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DMing Your First Living Forgotten Realms Game
RPGA Report
by Chris Tulach

Last month, we discussed organizing your first Living Forgotten Realms game. This month, we'll talk about your first session as a DM for Living Forgotten Realms. What's different? How easy is it? How much prep time do I need? Read on!

The first advantage for Living Forgotten Realms adventures is they're light on time commitment. Clocking in at about a 4-hour play experience, they make a great fit for one night of gaming. You can also play two in a row on a long weekend session. You don't need to worry about integrating the adventure with a long-term campaign, as each adventure begins and ends in one session.

Preparing your adventure is also easy. All the information you need to run the adventure is included right in the document. If it's your first time being a DM for Living Forgotten Realms, you'll want to read the introductory information in the first couple of pages of the adventure. Pay particular attention to the section entitled "Important DM Information," as it gives you some great advice on running your game.

Each adventure for Living Forgotten Realms is designed for a level range of characters (typically a four-level spread). There are two versions of most encounters in an adventure: a low-level and a high-level version. If you know the group you're running through the adventure beforehand, you might want to check with them to see what version they want to play. This should help to cut down on prep time.

All Living Forgotten Realms adventures contain the stat blocks you need to run the adventure without needing to refer to rulebooks. In addition, all tactical encounters have a map layout as a reference and give you a list of Dungeon Tiles used in the creation of the map. With the exception of the Player's Handbook, you won't need any other books to help prepare or run the adventure.

The biggest difference between a game of Living Forgotten Realms and your home game is treasure distribution. Since characters can travel from group to group, special treasure distribution rules are in effect for the campaign. At the end of the adventure is the rewards summary page. Make sure you read this carefully and understand how rewards are given out in Living Forgotten Realms, because it differs from what you would do in a home game.

You'll want to set aside about an hour to prepare a Living Forgotten Realms adventure. Some adventures can be prepared in less time, but an hour gives you time to read through the adventure, take some notes, and make small modifications (if necessary) to account for your group.

In order to document your game, each adventure comes with a tracking sheet. When you finish your game, fill out the appropriate information on the tracking sheet (instructions to do so are in the rewards summary of the adventure). Depending on who ordered the event, you either hand over this tracking sheet to your event organizer for reporting or you log into your profile online and report the event yourself.

In addition, most adventures come with story award certificates for the players. Hand these out as appropriate when you finish your game. While story awards rarely have game-affecting benefits, they serve as reminders of important deeds done and may come into play as future adventures are released.

The serial nature of Living Forgotten Realms adventures means that you can easily schedule an evening's worth of play without worrying about having to tie it back to a long-term campaign -- the RPGA does that work for you! You also have an ever-growing library of adventures to try out that span the breadth of Faerûn and all kinds of different adventure themes, so there's something available for everyone. Give Living Forgotten Realms a try and you'll have a great way to play D&D without some of the challenges that come with a regular home game!

Next time, we'll talk about DMing your first game at a public event, such as a game day or convention. Until then, keep your defenders in the front!

About the Author

Originally thought to have been raised from a humble Midwestern family, Chris Tulach actually fell to Earth in a meteorite-shaped capsule flung from a planet far outside our galaxy. While under the yellow rays of Sol, Chris’s nerdity far surpasses that of any normal human. Using this precious gift only for good, he has become the RPGA Content Designer, responsible for the development and deployment of Dungeons & Dragons organized play programs.