Like Nerdarchists Dave and Ted mention in the video below, back in the day when I was a young gamer, there was no such thing as picking your Dungeon Master for a Dungeons & Dragons game. If you were interested in playing D&D, and you were lucky, you could muster a group and offer to be the DM yourself, and maybe at some point get one of the other players to take a turn behind the screen running a game. My only other experience finding a new group to play with was through a flyer pinned at the comic book store from a couple of friends looking for more players. And it was a successful run that kept us all rolling funny-shaped dice through most of high school. Back then, there was also an organized play program called RPGA. They ran ads in Dragon Magazine and had their own publication, Polyhedron. But in 2018 the circumstances for hopeful D&D players is vastly improved. How? Let’s get into it and find out.
Picking your Dungeon Master
The most obvious and ubiquitous resource for picking your Dungeon Master is the internet. Younger gamers mostly likely think, well yeah, duh. But it’s true! Among many other things the internet is an incredibly effective communications tool connecting people all over the world. Even casual browsing anywhere D&D conversations take place gives you access to large communities of players. Any one of them might be your next DM.
For starters, there’s forum sites where people all aspects of gaming are discussed in great detail. Most of these sites include a forum section specifically for finding groups. Here’s a few of the sites I frequently visit with just such forums.
- D&D Beyond — Looking for Players and Groups
- Giant in the Playground — Finding Players
- EN World — Gamers Seeking Gamers
One of the players who joined my home group came directly from such a forum post I started on the D&D Beyond site, so I can tell you from experience this method works.
Social media sourcing
Whether you’re active on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, or some other platform, there’s a good chance other gamers are using it too. I’m going to include Discord in this group too.
There is a ton of D&D conversations going on at all hours on Twitter. Folks from the Wizards of the Coast design team on down the line are talking about D&D with each other, sharing tips and suggestions, inspiring and supporting each other morning, noon and night. Along with those discussions, tons of people are putting campaigns together and finding players for groups. Sometimes this means finding people in your area to meet for a game, and often online games emerge — even live stream games. I’m playing in one right now every Thursday on The Greyhawk Channel on Twitch I got involved with through Twitter, and another one on Sundays the same way.
Over on Facebook there’s pages like the Tabletop RPG One Shot Group and Nerdarchy’s Company of the N.A.G. where people find fellow gamers and form groups for campaigns or single session games all the time. There’s certainly many more.
Discord is a great place to find a DM too. Many creators have Discord channels with rooms for people to connect. With Discord, a lot of people play games right through the app itself. I’m not on Discord all that much because frankly it’s too easy to spend too much time chatting it up with fellow nerds — I’ve got work to do! Nerdarchy has a Discord channel, as well as Web DM, Taking 20 and probably any of your other favorite creators too.
Meeting boards and organized play
Even with all the accessibility offered through the internet, the good ol’ fashioned way still works. Head up to your local friendly neighborhood game store and ask if they have a message board (they probably do). Make yourself a flyer advertising your quest to find a Dungeon Master or gaming group and pin it up there. If they FLGS has a website, maybe they’ve got an electronic message board too. When I lived in Austin, I found games all the time through the Dragon’s Lair website. They’ve got a very extensive events calendar and I’m sure lots of other game stores do similar things.
On a side note, there’s plenty of game stores and game cafes with space for on-site gaming too. Dragon’s Lair has a huge space for gaming with a bunch of tables. In my hometown Cleveland, there’s the Board Game Cafe, and where I live right now in New Jersey there’s a store called Tiki TIki Board Games with tables for gaming too — they even have a special Nerdarchy table there! Along these same lines, consider the D&D Adventurers League. I started playing D&D again after a break of several years through this organized play program and highly recommend it. Adventurers League is an awesome way to experience D&D adventures and make new friends too.
There’s also Meetup, which as you can probably guess is a site people use to organize meetups. You can search for D&D or roleplaying game groups in your area, join groups and find people to play all sorts of games with. This is another method I have firsthand experience with. Especially since I’ve moved around a lot, Meetup has been super useful for finding games and meeting new people in a new town.
Best way to find a Dungeon Master
There’s one method that never fails for picking your Dungeon Master. Look in the mirror! Whether you started gaming in ancient times like the Nerdarchy crew before the internet or have yet to begin your journey with funny-shaped dice, offering to run a game yourself is a fantastic way to gather a group. After you run a few sessions and everyone has an awesome time, you can encourage another player to take a turn behind the screen. If you’re lucky, they’ll make the offer themselves. In my home group, we had a new player join who hadn’t played before. After just a handful of sessions he asked if he could run a game too!
He’s since gone on to really enjoy being a Dungeon Master and even started up an Adventurers League night after moving to Florida. These days, we got our group back together and play online, and he’s running Waterdeep: Dragon Heist for us.
But what about you? How did you find your Dungeon Master? Got any tips or advice for other people looking to find a DM or new group? Please share them down in the comments!
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Nerditor-in-Chief Doug Vehovec is a proud native of Cleveland, Ohio, with D&D in his blood since the early 80s. Fast forward to today and he’s still rolling those polyhedral dice. When he’s not DMing, world building, or working on endeavors for Nerdarchy or his own blog The Long Shot, he’s a newspaper designer, copy editor and journalist. He loves advocating the RPG hobby and connecting with other nerds and gamers on social media and his site thelongshotist.com.