DM Interview – Melinda of Wizards And Wine

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Expect your players to go left when you assume the story and interesting things are on the right. Every. Single. Time.

What’s your name? Who are you?

I’m Melinda, I am precariously close to turning 40, and after playing D&D in Junior High, about a year ago I eagerly embraced the opportunity to play again. I picked a Halfling Rogue…Arcane Trickster. Her name is Darjen, while fiercely loyal, she has MAJOR impulse control issues.

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 game went OK. I was immensely overprepared for the game. We had a bottle of sparkling wine, so I believe that helped. What I learned from game 1: expect your players to go left when you assume the story and interesting things are on the right. Every. Single. Time be ready for that.

Tell us about how you game these days. How many games do you run? Do you mostly play online or in person?

I’m lucky my group of ladies are all local and come to my house for each game. We are working on a Podcast that will launch in September, so we are getting a few episodes “in the bag” as the saying goes.

My challenge is that I really REALLY want to run a homebrew Campaign, but not everyone is consistently available, so we are running one shots for now, so the cast of the Podcast does change a bit episode to episode. I am working on homebrewing a one shot. We will see how that goes.

What do you think is the biggest hurdle DMs face?

After sitting behind the screen I think the biggest hurdle for a DM is just fucking going for it. Players will either love it or hate it, and either way you’ve made an impact. Not all of our decisions are necessarily ours, so the confidence in your players to steer the game while you keep it on the rails is hard to learn. I’m working on that currently.

Also, four shots of booze plus wine, plus snacks, plus a dog = every single distraction you can imagine.

If you could give advice to yourself before you ran your first game, what would it be?

My own advice to me before we start to play? Two glasses of wine, and remember they are there to game with you and tell amazing stories, not to play against you. Collaborators!

Who are three DMs, online or in person, that you admire? Why?

  • I watch A LOT of Matthew Colville content on YouTube, I’d love to be a player at his table. I really dig his philosophies.
  • Matt Mercer, we are going to have to include him — dude knows how to tell a story and I admire the mutual respect between him and his players.
  • And I’m going to say my Current DM Chris Mogensen. He knows his stuff, puts up with my jerk Halfling, and in my other campaign we play, he helped me work through a character disconnect I had with my Tiefling Wizard. He’s a master Collaborator, and has a twisted (in the best way) imagination.

What custom creation of your own are you most proud of?

It’s a small things but I liked it, I had a player who created a character that was suuuuuuuper into pop culture so I gave her an influencer skill and based it on her charisma bonus. Small thing but I was into it.

Quick, in one sentence, invent a magic item. No stats necessary.

How about a quill that can write on any surface, doesn’t need ink and can help your party decide on the course of action when they are stuck?

Naming just one tool, what’s the most valuable tool you use to help you prepare for your campaign?

Google Drive, Google Drive, Google Drive. If I get an idea at work I can jot down the note and work on it later. I can share documents with my players, keep the digital downloads of everything I pick up from the DMs Guild for quick reference. Google Drive.

More about Melinda
You can follow Melinda on Twitter @WizardsandWine. Also, be sure to check out the official Wizards and Wine Instagram.

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