My journey as a Dungeon Master began in a very similar way to how I am starting this blog.
I started my journey by finding a 3.5 Dungeon Masters Guide at the local library. I was a voracious reader at the time, and this book intrigued me. It wasn’t a book about the adventures of some special teenager. Instead it was a book that taught you how to make these adventures. Reading through it, I was entranced by the idea of creating your own world, and then playing in it, something that had never occurred to me before. The ability to create worlds and adventures was at my fingertips, and I was ready to start my own adventure.
Despite all of this initial excitement, my first session was a complete bomb. After poring through the DMG for hours on end, I finally told my sister that she needed to play this game with me. I dragged her into my room and I began to set up the game. The only problem was, I did not understand the game at all. I only had the 3.5 Dungeon Masters Guide available to me, which meant that all of the real rules were locked away in a book called the Players Handbook. I had seen multiple references to the Player’s Handbook, but I figured I could get away without it. Turns out, that book is kind of important to run D&D! I was confused as to what I was trying to do, my sister was very confused, and neither of us had a really good time. My sister left the room in frustration, and told me I can’t play games with her unless I understand the rules. So with a new sense of determination I opened up the DMG again, and started from the beginning.
Soon the time came to return the book, and I really hadn’t learned anything useful. 3.5 is a very complicated edition of D&D, even more so when you are restricted to one book. The ideas contained within that book enthralled me however. I knew that one day I was going to learn how to be a Dungeon Master. But after I returned the book, I went back to my usual routine. I read novels, played video games, and went to school, eventually forgetting about the blue hardcover book that intrigued me so much, so many years ago.
High school came around, and I was excited to be doing new things. The prospect of going to a brand new school, coupled with leaving my old school had me excited! I was ready to become an “adult”. However at this time I still didn’t know what to do with my life. It is expected that as a freshman you shouldn’t know what you are doing, but it still bothered me. I was still trying to discover my identity at this time, and I was afraid that I may not discover it in time. As I was back at my local library I rediscovered a blue book, that I remember reading so long ago. I picked up the DMG, more worn and tattered since I last read it, and flipped through the pages again. My old world came back to me, as vibrant as ever, with knights in shining armor taking down tyrannical kings. It was fun reading that book again, but as I was putting the book back down on the shelf I saw another book that was much thicker than it. It was the Pathfinder Core Rulebook and I realized that this may have been the book that the DMG so constantly referenced! I immediately picked it up and brought it home to read.
Soon after getting home I dove right into the book. In a matter of moments everything began to click! That is what the DMG meant by ability checks! That is what a d20 looks like! That is how characters are supposed to built! All of my memories of the forgotten book, came back in a storm. I remember trying to be a DM for my sister and failing spectacularly, but with this book I can actually understand the rules now. I knew from this point on that I had to get a game started. All of my ideas were bubbling to the surface, and I needed to release them. Next time I found my friends I told them that we were going to play a new game, and that I was going to be in charge. My excitement was through the roof! I was about to be a Dungeon Master, and I was going to be able to tell stories just like in the many books that I had read before.
We get started and before I know it we were off. In that first session I almost killed my players twice, and we had a strip party in the tavern. (I honestly have no idea how that came about). I had no clue what any of the rules meant, and I had to make up rules on the spot so that I didn’t kill anyone. But we all had so much fun as a group that in the end, it was worth jumping through all of those hoops so that we could have fun with each other.
I’m approaching this new blog in a similar fashion. I have no idea what I am doing. I honestly didn’t even consider making a blog until yesterday. I have no clue on what HTML is, or how websites like blogger work. But even though I know absolutely nothing about blogging, if I could decipher a 3.5 DMG without a players handbook, then I know that I will be able to do this.
There are sure to be road bumps along the way. My first campaign was a hot pile of garbage, and I did so many things wrong in that first campaign that I am still learning from today. We will surely be talking about those mistakes in future installments. This blog will probably have so many mistakes that looking back at it will be kind of painful. But I know that it will be a great experience for me. In order to become great, you have to start out at the very bottom.