From the very start of any rp session, a DM has to be mindful about one thing and one thing alone: balance.
Sad to say, I have been guilty of breaking this one cardinal rule of role playing, but in my defence I will say it was done out of pure ignorance, and the fact I was a DM virgin ... plus I had a tendency to want my players to really enjoy my games, and before you know it, you yourself are being swept along on a coaster roller ride of sheer magic, mayhem and money!
"Gold". Mention that word around any role playing table and see the avarice glow appear in your players' eyes, that is, unless you mention the 'P' word: platinum - then your players would sell their mother (rp mother, I hasten to add) to get their filthy, grubby paws on such loot.
The only thing that comes close to this is the mention of tea, coffee and biscuits, then something similar occurs (and I don't mean to brag here, but apparently, I do make a pretty mean cup of tea!).
Having gone through various character sheets, maps and other past related rpg 'stuff', it would appear that my memory has been sorely affected by the passage (and ravages) of time.
The scenario concerning Tarl the Mystic and his stalwart companion and thug, Grudge the Barbarian, would appear to have included several or more NPCs. I also uncovered a note delivered to Tarl and Grudge by Seth's nephew. This I had written on blotting-type paper and sealed with wax, then handed it over during the game session. A scanned image of the letter is below, and for the sake of squinting, I have typed out the full content of said message.
Just a short posting to mention one of a DM's best assets in terms of environment - the dungeon.
Many a fledgling adventurer will recall his or her delve into the murky, cobweb-strewn coldness of their very first dungeon - and if you really pay attention, you'll even see that far away look in their eyes as they re-tell it. No matter the outcome: good, bad or disastrous, they will remember it fondly.
In this posting I have included three dungeon layouts as used in several of my sessions over a period of time. The trick to a good dungeon is an understandable (to you) map, that if seen by the players,won't necessarily make much sense to them. Sneaky, maybe, but players are often swayed by the temptation to steal a peek at your maps - even when you are present.
Part of the beauty of running any role playing game comes from the diversity of people who will sit at your table during your DM'ing career.
I have been blessed to have met some wonderful people over the years, many of whom have become lasting friends. On the flip side, you will also encounter your fair share of odd bods, ego maniacs and total misfits. Role playing seems to attract them, and allowing them into your home is one of the risks you run when being the DM. There is an upside, at least you have trusted friends at your table to aid you in ejecting said odd-bod from your game session - though it has never happened to me... thankfully.
Rule #1 of DM'ing... NEVER invite players without personal references from a member of your established rp group - basically, if no one can vouch for them, they don't get invited.
Like any other character within a role playing game, the non player character is essential otherwise your game has no substance. This means some work has to be put in by the DM in creating and breathing life into believable NPCs, be they simple common folk, militia, the tavern owner or the evil henchman.
When interacting with the player characters, your players must be left with a sense that they've met someone, or something, entirely different from the previous three, ten, or twenty non player characters. Players should be seeing the non player character and never the DM playing said NPC.
Over the years my DM style has varied, depending on the gaming system used, the number of players and my own quest to find what suits me (and my players) best.
I have tried the bought scenario route, the best being Ravenloft, but found using the bought scenarios of any game system sometimes too linear. On the odd occasion I have tried the powerful player character option (high level with magical items and armour) with a fast 'n' furious game style, but mortality of the player characters is limited drastically. I have even split the DM'ing duties with another player, breaking the game into sections, which would then span over a number of gaming sessions. Once my section was complete the following session was then run by the second DM. An interesting route, as it gave me a chance to sit back and be a player, but also a chance to experience someone else's rp session style.