So you want to run a fantasy RPG! This series of posts will guide you in running your first few sessions, getting your group established effectively.
In my previous posts, I created a simple enemy faction that I'll use as an example for your first game session. As a reminder, here's that faction:
Kogo, the shaman of a small goblin tribe, recently received a vision from Vargon, an otherwise minor god of conquest. Vargon showed Kogo the location of a crystal that increases the strength and cunning of the goblin tribe as long as they worship Vargon in the crystal's presence once per day. The goblins (20 adults and 40 young), always envious of their settled neighbors' consistent food supply, attacked two remote farms and took them over, and plan to take over about a dozen of them. They're trying to learn how to farm, though if that fails they'll just subjugate the surviving humans and force them to farm for the goblins.
Materials For Your First Session
You'll want to bring the following items to your first session:
- Dice, including all the popular polyhedrals: d20, d12, d10, d8, d6, and d4. It's best if you have one complete set for every player, but if not, you can share.
- Paper. Even if you keep your notes digitally, you'll probably end up using a piece of paper to sketch out a map or scribble a note on shared pieces of paper that everyone can see. Also, the players will probably want to take some notes. It's worth bringing at least a few sheets of paper just in case.
- Pencils. Pens can't be erased, and you'll probably be updating your paper maps and notes. Mechanical pencils don't have to be sharpened and usually have erasers built into their ends.
- Snacks. This may seem superfluous, but excitement will dip if folks don't have enough energy. Default to a couple bags of simple chips or pretzels. Nothing fancy or allergy-inducing. If you like to cook or bake, resist the urge to make your own treats; the extra work will add to your stress, and you'll be better off spending that time thinking about the game.
- The rules for the game you're running. You won't actually need to reference them much in your first session, but it's worth having them on hand in case an argument breaks out.
- Your notes. More on that below.
You'll need 3 main things in your notes:
- Information on the enemy faction. Basically just copy the paragraph above describing the faction, or write up your own with whatever tweaks you'd like to make.
- A map of the starting village. Just google "dungeons and dragons village map," switch to the Images tab, and grab whatever catches your eye. The players will inevitably ask where things are in the village, and while some people can make it all up on the fly and stay consistent, it's worth having a map to refer to if you have to.
- A list of NPC names.
This might seem superfluous, but inevitably your players will want to speak to somebody you haven't thought of: a bartender, a barmaid, an shop keeper, etc. It's often tough to come up with a name on the fly, so it's very helpful to have a sheet with at least a dozen names on it to which you can refer when the players ask for the name of an NPC you hadn't thought to name.
I recommend you fill a single sheet of paper with several dozen names. This will let you have names that feel different -- a few simple, homely names like Bram or Kara; complex names like Ellyhira or Alexadoria; and odd names like Shadow or Fan.
How to come up with these names? Just create a new document (if digital, split it into several columns), and use sites like Adventures of the Ebon League's NPC Naming Aids, Donjon's Fantasy NPC Generator, or Fantasy Name Generators.
In the next post, I'll go into detail about different places to store your notes (laptop vs. cloud vs. digital). While I recommend paper, for now, do whatever works for you.