Like lots of DMs before me, I started out my DnD experience as a player. I played one game in 3.5 as a human fighter with a little too much chaotic energy. Years later, with my introduction into 5th edition, I created a Drow gunslinger. She was a noble who had been exiled from her home with nothing to lose, so she joined a merry band of other adventurers, and we went from there. I was entranced with the way our DM built the world around us, starting from the way he wove the story together. He would bring in NPCs whom we grew to love so much that we all cheered for them when they made brief returns. And this world-building extended to incorporating the backstories we players painstakingly wrote, which made playing the game such a treat.

When the pandemic hit and we were forced to stay at home, one of my other friends brought up wanting to learn how to play DnD and several others were on board (including myself!). As we began the fun, creative process of writing up characters, we realized we were missing one vital part of any campaign: a Dungeon Master. Now, I’m sure most of you know how hard it is to find a DM that isn’t completely booked up with many games and campaigns that they’re already running. So, we began looking internally into our own little group and figuring out who would be the best fit for the job. After a small amount of deliberation and a little thinking on my part, I accepted the position.

I bought a sourcebook (Curse of Strahd), a DM guide, a Players handbook, and along with the many pages of monsters that DnD Beyond has to offer, I began to construct the campaign. I mostly stuck to the sourcebook, while trying to level up the campaign in a way to accommodate for the large number of players. Being a newbie DM with 7 players was definitely a learning experience, but they’re all great players and I don’t think the experience would be the same without any of them. While juggling the leveling of the campaign, I also tried to have some small, almost tutorial-like encounters for them to start learning with. While I was a new DM, most of them were also new players, and I wanted to make sure they understood the base mechanics before throwing them into the fire.

Learning alongside my players and the ins and outs of DMing, changed the way I view the entire game. The amount of time and effort it takes to build and fill the world around the players, gave me a new perspective of the game and the intricacies of how it works. It also gave me a completely new appreciation of my own DM, Tyler (a fellow EFNcool writer). If you’re out there reading this, thanks! You’re a great DM and you are a key influence on how I run my own games.

One of the most important skills I’ve learned in my time as a DM is adlibbing. At the time I started, I never thought that it would be a necessary skill, but hoo boy, it is a muscle that gets exercised in nearly every session. Letting your players explore the world you’ve placed them in is a key element of DnD. Letting them find little easter eggs or the fun NPCs you’ve placed, in my opinion, makes the game a lot more fun.

In a perfect world, I would tell every DnD player to run at least one campaign yourself, learn how to handle the crazy scenarios your players can get into and the absolutely ridiculous things that can happen in this big beautiful world that Wizards have created for us. By being a DM, you get to learn some fun and amazing things that the game has the capabilities of having. If it’s just a one shot, or a full-blown campaign, you’d be surprised at how much fun DMing can be, and hey, it might just give you a whole new perspective of the game, too.