Updated: Apr 29
Before COVID I taught workshops at my local game store on how to be a Dungeon Master. These workshops taught the basics of running a game of Dungeons & Dragons. I found that many people asked many questions, but still perplexed:
"How do you remember it all?"
"How do you know what rule to use when?"
"How do you adjust on the fly?"
No matter how many questions they asked, something was still missing. At first I thought my answers were incomplete, but they seemed satisfied with my answers. There was something more that they were unable to articulate. I realized they all played the game before. Some for years. They'd all been fighters or wizards or rogues... they knew most of the rules. In fact many of them were creative players. They all had a story:
"I out smarted the ogre by..."
"I seduced... something, something... Bard... blah, blah, blah."
"I created my own business selling pastries in Baldur's Gate..."
None of these people lacked knowledge of the rules. None of them lacked creativity.
What they lacked was confidence, and a comprehensive understanding of the game.
When I say comprehensive, I mean an expanded and integrated knowledge. They all knew fighters action surge, rogues sneak attack and dragons have more hit points than kobolds. They understood movement, action and bonus action. They comprehended the component parts. But that's not the same as integrating those parts into an interactive scenario for players to engage. This was their real question: "How do you knit it together and make it come alive." Like a flesh golem.
Memory recall requires attention and if you're busy remembering the rules while adjudicating combat and role-playing the villain it can be overwhelming. This shakes one's confidence which further impedes your focus and attention. The better you integrate the components of the game the less you divide your attention. This boosts focus, promotes success and increases confidence.
I devised a list. A Reading Order, and a new way to process these component parts. So, you learn them in an interconnected order that helps you build that comprehensive understanding. The next four entries of this blog present the Reading Order and explain further. Subsequent entries we further expand the why's, how's and ways things connect. Hopefully this builds your confidence and helps you Master the Dungeon Master!
Stay tuned for detailed articles on each list.
In the meantime here are all four lists...