Welcome to Dungeon Master 101, the chronicling of Melody Lynn’s metamorphosis from D&D player into a D&D Dungeon Master…

I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons, as well as a few other Tabletop RPG’s like Cyberpunk 2020, Firefly and Vampire: The Dark Ages, over the last 6 years or so. Recently I thought ‘You know, I’d really like to give being a Dungeon Master a go’, and around the same time my best friend, Adele, was talking about wanting to play Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition with her partner, Mark (Yo – Ed.). I figured they would be safe people to play with, as they wouldn’t laugh me out of the room if it was bad. So we agreed that we would play, and soon.

This was mid last year.

D&DMe being me, I thought I would write my own campaign. I came up with a really cool idea and started writing the world around it, finding the first hook and assembling the first arc of the story. Then I tried to add the D&D element of it with combat and rolls and gave myself the first of many panic attacks. I was sitting there, staring at what I was doing, wondering how the hell I could insert my perception checks? What the heck would be my difficulty for my rolls? How could I balance the right number of enemies for an encounter? How do I know what level they would be when they hit a particular important story point?

I went to my regular fortnight D&D crew and asked my current DM, Matt (who has been playing for a very long time and is a fantastic DM) after the session for his advice. He was very nice and didn’t laugh at me (too hard) for trying to struggle through on my own. He said the best place to start was to try using one of the published Campaigns from the Wizards of the Coast and gave me the PDF for the Hoard of the Dragon Queen and said suggested I run that Campaign to get a feel for things.

Best. Idea. Ever. (Thanks for taking pity on me, Matt).

I read through the campaign and suddenly things that the Dungeon Master’s Guide was telling me made sense. Panic attack over and it was mid February. I checked with Adele and yes, she still wanted to play and by the way could another friend, Crystal, play too? Heck yes she can! Perfect, I thought, now I have a better sized party to make sure they don’t die the first time in! I start going through everything and making sure I’ve read enough of the Campaign, Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide to be able to help my players when rules become a problem.

The next big hurdle in getting my game up and going was getting my players pinned down to get our first session done. It’s now April and I reconnect with one of my old High School friends who just happens to be Crystal’s best friend (what are the odds!) and she mentions how much she wants to play, though she’s never played before. I instantly invited her into the game as I knew that it would be good to round out the party with a fourth and she already fit in well with the group.

With excitement fresh in my mind I told Adele that we were ready. The players were good to go, the campaign set, the date set, things were finally in motion for a character creation session and possibly starting the introduction to the story itself.

Cue two weeks of panic…

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As a Dungeon Master, more than anything else, I want my players to have fun. The thing I’m most afraid of is letting them down. I have so many people that I look up to as Dungeon Masters, my friends Matt and Tom who have created worlds that have fully immersed me and challenged me, and as mentioned in the image above, I really look up to Matt Mercer (glorious voice actor and Dungeon Master for hit Twitch series Critical Role). I want to be able to capture my player’s imaginations and make them experience new worlds and to be a different person for 4 hours every fortnight. 

I do hope I can pull it off. Of course, I’ll be sure to let you all about it right here on PN2. Next up, character creation and the first session. See you then!

Melody Lynn is a co-founder of Kartanym Productions and an extreme nerd. She’s been a Half-Elven Cleric in Dungeons and Dragons 3.5, a grumpy mechanic in Firefly: The Roleplaying Game, a political pole climber Toreador in Vampire: The Dark Ages, a Solo in Cyberpunk 2020, a Tiefling Warlock in Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition and is currently a Dwarven Paladin in Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition.

Please support Tabletop gaming and visit the Wizards of the Coast website if you’re interested in playing Dungeons and Dragons for yourself.

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