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Dungeons & Dragons - Dungeonmaster Training: Session Zero & The DM as a Player

Session Zero

I’ve talked about a session zero a couple of times in this guide, but never really went into what it actually is. Simply put a session zero is a planning and discussion session that happens before any dice are rolled. During the meetup you as the DM will lay down the ground rules for how this campaign will work. All kinds of aspects can be discussed, and some are listed below.

  • Game Lethality. Will PCs die a lot?
  • Scheduling. When are people free? What nights work best?
  • The Story. What adventure do you plan on running?
  • Roleplay. Are you expected to talk in character? How much?
  • Content balance. Do you run more Roleplay? More Combat? More Exploration?

So why should you even do a Session Zero? Setting these expectations from the start will save your game from future issues. Each player likes a different style of game. One person might like to play a game where the world is dangerous and PCs die a lot. Another wouldn’t want their pages of backstory to be lost and this style of play wouldn’t be for them. When these things are made clear from the start PCs will want to be at the table because you are running the kind of game they like.
 

The DM as a Player

Your enjoyment at the table as the DM is as important as all of your PCs. The DM is a player too. But unlike a PC being a Dungeon Master means preparation work, and also putting on essentially a performance for your party. It can be exhausting, seriously. If you aren’t having fun sometimes taking a break or even ending the campaign can be your best bet. Stepping down for a month or two while someone else runs a game can also do wonders to recharge your creative batteries. Whatever you do, remember your enjoyment matters too.