D&D 5E Your one best piece of GM/DM advice?


Magic Wordsmith
Stay focused on the goals of play: Everybody having a good time and creating an exciting, memorable tale during play. Everything everyone says or does should be in service to these goals, whether that be the DM choosing to present a particular bit of content or the players deciding what they want to do. Get your player's buy-in on these goals prior to the game.

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Determine what the motivations and personalities of your important NPCs are (in detail for recurring ones) and then role-play them like just like a player character. That way as soon as the players go 'left field' you know how the NPC will react...

Kid Charlemagne

I am the Very Model of a Modern Moderator
Kill your pretties. Always remember that no matter how cool your villains are, they exist to provide challenges to the players, and will inevitably fall.


It's a social game above everything else. If your table isn't having fun, then find out why, because that's the most important thing. Not the rules, not the dice, not the game. Having fun with friends is. And feel free to change anything you want if it means making the game more fun. You're the DM, which means you have a lot of control. That also means take the time to get prepared. You don't have to memorize every rule, but you should have a good understanding about how the rules work, and how your NPCs/Monsters would act in the game along with their capabilities. Don't allow yourself to be bullied by rules lawyers or players who think their fun is more important than anyone else's. The best way to stop these sorts of players is to ask them, "Your ideas sound interesting, would you like to DM instead?"


Jedi Master
Can't help myself, I've go to do two.

Best piece of philosophical advice - Know, understand, and play using the rules of the system you are running before you begin to break them.

Best piece of practical advice - Whether in ToM or Grid, any creature engaged with another at the border of an AoE spell is also affected by the spell. IE you can't place a fireball to hit the kolbold engaged with the fighter and not also hit the fighter.

Weird Dave

Make NPCs interesting outside of combat. As a lifelong GM, I pity players - they only get to play one character at a time. I get to play ALL the characters! Or rather, I get to play characters that I want when I want without having to focus on them for too long. Give your NPCs something easy for the players to remember - a physical feature or speech pattern - and then write it down for yourself so you can remember later. Overact, underact, ham it up, do impressions, do voices, gesticulate, make beast sounds.

Argyle King


A lot of threads/problems I read are avoidable by simply talking to your players about the game prior to play. Likewise, I've found that, in my experiences, most people I've gamed with are open and receptive to discussing game issues and finding a solution.


Best piece of advice: build the story on the blocks that others provide. I.e. when somene tells a story element, make it a meaningful part of the game and roll with it.


Enemy of the State
A lot of the advice in this thread is "beginner DM" advice, so I'll give a little "advanced DM" advice:

When preparing adventures don't plan the plot of the story; instead know and understand the motivations of your NPCs/monsters and use those to drive the action - let the story flow as a result of the PCs doing interesting things and the NPCs/monsters reacting to how the PCs upset the bad guys' plans.

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