You're about to run D&D for the first time. Awesome!

I've written several other posts explaining in detail the very basic information that you need to have on hand for your first session. This post summarizes all that, serving as a handy checklist.

What You'll Physically Bring

  • A 3-ring binder, paper notebook, or laptop with your notes
  • 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, twice as many sheets as the number of players
  • Pencils, at least 1 per player
  • Blank D&D character sheets
  • The D&D rules, digitally or physically

What's In Your Notes

The Starting Tavern

The first session will start in a tavern. You need a sheet of paper that includes the following:

  1. The tavern's name
  2. Who runs it (his/her name and one unusual thing)
  3. Where it is (the name of the town it's in)
  4. How big it is (small, medium, or large)
  5. What cool advantage it can give the player-characters (a cool drink, a special patron, etc.)

The Enemy Faction

You'll have one sheet of paper dedicated to the enemy of session one. For that, you need to identify:

  • The faction's name
  • Its leader's name and identity (this should be very basic, like "Artrax, an egomaniacal priest with a stutter")
  • The faction's type (bandits, goblins, zombies, etc.)
  • The faction's goals (how specifically it wants the world to be different in the future)
  • The faction's current resources (people, artifacts, weapons, secret knowledge, money, influence, etc.)
  • What the faction is currently doing in the world

Other Information

  • In-Game Calendar (to track how long it's taking PCs to go places, when the big villain will perform the dread ritual, etc.)
  • Blank session logs (just pieces of paper or a digital file to record what happened in the session)
  • PC sheets (again, blank paper or files to record information about what players want to do with their characters)
  • NPC names (a list of names so you can invent an NPC on the fly)
  • Maps (a handful of pre-made maps of castles, caves, and other hideouts)

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