The Ye Olde Wayfarer's Adventurer's Almanac
Updated: Sep 3
Where Do I Start?
The First Gaming Session
Welcome, Friends and Adventurers, to The Ye Olde Wayfarer's Adventurer's Almanac.
Okay. So, you’re new to theworld of Fantasy Roleplay. You’ve bought and read the Core Rulebooks, picked up a Gamemaster’s Screen, printed or purchased the Character Record Sheets, and several sets of Dice. You’re essentially ready and excited to gather some friends and play your first session, but where do you begin? .As a newcomer to the role of becoming a Gamemaster, this can be as every bit as daunting as it is exciting, however as many gamers will tell you, this task does become somewhat easier with experience. But let me assure you that the task of getting your first game together shouldn’t be any harder than it needs to be. There are several things that should be kept in mind any time you’re starting a new game, but especially for the first game. As a Gamemaster, (Dungeon Master, Castle Keeper, Narrator, etc.) you have a number of responsibilities which must be addressed before gathering to play. Over the course of the next few posts, I will discuss several tips that I have found to be successful in setting up and running the first session of your game.
Decide what kind of adventure you want to run-
Will it be a single standalone adventure that not only will introduce your players to the game but also be wrapped up in a single night, or will it be the beginning of a much bigger story? From my own personal experience, starting a campaign from the very first night can be a bit
overwhelming for both new Gamemasters as well as new players, so I would personally recommend the standalone adventure. While I know that it is tempting and most desirable to write and run your own quest, it can be overwhelming to anyone who is new to role-playing. So, if you want to get a feel for how to balance the quest out before taking your adventurers into The Lost Mines of Athomar, then you can opt for a ready to run adventure which can often be found in either the core rulebooks, beginner sets, or even a standalone module from whichever system is being used. After all, this may be your first outing as a GM, and for your players, it might very well be their first experience in Fantasy Roleplay as well. You may be a magnificent storyteller with epic ideas that will make your players feel as though they are personally taking the “One Ring” to Mordor, but you want to take this, and maybe even a few more gaming sessions to get a feel for running a game before delving into a lengthy campaign.
Provide a time and place to meet-
The gaming session has to be held somewhere. Will it be at your home? …at a hobby store? …a friend or relative’s home? This needs to be known before scheduling the first session. Also, if it is being held anywhere outside of your home, what are the rules of the place where it is being held? You don’t want to encroach on another person’s home or a store in a way that negatively impacts your presence or the game as a whole. Once the location is established, set a time which agrees with the player’s schedules and the place where the game is being held. Don’t be stressed about a few latecomers. Some of the best adventures began with a member being late. This will be discussed in detail in a later post.
Set-up a pre-game session-
Sometimes the first session need not be an adventure at all. It can be a gathering to create characters, go over the game itself to explain how things are run, establish house rules, table rules, as well as the etiquette for what is expected during the game, discuss what kind of adventures the players would like to play? Some may have recently watched The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and want to play an epic quest, while others may have been intrigued by the gritty, grim, and bare bones brutality of the Game of Thrones TV series and want something along the lines of this style of gameplay. It is up to you as the Gamemaster to find that happy medium that allows both you and the players to enjoy the game. Depending on the type of game
you run, the pre-game session can be an hour before the quest, or an entire session of its own. (Note- some of the more complicated systems of character creation may require a full session just to build a character- this will be discussed in the next post)
While the first quest is often the hardest, I hope that these tips and those to follow will help beginning Gamemasters and those who have had less than satisfactory first sessions get off to a better start. These tips are from my personal experience over the years. I have had many successful and failed games, as will many of you. Don’t let the failed games determine your worth as a Gamemaster, but as lessons to improve upon for future games. I will relate my story with both successful and failed games in a future post, but for now, I want to wish you well. Happy adventuring and see you soon.
W. R. Frady