Lessons from my very first D&D session as a DM


I have finally run a session, for 3 people. First ever 😛
Before that I have run one in text chat for 1 person, and live for 1 person.

3 people around a table first sounded not so many still… but once they took their places around…. 3 is a lot! 😀

I kind of got intimidated by the amount of them :’D

2 of them have played similar things but not D&D in the TTRPG form. And one of them was the person I have run a live 1:1 session before.

Trying to explain the rules to them felt frightening as well.
But after the explanation that one player who have already played once with me live, told me, this time my explanation was waay clearer. Which I suppose is a good sign 🙂

What was great:
They all loved my printed paper minis and props. (printed on photo paper, two sided, graphics were from: Monster Manual, Hero Forge, Printable Heroes, and Paper Forge)
So I think I will stick with those for now. It’s kind of convenient to print them at home and make one in c.a. 5 minutes.

And then came the challenges:
During the play, I realized the black holes in my rules knowledge.
I was expecting this, but I was not sure what areas will be the most obvious.

Well… these things came up during play, and some of these I was not expecting:
– diagonal movement
– covers
– spell casting profficiency
– improvised weapons
– thrown weapon
– what does “reach: 5ft” mean for a spear?
– ranged weapon in close combat
– who wins a skill contest if the numbers are equal?
– spell saves – generally
– spellcasting components
– swapping weapons during combat
– one-handed, two-handed combat
– How do weapon proficiencies work?
– PC wants to hurt the enemy but not deal deadly damage… if possible, how to?
– Can eg. a Strength stat be challenged against a Dexterity stat?

Stats on Paper:
Apart from gaps in my rules knowledge, I also realized I should have printed out the players’ character sheets. Since all of them were learning, and me too with them… I spent a lot of time looking up their stats, abilities and mostly spell descriptions.

I was checking them on my laptop on dnd beyond, but on paper it would have been just easier. I could have highlighted things, etc.
(Meanwhile a campaign view became available on the dnd beyond app, that’s pretty handy too)

Same things with opponent monsters. It would have been much easier to have their stats and abilities on paper.

Some other lessons I learned:
A lot of PCs with magical abilities make the first run more difficult. Buut they enjoyed magic a lot… so I would let them do it the same way again.

Also I was planning on using my ipad to look up things, but it was slower than doing things on a laptop, so I put away my ipad, and put my laptop next to me. It was a huge help. I had a bunch of things open on separate browser tabs… yet still. I’d say at least 2/3s of these I should have printed out. Physical paper is just easier to quickly search and look through for me.

About the author

Peter Varnai

Add Comment

By Peter Varnai

Peter Varnai

Get in touch

Heey, I'm Peter. Father of 2, filmmaker, solopreneur, and a helper of other solopreneurs and self-employed people. :) Feel free to reach out to me and let's have a virtual coffee. or Sign up for the newletter.