When to be a GM?

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You are ready when you feel comfortable enough to run a game. When I got back into DMing after over two decades being away from TTRPGs with 5e, I spent months going over the rules, homebrewing a world, and running combats on my own to get comfortable with the rules. I do think that I made things more difficult to get started than I needed to. Also, I've enjoyed seeing my son get into gaming and he took to DMing really quick because he didn't have any adult expectations and just wanted to play and didn't worry about game mastery. It just came through play. Just like how I first learned to play when I was a kid.

If you are wanting to run D&D start with some simple one-shots with locations and plots that look fun to you. I would recommend starting with Adventure's League modules on DMs Guild. In Volo's Wake is really simple to run and would be a good introduction to running simple and common scenarios.

If you plan on playing in person, keep things simple. Avoid adding technology, terrain, minis, etc. Just do pen and paper or DnD Beyond's character sheet and use a wet erase battlemap (or scrap paper and a pencil) or theatre of the mind. Add other elements as you become more comfortable with the game.

Put some of the work on the players. Have one of the players track initiative for example.

Another recommendation is that maybe don't start with D&D. Run some one shots with some rules light systems. I think that for many people, the biggest hurdle is just getting use to being the person running the game, getting comfortable with story telling, and improvising what happens in a game.

I think InSPECTREs is an excellent, easy to pickup, and really cheap game that is really fun for a one shot or beer and pretzles party game that really helps with building experience and confidence in story telling and improv. Once you get comfortable with story telling and improvising the results of your player's crazy ideas, then it is just a matter or adding the crunch of more rules heavy systems.


An easy way to get into things is to buy a starter box set such as Dragons of Icespire Peak (DoiP). It just walks you through starting things and how combats work. It is a smaller campaign that might take a dozen sessions to play through and from there, you should have the grasp of the game enough to start a new campaign on your own, or take another published adventure to start something, or even make up more to go with the DoiP campaign.

Also don't forget to take things from online to use in your home games. There are many maps and towns and even modules to be found for free or small money.

aramis erak

I am still new to the world of role-play, and just applied for my solo game.
But I hope to be a GM one day.
The question is, how do I know when I am ready?
Roughly, what is the your recommended minimum amount of games I participated as players before you recommend I take on the role as a GM?
No minimum.
Many grogs had never played before GMing.

It's merely having the players, the desire, and the willingness to take the leap. It helps to be honest with the players about experience (or the lack thereof).

GMing isn't hard, per se, for a great many. It's intimidating, but that's usually a misperception.

Are you comfortable making up answers on the fly?
Are you willing to make rules calls?
Are you willing to accept that your story matters not, but the story of the game is that of the players' characters?
Three yesses mean you're ready.


I'd never played before first GMing, Fighting Fantasy RPG ca 1984/85. You don't need to play first, although a couple sessions is good. You probably want to GM for fellow novices, and probably not (eg) strangers on the Internet, for your first ever game.

It's good to run a simple dungeon for your first D&D game. I've been talking about it with my son, he's planning to GM, the
main thing that came up was that starting PCs at 1st level, you do need to pay attention to the D&D encounter building guidelines, because level 1 PCs are fragile. This is true even if running a published adventure, many if run as written are likely to wipe out new PCs, including the infamous goblin forest ambush at the beginning of the 5e 2014 Starter Set. A friendly NPC aiding the party can be a good idea too.

If it were me, I'd take an existing dungeon map eg from Dyson's website https://dysonlogos.blog/ and have a go keying it with some monster encounters, say 6-8, built by the DMG guidelines for 'easy' to 'moderate' encounters, eg one CR 1 monster or two CR 1/4 monsters. Maybe add one or two tricks & low damage traps (d6 is good, eg a 10' pit trap). Perhaps a friendly NPC or two, such as a prisoner, or non-hostile monster. Add one or two treasure hoards, again using the DMG or an online generator. Then come up with a hook for exploring the dungeon - rescue a prisoner, find a magic item, defeat a monster threatening the locality, or just seeking treasure.

Level 1 of Dyson's Delve - the start of a great campaign?
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You're ready to run a game when you think it would be fun to try it. You're playing a game, not applying for a job. You don't need a certain number of years of experience or to have played a certain number of games. You don't have to submit a resume or anything. If you think it would be cool, go for it.

Don't worry about making mistakes. You'll be making mistakes as long as you run or play a game. It happens and it's no big deal. Just learn, try new things and keep going. The important thing to remember is not that you make mistakes. It's that every session you'll get better at it. You're always going to improve as long as you want to have fun with your friends and keep trying.

The big piece of advice I'll give you going in, remember that it's not "your" game, it's everyone's game. Listen to player ideas. Let them create things beyond their character sheet. Listen to what they want and work as a team. If you get stuck, it's ok to ask your table for feedback and advice. A good practice I picked up is at the end of a session or adventure, ask the table for feedback. Ask them what they liked and didn't like. What they want to see more of. The answers may surprise you and they'll always help you.


Becoming a DM often has more to do with no one else willing to step up. I had campaign ideas forever but never ran them. When my brother stopped DMing, I stepped up to keep going. I now run two games because the DM of the other group wanted a break.

When I started, I over prepared everything and didn't have the best improve skills to handle the players going a different direction. Usually they only had one or two quests in progress so it was pretty easy to figure out what they were going to do. Now I tend to give them more options but have a variety of encounters to slot in to make a fun night.

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