10 Tips for DMing Virtual D&D Games

This post was written by a guest blogger, Draconick.

Many of us are just starting out on our journey with playing D&D online for the first time, and a little extra guidance can go a long way towards making a good session great. 

Even for those of us who have been around a little longer, the occasional suggestion or helpful trick might really elevate our gameplay experience. 

For all you DMs out there, here are 10 tips to spice up your virtual D&D games.

1. Arrive early to the session

As with in person sessions, showing up early not only gives you a chance to set up, but also grants you the opportunity to look over your notes, get maps ready, and troubleshoot any tech issues you might have before your players come online.

2. Have a backup plan

Technology fails often. If the game servers get busy or go down, you should have a redundancy to switch to – and make sure you’re comfortable working with it, too.

Some tricks are:

  • Keep physical dice on hand and report the rolls if a digital dice roller is slow (or choose a fast backup digital dice roller)
  • Setup a group phone call or move to a Discord server room
  • Move to text-based gaming if a microphone doesn’t work

If it’s a consistent issue with the platform you’re using, consider learning a new one.

3. Remove distractions

One of the issues with playing online is having the rest of the internet at your fingertips. It’s tempting to have a tab open and scroll through social media or do something equally distracting. Close your tabs and encourage your players to do the same. Minimize distractions in your physical space as well. Find a quiet place in your home where you won’t be disturbed while playing. Get comfortable with what you need to minimize breaks.

4. Choose your soundtrack

You can easily share music online. Create a soundtrack to set the tone for your game. You can also prepare sound effects. A dragon’s roar. The sound of distant sword fighting. A trap going off. These can all add to the immersion.

5. Make use of tokens

Of course I’d bring this up! You’ll need something to represent character and creatures in your games, so spend some time picking out the ones you like the most. If you’re playing digitally, use our token maker tool to crop images neatly for online play. If you’re streaming a battle map, check out our versatile blank & color tokens for high visibility play.

6. Find reference images

There are tons of images online of scenery and characters you can use to help set the stage for your game. Some illustrations can really help your players get a good mental image of what you’re describing.

7. Use digital handouts

While you can’t use props in online games, you can make digital handouts. In-character notes and journal entries are easily made with some parchment backgrounds and appropriate fonts. We recommend Homebrewery for an easy-to-use digital handout creator.

8. Utilize private messages to share secret info

No more whispering to players or passing notes. If you want to share confidential information, a simple direct message gets the job done. This is a great way to add some mystery and tension.

9. Record or stream (if you want to)

If everybody consents, this can serve as a valuable source of entertainment for yourselves later; possibly for others if you decide to share it online. It also serves as a great record of your game, so it can lessen the need for note-taking and other record keeping.

10. Get help online

You don’t have to be an expert to run virtual games. Thankfully, there’s a whole community of people online who have been doing this for a while. If you have specific questions, turn to social media or various forums for aid. Somebody out there probably has an answer and is willing to help.

Have any tips of your own? Comment below or tweet at us!

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