Starting Out: Game Master Series


The art from the Dungeon Master’s screen for Dungeons and Dragons. Image cred.


It’s theater/radio/improv/imagination/story-telling in an oral tradition that goes back millennia. It’s D&D y’all.

I’ve decided to become a DM (Dungeon Master). This is not an altogether well-thought-out decision, as being a good DM or GM (Game Master) means an awful lot of time alone spent creating and planning and memorizing rules for a few hours of fun that WILL be derailed and will NOT go as planned and MAY make friends hate each other afterward…or not.

I’m still going to do it. It’s a bit like saying you’ve decided to be a poisonous frog catcher in the Amazon or a tornado-chaser in Oklahoma. Everyone’s like, “yeah, that’s super cool, you should totally do that!” and everyone is also thinking “that’s cool yeah, but also insane, and I’m so glad I have a normal hell like customer service or nursing. I’m definitely the smart one here.”

I’m not bitter. I’m insane. Probably.

My brother put down world-building as one of his skills. He’s also a DM. A far better one than I will ever be, also being a voice actor. I can put world-building down as one of my skills as well because apparently, that’s the kind of thing to run through families, or over them, and I’m a writer, so there’s….that. Which may or may not make me a good DM. It may mean I wax eloquent in my descriptions and my NPCs will say “er…um…great!” a lot because I’m not so good at the improv or actual real life conversations.

I don’t know yet. I’m just starting out. I haven’t even finished reading the Dungeon Master’s Guide. I think I need to sleep with it. Okay, not with it, obviously, but like, under my pillow so I can memorize rules by osmosis. Dream about it. Some people put pictures of loved ones under their pillows to dream of them. Ha, amateurs. I’ll be over here dreaming of monsters and people staring at me waiting for me to deliver an awesome story. Wayyyy less embarrassing/awful. Play me a tiny violin. *tears*

I’m not a complete noob at this point though, if I have to be honest (and everyone’s honest on the internet). I did run my aforementioned amazing DM brother through the opening of Curse of Strahd, which took like eight hours. It gave me a pounding headache and a sore throat for a few days, but it was so awesome. He was in America and I was in Korea, so we had to Skype, and I called him when I was ready wearing a black paper raven mask and playing creepy vampire music. Oh yeah, it was epic. I even lit a candle labeled “Dark Woods” or something, but of course, the smell was only metaphoric for him.

I decided to blog about this because I think it would be cool to see how it was starting out after I’m a very good DM who is semi-famous somehow. I will definitely have my own website with a picture of me holding the tips of my fingers together and one eyebrow up as I look over my DM screen.

Step 1: Learn to raise one eyebrow.

I’m going to be so great at this.


How D&D Saved My Social Life

Dungeons and Dragons saved my social life. Oh dear. That sentence doesn’t seem real. But it’s true.

And chimichangas keep me going.

Here’s why. Being a nerdy introvert means that even though I live abroad in a land of fun and shopping and happenin’ night life (that apostrophe at the ends means it’s super cool), I don’t go out and have fun all that much. Well, I mean, I have fun, but my fun usually involves books or Netflix or staring sadly out the window. No, wait, that’s a 90s music video. Never mind.

As I stated so eloquently in this post, just because you move to another country does not mean you magically become more extroverted. I still don’t want to go out. Even if there are cherry blossoms flying through the air and making mysterious sha-la-la music when I walk.

I mean, I had friends. After the first semester here, I had my friends at school, and one or two outside of that. But most nights after work I was still inside, playing games or reading or writing. It was nice, but I wanted more. I wanted to get out and meet people. Being an INFJ, I love people. I just don’t like very many of them at one time or for too long.

Enter D&D. I have to thank my brother for this. He got into it and started DMing himself, and when he told me about it I decided it sounded like the best thing ever and I had to find a group.

(Quick digress – I grew up in a conservative community, so I remember thinking D&D was either a) for devil-worshippers or, b) for closeted nerds with body odor.)

Thank goodness I cast off those stereotypes, because let me tell you, D&D is one of the best things around, nerd or not. And luckily for the world, it’s becoming more mainstream, which means groups are more prevalent, merch is abounding, and it’s easier to find resources than ever.

If you don’t have a clue what it is, watch Vin Diesel play it here. Or Joe Manganiello here. Or the experts here. Or you probably already know.

I bloomed in that group. I found my thing. My THING. I always say I’m an introverted exhibitionist, because I love making people laugh, and I like to put on a show. I think that comes from my teaching experience. So acting out as a character, though I’m no actor, is a lot of fun. And I have a brilliant memory for rules, not to brag (totally bragging). I’ve also Dungeon Mastered myself (that’s a real word, right?), satisfying my yearning need to control others….what?

I was fortunate enough to be part of a big foreigner group on Facebook near where I live. If you live abroad where you don’t speak the language and might not have a gaming store around, I would check those kinds of groups. I just posted a message on the boards asking if anyone had a group and had several responses in a couple days. Or check out Meetup. Alternatively, you can start your own group and put out feelers. It’s always fun to bring more people into the dragon-infested fold.




Brangwen (My character, who is a totally cool and not at all neurotic Paladin of the Raven Queen. Homebrew FTW. Thanks to Hero Forge for allowing me to make my own mini. *heavy breathing*)