What’s your name? Who are you?
Dave Thompson, 46 years old, husband & father. I’ve recently had a scenario published in a Lone Wolf campaign book, published by Cubicle 7 – Rookhaven.
I recently wrote about how my first session as a DM was a total disaster. How did your first session as a DM go? What system were you running?
My first session would have probably been in 1987, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st edition. I ran it for a friend of mine who showed an interest in RPGs. There was an introductory scenario in the rulebook. It probably took a lot longer than it should have with me being a new GM and him being a first time player, but he played a few more times as I recall so it hopefully wasn’t all that bad.
Tell us about how you game these days. How many games do you run? Do you mostly play online or in person?
Now I’ve got a full time job and a family to look after I don’t get much free time and playing in a face to face group regularly is next to impossible. Play by forum is just about the only way I play these days. Sites like RPOL.net and Fellowship of the Dice are good sites with a variety of hosted games.
I’m currently playing in a Dark Heresy game and have just started running a Lone Wolf Adventure Game. They’re slow paced, as is the nature of forum based games, but it’s a trade-off I’m happy to make as the alternative is simply not playing at all.
What do you think is the biggest hurdle DMs face?
There are a few I can think of. Preparation time for one. Even a published scenario or campaign has to be read, understood and any potential problems considered. If the DM has an established group then they will have an idea of what they might do in key sections of the game and prepare for those moments when the party goes off piste. If you’re bringing a new group in, then you will have to be prepared to wing it and I know a few DMs don’t enjoy it when you go off script on a published scenario.
Then there are homebrew games and all the associated time taken to create your own world, or at least a starting region. As someone who’s tried to craft a new world with it’s associated history, religions, nations and races, I know it can take an awful long time (like, years) to get it in a state you can start gaming in.
Also, trying to introduce players to new games can be a hard sell too. Most folks have at least heard of D&D in one form or another. Even if they’ve not played Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms, they at least know they are D&D settings. If your group hasn’t heard of SLA Industries, Coriolis or Lone Wolf it can often be difficult to persuade them to try if some variation of d20 game is on offer too.
If you could give advice to yourself before you ran your first game, what would it be?
Prepare naturally, but don’t be afraid to roll with it if things go off script. It can be far too easy to try and railroad players back on track.
Who are three DMs, online or in person, that you admire? Why?
I don’t follow many podcasts, streams or shows but Matthew from Effekt (formerly The Coriolis Effect) is a good example of a flexible DM. My old friends Simon Carter and Nigel Judson are DMs that could tell great stories and create interesting worlds to game in.
What custom creation of your own are you most proud of?
There are sadly no links to anything online, but I created two classes for Mongoose Publishing’s Lone Wolf d20, the Knight of the Shield and the Eruan Pathfinder. My first contributions to the game world that got me into gaming back in the 1980s. They were published in the magazine Signs & Portents.
Quick, in one sentence, invent a magic item. No stats necessary.
Book of Instant Reading – Automatically provides the player with all the relevant background information on the setting you’ve just dropped them into, without them having to read it themselves.
Naming just one tool, what’s the most valuable tool you use to help you prepare for your campaign?
Google Docs… Just it’s simplicity and the ability to share and collaborate on a living document. It’s been so useful.