D&D DM'ing by Matt Colville


This is for 5e only and all the races are officially released by WOTC in one form or another.

This isn’t meant to replace core books but to give a basic overview. And yep, the links are for visuals only.


Requesting some advice from the DMs in this thread:

Planning to DM for a group of friends in a few days. Played a couple of short sessions with them before doing the 5e starter quest (‘mines of philaria’ or something…), but it was a very casual and hilarious affair. For starters, the DM hadn’t even read the rulebook beforehand, so we basically winged it. Resulted in some funny stories to say the least.

This time round I’m the DM, and I’ve made an effort to learn the basic rules from whatever I could find online. I imagine it’ll be a fairly casual experience with a few murder-hobos.

Since none of the 1-shots I’ve seen online so far have taken my fancy I decided to work on my own one. I’ve probably got around 3 or 4 hours of gametime to fill. I found a got a bunch of pre-generated characters to save time on the character creation section (unless peeps really want to make their own).

My WIP 1-shot right now is as follows

Local town has hired some mercenaries to take down a group of goblins who’ve been terrorising the town. Game starts with the party in the forest where the most goblin activity has been seen. Suddenly a cry for help and be heard nearby - a local villager under attack.

This’ll be the first combat involving some goblins, maybe an attack dog as well. If the NPC lives, he’ll reveal that his son has been kidnapped by goblins, knows where their cave is and then tags along. If he dies, it’s up to players to use Int checks or something to follow the goblin tracks.

Party arrives at the goblin cave. If they breezed through combat then some more guards here, maybe as an opportunity for stealth or Charisma. ‘Don’t want to alert the goblins inside’ and so on. The cave itself will be filled with some traps / puzzles that I’ll find online. If time is running short some of these areas can be cut down…

After that they arrive at the large main chamber, only to find all of the goblins have already been brutally murdered. Weapons, bodies etc strewn everywhere with a wounded person on the other side of the chamber. NPC recognises the person as his son and runs over. Observant players may notice some silver spears lying on the floor, or broken chain links.

Turns out the son was actually a werewolf the goblins planned to tame - and failed. Person transforms into a wounded werewolf and serve as the final surprise boss. RIP NPC, roll initiative.

Planning on modifying the werewolf’s stats. Slightly lowered damage, replace the immunities with resistances and make silver weapons do bonus damage.

Am I way in over my head? Any advice for first time DM? I don’t have access to any big rulebook, just the free stuff. And seeing how I might not ever play D&D with these people again buying a big new set seems wasteful…


I think everything you’ve got planned sounds great! Don’t overthink things, and I probably wouldn’t worry about modifying the werewolf.

If this is a one time thing a tpk should be a real possibility.

Good luck!


So based on my experiences in a different environment, and advice in this thread, I would have a backup way for the party to find the cave. Maybe make it so that the tracks are obvious, even a crappy check would find them, but have the result of the check determine if they trigger some traps on the way to the cave or follow the tracks precisely so as to follow the goblins own avoiding of their own traps?

Edit: In fact this can be something that you put into play regardless of the NPC surviving if you so wished.

Edit Edit: Ooh, ooh! You could also kind of foreshadow the ending, note (after an intelligence check or whatever is appropriate) that the traps are tending to look like they’re set to be most effective to things coming away from the cave…

But it sounds cool, love the twist :smiley:


Thanks for the advice. I’ve no idea if I will end up using this homebrew quest or not, but either way I plan to write it up so I’ve got a small quest ready to go. Could always lead into a bigger ‘find the cause of the werewolves’ or something if I find a group who wants to keep playing.


Exactly! :+1:


Got a map of the tomb for myself. I plan to be re-drawing it as the players explore on a separate sheet of paper. Should add to the mystery of traversing a dungeon.


You might even want to have them draw the map as you describe it. :slight_smile:


Now there’s an idea…


For those of you who like a bit of mobile playing or DM’ing check out the OrcPub Mobile app Kickstarter!

They’re 8 days away and $5K short. Their site is already incredibly helpful for character creation.

Happy gaming!


Shame OrcPub failed to meet its target, used the website for some enemy stats and a mobile version could have been very useful.

The DnD session I ran went very well. Only half of the people actually turned up but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. I see what people mean by making sure you stay flexible as a DM:

After the barkeep refused to give them any more free booze (this was the 3rd time the players went back for more drinks) the party decided that the goblins can’t be worse than the village, and teamed up with them to raid and pillage. There goes that dungeon I spent the weekend planning.


Actually it got shut down. Legal reasons likely stemming from DNDB. Which is a shame as OrcPub was a superior product.

As for the dungeon, just save it for another game!

Though, I may have had the goblins attack the players for infringing on their turf. :smiling_imp:


10 dot dot dots


I have a long delayed session, the 7th or 8th, of Masks coming up in a week and a half by the way. Last session ended with one of the guys going completely aggressive and kidnapping an NPC with the rest of the super hero team so that they could gain information from them, instead of just trying to do it where they were. So the session in a couple of weekend’s time is going to be their interrogation.

It’s probably the first session that, despite me never planning for it to go that way, lets me really dig into the game’s mechanics. “Adults” telling the players what is what, and messing with their stats, goading them to rebel against authority or accept their elders’ world views.

Plus the whole story at this stage is a double cross of sorts… the more successful they are in pursuing this path the more “devastating” the potential outcome for one particular player, at least in terms of hopefully taking the story in a direction that they don’t expect.


That’s always the best part!


The guy they’ve kidnapped is an alien offworlder who has become a sort of broker for all kinds of silk road like shady deals. He’s a bad guy with a bad face, or rather on deeper inspection he’s possibly as close to a true neutral character as I’d consider putting in a game.

He operates in plain sight but with just enough plausible deniability to never be kept by the authorities for long. The team thwarted a seasoned mercenary assassin*'s reconnaissance mission of the city mayor’s a few sessions ago, which led them to this guy.

As far as they’re concerned I think they believe they’re working on pulling down a plot to stop the assassination of the mayor** before it can even start. But earthly politics is not global politics, and for this job at least the broker is operating on the side of what would be deemed “good” by Earthly super hero standards, though perhaps in a morally dubious manner.

*named: “Even Steven”. God I love operating in the semi-camp environment of superhero settings

**Meryl Streep, as it happens.


Actual Meryl Streep?


Yep. In this world, an alternate universe, she was one of the more prominent “supers” and swept the election to be Mayor of the massive city that is known now as Halcyon City, home… for one reason or another… to more than the average super powered and alien happenings on earth. Retired from both acting and super heroeing to better focus on the betterment of the diverse citizenship of this part of the world.

One of the players has a really questionable imagination


You mean awesome, don’t you?


First ever painted mini, I’m pretty happy with it

Just need to fix the mouth and do a wash