10 Things Only DMs Understand About Dungeons & Dragons

The game of Dungeons and Dragons usually consists of two main roles, the players and the dungeon master. While players are primarily responsible for their own characters, Dungeon Masters have a lot more to do in their part of the game.

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There are many different aspects of the SM role that can only be understood when a person has done it themselves. Everything that happens behind the DM screen may seem mysterious to players, but it’s these hidden parts of the game that make playing as a Dungeon Master such a dynamic experience.

ten Dungeon Masters have way too much to keep up with


While players may be able to show up to a J&D session with very little preparation, this is not the case for most Dungeon Masters. The DM’s role is naturally to handle several different aspects of the game, even outside of complex combat scenarios where he has to deal with multiple enemies with unique abilities.

From an ever-growing roster of NPCs to the PC’s myriad plots and stories, the Dungeon Master has his work cut out for him, especially in a homebrew campaign. Only someone who has taken on the role will truly understand how much an SM has to handle.

9 Forget about plot points and characters comes with the role


Considering how closely a dungeon master must follow, it’s only natural that some things get overlooked by even the most diligent note-takers. While some DMs will do their best to disguise this fact using clever improvisational skills, sometimes the simple fact is that certain pieces of history will be lost forever.

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Luckily for Dungeon Masters, most players won’t have a better memory, and when they do, it’s simply an opportunity to use the player’s knowledge to fill in the gaps. Other times, reconnect events can also be a perfectly viable option.


8 Using player theories is just a smart way to get ideas


Occasionally during a Dungeons and Dragons campaign, mysteries or unexplained circumstances will arise that will cause players to speculate as to what is really going on. Most of the time the DM already has something in mind, but sometimes some of the player’s theories can end up being the most interesting explanation.

Under these circumstances, some Dungeon Masters will seize the opportunity to change their own ideas to match these new theories, and when players discover that their speculations were right all along, they will rarely suspect that it was their own thoughts that ended up. decide the outcome. .


seven Much of the game is invented on the fly


While most players J&D understanding that the role of a Dungeon Master requires a lot of improvisation, few who haven’t stepped into the role themselves can truly appreciate just how spur of the moment a DM really comes.

All the planning in the world can’t prepare a DM for the chaos imposed by player actions, but experienced Dungeon Masters are often able to play as if ready for anything. Even when things seem to be going according to plan, it’s only a matter of time before players hit the DM again for a loop.


6 Most dungeon masters don’t want to kill player characters


There is a somewhat ironic theory among many J&D groups that the Dungeon Master is there to kill the group. This is because the DM plays the bad guys, and the bad guys often want to kill the player characters, so as a result the DM tries to kill them.

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While it’s true that many Dungeon Masters will do their best to add an element of danger to the game, which can sometimes result in the death of a character, that’s usually not the goal. In fact, many DMs will be just as devastated by the loss of a character as the player themselves, if not more due to the guilt of being the cause of the event.


5 Dungeon Master Fatigue Is Real


Playing Dungeon and Dragons is a huge source of joy for many people, a chance to relax with friends and escape into a story of their own making. This is as true for DMs as it is for players, but sometimes the Dungeon Master role can start to feel like a burden.

This is often due in large part to the amount of effort a DM has to put into the game. Preparing maps, creating NPCs, adjusting storylines based on player actions can all be a lot of work. Many Dungeon Masters will appreciate the opportunity to play a game as a player simply to take a break from the effort of running a game.


4 Balancing the game can be incredibly difficult


Dungeons & Dragons group skills in combat

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition has undergone extensive play testing of both source materials as well as all new content that has been added to the game. Even with all testing, balancing the game for all possible combinations of characters, items, and monsters is one of the trickiest parts of being a dungeon master.

More experienced DMs will understand that the challenge ranking system is best used as a guide rather than a hard-to-follow rule, but few players will realize how often it becomes necessary for the DM to adjust an encounter to the fly simply due to the difficulty of being far from what they expected.




3 World building is great fun


A wizard overlooking the world of art

Playing J&D is a rewarding experience on its own, but for Dungeon Masters, the creative efforts made between sessions can be just as fun. Developing the story and the characters that will populate the campaign is part of what attracts some people to the role of DM.

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This is especially true in homebrew campaigns, where often all the setting will be created by the Dungeon Master. One of the most satisfying moments for a DM is watching players interact with the elements of the world they’ve created and watching it grow and develop as the party delves deeper into the game.


2 Players will still roll the DM for a loop


Planning can often be one of the most important aspects of the Dungeon Master role, but no amount of planning can prepare for the introduction of several different players, each playing a character with their own goals and personalities.

Few players will understand how often a Dungeon Master will be caught off guard during a campaign. Every decision the group makes in the game has the potential to change direction to something the DM didn’t foresee, which is a big part of what makes the game as exciting and unpredictable as it is.


1 Being the Dungeon Master can be an incredibly rewarding experience


A pair of wizarding students chatting in Strixhaven art D&D

In all games, no experience can compare to that of the Dungeon Master. With the ability to freely shape a world of their own creation while building a story cooperatively with a group of friends, it truly is an experience like no other.

Without stepping into the role themselves, it can be hard to comprehend just how rewarding being a Dungeon Master can be. That’s why so many people are willing to take on all the extra work that comes with the role, because the creative act that comes with being a DM is something truly unique to TTRPGs and the game of Dungeons and Dragons.

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