Living Forgotten Realms – Becoming a DM

I’ve officially taken a new step in my dungeon mastering today: I’ve decided to become a DM for at least one Living Forgotten Realms game (LFR).  I’ve played in three LFR games so far at my local store, Enchanted Grounds, and I’ve had a good time.  But I know that I really like being a DM, too, and when the person who organizes LFR games at the store sent out a message saying that he still needed DMs for several games and one of them was for a module that I’ve already been through as a player, I took it as a sign.

I sent a message to Rich, the organizer, letting him know that I was interested and asking what I needed to do if I wanted to be a DM for LFR.  He said that the main requirement was willingness, but that I also needed to become certified as a DM for organized play with Wizards of the Coast in the Role Playing Games Association (RPGA).  This meant that I had to go to the RPGA web site and take (and pass!) a test.  The test was a 20-question open book test, and I’m proud to say that I passed – but a little ashamed to say that I just barely passed.  I needed to get 16 out of 20 questions right, and that’s exactly what I got.  From the questions that I missed, I learned the following useful facts:

  • When a character or monster takes the coup de grace action to attack a helpless opponent, they still have to hit with an attack roll (bearing in mind that the target is granting combat advantage).  IF they hit, it’s an automatic crit, but if they miss, they miss.  I thought it was an auto-hit.  Hmm, maybe Zod shouldn’t be dead after all…
  • If you have total concealment against a creature (you’re invisible or for some reason the creature just can’t see you) then that creature can’t take an opportunity attack on you if you move away.  Logical, but I missed it.
  • If you’re dazed, you’re not allowed to delay your turn.  Go figure.

Anyway, I did pass the test, and Rich has sent me the module that I will be running: WATE1-1 Heirloom.  In the language of LFR modules as I understand it, this means that the module is set in Waterdeep (WATE), that it’s for low-level characters (the first 1) and that it’s the first in a series of Waterdeep modules for low-level characters (the second 1). I’ll be running it on July 24, 2010, which gives me a little less than a month to prepare.  That should be plenty of time.

WATE1-1One potential problem that I discovered is that I’m used to being an online dungeon master (hey, that’s the name of this blog!), which means that I don’t necessarily have the supplies I need to be an in-person dungeon master.  I do have a battle map, which is good, but I only have one.  When I’ve played in events at the store in the past, the DMs usually have multiple battle maps with the encounter areas already drawn on them (to save time).

The real problem is that I don’t own any minis.  None.  As the DM for the game, I’m responsible for providing minis for all of the monsters.  In looking through the encounter, I need a bunch of minis with a lot of variety.  I’m fine with using some kind of tokens (colored glass beads, for instance) for the minions, but actual creatures probably require actual minis.  I might be able to borrow some from Nate and Bree, but that’s not ideal.

What are your suggestions for acquiring or improvising minis?  How should I go about buying them, if I go that route?  I have no interest in painting minis, just to be clear.  Should I make my own out of Play-Doh or something?  I read another DM’s blog who talked about doing this and letting the players squish the bad guys when they killed them, which sounds like fun.

One option is to stick with what I know – MapTool!  There are sites out there that talk about setting up a projector with your laptop and using that to project the battle map and the monsters onto the table electronically. I’ve seen this sort of thing in action once, and it was way cool.  It’s expensive, though, and I’m not ready to sink that kind of money into a setup unless I know I’ll get a lot of use out of it.

I’m looking for suggestions!  What should I do about minis?

8 thoughts on “Living Forgotten Realms – Becoming a DM

  1. You should check out both Fiery Dragon and One Monk miniatures.

    Fiery Dragon does some really nice token sets.

    One Monk miniatures has free paper minis.

    • Interesting – I hadn’t thought too much about the possibility of using flat tokens with images on them instead of little statues. I have lots of images already from running my online games and I’m sure I could find images that would work for what I’m looking for.

      Do you have any tips on what I should make the tokens themselves out of? Just print them on paper? Print on card stock? Print out and then attach to some kind of wooden or plastic disk/square (so they don’t blow away when somebody sneezes)?

      • I haven’t yet had a chance to use the ones I bought, since I have a fairly extensive mini collection, but I’ve seen them on poster board, cardboard, wooden chits… The wood ones were the most sturdy, but the poster board wasn’t too bad either.

    • Good suggestion about the cardboard, but I like Ismael_DM’s link to Newbie DM’s blog where he talks about using metal washers as the backing (with the bloodied version of the picture on the back side of the washer). I’m going to give that a try.

  2. I’m actually going to start DMing in August! I didn’t know about the “test”, I guess I’d better go take it.

    There’s a gentleman at EG, Ian, who has that projector setup. He *MAY* let you use his setup, but I have no idea if he will or not. I have a few mini’s, but I plan on mainly using dice for minions. If my mini’s don’t match the encounter, I’ll tell my player’s to use their imaginations :).

    • Cool! Good luck with the test. It’s not that bad – it’s “open book” after all – but a little trickier than I expected.

      Thanks for the tip about Ian. I must have met him the first time I ever played D&D at Enchanted Grounds for the PHB3 Game Day – the DM had this awesome projector setup. I didn’t know his name, but I’ll definitely look him up. I don’t expect him to lend out his rockin’ projector setup, but I’d like to pick his brain about how he built it, what software he uses, etc.

    • This totally rocks. 1″ metal washers – genius! I wonder how long it would have taken me to think of that. I’m almost certain that this is the approach I’m going to try. Thank you!

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