Yeah, that’s me, the Forever DM. I rarely get to play at a table, and that’s okay. Recently, I had a brief conversation with one of my players after our game session:
Of course, Bubby is his character. His other character, Vaxis is in my monthly game and has the luck of a lodestone.
But I digress.
This is what makes me enjoy DMing. Over the last quarter of a decade that I’ve been DMing, I have had some successful and some…not so successful campaigns. Some of the best long-term games I’ve had were ones that had an engaging story overall, with plenty of opportunities for each character to shine, and me trying to weave the background stories of each player’s character into the narrative.
Would it surprise you to know that I’ve only had a total of five campaigns actually make it to completion (sometimes satisfying for everyone, sometimes bittersweet).
The first was a more episodic campaign that didn’t have an overall story, but was a series of stories strung together. That was from back in high school into early adulthood. It was a great campaign and I had some good players. It predated the dawn of 3rd Edition, and was back when TSR was still a thing.
The second was my (in)famous “Pirate” campaign. That campaign lasted upwards of two years, and actually went from level 1 to 20, and that was back in the 3e/3.5e days. It had a very nautical theme, and I had one player, whose idea it was, as a plant (he was actually playing the sub-BBEG, if you can believe it), who betrayed the party at a penultimate moment in the campaign. Man, the party was both thrilled and totally pissed. I mean, it was that level of betrayal. Imagine, if you will, Luke Skywalker going through the whole series only to have it revealed that Han Solo was the Emperor. It was on that level of betrayal. I could not POSSIBLY have planned that better. It was a one-time campaign that I will never be able to reproduce. So much of it was finding pre-written adventures to string together with the narrative, with storyline in between. Of course, the storyline in between was memorable, but otherwise, it was cool.
The third was my Githyanki Invasion campaign. It was pretty cool, I guess. It was based on a total invasion of the githyanki into the material plane. This was also back in the 3rd Edition days. A lot of good friends, some new some old. Pretty fun with a somewhat satisfying conclusion.
The fourth highlighted the love I had for Dungeon Magazine (I know, I’m dating myself here), and their first full-length adventure path, particularly the Shackled City adventure path. It was easily one of my favorites, with lots of cool locations and highlights. Ended as it should have.
The fifth is my infamous Fallout campaign, using d20 Modern/Future/Apocalypse source books. It ended well, with the Paladin of the Brotherhood of Steel sacrificing himself and the party to stop the BBEG and his army, using a Fatman round rigged to explode when struck against the ground. It was an epic end to an epic campaign. When my family moved away, I received a super mutant Pop! figure signed by all of my players. I still have it proudly displayed in my game room.
I say all of that to say this: I love being the DM. I’m sure many people love playing and I know that many people absolutely hate being DM. Me? I love it. I’m not always great at it. Sometimes I get ahead of myself and don’t take my own advice and I don’t pace the campaign. Sometimes the story I am telling is not as cool on the table as it is in my head.
Despite everything, though, I love it. I love looking at everyone’s various story arcs get resolved, watching the party succeed and flounder, and I love most of all the fact that I can craft something and share it with friends that help make it even better.
Quick announcement: I’ve launched a Patreon in the hopes that, with support, I can expand The Blog and give you more and even better content. I feel I’ve made the awards attractive and I hope to see you all donate!
My Patreon can be found at: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=41279593