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The DM has a lot of important jobs, but certainly near the top is the creation of verisimilitude. That means basically tricking the players into thinking that everything happening in the game is real.

Running your First Dungeon is the third episode of the Running the Game series. It aired on February 21, 2016.


Matt Colville talks about the details of running The Delian Tomb for new players after setting the stage (as described in previous episodes). He emphasizes making sure to add depth to the encounters within the tomb by running the goblins intelligently and thinking about their motivations and goals. One of the advantages of tabletop games is that NPCs can act more intelligently and realistically because they're not bound by their scripting, so this video serves in part to illustrate ways that a DM can make this apparent.

Enemies Need Goals[]

One way to increase versimilitude is to think about why the enemies are doing what they're doing. In the case of the Delian Tomb adventure, they've kidnapped the blacksmith's daughter because they want to sacrifice someone to consecrate the tomb to their god.

Furthermore, the goblins actively want to win and won't just let the players easily defeat them. In every encounter, there's an opportunity for a goblin to retreat and alert the rest of their tribe in the tomb. This may lead players to believe that any failure to be stealthy will cause the goblins to sacrifice their victim preemptively, but making the players fail automatically isn't fun. Instead, emphasize that the ritual will take as long as it takes, and the victim will be sacrificed at the end, which gives the players the ability to be heroic even if they fail once. Instead, the goblins will be alerted to the players, which makes the players' job harder.

The Patrol and the Tomb Door[]

The goblin patrol is the adventure's first encounter, added to make the tomb dynamic. Matt describes how the players can either observe the tomb and notice the patrol or charge ahead and never encounter them outside. He then gives advice about how to start combat, determine surprise, and give the players the opportunity to surprise or ambush the patrol. He advises DMs to not adopt an overly-legalistic approach (ie "You didn't say you were hiding, so the goblins ambush you"), and to play this easy encounter with two goblins as an opportunity for the patrol to alert the rest of the enemies in the tomb, rather than to simply try to kill the players. Not every encounter in an adventure needs to be deadly in order to serve a purpose. Goblins should also be played intelligently and fight somewhat tactically, because they want to win and know that they will more likely hurt someone with light or no armor.

Similarly, the goblins at the front entrance give players the opportunity to think tactically. If they've already been alerted, they'll retreat inside to join the next encounter, but otherwise players have the option to attack them from range (potentially alerting them if they fail) or use the tomb as natural cover to flank them. This gives players the option to think tactically and surprise the goblins

Battle in the Offering Room[]

Links and Resources[]

The description of the video on Youtube contains a link to the tomb map and Dungeonographer file, the Dungeonographer web page, and info about the Green Dragon Inn discussed in the last episode.