Guys, I have found a group to Dungeon Master for. We’ve had our Session 0 and I thought I would go over what I had prepared and how it went down. (FYI, I’m running Curse of Strahd – CoS – for our first campaign.) Excuse me while I GEEK OUT!
After reading this article by Geek Dad, I decided I had to try using a Trello board. I actually made two, one for me and one for players. (I covered over any personal information or information I don’t want my players SNEAKILY FINDING HERE.)
The one for me has most of the same elements of Geek Dad’s, with a few extra cards specific to CoS. It’s been ideal for planning. My brother, also a Dungeon Master, uses pen and paper for the most part, but I love online organization. I’m planning on still using paper during my sessions for notes and so on, as well as monster stat blocks and encounters (trying to switch between cards on the app takes up just a little too much time IMO), but for all my after-session notes and future plans, I intend to use the Trello board. I just like the way it lays out all the information clearly.
I’m also making flowcharts (whoa, what?) because CoS is structured in a way that isn’t exactly linear. You can do some hopping around, so I’ve found that making a chart that connects all possible avenues of travel is helpful. I’m not going to post a picture of that in case any of my players are reading…GUYS GO AWAY.
Finally, I’m using the Guide to Running Curse of Strahd found on DMs Guild. This has been insanely helpful in clarifying the story because the actual campaign book is…dense. And not super transparent for new Dungeon Masters. It was really overwhelming at first, and the guide does an incredible job of getting you to the fundamentals.
Trello Board for Players
Geek Dad seems to use his board just for himself, but I decided to take it a step further and create one for my players as well. My hope is that they can use it to consolidate notes, keep tabs on each PC, and keep party funds information there. I like the idea of having a shared board because in my experience as a player, information that should be shared is often kept by one person and it causes a lot of confusion or time-wasting having to ask over and over again. Also, when you learn something about a PC, like appearance or a bit of backstory, it’s easy to forget after the first introduction, but it’s nice to keep it in mind for RP purposes.
I also thought it would be good for my players to have a place to type up their notes. I know some DMs can be a little precious about PC note-taking, but I think players discussing what did happen and plans for the future is just fine. That’s part of the fun.
We’ll see how it goes down. It may turn out that not everyone uses the board and so it’s not incredibly useful.
I also put the table rules and campaign setting on the board. I take Table Etiquette and Rules very seriously, so I wanted it to be accessible to everyone. Since I have new players as well (never played TTRPGs before), I also put a basic overview of what Dungeons and Dragons is and what my DMing style is. I like that my players can have these references on hand at any time, rather than me telling them at Session 0 and everyone forgetting at some point.
Session 0 is generally where players make their characters, roll stats, ask questions, and generally reconcile any background information to the world. It’s a lot of fun, and there are some great videos out there that explain how to run it.
This is my favorite:
Now, I had prepared for my Session 0 to turn into a Session 1 if time allowed, but it didn’t end up working out that way, and that was fine. I actually had two Session 0s, technically, because both times not everyone could make it. So the first one we did a few of the characters and the second we finished up everyone else’s.
It went really well. I was quite nervous going in, partly because I only knew one of my players and partly because I had never been THE DM before, meaning all questions were directed at me. I did a lot better than I expected (turns out I’ve absorbed a lot more about rules and information than I had thought). I also feel that my players felt pretty comfortable making their characters the way they wanted, and most of them even rolled really good on stats (I’m totally taking credit for that).
Most of the questions I got were on the technical side (what does this spell do? what is the difference in domains/circles/etc?), and it was a blast to go over all the options and explain why you might take this or that and how to use it.
In summary, Session 0 (both of them) went amazingly well. My players are excited and ready, I’m excited and ready, and everyone feels equipped to start playing.
(Still working on the eyebrow though…)
If you want to hear more about my experience running Dungeons and Dragons as a new Dungeon Master, check out the series here.