Welcome. It’s me, Dreaming Dragonslayer.
I have been a disciple in the arts of role-playing games every since my father sat me down to try out this new 4th edition of Dungeons and Dragons back in 2009. He hadn’t played or run RPGs since Middle-Earth Role-Playing (MERP) back in the ’80s, but it had been a rough year for my family, so a new hobby seemed like a good way to distract ourselves and stay connected.
My brother and I became obsessed. We played with the miniatures from HeroScape and HeroQuest and Lord of the Rings Monopoly and Crossbows and Catapults and made all sort of adventures for each other. It was a totally new experience for us, but was so closely tied to all of our other hobbies of reading, playing board games, telling stories, and watching movies, that we just couldn’t get enough of it.
My brother and I played with our friends too. We would go over to their house down the hill and play adventures as a party of six with my dad as the DM. As an elf wizard, I tossed a bottle of bloodstinger poison to our trusty dragonborn paladin and totally botched the roll, spilling the contents all over the ground. My brother sprinted to our friend who was stuck in an iron maiden (his favorite band, ironically enough) and declared, “I kick it,” surprising everyone. He forgot to explain to the party that he rolled up a monk between sessions. I still remember crossing a treacherous river and our trusty dragonborn paladin drowning, determined to never remove his valuable plate armor. He was rescued by our warforged fighter, who sank to the bottom to fish him out. These were my early memories of role-playing.
Then a stranger we bumped into at Half-Priced Books told us that 4e was for chumps and that 3.5 had way more material and was better supported by companies like Paizo. There were more games like this? I began tinkering with Pathfinder, slogging through OSRIC, and trying my best to enjoy the d20 SRD version of Star Wars. I guess I’ve always been working with systems, playing around until I got what it was that I wanted out of it. Through all of this I acquired a lot of practice pitching games that people hadn’t heard of or ever tried yet, printing off my own games in high school and forcing my group to play-test them. Many of our games never “took off” or at least never made it past the one-shot phase…
Then I discovered Dungeon World. The game was unlike anything else I had run. It games explicit things to do as a GM. Most of the rest of the time, I had just been imitating my dad (the highest form of flattery, certainly). But my intuition alone wasn’t going to make me a better GM. Using the agenda, principles, and moves just made more sense to me to organize whatever nonsense I was doing behind the GM screen. DW’s impact was such that when I went back to running the fifth edition of D&D and got so frustrated. There is just no support to be a GM in that game. No wonder everyone gets burned out.
Dungeon World, as a Powered by the Apocalypse game led me to games Blades in the Dark, Lasers and Feelings, Dread, FATE, and more.
When I got to college, I put off playing any RPGs for a time. Then I stumbled across Maze Rats and began building a very successful campaign in January of 2019. My thoughts on how I was going to run that game and the concept of the “open table game” behind it became the very first posts on this blog.
It’s good to remember your roots, especially for a start like mine that is tied so close to family. It’s a reminder to pass on healthy, creative hobbies and to nurture each other with enriching activities.
Thanks for being my first GM, Dad.
Happy Father’s Day. 🙂