Encounters and Exploration: A Newbie’s Thoughts

The first time I was asked to run a game, I fell into a state of panic. I remember constantly worrying Shao about it (“What’s the story? What’s the end game? Where do we want to bring the guys? Wait, what is this character’s secret again?”) and finally Shao said, with an immense amount of patience, “Alanna, just have fun. Take this for help.” He opened up his notes to a few handdrawn maps with scribbled notes.

When I ran that very first game I was a nervous wreck, fortunately alleviated a bit by the fact that I was running the game for friends who knew it was my first time and were a little more inclined to be more forgiving. But what really helped was that I had that little cheat sheet that Shao drew for me of the first village map, with hidden creches and secret encounters and other key features. The map gave me some major features that served as prompts and I was able to fill in little details myself on the fly as players moved around the playmat.

I didn’t have the luxury of such a drawn map for my second outing as a newbie DM, but I was buoyed by the tiny success of the previous attempt and inspired immensely by the forested playmat and plastic miniatures that were laid out on the table. A storyline and hook had been brought forward from previous weeks of our campaign, so it was up to me to work out the different encounters the players might run into. On hindsight, it definitely wasn’t the best adventure planned, but I think my players had fun and I learnt a lot about the importance of interesting encounters and how they were key to leading adventurers forward to more exploration!

So what I’m trying to say is that really, Dungeon Bash is just an opportunity for everyone to create some fun. I certainly wasn’t by any stretch an experienced DM or even a seasoned D&D player; but with some imagination and inspiration from a playmat and plastic dragons, I was able to let a few players have some hours of fun, participatory storytelling. I think that you, no matter your experience, can inspire such fun too. See you at Bash!