If you want to become a good DM, I’ve put together a list of great advice and tips that will get you started on your journey as a Dungeon Master, commonly referred to as a DM. By the time you’re done reading, I’ll hope to make you a good Dungeon Master in Dungeons and Dragons, not a great one. Because a really great Dungeon Master can’t be learned — you must learn from experience and level up!
10 Expert Tips on How to Become a DM for DND
Enjoy the tips.
1 – Be Flexible
“I never apply the same strategy to any interactive adventure that I run. I am flexible, I listen to my players’ ideas, and I keep everything moving forward.” – Paul Bellow
Your players are going to want to do things you didn’t expect. They’re going to create moments you didn’t plan for. This is the beauty of DnD. No player should ever be told “no” unless it directly harms the other players.
2 – Have Fun
“Most of my DMs are as much about having fun as they are about telling a good story. The game is about the players after all.” – Paul Bellow
This is arguably the most important tip I can give you if you want to become a good DM. If you’re not having fun, why are you running the game?
3 – Practice, Practice, Practice
“The best way to become a good DM is to get all your friends together and run a campaign, first time around you’ll make a lot of mistakes, but you’ll also learn a lot, and after a while you’ll improve.” – Paul Bellow
If you have a friend that wants to be your first player, and you want to practice, I’d advise against doing it alone. It will be really hard to learn if you’re alone and only have one player who hasn’t played before. Instead, try to find a small group of practicing players and start a campaign with them.
4 – You Have to Know the Rules
“Did you know that the best way to prepare for an adventure is to read the adventure? This sounds so obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down to run an adventure and I had to stop and look up a rule as I was running the adventure, or I had to stop and read the adventure because I needed to get the details of an encounter or an NPC.” – Paul Bellow
When you’re a DM you have an obligation to know all the rules. You can’t ask your players to follow a rule if you’re not going to follow it. If you don’t know it, you can’t do it, so be sure to read up on the rules before you play.
5 – Have a Plan
Too many new DMs think they’re going to wing it and hope for the best. The truth is, you need to have a plan. Doing this is easier than you might think, especially with powerful RPG tools powered by AI.
6 – Provide All the Equipment
“What I have learned is that if you are the DM and are the one conducting the game you should provide whatever they might need to have the experience of the adventure, including pencils, dice, tokens, character sheets, and maps.” – Paul Bellow
If you’re running the game, you want to have extra D&D accessories on hand. You might want to consider having pre-made character sheets, other character sheets, pre-made maps, and DND dice on hand. You never know when your players might need one of these things, and you don’t want to have to stop the game.
7 – Plan for a Failure
“I always have a back-up story and adventure waiting to go if the players are not having an interesting time or at some point my players decide that they want to go find a tavern and drink. I can always pick up where we left off in the next session. I don’t want to feel pressured to keep the story going all the time.” – Paul Bellow
Being a DM is difficult. You want to make sure you have a valid plan, but you also need to be prepared to scrap that plan if your players aren’t interested in it. And even if they are, don’t feel like you have to force them through. You can always pick up where you left off, and you can always find a way to make them want to go with your story.
8 – Prepare a Background Story
“I always have an introduction story that I tell my players at the start of each session. I do this for two reasons. First, to give the players a background to everything that is happening, and second, to help them understand the world they’re playing in.” – Paul Bellow
If you want to be a good DM, you need to know everything that’s happening. If you don’t know what’s happening in the story, how can you expect your players to? Having a DND character background story at the start of each session is a great way to give your players a way to understand what’s really happening.
9 – Learn to Read Players
“Know the players. Know what they like, what they don’t like, what upsets them, what doesn’t, and make your story adapt to their preferences.” – Paul Bellow
Sometimes you might find yourself playing with people that don’t want to play what you want to play. If that’s the case, you should make sure you learn to read your players. If you can learn to read them, you’ll be able to impress them with your ability to create fun adventures.
10 – Make it Fun
“I try to make my games as much fun as possible. I try to think of something that might go wrong and prevent it from happening.” – Paul Bellow
This is my favorite tip I can give you for becoming a good DM. If you want to be a good DM, you have to make it fun. Period. If your players are having fun, you’re doing it right. If they aren’t, find out why, and fix it.
Everyone has a distinct DM style. They have their own way of running games, and they have their own way of being a DM. Find out how you can become a good DM and choose the methods that you’re going to practice so that you can understand your style.