the GM as Jedi and aspiring GM as padawan relationship. I don't feel like this has been good for our hobby at all. Don't let someone's idea of what you should be doing infect your curiosity and creativity and boldness. Its just as likely or more to curtail you or frighten you as it is to aid you.

* Read the book or book that you're trying to run. Imagine play. Work hard to conceive "what is this game trying to do" and "how does this game do that thing?"

* Practice discrete conflicts where you aren't burdened with maintaining a through line of narrative continuity so you can focus on making this particular thing awesome and running it correctly. Focus on the type of stuff that is fundamental to play while you aren't burdened with the fear and stress of running a game. Practice combats. Practice social conflicts. Practice expeditions/journeys and all that goes with that (presenting multiple compelling routes foregrounding conflict and telegraphing consequences of alternative routes, climbing obstacles, hazard-spanning obstacles, supernatural obstacles, denizens and locales etc). Practice fleeing/chases/driving off enemies. Practice supernatural conflicts. Practice the constituent parts for that are seminal/important for this game to work.

* Practice again. Think small and focused and work on your fundamentals. Think of how situation-framing and scenario-design create decision-points that are provocative and compelling. Think how twists and turns in the fiction and gamestate post-action resolution make for a better or worse play experience with respect to "what is this game trying to do."

* Now put it all together and boldly run a game.

* Be honest with your players and ask the same of them. Make sure your relationship is open and understanding.

* Be humble about your play. Make corrections. Do it again.
 

It depends on the person. There is no one best way for everyone to learn. Different people learn differently.

So, do I vote based on how I learned 40 years ago? How I would learn today? Or what I think would be best for the most number of new DMs (with and/or without play experience)?

edit: though I can say unequivocally the worst way to learn is by watching actual play like CR
 


The question is impossible to answer.

It can be interpreted as, "What should be the best way to learn?" Or it can be interpreted as, "What currently is the best way to learn?"

Right now, the best way to learn is either hoping you get a halfway-decent YouTube video about it, being lucky enough to have an actually experienced and successful DM to teach you, or leaping into the fray yourself completely unprepared. The DMG ain't trying to be a teaching aid, that's for sure, but it should be.
 


My preferred suggestion is a variant of the "experienced players" option: apprenticeship. It's a lot easier to learn how to run the game while being helped by those who've done it already and running for experienced players. They can help you avoid common pitfalls and the players can help point out what you did right and wrong for each session/adventure. This is particularly useful in the rules aspect of running a game, because the DMG is poorly organized and doesn't really do enough to help teach someone how to be a DM. There is the downside of your DMing style being influenced by the DM and players, but that's already happened if you were a player.

* Eschew the GM as Jedi and aspiring GM as padawan relationship. I don't feel like this has been good for our hobby at all. Don't let someone's idea of what you should be doing infect your curiosity and creativity and boldness. Its just as likely or more to curtail you or frighten you as it is to aid you.
Hard disagree. While I don't think it should be necessary (as it was in the bad old days), I feel that your current DM is by far the best source of information for becoming a DM. They might be a jackwagon, but if you enjoy playing under them, then their style is probably similar enough to your own. If not... you should be looking for a new DM instead.
 


pointofyou

Adventurer
As much as I want the books to be better there is no substitute for experience. Nothing else comes close. Probably the ideal sequence is
Play with an experienced DM​
Talk with that experienced DM about DMing​
DM with people who have played and/or DMed before​
Talk with those people about how things went and what can improve​
Run for people new to the game.​
EDIT: The DM you play with and talk with about DMing should be one whose game you enjoy. The people in the first game you run should be similarly vetted. That probably goes without saying but now it's been said anyway.
 

What I would choose (and I've advocated for before) isn't represented in the above.

* Eschew the GM as Jedi and aspiring GM as padawan relationship. I don't feel like this has been good for our hobby at all. Don't let someone's idea of what you should be doing infect your curiosity and creativity and boldness. Its just as likely or more to curtail you or frighten you as it is to aid you.

* Read the book or book that you're trying to run. Imagine play. Work hard to conceive "what is this game trying to do" and "how does this game do that thing?"

* Practice discrete conflicts where you aren't burdened with maintaining a through line of narrative continuity so you can focus on making this particular thing awesome and running it correctly. Focus on the type of stuff that is fundamental to play while you aren't burdened with the fear and stress of running a game. Practice combats. Practice social conflicts. Practice expeditions/journeys and all that goes with that (presenting multiple compelling routes foregrounding conflict and telegraphing consequences of alternative routes, climbing obstacles, hazard-spanning obstacles, supernatural obstacles, denizens and locales etc). Practice fleeing/chases/driving off enemies. Practice supernatural conflicts. Practice the constituent parts for that are seminal/important for this game to work.

* Practice again. Think small and focused and work on your fundamentals. Think of how situation-framing and scenario-design create decision-points that are provocative and compelling. Think how twists and turns in the fiction and gamestate post-action resolution make for a better or worse play experience with respect to "what is this game trying to do."

* Now put it all together and boldly run a game.

* Be honest with your players and ask the same of them. Make sure your relationship is open and understanding.

* Be humble about your play. Make corrections. Do it again.
I think I would put this under the "figure it out as you go" category :)
 



billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Surprised to see no mention of Adventurers League.
Playing at a convention or store with strangers could be AL, as could be playing with friends/family who are experienced. There's nothing really unique about AL that isn't covered by playing with people.
 



payn

Legend
I had that in mind when I put playing at a game store as an option. The downside is that you are often playing with strangers which can be hit or miss
This is my own experience, of course, but I have found PFS/AL folks much more willing to help foster a new GM experience than those at conventions. A similar experience, but a bit different. Rotating casts of players and GMs, but a much higher chance of playing again. Continuous feedback and assistance to learn and improve. YMMV.
 

pointofyou

Adventurer
Is murdering a good DM and consuming their flesh so their power transfers to you off the table?
The problem is you need to consume the flesh raw and that exposes you to more parasites than most people are comfortable with and it tastes nasty.

That's what I heard anyway.
 


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