So I'd like to start a D&D 5E game with my friends via discord and Roll20.

The problem however is that altough I have watched a lot of D&D, I nor my players (except 1) actually have ever played it. I've tried to do a lot of research, and am currently laying the land for a short one shot and/or small campaign. However I suspect that starting as a DM who hasn't even played the game before, I'm most likely going to screw this up, probably even killing the motivation for the players to come back.

I don't want this to happen. It took me a very long time to even realize my friends were interested, and it's not in my native tongue. Honestly, I'm even scared to start.

Currently, I feel like I'm drowning in rules, and don't know how to make sure I'm prepared and my players are prepared.

That's why I decided to come here and ask people here if they know of tips and tricks, tutorials, important rules, essential material or anything that could help me make this as enjoyable as possible for my players. I'd really like this to be the start of something great, and not be the end of my interest in the game :/

So yeah, if someone can help me, I'd be eternally grateful.

Much luv, a New DM

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have the starter set? The Basic Rules? What rules are you working with/from? What role playing games have you played before? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 23, 2018 at 20:06
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Bassically all i have is the internet. I used roll20 and am going trought the tutorial of how it works. It has a very basic dungeon and story that would probably take about an hour-3 or 4 hours depending on how they play. I dont really have a rule system as of yet since i dont know what would be best. We've never played actual board rpg games before, but we did all meet via a garry's mod rp server, so noone is new to the aspect of roleplaying itself. The starter thing i do have is the "masters vault" the kind of starter pack from roll20. Slagmoth Thanks for that! :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Derion
    Mar 23, 2018 at 20:18
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The Player Basic Rules are at WoTC's web site for free. for the DM there are here. Take a look at them both. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 23, 2018 at 20:23
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Derion, welcome to the site. Check out our tour to see how we work here. No problem on the matter of this being a duplicate -- it's not a penalty against you in any way. I hope the answers found in the duplicate are helpful. If you have follow-up questions on specifics, you're welcome to ask, including after you begin playing and bump into issues you're not sure how to resolve. If the duplicate isn't helpful at all, standard practice would be to revise this to clarify how. Once you reach 20 rep you're welcome to join us in Role-playing Games Chat, and you can ask for help using the site on Role-playing Games Meta. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 23, 2018 at 20:26
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Learning how to run a game on roll20 is a separate issue, and is an art in itself. You may wish to ask for tips on the roll20 details at the roll20 site. The "Getting Started" section might have the tips you are looking for. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 23, 2018 at 20:28

2 Answers 2


I won't post a link to an external source, but I will tell you that I was just in this position 2 months ago. Having played only a handful of games and having no experience DMing, I was intimidated to start DMing on Roll20 with a group of 5 players (in my case they were strangers to me).

The single best piece of advice I can give you is to not bog yourself down in rules. Use as many rules as you can remember and look up within a reasonable time frame. Anything that you are having trouble finding or remembering, just make up something that sounds good on the spot. What worked for me and my crew was to establish an understanding that when such mistakes were made, we would understand that, in the future, we would follow the official method for dealing with a situation.

A perfect example is a scenario that just occurred last week. A player suddenly attacked non-hostile kobolds, because they were negotiating the return of an evil white dragon wyrmling to their lair (running The Sunless Citadel). I ruled that this was a surprise attack, and gave him a round in which to perform his turn before initiative was rolled. Technically, in 5e, surprise is more of a status condition. Initiative is always rolled at the start of combat and creatures who are surprised simply cannot take any action until their first turn has passed. The distinction is that a surprised creature can only take reactions after their turn has passed - something very important to note if the characters doing the surprising are trying to maneuver during that surprise round.

All this to say: Don't let the rules ruin your game. You will learn them with time, and the only way you will learn them is by playing. The only way you will play is if you allow yourself to make mistakes. So have fun! D&D is about having fun, not rote memorization or mathematics.

As an addendum, consider purchasing a pre-written adventure from Wizards or finding one online. These will free you up to focus on learning the mechanical aspects of the game. After a few sessions, you can try to write your own adventures. I have started modifying my adventures now that I am comfortable with DMing in 5e.

You already have a lot to do: Learning the rules of the game, learning Roll20 mechanics, and learning Discord. Try to give yourself a break on writing an entire adventure.


Yes, knowing the rules as best you can is helpful. But I think the main thing is to not take it too seriously. What you are doing is making up stories. As the DM, you create the setting for the story, and play some of the people in the story. The players play other people in the story. The object of the game is to be part of making up and telling a fun story.

The rules are just there to help frame the story and provide a mechanism for the flow of events, but you as the DM are free to disregard any rules that make the story end badly or not be any fun. So relax, and make some characters and write down a place where it happens and some "bad guys" to provide the conflict that is a part of nearly all forms of storytelling, and have some fun.

Role playing games do not have winners and losers in the traditional sense. The DM is not playing against the players. Some of the characters in the story, that the DM provides, will be opposed to the players, but the DM himself is more of an impartial referee between the players and their adversaries, and again, is there to make the contest interesting and enjoyable.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .