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More About Being a DM.

It's good to be the DM. The power of creating worlds, controlling deities and dragons, and leading entire nations is in your hands. You are the master of the game -- the rules, the setting, the action, and ultimately, the fun. This is a great deal of power, and you must use it wisely.

The DM defines the game. A good DM results in a good game; since you control the pacing, and the types of adventures and encounters, the whole tenor of the game is in your hands. It's fun, but it's also a big responsibility. If you're the sort of person who likes to provide the fun for your friends, or to come up with new ideas, then you're an ideal candidate for DM.

Once your group has a Dungeon Master, however, that doesn't mean that you can't switch around. Some DMs like to take a turn at being a player, and many players eventually want to try their hand at DMing.

Dungeon Mastering involves writing, teaching, acting, refereeing, arbitrating, and facilitating. Described below are some of the different duties of the DM.

  • Providing Adventures

    Your primary role in the game is to present adventures in which the other players can roleplay their characters. To accomplish this, you need to prepare by spending time outside the game sessions themselves. This is true whether you write your own adventures or use prepared adventures that you have purchased.

    Writing adventures takes a great deal of time. Many DMs find that they spend more time getting ready for the game than they do at the table actually playing. These same DMs often find this creation time to be the most fun and rewarding part of being a Dungeon Master. Making up interesting characters, settings, plots, and challenges to present before your friends can be a great creative outlet.
  • Teaching the Game

    Sometimes it's going to be your responsibility to teach newcomers to the game how to play. This isn't a burden, but a wonderful opportunity. Teaching other people how to play provides you with new players and allows you to set them on the path to becoming topnotch roleplayers.

  • Providing the World

    Every Dungeon Master is the creator of his or her own campaign world. Whether you use the Greyhawk setting (the standard D&D campaign setting) or another published setting for the D&D game, such as the Forgotten Realms or Eberron campaign settings, it's still your world.

    The setting is more than just the backdrop for adventures, although it's also that, too. The setting is everything in the fictional world except for the PCs and the adventuring plot. A well-designed and well-run world seems to go around the PCs, so that they feel a part of something, instead of apart from it. Though the PCs are powerful and important, they should seem to be residents of some fantasy world that is ultimately larger than they are.

  • Adjudicating

    When everyone gathers around the table to play the game, you're in charge. That doesn't mean you can tell people what to do outside the boundaries of the game, but it does mean that you're the final arbiter of the rules within the game. Good players will always recognize that you have ultimate authority over the game mechanics, even superseding something in a rulebook. Good DMs know not to change or overturn a published rule without a good, logical justification so that the players don't rebel (more on that later). To carry out this responsibility, you need to know the rules.

    You're not required to memorize the rulebooks, but you should have a clear idea of what's in them, so that when a situation comes up that requires a ruling, you know where to reference the proper rule in the book.

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