Diary of a DM: Session 0 and the Road to Vanrecht
Welcome to what we are hoping will be a fun new series from the Valks – the Diary of a DM! Through this mini-segment, Georgie will be charting the course of her Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master debut with some familiar faces in her party…
We’ll plot the course of the campaign, chat with players, offer up tips on what to do (and what not to do), and get some insight from our new favourite group of renegades. We want to keep it real, and maybe offer some advice to any other first-timers; DMs and players alike. Maybe, just maybe, we might even learn something. We know the internet love gangs of buddies playing D&D, so, grab a brew and let’s head to Vanrecht…
You gotta roll with it
I have played Dungeons and Dragons for quite some time now. I’ve been a rogue, a fighter, a ranger – you name it. The one thing I have never been, however, is a Dungeon Master. (I respond better to being told what to do, but then again I’m never averse to a switch. Ask anyone.)
In a move that will surprise no one, I didn’t decide to take the easy path when embarking upon this DM adventure. Oh no. I decided to forgo any manuals, pre-written campaigns, or any advice in general really. I planned on doing this in my own stubborn, inimitable, and potentially doomed way…
Always be prepared
For every day I spent planning my campaign and adding meat to its bones, I would spend the next day trying to find excuses not to run it. I was giving myself hobby whiplash from being flung between wanting to create something special and fun for my friends and being terrified of not living up to their expectations or disappointing them. I felt like as soon as I steadied myself with a little confidence, I’d pretty soon after feel like I was stumbling back into uncertainty and insecurity. That’s life, I suppose. Someone I know offered me some DM advice and compared it to hooking up with someone new. It’s nerve-wracking and full of trepidation when you put yourself out there, but the most important part of it all is that everyone involved is having fun.
So, I figured we should have some fun. Besides, I already told Mama H that I’d write this series, and I know she wants to break out her swashbuckling Tabaxi rogue.
I sketched out my plan. Well, when I say “sketched out”, I mean filled my room with notes, lore, ancient texts, reference images, NPC backstories, crudely drawn crayon maps. It looked like something out of a procedural cop show. It seemed to work though. I had a plan, I had Gods, I had a bakery, a tailors, and monsters for days. More important than all of that though, I had four intrepid, excellent, supportive, and very trusting people willing to venture into my not so finely drawn world of Vanrecht. Everything seemed in place, but that nagging insecurity was still there – like an itch right in the centre of your back that you just can’t reach. God, it’s annoying. I wrote it all down, talked it all out (kind of). I played in a one-shot with another first time DM. Soon, the itch began to fade.
Roll for initiative…
I’m assuming this is how most new DMs feel. God knows I get nervous enough playing in a new campaign, running one all my own was a whole new bag of dice – but I really love the world I created. My town is called Vanrecht, and it has been overcome by evil. I won’t say any more lest my merry band of adventurers happens upon this article – stranger things have happened.
But that’s life, right? We roll the dice and we see what happens. So, roll for initiative, and let’s play…
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