What Should a DM ask Himself/Herself after a Session with New Players?

A user named Visimicus asked a good question over on Reddit that I wanted to make a blog article.

What questions should I ask myself after a night of playing as a DM? 

Every group is different so look back on your sessions and ask the following questions.

  1. How was the role-play:combat mix? – some groups
    like more combat and less role-play others a just the
    opposite. My group still likes 4e style skill
    challenges so I moved them forward to our 5e games.
    Some groups hate puzzles, some like them. Keep your
    pulse on the mix.
  2. How was the DM exposition:inter-PC role play mix?
    – I found at first my players will just interact with me
    so I do things to put them in situations to encourage
    them to discuss, in character, things with each other.
    Good DM moments are when you realize you have been
    playing for 20 minutes and haven’t said a word.
  3. What was going on when it seemed like the players
    were having the most fun? – Yea, do more of that. One
    player who is always quiet ended up getting challenged
    in a one on one fight and ended up with excellent roles
    killing his opponent before taking a single hit. I have
    never seen the player smile so much. Bingo!
  4. What slugged the game down and what can be done to
    speed that part up? – I sometimes create one page
    cheat sheets and hand them out that contain info that
    they struggle with like combat actions or skills
    explanations or rules of the skills challenge if they
    different from my standard rules. If I am expecting
    mounted or underwater combat or there is a map with
    special terrain rules then I will have those printed out
    so we aren’t delving into the PHB.
  5. What did they say after the game (and even before
    the game)? – The DM is always playing. In between
    games, before the game, at the break, after the game.
    Ears always open.
  6. Who had their day-in-the-sun? Who needs their
    moment to shine? How can you provide that? – Make sure
    you spread the love around. Who hasn’t seen it for a
    while. Yea, Aivel got his 1v1 and Dax the Bard stole
    the RP scene and Willow found a shiny trinket but Curnan
    got left out this session so lets make sure there is
    something for him next session. How has “treasure” been
    spread out?
  7. What parts did you struggle with? – not a session
    has ended where I didn’t have something I did well and
    something I did not do well and need to improve upon.
  8. What can you do in your prep to mitigate this
    during the next session? – Struggled with NPC names,
    have a list of some next time. Struggled in
    description, update your room/setting notes to include
    sights, sounds and smells. Struggled with managing your
    NPC in a battle, how can you included them as a special
    boon instead that you give to the players (On Dyntas
    round, he will immobilize one enemy each turn for one
    turn, players track this)
  9. What can you surprise them with in the next session
    that they haven’t seen before?

    1. Battle map with special terrain
    2. Battle map with a fair escape
    3. Combo Combat/Skills Challenge encounter
    4. In game gambling game
    5. Something super silly/funny – attack by goblins who
      think they are immortal who have built a seige engine
      out of bamboo and an uncooperative cow.
    6. Switch from encounter built adventure to a classic
      dungeon crawl
    7. Try a mystery
    8. Puzzle
    9. Riddle

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