D&D players share their best tips & advice for first-time DM

Scott Baird

D&D 5E players are sharing their most valuable Dungeon Master advice with a new DM who’s sitting behind the screen for the first time and needs tips to get started.

Dungeons & Dragons 5E is the easiest edition of the game to learn, owing to the decades of fan feedback received over the years. There are also countless tutorials and D&D livestreams to watch, which show people the different ways the game can be played.

Despite this wealth of knowledge, acting as the Dungeon Master in a game is difficult, especially for people who create homebrew D&D campaigns or those with a large group of players. There’s a lot to keep track of, which can get overwhelming quickly.

Luckily, there are plenty of online outlets where new DMs can seek help. The D&D community has a lot of advice to share, especially for those rare few who want to take up the DM screen and tell their own stories with their players.

Dungeons & Dragons key art showing a character fighting a dragon.

D&D DMs have shared their best advice, knowledge, and tips with a first-timer

A user on the Dungeons & Dragons Reddit named AjayRedonkulus asked for advice, as they’re a new player who is DMing for the first time. They already had maps and notes set up, but they were looking for tips on how to run the game.

“Don’t waste your time over-preparing. The players aren’t usually going to do what you expect anyway so be ready to wing it,” one DM explained. “If you need to slow them down, throw combat encounter in.”

“Don’t slow the game down by looking up rules, if the players are happy with your ruling then go for it. You can always look rules up after the game,” while another said, “Rules are important, but! Don’t let it ruin immersion and flow. If you’re not really sure about something just say you’re gonna rule it like this for now, and we’ll discuss/research it after”

Perhaps the best advice came from Twokindsofpeople, who said, “Don’t get into power struggles. Let your players make decisions, but if it just so happens that no matter what decision they make leads them to the places you’ve already designed then that sure would make things easier.”

There’s a huge difference between running one of the printed D&D campaigns, where all of the information is laid out for the DM, and running a homebrew, where everything comes from the DM. For homebrew, there’s a lot of leeway for DMs to make it up as they go along, which isn’t as easy with a book.

All of the advice offered by DMs is sound and should be taken on board by anyone who wants to become a DM. There are some people online who make it seem easy, but there’s a ton of work involved, even for those who want to play it loose, so taking as much information in as possible beforehand is advised.

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About The Author

Scott has been writing for Dexerto since 2023, having been a former contributor to websites like Cracked, Dorkly, Topless Robot, Screen Rant, The Gamer, and TopTenz. A graduate of Edge Hill University in the UK, Scott started as a film student before moving into journalism. Scott specializes in Pokemon, Nintendo, DnD, Final Fantasy, and MTG. He can be contacted on LinkedIn.