All words presented in this blog are purely opinion, not fact - unless specifically stated otherwise in the post.

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

DM Lessons: A history

 Over the past, what? 4 years? 5 years? Somewhere in between. I've learned a lot as a DM. I'd basically never played before, with the exception of four sessions.

1 session of a dark sci-fi game (I'm not even sure if I remember the name) at a weekly tabletop club in a pub, that was mostly character creation and setup, but not much more. We were supposed to go back the following week to keep playing but never did. I genuinely don't remember if it was because we (we being my then girlfriend and her best friend) weren't interested and chose not to go, if we forgot (we were late teen/early twenty uni students with a lot of alcohol and not much memory) or if something came up, but we never really got into anything and I don't believe our characters ever even interacted.

A DnD 4e (I think) 1 shot at a games shop near my flat during my first games job where I played Bob the cowardly Shardmind sorcerer.

A single game of a 4e campaign that I was supposed to be in, but everyone else in the group was on the early shift at work and I was on the late shift so I was never available. I vaguely remember playing a Shifter druid, but i might be wrong about that.

And finally an attempt at the original 5e starter kit, though it only lasted one or 2 games. I remember we were trying it to see if we liked it and we were playing with people I just wasn't that friendly with. The game felt forced, one player (the cleric) had big chaotic energy and couldn't come half the time, it quickly fizzled out.

None of the DMs I played with were particularly good. The first 3 games, the DMs were the kind that had an idea they liked, but didn't want to deviate from it, nor were they willing to accommodate things that their players found cool. The last one just didn't know what he was doing and didn't care enough to make it fun. Suffice to say I didn't learn anything from them.

So in 2015 I saw Geek and Sundry's Titan's Grave RPG for the first time and I fell in love with it (thats right, it was Titan's Grave not Critical Role that got me into it). I got people at my office excited to play a tabletop game and I picked up Fantasy age and the Titan's Grave supplement, creating a sci fi role playing world where the players were part of a guild that got jobs from time to time and each job would be a game.

I learned a lot from that game about player agency, player choice, the types of things that a player might do, but most of all about players not turning up.

The game fizzled out, despite some really cool things I had planned. That was late 2016 During this time I'd played a couple more games, a mini-campaign of Cthulu and a game of Paranoia, both of which I loved.

I tried another game called Fate, which just wasn't for us, and I DM'd a couple of one shot Dread games which went well, but didn't scratch the same itch.

I dropped DMing for a while, feeling like maybe I wasn't very good and that was why we lost it, or maybe just nobody was that interested. I turned 30 and went to a cabin in the woods with some good friends to play boardgames for a weekend, including shadows of brimstone, which almost scratched that RPG itch and so for a couple of years between the beginning of 2017 and 2018 we mostly played boardgames, once a month, sometimes more often. And it was fun.

I eventually picked up watching Critical Role, though it took me a while because that first episode was pretty dull. (No offense. I just didn't know what was happenning because we dropped in half way through a game. You know this.) And really liked it.

As we grew nearer to Christmas in 2018 I knew I wanted to play, but had no idea how, and then my friend Pete, who had run cthulu and paranoia, and then a second game of paranoia some time in those two years bought me a Christmas gift. It was the D&D 3.5 edition of the Monster Manual. He hadn't meant for it as a 'play D&D' call to adventure, he just really liked monster manuals, found them useful and inspiring. But that's what it meant to me. it was a sign. So after one game of... I don't know what, it was our last board game before Christmas, we were on our way out of the office and I turned to everyone and said;

"In the new year, assuming you're all on board, I'm going to start a new RPG, A D&D campaign, because we're all nerds, and I know some of us have never played D&D specifically and we all should." The last part I added in retrospect because I was too afraid to just tell my 3 closest friends and my girlfriend that I just wanted to play D&D.

They all agreed and the rest is history. My campaign has been running for 2 years and 8 months. (though in game that translates to 89 days, roughly 2 months in my game's calendar).

Why am I telling you all of this? well one because it's interesting, but also because we're starting another D&D related 'series'. this one will be called DM Lessons. I wanted to offer my history of D&D so you had all of the information you needed to decide whether or not to listen to me.

DM Lessons wont be me teaching you how to be a DM, it will be me relaying the things I've learned about being a DM or because I was a DM.

Hopefully as we move forward it will be useful to some.

For now, however...

Cheers!

- James

I can't stop watching D&D Tiktoks on youtube

P.S. I completed Kings Quest, and am trying to complete Sinking City now. I also bought Othercide which I'm enjoying. Completed the first week.

Next I'll be playing either Greedfall, Shadows of War, Shadow of the Tomb Raider or Shadow of the Colossus.
I only really have 4 games left in my proper backlog (I dont count the games I got from PS +) so I'm allowing myself to slow down from the 1 game a week. After which I'm allowed to buy PS4 games again!

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