I just DMed for the first time last Monday and the TL;DR is it was interesting. A word of caution, for those who have not played this campaign, there will be spoilers.
Here is a bit of my experience being a noob DM. I learnt the hard way that you have to prepare, prepare and prepare as much as you can or be very good at improvising. Those are just the basics but let me tell you what happened in my module.
The module I ran was ‘No Foolish Matter‘, a D&D Adventurers league module, it is a pretty short module around 2 hours of game play and the plot is pretty interesting. I read the whole story about 4 times before I felt I was ready. I anticipated players response, players actions and made a time line on who they would be talking to in a certain order for the story to make sense. In hindsight it was not the best preparation that I could have done but you always have 20/20 when looking back.
Before the start of the session I was ok, I was not really nervous but the anticipation of the unknown was exciting.You did not know what would be coming next in term of battle or role-playing and for that specific module role-playing was key. I had answers prepared for several questions that I could expect and different tones for each individual characters.
When we started the session, I told them about the backstory and placed the players into the Inn where they would start they journey. As all of them were in a faction, they knew why they were here. Those players by the way have a lot of D&D experience in their belt.
As we are progressing through the first part of the story I was able to guide them towards the key NPC which would give them an idea of what is happening around here. The talk was pretty straight forward and I was actually able to use some of my pre-generated answers.
My goal was to help the players get the maximum XP possible with the achievements so they talked to a few NPC before going to a stable and resting. Why stable you may ask? Well one of the character trait of the player is being bad at socializing, so I improvised and got them into a stable. Fortunately I was able to keep them at the Inn with a meal and drinks before the Carnival arrived.
At that point in time I was pretty happy on how the story unfolded and minus a few hiccups, we were able to get back on track. Well little did I know that this is where everything was not going to go as plan. My original goal was to get the players to play a few carnival games before proceeding with their investigation but what I did not predict was because their faction asked them to investigate, taking part in the carnival was at the very bottom of their To-Do list. They knew about the disease and went straight for the performing animals. I jumped the gun and started listing a whole bunch of animals, from monkeys to rats. They chose the monkeys and went straight for their tent and actually caught a few monkeys before their show started. What I did not predict and not even with 20 hours of preparation would I have predicted that, one of the players used ‘Speak with Animals’ on one monkey!
In that split second I had to think and try to remember how does a monkey acts or talks? I never studied monkey before! They wanted to find out about the disease but due to the nature of the module, the monkeys knew nothing but they were underfed… That’s what I came up with on the spot and because of this poor decision the trainer got yelled at several times.
There is still some nice nuggets from the session and I will cover them in the next article! Stay tuned!