Thinking of starting a game and taking the challenge of being the game master? Here's ten quick tips to get you started.
1. Every player wants something different from the game. It's your job to be sure to setup a method for them to get it. Some like roleplaying or want the spotlight, some like meta, some like crunch. It's your job to find their motivation and work it into the story.
2. Players are likely to want to be involved in the story in meaningful ways. It's ok to let them be involved with the story but remember to keep an air of mystery about the world and the plot so they don't get bored having full control.
3. I enjoy hamming up as a gm. I do voices, mannerisms, gestures, and use description to really get the character and the scene flowing in their heads.
4. Keep a random list of names and quirks handy. It's helpful for making npcs on the fly. I suggest any baby name generator or the fantasy name generator. That one includes places and things too.
5. Be willing to improvise. Some of our most memorable games were when the players went off the adventure.
6. Be fair but just. The rules are a guideline but you must be consistent in your rulings or players will see it as favoritism. If you are going to be hard core rules then stay that way. Me, I run somewhere between story and rules and my players know it.
7. Do not use the rules against your players and do not encourage them to use rules against you. If it happens then nip it in the bud quickly. A nice way to do that is to use the same trick the player did on the player if it becomes overly used trick so they will back off on it a bit. I.e. a flaming sphere knockdown spell can be cast by the bad guy wizard too.
8. Villains are not dumb. Play that up. A good villain will know the players strengths and weaknesses because they'll have tested them through the campaign. When it's finally time for the showdown the villain will dictate the time and place. They will be prepared and ready for the challenge.
9. Most Dragons are smarter than people. Think of all the ways they have stayed alive as long as they have. Like villains, dragons only fight when they want to.
10. It's a game. It isn't a contest or pvp. It's supposed to be fun. Your job is to be a good facilitator of the world. Your word is law and you can involve your players as much or as little in the meta and rules discussions as you are comfortable with. Just be sure to set expectations early on so everyone is on the same page. There is no wrong or right way to play or to run. Have fun!