Game Mastering for beginners, part 5

This blog post series is about Game Mastering for TTRPGs – I’ve run some talks at various events about this topic, but thought it’d be nice to share my thoughts here on my blog. This fifth part will be about running your first session.

So, you’ve planned your first session, and the day has come when you’re about to run it! It might be a bit nerve-wrecking to think about it, but hopefully you…

  • Have a great group to play with
  • You all have your role playing expectations set
  • You’ve planned out the adventure you’ll use for your first session

So things should be in control 😉 Some other things I’d recommend you to have ready before your first session is:

  • Have you planned for how long you will play? I’d say a good start is 2-3 hours. My sessions are usually 4 hours long, but I think for the first sessions I usually had material for 2-3 hours.
  • If you have music/sound, how do you play it?
  • If you have maps and tokens, how do you display them? Are they ready for display?
  • Do you have easy access to the game’s rules?
  • Do you have easy access to the adventure’s plot?
  • Do you have easy access to the NPCs and enemies?
  • Do you have a notebook or piece of paper where you can write down things like initiative order, your NPCs health, things your players do that you should remember?
  • Do you have some snacks or treats for your players? Or will they bring the snacks? Or will you order pizza mid-game? You will probably need some pauses here and there and it’s good to have one where you fill up on energy.

I’d say with this checklist, you’re more or less ready to play! Just have fun with it and remember:

  • It’s your first time being a Game Master, don’t be too hard on yourself.
  • It’s okay to not knowing all the rules and to look them up mid-game
  • Even though you admire other Game Masters that you’ve seen/listened to on podcasts etc, don’t compare yourself to them. They have their own style and you’ll develop yours.
  • Be prepared to improvise – your players sometimes stray way too far from your initial idea – if that happens, go with the flow and adapt.
  • Check in with your players – are they enjoyiong themselves or are they uncomfortable with what’s happening? Remember the consent in gaming material.
  • If players need breaks (bathroom or whatnot), allow them – make your players comfortable.
  • Anyhow, remember to take breaks, it will keep you more energized!
  • If you have forgotten something – don’t worry, take a note for the future.

And that’s it! Hopefully you’ll have a great time Game Mastering your first session! After I’m done with the session, there are usually three things left to do:

  • Hand out experience points
  • Decide a date for the next session – this is very important to keep the momentum! It’s better to have a date to look forward to immediately than not.
  • Write a summary – I didn’t do it for the first months as a Game Master and I regret it a lot now. If you’d have a long break (we had a 3 month break and I was so happy I had a summary from the previous session at hand when that happened), the summary is great for you to remember what happened and plan accordingly for the events in the next session.

And that’s pretty much it for the first session! Next time, I’ll conclude this blog series (for now) with some general tips and tricks, stay tuned!






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