Archive for anxiety

I Never Wanted to Be a DM…

Posted in Dungeons and Dragons with tags , , , , , , , on March 5, 2010 by Angry Johnny

When Fourth Edition Dungeons and Dragons was released, I was in a place in my life where playing some D&D seemed like an extremely good idea.  I was in a job I liked, my finances were essentially secure, my home life was peaceful and beautiful.  It was time for me to have a hobby, and I knew just the one.  I hadn’t played D&D in years, but I had loved it back then and thought it would be great social exercise for me (my social calendar was a bit lacking at the time).

The new system had a certain appeal to me, since I work in computer gaming and there are many design similarities to what I was already doing for a living.  I picked up the new PHB and started looking for a group.  I wanted to play D&D, not DM,  so that meant I needed a group and a DM.  Well, in Austin, there are either very few people who want to be DM or they already have full groups.  Plus, it seems that people tend to play with people who are already in their circle of friends (and though I knew some people who would probably play, none of them wanted to DM – and I certainly didn’t).

I tried a couple of local groups that had a spot open, or were created out of essential strangers, but none of them felt like the group for me.  Sometimes the mix was just wrong, or the DM was heavy-handed about how the story should go, or there was a min/max munchkin present (it only takes one to ruin my day).  Plus, I found that I didn’t like being away from my girlfriend, house, and dog for an entire afternoon/evening (apparently, I’m quite attached to them).

I grew despondent and kind of gave up on the idea for a while.

Then one day, I was sitting here at my computer with nothing to do.  I had found this blog, and had been reading the backlogs of it, because it was so interesting (girls playing D&D seemed so novel to me – and cool, good-looking girls, no less).  My girlfriend was surfing on her laptop, the dog curled by her side, and we both kind of had a bit of cabin fever, having been cooped up most of the winter.  I thought to myself, “we need some kind of hobby that we can do together.”

Of course, lightning struck my brain right then.  And I died.  No, I had a rare flash of creativity.  I realized that if I acted as DM, I could introduce her to the hobby that I used to love, and at the same time, we could do it without leaving the house and dog that we are both very tethered to.  All that was left was for me to learn to DM and us to find a group.  Oh, and she had to agree to it.

Luckily, she agreed to it.  We decided to ask a friend of mine from work and his girlfriend to join us, because we thought having another “couple” there would be kind of cool.  (Plus, in my mind, I was still thinking about how cool it would be to play with girls at the table.)  They agreed, too.  We only needed two more to have a “perfect-sized” group.  We invited another couple, but found out they were no longer a couple (open mouth, insert foot).  But the woman from the couple wanted to play, so that left just one slot empty.  My girlfriend asked me why I hadn’t asked my best friend.  Honestly, it just hadn’t occurred to me, but seemed exactly the right idea.  He totally was into the idea, and so we had a full house – five players, one DM.

I really thought it was going to be harder to learn to DM.  I picked up the DMG at the local games-and-comics store, though, unwilling to be defeated by my anxiety.  To my surprise, WotC made it very easy.  The book had most of what I needed to know, and plenty of material was provided for me online.  It occurred to me that if I used published material, I could just learn the basics, then learn the rest as we played (or make it up).

The whole configuration isn’t what I originally pictured when I first wanted to play.  But now that I’m settling in to the idea, I think it’s going to be big fun regardless of what side of the screen I’m on.  Plus, if I can provide a space for my girlfriend and my friends to have fun in, that will really make my day (especially my girlfriend – I love her very much and am very happy to be able to share this thing that I find so much joy in).


I Is Whelmed Over

Posted in Dungeons and Dragons with tags , , , , , on March 3, 2010 by Angry Johnny

So, I’m feeling a little better about this DM thing than I had been, thanks to some really great blogs, emails, etc. I’m still feeling like there is a lot to do, but that’s partly because there’s a lot to do in my real life, too.

Part of my anxiety is probably because I’m not really a very social guy. OK, I’m a hermit. I only really talk to the people I work with and my girlfriend. Now I have this group of people that I invited to play D&D, some of whom have never played before. I feel like it’s my responsibility to get everyone organized and educated, while somehow keeping it fun for everyone (and not a chore or a drag). That require a lot of social contact that I’m not used to (though my mother would tell you I’ve always had a knack for it).

I got turned on to a piece of software that might help in the long run (review to follow, once I figure it out and experiment with it). But for the time being, it only adds to my workload, since I have to figure out how to use it and if it will even do what I want it to do.

My group has varying degrees of experience with D&D, and games in general. Somehow, I have to get the experienced players the background info on the “world” we’ll be playing in, and at the same time not flood the newbs with info overload. Often, I feel like I’m sending emails to the group that no one is going to read, since people sometimes go blank when confronted with a “wall of text”.

Idea: Maybe I’ll just dump the info that they will need here, then give them the blog address, so they can read or not at their leisure and comment if they feel like. yeah, that’s a good idea. I’ll try that, see how it works.

Keep checking in! It makes me feel less alone when people read what I’m writing. Comments help, too.

Let’s play a game! Here’s your homework…

Posted in Dungeons and Dragons with tags , , , , , on March 2, 2010 by Angry Johnny

So, I have a couple of total and complete newbies who will be playing in my pending D&D group.  One has never played any games, period.  She’s my girlfriend, and she’s graciously agreed to try it for my sake.  I’m very lucky to have her and to be able to share something with her that gives me such joy.

The other newb is a friend that I know from a previous work situation.  She has played games before, but not tabletop, only computer (WoW, stuff like that).  She’s really excited to try it, but she’s never done a group RPG in real-life and hasn’t read any of the sourcebooks.  I’m going to loan her my PHB, so she doesn’t have to spend any money on it unless she wants to.  She’s fine with it, but it feels like I invited her over for a game, and then assigned her homework.

Has anybody else ever had this issue?  I guess there aren’t a lot of first-time players who haven’t already chosen to read the books.  I figure most people who play buy the books first, then seek out a game.

(And yes, my game is going to have girls in it.  There’s even a third girl of indeterminate experience I haven’t mentioned yet…)

Dwelling on Dungeons

Posted in Dungeons and Dragons with tags , , , , on February 28, 2010 by Angry Johnny

I will be running my first Dungeons and Dragons game as DM very soon.  I have been thinking about it a bit lately.  OK, a lot.  It’s very important to me that I do a good job.  I have a near-obsessive need to do things properly, but I’m also concerned that the players have fun.  We’ve never played together as a group, so I’m not sure what everyone in the group considers “fun”.  This gives me some anxiety, but I’m fairly certain we’ll figure it out over time.  (I just hope there’s enough time to figure it out before somebody gets bored!)

I plan to run a “heroic” campaign.  I’m not terribly interested in assisting anyone in living out their anti-social fantasies, so I’m going to forbid “villainous” characters.  Unfortunately, heroes, by their nature, are typically a reactive force.  Essentially, bad things happen and the hero responds.  WotC has provided a number of published adventures that essentially adhere to the heroic model, so I’ll be using those as the basis for our storyline.  Combined with the fact that I’m too new to DMing to make things up on the fly, or even create my own encounters yet, I’m afraid this means that I’m going to have to “railroad” my players through the adventure somewhat.

There are many players who would prefer a greater hand in shaping the ongoing story, choosing their own path as the story progresses.  I doubt I have the skill to enable this behavior very much.  Is this something that can be learned or is it an inherent talent?  Will my players still have fun if I don’t figure it out fast enough?  Can players be steered through a story and still feel like they are making meaningful choices?

Apparently, I have some concerns…