I have been thinking about ways to introduce people to tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs). If we want to see a more diverse community of people in the hobby, we need to make it easier for people to join in. This blog seems like a good opportunity to help do that.
TL;DR This is a basic ‘how to’ pack on the A-Z of running a TTRPG, which I intend to cover in a series of blog posts over the coming months. Please suggest additional topics in the comments.
Recently, I ran a session for four people, three of whom had never played a TTRPG before. In addition to the time I spent preparing for the session itself, I spent a lot of time thinking of the best way to explain the different elements of the games to these new players.
I used several tools to help make it easier to get everyone on board. I chatted to the players online and asked them questions before we met; I created a bunch of printouts that they could use while they were creating their characters and during the game itself; I even worked out a few questions to ask them about what worked and what didn’t. In the end, the scenario took two sessions to finish, but everyone had a blast, and at least two of them wanted to keep playing.
We kept chatting after the game, and I got really excited by the idea that one of the players would like to start running games herself – or at least find a TTRPG group where she lived. This in turn got me thinking about the kind of advice I would give someone who wanted to run games for the first time, rather than just playing in them.
Another of the players suggested that I start by listing all the topics that I would want to cover, and use it as a framework. A basic ‘how to’ pack, that would end up as the A-Z of running a TTRPG, if you like. The idea is that I would keep plugging away at this list over a couple of months, and eventually end up with a complete guide. In between, I will keep posting updates about other nerdy subjects that I like (boardgames, crafting, whatever) and work in progress – even some creative writing. (Because I am easily distracted and I like a LOT of things.)
Please note that each of these topics could end up taking several posts. But I may end up posting more than each of these subjects in a month, so I’m not sure how long this is going to take me. I promise to share a lot of tricks, and recommendations for other good resources to use/people to follow, and to keep it fun.
In the meantime, take a look at the list of topics and let me know if there is anything else you think I should cover. Also, this list will probably change a bit over the next few months anyway, as I keep thinking of new and exciting ways to make work for myself.
How to run a tabletop RPG:
- What comes first?
- Choosing a system
- Putting together a group (party dynamics, gaming styles; choosing players)
- Finding players for a group
- Agreeing on the code of conduct
- Admin (so much admin; you will be amazed how much admin; why is there so much admin)
- Deciding what kind of GM you want to be
- Choosing a story to tell
- Character creation
- Choosing a setting
- Creating a story and a plot outline
- Creating memorable NPCs
- Choosing monsters
- Creating the villain
- Adding challenges (traps, puzzles, mind games, and riddles)
- Beginning the adventure
- Creating atmosphere and setting the mood
- Running combat
- Running magic
- Preparing for your game
Eventually, I would also like to cover a few more advanced topics, like the following:
- Drawing your own maps
- Creating your own campaign
- How to balance combat
- Dealing with players’ unexpected actions
- Keeping consistency
- Making the game fun
- Engaging your players