5 Essential Dungeon Master Tips for 5e
Being a Dungeon Master is hard work. Here are some tried and true tips to help make your players (and YOU) have fun during your sessions. All of these tips work perfectly with our session zero guide or any of our bundles.
1. Use Premade Adventures to Your Advantage
Try reusing elements in parts of a premade adventure into your story on those days that you don't have inspiration or need content right away! Doing this won't work for everybody's game. Sometimes it's good to give your players a break or sidequest based on a premade adventure, for example.
It'd be cool to have your players roleplay some of your NPCs you introduced and have them go on a published adventure!
2. Cater to what Motivates the Characters (And Your Players)
Take time to understand what each character in your game wants or needs. Give them a way to pursue that meaningfully.
Also, find out what kind of stories your players at the table want - it might not be originally what their character is motivated on but your players can work together with you to make it work if everyone is cool with it! A session zero is important but sometimes down the line of a campaign, a player might want to change their character's personality or make a new one.
3. Give Your Players Fun Everyday Magical Items
You don't always have to give your characters super magical strong weapons and items all the time! Give them some fun items like a magical paintbrush that turns anything it touches into black and white or a wand that ties someone's shoelaces together. A lot of times, players will want to come up with ridiculous ways to use a magical item even if it's harder. To me, it sounds like a lot of fun for players!
4. Prepare Clues and Hints for Your Puzzles
As much fun as it would be to have the players fall into every trap you set and kill them, they might not want to come back to your table to play. Prepare hints and clues to help the players figure out what you have laid for them. Make sure you're able to describe with detail anything that can appeal to their senses.
These hints don't always have to be freebies; feel free to attach investigation or preception checks to make these harder to find! You could hide them in the environment, like dead bodies of adventurers that failed or writing on the walls with an ominous warning. You could even overhear rumors or hints throughout the town right before the party encounters the trap to see if they can remember that odd tidbit that can get them out of this mess.
5. You Aren't Working Against the Characters
It's your job to challenge the players and create NPCs that are there to thwart them! However, you are also there to let the players themselves have fun and to create opportunities for them to succeed as well.
Have your NPCs make decisions that make sense to their stories and their objectives. If a group of bandits are getting pummeled by the party, they would likely run away before perishing. On the other end, sometimes not all bad guys want to kill the party unless there is something to gain.
Don't forget your job as a Dungeon Master is to make sure everyone is having fun at the table, and that includes yourself! Keep a lookout on our blog for more tips for Dungeon Masters and Players alike. Don't forget to visit our store for products that can help make your life easier playing and also our free downloads to try out some of the things we have!