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Thinking of getting into D&D?

I see lots of people posting in online groups looking for a game to join. Role Playing takes friends. But, if you want to play you do not need to find a group already playing. You can always start the group you want to play with. Run your own game. Things have changed a great deal, and now we have celebrity DM’s running games not for tables of players to have fun as much as running games for an audience to enjoy. Some of these players and DM’s are even professional actors and entertainers. Do not think your game will resemble a professional production meant to entertain people. Playing with your group will likely be quite different. There are many posts online from people who want to play who find this intimidating. I have heard of groups where players expect something more like these popular live play podcasts. Forget about those.

What you play at your table will be a unique experience you and the other players will make together, and that will seldom be like what you might be watching online. I always thought if you took most campaigns I have played in and broadcast them it would be quite dull to watch. I love going up and down on a rollercoaster but watching a video for an hour of someone else riding rollercoasters seems dull to me. Playing a game is similar. What you experience there is not easy to convey if one is just observing from outside. For this reason, the live play podcasts strive to create an entertaining experience for an audience which from what little I have seen differs a great deal from playing the game.

Keep this in mind, and do not be intimidated by the prospect of running a game thinking you have to live up to expectations to create what is essentially a TV show. Just have a fun game with your other players. Fun can be a lot of things. Each week you can try new things to make the game fun. The one most important part I have found in making the game fun is choosing your players. If you have a game group who gets along, has good chemistry, and has fun if the DM were there or not, you likely have some of the strongest building blocks of a good game. A crappy mundane adventure can be more fun than a well-planned creative idea simply because of how the players play though the adventure. Does the group laugh as they polish off some goblins? That is a win. Are the players getting excited about their characters? That is a win.

There are many differing DM styles that can go with your strengths. I will bet you can come up with your own unique strengths in running a game. Focus on what you find you can do well, and do not worry as much about things you have seen that you might not be able to do as well. For instance, maybe you do not do good voices and acting a character is a difficult stretch for you. You do not have to do voices and try to play out every character. Some might do great at that, that is good too. I was reading an account of Gary Gygax as a DM, and they were telling that he focused more on illustrating what was going on in the third person, telling the players what the NPC would do or how they would react instead of speaking directly as the character and acting them out. This is just as engaging of a game.

So, looking for a game? You should run your own! It is okay that you have seen other things in media, that is not going to be your game, it is not what most of our games are. You get to discover your strengths and learn new skills as you go forward and build up your own campaign. It is easy to correct or improve in areas you see you might need to improve from week to week. Want to check in and see what you can do to make it more fun for players? Why not just ask players. You could go as far as passing out sheets asking them for feedback and finding out what they enjoyed and what they did not like as much. You could ask about what they want to see that they have not seen in the game, or even what they want to see more of. You can use stuff like this to begin to grow as you run your own game.

I see posts from new DM’s looking to start their own game often. Some sound as if the DM’s are nervous. I have heard people claim the presence of professionally produced actual play streaming shows gives an unrealistic expectation of what a DM does. Perhaps that is so. I am not going to argue one way or another. I will say, do not expect your game to be like a show. This is a game. It plays like a game, and that is okay. You are not making a TV series, you are engaging cooperatively with the other players to have fun, tell your stories and enjoy what you make together. Certainly, the DM is a big part of this, but often the players themselves too have a big part of all this. It can not be done alone. I have found the biggest key to a great campaign is the group you are playing with. If you get along, enjoy each other’s company and have fun together even if you are not playing the game, that, goes further than anything in running a great game.

Posted by Logar The Barbarian

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