Friday, May 21, 2010

Trials and Tribulations of a 17-Year Old DM

Speaking from an honest viewpoint, most of the people interested in this blog have played Dnd for 5+ years at the least. I, in all of my 17 years of worldly experience broke into the game about three years ago. In this time I have played under six different DMs and run about four campaigns myself. As you can see I'm a bit behind the experience bandwagon.
Having played (and currently playing) in games with older DM's who have been involved for 20+ years has definitely given me the ability to reflect upon the weaknesses and strengths of my own DM'ing style.
Under both of these Dungeon Masters the games have been absolutely enthralling, capturing my imagination and sending the PC's home with electric excitement making the next session seem too far away...
The DM of the campaign I am currently PC'ing in is actually one of my own player's father, therefore I have dual aspects of reflection from myself and my PC.
There is an undeniable art to DM'ing, there are aspects that must be learned. How to appeal to player's, the balance between established rules and imagination, and how to read the PC's to know just what to put in a game. Not to mention the skill of world-building and story telling. So for now I'm doing my best to observe these skills in action from more experienced DM's in hopes of making my games better.
One of the thing that frightens most people about being a DM is how much you have to know. On the one hand this is a misconception, you do not need to know everything in the rule books. On the other have to have knowledge of the fantasy genre. I was able to come into the game so easily because the sheer fascination for the fantastical I had possessed all my life. Being older allows for a greater scope of that information, and a vast pool to draw from when creating stories.
Being a Dungeon Master is like being an actor, you never stop learning. No matter how many years you've played I think there is some aspect that will need perfecting.


  1. Always. There always is something. :)

    The most important rule, paraphrased from Gary in th eDMG, is that there are no rules. Once you learn that, it is much easier. I occasionally need to be reminded myself.

    Oh, and as an aside, the reason I'm following your blog is that my 3 daughters (14, 12, 10,) and 1 son (8) all play 1e now. I'm trying to get into their heads by reading some of your thoughts. :)

  2. Well I'm glad I can help then. If you have any specific questions feel free to ask

  3. Every DM has to start have the good fortune to have some older mentors from which to draw, but don't be afraid to cultivate your own style. If you want to treat DMing as an "art" I think you're right...most artists continue to grow, develop, and learn their entire lives. It's not a journey towards perfection but one of constant refinement over time.

    I started as a DM around the age of 9...back then I had an even shallower "pool of knowledge" than you do now. I got by as a DM by stealing from every source I could get my hands on...books, film, TV, legend & myth (no internet back then...). I'm 36 now and have GM'd a host of games, from every TSR "old school" type, to White Wolf and its ilk, to weird-ass "Indie" games. They all take different styles of handling. The greatest joy is in working in collaboration with your players to have a good time...though you probably know that or you wouldn't still be playing.
    ; )

  4. For what it's worth, I only really got *into* tabletop RPGs about two years ago, so you're actually beating me there.

    That being said, I first played them far earlier than two years ago, when my dad ran some games after finding his old D&D books :)

  5. Read, read, read, is my advice to the learning GM. Classics of fantasy literature - Grognardia blog is good for a rundown of those - books about the military, social and cultural history of all kinds of societies - and other role-playing games, to see how they handle their biz.