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How to Be a Better DM

Justin Lewis

Get resources on how to be a better Dungeon Master (DM) while playing D&D with your friends.

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02/01/22 • 40 min

Hey There!

Welcome back to another joint episode of How to Be a Better DM.

As always you can go ahead and sign up for our newsletter :https://how-to-be-a-better-dm.captivate.fm/subscribe

Mentioned in this episode:

Join the Guild!

To join a community of dungeon masters go to monsters.rent/guild and sign up for free today!

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02/01/22 • 40 min

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01/28/22 • 11 min

Sorry I'm a day late uploading! Subscribe to our newsletter here: https://mailchi.mp/05e568274671/subscription-page

By subscribing, you'll get access to behind the scenes content, bonus content, home-brew content and more.

In today's episode, we talk about how to prepare your players for a D&D session. We discuss things like useful materials for players, Rules and mechanics of gameplay, and giving players feedback on how to enhance their gameplay experience.

Please leave a review if you enjoy the episode, and feel free to reach out to us with questions or topics you'd like to see in the future!

Mentioned in this episode:

Join the Guild!

To join a community of dungeon masters go to monsters.rent/guild and sign up for free today!

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01/28/22 • 11 min

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01/20/22 • 12 min

You all finish your long-rest and you wake up to a bright, if not bitter cold winter morning. The view from the mountaintop lookout on which you slept is breathtaking, as is the chilling wind that blows. You all slept comfortably thanks to the warmth of the fire.

As you all wake up you prepare for the day, memorizing your spells, stretching your sore limbs and generally preparing yourselves for whatever may come next, except one of you.

Roen the druid, as you wake up you are met with the sight of a small brown squirrel sitting before you, patiently waiting for you to awaken. Tied around the squirrels neck is a tiny scroll of parchment.

Naturally, you reach down and untie the scroll and unroll it. As you do, the squirrel scampers off into the trees.

The scroll is very small yet is crammed with writing. The writing is clumsy as if it was written with charcoal rather than a quill and ink.

On the parchment is a line of text that turns your heart to ice.

“Help. Captured by Xyxyx in Waterdeep. Cynthia.”

And that is where we will end today’s session.

Welcome back to the 29th episode of How to Be a Better DM. I’m your host, Justin Lewis and I’m here to help you craft better stories for yourself and your players as you DM Dungeons and Dragons 5e.

Before we get to the show let’s go through a couple of announcements.

First, I hope you all enjoyed our last episode where you all met our new team member, Tanner Weyland. If you have any comments or questions for him or me, send us a direct message at @geronimolevis through Instagram.

Next, today’s show is brought to you by our monthly newsletter.You can sign up using the link in the show notes and get access to extra tips on being a DM, behind the scenes content and extra homebrew pieces that you can use in your campaigns. You can also sign up to play a one-shot with myself as your DM. This is first come first serve so sign up for the newsletter and let’s play a session together.

Now, to the show.

Planning your sessions can often be the most difficult part of playing D&D. Sometimes it helps to have a general structure to your sessions. Well let’s look at this simple D&D structure.

  1. What happened last time

One of the most important things you can do to start off a good session is a recap of the session before. This gives your players a chance to get into character and into the game. It also serves as a nice way to transition out of friendly chatter and into playing a game where you have to be quiet while the DM talks. Lastly, it’s great to remind your players what happened last because they’ve probably forgotten.

  1. Resolve what happened last time

Finish what you started last time. If you had just started an encounter, then run the encounter. If you left off on a cliff hanger then run through what implied the cliff hanger. Sometimes though, it makes for a nice twist to not resolve what you started but that is an advanced technique.

  1. Ask about Character’s Backstories

At this point, ask if every person’s back story has been featured lately. If not, add in something that relates to the backstory of someone. It doesn’t need to be in depth but it can be.

  1. Add the next main plot point

Think about the next logical plot point and prepare that. Pretty simple. Just beware, you will not be able to plan for everything. I like to ask myself the question, “What would I logically do next?” And then I prepare for that. Then I ask myself, “If I didn’t do that, what would I logically do?” Then I prepare for that. Then we end up doing neither of those things and doing something completely random that my players came up with at the moment. Se la vie.

  1. Prepare at least one encounter

Most often your players expect to fight something So I find it helpful to have at least one combat encounter in my back pocket. The best way to do this is using D&D Beyond’s encounter builder. It’s a great way to save an encounter and then go in and tweak it a bit when things have changed but you still need an encounter.

  1. Plan for the cliffhanger

The last thing you want to do is plan for a probable cliffhanger. I say probable because there’s no way of knowing exactly where the session will end. You’ll have a lot of input but so will the players. For me good cliffhangers are right before big encounters, or right after a reveal of something, or when there’s a twist. You’ll want to be thinking about your cliffhanger during the session so that you can prepare for it and possibly even change it.

There you go, a simple session structure that should help you figure out what your players will be doing next session.

Was this helpful? If it was please leave a rating and review so others can bask in the glory of Dungeons and Dragons!

I’d also love to know w...

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01/20/22 • 12 min

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What Makes a Perfect DM

How to Be a Better DM

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01/18/22 • 27 min

Welcome back to the 28th episode of How to Be a Better DM.

Today I get to introduce you to my new team member Tanner Weyland!

Before we go on, I’d like to invite you to sign up for my monthly newsletter in which you’ll get access to behind the scenes content, bonus content, homebrew content and more. Sign up for this newsletter here: https://mailchi.mp/05e568274671/subscription-page

Today we talk about what makes a perfect DM.

Here are some highlights of the show:

  • Energy
  • Unique creativity
  • Allowing the characters to do their own thing
  • Not being harsh

Mentioned in this episode:

Join the Guild!

To join a community of dungeon masters go to monsters.rent/guild and sign up for free today!

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01/18/22 • 27 min

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The Benefits of a Session 0

How to Be a Better DM

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01/13/22 • 13 min

You face your aggressors stoically. They scoff at you and you feel the presence of one as he edges around to flank you from behind.

“Leave me alone. I’ve never done anything to you guys,” you say.

The older boy looks at you and then looks at his thug-like friends. “You’re a freak, an orcish freak. You always will be.” He then nods to his friends.

You feel a rock hit you in your shoulder. It stings and you turn to look at the thrower. At the same time you feel a stick hit the back of your leg. You feel your knee buckle. You start to feel tears flow to your eyes.

You throw one punch and land it on someone’s face. You immediately feel one then two then three fits hit you in differently places, You instinctually fall to the ground and ball yourself up. Despite your efforts, you still feel flashes of pain in your head, your gut, your spine.

As the beating goes on, you realize they aren’t going to stop. You weakly whimper out a pathetic, “please..”

Your eyes fade to black.

You hear, “I can save you.”

You don’t even question it. You respond, “please save me.”

When you open your eyes, there are four bodies on the ground. Four young boys lie at your feet. Your hands are smoking and for once, you feel no fear.

What would you like to do?

Welcome back to the 27th episode of How to Be a Better DM. I’m your host Justin Lewis and today you and I are going on a journey. That’s right. We are going to explore what it takes to create amazing experiences for yourself and your players as you DM a session of Dungeons and Dragons 5e. It’s going to be a back and forth and hopefully we each learn something.

Before we go on, I’d like to invite you sign up for my monthly newsletter in which you’ll get access to behind the scenes content, bonus content, homebrew content and more. Sign up for this newsletter here: https://mailchi.mp/05e568274671/subscription-page

In the January issue of the newsletter you’ll get a special opportunity. There will be a link to sign up to play in a one-shot with me as your DM. It’s first come first serve so make sure to sign up fast. It’ll be a one-shot online and it should be a lot of fun... I hope. So sign up for that newsletter and let’s get to know each other.

I also want to take a moment and share my gratitude with you. You’ve made this podcast possible and I just want to say thank you.

Now why would you plan a session 0? What a great question.

First, you should probably know what a session 0 is if you’ve never heard about it. I won’t go into too much detail here but a session 0 is a first session of a campaign where things aren’t completely set in stone. You get to play the characters before having to commit to them.

So why would you plan a session 0?

Well there are a few benefits.

  1. You can spend more time with each individual player

One of the nice things about session 0’s is that you can split them up. For example, if you are having a campaign of 5 players, you can have a session 0 with 2 of them, 3 of them or even one of them. I don’t really recommend doing it with just one, but you could. You can have a session 0 with just 2 of your players which makes it more intimate and helps your player feel like you care about them and their character because you do.

  1. You can have your players play test their character

We’ve all had players who’ve played a character that they weren’t really into that much. Playtesting during a session 0 allows your players to see what the features, spells, actions and abilities actually do in a live session. This changes it from, “That sounds really cool,” to “that was really useful and really cool.” I truly hate it later in the campaign when I start to wonder if a player is having fun. A session 0 can help them find the character they love and will have lots of fun playing.

  1. You can have your characters meet each other

One of the biggest thorns in my side is figuring out a way to get the characters to meet each other without completely distrusting each other and somehow finally forming into an adventuring band. I don’t know why but it’s really hard for me. With a session 0 you can actually play the moment when 2 characters meet and become friends. This makes it easier when in session 1 you have all the characters meet and a few of them already know each other. Critical Role does this really well in their 2nd Campaign on Youtube.

  1. You can help set expectations before getting too far

As a DM you might have to train your players. This means you’ll probably have to help them understand that your campaign will likely take months and that it will be a commitment and that you expect them t...

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01/13/22 • 13 min

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Who SHOULD Play as a Barbarian

How to Be a Better DM

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01/06/22 • 13 min

You look around you. You see the circle of stones surrounding you. You see Judir watching you with his arms folded surrounded by your closest friends and companions.

You take a deep breath and walk forward.

“The winds whisper still,”

Runic symbols appear on the stones of the circle.

“The voices of the ancients.”

You stand above the bowl with it’s red liquid.

“And the mountains remember their steps.

You bend over and pick up the bowl.

“Their hearts beat still with the rhythm of our drums.”

You raise the bowl to your lips.

“And we dance to the rhythm of theirs.”

You drink the liquid.

“The storm carries the embrace of our elders as through us their memory lives on.”

You open your eyes. You don’t remember closing them. You also don’t remember being so cold. You look around you. You are on the slope of a mountain. It’s snowing. You see the mountain peak. You see the dancing lights of the northern sky surrounding the mountain. You hear a faint drum beat and distant voices singing an ancient song.

What would you like to do?

Welcome back to the 26th episode of How to Be a Better DM. As always, I’m your host, Justin Lewis and together you and I will learn how to craft ever better stories for yourself and your friends as you DM a session of D&D 5e.

Before I get to today’s show, let me make a few announcements.

First of all, welcome to a brand spanking new year! I hope 2022 is everything you hope it will be for you and more. This year you will have amazing adventures that you can’t even fathom yet. You’ll have struggles and triumphs and I’m excited for you.

Next I’d like to invite you to join us on those adventures. The best way to do that right now is to sign up for our monthly newsletter. You can do so on this link: https://mailchi.mp/05e568274671/subscription-page

When you sign up you’ll get access to behind-the-scenes content, special event links (like the one-shot I will be hosting, more on that in a second), and even access to homebrew content I make that you can test out and give me feedback on. As more and more people join the newsletter we’ll put more and more stuff in it. So go to the link here in the show notes and subscribe.

As I mentioned, I’m going to DM a one-shot online for a handful of people. If you’re interested make sure to sign up for the newsletter and then look for the link to sign up for the one-shot there. It’ll be a fun experience and you’ll even get to give me feedback and be my critic :)

I think that’s all the announcements ... for now... so without further ado, let’s talk about barbarians.

As I said last week, any person can play any class and still have fun. Your job as a DM though is to help shepherd your players to find the class that offers the experience any given player is looking for. That means you should know what each class is good for and what each class does not offer. Last week we talked about who should not play as a barbarian.

This week, let’s look at who would have the most fun playing a barbarian.

  1. Someone who wants to be strong

If someone wants to be strong, then a barbarian class is a great fit. You get a natural bonus to strength and while you are raging you get advantage on strength checks. So if your player is looking to be the beefy fella at the gym that everyone stares at, then a barbarian is the way to go.

  1. Someone who wants to be up-close-and-personal

Barbarians, while being able to throw javelins and use ranged weapons, are not known for being ranges combatants. In fact their rage only gives them a bonus if they are using melee weapons. Most barbarians therefore tend to stay close to their enemies in order to get in there and whack em real good.

  1. Someone looking for simple combat turns

Most barbarian turns are comprised of movement, rage, attack. As you level up, that attack action allows you to attack more than once. You may find magical items that allow you to do more on your turn, however talking just about the class itself, a barbarian’s combat turn is relatively simple compared to other classes. This makes it a great option for someone who doesn’t want to have to write their whole turn down just to remember it.

  1. Someone who enjoys describing combat

Obviously any class can do this, but because a barbarian’s combat turn is very simple it allows for more time to craft intricate embellishments of attack options. Even as a DM you can do this for your player if they are somewhat shy or un-descriptive. For example. Your player might say, “I attack the gnoll.” They then roll and roll a 18 which is a hit. You ask them to roll damage. They roll 7...

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01/06/22 • 13 min

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12/30/21 • 12 min

You and your companions finally crest the hill. Judir said it wouldn’t be far and it wasn’t.

He leads you all through a small copse of trees to an overlook with large stones in a circle.

“Ulv, you stand in the center of the ring. The rest of you, sit down and witness.” Judir says with a tone of finality.

You give each of your party members a meaningful glance and then move to the center of the ring as your friends sit down on the ground outside the ring of stone.

Judir walks up to you and pulls your pack off of your back. He then beckons for you to remove your shirt. He take is all out of the ring.

He comes back and now has a small bowl in his hand. He dips his finger in the bowl and then begins moving the finger along your face, neck and arms. He’s painting something.

“You will be completely alone. Your friends won’t be able to help you and neither will I. Once you start the ritual, you have to finish it... or it will kill you. Now is your last chance to change your mind. After this there is no going back.” Judir turns his back on you without letting you answer. He moves a few feet away and places a bowl on the ground, uncorks a cask and pours a liquid into the bowl and then sprinkles some powder into it. He then walks to outside of the circle and says, “Drink the liquid and say the words to begin.”

What would you like to do?

Welcome back to the 25th episode of How to Be a Better DM. I’m your host Justin Lewis and I’m here to help you craft more compelling stories for yourself and your friends as you DM a session of Dungeons and Dragons 5e.

I hope you all had an amazing Christmas with you and your family. See, that’s what it’s all about, family. I hope you and your family had an amazing Christmas and maybe even had some fun playing games like D&D.

Next, I’d like to remind you to sign up for my monthly newsletter starting in January. You’ll get access to behind the scenes content, access to homebrew items, game hooks and one-shots and even the ability to sign up to play a one shot with me and some other cool cats! If you want to sign up for this awesome newsletter, sign up here: https://mailchi.mp/05e568274671/subscription-page

Now, a few weeks ago we talked about who should and shouldn’t play a rogue. Well, we’re continuing our discussion today with who shouldn’t play a barbarian!

Aside from the wizard and the fighter, a barbarian might be the quintessential D&D class. When people think D&D, they think wizard, fighter and barbarian.

But not everyone is cut out to enjoy a barbarian.

Like I’ve said before, anyone can play any class. Period.

But each class offers different experiences and if you’re looking for the following experiences, you won’t want to play a barbarian.

  1. You want to avoid getting hit

Barbarians have the ability to halve a lot of damage types when they are raging. This means they are ideal to be up front and center in most fights. Being a barbarian generally means you are the spearhead in most fights. So if you are shy around getting hit by weapons, you might not want to play a barbarian.

  1. You enjoy complicated combat turns

In D&D the only true limitation is your imagination! That said, unlike monks who can punch like 15 times a turn or sorcerer’s who can cast like 15 spells, as a barbarian, you generally whack. When you get higher levels, you can whack whack, and later even whack whack whack. Oh and don’t forget to RAGE!! Yeah that’s generally how your turns will go: Rage, move, attack. Sometimes you’ll do a strength check or stuff like that but compared to the other classes, a barbarian has a relatively simple action economy.

  1. You Want to Be a Ranged Combatant

As a barbarian, you will naturally get a bonus to your strength. As well you get a bonus because of rage to your melee attacks. Put these two together and choosing to fight with mostly ranged weapons is seriously foregoing a large part of the class.

  1. Being the Absolute Smartest

Unlike the other more academic classes (your wizard or your bard), the barbarian is not known for their powers of intellect. I’m not saying you can’t have a tremendously intelligent barbarian, but I am saying in character creation we each make choices. There are tradeoffs. As a barbarian, you will likely prioritize strength and other physical characteristics. So get used to showing off your muscles and not your brains... usually.

  1. Don’t like to be High Energy

If you want to play a character that is generally calm and smooth and relaxed, then a barbarian might not be for you. One of the central pillars of being a barbarian is th...

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12/30/21 • 12 min

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2 Christmas Themed One-Shots

How to Be a Better DM

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12/23/21 • 14 min

You finish pouring the elf’s blood in a circle in the prescribed way. “Hey Bolgir, are you sure we’re supposed to do it this way? Doesn’t this seem uh.... Somewhat uh... hellish to you?”

Your dwarven wizard pauses and looks at you and says, “Well, honestly yes, but this is what that cooky wizard, Kamere, said when we were at that council meeting. It’s even here on his shopping list he gave us.”

You smile. That parchment did indeed look like a shopping list.

Bolgir steps to the center of the bloody circle and looks toward the arch of uncut stones. He mutters a few words and smacks his hands together. The space under the arch splits as if reality itself were torn. The rift widens and soon you see a large figure step through. They had dark blood red garb trimmed with stark white fur. You hear a tremendous laugh, deep and imposing. You feel a gravity that accompanies those of great power. It’s then that you notice the scenery through the right behind the figure. You expected to see the bright colors of the Feywilds. Instead you see the dark hues of Shadowfell. You then notice the figures eyes glowing blood read.

“Bolgir, I think we’ve made a mistak....”

Instantly you are blasted with a wave of power as the red-clad figure blasts you and your companions and then bounds off towards the village.

You and your companions raise yourselves to your feet.

What would you like to do now?

Welcome back to the 24th episode of How to Be a Better DM. I’m your host Justin Lewis and I’m here to help you craft better stories for yourself and your friends as you DM a session of D&D 5e.

First of all, Merry Christmas! I sincerely hope that this holiday season sees you surrounded by loved ones and filled with joy.

Second, I’d like to invite you sign up for a monthly newsletter I am going be publishing starting in January. The newsletter will include updates from the H2BBDM team as well as bonus content, behind the scenes looks and access to Homebrew content created by me! A little teaser of what you might get this January is access to a new item I created called the Gym Bag. If you want to know what it does, sign up for the newsletter at :https://mailchi.mp/05e568274671/subscription-page

Thirdly, would you like to join a session of D&D with me? I’ll be your DM for a one-shot online. I’ll be looking for five people to sign up for a fun one-shot on a first-come-first-serve basis. How do you sign up you ask? Well sign up for the newsletter and then in January you’ll get the sign up link right to your inbox. I’ll tell you right now, I got a few interested people already so be quick or you lose your chance :)

Now, in honor of this festive season, here are 2 Christmas themed one-shot or side quest ideas for you to celebrate the season.

  1. The Search for the Prophesied Child

This one shot starts with your adventurers arriving in a foreign port after having been charged by a benevolent mage-king to find and bring special gifts to, a prophesied child of great power. The whole side-quest will take place in a kingdom that is at war with the Kingdom to which the benevolent mage-king belongs, therefore he needs adventurers to go incognito to find the child.

At the foreign port, along with any other tasks the adventurers want to handle, they must first find a guide to take them through the desert to the region that is prophesied as the site of the child’s birth. I would give them a couple options, each with consequences, for example. One group might find a desert guide name Yosran who is a large Dragonborne, but is secretly a spy for the malevolent kingdom. If the group travels with Yosran, there is a large chance that they will be stopped by enemy legionnaires.

The next challenge is for the group to travel through the desert. This will encompass survival checks, random encounters if you want, and possibly even some planned encounters such as fighting a cloud giant.

Finally the group will find the child, and in a true Christmas-3-kings-vibe, will present the gifts to the child and their parents.

The last challenge will be to help the child escape when it is found out that a large army of soldiers has been sent to kill the child. If it’s a one-shot, it might be cool to have the heroes give their lives fighting the army 300-Style so the babe and it’s parents can escape. I would plan another method for escape though because your players may not like that option. Having a diversion and a secret escape where the group only needs to content with a handful of soldiers is a great option too.

The end of the one-shot may feature the heroes returning to the mage-king brining the prophesied child and it’s parents to explore a bright new future, or something li...

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12/23/21 • 14 min

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Can You Play D&D with 2 Players

How to Be a Better DM

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12/16/21 • 11 min

Can You Play D&D with 2 Players

Welcome back to the 23rd episode How to Be a Better DM. I’m your host Justin Lewis and I’m here to help you craft more immersive stories for yourself and your players as you DM a session of D&D 5e.

Thanks for coming back week in and week out to listen to this show. I am extremely grateful to you for your support.

I’d like to invite you to sign up for a monthly newsletter I’ll send out with updates and behind the scenes content as well as free home brew content that you can try in your campaigns. If you would like to sign up for that, click this link: https://mailchi.mp/05e568274671/subscription-page

So, you are wondering, can you play D&D with 2 players?

Simple answer: Yes.

But how do you make it incredibly fun?

Here’s how.

  1. Make sure you create a character as the DM

Playing with just one player is a great opportunity to make your own character as the DM. You’ll have fun being a player and it will give you a great chance to focus on your role-playing skills as well. You just need to make sure that your player is the star and has just as much fun as you do.

  1. Make the sessions much looser.

Having one player makes it much easier to follow every single side quest of your player. This means that you can follow every rabbit hole and improvise without worrying about making sure each player gets fair time.

  1. Dive deep into the back story

With one player you can work deeply on their backstory. You can spend much more time working with your player on hashing out their character’s quirks and really generating a backstory with twists and turns that your player will enjoy.

  1. Don’t focus on long sessions

With just one other player you won’t want to expect extremely long sessions. If you do your job and make the sessions really fun then you’ll have no problem doing long sessions but with two people it might get stale. Be prepared to be flexible with how long you and your player play.

  1. Make sure you and your player get along

Because there will be just one other person at the table, you have to make sure that you and that person can get along for hours and hours and hours. Because theoretically, that’s how long you and your player will be playing. So take some time and get to know your player. If it’s an acquaintance, don’t give the expectation of a long campaign. You should also hang out with that individual for some period of time, just to make sure you get along.

  1. Spend extra time learning lore

As a DM of only one player, you have the opportunity to delve deeper into the lore of your campaign. This allows you to offer more immersive experiences whenever your player asks you interesting questions about the lore. When you give your player a deeper answer to a question about the lore it will help immerse the player and give them an experience they won’t forget.

  1. Make every NPC A Real Character

Because there are only a few real people sitting at the table, every NPC will have to feel like a real person. You’ll have to spend extra effort and energy in making each NPC a true character with quirks, traits, and funny characteristics that are memorable. Spend time giving the NPC’s layers. Doing so will help you and your player feel like you are surrounded by more people.

There you have it. You can play with just two players and here’s how you do it.

Thanks for listening to today’s show. I really appreciate your support and would like to invite you to reach out to me with any ideas you have for the show or just to tell me how your DMing is going. Reach out to me @geronimolevis on Instagram and let’s get the conversation started.

We’ll be back next week for another great episode. Until then, let’s go ahead and roll initiative.

Mentioned in this episode:

Join the Guild!

To join a community of dungeon masters go to monsters.rent/guild and sign up for free today!

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12/16/21 • 11 min

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02/03/22 • 11 min

You all enter the doorway at the back of the chamber. This dungeon had given you and your companions many challenges. You’d almost lost McGregor in the first room and as you descended lower, each level became harder.

In this last chamber, you’d expended all your magical energy just trying to put this pit fiend down. You look back at the demon, already its body is starting to turn to sludgy black ichor. You turn and follow your friends.

You all walk down a long stone hallway and enter a very small room. In the room there is a single stone dais on which rests a very strange object. There’s what looks like a box with a round pane of glass on one side on a stand inches above a slab of something grey with square pellets on it. As you get closer, you see the pellets all have a single character on them. They’re arranged in some sort of grid pattern. You reach out and touch one. You hear a click. Instantly, the glass pane on the box lights up and you see moving particles of black and white and you hear a faint buzzing. You reach your hands toward the glass pain and you feel energy dancing on the surface. You touch the screen and flash!

You open your eyes and find yourself surrounded by numbers and lines of light. You are in a very strange place that seems all angles and lines. There is nothing organic here. Instead of dirt, you stand on what feels like a mix between glass and metal and off in the distance you see the large gathered lights of a city at night.

What would you like to do?

Welcome back to How to Be a Better DM. I’m your host Justin Lewis and together you and I are going to explore how to tell better stories while you DM a session of Dungeons and Dragons 5e.

Have you ever wanted to play D&D with people but you were separated by time and space....?

Well as far as the time thing goes, can’t really help you. I’m fresh out of Tardis’ and Delorians.

But the nice thing about living in the technological age is that distance is relative.

You can now play D&D online with your friends or family, or complete strangers.

But what do you need to play a session online? What a great question. Let’s dig in.

  1. Video conferencing tool

Aside from the basic essentials of needing a story and players, you need a medium through which you can all communicate. Obviously you can use free options like Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangout. Honestly, you could play just over the phone (but your minutes will probably go way over your monthly budget). I wouldn’t recommend playing over the phone because having that visual component is so easy, affordable and just really nice! If you are looking for just a video connection tool, I would say Zoom or Google Hangout, but the drawbacks are that you can’t do them for really long sessions. So my next recommendation would be a platform.

  1. Platform

After a video conferencing tool, the next thing to have would be a platform that syncs together all the players and everything that’s going on. I prefer Roll20. It allows you to use Video as you play and it also syncs the rolls of all the players and adds a lot of cool features that the DM can use. I am not affiliated with them but I really like what they do.

  1. Visuals

The next thing I would say you need is visuals. When I say need here, I more mean “it’s really easy to add and it’s free so you’d be really stupid and lazy not to add it.” The point is there are so many free options out there that taking the time to make your sessions better takes just that time. For visuals again you can literally google cool maps and stuff and then slap that into a word doc or paint and have your players tell you where to move shapes that represent them. Obviously you can always use theater of the mind, but I personally love to look for tools to help immerse my players.

  1. Music

After visuals, the next thing to think about is audio. Because everyone is already in front a screen, adding cool audio effects is nice and honestly a lot easier than doing it at the table because you as the DM are already on the computer. If you get really into it you can look for voice changing softwares to help make each of your NPC’s unique. I really like how Mark Hulmes did this on High Roller’s Aeirois because it really made you get the feeling of the NPC’s.

  1. A strong internet connection.

The biggest drawback to playing online is that you are at the mercy of your internet speeds. Said another way, you never have to wait for the other players at the table to buffer when you are playing in person. So, to get the best experience while playing D&D online, you gotta look for ways to improve your internet speeds. You also need to help your players when they have troubles. Sometimes your players just can’t make it happen and you have to be ready as a DM for that.

Those are all the things I ...

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02/03/22 • 11 min

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FAQ

How many episodes does How to Be a Better DM have?

How to Be a Better DM currently has 126 episodes available.

What topics does How to Be a Better DM cover?

The podcast is about Leisure, Hobbies, Games and Podcasts.

What is the most popular episode on How to Be a Better DM?

The episode title 'How to Help Your Players During Character Creation' is the most popular.

What is the average episode length on How to Be a Better DM?

The average episode length on How to Be a Better DM is 23 minutes.

How often are episodes of How to Be a Better DM released?

Episodes of How to Be a Better DM are typically released every 7 days.

When was the first episode of How to Be a Better DM?

The first episode of How to Be a Better DM was released on Jul 7, 2021.

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