I came late to Dungeons and Dragons, I’ve always been a nerd, Tolkien, sci-fi, video games, Warhammer ect, in other words, the usual slippery slope to role playing games, but D&D always seemed a step too far. It conjured images of fat sweaty neck-beards sat in basements proclaiming “I’m an elf” in a distressingly high pitched voice. Which in retrospect is ridiculous, firstly because that’s a negative stereotype that does not reflect the community and secondly because those were totally the people I needed to wade through when fetching my monthly fix of Games Workshop’s plastic crack.
Enter my mate Alan, nerd guru, bad independent game programmer and professional Harry Potter look-a-like. Having been a player and DM for some time he was fairly desperate to get us to sit down for an introductory game and he finally succeeded during an ill fated trip to the Lake District. Stricken by a violent stomach bug, disorientated by the lack of phone/email/wi-fi signal we were easy prey for his evil RPG machinations.
Predictably we all had a great time, we ended up playing the FATE rules as they are pretty low drag and easy on the first timers. This led to a rather eclectic selection of characters: there was a swordmaster half-giantess who much preferred stepping on things to stabbing them, there was my Tiefling Cleric of Tyr (I’d been forewarned of the game and read up), there was a man with a magic telescope, a man who made horseshoes and an old timey wild west gun slinger. Memorable moments include us giving the ring of fire to the evil dragon (free of charge) using the power of my God channelled through a magic telescope to ascertain the sexual orientation of macho bad guys and the half-giantess Leroy Jenkins-ing it into all the most avoidable fights.
Fast forward about a year and back in my comfortable, non-wood fired, house and I’m getting drunk with this same nerdy Machiavelli when he suggests we try the proper thing the next day. We all jump at the chance but somewhere between there and the next morning I drunkenly agree to DM myself. Cut to next morning and I blearily stagger into the living room demanding coffee and bacon in any combination only to be reminded of this rum soaked idiocy and that the game would commence in one hour.
Needless to say, I crapped myself, an hour of frantic rushing around later and I’d cobbled something together. When I stood up in front of the others I was terrified, I’ve never been a middle of the room kind of guy, and the idea of other peoples good times riding on my poor preparation gave me the willies. It wasn’t until about half way through that I realised that they were having a good time, and it really wasn’t anything I was doing. They had taken a trite story about royal troubles in Cormyr and by dint of their own efforts had made it into something special. There was drama, fights, intrigue, a spilt chocolate orange and pub brawl turned vicious murder due to an ill timed Hellish Rebuke. It struck me then that the purpose of the Dm is not to be centre stage, to carry on the theatre metaphor we are the lighting guy, the stage director, the props dude and the makeup artist. The players are the big stars, we’re just there to provide the stage for them to get their swashbuckle on.
So now I have two groups in two different cities and I’m a regular DM but also a total newbie. That being the case I thought I’d record how things go, relate the experiences of how things go and maybe throw out a few helpful things to people starting out just like me.