Monday, July 22, 2013

Being the Game Master: What You Really Need

I have been trying to think of something to do with this blog since the day I started it. Given that I started it off a bit of a whim I never really had a clear direction of where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do. I finally think I have found at least one thing I want to do with this blog on a somewhat steady basis and that is share what I have learned as a Game Master.

I first started playing Dungeons and Dragons nearly twenty years ago now when I was nine years old. Ever since that first experience I have been hooked. In those twenty years I have not only played Dungeons and Dragons but a massive variety of other role playing games as well and I truly believe my life is all the richer for those experiences. Role Playing Games have allowed to visit not only other worlds but other times. All I need was some dice some paper and I could be anyone and go anywhere I wanted. The only limit was my own imagination.

I like almost everyone else started out as a player and I was quite happy in this role. I show up with my dice and character and someone else provides the story and the munchies. The only problem was that my first Dungeon Master (and probably still my favorite one) was my Uncle and while he did let me play, he was also a bit short on patience and probably had times when he would have rather throttled me than play DnD with me. This of course meant that if I wanted to keep playing Dungeons and Dragons I would have to take on the role of Dungeon Master.

The problem with being a Dungeon Master at the age of nine is that I had no resources for the books or the other materials you needed to play. I had my own set of dice though, and I had the memories of how it all worked from playing with my uncle. So one day I ambushed my younger brother and told him we were going to play Dungeons and Demons (Hey I knew it wasn't real Dungeons and Dragons but the name sounded cool so I went with it) and while I barely remember how it all worked out I do know my brother and I had lots of fun. Before I knew it I had a binder full of home rules with a really bad drawing of a demon on front and my younger brother and I spent hours playing in our room.

It's actually kind of funny looking back at those days in comparison with where I a at today. Today I bookshelves lined with rpg books, shelves filled with dice and characters, and a computer full of hundreds of PDF files. Yet despite all the "toys" that I have accumulated to make the game "better" I can't really say that the play experience has really changed all that much. When I sit down to play Dungeons and Dragons or any other rpg my mind still goes to that magical place that allows me to escape this mundane world and enter a world of my own creation.

I think a lot of people who have an interest in being a Game Master tend to stop themselves short because they don't have the "stuff". I totally get this, but the "stuff" is really just fluff and isn't as important as you think it is. What a Game Master really needs is a willingness to just go out and do it. You don't need rules, fancy graph paper, or mini's. All you really need as a Game Master is some imagination, a group of friends, and a couple of hours to kill. If you have those things then the rest is just window dressing.