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%

pointofyou

Adventurer
Some things the best way to learn them is by doing. If you screw up while GMing the odds are really good no one gets hurt. There are games that have books that work as resources for a new GM but D&D is not one of those games. If you can play with a decent GM before you try to do it you're probably going to have an easier time figuring it out.
 

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Narrowing it down to three is tough. I feel like practically all of the options help you learn how to DM. Playing (with whomever) is THE way to go. Getting tips from experienced people like Coleville or Shea (or countless others out there on the net), actual plays, starter sets... It's all valid.
 

Playing with experienced people by a country mile. Followed by watching videos of other experienced people, which is almost the same but -Feedback and +Variety.

Preferably both. Or as many different sources as possible to broaden your horizons!
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
I’d say “all of the above” as there’s no one best way for all folks.

I’d encourage people to not be scared of trying. It really doesn’t take years to get the gist. It’s something most gamers can do.

I’d also say that we should all continue to learn, and as such, all the resources listed can be useful to different degrees at different times. Dismissing any of them seems like an odd thing to do, as does assuming there would be one answer that’s best (and available) to all.
 

The problems with "just play with experienced people"? Plenty:

1. You may not know anyone who's experienced. That was certainly the case for me when I first started learning about D&D. My initial exposure to the rules was sources of questionable legitimacy for 2e, just before 3e came out. I didn't know anyone who played D&D at the time.
2. Even if you do know people who play, you may not be close enough friends with them for it to make sense to invite them to a game or to ask to join theirs. Social activities are never that simple, much to my chagrin.
3. You may not have enough close friends to get a gaming group together. In high school, I had maybe three close friends, most of whom attended other schools and lived far enough away that visiting them was a sleepover-level commitment, not a "play for a few hours" deal.
4. Even if you know an experienced group, have the right kind and strength of relationship to join a game, your schedules work out, and all the other stuff lines up....your gaming styles could be RADICALLY different. People talk up a great deal how the game should support a variety of styles, but a neophyte does not know what style they have yet, and forcing yourself to use a style that doesn't actually fit you (because you don't know any better and the person teaching you will teach you what works for them, not what works in general) is a super duper great way to never ever want to DM ever again. A similar issue applies to something like online advice, where you have to already know how to DM in order to distinguish advice useful to you vs advice useful to others vs advice useful in general.

So...yeah. There are plenty of reasons why "just learn from a pro, 4head" is either impossible, impractical, or counter-productive.

NONE of this should be taken as saying it is BAD to learn that way. I'd even hazard to say that most DMs have learned so. Instead, I am going a step further than some other posters here. To paraphrase Dr. Howard Moskowitz: "There is no perfect method, only perfect methods." By which I mean, there is no one best method. ALL of these methods should be valid, and developed as much as possible, so that people can learn in the way best suited to them, not in some top-down enforced "you WILL learn by apprenticeship(/instruction/youtube video/random reddit advice)" kind of thing.

And, as I have said in other places, I maintain that it is a bad idea to require the brand-new players to jump through extra hoops and pay extra money simply because they are new. That's a really, really good way to turn people off and convince them it's not worth their time.
 

1. You may not know anyone who's experienced. That was certainly the case for me when I first started learning about D&D. My initial exposure to the rules was sources of questionable legitimacy for 2e, just before 3e came out. I didn't know anyone who played D&D at the time.
2. Even if you do know people who play, you may not be close enough friends with them for it to make sense to invite them to a game or to ask to join theirs. Social activities are never that simple, much to my chagrin.
3. You may not have enough close friends to get a gaming group together. In high school, I had maybe three close friends, most of whom attended other schools and lived far enough away that visiting them was a sleepover-level commitment, not a "play for a few hours" deal.
4. Even if you know an experienced group, have the right kind and strength of relationship to join a game, your schedules work out, and all the other stuff lines up....your gaming styles could be RADICALLY different. People talk up a great deal how the game should support a variety of styles, but a neophyte does not know what style they have yet, and forcing yourself to use a style that doesn't actually fit you (because you don't know any better and the person teaching you will teach you what works for them, not what works in general) is a super duper great way to never ever want to DM ever again. A similar issue applies to something like online advice, where you have to already know how to DM in order to distinguish advice useful to you vs advice useful to others vs advice useful in general.

All very real problems that people have of all ages! But it does bring up the point that you can't really learn how to DM (or play) without actually...playing at some point. Certainly, I engaged in plenty of "lonely fun" as a pre-teenager learning dnd, which at that time consisted mostly in reading whatever RPGs I could get my hands on and Dragon Magazine, and aimless worldbuilding by myself. Now, that could include an even broader array of 3rd party products, actual plays, advice videos, etc etc. But, regardless of all that, you do actually need to play at some point (some games can be played solo, though).

So I think what the responses index is that the core of learning is doing. All the other stuff facilitates that doing, making it easier in certain ways (e.g. a starter module that slowly introduces core aspects of the game in a user friendly format).
 


jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
Read jim pinto's forthcoming A Good Book for Bad GMs. I've been working on projects for jim for awhile (and, no, his name should not be capitalized). He's a tremendous source of great GMing advice and this shines through in all of his products to some degree. But this book is laser-focused on that advice. It's going to be incredible.
 

pointofyou

Adventurer
Read jim pinto's forthcoming A Good Book for Bad GMs. I've been working on projects for jim for awhile (and, no, his name should not be capitalized). He's a tremendous source of great GMing advice and this shines through in all of his products to some degree. But this book is laser-focused on that advice. It's going to be incredible.
Thank you for the tip and the link.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Essentially yes. There is are a lot of great (and not so great) advice out there, but nothing replaces what you learn by doing it.

Some of the advice is very... DM dependent. For example, it's a good idea to prep things you aren't good at coming up with on the spot, and leave other things to be improvised at the table (things you are good at coming up on the spot)... but know how what those ARE, you need to DM!
 

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