DMing for the first time

Long time player, never considered running a game until recently. I’ve had my arm twisted into running a campaign (one person from the gaming group decided to tell everyone else, so no backing out for me!). I must admit to feeling a little intimidated since two of the DMs in the group will be playing in my one-shot. To avoid being biased, neither one of them have really given me much advice as to what I should or shouldn’t allow characters to have.

Premise is an escape room challenge, with characters starting at lvl 3. I’ve said basic common items only, with only one common magical item. I’m just curious as to feedback from others as to whether or not I’m being too stingy or not.

Characters would have been kidnapped and don’t know each other, so for not I’m not asking for any background unless the players want to provide a bit of information about themselves at the beginning or during the challenge to find their way out.

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Without knowing more about the setting, it’s tough to say if you are being stingy. If you think what you allowed them will give them something of a chance, then no, you are not being stingy. You don’t want to overpower the players and make it too easy, but you don’t want to underpower them and have them not have a chance. GMing in general is a tightrope walk, and the first couple times are nerve-wracking. Whatever you decide, stand firm on your decisions and be able to logic out why you are taking that stand. The players don’t have to like it or agree with it, but it is your game as long as you are running it, but as long as they understand the “why”, that stops a lot of the p*ssing and moaning. As far as how you should run it, that also is on you. I’ve been more of a roleplay first and combat second type of GM (I think it should always be about the story, with combat serving as some dramatic tension), but everyone is different. I say run it as the type of game you would want to play even if it’s a pre-made adventure. Most importantly, HAVE FUN.

I’m taking on the persona of a sadistic wizard who kidnaps players from different planes/etc to compete in her escape room challenge. The players will have to find nine tokens hidden in objects between two rooms, either working together or competing against each other to gain the tokens. The tokens are deposited in the third room in order to open the exit portal. There will be mimics hiding as ordinary objects in both of the first rooms that the players may or may not wake up in their search to find the tokens.

The one shot is called Mind over Mimic, I’m adding my own little twist to it for this group.

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The fist time, was a long time ago and none of us knew what we were doing.

The main things are be consistent, be fair, be firm, your table. You will make mistakes, admit it and move on.


You can fix “stingy” by giving better stuff later. Harder to fix Monty Haul characters that are broken-good with gear. If you are new, keep the PCs and baddies basic and squishy until you get a feel for their power level. Let them mow down a swarm of kobolds and see where the problem areas may be.

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You might want to look up the Challenge of Champions series of adventures from Dungeon magazine, they are basically serial escape rooms in and of themselves. Might be useful for inspiration.

The first three adventures (Dungeon #58, #69 & #80) were written for 2nd Edition, the fourth (#91) was for 3rd, and the fifth (#108) and sixth (#138) for 3.5. Just ignore the edition specific stuff and use with any system.

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One thing I still like to do is revisit some of the various bits and pieces of trash and overlooked ‘worthless stuff’ the characters have accumulated and use it for possible clues to treasure sites, old tombs, mysterious ruins, etc. All of a sudden this old, rusty key they had rattling around in the bottom of their belt pouch is useful or important. Leads to adventures, treasures, who knows what. Sometimes one of those supposedly worthless little things turns out to be a useful magical item after all, if they figure it out. And if they don’t, perhaps some NPC realizes what they have and starts making offers of money or items that sound just too good to be true…that usually is enough to get them curious and to start taking stock of things. Identify, Comprehend Languages, all those spells that so many people dismiss as ‘useless’ outside of combat really become useful at that point. So do Experts and Specialist NPCs, sages and what not. Works pretty well. And it all starts with some really meager, almost stingy bits of loot and junk that players just toss into their pouch or chest or whatever.

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The most important aspect of DMing.

Be able to tell a story.

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Easy way to fix Monty Haul:

The town/kingdom the adventurers are based in passes a decree that alll funds above X gp is required to be invested in local projects for the kindgom.
Said money is invested as per Kingly Decree.
Dragon flies by and wipes everything out.
Problem solved.


It is not just the GM it is the entire table telling the story. As GM you job is half writer and half conductor. You enable the story, not dictate how it goes.

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Aaaand they move and tell no one, Or overthrow the King. I would not blame them.

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I ran the game yesterday, and we had a lot of fun with it. I learned a few things too. :slight_smile:

I ended up with seven players, I’d only planned for 3-4 initially and was scrambling at the last minute making some tweaks to what I had planned. I think I got a little flattered that so many in the gaming group decided they wanted to participate in my game.

Despite having a map for MY use to know which monster was where and labeled in the initiative tracker, I still managed to get a little lost in the combat rounds, keeping track of which one was active and where. Part of my problem was that there was too much going on. Fight a mimic, search this item to see if it contains a token…

For the most part the players kept their character builds within my parameters, there was only some question about the last player who joined in last minute, so I didn’t have as much time to review his character.

It was a little nerve wracking at first, since most of the players are currently GMing the various campaigns our group is in or have previously ran campaigns, but I did manage to relax and slip into my persona as a sadistic wizard who kidnaps players to participate in her mimic escape room challenges. The only way out is to find all the tokens to unlock the gate barring the exit portal…oh, and the final mimic chest that held the keys to unlock the portal…

I’ve been asked to write a more in depth story to run in the future, since a few of them would like to continue with the characters they made, and since I’m currently in the process of writing and fleshing out my own world, it’ll be done. (Though watching/reading what’s going on currently I don’t think I’ll be trying to share it online like I was originally thinking about.)

All in all, I had fun and they had fun, still waiting on some more feedback from some of the other players. I did have to laugh when one of them wanted to face my wizard directly and fight her…uhm, yeah, you’re level 3, she’s lvl 16. Do you really want to? lol


See original post.

Thank you for the update! I’m so glad everyone had fun and that you’re continuing with DMing!!!