Embarking on Your First Adventure: The Ultimate New DM Guide – No Experience Required

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Creative Dungeon Mastering for the First Time
Unleash Your Creativity, Forge Epic Adventures: Embrace the Art of DMing with Pathfinder TTRPG Inspiration!

In the captivating realm of tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs), the role of a Dungeon Master (DM) holds immense significance. As the visionary storyteller and conductor of the game, the DM’s role is to weave intricate narratives and bring the world to life for the players. Among the vast array of TTRPGs, Pathfinder stands out as a fan favorite, renowned for its immersive storytelling and dynamic gameplay.


Are you venturing nervously into the role of a Dungeon Master for the first time? DMing can be a relaxing outlet that brings your friends and family together to the game night table. Being a Dungeon Master can be as hard or easy as you make it since everything is at your fingertips for creating depth and implementing rules as you see fit.


This article is a call to all aspiring DMs, urging them to embrace their creativity and embark on an epic journey filled with adventure, mystery, and excitement. Let the path of Pathfinder TTRPG inspire you to become a master storyteller, shaping unforgettable tales for your players to experience and cherish.


Pathfinder RPG Adventures for a new Dungeon Master.
Theater Of The Mind Or Miniatures Depends On Your Style Of Play

Section 1: Getting Started with DMing


Becoming a Dungeon Master may not be a daunting task, but it does require dedication and experimentation. Throughout this journey, I’ll share valuable DM tips to help you avoid time-consuming mistakes and frustration.


Beginner DM playing Pathfinder 2E with Kids


For me, DMing is the ultimate outlet for creativity and imagination, allowing me to unleash my storytelling potential and bond with my kids. The heart of DMing lies in entertaining both yourself and your players through immersive worlds and captivating scenarios. As you set forth on your creative path, you have options, whether building a world from scratch using Pathfinder as your foundation or finding well-written adventures that can be tailored to your narrative.


Prepping a game session is an essential investment of time and effort, especially when delving into prewritten adventures. Understanding the flow of the narrative lets you pepper the sessions with foreshadowing and hints, enriching the players’ experience. Although prewritten adventures might require adjustments for believability, avoid the temptation of preparing every possible path. Embrace the art of AdLibing as players often take unforeseen routes, ensuring an ever-thrilling and unpredictable journey.


You have to learn to embrace the rhythm and flow of your players. They are unpredictable variants in your story. In other words, they are part of the story. You need to direct the flow of the overarching plot but their unpredictability is what makes getting there so fun. Do not try to write a book when you are creating an adventure from scratch, and do not over-edit prewritten adventures. Creating or following an adventure is not the same as writing a novel. Basically, you use the Pathfinder Core rule book and whatever prewritten adventure you’ve chosen as the plain cake and then you add some tasty frosting and delightful sprinkles but not too much. Inevitably the players will ruin an over-decorated cake and you’ll be left in tears. Allow your players the freedom to live within the narrative although they do need to respect the game. Players should follow these simple rules:


  1. Roleplay beyond the character sheet by thinking like your character and responding to situations based on their personality and backstory, seeking the DM’s guidance if needed.
  2. Show respect to everyone by arriving on time, paying attention, and committing to the game, acknowledging the effort the DM puts into preparing the campaign.
  3. Embrace cooperation between players and the DM, ensuring everyone has their moments to shine and contribute to the unique and enjoyable experience.
  4. Don’t hesitate to ask the DM for help and clarification, understanding that they are there to assist and guide you as you learn the game mechanics.
  5. Discuss your character concept and ideas openly with the DM, describing your vision without relying on game-specific terms, allowing for a collaborative and immersive character creation process.

Related: Make Sure Your Players Are Comfortable!

How Quiet Is The Midea U-Shaped Air Conditioner?

Pathfinder Core Rule Book

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Game Mastery Guide

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Pathfinder Bestiary

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Section 2: Things You Need To Get Started DMing


The materials you may need for your first DM session depend on how fast and how deep you want to dive into running TTRPG sessions. I started with Pathfinders’ free online rules and a printer, as well as pen and paper. I created a simple starter adventure using those rules as scaffolding and then gathered my kids around the table and began. It really can be that simple and affordable.


Pathfinder DM Beginner Box Original


After that initial adventure, I added the Pathfinder Beginner Box ( 1st Edition at that time ) and some miniatures because it came with an erasable fold-out dungeon grid. The beginner boxes are fun because the adventure is usually pretty straightforward and they come with pre-generated character sheets that you can Level Up if you decide to keep that character past the beginner box adventure.


Pathfinder DM Beginner minis


You do not need miniatures to have a good time. It really is a matter of preference. Nowadays we hardly use miniatures at all and instead, opt for “Theater Of The Mind”. Miniatures force you to have exact locations and positions during combat but the theater of the mind allows all positions to be in flux. The choice is exactness Vs narrative but there is a cheaper middle ground and that is the Pawn Boxes that Pathfinder offers. They are double-sided hard cardboard 2d miniatures of creatures and non-player characters from the bestiaries. Check them out and grab at least one box, we still use the one box I bought long ago.


Pathfinder 2E DM Beginner Buy List


Over the years I’ve added the excellent and solidly crafted Core Rule Book. The Rule book should always be regarded as a suggested guide. It does the work of simulating for you so that your guesswork can be less. You by no means need to read the whole Rule Book before playing. This is why I prefer to play with new players because they are not rules lawyers. If we need to create a house rule or adjust a book rule then we do it. If I forget a rule then we wing it. The object of the game is fun. Pathfinder TTRPG is a game and games are for fun. So find a group that is okay with fudging rules sometimes because you will find your enjoyment level increasing and your session preparation time decreasing.


Lastly, I’ve added the Gamemastery Guide and Bestiary to my collection. The bestiary holds some nostalgia from my youthful days when I would flip through a DnD bestiary and be inspired by its creatures. The GM’s guide offers great insights into creating and running TTRPG game sessions. I highly recommend it as a read-over-time book to help you slowly build your dungeon master skills.


Other things you may need:


  1. Pencils and Paper from your local store.
  2. Printer Paper and Ink from your local store.
  3. 3 Ring Binders and Sheet Holders from your local craft section.
  4. Dry Erase White Board and Dry Erase Maker Assortment (To lay on the tabletop for quick maps of locations).
  5. Note Books (For players to take notes during the game session).
  6. Game Dice. A set comes with the Beginner Box but experience has taught me that each player should bring their own or have their own available. 
  7. A cheap Chrome book to keep prep your RPG sessions and to keep notes on your favorite App. The Chrome book also doubles as the DJ for ambient music.
  8.  Snacks! Check Out our article on ways to get your kids involved in game night!


Section 3: Navigating the OGL and Third-Party Content


Paizo OGL content creators for Pathfinder TTRPG


The Pathfinder Paizo OGL (Open Game License) is a licensing agreement introduced by Paizo Publishing for their Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. It allows third-party publishers and creators to use certain rules, mechanics, and content from the Pathfinder RPG in their own products. This includes elements like classes, races, spells, feats, and other game mechanics. By using the Pathfinder Paizo OGL, third-party publishers can develop and distribute compatible and supplementary content for the Pathfinder RPG, fostering a vibrant and diverse ecosystem of adventures, rulebooks, and other gaming materials.


Wizards Of The Coast creators of Dungeons and Dragons recently tried to revoke and change their OGL which would consequently result in many 3rd party content creators losing their source of income. Only after an uproar from the TTRPG community did they apologize for trying such a maneuver. The DnD community has long realized that 3rd party content is far better than anything Dungeons and Dragons has produced in a long time.


At the time of this uproar, Paizo decided to renew its long-standing promise to always and forever keep its OGL available to creators. With this being said there are 2 fun adventure books from DnD I’d recommend to new Dungeon Masters looking for inspiration. They both offer several short adventures that can lead to a full-blown campaign. However, they both require some modification and fleshing out to grasp the possible ways you would present it as an adventure to players. A rules lawyer would tell you I’m wrong but these are both compatible with Pathfinder 2nd Edition:


DND beginner New DM books



3rd Party Content:


For new Dungeon Masters seeking thrilling adventures, there are three standout names to consider: GhostFire Gaming,  Modiphius, and Kobold Press. These renowned publishers offer captivating content that will ignite your storytelling and immerse players in unforgettable quests:


1. Ghostfire Gaming is a reputable and innovative publisher known for creating exceptional content for various tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs). Their products are designed to enrich and enhance gaming experiences, captivating players and Dungeon Masters alike. With a focus on high-quality artwork, meticulously crafted rules, and engaging narratives, Ghostfire Gaming has gained popularity within the TTRPG community.


One of the standout features of Ghostfire Gaming content is its versatility. Their supplements cater to a wide range of gaming systems, including Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, Pathfinder, and other popular TTRPGs. Whether it’s expanding character options with new subclasses and races, providing comprehensive guides for world-building and dungeon creation, or delivering thrilling adventures filled with unique challenges, Ghostfire Gaming consistently delivers content that resonates with players from all walks of the tabletop gaming world.


In addition to their creativity and dedication to producing top-notch content, Ghostfire Gaming maintains a strong commitment to inclusivity and representation in their products. They strive to ensure that players of all backgrounds feel welcome and empowered to immerse themselves fully in the worlds they create. As a result, Ghostfire Gaming’s content not only fosters captivating gameplay but also fosters a sense of community and shared storytelling, making them a beloved and respected name in the TTRPG industry.


GhostFire Gaming YouTube Channel 


2. Modiphius Entertainment is a prominent and dynamic publisher, widely recognized for its outstanding content in the tabletop gaming industry. With a diverse catalog of role-playing games and board games, Modiphius has carved a niche for itself by exploring various genres and settings, catering to a wide array of players’ preferences.


New DM TTRPG BEST Campaign Book

One of the key highlights of Modiphius’ content is its dedication to licensed intellectual properties. They have masterfully adapted popular franchises such as Star Trek, Fallout, Conan the Barbarian, Odyssey Of The Dragonlords, and many more into thrilling tabletop adventures. This approach not only attracts existing fans of these iconic universes but also introduces new players to the captivating realms and characters they adore.


In addition to their licensed properties, Modiphius has crafted original and immersive role-playing games. These games cover an extensive range of genres, from post-apocalyptic worlds to Victorian steampunk, offering players a chance to delve into entirely unique and richly detailed settings. Each product features exceptional artwork, innovative mechanics, and deep lore, showcasing Modiphius’ commitment to producing high-quality and engaging gaming experiences.


Modiphius Entertainment continues to push boundaries, evolving with the gaming community’s needs and preferences. Their dedication to storytelling, diverse game settings, and high production values have firmly established them as a leading force in the industry, earning them accolades from players and critics alike. For those seeking thrilling adventures and unforgettable experiences, Modiphius’ content remains a top choice that promises endless hours of excitement at the gaming table.


Modiphius Entertainment’s Best Set For Beginner DMs

Starter Set

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Core Rules

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3. Kobold Press is a renowned and esteemed publisher in the tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) community, known for producing exceptional content that sparks the imagination of both players and Dungeon Masters. With a strong focus on originality and high-quality craftsmanship, Kobold Press has carved a niche for itself by exploring various fantastical realms and delivering captivating experiences.


One of the standout features of Kobold Press content is its dedication to world-building. Their campaign settings, such as Midgard and Southlands, are meticulously crafted with intricate lore, diverse cultures, and unique regions, offering players and DMs a wealth of opportunities for immersive storytelling. These richly detailed settings allow adventurers to explore vast landscapes, encounter fascinating creatures, and partake in epic quests, making each gaming session a thrilling and memorable experience.


Beyond their immersive campaign settings, Kobold Press also excels in creating player options that enhance character customization. Their wide array of sourcebooks introduces new subclasses, backgrounds, spells, and magic items, providing players with boundless opportunities to shape their characters to suit their unique vision. This commitment to creativity and diversity in character options ensures that players can fully immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of the TTRPG world.


Whether delving into the mythic world of Midgard or exploring other fantastic realms, Kobold Press content consistently shines as a beacon of imaginative storytelling and role-playing excellence. With their dedication to world-building and player options, Kobold Press has earned a well-deserved reputation as a beloved and essential resource for adventurers seeking unforgettable experiences at the gaming table.


Beginner DM Pathfinder 2e DM screen
Pathfinder 2E DM Screen

Summing Up The First-Time DM Process 


So let’s put all this information together so you can get started faster and get to creating some fun RPG sessions. 


First, familiarize yourself with the rules and character creation in Pathfinder 2e. NoNat1s YouTube series, “Pathfinder 2e Beginner’s Guide,” provides valuable and free tutorials to get you started. Additionally, visit the Archives of Nethys webpage for comprehensive core rule book rules at no cost.


Next, select a prewritten adventure to run. You can begin with the Pathfinder 2e Beginner Box or explore options from Kobold Press’ Prepared Adventures or delve into the world of Midgard. Remember that all adventures require some rewriting and prep time per session, so opt for a simpler and less time-consuming one to start.


Once you have your adventure and grasp the rules, it’s time to find a group. If you don’t have a ready-made group of friends or family, consider advertising for players. There’s a process to find compatible players who share your passion for the game and storytelling.


Step-by-Step Process for Finding Players as a New Dungeon Master


  1. Determine Your Preferences: Decide whether you want to run games in-person or online. Consider factors like time commitment, player availability, and your preferred campaign module.                             
  2. Utilize Online Platforms: Explore websites like r/LFG (Looking for Group) to find potential players who match your desired criteria. Post a clear and detailed recruitment ad, specifying the time slot, frequency, and campaign module you intend to run.                                                                                                                                                                                       
  3. Screen Players: Be prepared to screen potential players to avoid flaky or unreliable individuals. Engage in conversations with interested players to gauge their commitment and compatibility with your game.                                                                                                                                                                          
  4. Embrace Homebrew from DriveTruRPG or Published Adventures described above: Decide whether you prefer a Homebrew campaign or a published module. Both have their merits, but published campaigns can serve as a familiar and enticing hook for players and often do a lot of the world-building for you.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
  5. Set Parameters: If running online, take advantage of the flexibility to set specific time slots that work for you. Finding players who align with your schedule is essential for a successful and consistent game.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
  6. Be Patient and Persevere: Acknowledge that there might be some ghosting or flakes among the responses you receive. Stay patient and continue searching for players who share your enthusiasm and commitment to the game.                                                                                                                                             
  7. Establish Communication: Once you have a group of players, maintain clear and open communication to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding attendance, rules, and expectations.


By following these steps and being proactive in your search for players, you can create a rewarding and enjoyable gaming experience as a new Dungeon Master. Remember that finding the right players may take time, but the effort will be worth it once you assemble a group that shares your passion for storytelling and adventure.

Kobold Press 12 Prepared Adventures!

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Kobold Press Midgard Setting



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Kobold PressVault Of Magic



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In Conclusion

The article highlights the Pathfinder TTRPG community as a source of immense creativity and inspiration for Dungeon Masters and players alike. Golarion’s vast lore offers a fertile ground for imaginative storytelling, while iconic Adventure Paths serve as ready-to-run campaigns, igniting the imaginations of DMs. The game’s customization options, from races and classes to character development, empower DMs to tailor their adventures uniquely. The cooperative nature of the game fosters a shared experience, encouraging players to embrace their characters’ personalities and let their creativity flow. With Pathfinder TTRPG, the possibilities for storytelling and adventure are limitless, making it an ideal platform for unleashing creativity and creating unforgettable tabletop experiences.

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