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How to DM and Be a Character Too (D&D / Pathfinder)

Is it possible to be both the dungeon master and run a character or characters in the party? Yes and no.  From a purely technical standpoint, any character run by the DM would be a non-player character.  But from a practical (and FUN!) standpoint: OF COURSE IT IS POSSIBLE.

Don’t believe the cranks that say a dungeon master should never have a character.  It’s true that in a larger group with a dedicated dungeon master, it is usually easier to think of the non-player characters as NPCs rather than their own character, but we don’t always have ideal situations.  What if you and a friend want to play but you don’t know anyone else who plays D&D or Pathfinder?  You can still play by each rolling up a character (or characters — there’s no problem each running two or more characters) and having one person act as the chief dungeon master.  This will even work with three or four people when no one really wants to be the DM.

How Endless RPG Can Help You DM Your Friends and Play Your Own Character

Endless RPG is the app I wish I had when me and a friend were playing D&D without a big group.  Pathfinder and 5e are both great when you have a huge group of people each with their own dedicated person, but we simply don’t always have that.  And when we do, they may only meet once a month leaving us itching to play on our own.

Endless RPG creates player-facing random dungeons. This means you explore the dungeon and don’t know what’s around the next corner.  It does this two ways: A quest-style interface that will display multiple missions within the characters’ level range and a custom dungeon mode that lets you create a specific adventure.

The mission mode is great for playing solo.  It’s also great for playing with a small group of friends and alternating who DMs each encounter.

But there is a much cooler way of using Endless RPG to DM without a huge amount of work.

How to Use Custom Random Dungeons to Create a Story

The DM has three major jobs:

  • The DM interprets the rules during game play
  • The DM guides combat by ‘playing’ the part of the monsters.
  • But most importantly, the DM provides STORY.

For the first one, all players can help interpret the rules when playing in a small group where the DM is playing a character (or characters) as well.  Getting input from everyone, even if it is just you and a buddy, is important to make sure the game is fair.

Playing the part of the monsters can have its own pitfalls.  We’ll get into how to go about being the DM of combat while having a character within combat and still making sure things are fair in another post.  The chief ingredient here is (1) when you are the monsters, you are trying to kill the players, so do your best and (2) keep in mind that your character doesn’t know what the monsters are thinking, so let your friends lead as much as possible.  And when in doubt, use the dice to determine the outcome. This can include who the monsters target, whether or not they flee, etc.

Read: How to DM Fights When You Have a Character in the Party!

But where Endless RPG can really help out is in allowing you to create a story without spending hours upon hours drawing out maps, placing traps, distributing treasure and planning encounters.

Story may sound intimidating, but it really isn’t.  Let’s do a basic story real quick.

Part One:

  • Goblins have kidnapped a little girl from a village and your party of adventurers have been asked to get her back.
  • Action: Create a Custom Dungeon of CR .25 to 2 with a 1 or 2 level cave choosing Goblins as the enemy.  When the cave has been cleared, move to Part Two.

Part Two:

  • There was no sign of the girl in the caverns, but the party learns she was exhibiting signs of wild magic.  The goblins must have abducted her intent on using her powers and moved her to a nearby stronghold.
  • Action: Create a Custom Castle with a Dungeon below of CR .25 to 2 choosing Goblins as the enemy.  Once the dungeon is cleared, move to Part Three.

Part Three:

  • The girl has been saved, but the goblins used a mixture of starvation, fear and mild torture to hasten the onset of her powers.  Now the girl is having trouble controlling the wild magic.  No one in the village knows how to handle it, but a book may exist within the ruins of a shattered city nearby.
  • Action: Create a Custom Ruins (1 or 2 levels) with a CR slightly higher than the previous steps and choosing Undead as the enemy.

End Game:

  • Once the ruins have been cleared, consider the book found.  The book can be given to the village elders to help contain the girl’s wild magic.

This is really just a basic plotline.  You can get these by thinking about books you’ve read or movies you’ve seen or even the plot to a TV show.  It’s usually best to think in terms of 2-4 destinations that you’ll need to clear like a cave, then a castle then some ruins.  But even something as simple as saving a girl from a cave can add some story behind the adventure and perhaps the party is chosen as guardians of the village and fight off future problems.

While this centered around using Endless RPG to help provide content, there are plenty of other random generator options for solo or DM-less play that can be used in conjunction with Endless RPG or used instead of it.

Read more about playing D&D or Pathfinder Alone or In a Small Group Without a Dedicated DM

About the Author: I was introduced to D&D at 11 years old when I got the original basic set for Christmas.  I quickly moved on to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve always been fascinated with random dungeons and have developed many tools for creating random maps over the years.