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Gabe / on Wed, Jan 7 2009 at 10:34 am

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I’m just going to go ahead and answer a couple questions that are coming up a lot in my email.   

Q: What are the needed tools to manning your own D&D campaign?

A: At the most basic level I think all you really need is a set of the books - The Dungeon Master’s Guide, The Player’s Handbook, and the Monster Manual. These can be purchased as a set at most book stores. You’ll also need some dice and a group of friends willing to give it a try. A DM screen is also nice. Before I played the game I just assumed the screen was there to hide the DM’s actions from the players. This is true but it’s also a giant cheat sheet. On the DM’s side it’s packed full of stuff like status effects, definitions of various rules and terms, common actions the party might take and guides for how to respond. I gotta say as a first time DM this screen was a huge help

In addition to the books I also picked up this starter kit and found it very helpful. It has some Dungeon Tiles for building your map, dice, hero and monster tokens, as well as a simplified version of the DMG(Dungeon Master’s Guide). The nice thing about this set is that it includes a level 1 adventure all pretty much done for you. In fact I fully intended to just run it as is for my first game but once I started getting into the setting and learning about the world I couldn’t help but add in my own story ideas. 

If everyone is new to the game I recommend having each of your players pick up their own copy of the Player’s Handbook. They can use it to choose a character race and class as well as familiarize themselves with the rules of the game. A lot of it won’t make much sense until you’re all actually at the table rolling dice but it helps to at least have an idea of what to expect. 

I think that’s a good place to start. I can tell you some other stuff I picked up that isn’t really necessary but I think helped a lot. 

-Pencils and paper for everyone. It sounds silly but you do a lot of writing on your character sheet and they will probably also want to take some notes about the adventure. Having pencils and paper on hand is a good idea. 
-3x5 cards. This is a trick I picked up after watching Chris Perkins DM our games for WOTC. You write the name of each of your players on a 3x5 card. You do the same for your monsters and then when everyone rolls for initiative you write those numbers on their respective cards. Then it’s just a matter of putting the cards in the right order and you have an easy way of keeping track of whose turn it is. The cards are also a great place to track your monster’s HP and any marks or status effects. 
-Extra dice. You roll a lot of dice in this game and having a little bowl of extras for people who forgot theirs or don’t have any is convenient. 

Something I decided to do on my own was have the party choose a MVPC (most valuable player character) at the end of the session. I think giving out some fancy dice is a cool treat and they’re pretty inexpensive. Obviously this isn’t necessary but I thought it was fun and It was a good opportunity for them to sort of recap the adventure and talk about all the cool stuff everyone did. 

The Dungeon Master Guide is really a great resource. It will give you all kinds of ideas about what you might want to pick up for your game. It even goes into detail about the environment you play in and gives great tips on getting your friends into the spirit. Where the Player’s Handbook is really about rules, the DMG is more about the philosophy of be a Dungeon Master and the mechanics of creating a world for your friends to play in. I was really impressed with it. 

Q:Is there any chance you could record your adventures as DM?

A: I’m flattered that you guys would like to listen in on these, but this game I’m running is just me and a group of my friends. The podcasts we do for WOTC are separate and you’ll be getting more of those soon. Recording these would ad a level of stress to the game for my friends and that’s not something I want to do. I’m happy to keep you guys posted here on the site, and I’ll be sure and relate anything I think was especially cool. 

-Gabe out


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