Dungeon Master Tales: Role Playing & Combat

As a new DM I had many things that I was nervous about. Was I going to be able to manage all these individuals? How will I make decisions where the rules are vague? How hard are combat encounters supposed to be? Plus, many other questions. However, one of my main concerns when running a game was that; would I be able to create a good balance of combat and role play. One rule I decided to follow when I became a DM was that; combat encounters should be story driven, not just thrown in to fill some void. However, if the characters happen to wander into dangerous territory, then all bets are off. Those encounters are supposed to show the dangers of the area and give the players a better sense of their surroundings. Essentially immerse them in the world.

My first major night of all role playing was also a very important part of the story. I had spent hours preparing and making sure I had everything I needed to create what I considered very important to the story line. As I said above, this was my first session that was dedicated to only role playing. The session itself was over four hours, so I was super nervous during the whole thing. Mind you, if the players had not interacted as I hoped, then things could have gone in a completely different direction and ended shorter than I had planned (which also happens a lot). Thankfully, that did not happen. Everything turned out as I had hoped and everyone enjoyed the night. I even had some compliments on the evening, which was very rewarding.

Before I started my very first game, I was given a lot of advice by a friend of mine who runs a game I play in. He offered me a very good piece of advice that I have tried to follow since I started, which is; prepare for more than you actually need, because more often than not, the players will go in a completely different direction than you had prepared for! So, make lots of extra stuff for side quests or find a sneaky way to guide the group back on track without taking away from their game or forcing something on them. You want to allow them pretty much free reign within your world!

Recently, this past game session the players were spending another few days in town preparing and planning for future endeavors. This also took some extra planning on my part. I had prepared for their celebration dinner with some important people, introduced new options to some players, along with new places they can go, in town and around the world as well.

So, again I went ahead and prepared as much material as I could, I even forgot some important information at home! However, that is the great thing about D&D, I can create stuff as I go, take notes and work with the new information! I find that a lot of the on the spot NPC creation and situations are the most fun and sometimes end up being part of the larger for the characters.

Being a DM is a lot more work than I ever expected it would be, especially when the world and campaign the players are in is of my own creation. It is also some of the most fun and rewarding times that I have ever had. I recommend the experience to everyone!