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An Interview with Chris: The Thoughts of a first time Dungeon Master

Hello everyone.  You may or may not have been keeping up to date with some of my Dungeons & Dragons antics, playing a Drow Swordsman/Ranger called Rhyll’Zt.  If you are interested in our short adventure you can read it by following the links at the very bottom.  However, the purpose of this post is to share the transcript of an interview I did with Chris.  Chris was our Dungeon Master for the game, and it was his first time.  And we aren’t necessarily the easiest party to manage…From my perspective he did a great job, however I thought to myself there is opportunity here.  So, I asked Chris about his experiences as a first time DM and what he has learned.  Have a read what he said below.

  1. So, how long (roughly) have you been roleplaying? And what drew you in about it?

I have been roleplaying on and off for about 4 years with different groups. I was drawn to this because I love videogame RPGs and when I found a group in my area that was doing a D&D campaign that I could join, I jumped at the opportunity.

  1. Do you have a favourite game so far? (And do you have a least favourite game?)  (Please give reasons if possible)

Currently I am enjoying the skirmish miniature game Malifaux. It is fun and has a very different style of gameplay to others in the fact that you use a deck of cards instead of dice. There is so much variety in the different crews you can use so there is something for everyone. The rules are very simple and can be picked up after just a couple of games.

I wouldn’t say that I have a least favourite game, but I am not very good at one game, Roll for the Galaxy. It is not that I don’t enjoy the game but after many attempts at playing the game I have a reputation for being so bad at it that the other players think I’m losing this badly on purpose.

  1. What is your favourite roleplay moment? Describe what happened, and why you enjoyed it?

My favourite roleplaying moment happened when I was playing in a Star Wars RPG. The party was looking for information in a mining colony and one of the other party members seen that one of the NPC’s was holding a mining laser. The player wanted this mining laser as it fitted his character perfectly, so he asked the NPC for the laser. He asked to hold the laser and to “inspect” it for defects and rolled well enough to succeed and he gained the laser. The NPC then asked for it back and the player was made to roll to persuade the NPC that it was his now. The player rolled a perfect roll for his persuasion and the NPC just accepted that the mining laser was in fact the players and left us alone.

  1. You recently ran a short campaign of D&D 5e for myself and our group. What was it that made you want to run a game?

I had always wanted to run a campaign, but I was afraid of the complexity that comes with running any campaign. I explained these worries to a friend and they challenged me to write a short 4 session campaign that would give me an idea of the process of creating a campaign.

  1. Your game was quite original (from my perspective) in that it focussed on a Plant based Adversary. Was there a reason you chose this type of story?  (Again, go into as much detail as you like)

I am currently studying environmental science and sustainability at university and I have an interest in invasive species. This interest provided the basis for the adventure, a plant taking over a village. I came to the realisation that if I use something I know as the basis for the story, it would be easier to write the story. Using the premise of a mystery happening in the village allowed the party to discuss the possible sources of the disappearances in the village and where my inspiration came from. This usually meant discussions about Dune which I have never seen to their horror. Using a topic that I know a lot about made it easier to create the adventure and the main villain especially.

  1. What was your favourite thing about running the game?

My favourite thing about running the game was the party going on strange tangents that I hadn’t prepared for. These became the most entertaining situations in the entire story and made me laugh the entire time.

  1. What was the most challenging thing about running the game?

The most challenging thing about running the game is deciphering the core rules of the game. Making sure that the enemies are not too powerful for the players yet also making them powerful enough to pose a threat. There is also the challenge of running a game for people who are very experienced in roleplaying games. They were a great help, but I felt that I should be as “professional” as I could in terms of the rules and when dice should be rolled especially. This was one of the main challenges that I found throughout the campaign and going forward it is something I hope to get better at.

  1. Would you do anything differently, were you to do it again?

I would probably try to focus on having more roleplaying instead of having a mix of both roleplaying and combat. I would have some combat, but I have found while playing and running a game, the best situations come from good RP and not so much from combat. Not that combat isn’t entertaining sometimes when your players dispatch enemies with heroic valour and strength.

  1. You were a first time Games Master when you ran this game, and I know you took advice from others but ultimately had to find your own way of doing things (which worked). What have you learned from the process, and what advice would you give to new Games Masters now that you have run a game?

Always be ready to improvise and go on a crazy tangent as they usually lead to the most entertaining outcomes for the story. having a lot of notes is good to have to keep you right but being able to adapt and think on your feet makes the story more enjoyable for both the players and you as well. If your players can feel that they can approach a situation any way that they want, they get more enjoyment out of it if it works and it can help you to develop characters and places that you hadn’t thought to develop very much previously.

Thank you, Chris!

Hmm, I don’t remember doing anything that I considered “Dispatching with Valour”. But then, I suppose true heroes don’t.  Or perhaps he wasn’t talking about the shifty Drow who became a punchline for use of a disguise kit.

So, lessons for other GMs

Use what you know.  And expect, and encourage, the unexpected.

Good advice in any roleplay game

Goodbye for now!

Links to the write up of Chris’s adventure are below

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

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