The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination. – Albert Einstein
Since there seems to be a bit of interest in me talking about Game Mastering I figured I should talk about the basics first. There is a bunch of different tabletop roleplaying games out there, but I will mainly be focusing on Dungeons & Dragons as that is the one I am most familiar with, at least for now.
So what is Dungeons & Dragons? It is a tabletop RPG by Wizards of the Coast that was originally published in 1974. The game is currently on its 5th Edition and has become popularized thanks to Critical Role and other streams and podcasts of people playing the game. Personally, I have been playing from around 2009 and started with 3.5 edition with the Eberron map and a homemade campaign. I made the transition to 5th Edition when the game came out as it was quite more streamlined and more storytelling friendly than the previous addition.
Dungeons & Dragons is designed to be an adventure that you can play with your friends or strangers if you feel brave. What exactly you want to play, from characters to adventures, is very much up to you and what you decide on. I personally prefer more roleplaying heavy games where the characters and story are in focus, but that is in no way the only way to play the game. Some prefer to have so-called dungeon crawl style game where you explore dungeons, kill monsters and gain lots of treasure while others might simply be in it to kill the monsters in arena style scenarios.
It really is up to you and your players to decide together what kind of game you want to play. Usually, campaigns are a healthy mix of storytelling, dungeons, and combat, but you should always find the mix that you and your players are comfortable with. There is no such thing as a wrong style of playing Dungeons and Dragons as long as everybody is happy and having fun.
There is a ton of material available, both official and homebrew, in other words: homemade by other players. What you will need for running a game is:
- Dungeon Master’s Guide
- Monster Manual
- Player’s Handbook
- A d20 Dice Set
You can either buy the items directly from Wizards of the Coast or look for a local game store or webshop that sells the books. You can also find the basic rules online if you want to have a bit of a sneak peek at the game. I usually buy my dice from different retailers and at conventions and currently own 10 different looking sets. There are also tons of accessories you can buy, from DM Screens to miniatures and maps, but they are in no way mandatory.
There are a ton of ready-made adventures out there in case you don’t want to start with creating your own campaign. One of my personal favorites is Curse of Strahd which is based on the Ravenloft adventure from a previous edition. It is a very good place to start especially if you and your players are new to the game as it takes off most of the pressure with designing and leading a game. Your players may still come up with ideas and solutions that the book doesn’t cover, so be prepared to come up with things on the fly once you get to know your player characters (PCs). I recommend reading the whole book before you start playing, just so you know what exactly is expected to happen where.
I hope that this has been a decent introduction to what the idea of the game is. I’ll be covering quite a bit of the basics first for those who aren’t familiar with the game. Next up will be Character Creation as that is the main task of the player besides playing the game. It’s also healthy to know the process of character creation and what decisions there are to make. The players will also gain different abilities during the game that it’s good to know of.
I’m really excited for this series and I hope that it will help some of you to get to know a game that is very close to my heart.
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