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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DwarfFighterGuy

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    Default Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    A friend of mine has recently expressed interest in becoming a DM, but she's quite new to DMing in specifics and Tabletop RPGs in general. She was wondering if there are any good intro level resources she could read to get a feel for what DMing is and if it's something she actually wants to do. I'm at a bit of a loss because I learned through more of an apprenticeship style approach, but unfortunately that seems hard for us to pull off.

    As always, any and all help is appreciated!

    P.S. This is for 5E D&D, but I'm looking for more of a "how to DM" guide than any specific system.
    Last edited by NRSASD; 2018-02-14 at 12:57 PM.

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    ComaVision's Avatar

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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    That's pretty much what the DMG is for. It's the first thing I read on the matter.

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    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    The first chapter of the DMG is good for setting up expectations and guidelines for what your role is. As a supplement, I also like the Dungeon World GM section. It's been a bit since I've read it, but it had some more 'intro to GMing' styled information.

    If they're looking for more materials like "How do i build an encounter" or "what makes a fun exploration section" or other mechanics focused things, I got... nothing. Sorry.
    Recapping or summarizing helps my own understanding, to ensure I'm learning what people are saying. I apologize if I misrepresent you or your position while working through the topic

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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    I'll second the DMG and the Dungeon World suggestions.

    Old DMG's are good as well (for some, but not all, advice not the mechanics, unless you want).

    The Angry GM essays are pretty good in moderation (likewise other advice you'll read).

    The bibliographies in the PHB and DMG have some wonderful works listed, here's a sampler:

    1939's Two Sought Adventure/The Jewels in the Forest by Fritz Leiber

    ..which was an inspiration for D&D:

    Quote Originally Posted by Dungeons & Dragons,
    Book 1:
    Men & Magic, 1974
    "These rules are strictly fantasy. Those wargamers who lack imagination, those who don't care for Burroughs' Martian adventures where John Carter is groping through black pits, who feel no thrill upon reading Howard's Conan saga, who do not enjoy the de Camp & Pratt fantasies or Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser pitting their swords against evil sorceries will not be likely to find Dungeons & Dragons to their taste. But those whose imaginations know no bounds will find that these rules are the answer to their prayers. With this last bit of advice we invite you to read on and enjoy a "world" where the fantastic is fact and magic really works!
    E. Gary Gygax
    Tactical Studies Rules Editor
    1 November 1973
    Lake Geneva, Wisconsin"
    The main thing you should read is this:

    The "No D&D is better than bad D&D" saying is flat out wrong.

    Have fun, host fun, make mistakes, repeat.

    Don't compare yourself to "guru's"

    Make stuff up on the fly.

    Good enough now is better than perfect later.


    Dungeons and Dragons, The Underground and Wilderness Adventures, p. 36
    : "... everything herein is fantastic, and the best way is to decide how you would like it to be, and then make it that way."

    AD&D 1e, DMG, p. 9
    : "..The game is the thing, and certain rules can be distorted or disregarded altogether in favor of play...."

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    AD&D 2E, DMG, p. 3: "At conventions, in letters, and over the phone, I'm often asked for the instant answer to a fine point of the game rules. More often than not, I come back with a question -- what do you feel is right? And the people asking the question discover that not only can they create an answer, but that their answer is as good as anyone else's. The rules are only guidelines."

    D&D 3.5 DMG, p. 6: "Good players will always realize that you have ultimate authority over the game mechanics, even superseding something in a rulebook."

    D&D 5e DMG, p. 263
    :: "...As the Dungeon Master, You aren't limited by the rules in the Player's Handbook, the guidelines in this book, or the selection of monsters in the Monster Manual..."
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeJ View Post
    Does the game you play feature a Dragon sitting on a pile of treasure, in a Dungeon?
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    You're an NPC stat block."I remember when your race was your class you damned whippersnappers"
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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    The "Game Mastery Guide" for Pathfinder is nothing but tips on how to do pretty much every aspect of being a GM. From tips on how to structure adventures and encounters, how to make good NPCs, to handling different types of players and expectations, conflicts, worldbuilding, messing with mechanics and basic assumptions of the game, and more. It is angled towards Pathfinder, but much of the information is useful no matter what system or type of game you use. There are a few bits which are pretty system specific, like drugs and diseases, a few example NPCs and some treasure generators, but the rest should be useful to any version of D&D.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    Going to agree with ComaVision. I will note that many of the behaviors described in the DMGs can be applied to any game in general, so it doesn't hurt to, say, read a bit of 3e and 4e in prep for a 5e game.

    I will also add that something that can really help is just playing a regular game, to get a sense of the player-DM dynamic.

    Also, one of the best pieces of advice I have seen is from the 3rd Edition DM Manual. What it boils down to that the role of a DM is to provide structure to a story. A good DM makes it seem like the world is impartial, and that the actions of players have consequences.
    Last edited by rg9000; 2018-02-14 at 02:27 PM.

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    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    Lost Mine of Phandelver is a good introduction adventure, with advice for the DM along the way.

    If you create you own adventure, I would start with a setting already created to have the Gods, races, major cities and kingdom already done. Then pick some place how of the way to put a small village, a basic dungeon and keep it simple.

    The village usually have an inn, church (or shrine), town hall (or keep), blacksmith, mill, general store.

    The dungeon can be cave, keep basement, tomb, anything really.

    For each thing or npc you create write a secret. The lord living in the keep hide his great-grandfather who's a vampire in the basement. The Inn keeper is a retire king's guard, the general store's owner is a thief who ran away from the city because the guild want him dead.

    Write rumors, some about your adventure, some red herring or false, but be careful (or be ready) to side track the group if they decide to ignore you dungeon and explore rumor of lizardfolk in the marsh.

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    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    Everyone that wants to DM D&D should read the 1e AD&D DMG by Gary Gygax. It provides much of the context that should be assumed going into the game.

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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    The Angry GM essays are pretty good in moderation (likewise other advice you'll read).
    I'd like to make a note about Angry, he pushes an agenda for a very specific style of game and very specific GMing style. The two don't always mesh very well, he recommends a relatively specific kind of world, but giving the players options that don't fit so he can ban them.

    To give an example, in his rant on psionics he rants about how they feel 'too science fiction' and says that he offers the psion class because he knows that kicking people who pick it would be kicking players who'd ruin the style. I personally love psionics in fantasy games, and if giving the choice to play a psychic probably would jump at the chance (especially a telepath), but if a GM said there are no psychics in the world, I wouldn't worry about it and I'd play a different class. I like playing psychics, but as they can be immersion breaking I'll happily play a sorcerer or barbarian instead. I think 5e does a great job at presenting a more 'fantasy feeling' version of psionics by changing the class fluff a bit.

    Now there's nothing wrong with reading Angry, but everything he says should be taking with the understanding that he's pushing a specific style because it fits his tastes. I'm trying to write articles on my tastes with regards to GMing, but it's not going well (too much writer's block, not enough free time).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    Read THIS.. That's a link to a page detailing the author's three clue rule, which will help in ANY mystery or investigation type deal. It's free, it's short, it's probably the one rule you should never violate.

    Angry is...Not recommended, by me. I think he has some wonderful advice, but I don't agree with everything he does, nor do I think it would suit all games. Trying to shift through his articles to determine what would or would not work for her game is going to tack on more work. If you share a group with our new DM friend, then I suggest you cherry pick articles for your group as long as you tell her to take the rest with a grain of salt.

    I'd also look through the DMG of different editions. I...Sorta don't really remember them, but I think going back to older editions for some choice advice can't hurt.

    And tell her: She's a DM. People will offer their first born to be in her game just to get the chance to play. DMing, like most hobbies, is something you only learn by doing. She WILL make mistakes, but so did everyone including Gygax himself. Good players will be understanding and still have fun.
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    Devil

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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    Have fun, host fun, make mistakes, repeat.
    As a newbie DM myself I appreciate and needed that, Thank you.

    I can recommend the same thing I am doing: not book but the video series "Running the game" and "Campaign diary" may be usefull, same goes for "GM tips"... for the mechanics and how to write an encounter or even a quest the best i think are the notes or the point-by-point adventures that are avaliable on the internet, doesn't count if they are good or bad adventures but reading or studying different style of notes and "structures" (How detailed is the city, the dungeon, the wood ecc. ) is I think usefull to find oneself way of DMing (mine is still a work in progress).

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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Honest Tiefling View Post
    And tell her: She's a DM. People will offer their first born to be in her game just to get the chance to play.
    This isn't always true. I've been in a situation of a group being overfilled with the GMs, to the point where you couldn't run if you didn't specifically cater to the majority tastes (a big problem for me in that group).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    I'll second the Three Clue Rule cited above.

    There is not much worse than trying to figure out what to do next because you all rolled too poorly to notice the single clue the DM included (or didn't include, but expected you to figure out anyway).

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    The main thing you should read is this:

    The "No D&D is better than bad D&D" saying is flat out wrong.
    Maybe we could change it to "No gaming is better than unfun gaming."

    D&D (and roleplaying in general) is a game, and is supposed to be an enjoyable activity. If you're not enjoying it, ask yourself what would make it enjoyable. Talk to your group to see if what would make it more fun for you would also make it more fun for them.

    Also, this manifesto is a great example of Table Rules (how the players behave at and around the table).
    Last edited by Lord Torath; 2018-02-15 at 02:24 PM.
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    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    Re: Angry GM.

    I would avoid this as a beginning GM. Maybe once she's comfortable with the game more, then he can be looked at, but from the beginning, sometimes articles like his can shape your thoughts about what a DM "should" be. I haven't DM'd a ton, but I'm comfortable enough with my grasp on things that reading him is a good spot for ideas or inspiration. Learning from other people is pretty important to me, so finding that voice was a help for me. But, f I had read him before that, my view on DMing would be pretty skewed.

    DMGs and Dungeon Word gave me a decent grasp on what the game was about [DMG] and some pretty system-independant ideas for running games [Dungeon World].
    Recapping or summarizing helps my own understanding, to ensure I'm learning what people are saying. I apologize if I misrepresent you or your position while working through the topic

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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Torath View Post
    ...Maybe we could change it to "No gaming is better than unfun gaming."...

    Sure, I'm mostly worried about too much advice on being a "good DM" (and all the filmed D&D sessions one may view on-line) discouraging potential DM's because they may think that they're "not good enough", and there being a DM shortage
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeJ View Post
    Does the game you play feature a Dragon sitting on a pile of treasure, in a Dungeon?
    Quote Originally Posted by Ninja_Prawn View Post
    You're an NPC stat block."I remember when your race was your class you damned whippersnappers"
    Quote Originally Posted by the secret fire View Post
    ..race of fantasy plumbers..
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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    There's definitely some of Angry's stuff that I find to be incredibly useful, no matter what your style is:

    http://theangrygm.com/four-things-yo...ters-not-suck/

    http://theangrygm.com/five-simple-ru...-skill-system/

    http://theangrygm.com/adjudicate-actions-like-a-boss/

    I really think this advice, at least, is universal and will improve pretty much any game, from the groggiest megadungeon to the fluffiest storygame.
    "Gosh 2D8HP, you are so very correct (and also good looking)"

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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    In my opinion, 5e DMG chapter 8 "Running the Game" is required reading for any DM before they run a game. It explains how to do ability checks and set DCs.

    Another good resource for that is Angry DMs commentary on how to adjudicate:
    http://angrydm.com/2013/04/adjudicat...s-like-a-boss/

    At the root, the DMs primary job is to present the situation, and then decide what happens when the players do something to interact with it.

    Okay, that's possibly their secondary job. The primary job is probably to make sure the players are enjoying themselves.

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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    This is the article that turned me off Angry. Sure, a lot of his points are good ones, but it's just written in an offensive manner. 'This way is right, and ******** if you do it any other way.'
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    This is the article that turned me off Angry. Sure, a lot of his points are good ones, but it's just written in an offensive manner. 'This way is right, and ******** if you do it any other way.'
    I can certainly understand people having an issue with his presentation, even when he makes good points.

    Those, in my mind, are two separate issues.
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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    I can certainly understand people having an issue with his presentation, even when he makes good points.....

    I enjoy the presentation, though it does make it harder for me to discern and remember the points.

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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    I enjoy the presentation, though it does make it harder for me to discern and remember the points.
    And that's the major problem. To get to his points I have to wade through sixteen sentences of 'I'm right, this is how to play', sometimes replaced by 'I'm right but that's so obvious I'm just going to point out it's obvious'. Then when I get to his points it's so coated in 'this is the right way to run' it's hard to identify what's meant to be the point and what's pushing his style.

    Good points mean nothing if the presentation is so bad I can't understand those points, and I'm the kind of person who spent twenty minutes pulling out every single grammatical and spelling error in somebody's kickstarter just to point out that it reads really unprofessionally.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    I'm on my cell phone, so it's hard for me to link, but I highly recommend to check the "So you want to be a DM?" Thread in the "Notable threads" thread up at the top of the "Roleplaying forum". It's very helpful and friendly for many basic DMing issues.

    1. Special projects:
    Campaign logs archive, Campaign planning log, Tactical mass combat Homebrew, A unique monsters compendium.
    2. My campaign logs:
    Three from a GM's POV, One from a player's POV. Very detailed, including design and GMing discussions.
    3. Various roleplay and real life musings and anecdotes:
    For those interested, from serious to funny!

    Thanks for reading!

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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    This is the article that turned me off Angry. Sure, a lot of his points are good ones, but it's just written in an offensive manner. 'This way is right, and ******** if you do it any other way.'
    I regard that to be a style issue, much like how Treantmonk goes on and on about being a GOD. It's meant to be silly. But yeah, you should uh, probably make sure she'll get a kick out of the tone, not feel like some random internet goer is berating her and you feel the same!
    Quote Originally Posted by Oko and Qailee View Post
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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kol Korran View Post
    I'm on my cell phone, so it's hard for me to link, but I highly recommend to check the "So you want to be a DM?" Thread in the "Notable threads" thread up at the top of the "Roleplaying forum". It's very helpful and friendly for many basic DMing issues.
    I got you covered.
    Recapping or summarizing helps my own understanding, to ensure I'm learning what people are saying. I apologize if I misrepresent you or your position while working through the topic

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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Suggested Reading for Beginning DMs?

    *The Hero With The Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
    *Role-Playing Mastery, by Gary Gygax.
    *The Art of Fiction by John Gardner.
    *The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations by Georges Polti.
    *Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.

    There is always Appendix N to read. Goggle it.

    Jack Vance The four book series "The Dying Earth" (includes "Eyes of the Overworld, "The Dying Earth", "Cugel's Saga", and "Rhialto the Marvelous". Also separate series "Lyonesse".

    The Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories by Fritz Leiber.

    One book I always recommend to new GMs is 'The Whole Man' by John Brunner. This 1964 science fiction novel touches on the responsibility a story teller has to the listeners - a topic often not even thought about until after the craziness sets in.

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