TCC D&D: Becoming a DM

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The Capeless Crusaders are known for our love and knowledge of all things comics. Comics are a creative and unique way of telling a story and communicating a message. The story is what we really love, that is why recently we embarked on a new adventure, Dungeons & Dragons! The Capeless Crusaders are diving into a whole new world of story telling. Manderson (that’s me) is taking the reigns as Dungeon Master (DM). After each session I will write about what I have learned about what it takes to be a good DM, and hopefully someday a great DM!

Playing the Dungeon Master:

I’m gonna start off with some clean honesty here: I never ever intended to play D&D ever in my life. Truthfully I stumbled into it as a joke. A few friends from work were talking about their adventure, and me being a dork and a dad chime in saying, “oh hey, why didn’t you invite me I have a Vulcan Priest I’d love to play.” Next thing I know, my (soon to be) DM sends me info and invites me to play. 

Needless to say, my first outing I made a few mistakes, but had a blast! I enjoyed it so much that I decided to start  group with another group of friends. Once I assembled a good sized group I asked them, “Hey guys, who is going to DM this thing?” … crickets, “Ok then, I guess I will … try” says I. What? I have only played D&D for 2 months at this point. 

It was too late I was the Master of this other little D&D group. What follows is what I am learning as I stumble through being a Dungeon Master, for not one, but now two groups. One of those groups you get to follow on our stream.

Preparation: 

This probably seems like an obvious piece, which is why I start here. Thus far I have borrowed a home brew adventure from the internet, written my own adventure and currently (in my non-Crusader group) am doing an adventure written by Wizards of the Coast. 

Each of these required a different type of preparation. It is probably obvious that writing your own adventure will require some prep; and despite starting from scratch these were probably the easiest adventures to prep actually. It was my story, my encounters, I picked the monsters to be fought. Just because it was all mine, didn’t make it a walk in the park. I still had to plan out each location, ensure that the number of monsters and their difficulty were balanced for the number of player, ideas for how they might react, and what consequences for decisions that each player or the group makes. However, because it is MY adventure, it is easy to remember details, because I created them.

One of the mistakes I made with the pre-written adventure was believing that minimum preparation was ok. This is far from the truth. Sure you can read the details as you go, read the prompts and have the monsters stats in front of you, but it feels stale. Hopefully my group didn’t feel the lack of prep the first time we started the actual D&D adventure. My guess is they did though. 

One of the elements that makes these adventures so fun is getting into character. I’m not really an actor, or impressionist or anything. I can probably only do a few different voices, and half an accent. When you prepare for each step of the adventure as a DM it’s easier to get into character. When you get to know the non-player characters (NPCs) and the environment it makes the whole experience come more alive. Toss a bit of dramatic music into the background, and it’s almost cinematic! (Popcorn included, but you gotta make it yourself).

Well, that wraps up my first post chronicling what I am learning as I stumble through DMship … DMness? … DMhood? Whatever, you get what I mean.

Summary of our adventure so far:

I’ll be following up each post with a quick summary of what occurred during our previous adventure to prep you for the next:

We met two of our heroes walking along the streets searching for the Serpents Head Tavern. Upon approaching the tavern they are stopped by a Goliath and a gnome, and narrowly avoiding a fight, much to my disappointment, before entering.  Inside they receive their mission to save the village of Leilon from a wolf invasion.

In Leilon our heroes encounter Gimpy the Berserking three legged wolf, to be more accurate Diane (Amy’s character) removed a leg and caused the berserking. The wolves are easily defeated by our heroes, but they discover that there may be more to the invasion then simple hunger.

-Manderon, the Son of Mander

Curious about our adventures? Check out the replay of the episode below!