Getting into D&D

Addendum_Forthcoming

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Samtemdo8 said:
What plane does Dragonlance take place?
The World of Krynn is a Prime location. Like most D&D settings. Oerth, Krynn, Abeir-Toril, Toril, etc.

It's important to note the difference between 'Material Plane' and 'Prime Material Plane' ... MP makes the assumption that there are merely different worlds in the MP that are physically separated (ala Spelljammer) ... the 'PMP' assumes that there is sorta, kind of, maybe only one but it's multifaceted and complex, and infinitely large but with finite dimensions that contain many worlds within it and is bordered only by other planes of existence.

It's hard to explain. The cosmology in oneD&D setting naturally is different from other settings. Only Planescape truly tried to give philosophy to the madness of creativity.

It seeems like a needless nitpick, but there isa reason why they did it.

See, in D&D 2 & 3.x there are various incarnations of the Dismissal/Banishment spells, that works on extraplanar beings... and the whole point of the 'the Prime' is if you get dismissed/banished, you end up on a specific world as opposed to randomly somewhere across any number of worlds.

Which is a big fucking deal if you ever play Planescape. One of my Planescape (3E adjusted) characters came from the Forgotten Realms (Toril) location of Cormyr, a human bard from Suzail. So if I got banished hopefully I'd end up in a safe location on Toril somewhere. In Spelljammer you basically just have airless space making up most of the Material Plane. So 99.999999999999% Banishment would mean death.

Basically the first thing a party should do in a Planescape campaign is pitch in to rent or create a hideout on the Outlands if they ever get separated, and make sure all characters have enough common use portal keys to get from their home plane to a gate town or other major portal onto the Outlands.
 

Satinavian

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Addendum_Forthcoming said:
It's hard to explain. The cosmology in oneD&D setting naturally is different from other settings. Only Planescape truly tried to give philosophy to the madness of creativity.
It is also worth noting that most of this convoluted mess is so old it is from 2E. And later on people were not always convinced of the worth to keep it.

Which is why some settings like Eberron just ditched it to do their own thing. In 4E they even overhauled the standard cosmology to consist of far fewer planes which are also different ones. That they still used the same established settings for that means that making sense out of D&D cosmology is nowadays about as easy as making sense out of a comic book multiverse with several reboots spin-offs and merges.

For a newcomer it is best to ignore everything from other settings and other editions and only take what your edition has to say about it. If old settings like Spelljammer or Planescape really don't work with that, well, too bad. (As if Planescape could have ever worked with a rule edition that does alignment far different from 2E/3E)
 

Addendum_Forthcoming

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Satinavian said:
It is also worth noting that most of this convoluted mess is so old it is from 2E. And later on people were not always convinced of the worth to keep it.

Which is why some settings like Eberron just ditched it to do their own thing. In 4E they even overhauled the standard cosmology to consist of far fewer planes which are also different ones. That they still used the same established settings for that means that making sense out of D&D cosmology is nowadays about as easy as making sense out of a comic book multiverse with several reboots spin-offs and merges.

For a newcomer it is best to ignore everything from other settings and other editions and only take what your edition has to say about it. If old settings like Spelljammer or Planescape really don't work with that, well, too bad. (As if Planescape could have ever worked with a rule edition that does alignment far different from 2E/3E)
All the settings changed their native relationship to the rest of the multiverse. Moreover, Planescape and Ravenloft are the best settings of any D&D product has ever managed to produce. Planescape did more than give the Multiverse an indepth examination... it gave it a character and attitude.

Being a cutter in the multiverse meant something more epic than your cut and run high fantasy schlock, because you weren't just navigating a fantasy trope... but a competent GM constructing a series of narratives that are bound by the Rule of Three, Unity of Rings, and Center of All.

You were navigating the heuristics of philosophy and theme itself, giving it a distinct character over other TSR products. So a perceptive player almost felt a naturalistic turning of the pages as they pick up on recurring imagery viewed from different perspectives at set times, specifics of a type of egagement or activity, and something that seems to be turning the adventure back full circle.

The ascension of the tower one can see on the horizon should be climaxed by a plunge into the unknown depths... not merely confronting the big bad at its roof floor. A portal into the unknown as the structure collapses around the party after the second run in with the target of their growing loathings... to set the final act ...

These underlined elements of Planescape gave the adventures you undertook a structure and perceivable start and finish line, a navigation of a concept, thought, theme, or specific character that you didn't get in other TSR products.

This is why adventures were written as acts and less plotpoints.

Assuming the GM was good...
 

Saelune

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Satinavian said:
Addendum_Forthcoming said:
It's hard to explain. The cosmology in oneD&D setting naturally is different from other settings. Only Planescape truly tried to give philosophy to the madness of creativity.
It is also worth noting that most of this convoluted mess is so old it is from 2E. And later on people were not always convinced of the worth to keep it.

Which is why some settings like Eberron just ditched it to do their own thing. In 4E they even overhauled the standard cosmology to consist of far fewer planes which are also different ones. That they still used the same established settings for that means that making sense out of D&D cosmology is nowadays about as easy as making sense out of a comic book multiverse with several reboots spin-offs and merges.

For a newcomer it is best to ignore everything from other settings and other editions and only take what your edition has to say about it. If old settings like Spelljammer or Planescape really don't work with that, well, too bad. (As if Planescape could have ever worked with a rule edition that does alignment far different from 2E/3E)
Well, 4e just made its own vague 'Best Of' setting, though it apparently was originally supposed to be part of the Forgotten Realms.


Personally, any DM who does it more than once I think should make their own setting.
 

Satinavian

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Addendum_Forthcoming said:
All the settings changed their native relationship to the rest of the multiverse. Moreover, Planescape and Ravenloft are the best settings of any D&D product has ever managed to produce. Planescape did more than give the Multiverse an indepth examination... it gave it a character and attitude.
But some didn't use it at all, having completely seperate cosmologies (and canging all extraplanar life to some setting equivalent). Or how does this 3rd edition cosmology showing all the planes

match the great wheel ?

They were seperate at least until 4E came, completely changed cosmology again and retconned every setting to always have had the same, new one.

These underlined elements of Planescape gave the adventures you undertook a structure and perceivable start and finish line, a navigation of a concept, thought, theme, or specific character that you didn't get in other TSR products.
Yes, Planescape was very different. It was interesting and revolutionary 24 years ago. Now try to change it to fit 4E, where Law is extreme Good and Chaos is extreme Evil. -> Won't work.

There are reasons why it has never been used after 2E.


A newcomer really should ignore all this old baggage, There is more than enough new setting information in the current edition. And making conversions or the like is something that really should wait until familiarity with the rules exists.
 

Addendum_Forthcoming

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Satinavian said:
But some didn't use it at all, having completely seperate cosmologies (and canging all extraplanar life to some setting equivalent). Or how does this 3rd edition cosmology showing all the planes

match the great wheel ?
Nobody is asking them to ... Planescape was odd because it was the first time it tried to marry incredibly divergent settings and cosmologies into something both feasible, yet still purposefully mysterious to add in wriggle room. And they succeeded pretty darn wellas the Manual of the Planes in 3.x actually took it on board, leaving only non-Greyhawk settings to play around with it extensively.

Yes, Planescape was very different. Now try to change it to fit 4E, where Law is extreme Good and Chaos is extreme Evil. -> Won't work.

There are reasons why it has never been used after 2E.
They didn't do that because they were definitely trying to ape more streamlined gameplay and interaction due to the fact that they were no longer making as much money as they had hoped. 3E was fairly extensive, but it was clear towards the end of the millenium that WotC had merely appropriated the licence for geek cred.

Suddenly player handbooks came with a third of the playable classes. I did not like 4E what I played of it ... but what really drew my ire was the fact that they expected me to spend three times as much as I did just to have a decent selection of classes.

The amount of supplements that come outfor 2E and 3E were not going to be replicable with the post millenial market. It didn't help that they were ridiculously late to the party making it easier to buy electronic assets to their games, and criminally how they were still selling digital assets of their products for as much as they used to sell hardcovers in stores. It also didn't help that their forums online actively began shutting down 3.x forums which lead to a rise and popularity of people who hadn't already jumped ship going straight to GitP. It also didn't help that those forums were less toxic shitholes.

It also doesn't help that WotC had alienated so many 3.x D&D'ers that they went Pathfinder in a big way because they did basic things like clean up quadratic power gaining by previous 'tier 1' classes, while providing an interesting, engrossing Prime world with some phenomenal (if problematic) art direction and mechanics.

There was a reason why Pathfinder was finding greater success towards the end of 3.5's lifespan and even 4E's ... it simply gave the players what they loved about 3.5, fixed up what GMs hated about it, and delivered it in an exciting new package.

Apparently D&D is turning around again with 5E but I haven't touched it for the same reason. I got really turned off WotC for basically just treating what was still a loyal fanbase with contemptas if they magically deserved our money all while putting in zero effort and abusing that supposed 'loyalty' they felt they were owed.

There was a time, however, that Wizards was considered merely holding onto the D&D franchise fr merely geek cred and nothing else.

They sure as shit weren't going to invest any real time or effort or creative intelligence hours necessary into making a true 3E Planescape or Ravenloft (worth a damn) ...
 

Satinavian

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Addendum_Forthcoming said:
They sure as shit weren't going to invest any real time or effort or creative intelligence hours necessary into making a true 3E Planescape or Ravenloft (worth a damn) ...
TSR got broke because of having way too many settings competing for the same customer base. That is why Wizards cut the number a lot and basically only kept Forgotten realms and a vague standard setting with many Greyhawk elements. Planescape was interesting but seemingly too niche. So it shared the fate of Spelljammer and Dark sun and Maztica and Oriental Adventures and (D&D-)Dragonlance and Al'Qadim (probably forgot more. Seriously how many players per setting did TRS calculate with?). Ravenloft was unprofitable because WoD provided similar themes but better. There was no way to compete with that.


But what we do here is not really helpful to the OP. Do you by chance have any new questions for us ?
 

Addendum_Forthcoming

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Satinavian said:
TSR got broke because of having way too many settings competing for the same customer base. That is why Wizards cut the number a lot and basically only kept Forgotten realms and a vague standard setting with many Greyhawk elements. Planescape was interesting but seemingly too niche. So it shared the fate of Spelljammer and Dark sun and Maztica and Oriental Adventures and (D&D-)Dragonlance and Al'Qadim (probably forgot more. Seriously how many players per setting did TRS calculate with?). Ravenloft was unprofitable because WoD provided similar themes but better. There was no way to compete with that.
Yeah, no ... see Tactical Studies Rules was massively overbloated ... they were producing comic books, 4 monthly magazines, and they tore themselves apart trying to litigate the shit out of anything that moved. Actively even pursuing people publishingmaterials online that likely killda lot of its good will ... and by the 90s because they weren't creating the same amount of content and because they had effectively killed burgeoning word of mouth online, and because all the people interested in D&D had, you know, already bought what they were already making and they weren't trying to re-develop and further expand its base ... problems ahoy.

Also ... WoD was amazing precisely because of the expanded universe it created of interplaying aspects.

Vanilla WoD
+
Vampire
Werewolf
Mage
Hunter
Wraith
Orpheus
Demon
Changeling
Mummy

And those are just gamelines. Try adding on all the supplements for each one.

And that's not even including the period-era storytelling books.

The Great War
Renaissance
Victorian
Dark Age ...

You can crush an elephant to death if you just toppled a standard bookshelf of all of their products onto it.

But what we do here is not really helpful to the OP. Do you by chance have any new questions for us ?

Well the question I was thinking of asking the OP is that any of your test subjects have a modicum of GMing ...? Becauseyou might seriously want to consider having a shadow GM that might be a silent partner in helping you construct encounters while not necessarily spoiling what you're planning long term.

Someone who can look at the party of your players, analyze their characters they plan to build or have shown an interest in building, and perhaps help give you a rundown of a couple of sample encounters from traps, to monster encounters, to worldbuilding stuff that might not necessarily spoil the game for them ... but will be built to help challenge and engage the party?
 

cathou

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Gethsemani said:
Johnny Novgorod said:
Thank you, I'm going through the rules and Colville's videos. I feel like I'm studying for an exam but so far so good. I'll probably come up with more questions the more I get into it. My main doubt was just how flexible the game flow is, the order in which things happen or characters act, when and how to use dice, the extent to which DM rules on actions, etc.
Learn Rule 0 and then internalize it. Rule 0 being "In any argument about the game the DM is always right". As long as you are in session or discussing the campaign, it doesn't matter what the written rules, campaign setting or previous DM fiat says, the DM is always right. It should not be invoked all the time and should not be used to bludgeon the players at every turn, but is a good tool to use when the game risks grinding to a halt because people interpret rules differently, start arguing about what King McGuffin would really do or whatever.

You aren't sure how to apply the rules to a player who wants to stop their fall by throwing a rope to avoid ending up in the pit trap? Is it a reflex save or an athletics check, does the Rogue get its dodge bonus? Just make a ruling and invoke Rule 0.
Are the players claiming that every major city has a mages guild that sells Spell That Player Wants? Make a ruling and invoke Rule 0 (perhaps involving an appropriate skill check, perhaps not).

Also remember to relax about it all. When I started GMing some 18 years ago (man, I'm old), we only used about half the rules for a very long time. The important part is not to get all the rules right, it is to make sure that everyone gets to have a good time. If that means you simplify the rules, ignore them or bend them, that's what it takes. If it means ignoring the campaign setting, do it. Make sure to discuss it with your players so that you are all on the same level. If you're all new, easing into the rules by applying a few at a time is a perfectly legitimate way to go about it.
That. The whole point of all this is to have fun. I cannot count how many time i?ve Made a monster weaker or stronger on the spot because the players are either too weak or too strong for the campaign, or put additional treasure in the quest because they made me laugh. Also divine intervention is good to retail a quest that have or is about to derail.
 
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Welcome to the wonderful world of tabletop roleplaying! Enjoy the rabbit hole of awesome that this leads to!

First of all, I'd suggest Projared's "How to be a good DM" video:

In fact, check out his whole D&Dcember playlist, it's full of really good stuff. [https://youtu.be/pTVz5Hyw2E8] Especially his "how to design a good encounter" video.

Now, for my own personal advice, it's this.

D&D is about crafting fun stories and scenarios. The rules are just a framework that makes doing so follow a set of "fair" mechanics. Feel free to bend the rules if it makes things more fun, or if looking up the exact rule is taking way too long.

Honestly, the most fun I've had with D&D was when the rules were fast and loose.

The first time I DM'd I stuck hard to the rules and had very structured dungeons and it kinda got dull and predictable.

Now I'm running a story for the same friend using a simple homebrew system that I made up (Based on World of Darkness Dice Pools), and I'm really not sweating the small stuff, and the adventure flows much more naturally and allows us to get down to the fun part of role playing and rolling dice to engage in some clever combat encounters.

Secondly, make sure that there's room for everyone at the table to shine at some point. If you give your players the opportunity to do something cool, they will remember it and enjoy the game all the more. Even if they fail at it (sometimes ESPECIALLY if they fail epically at it.)

Because nothing sucks more than having to sit off to the side and be totally unhelpful because the adventure doesn't need your talent at all.

I'm currently a player in a monthly Changeling The Dreaming tabletop/larp story. And at last night's game I very nearly quit the group because this was like the 3rd game out of 4 where I was basically completely useless.

Basically, my character is designed for dealing with the mortal world. He can make his own portal doors to bypass security, he can steal stuff, track people, and has lots of points in Streetwise so I can talk to and direct gangs and stuff.

And 99% of everything in the story deals with the magical realm. Which my character is completely unprepared for. So unless we're tracking something or my Seagull form lets me scout something out, my character is completely worthless. The fact that the story is moving really slowly and the Storytellers are not feeding us the information we need to do anything, so we spent most of last game sitting around researching old maps doesn't help help either.

Seriously, I legit pulled out my Switch and started playing Into the Breach at the table at one point and would have totally dropped the game if another player hadn't been like "Ok, I'm going into the Dream World to go track the map location down myself, anyone want to come with?". I basically jumped at the chance to do SOMETHING, while the other two players were like "Nah, we'll stay here and do more research". That escapade into the Dream World wound up being really fun, even though one of the two DMs had to completely improvise what me and him were up against. We got into trouble, we got out of it, there was unpredictability, danger, excitement, THAT'S what I role play for, not waiting for us to figure out what to ask so the DM can throw exposition at us.

So yeah, TLDR, make sure that each of your players get to feel useful and cool at some point. It'll encourage them to get involved and keep coming back.

Finally, encourage good roleplaying. Encourage people to get in character and do/describe fun things to do. Reward them for it. It'll make things way more fun.
 

Abomination

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If you have to pick a setting for your first foray into D&D I suggest Forgotten Realms/Faerun as that is the present official setting of D&D. All the 5th edition lore books, monster manuals, player handbooks are designed for Forgotten Realms. There are a few exceptions but they are explicitly mentioned such as The Wayfarers Guide to Eberron which is an entirely different setting.

I DM my own homebrew (self-made) setting which, depending on the scope, can take a lot of time and effort to put together. My setting and story has evolved between sessions as the players only know what I show them and they have questions and ideas about their characters that I steal and run with into the greater plot and setting.

There are all sorts of ways of running the campaign or session. I would suggest doing a few "one shots" where the heroes have to fight of a goblin raid and then stalk and find the goblin camp to dispatch the creature driving them to attack the village. It's a good stepping off point and would allow the players to continue their characters' stories if you want to develop from there. Unnamed villages exist all over Faerun so you can slap one anywhere on the map and call it good.
 

PFCboom

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Hey, so if nobody has mentioned it yet, try to make sure your players have a nodding understanding of their character's race and class features; if that's out of the question, you can find or create some competent characters, preferably with a few notes on their mechanics. A great shortcut I recommend to a lot of new players is to write the name of a feature, and then the page number to reference said feature. The same goes for you having a familiarity with your NPCs and monsters; a little bit of personality goes a long way in making your world feel more real, which in turn encourages your players to NOT be murder hobos.
On a related note: If you want to make an encounter exciting, it might help to tack on a gimmick or condition, even if you're using an official adventure module. I was running one such adventure, and while the players were on a side-quest, I decided to give a personal relatable motivation to the otherwise "always chaotic evil" bad guy group; this got the group debating whether it's right to murder someone who, by all appearances, is no more wrong than a typical marauding adventuring party.

Also, without reading everybody's shtick, I can assume at least a few people have mentioned how to be up front with your players; whether that means a short "session 0" or just telling your players how you'll be DM'ing and what they can expect from your and their actions. For example, when I DM for teenagers at the local comic shop, I'll tell them at the outset "If I rule something a certain way, I'll try to have a good reason for it, and if your character does something disruptive, expect consequences." That way, when one of my players decided to break into a pet shop to forcibly adopt a cat, it was to literally nobody's surprise that the proprietor ran to the local guard and a short man-hunt was called for.
But, to add to that advice, I'd also recommend you not tell them everything, and then fudge some of the rules and rolls where you think it's appropriate. If you think some thugs are going down too easy, throw in a sudden sorcerer or some bowmen who'd been hidden before; if a player character is about to be gored before that person has a chance to do cool stuff, maybe downgrade that killer critical to a regular hit. That last part is especially important if you don't have someone with some heal spells or a first aid kit on hand, since nobody likes dying just because the DM rolled super good at exactly the wrong moment.
 

Ftaghn To You Too

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I'm gonna swing in here and say that you might want to consider other games as well. You might be interested in some other types of settings, or genres. If you like horror, look at World of Darkness or Call of Cthulhu. Science fiction? Traveller (Mongoose Traveller 1st or 2nd edition) is pretty awesome. You like Samurai? Take a look at Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition. RuneQuest is cool if you're into bronze age heroics. D&D is the most popular game by far, but it's pretty much set on running one kind of game, a heroic fantasy romp that's focused on combat. If you find yourself starting to chafe under design of the game, resist the urge to start radically redesigning the game or trying to make it into a science fiction game, or whatever. House rules are one thing, but you will often have a better time finding a system that fits the game you want. The TTRPG market is massive, and there are numerous games out there for any kind of game you might want. Break free from the chains of D&D and forge your own glorious path!
 

Kyrian007

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Ftaghn To You Too said:
I'm gonna swing in here and say that you might want to consider other games as well. You might be interested in some other types of settings, or genres. If you like horror, look at World of Darkness or Call of Cthulhu. Science fiction? Traveller (Mongoose Traveller 1st or 2nd edition) is pretty awesome. You like Samurai? Take a look at Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition. RuneQuest is cool if you're into bronze age heroics. D&D is the most popular game by far, but it's pretty much set on running one kind of game, a heroic fantasy romp that's focused on combat. If you find yourself starting to chafe under design of the game, resist the urge to start radically redesigning the game or trying to make it into a science fiction game, or whatever. House rules are one thing, but you will often have a better time finding a system that fits the game you want. The TTRPG market is massive, and there are numerous games out there for any kind of game you might want. Break free from the chains of D&D and forge your own glorious path!
Yeah, I played just D&D until I got to college and ran into a gaming group playing... basically everything else. If you want a system of very specific rules and stats for just about everything Palladium systems has settings from High Fantasy, to modern superheroes, to post-apocalyptic mech combat... and everything in between. My favorite system however is Pinnacle's original Deadlands. Its levelless and classless character systems allow for highly varied characters. Its mechanics adds playing cards and poker rules alongside the standard dice rolls. And the setting... awesome. U.S. Old West, an ongoing U.S. Civil War, all happening while very displeased angry spirits unleash a plague of dark energy across the west. Gunslingers and mad scientists fighting the forces of darkness next to hexslingers, gamblers, and Indian braves and shamans. Its Ravenloft meets Tombstone and its exactly as amazing and fun as that sounds.
 
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One rule that applies across all systems and games: The story should be roleplay - not diceroll - driven. People have this misconception that in order to do anything in RP games you have to succeed at a diceroll, but in fact a good DM only really rolls the dice when there is a severe penalty for failing. For example, say the party thief is trying to pick a lock. Now, this might seem like a simple case of 'roll dice, add skill points, compare to lock DC', but that approach can often slow up the pace of a session immensely. If the player is under no stress, say if the chest is in a room that has already been cleared of monsters and the barbarian and ranger are out guarding the hallway, then even if the thief fails their roll the player will just try and try again until they get it, in which case you may as well save the party having to sit through a half-dozen unsuccessful rolls and just let the player open the lock. Now, let's take the exact same scenario but add a consequence for failure - the chest is trapped with a poison needle. *Now* we get the player to roll, as a poor result could end up with the thief springing the trap. If your barbarian wants to knock out the local tavern-keeper, let him do it. If your barbarian wants to knock out the town's sergeant-at-arms, make him roll. Your players should always be aware that high-stakes situations are dangerous, but just roleplay the small stuff rather than holding up the game with endless rolls.

Oh, and ultimately, the DM (you) has the final say in everything. The rules are there as guidelines to help you navigate unfamiliar situations, resolve challenging ties, and the like. But if the rules say a certain situation should pan out in a certain way, and you think another way would be more exiting/interesting/suspenseful or just plain cooler, don't be afraid to throw the rules out of the window.
 

Asita

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Two important suggestions:

1) Since it's everyone's first time, forbid the use of evil alignments. Playing an evil character can be fun, but it's practically "hard mode" for roleplaying and should not be attempted by the inexperienced. Long story short, there's ample precedent of players interpreting evil alignment as "constantly try to sabotage and/or kill the party" and/or "burn down every orphanage just because", which is usually not fun for the other players and always at least implicitly begs the question of "why the hell do we stay with this jerk?". In essence, they don't play "Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic Evil" so much as they play "Stupid Evil" and compound that by conflating "evil" with both "sadism" and "opposition to the party" and never grow beyond that. If the player does not know how to be evil and simply treats it as a sadistic nitwit working against the party, eats kittens, and doesn't wash his hands because he's evil, they certainly won't be able to develop that character into something that isn't so frustrating to deal with.

2) Don't make your own Playable Character. It's something with ample precedent (which I, regrettably, added to...which is one of many reasons I don't especially want to DM again in the foreseeable future) and which rarely ends well. Hell, it's got its own TVTropes page. It can work, but it's not something a new GM should attempt because it's stupidly easy for a GMPC to make the campaign stupidly unfun. Remember, you're already playing every character the party comes across and know what's waiting around every corner. You've got your hands full without trying to limit how much your OOC knowledge of those things influences your own PC, much less trying not to let your PC steal the spotlight from the other players.
 

Johnny Novgorod

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Thank you all for the tips and suggestions! Session was postponed so I'll be DM'ing this Thursday. The more I read up on D&D the more excited I get to finally play, hopefully things go nice and fun. If nothing else we always fall back on CAH.