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u/stevensydan · 3 pointsr/DMAcademy

I just ran my first session as a new DM with LMoP last week! I'll jot down my experience running a group of 4 beginners. (so take my advice with a grain of salt as a beginner that has not finished the campaign)

First, read through the books in the Starter Set! (If you can afford the Player's Handbook, that is a good idea as well.) I highly recommend going through the rulebook (or Basic Rules) then at least skimming through the entire LMoP module. You don't have to memorize everything but as a DM it is important to have the idea of the setting in your head.

For combat, you have to decide if you are going to run "Theater of the Mind" or battlemat+miniatures for combat. Theater of the Mind is more flexible and requires less preparation but battlemats give great visuals at a cost of preparation and supply.

Then you have to decide if you think your players would want to make their own characters or not. For my beginner group, I decided that they would be a lot more invested/excited if they could identify with their own creation so I chose to not use the pre-generated character sheets. Once you are comfortable with the rules of D&D enough, set a date to meet with your group.

Since we had to make characters, I held a Session 0 to introduce the basic concept of what to expect in committing to D&D as well as character creation. I highly suggest making characters together a separate day before Session 1 because it usually takes a decent amount of time for the first time (3ish hours for me).

My Session 0 looked like this:

  • Introduction to D&D

  • Explaining all races, classes, backgrounds and letting them pick

  • Giving character sheets, rolling stats

  • Guiding them through the char sheet by referencing DNDBeyond for background/race/class bonuses

    After everyone was done, I let them take home the character sheet and work on character appearance, personality, and background story.

    The week after, we had Session 1. Make sure you actually read through the LMoP module in depth, at least up to Part 1-2 beforehand. I also decided to take some elements of this supplement Part 0 for LMoP to use as a tutorial for my players. Then, begin your adventure! My party took a lot longer than I expected and only got to the entrance of the Cragmaw Hideout after 3 hours.

    Good luck to your campaign, I'm looking forward to my second session!


    Some recommended guides I used:

  • Matt Mercer tips (all DM's love this man)

  • Don't Stop Thinking guides (great graphic visuals and in-depth coverage)

  • Matt Colville tips (gives a good idea of how D&D should look like at an advanced level)

  • DungeonDudes (channel that covers good topics)

  • DNDBeyond (amazing website for the Basic Rules, classes, and races)

  • OneCritWonder LMoP tips (helpful overview of the module)

  • LMoP enemies (generator that adapts to how many players you have)

    Supplies I personally prepared (BUT ARE OPTIONAL):

  • Beginner dice (shared with my beginners, they are planning to get their own sets soon)

  • Custom character sheets (a bit overwhelming at first but I find helpful for each class)

  • Spell cards (I don't think many people use these but I find it an amazing resource to give your players if they are spellcasters)

  • Battlemat (use with Wet-Erase markers)

  • Paper minis (dedication and time required, can use coins, legos, or anything instead or even real miniatures if you can afford it)

  • DM Screen (the official and most standard and affordable screen)
u/notaballoon · 2 pointsr/DMAcademy

I'm going to try to be more detailed than is strictly necessary in an attempt to cover all the bases, so apologies if I cover something that seems obvious to you, since I'm not sure what does and does not!

The main responsibility of the DM is to prepare and "run" a single, or series of adventures, either written by themselves or someone else. Most pre-written adventures have some background on exactly what to do when running it (information to pass along to the players, boxed text to read, etc.), and writing your own adventure is a bit daunting, so I'd recommend starting with a pre-written one.

That might be what you mean when you say "Adventurer's League Campaign Book," but I'm not sure: is this a published hardcover? What is it's title?

If you DON'T have a pre-published adventure and are looking to select one:

Lost Mines of Phandelver is the adventure that comes with the starter set, and is widely regarded as a good starting point for both new players and DMs. It also has the advantage of having all monster stat blocks included. I personally like any of the Places by the Way series by Douglas Sun (particularly Treasure on the Rocks and Secret of Oyster Cove, which form something of a pair), which are smaller and can transition into other adventures with relative ease, though these require the monster manual (though they are almost certainly workable with basic rules monsters with a bit of adjustment)

The official hardcovers are sort of a mixed bag. Waterdeep Dragon Heist and Ghosts of Saltmarsh are both geared towards being "starter set" type adventures, whereas Out of The Abyss or Storm King's Thunder are quite advanced. I believe also that at least some of these require the Monster Manual.

You can obtain any or all of these by going on This is Wizards DrivethruRPG storefront, where every DnD module is available for purchase as a PDF. You can also browse around for other introductory modules for characters level 1-5, though make sure you are buying 5th edition products (as previous editions don't work with newer rules without a great deal of adjustment). Some homebrewed modules are even Pay What You Want, if money is an issue, though I cannot speak to the quality of these

Either way, you should read through your chosen adventure. If you don't feel like reading it through cover to cover, don't. But in either case, read through the first few "encounters": these are usually indicated by numbers in prewritten adventures. Try to read through about 8 or so, though this will almost certainly be far more than you will get through your first session. Familiarize yourself with the monsters and NPCs contained therein and devote a little time to thinking how exactly the encounter will go, what moves the enemies have, etc. This is more for mental preparation than anything else.

After that, it's up to how you personally organize your thoughts. I personally am not a note-taker: when I prep a prewritten adventure, I usually don't take notes beyond post its to help me find pages or references, or occasionaly redrawing maps for use on a battle map. Some people like to copy almost the whole book onto a separate sheet. Find what works for you. Just do whatever it takes to feel like you "know" the adventure, so that when your players inevitably do something the adventure doesn't predict, you can roll with it.

If you are dead set on writing your own adventure, I recommend starting with the formula detailed in Matt Colville's Running the Game series: a low level monster gang, headed by a slightly higher level monster, has stolen something precious from town, and it is up to your players' characters to retrieve it. That will be enough for a first session.

Beyond prepping the adventure, make sure to come prepared just for the game. Bring pencils, a notebook (and graph paper), index cards, and post its. A DM screen is a very popular accessory, used to hide notes and secret dice rolls from the players, though it is by no means mandatory. You can make one yourself out of binders or folders if you don't want to purchase an additional product. Despite our protestations, the DM often has a secondary duty to "manage" the table. That means you should bring extra pencils, extra dice, a copy of the rules (ensuring there's at least one copy at the table), because someone will forget them.

If you want to do gridded combat, you'll need some kind of battle-mat, with 1" squares or hexes. This can be a printed sheet of paper or a product like this. You will also need miniatures or tokens to represent your characters and NPCs. These can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. I use disks of foamcore posterboard, a handful of molded plastic minis, and M&Ms for NPCs. Gridded combat is by no means mandatory, so if you're not comfortable with it, feel free to leave these for a different day.

Familiarize yourself with the rules. All players should know the rules, but you act as the "referee" in cases where the rules are unclear or no one can be bothered to look them up. So it behooves you to know the rules at least as well as the player who knows them best.

Check your player's character sheets to ensure they created them correctly. If your players rolled for ability scores out of your sight, consider either making them use the point buy system, or making them reroll the characters together at the table (for some reason, rolling ability scores ahead of time tempts even the purest hearts, and they come with a character with two 17s and nothing below 10 on their sheet). This will be your first "ruling" as a DM: if a player complains, gently remind them that it is your responsibility to ensure the rules are enforced consistently and fairly, and to that end character creation is your choice to make, and that they gave you this power when they asked you to be DM.

Finally, have fun.

u/DefinitelyMike · 5 pointsr/DMAcademy

< Am a teacher:

First go to your principal and see what the school needs. Normally there is a process to get a new club started but since this was already a club it shouldn't be as hard. A lot of schools need a supervising teacher etc, etc, etc. If you ask the principal to send out an email there's a chance that one of the teachers in your building is already into dnd and can help you out.


to answer your specific questions:


  1. it really depends on how well you advertise/the specific kids at your school. If you can get 1-3 5 player campaigns to start that would be awesome. On that note, try and introduce them to some of your favorite dnd stuff. Critical roll highlights can hook a lot of people for example. And make sure to advertise for your club really well the first week; posters, announcements, fb(or w/e social media you're using), the whole schebang.


  1. a lot of dnd can be run without the books. There are free downloadable and legal pdfs available online that cover phb basic rules. its enough to get newbies started at the very least. In addition to this, monster and item stats are pretty reliably found by typing "5e dnd [monster]" into google. I would have 1 actual phb,mhm,and dmg available for reference. The school or possibly the supervising teacher might be able to help you front some of the $. The big one that would be helpful to have would be a couple preplanned adventures if your dm's don't want to homebrew. again the internet can be a great resource, or buy a couple of them if you have a way to get some start up $.


  2. The most important thing (imo) is to be realistic about what you can do each session. i imagine after school clubs run like 1.5 hours? If that is the case then you need to have a specific goal for each of your first few meetings. In addition to this, make sure you give people something to do, even if only for a couple minutes, in your beginning sessions. let them roll up a character (or start to). If you are teaching rules, have a mock battle set up and let people control a pre-made basic charecters, etc.


    sorry for the long post, but i really hope you can set this up and have some luck doing it.

    i linked cheap dice(10$ for 5 sets) and the downloadable phb

u/calyphon · 2 pointsr/DMAcademy

I don't have any experience DMing for young players, grain of salt and all that.


I would definitely recommend using spell cards.



You could simplify casting rules by letting the players cast each of their spells once per encounter. Explain that playing a spell card takes it away for a while. Level 1 Wizard with 6 spells? Make 6 spell cards, and tell the player that after using one of those cards, they have to flip it upside down. You could even let them flip up a previously cast spell card as a reward for doing something in the game. I imagine seeing the cards right in front of the player, seeing them be turned up and down, would help a lot with visualizing resource management, which even for adult players can be overwhelming.


You could also use a spell points system. There are a couple of ways to do it, but you basically say that instead of having x number of Level 1 slots and y number of Level 2 slots, you instead have x(1)+y(2) total "points" to spend on spells. You can represent points with poker chips or costume jewels or something. If a player has access to spells of both levels, show them how the "more expensive" (Level 2) spell costs 2 points or gems or chips, while the less expensive one (Level 1) costs 1. If these kids play video games this singular resource pool can be thought of as a mana/energy bar, rather than an abstract number of different size slots.


If its a short campaign and the rules are being used in a more cinematic sense rather than for gritty balancing purposes, I'm sure anything you choose will work just fine. The main reason balance matters is so one player doesn't feel significantly less impactful upon the action than the others. I think it'll be fine to do away with strict slots if you make sure to let each player have a moment in the spotlight, and reward any creativity (which, based on your post, I'm sure will not be a problem for you).


Spell slots are limited in number because they unbalance things in the favor of the caster, especially when compared to a low level ranger or fighter making a single attack per turn. Try to let the martial classes do something a bit out of the box or extraordinary whenever they think of it, to help them keep up with the wizard casting Burning Hands or Sleep every round.


TL;DR- The spirit of the game is more important than the rules, so just make sure each player gets something cool to do and the rules won't matter so much.

u/Shylocv · 11 pointsr/DMAcademy

100% watch the Matt Colville series sticked at the top. The first few walk you through making a simple adventure and the hooks for such but I would recommend (as does he) using a module, in particular, the Starter Set that you can get for about $13.

The included module The Lost Mine of Phandelver is an excellent starting point. Even if you decide not to run the module itself, the town of Phandalin is an excellent starting town to repurpose and reskin. The easiest way to make content on the fly is have modules and pre-made things like this that you can adapt to your setting.

As far as improvising goes, it takes some time to develop those muscles. When you have a solid outline ready like that in the module, it's easier to improvise because you have context and a backbone to pull from. In that module there is a patrol of Hobgoblins that can appear at a certain point but if your players wander off track or get stuck with what to do, suddenly they hear the unmistakable sounds of a rowdy warband crashing through the woods filled with the whoops and excitement of victory. Never be afraid to move things around. You know the map and where they should be but the players don't. If they miss a big, fun encounter, pivot it around and put it somewhere else.

Nothing I just said isn't covered in Colville's videos, I really recommend them.

u/dtwithpp · 3 pointsr/DMAcademy

The Angry GM did a very good article recently on metagaming. (If you're unfamiliar with Angry, he has a very different style than most gaming writers. If you're able to get past his "f&%$s" and "s@#&s," you'll find some very well researched and reasoned advice, and some good humor as well.)

I've been actively DMing for about four or five months now, and one of my players is the group's original DM and a DM for a Roll20 group. She uses the more prevalent definition of "metagaming," while I use Angry's, and it's been an interesting transition in the group.

Essentially, if the players are able to come to the correct conclusion about a major part of the storyline, while circumventing all of the deflections and delays I had put in their path (as happened recently), I don't see any reason to punish that. I rewarded that player with additional XP for clever thinking, even if I had to jump well passed what I had planned. If the bard knows a monster's weakness, they probably heard about it in some ballad. If one player acts on information on another player that they haven't formally discussed in character at the table, well, they've been traveling together for the better part of a year in game; the characters must have talked about it in the would-be-boring travel scenes that I gloss over.

As far as the monster inventory situation is concerned, I recommend getting some Pathfinder Pawns (I've linked to the two boxes I have on Amazon). They let you surprise your players with a huge variety of them. If you go on Paizo's website, you can buy printable versions for cheaper. The art is pretty good, and it's hard to beat the variety you get for your dollar.

In the end, everyone has a different playing style. I prefer to resolve differences when I can. Encourage some frank, open discussion at the table and away from it. If you can't resolve your different styles with your roommate, it might be best if they don't continue with the group. The overall group's fun level is really the deciding factor.

u/sam4246 · 8 pointsr/DMAcademy

For initiative tracking, Improved Initiative and Kobold Fight Club are great resources. They do initative, round number, HP, AC, everything at a quick glance. They work on mobile, though I would suggest using either a tablet or laptop.

Another thing I did was simply have all the characters and monsters written on small pieces of paper and I would hand those on my DM screen. The page on the left is whose turn it is, after they go I just move it to the right.

It's really good to have something physical and simple. For something really nice and useful, you could pick up the Paizo Combat Pad is fantastic, or you can be cheap like me and get a magnetic whiteboard and some permanent markers to make the lines.

For your questions, it all comes down to how the other guy put it. How detailed do you want to be. In Q2 you mentioned not being able to carry a loaded crossbow, but loading isn't part of the action, its part of the attack, meaning that it doesn't really matter in gameplay terms, just in terms of how descriptive you want to be.

As for loot. LMoP is where I started as well, and it's great. I do suggest to try and not use it like "This is how the adventure is" and rather as a guide for how you could run the adventure. Add your own flare to it. The book might not be saying that the goblins have loot on them, but if you want them to have a couple coppers, or maybe they kept some gold when they ambushed Gundren and Sildar, there's nothing wrong with that. At the same time, if you don't think these guys would have anything on them, then they don't.

I am also a relatively new DM who's gone through many of the things I'm sure you will, and quite recently. If you have any questions about LMoP, basic rules, or just looking for suggestions, feel free to send me a DM. Good luck!

u/funandgames51 · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

I make battle maps because I find that stuff fun - but you can make very simple ones!

I use this paper - it comes out to <50c per map.

Though you could just use butcher paper and a wooden dowel with one inch marks on it for for every 5 feet - that's what I'm doing after I run out of the grid Paper.

For city maps, I use this method.

Again, I spend more time with it because I like to, but less so when I too am pressed for time. You could likely make them very simple, and they would still look good and make sense.

I can post a few pictures of some of my town and battle maps when I get back if you're interested.

I tried to use premade maps to print initially, but it was both very expensive and hard to see. Again, I can post pics later if you want.

I'm trying to get my best friend into DMing, and I've encouraged him to look into these, which are available in many sizes. Wet erase marker for 30 seconds, bam a battle mat.

If you want something in the same vein that's a little more hardcore, there's these, which I may get if I run a less serious campaign in the future.

There's also Matt Coville's video onterrain that is very helpful. All of the stuff he puts out is, really.

Hope that helps!

u/CitizenKazr · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

Paizo's Bestiary box for Pathfinder has 250+ unique creatures in, and I think a little over 300 total. Almost all of the creatures are found directly in the DnD 5e Monster Manual. It is a little bit of an expenditure but 35~ bucks for a solid base of creatures to build off of is worth it in my opinion.

Printable Heroes is an awesome option as well.

Reaper Bones are gonna be just about the cheapest plastic minis you can buy that are still good quality. Their bases are not based on 1" diameters however so be aware.

Hero Forge is an awesome mini designing website for when you need a truly amazing, customized mini to add oomph to your campaign.

u/rabid_scotsman · 6 pointsr/DMAcademy

I really recommend using paper minis if you're on a tight budget. If you have access to photoshop then they are incredibly easy to make from any image you can find for free on google. If not then Printable Heroes is a great resource for cool looking minis. You can contribute a small amount and get access to a ton of them but there are also a bunch of free ones here.

They don’t take long to put together, either. This video shows you the best way to assemble them. I would also ad that I use 3/4 inch binder clips for the base as they fit perfectly on the grid and are a bit cheaper than buying bases.

I also really recommend a Chessex Battle Mat in whatever size you think works for your game. Make sure you also buy wet erase markers as dry erase will seep into these maps and become permanent markings.

As far as landscapes go, I just draw any features of the map that can be seen on the ground on my map. I've never tried it but there are printable folding paper environments that you can make and use. I don't because I don't like having an obstructed view for me or the players.

I hope that helped!

u/ImpKing_DownUnder · 2 pointsr/DMAcademy

I used 1"x1" paper squares I cut out myself with numbers on them at first. Then when I had some money, I bought the Pathfinder Pawns for minis. I use them for 5e so they don't match up perfectly, but it's enough to just tell my players "This is X monster" or whatever. Someone else is probably going to mention this too, but if you want miniatures for characters or whatever, boardgames like Talisman or the DnD ones are your best bet for cheap-ish minis. You get a bunch (For example, Talisman comes with ~14 minis your players can use) for relatively less than you'd pay to get them individually.

Maps wise, if you have access to Photoshop (never used GIMP) you can make grid lines overlay on whatever you draw. You can also find these online or in stores. 1" square graph paper is good if you don't want to buy a Chessex Battlemat, though I'd highly recommend it and some wet-erase markers. Those things last for years and they're super useful if you don't mind wiping off the map a few times a session.

u/DerFalscher · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

One dice set for each player is a great idea. You can actually find decent dice lot for a reasonable price. Sharing dice set is a pain and slows down the pace. Plus, the bag I linked has actually 20 sets, so you can actually lend or give your players more than one (that helps for when you need to roll more than one of a certain type of die).


Miniatures, as stated by others are a question of preference. Depending on system, I either use the theater of the mind (this is great, even the best with creative players) alone or, for when it is more tactical, I use tokens. For years I used chess pieces as tokens for both heroes and foes. It is only recently that I switched to paper mini (I made them stand with binder clips), and am moving slowly to real miniatures that I paint as I feel it is more immersive. Although using tokens of any kind will put you in need of some sort of playing mat. You could easily print 1 inch squares on paper, use a chess board (it's too little to my taste). If your family gets hooked, you can invest in a playing mat later on.


What you might or might not need is this tip: don't forget it is your (as in your family and you) game, and fun is the purpose. If you are ever in a position you are not certain about a rule, don't pause the game to search it. Improvise. If it is at players' advantage all the better. They don't feel cheated this way and you can always add a lurking goblins if you feel the need to tip the scale a bit. They will never know you added them because you will never tell them (game masters have to keep those illusions!).

u/MacabreMelon · 5 pointsr/DMAcademy

Paper options:

Gaming Paper has a lot of good options that are pretty affordable. I prefer their rolls that look like wrapping paper but they also have tiles, though I've never used them.

Easel Pads are more expensive but might fit your needs.

Other options:

Chessex Battlemaps are great. The maps are made of vinyl so they're portable. I bring one to game nights with water-soluble markers.

If you don't mind a project and don't plan on transporting your surface, dry erase wall paneling can be wonderful. If you trust yourself with a straight-edge and a box cutter, you can carve a 1 inch grid on the surface. I did this once before and it worked fine; I stored the board behind the couch and set it atop the coffee table for games.

u/ConfederacyOfGaia · 3 pointsr/DMAcademy

I played 1e and 2e for many years, and every group I was in always used theater of the mind. When I returned to D&D a year ago, the group I was playing with used a battle mat and minis and it was a revelation for me: I really like being able to see where all the creatures are, and having a good set of wet-erase markers means we can draw anything we need to on the mat. When I started DMing again, I bought a battle mat and a set of markers and it makes things very easy, especially for younger players (one of my groups is 4 11-year-olds). Being able to make a custom mini (using something like HeroForge) means that everyone can get a mini that really expresses their character concept, which helps people get invested in the game. Also, Lego minifigures are almost exactly the right size, which is awesome, and you can print your minis on paper as well (better for monsters, IMO).

Having said all that, Sly Flourish has a really good guide to Theater of the Mind combat and there's a lot to recommend it.

u/kpazzh0ly · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

I agree. I have played 2e, 3rd, pathfinder, 4e and 5e. Plus some other games. And 5e is most user friendly.

I'd also recommend starting out with a premade module. I have not played it but everyone says lost mines of phandelver are a real favorite. And the starter set is really good deal:

Your idea for session 0 is a great way to start out with new players. Get a feel for what they want and just because you use a premade quest doesn't mean you can't tweak things for the entertainment of your group.

u/schmophy · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

I'd recommend getting the D&D starter set and finding a couple friends that would like to try it out with you. Read the advice in the starter set, look at the other comments in this thread, and maybe check out Matt Colville's running the game series to get ideas, but don't worry if you can't effectively implement their ideas at the very start: Your players have probably never seen or played D&D before, so they aren't comparing you to anything.

In my first D&D game, we had to restart the first combat twice before we interpreted the rules well enough to make it anywhere near fair. The DM told me all the secrets that most DM's would keep to themselves, and was figuring out the rules at the same time I was, but despite his inexperience, the game was amazing.

Here's the link to the starter set on amazon:

You can use these free basic rules from the company that makes D&D to start designing your own adventures once you finish the one in the starter set:

u/LadyVanya · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

Check these out. They're a great for noobs learning to play. It's simpler and needs no DM. Great way to get your feet wet and learn the basic mechanics. I took one when i deployed and used it introduce new players to the game.

If you still want to dm, these are great supplies to get started: (i highly suggest you get this) (i find these really helpful)

Also, check out your local gaming store. They are a great resource. Also ask about Pathfinder, which was created based off of D&D

u/HeckinChonkr · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

The dice linked will be good enough as each person will probably have two sets and you can roll and add up but if you need to make large rolls I use a dice rolling app named “Dice Ex Machina” it’s on IOS and I believe android and google store.

Regarding minis the 2d cutouts are quite nice and easy to use there is also a kinda blandish minifigure collection

SCS Direct Fantasy Creatures Action Figure Playset - 90pc Monster Battle Toy Collection (Includes Dragons, Wizards, Orcs, and More) - Perfect for Roleplaying and D&D Gaming

And the cutouts

Pathfinder Pawns: Bestiary Box

The mats you’re talking about sound great, I would probably just buy those

And the monster stats can be found on the website I linked, they can be printed or just used from the site and I would go out and got a pack of coloured markers to draw on the mats

This website has almost all monster and spell stats

u/KarLorian · 4 pointsr/DMAcademy

OK, a lot of your DM's process is HEAVILY modified home rules / hacks / I don't even know what...

As a first time DM, I highly recommend that you play as closely by the rules as you can until you have a few campaigns under your belt. You can get the Basic Rules for 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons for FREE FROM HERE that should be enough to get you going until you can get the rule books. I would suggest to first getting the Players Handbook, then the Monster Manual, then the Dungeon Masters Guide if you have to break up your purchases. Another option is the 5th Edition Starter's Set which also includes many of the Basic Rules, as well as a fully written campaign for character levels 1-4.

Some of the thoughts you have about giving each race different stat bonuses along with features or traits are already in the rules.

Regardless, keep at it and keep asking questions!

u/Kisho761 · 2 pointsr/DMAcademy

I started DMing fairly recently as well, and like you I tried to find some quick reference guides to keep things rolling smoothly. I typed up some stuff, printed it out, had it nearby...

And found I didn't need it. The game is exceptionally deep and complex, but surprisingly accessible. So long as your character sheets are correct then they'll tell you the most important info, you won't need to worry about calculating stuff on the fly. Just ask for relevant checks and make sure your players know what modifier to add (this is where character sheets being correct helps!).

It may be helpful to have a reference of what can be done in someone's turn in combat, but even then when starting out people will just move & attack. I wouldn't worry too much about doing anything else, unless your players ask about it.

The most important thing is being able to improvise. Go with the flow, be flexible, and learn to say 'yes, and...' (unless what they want to do breaks your game).

If you really want a quick reference, then the official DM screen from Wizards has a bunch of useful info on the inside of it:

u/xspartanzx · 6 pointsr/DMAcademy

I recommend this book. It makes life a lot easier and focuses your time to what really matters

I used to spend hours upon hours making maps, fleshing out everything, etc. Two things happened:

  1. I noticed that I kept guiding my PCs toward what I built because I spent so much time on it. My PCs never said anything, but I noticed, and I consider railroading a cardinal sin.
  2. I was getting burnt out. What about this? How do I best balance that? What monster is best here? What 5000 ways will my PCs approach a situation, and how can I anticipate them all? It was to the point that my creativity froze and I couldn't decide on any path. When I let go and let the story tell itself, then it became fun again and my creativity came back.

    Here's the main points of being a great DM:

  • The most important thing to flesh out in your game is the NPCs. Encounters come, go, and can be morphed. Your NPCs are the lifeblood of the game. But you don't need to spend too much time...what's their connection to the story? How would they react to the PCs? What are their goals?
  • Keep your PCs the focus of your stories (they went and killed Lord BadGuy instead of helping an NPC. How does that affect their world? How will that NPC react to them next time? Did killing Lord BadGuy put a bounty on their heads?)
  • Be flexible with your story/plot and the encounters (you wanted them to fight a group of thugs in a barracks but they went into the forest? Okay, now they're fighting wolves in an abandoned castle).
  • Don't flesh out the story. You should know where they start and places they may go. Let the players fill in the rest.
  • To that point, only prepare for the upcoming session. You never know when the story will spin in a totally different direction
  • Leave plot hooks like they're walking through a meat factory
  • Only spend significant time designing an encounter if it's inevitable. To stop the terrorizing of the town they are determined to kill the dragon. Okay, spend time fleshing out your encounter
  • D&D needs to be fun for you AND the PCs! It should be a rewarding hobby. Make sure it stays that way!
u/hm_joker · 2 pointsr/DMAcademy

The Chessex Wet Erase mat is the one I use and all my DM friends use (in various sizes). that being said, you'll want a pack of these bad boys, because the fine point really does help.

For minis, they're pretty expensive off that bat so everyone advises to buy them slowly as you need them. Reaper bones have a lot of cheaper mini sets for starting out which are great. Personally I buy a few of the most common enemy and the main bad guy for each campaign. A good and cheaper alternative are pawns that you can use while you build your collection. Or, just print small pictures of monsters and tape them to a coin or washer to make fast minis that have colored pictures.

For cheap/fast 2d terrain, check out papercraft. A lot of people fold and draw on paper or cardboard to make terrain, or you can print out pictures of stuff and add it to terrain. Here is an example from u/cardboard-DM (who makes awesome stuff).

Best of luck!

u/Snozzberrys · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

If you're ok with Paper minis then Printable Heroes are the best cheap solution that I've found.

I usually print them onto cardstock, cut out the silhouettes and "laminate" them with clear packing tape. They're not as great as plastic minis but they are considerably cheaper and still less labor intensive than unpainted minis, plus you get to pick which monsters and how many you need.

Paizo's Pathfinder Pawns are also pretty good. They're technically for Pathfinder, not D&D but the styles of the monsters are similar enough that it usually doesn't matter and the pawns are really nice for cardboard minis.

u/gcThrizzle · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

I would suggest the D&D 5e starter set.

It's got very clear instructions for DMs about what they can typically expect and how to run the encounters. It has all the content you need for all of you to be able to play the game even without the core books. And, it's an actually fun adventure that has a wide variety of challenges and NPCs.

The starter set ends around level 4 or 5 which means you'd be perfectly set up to start most of the other printed books from WoTC afterwards like the recent Storm King's Thunder.

u/supersmashandy · 4 pointsr/DMAcademy
  1. Book coverage: Waterdeep is a lot like a broad template at times - like reading the Wikipedia recap of a TV episode. Many aspects are fully fleshed out. Others say "The players are tasked with finding three bandits who stole a necklace" and then you just have to figure that out yourself. Get ready to improv!

  2. I would only consider doing voices if you think you have 30+ unique voices in you already. Otherwise, they'll all sound mostly the same, and your players may get confused. Learn a few of the most important characters (the main villains, vital NPCs, etc) and make a voice for them. For everyone else, generic fantasy British works most of the time!

  3. Buy one of these ( and a set of wet erase markers ( and never worry about battle maps again - unless you REALLY want to make unique and custom maps for every single thing the players see. I find that the flexibility of being able to quickly draw out a big rectangle with some trees and barrels on one of these maps for those encounters you couldn't have planned on outweighs the benefit of having a detailed battle map you custom-make for everything (unless you just have the time and money to do so!). The official Dungeon Tiles are also great, and you can lay them on top of the map I linked earlier. (

    Also, check out the official Waterdeep: Dragon Heist subreddit for an entire host of questions, answers and resources just for that book.
u/meat_bunny · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

Hey, finally something I can answer from personal experience.

I was in a similar boat where I didn't want to sink a bunch of money into the game for a projector until I was sure the campaign was going to last a while.

You can get set up for months for about $45. If this is a problem see if your players can chip in $5-$10 each or something.

One inch grid paper is your friend. You can get 27x34 sheets of it off Amazon for about 32 cents a sheet ($31.99 for 100 sheets )

For minis you can use paper as well. I recommend getting 1" binder clips and printing off your own minis. You can buy 144 of these off of Amazon for $11

I used Publisher, but there's a free version called Libre Office Draw. Make a bunch of 3x1 squares in it on an normal sheet of paper and put in images from Google for all of your monsters. You'll want to make them double-sided so the paper sticks up (One row right side down and the other right side up).

You can fit a lot on one sheet of paper. Then print them off either at home, work/school if they allow it, or do it at a print store for less than a dollar.

Let me know if you have any questions.

u/darthbone · 3 pointsr/DMAcademy

I would say go for a Grid and markers. You're looking at $30 from a FLGS, tops.

Then I suggest maybe having your PC's look at the Reaper Bones and Wizkids miniatures. Nolzur's Marvelous Miniatures has a TON of different Player Character minis to pick from, and they're great. Reaper Bones does as well.

Have everyone get their own mini. That's <$5 per person.

Then just use tokens.

If you decide you want to expand your portfolio a bit, consider getting the Pathfinder Pawns boxes. You'll get ~300 heavy cardboard minis of a wide array of monsters.

u/HereForInspiration · 3 pointsr/DMAcademy

This is an awesome surprise, he's going to love it.

The Essentials Kit has everything you need and is like $16 on Amazon. It has rules for just one DM and one player (sidekick rules), a map, complete adventure, magical item and quest cards, etc.

u/MartianForce · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

Session 0 is usually NOT playing the game. Not sure if you are asking how to start your campaign or what to do for a traditional session 0. A typical session 0 covers much of what is on this thread here. Lots of great info there.


Mainly the session 0 helps get you and the players on the same page across many areas, including when/where/how often to meet, house rules (such as do you allow characters to attack each other/steal from each other), tone of your game (more following the rules less goofy cut uppery), getting familiar with everyone if people are new to each other, answering questions, if you have evil characters how you handle that type of campaign, frequently either creating characters or polishing already started characters or starting characters that will be finished in a second session 0 or at home, and so on.

Another thing you can discuss that I didn't see mentioned in many of the session 0 threads that have been mentioned lately is finding out which players have their own Player's Handbook. Anyone who has one should be encouraged to bring it and it would help if that was communicated BEFORE the session 0. Helps if there are at least a couple. If no one has one, make a copy of the Basic rules available if possible.

Also, although this is absolutely NOT necessary, you might consider buying dice to share with them. Whenever I start a new campaign I buy all of my players a set of dice as a gift. They can be pretty cheap. Like these:

u/PriorProject · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

Pretty much everyone, including me, recommend the Starter Set which comes with LMoP (Lost Mines of Phandelver). It's designed for first time DMs, which means it has extra explanation suggesting how to run the encounters and is fleshed out in more detail than most adventures. It's also a little bit more linear than most adventures... But has a good open-world section in the middle where the party is traveling where they choose sniffing up clues on the location of the penultimate dungeon and generally finding trouble along the way.

If this is to be believed, it's $10 on Amazon right now:

Usually I'd expect it to go for $20+, I think? I'm not sure.

The only caveat is that it's level 1-5, so if you're levelled up and don't want to restart you'll have to rescale all the loot/encounters which is half the prep you're trying to avoid. I recommend not doing that. Transition if you're level 1 or 2, reset if higher... Or pick another adventure. Skim the synopsis of some adventures on the WotC site, check reviews quick, and pick one. They're mostly decent.

u/MrFunsocks1 · 2 pointsr/DMAcademy

My DMing system:

Step 1) Download GIMP (free)

Step 2) Make a grid of 1-inch circles that you can print out with pictures in them (I can send you the file I use)

Step 3) Buy one of these 1-inch hole punches (or use scissors), super glue, and 1-inch washers (grand total of maybe 15-30 bucks?)

Step 4) Print out tokens, cut them out, and superglue them to washers. You can also add numbers, and make the tokens double sided for a "bloodied" condition for monsters. Works out to like 5 cents per token, and a bit of time.

Step 5) Buy one of these pads of grid paper. Can shop around for a good price, can draw multiple maps on one sheet if they're small, use pencil so you can get multiple uses out of it, or just play on a grid. Also lets you draw on the fly, or take a piece of paper and pre-prepare a map before the session.


Total cost should be less than 50$ for months of play. You can also buy different sized washers for small, large, or huge tokens, and they make hex grid paper as well. For fancy tokens (I do it for players and recurring NPCs) you can print on high quality photo paper, or laminate the page before cutting, or just put packing tape over the token.

u/chazbamfvonbagg · 10 pointsr/DMAcademy

If you’re looking for low cost I would recommend reaper bones or wizkids deep cuts/nolzurs marvelus miniatures. Depending on the size /set it’ll run you $4-$100. $4 being an individual Meduim sized mini $100 being a boxed set of a lot of them or a single large set piece like a huge dragon. Both of these options are unpainted and you should be able to find whatever you’re looking for. If you just want best bang for your buck I would recommend pathfinder pawns they’re card stock minis and usually get a couple hundred for around $15-$40 depending on the set you get. Another option is to find board games that use minis like zombiecide or some of the d&d board games

u/MrChangg · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

There actually is a great battlemat you can buy

It's cheap, uses expo marker, cleans easily and double sided for dirt and stone terrain. It's pretty damn big and definitely big enough for a big dungeon crawl. You can just quickly doodle in terrain and what not AND if you've extra space, you can create multiple arenas on both sides if you're going theater of mind when it's not combat.

You don't have to be Michelangelo and paint the Sistine Chapel everytime. Tell your buddies that you're pretty butt at drawing and quickly doodle terrain and make sure you tell them what's what. Like what angular circle crap are rocks and the poofy clouds are trees.

u/Sparkasaurusmex · 2 pointsr/DMAcademy

Covering with paper works, but I like to use the small interlocking tiles and predraw the map on those, trying to get only seen areas on each tile. The 5" tiles work well because you don't have to draw a bunch of stuff they can't see yet.

I draw these ahead of time using a sharpie so it doesn't accidentally wipe off. When you want to clean sharpie from a dry erase just color over it with a dry erase marker and it will wipe clean, though you might need a spritz of alcohol to aid the cleaning, it usually isn't required.

u/GaiusOctavianAlerae · 5 pointsr/DMAcademy

Check out Running the Game, Matt Colville's YouTube series. You don't need to watch the whole series of course, but the first few videos will help you out a lot.

Your best bet if you're starting out is to get either the Starter Set or Essentials Kit. Both have everything you need to get started, and while I personally like the Essentials Kit more, either will work.

u/C1awed · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

I bought some of these dry-erase tiles, and 3d-printed some miniature stands. I then just print off cardboard minis when I need monsters. You can also use cardboard minis by making little triangles out of them and just folding.

I let my players decide what minis they want so long as they're about the right size - one of my players, for christmas, made custom lego minifigs. Minifigs are nice because they're just about the perfect size for a 1" grid system. Before that we used Legos, official D&D minis, warhammer minis - anything that's approximately that size works well, they don't have to be official.

I like the dry-erase because.... well, dry erase. I can draw out big dungeons beforehand on the tiles; they're double-sided, so I can put the "secret" side down and turn it over when appropriate. If I need to quickly draw something out, the dry erase is easy for that. I got a pack of colored markers and use different colors to indicate different things (Like black for walls, blue for water/ice, brown for furniture, purple for spell effects, etc). The tiles are easier to store and transport than a big mat, in my experience. You do have to be careful with the edges because they're a cardboard base, but I've had mine a couple years and they're still in good shape.

u/Ta2d_Kate · 9 pointsr/DMAcademy

This is a great resource for finding free/low-cost campaigns to run. You can also grab the Starter Set. It has a fantastic adventure (lvls 1-5), pre-made characters, and the basic rules. The Starter Set is a really good option if everyone involved is new to D&D and you don't already own any of the Core Rule Books.

u/sivra · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

I have a few flip mats and I am not a big fan. They fold instead of rolling up so they crease really bad. Because they are a laminated they don't ever seem to lay flat and the creases make lumps across the mat. My Favorite are the Battle Mats. They don't always like to lay flat either, but all it takes is something on each corner and they flatten out nice, and there are no creases. I also really like the tan color as its easy on the eyes and everything is easy to see.

u/maximillianx · 3 pointsr/DMAcademy

Go to Lowe's or Home Depot and pick up a sheet of plexiglass or other transparent sheet to put over it, that helps to deal with the overall flimsy nature of the paper.

Another person mentioned presentation paper - There are some pretty nice pads for about $40. I went to an educational supply store and got essentially the same type of thing for a better price per sheet.


u/Slaterius · 3 pointsr/DMAcademy

Matt Colville has some great tips for new players:

I would recommend picking up the Starter Set (not the "Essentials Kit" they recently released, which isn't as newbie friendly):

It has a set of dice, some starter characters and a mini adventure with a lot of good information.

u/HuckleberryPoundTown · 2 pointsr/DMAcademy

Don't overdo it. I'd save buying most stuff until you have a feel for how you want to actually run the game. Most of us have piles of unused crap we bought because it sounded good. It's really easy to get caught up in the ephemera and make a game that is way too daunting to new players.


I'd buy the starter set, some dice, notepads (assuming your kids are the type to take notes) and leave it at that. The only other thing I might consider would be a box of monster tokens, like this. There are tokens in there for everything in the manuals and plenty of options that can be used for player characters. I wouldn't worry about whiteboards, grids, playmats and such. Just treat the base as 5' and let your players 'hop' the pieces to count distance.

u/Curtofthehorde · 3 pointsr/DMAcademy

Play Lost Mines of Phandelver and go from there. It's a total spoon-fed adventure that's still plenty of fun for PCs and DMs alike. Grab the Starter Set for $12 and have fun!

u/veritascitor · 3 pointsr/DMAcademy

That’s a really neat idea. You’ll probably find that an Othello board is too small, though. An 8x8 grid doesn’t give you much room to maneuver.

One suggestion I have, if you’re willing to forgo minis and play more fast and loose is to get yourself a small portable whiteboard, and a cheap pack of dry erase crayons. I use this exact thing when I’m trying to travel light:

The crayons are great, as they wipe off easily but don’t accidentally smudge. Perfect for drawing out gridless situations and maps. The set is dirt cheap, too.

If you definitely want a grid, though, I’d suggest a Paizo flip-mat. They’re light, cheap, and laminated for use with dry erase markers. They fold down to a size smaller than the PHB, and very thin.

For cheap minis, I’ve seen folks get a lot of use out a plastic dollar store chess set, using the pieces to represent various PCs and monsters. Again, light and cheap.

u/Peacesquatch · 3 pointsr/DMAcademy

They sell these at most game shops and B&N bookstores. Different decks for different classes, and there's even one that combines all the melee abilities for non-casters. They're super helpful.

u/passwordistako · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

I found mine at the local gaming store but I live in a major city at the moment.

The one I use is the "Pathfinder Flip Mat Basic"

One of my mates just prints a 1'^2 grid on A4 and draws on them, and another buys 1'^2 grid butcher paper on a roll.

My option was more expensive in the outset, but I want to reduce my waste so I feel the erasable markers and a reusable mat are creating less waste than non-erasable markers and a disposable roll of mat.

As far as erasable mats go, I opted for the less sturdy of the two options in my store, but it is easier to erase, doesn't require a solvent to clean. There are thicker mats which roll up and can be erased with a gentle solvent, but I thought this was a better option for now.

u/gamerofthenorth · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

I use easel pads with 1” grids. I think I pay like $8.00 for them on amazon. They work great for me. here

u/chrisndc · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

I do it a bunch of different ways. If it's a map I am coming up with on the fly, I usually just quickly draw it on a battle mat or dry erase board.

Sometimes I use donjon (like you did) and then draw it out on one inch grid paper. I just cover undiscovered parts of the map with paper.

I just tried out 2.5d for a battle with a vampire, this isn't the video I used to build mine, but it will give you an idea of what I'm talking about.

I've also tried the method of cutting the map into rooms to lay out as the party moves forward. This method makes it more difficult for the party to know the layout of the dungeon, which can be fun.

It's all just trial and error, in my opinion! Have fun!

u/EpicArtifex · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

If you have literally zero funds then fair enough, but the starter set is extremely cheap on amazon and if all of you chipped in it would set you back barely anything. I believe it includes the basic rules and all rules necessary for running it, as well as some example premade characters for the lazy, and an adventure that takes you through levels 1-5.

I know some of the main books can be a pricey investment if you're unsure, but the starter set is cheap and, well... A good starter set.

u/Quincious · 5 pointsr/DMAcademy

I recently got these tiles as well, and they are a godsend. I was drawing the map as they went but this is way better. I am able to prepare my maps beforehand and not have to worry about trying to hide the unexplored bits. These are the ones I got. or you can get the bigger ones.

u/SilasMarsh · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

Ah, well that's a whole nother issue, and really depends on what tools you have available to you.

If all you have is a single grid mat, I'd suggest either draw the map as you go or draw the whole thing in advance, and cover up unexplored rooms with paper.

Personally, I only draw/build the rooms where a fight may occur using these or these, but you could use them to create the entire dungeon and just lay out rooms when the party gets to them.

u/SmootieFakk · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

Just get this.

You could get more sets of dice if you wanted, but that comes with one set that can just as easily be shared.

u/AnnieWeatherwax · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

This is the one we ordered BTW. More expensive than some, but the quality is amazing.

u/maladroitthief · 3 pointsr/DMAcademy

I used this battle mat

Amazon Link

Some rubber cement

Amazon Link

Also some kind of sanded particle board from Lowes/Home Depot. I can't remember what it was called, but 1/8" thick. At the time I was in college and had access to the school's laser table and was able to cut using that. I couldn't see why a table saw wouldn't work though.

I made all the tiles powers of two (Computer engineer, can't help it). If I remember it was like 1x1, 1x2, 1x4, 2x2, 2x4, 2x8, 4x4, 4x8, and 8x8 tiles. You can do any other sizes or increments, that's just what I am most comfortable with.

u/agentjenning · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

I was also in this boat recently, and I went with the Bestiary Box from Paizo. Basically, they're picture of monsters on sturdy cardboard that are held in these plastic holders. They feel a little cheap compared to actually 3D minis, but I feel they are the perfect balance between a large selection of monsters and affordability.

u/Rhodes_Warrior · 2 pointsr/DMAcademy

Brand new DM here. Currently running LMoP for 3 first-timers and 2 (barely) amateurs. Bought these for my party. $17 USD

Google “LMoP paper minis” for the enemies/villains. Use some common coins as and some Elmer’s Glue for a base. It honestly takes 2 hours (with breaks for beer and Reddit lol) to cut and paste once you assemble the materials.

Otherwise get a double sided battle mat, like $22 USD and some dry erase markers, $6 USD

Skip the party’s minis if you want to save some money. But the battle mat and markers can be used FOREVER.

u/EarthAllAlong · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

26x23.5 in

34.5x48 in

Make sure you get wet erase markers for these

As for terrain, you don't really need any to start...and its probably better if you didn't, because then you'll over-focus on that. But if you're a big craftsperson, check this guy out.

u/DimitriTheMad · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

Tales from the Yawning Portal is an absolutely awesome book IMO.
It's a collection of "famous" Dungeons from D&D history and has a dungeon for all levels!

Tales From the Yawning Portal Dungeons & Dragons

u/justanothersith · 6 pointsr/DMAcademy

I found the cheapest, yet still very nice solution are the Pathfinder tokens (monsters and NPCs). There so many to chose from, all in one box and very reasonably priced:

u/ThunderousOath · 4 pointsr/DMAcademy

The official DM Screen Reincarnated is probably your best goto at the moment for $10. However, I prefer Stratagem's Master's Tome 4-Panel for $20.

u/EvanMinn · 2 pointsr/DMAcademy

I was playing Out of the Abyss last year as a wizard and early on got a spell book or two. I had the spell cards you can buy and quickly had a big stack of cards.


But it wasn't game-breaking at all. You can only prepare a certain number of spells and I rarely changed which ones I prepared. Most of that stack was never used in the entire campaign.

u/blueyelie · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

I just got these: BattleMat

They are great! They also have different packs, some with 10x10 squares, some mixed 10x10 and 5x5. I just got the 36 5x5 squares. You can make BIG battle mats or even small little rooms, piece by piece as they adventure.

u/aaronil · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

I used to make my own DM screens using a customizable screen, but I really like the new DM's Screen Reincarnated. There's not one way to make a DM screen, so I'll share what I do...

I adapted the 4-panel landscape DM's Screen Reincarnated for my Tomb of Annihilation campaign, customizing with sticky tabs, and have periodically updated it to reflect what was most useful to me over a couple-session arc. Here are the current photos as the PCs spent 3 sessions exploring the lost city of Omu.

Customized cover/front

Trickster Gods & random weather

Trickster Gods

Random encounter table, random targeting & tracking max HP reduction due to night hags

PC stats-at-a-glance & exploration guidelines

u/kastronaut · 4 pointsr/DMAcademy

I highly recommend The Lazy Dungeon Master

As a DM you have a view of all of the elements of your game and how they tie together. Your players only ever experience the part that they touch in the course of play. What that means is you can have a relatively general idea of things, and then flesh them out when your players actually interact with them.

It’s about curating their perceptions. It’s illusion. It takes practice to do well, but you can do just ok and your players will still probably feel like you had it all planned out from the beginning.

You know what your players want to do. Let them drive the interactions and flesh out the details as they touch them. If they ask your NPC’s name, name her, otherwise don’t worry about it. If they’re going to see this NPC again, write down all of the details you give her.

u/thecrazing · 3 pointsr/DMAcademy

>Is homebrewing my own system just a bad idea?

Probably. I mean, if 'designing my own system' is the goal, go for it. But 'I'm designing my own system so as to lead towards this other goal that I want to achieve for my first time out', whatever that other goal is, it's probably a really horrible idea.

>Firstly, I wanted to try and homebrew my own simple version of the game, as a way to make it easier for all of us to get into it, and to save all the expenses of books and materials.

Since that's the goal, you're actually kind of already covered.

The free basic version of the rules is 100 pages of simple version of the game.

This is 17 bucks and basically gets you stuff already printed and some dice and an adventure. You'll have to share dice, but between that and and the thing I linked above you wouldn't necessarily even need to spend any more money for the lot of you, though you'll probably want to.

u/quigath · 2 pointsr/DMAcademy

I got some Dungeon Tiles. Very sweet for laying out any size dungeon.

u/Wonton-Potato · 3 pointsr/DMAcademy

I've got this one in two sizes

Chessex Role Playing Play Mat: MEGAMAT Double-Sided Reversible Mat for RPGs and Miniature Figure Games - 34 1/2in x 48in

u/Lord-Pancake · 2 pointsr/DMAcademy

Its not the same thing. There are TWO introductory box sets, so I can see where the confusion is from. The first and original is the DnD Starter Set which is this:

This was released quite some time ago and contains a cut down set of rules, pregenerated character sheets, dice, and the Lost Mines of Phandelver short campaign. The box as a whole is enough to run LMOP all by itself, and LMOP is regarded as a very high quality introductory campaign and is a huge amount of help to a new DM.

The DnD Essentials Kit is a new thing that released only this year:

This was created by request and in collaboration with a US retail company, as I understand, to basically fill what they saw as a gap in the market for people wanting to take the next step but without fully buying into all of the books, etc. Its very similar in design being a box containing a bunch of material to run a campaign (it has some extra bits over the original Starter Set such as including a cheap DM screen and cards for NPCs and items). The included campaign book is Dragon of Icespire Peak; which, as I understand it, is designed to be run either by itself or as a supplementary addition to Lost Mines of Phandelver.

From what I've read about it, however, and someone can correct me if this is wrong, DoIP isn't as good as a "coherent campaign" for new DMs as LMOP is. Because its really a series of loosely tied together mini adventures based on a kind of job board system. But I can't comment directly here because I don't have it.

u/valhyl · 3 pointsr/DMAcademy

This set is five sets for $10. It even comes with five dice bags. They look really nice and I can personally attest to their quality because I use them all the time.

u/cd83 · 3 pointsr/DMAcademy

I got one of these and I use it all the time. They're meant to be used with wet-erase markers. I usually just draw things out as the party explores. There's lots of ways to go about this, and these mats are highly reusable!

u/zandercs13 · 2 pointsr/DMAcademy

Consider getting a wet erase grid mat and some markers. They're cheap and work really well. Grab something cheap for monster tokens and you're all set. Maybe use an app for character sheets, there are plenty. I have a pdf of the 5e character sheet with editable fields if you want it.

I have this mat

u/Syrkres · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

WHen I play minis I use tactiles or similar. You basically lay out rooms and as you move along you just add to one side and remove from the other. I have enough tiles that I usually have 3-6 spare so can leave rooms on them until needed.

u/jdd321 · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

Pathfinder JUN132387 Flip-Mat: Basic Terrain Multi-Pack
(hopefully that works, not sure if there's a special way to post links)

u/glynstlln · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

I use battlemaps all the time for dungeons, and typically only show the dungeon one room at a time (unless I'm running a game online, then that is too much work) and let the players map it out themselves.

I bought the Dry Erase 10 Inch Dungeon Tiles - Pack of 9 from my local comic book shop (I got it for 25$, not the 32$ Amazon is quoting) and it has been incredibly useful; you sketch out the basic outline of the room, its contents, and any doors/windows for the players on a room by room basis (or you can have them pre-drawn and set up but flipped over so the players can't see the whole map, just flip over the each board as the players advance).

u/impediment · 2 pointsr/DMAcademy

You can get the book on Amazon for thirteen bucks.

u/robototom · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

Amazon has the core books for around $30 each.

u/tomedunn · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

The Essentials Kit runs for around $16-25 depending on where you buy it.

u/Radidactyl · 7 pointsr/DMAcademy

Definitely this one

It has suggestions for ability check DCs, improvised damage, etc.

There really isn't any wasted space on it.

u/cbiscut · 2 pointsr/DMAcademy

Group your participants. If you've got 5 goblins of the same type then they all go on one initiative. Or you could just roll the lowest initiative modifier for all your monsters and they all go on that roll. (I typically go lowest if I'm doing this because it'll be way more monsters than players and dogpiling can be un fun.)

Pathfinder made a magnetic combat pad and it's the single best thing i've ever purchased as a DM.

u/rup3t · 6 pointsr/DMAcademy

Tales from the Yawning Portal contains several easy-ish modules. Particularly the first two, The Sunless Citadel and The Forge of Fury.

u/Typhron · 1 pointr/DMAcademy
  • Ask everyone interested in playing when they're available. Time management is the only way to defeat the time boss.

  • Take notes, and ask/reward those players that take notes. This not only good for keep track of backstories and player stats, but also player behavior and how you can adjust the story to such. Improv is important in D&D, and preparation is one part of practice.

  • Make a friggun DM screen. Geek and Sundry/Matt Mercer made a video on it, and you can buy premade ones for about $10 on Amazon, but do yourself a massive favor and try to make one yourself with the information you might want to keep in mind. The personal touch makes all the difference, and there are probably things not covered by the the PHB/DMG/official screen that you may want to add (for instance, a Wild Magic table if that comes up often in your games).

  • Stress ball/fidgetspinnercube/a thing to fiddle with other than die, and a water bottle. You'll understand.
u/TheRarestFly · 1 pointr/DMAcademy

Why the aversion to dry erase? Is it just a size thing? If so, this bad boy is 23.5" by 26" so is decently sized. There's also this guy by Paizo (which I use) that folds up to be roughly the same size as a 5e rulebook (except not as thick obviously) I keep mine in my bookbag with my notes and rulebooks

u/MrAnderson7 · 2 pointsr/DMAcademy

All very good advice!

As I DM more and become more comfortable in the role with an ongoing campaign, I find that I use my "detailed" notes less and less. In the beginning, I did kind of a brain dump to build up the framework of the story but I found that I haven't open up my Google Docs link in a couple of sessions. I have been predominantly sticking with 1-2 pages of handwritten maps, plot points, and names and using those to guide the session. It's a whole lot less stressful than trying to refer back to my notes over and over again.

I highly recommend the book The Lazy Dungeon Master by Mike Shea (written for 4e but very little is edition specific...I know there is a new version out but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet). Following the advice in that book greatly helped me mellow out and cut down on my overprep.