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5 Tips for Gamemastering an RPG System for the First Time

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Inspired to try your hand at running a new roleplaying game for the New Year? Approaching an unfamiliar ruleset can be daunting, but with the right tools you can learn the mechanics more quickly and easily, making for a smoother first session when you finally have a chance to play! Here are my five tips for teaching yourself a new RPG system.

Tip #1: Equip Yourself with a Beginner Game, Starter Set, or Quickstart Product

Publishers have tried to make it easier than ever to pick up and start playing their games. Rather than starting out by reading the whole core rulebook cover to cover, you might want to check your friendly local gaming store, DriveThruRPG.com, or the publisher’s website to see whether an introductory product is available.

Beginner games and starter sets are meant to ease new players and game masters into the rules through play, which makes learning a new system fun and low-stress. Many physical beginner products come with everything you need to play the game, from dice to maps and handouts to pre-generated characters. The rulebooks are condensed, so they don’t take as long to read, and the adventures are designed to highlight the essential aspects of the rules.

So-called “quickstarts” tend to be PDFs or small booklets that serve a similar purpose, although you might need to add your own dice or print/photocopy your own character sheets. You might also look for digital downloads of Free RPG Day offerings from past years, which typically contain quickstart versions of the rules along with a short adventure.

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