The role of the Dungeon Master or Game Master can be difficult due to the sheer number of things you need to remember. Even those who have been DMing for years are going to forget things from time to time – it happens. I’ve found that having at least one of the players at the table help with certain aspects of running the game can be very freeing for your mind as a DM. Here are a couple of ways your players might be able to give you a hand.
How Can a Player Help?
One of the prime examples is having someone take down the initiative for you. Sure, many DMs will handle this task on their own, but if you have a player agree to write down the initiative orders for encounters, it will reduce the number of things you have to keep in your head, and it can help these encounters to flow better. They can write them down on an index card, with a dry erase marker on a small whiteboard or a plastic sheet protector – whatever you have handy. This might seem like a little thing, but I’ve found it to be a massive help to me – especially when I have to think about things like terrain, enemy abilities, and the like.
Also, having a player at the table who has a bit more knowledge and experience can help newer players understand some of the rules they need to know, acting as a mentor until the new player is up to speed. They can do this quietly amongst themselves, so the DM does not have to stop the game all of the time and explain all of the little rules and rolls to the new player.
Keep in mind that not all players are going to want to do this, and that’s fine. Before you pile on any of these additional duties to the player, make sure they are agreeable. What are some of the ways that you've seen players help to make life a little bit easier on the DM?
Speaking of DM help, later in the week, I will be doing a short review of the new Dungeon Master's Screen Reincarnated, so check back!