Thursday, December 22, 2016

Why do I DM?

It's  a simple question, and one that I'm sure many game masters have considered. I often hear answers like: "I love telling stories," "worldbuilding is just sooo fun," "I want to be a player but no one else ever volunteers to DM," or "the tears of players are my drink, and loathing my bread." (Okay, not ALL of those answers.)

This being my first post all up in this blog, I figured that answering this question is a good way to "introduce myself."

I've run games for almost three years (I know, what a young'un), mostly D&D, but also some homebrew systems and dabbling in stuff like Runequest, Talislanta, or ACKS. (I also slogged most of the way through The Burning Wheel before deciding the system was borderline-unplayable, haha.) Unfortunately, I haven't had much of a chance to actually PLAY these games - y'know, as a PLAYER. Sure, a couple of my friends that I DM'd for have tried running games, and continue to do so (though distance usually prevents me from participating). This means that, not only am I basically a self-taught DM, I've also taught others. (This lack of outside influence, of DMs that I haven't taught how to DM in the first place, is a large part of why I'm on here keeping up with some of the work and ideas that GM bloggers come up with - it's hard to be a creative individual without being somehow part of a community!)

So, why go through all the time and effort of learning how to DM? Why run games for most of the past three years?

1) Tabletop RPGs are simply the type of game that I've found most enjoyable. Even while DMing. The dynamic of these games is one of immense creative potential, with multiple players making decisions and shaping the story in their own way, guided and arbitrated by another real, flesh-and-blood human, whose ability to make intuitive snap decisions (ideally) far outpaces that of a machine or hard-and-fast ruleset. As much as I enjoy my single-player videogames, they are stale and clumsy compared to a game run by a good GM. So, that's the kind of game I try to provide.

2) Tabletop RPGs have a special social dynamic. This is actually a big one for me: the experience of sitting around a common table with a group of friends and just experiencing a story together is hard to rival. (Which is what makes the choice of players/gaming groups so important - but that's a post for another day.) The ability to engage in shared decision-making on decisions that don't "matter," to pursue common (or diverse!) goals, to create those fun anecdotes that bear retelling time and again, is simply not an experience I've had elsewhere. (Plus, being an introvert, it's handy to commit myself to something that provides regular and positive human contact, something that I easily forget that I need, haha.)

3)Tabletop RPGs are a great sink for time and brainpower. Personally, I get bored easily if I give myself free time. A good solution to this problem is to cultivate a hobby that can absorb as much time and attention as you give. The reason why I chose a hobby, and not "real" responsibilities, is that the repercussions of coming short on time and effort are trivial; you run the game as scheduled, improvise a bit more than you would've liked, and everyone still has a good time. GMing: a good way for a busy mind to stay sane!

Feel free, Reader, to comment as to why you GM. Or play tabletop RPGs. Or how you ended up at this blog if you don't. :p

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