Beginning at the Beginning: Why I’m Starting a New D&D 5e Campaign
I had a weird itch there a while ago that hadn’t hit me in almost two decades. I decided that I wanted to actually be a player character for a change. Now, I won’t say that I’ve never felt the inclination to stop playing at the world and take up the reins of a single character, but it’s been so exceedingly rare that I decided that I’d give it a go.
I found something out. It’s really hard to find a DM. Like, inconceivably, unnecessarily hard. So, I run at a weird time, I’ll grant, and I’m choosy about the sort of game I like to play, but I don’t think that my demands are incredibly difficult. I want to play a game with a strong narrative slant, a little verisimilitude, and a world that has something I can sink my teeth into. It’s not so much to ask. But I live in the middle of nowhere, so a physical group is a difficult thing to muster. So, I turned to the internet.
Players weren’t a problem. I snagged a dozen hopefuls in the first hour. Weeding through, I put together a super-group of folks who enjoyed the same kind of games I did. Everything was looking up! But the DM thing…oh, but the DM thing.
The first DM put together a pretty cool world. The Elves were missing, strange temples were popping up in the hinterlands of the two nations that had been dueling since time immemorial. The uneasy peace was threatened. It was a time for heroes! Then, the first DM bailed out to join a monastery. I am not kidding. That is not a metaphor. He is now a monk. Tonsure and everything.
The second DM was a super involved creative type. She showed up with a map, a ream of background lore, a starting central tension, a fully fleshed-out town that we all immediately decided to be from. There were connections made, some specialty hand-outs handed out, and just so, so much promise. Then she managed to introduce two characters before a Canadian ice storm knocked out her internet and she took a new job that precluded our gaming.
The third DM was chattier than I’d been anticipating. While our first meeting was delayed by two hours seeing as he drove his SUV into the ditch in yet another loss to Canadian weather, we eventually managed to corral him and hear his pitch. It was pretty cool, all told. Missing Dwarves, this time. The central empire was a Roman expy, lots of interesting political and external tensions there. He was very open to us pursuing those missing Dwarves and fleshing out that whole storyline, since we were a veteran group who enjoyed delving deep into lore and roleplaying. We left the voice-chat rather elated. The little private message we got afterward was a little disheartening. Seems he’d failed to mention that he was a paid DM until after he’d completed his campaign pitch.
This is ridiculous, guys. Now, I understand that DMs have always been rarer than the proverbial hen’s teeth. If you find a good one, you glom onto them and never let go. And even if they’re not that good, you still glom because someone else will remora onto their mediocrity and leave you twisting! And then what will you do? No game this week. Or next week.
But here’s a funny thing. This game isn’t hard to run. Stories are not hard to tell. Why would you ever settle for mediocrity when you can do it better?
I’m DMing again. I’m not joining a monastery. I just got a new ISP, and I work from home. You can be sure as stone and bone that I’m not going to start charging. Someone’s got to run this game. May as well be me.
And it may as well be you, too. See, there’s too few DMs out there who are running this game because they love it. If this game speaks to you, if sharing a story is something that excites you, then you owe it to yourself to give it a shot.
It will be bad. It will be hard. It will get better.
I’ve got prep to do. I’m going to bring you along with me. We’re going to do this together.