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D&D 3E
How to treat a first time DM? 
6th-Jul-2005 11:02 am
Death Star
A friend of mine is throwing together an impromptu gaming group, with himself as the DM. The majority of the people in the group are more experience players than he is-- and it's his first time DMing. The first session was a bit of a mess. He was thoroughly unprepared, and he has an annoying tendency to tell us what our characters are doing, instead of letting us do so. As it was his first time, I wasn't going to comment, but I had to stop myself more than once from saying 'But my character wouldn't do that!'.

Any suggestions on how to help him be a better DM without treading on his toes in the process? I've gamed a lot over the years, but I've never been in this situation before-- good or bad, the DMs have always been experienced at least. I've never dealt with a first time DM before. I want his experience to be enjoyable, but he does need a lot of help, too.

(cross-posted to dnd_women.)
6th-Jul-2005 05:40 pm (UTC)
IMO I would tell the DM outside of the game and away from everyone else. This will cut down on embarrasment for the DM. Tell him that he was telling everyone what their characters were doing and, at least for yours, it goes against what your PC would do. perhaps he didn't realize he was doing that. Or since he is new, he had the adventure wrote a certain way and didn't know how to "make" your PC's do it without making them (did that make sense?). As a DM whose never played (no one had first time around) I know it can be hard to learn the tricks. I am still learning. See if you can't have a time at the end of your gaming session for Q&A on what you liked, didn't like, etc to help the DM make his adventures for your tastes.
6th-Jul-2005 06:09 pm (UTC)

This is my site for dm advice collected from wisdom of members of my group in the form of various articles about dmship.
6th-Jul-2005 07:12 pm (UTC)
Constructive criticism can be a good thing...tell him what he did right, as well as giving him suggestions on how to do some things better. And be specific - what did he say your character was doing that your character wouldn't do?

I guess first and foremost I would see if (maybe by email or phone), he'd like some input/feedback on the first session. I'd also suggest being as sympathetic as possible (as in, "hey, DMing for the first time is really tough, especially when some of the players are experienced DMs. Would you like me to share some of my tips/secrets?")

I've been DMing for a couple of years now, and my players tell me I'm good at it, but I know I still have a lot to learn! Hopefully your first time DM will realize that players willing to offer constructive feedback are an asset. But do offer it away from the other players, so that he's less likely to feel attacked or humiliated.
6th-Jul-2005 07:56 pm (UTC)
Definitely talk to him outside the game. Cut him some slack, obviously, but on the other hand don't let problem behavior like that continue. I know that as a DM who started out DMing with little D&D experience, and playing with others who had not only experience with the game but also in some cases with DMing experience themselves, it's always been helpful to me to know what people think, and I've always appreciated it. Just approach it in a friendly manner and let him know that it's not that you don't like him or his DMing as a whole, just that you want to help him to make things more enjoyable for everybody.

Another thing you might do is to suggest he spend some time reading the DMG. It covers a lot of this stuff- if he reads the first chapter of it, he should get a good feeling for what he's supposed to be doing as a DM and might realize that things like telling players what their characters are doing is not part of that. The DMG 2 might be another good resource; I wouldn't purchase it myself, but for a beginning DM it might be very helpful. (And of course if it's too expensive for his budget, encourage him to go read it at Barnes and Noble- all the B&Ns I've ever been to don't bother you if you sit in their store and read their books, or even sit and read and take notes, copy things down, etc.)
10th-Jul-2005 10:39 pm (UTC)
In addition to the other fine suggestions here, pass a note to him or talk to him after the session about using a method of waiting til the players say what their characters are going to do, then replying with what happens in the imaginary world.

It sounds like he might have attention deficit, might be so nervous that he doesn't breathe as often as he should, or could even be just so very excited that he's playing. Maybe all of these conditions exist! So have fun, but do keep in mind that he would probably benefit from these suggestions.

Try not to introduce the suggestions as insults, but rather as *suggestions*. Ok? Have fun.
19th-Jul-2005 08:31 pm (UTC)
I once, a very long time ago, was in the seat he is in. First to be in front of the screen where your dealing with a single person of authority and then BAM behind the screen and you have 3-5 people looking up to your for authority. This leads to be very nervous reaction.

1. Impromptu. NEVER let a new DM run an IMPROPTU game. Simply put a seasoned veterin could pull it off but for someone never playing before it could be dangerous (Read a few KODT's where Bob ran).

2. Talk to him AWAY from the others. It's been mentioned before but it's important.

3. If he continues to tell you what your character would or would not do tell him yes he would. If he is in disagreement about alignments bring it up before game and explain to him what you think his alignment should be AND ask him what do you think his alignment should be. If you think torching a house filled with evil is a NG act he may think it's different. Alignment is just one thing I wish they cut out because it is SUCH a POV catastrophe. I had a character in a game who tackled me because he refused to let me drink a potion that MIGHT be poison. Now mind you everyone was hurting but me and my character was showing the team mates hes willing to take one for the team as a trust issue. Me persoanlly do not see this as an act of a LN person as Im not breaking any laws and he refuses to let me do something that doesnt break any laws but my GM disagreed. So everyone has different views of Alignment.

4. If all else fails explain to him that his DM style is very different from what you are accustumed to. Quietly back out of the game but tell him if things change you may go back to it. This is drastic BUT your making it seem its more along your fault then his. If anything he will notice you are not happy with game and may change his ways.

Remember a DM is there a judge and ref. If you can not trust him to be impartial and allow your characters freedom then something must be done but for a new DM...egos can be fragile. It just takes one bad game to make him never wish to play again.
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