5e DM READING ORDER Part 1: Learning the Game 4/20/2021

Updated: Apr 29

"Part 1 Learning the Game" includes the chapters I highlighted for those DM Workshops. I posted the first list a few D&D Facebook Groups, and I received such a tremendous response! I was inspired by the number of people that appreciated this list. They also asked questions and made suggestions. Which encouraged me to expand the list.

Here's... 5e DM READING ORDER Part 1

I started the process by asking, "What do you absolutely need to know to run a session?" My intention: you can use Part 1 to build a comprehensive understanding. This level of understanding will help you run published adventures indefinitely.

But if you want to create your own world you need to understand encounter design. That's where Part 2 came from. My favorite part of DMing is world building, but I know that intimidates a lot of people. That's where Part 3 comes in. I also really like how Wizards of the Coast shows off differt campaign designs with their new settings. I think choosing a design approach really helps you focus on the game-able parts of world building. That's were the second half of Part 3 comes from. Not that you need to run Ravnica or Theros. But you can understand how Ravnica is built upon Guilds and Theros is built upon the pantheon. Then re-skin or rework one of them thereby creating your own world. Don't get me wrong it's fun to dream up an interesting world. However, your players won't find it as interesting if there's not a game-able benefit to their character. The last list is intended to provide a better understanding of why the game is designed the way it is. Once you grasp the design concepts 5e is extremely easy to homebrew.

List 1 starts with four chapters from the Player's Handbook. These chapters provide the core rules. These are the chapters you really want to own. The rest of the handbook provides character building and spell descriptions. Don't expect to remember ever character class ability and how every spell works. Your players should be responsible for knowing their character abilities and spells. You likely understand many of these things because you've played the game as a player. As a DM you want to comprehend:

  • Using Ability Scores

  • Advantage/Disadvantage

  • Skill CkecksSaving Throws

  • Movement

  • Enteracting with Environments

  • Social Interactions

  • Combat

  • Spell Casting

Chapters 7-10 in the Player's Handbook give these rules. It's also helpful to recognize that's only 32 pages! far less intimidating than the whole 316 page handbook.

The Dungeon Master's Guide entries on this list help you grasp the fundamentals of encounter building and non-player character (NPC) creation. Mixing in the Monster Manual sections helps you integrate the monster and NPC mechanics into your brain as you learn encounter design from the Dungeon Master's Guide.

Volo's Guide Chapter One and Dungeon Master's Guide Chapter Six help you conceive the game world as more than just combat encounters. The monsters & NPCs in your world live there and have societies of their own. Strat thinking of ways these societies interact and clash. Remember good storytelling creates tension. Knowing how the people and monsters live, and knowing what they want informs the conflicts that build tension.

As you read this content start roleplaying in you head ways to act this out at your table. Get those creative juices flowing and fall in love with your world!



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