Yesterday I was asked about what tips do I have for a first time D&D GM. I thought about it a lot, and ended with 14 little tips and thoughts about what should be done and what shouldn't be done. A quick examination of them shoes that I talked less about fights and battles, and quite a lot about the entertainment values of the game. Anyway, without much of exposition, let's delve into the little tips.
- Show enthusiasm. If the players will see that you're enthusiastic about the game, the enthusiasm will get to them also.
- Start with a cool event. It doesn't matter what it is, a battle, a ceremony, a burial; it must be a cool thing. If you start with a cool enough event, the players' attention will get to the game, and they will be enthusiastic through the entire game.
- Give your best for the game. If you come to the game like it's nothing, the players will think also that it's nothing. If you don't put your best to the game, your players (and you also) shouldn't play it, you can use the time better.
- Be ready for the unexpected. No adventure survives first contact with the players. Don't let it upset you; understand instead that from this comes all the fun.
- If they went out of what you planned, find a way to creatively use what you planned in the game. If you planned a cool fight with the orcs from the forest, the fact that they went to the cliffs shouldn't stop you from using it.
- Don't railroad them, though. You should bring those elements into the game if they fit the circumstances, and if it's cool, not just because they were prepared from beforehand. More than that don't stop your players from doing a cool thing.
- Don't go for fights only. Fights can, like every other element in the game, become tedious. Don't go for fights only and the game will remain fresh and entertaining.
- Bring many one-scene NPCs to enhance the atmosphere. They can be the town's fool, the great cleric, the queen regent or the perfect soldier. It doesn't matter as long as they enhance the atmosphere of the game.
- Don't let them to steal the limelight, though. Always remember that the PCs are the protagonists of the story, and as such they are the ones who should confront the adversary and prevent the apocalypse.
- Learn what kind of movies and books your players like, and make your games according to that.
- Finish with a BANG.
- Ask for feedback. This will give you the information you need in order to know what you're good at and what you should improve.
- Remember that it's only a game. What happens in the game should be kept in the game, and what happens in the real world should remain in the real world.
- If the players suggest a cool thing, say yes and add a little something of your own. It will make the game better and far richer.
So, these are my 14 tips for a first time D&D GM. What about you? What tips would you give this GM?