Dungeons & Doodles: Tips on Being a Dungeon Master

I’m hoping that some of you may be slightly interested in Dungeons & Dragons after reading a few of these posts, and are willing to play one day. If you have ever wanted to start your own D&D campaign, you need some basic supplies. You need: dice, pencils, character sheets, patience, creativity, and a lot of snacks. I could go on about the instructions of the game because they are so vast, but for this post I’ll just focus on the hardest role: Dungeon Master. Being a Dungeon Master requires loads of preparation, understanding of the game, and the willingness to let go of the story that took you months to plan. However, all the effort can be worth it.

Here are some tips on being a Dungeon Master:

  • Steal! Steal! Steal! No, I’m not saying to rob a bank or anything that drastic. If you are stuck trying to come up with a campaign plot, just steal the storyline from one of your favorite books or movies, then add your own little flavor to it, and you have an interesting game. But there are other options too, like pre-made campaigns that you can just read and follow. There are so many books sold at boardgame stores and even more stories online, so take a whack at it!
  • Let go of your story if it holds the other players back. Although you may have taken months to plan out your campaign, the players will find some way to drive the story off course. It may aggravate you, but your goal is to let the players have fun. When the players are having fun, you will too. Go along with their shenanigans because you will have the most interesting, exciting moments exactly because their reckless, impulsive behavior.
  • Have a plan. And after that plan, have plan #2. The players may completely stray from the path you laid out for them, so make sure you have a list of random names for villagers, landmarks, and towns. Sometimes you will create a random NPC (Non-player character) right on the spot, and they may become an important character later on. Write the skeleton of the adventure before it starts, write during the game, and even write after the game if you want to add on.
  • Listen to or watch other people’s campaigns. My intial start with D&D was through a podcast called The Adventure Zone, which showcases three brothers and their father going on a hilarious, captivating adventure. I have also been inspired by voice actor and brilliant DM Matthew Mercer, who has a playlist of videos of him giving tips for DMing. There are millions of resources for dungeon masters and players alike, so do check them out.

Down below are character designs of some NPCS I created for my campaign. I based the old lady, Lanh, off of my Vietnamese grandmother and did many illustration studies on elderly women. There is also one image of Bonnie, who is a sad, halfling paladin, and it took me many trials and errors to figure out her appearance.

Hopefully you find a group of nerdy friends who are willing to play, and have loads of fun! Create cool, funny characters like my friends and I did, and go fight some dragons!