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The official D&D Beyond website has been running a series of articles aimed at new and prospective Dungeon Masters over the past month or so. The articles offer plenty of insight, advice, and helpful links for the beginner DMs. The series kicks off with some advice on how to find and maintain a group. From there, we go on to the importance of a strong start and improvisation in D&D. Then come the guides: tools, miniatures, introductory adventures, and combat encounters. And finally, there's a video featuring Mike Mearls where he advocates for one-shot adventures.
Here's an excerpt from the very first article and you can take it from there:
This article is the first in a series of articles to help new and prospective dungeon masters start running games. We’ll cover a wide range of topics in this series, all with the goal of getting over the hurdles and speed bumps that get in the way of running a great D&D game.
Dungeon mastering requires a plethora of skills. We must think on our feet. We must have at least a basic understanding of the rules. We must know the world and setting of the game we’re running. We must build off the actions of the characters. We must put together a compelling story from what happens at the table.
No part of dungeon mastering is more difficult than finding a good group of players and keeping it together as long as we can.
We can pick up all of the other aspects of running a D&D game as we run them, and we’ll talk about many of these skills in future articles. Getting the right people to the table and having them come back from game to game always requires hard work and attention.
In this article we’ll dig deep into this topic. We’ll identify the best places to pick up new players, describe techniques for getting the right players to the table, and talk about how we can keep our group together for years to come.
A Summary for Finding and Maintaining a D&D Group
Here is a quick summary of tips and tricks for finding players and keeping a D&D running smooth year after year. We’ll get into all of these in this article.
- Seek out D&D players from your friends, family, friends-of-friends, and co-workers.
- Visit your local game shop and seek out Organized Play games to meet D&D players in your area.
- Use Meetup.com or Facebook to find players or groups in your area.
- Join and run games online to get old friends together or meet new friends from all over the world.
- Maximize the chances of finding a great group by connecting with as many people as possible and making our desires to play D&D well known.
- Get the right players to the table by running single-session or short-run campaigns to see if people are a good fit for the group and vice versa. Run it outside of a regular game time so there’s no feeling of rejection if the game doesn’t continue.
- Choose a regular gaming schedule that works well for the group. Send reminders a few days before each game to build in the habit of the game into the players.
- Keep a list of on-call players who can join in if a regular player cannot. Five to six regular players and one to two on-call players can keep a group running well for years.
- Always seek out new interested players so you’re ready to fill in a seat when real-life pulls a regular player away from the table. Long-standing games succeed with a clear process for adding new players as others step away.