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  • Writer's pictureW. R. Frady

Where Do I Start?

Updated: Jan 29

The First Gaming Session

Part 5-

Welcome, friends and fellow adventurers, to The Ye Olde Wayfarer’s Adventurer’s Almanac, where we talk about the fantasy gaming hobby, be it rules, sourcebooks,

inspiration, world building, and more. Pull up a chair, grab a tankard of your favorite beverage and listen as we discuss the topic at hand. If you’re new, thank you for stopping in, but if you’re returning, then you will recall that when last we gathered, we were talking about how to prepare for your first session and quest as a Gamemaster. We will cover this subject for players in the near future, but for now, let’s focus on the one who builds, prepares, and runs the game. From the responsibilities leading up to the game night, to how to approach the first session as a whole, we have covered what seems like a lot of territory, but in truth, there is much more which you can only learn through personal experience. It is through my personal experience which I bring this information to you. Don’t let this overwhelm you, though, for just as a wizard, warrior, rogue, or priest can learn only so much from their guild master, there is only so much that sourcebooks, and advice can teach you before you are left to learning from experience alone. Anyway, that being said, let’s continue with the latter of the aforementioned topics- how to approach the first session or quest.

Remember that the rules are a guide and ally to the game, not an Iron Fist-

There are games which the rules must be applied in order to play the game, example, Chess, Checkers, Monopoly, Clue, etc. However, the majority of Fantasy Roleplay does not fall into that category. The Core Rules of whichever system you choose to use, be it Dungeons & Dragons, Castles & Crusades, or Pathfinder, RIFTS, Warhammer, etc. are intended to provide malleable parameters in which the game should be run and adjudicated. Without these guidelines, roleplaying would easily become as chaotic as playing Cops & Robbers, Knights & Wizards, and such games as a child. Remember when you were playing together with your friends and then that one friend in the group would suddenly turn on everyone and become completely invincible just so they could dominate the play? Yeah, that’s a good reason for these guidelines to be in place. But just know they are merely tools to help run the game fairly and justly. It has been in nearly every Player’s Handbook since I began playing that Should any rule detract from the fun of the game that it can be dismissed. However, do so with utmost discretion as it can tip the balances in the game.

Be aware that the group you start with may not be your permanent group-

People come and go, lives get busy, jobs are changed, and often interests switch. So do not be discouraged by this. Sometimes you will have an amazing cast of player characters who can explore vast lands in an epic tale of fantasy, other times you may have a group who just want to break the game. I have had my share of both, and it is good to recognize the difference. Nothing can be more frustrating, as a Gamemaster than to spend days and hours preparing for a great adventure filled with excitement and adventure, only to have a group of players whose sole purpose is to steal, kill and destroy everything in their path. After all, the game is supposed to be fun for everyone, this includes the Gamemaster. Unfortunately, as a GM, you may see that the best course of action for a group is to pull the plug after the first adventure if it seems more stressful than fun. This hearkens back to the first session being best as a standalone quest. So, understand that you may, over the course of time, have several first gaming sessions to prepare for, especially while searching for your group.

Reduce or remove distractions that can hinder the game-

This is vital to a good gaming session. If

you are playing in your home, and someone is playing the PS5, Xbox, or Nintendo Switch in the background, players will easily be diverted to see what is going on as opposed to focusing

on the events of the quest. I had this happen before, and the results were disastrous. Distractions can also be someone trying to roll up or choose a character while the game is getting started, which hearkens back to the pre-game session. Often it is best to have a last-minute player, choose their character (unless it is a pre-gen character which only needs a name to begin) and have it ready for the next game. As stated before, when players have to wait for prolonged periods of time before the game can begin, they will soon find other means of entertainment. Distractions include but are not limited to- excess talking during the game, spectators who are more worried about socializing than watching the game, phone notifications (within reason), TVs playing in the background, and more.

Most Importantly- It doesn’t have to be flawless; just have fun and tell a good story-

This is probably the most important part of approaching your first gaming session, or first quest. You are likely just stepping into the world of Fantasy Roleplay, as are your players. The game doesn’t have to be perfect, be it story, description, action, etc. it just needs to be fun for everyone involved. This includes you, the Gamemaster. You should have just as much fun running the game as the players have being the characters in the game. If you do this, your game will be successful, no matter how it turns out.

Well adventurers, it looks like we have come to the end of this topic. We have covered a lot of ground over these last few segments, and I hope that you find some part of this if not all of this useful as you begin your roleplaying journey. As stated above, from here, you must learn from your own experiences. You may find even better and more successful ways of preparing for the first quest, and if you do, I would love to hear about them. After all, I am still learning, even now, as will you, as the roads open up before you. If you have found this discussion helpful, then please come back for even more topics, as The Ye Olde Wayfarer’s Adventurer’s Almanac embarks on more adventures to come. Until next time, my friends, happy adventuring!

W. R. Frady

Disclaimer- All products pictured above are from my collection and are for reference only. Dungeons & Dragons, and Castles & Crusades each belong to their respective companies.

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