Dungeon Master Must-Haves To Run a Flawless Game of Dungeons And Dragons
Jun 21 , 2022
So you want to be the master of dungeons, do you? Believe me when I tell you there’s more to running a game of Dungeons and Dragons than just throwing a party of adventuring heroes into a pit of evil and having them desperately fight their way out. Dungeon Masters are crafters of worlds, they are the heart and soul of every enemy a party of burgeoning heroes might meet.
Players breath life into their characters. DMs bring to life all of the people and places of the world with which the player interact; all of the townsfolk, wise forest spirits and ancient forces that are neither good nor evil.
Basically, as a DM… (or GM as the cool kids are calling it these days) you are in control of everything except the players' decisions. It’s a tall order to fill. Thankfully, you are not alone in your quest to be the Master of Dungeons. We’ve put together a list of tools and components which to aid in the creation and growth of your D&D game. Let’s venture forth then, there’s no time to lose. Behold, our list of Dungeon Master must-haves!
Metal Dice Set
In the past decade, dice sets have made leaps and bounds in terms of variety and quality. As a kid playing Dungeons and Dragons in the early 1990’s, dice were plastic and you just chose the color you liked and that was it. Now, there are sets of stone dice, bone dice, glass dice and, for the DM looking for the most clout, metal dice. That’s right, Metal dice sets are very real and most excellent!
Now, as a Dungeon Master, the literal weight of the universe rests on your shoulders and it’s only fair your dice should have a little more heft to reflect that. Not only do metal dice feel great in your hands, but they’re made to last and are offered in a vast variety of great color schemes and styles to suit you and the personality of your game. Oh, and lastly, the metal dice sets from Forged Gaming come with convenient case with protective compartments for each die tray to keep your amazing DnD dice in pristine condition. As you can imagine, I have A LOT of personal favorites. But, right now I carry Gnomish Riches and Winters Blood with me to all my games. Check out the Forged Gaming Dice Collections and see what catches your eye!
So you’ve got your new dice but now you need to keep them somewhere safe…but not too safe. Get top Dungeon Master swank points for showing up with one of these Mimic Chest Dice Boxes. It’s a unique way to store your dice and is on point in terms of thematics. And just in case you’ve never encountered a mimic in your gaming days, let me quickly lay out a scene for you…
“The party slowly enters the room and after a quick search, Thayvel the party rogue spots an unassuming chest in the corner. Silently removing her lock-picking kit, Thayvel approaches the chest and reaches forward to open it…..Suddenly, the chest jumps forward as the lid opens up to expose a great maw of jagged teeth and a smell of putrid flesh. Lurching forward, the mimic chest tries to grab Thayvel, who luckily manages to roll backwards and out of harm's way.”
Not only are mimics a great way for Dungeon Masters to create trust issues with their players, but now mimic chests are a great way to store your dice as well and have a large amount of dice accessible to your players when the time comes for big damage rolls!
Deck of Many Things
Being a good Dungeon Master is sometimes more than just setting up a dungeon crawl. There’s a theatrical flair that sets the great DMs apart. Props go a long way to help with imagination…the mind’s eye…. And there is no better prop to have on you than The Deck of Many Things.
There are a number of magical items in the world of Dungeons and Dragons that are so wild and wacky that players really need to weigh whether the risk is worth the reward. With this, I introduce The Deck of Many Things. First introduced to D&D in 1979 the Deck of Many Things has been wreaking havoc ever since!
A character who stumbles across this rare magical item has the option to draw a card from the deck but once done, fate is now completely in the hands of wild magic. Very good things can come from a lucky draw but tragedy and torment are just as likely.
You can’t let your players see the devious machinations you have set up for them, can you? I think not. Therefore, you will need to get yourself a decent Dungeon Master screen to protect your notes and, importantly, your dice rolls.
There are a bunch of cool options out there and a lot of DM screens come with handy page holders so you can have your dungeon map and other information right in front of you as well as the option to get dry erase DM screens to have easily created quick notes like initiative, instead
of cluttering up the table.
Dungeon Master Journal
Much as the party needs to keep track of who they’ve met, where they’ve been and so on; so too must the DM keep a tally of the overall story. It would be no good to have the Dungeon Master not remember if the party made enemies or allies with a clan of wood elves in the event there’s another encounter.
The Dungeon Masters’ journal is also a great place to jot down story ideas for future sessions and is highly recommended for anything other than one-off dungeon crawls.
Sometimes the table can be tight, not able to give the players, or yourself, the room needed to really toss those sweet dice around. Dice Trays and Dice Towers can really help with creating a dedicated spot for players and yourself to roll the dice while keeping the table tidy and not having arrant dice roll through your combat setup. They can also bring a great enhancement to the to the
table with a dragon dice tower or a castle dice tower and tray. Your player will dive right in when the rolls are front and center so all can cheer with the coveted natural 20 or weep in despair with the dreaded natural 1.
Don’t get caught flat-footed when a party member decides to just up and start talking to random NPCs in the street. Having a list of names to start with is a great way to run with spontaneity and potentially spark up a new storyline you didn’t know even existed. You can either make these yourself or use an online name generator (there are a bunch of them to choose from).
Just like with NPCs, you’re going to want some extra maps of towns, dungeons, castles or whatever the party might encounter. You never know what a wily group of adventures might choose to do and it’s the dungeon master's job to be ready for anything and everything! The perfect thing to help build on your map making are Dry Erase Battle Boards, these bad boys can be anything you need them to be and are easily cleaned with a cloth. You can also build on top of them with some home-made terrain or terrain from another game such as Warhammer.
and your players excited!