The Diary of a DM: In the Beginning

As the mid-day sun loomed over the town of Mesa Verde, the market district of the crossroad town was its usually bustling, cosmopolitan self.

-Butchers hung carcasses from hooks in somewhat macabre storefront displays — though their usual customers paid no mind. This was a wilderness outpost, after all. Many of them were intimately familiar with the practice of animal slaughter.

-Tinkerers, toy makers, engineers, stood outside their steam-powered wagons, establishing a rapport with the parents of their customers, allowing the little children on-hands access to the many gizmos and gadgets on display — everything from hand-crafted tin trains, to wind up toys made of copper screws and gears — while the adults struck deals on steam generators, and the new steam-powered farming machines just out of the factories in Red Rock Table, a renowned industrial hub.

-Weapon vendors and armorers opened their doors to present their wares. The brass and copper of chest plates shined blindingly in the light. The metal from the many guns, knives, swords, and axes on display glinted their deadly sharpness. The clientele who approached these establishments flashed equally sharp, deadly sneers as they browsed, though no vendor in this town would ever think to inquire on their intent for their purchases. What happened once the armaments left the counter was only for the winds to know.

-Other dealers, somewhat shadier than their more “official” brethren, laid out their wares for their waiting customers in the alleys just off the main shopping avenue. Here, potions, some medicinal, others decidedly more sinister looking with powerful stenches, sat displayed on ragged looking carpets or dingy blankets. Customers in tattered rags stood shoulder-to-shoulder with those who might have been some sort of nobility, with their emerald-accented rings, elaborately decorative cloaks, and soft, velvety furs, all waiting for the dealers to finish their spiel.

In all, it was merely another business day as usual in one of the most frequented crossroad townships in the region.

It was on this unremarkable day, that 5 adventurers found themselves all wandering the streets of Mesa Verde. Out of luck, out of work, looking for opportunity.

And one thing the many visitors of this town could attest to, readily, was that opportunity was always available to those searching — for the right price.

* * *

For the curious, this was not an attempt to begin a short story series.

This was merely the world I dropped my players into in a past D&D campaign. A world of steam punk mythology, mixed with insane cults devoted to the service of such greater devils as Belial and Asmodeus, and set up for an explosive revelation of a much greater danger later.

This was the setting for my very first shot at being a “Dungeonmaster”.

As years have passed, games like Dungeons & Dragons have found more mainstream appeal. No longer is the game just for nerds, sitting around a table living vicariously through characters. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a bit of an escape. But more than that, D&D is just good fun.

It’s an excuse to get together with some friends, talk trash, pump up or bitch about movies and books, and the like. Think of it like a weekly card game — only instead of hoping for a royal flush, you’re hoping to roll a nat 20 so you can royally fuck up some asshole villain’s day. You still get the normal banter between friends. You still get the jokes, the hilarious commentary, etc — it’s just that the game is different.

D&D groups these days are filled with an interesting assortment of people. You are just as likely to see a nerd, as you are to have well-adjusted family men and/or their wives in your group. Some people game with CEOs, or hip hop fans, or Hollywood actors, and even people who have been knighted.

D&D groups have become more diverse over the years; Diversity changes the way you have to craft a game as a DM.

In order to illustrate this point, I’m going to share some of my experiences in gaming, and in DMing — by recounting some of the more memorable moments that I’ve had the pleasure (or displeasure 😛 ) of experiencing while DMing and playing D&D with good friends over the years.

Names will be changed to protect the innocent (or the crazy), but rest assured, I have gotten permission from the people in my gaming circle to use our experiences in this blog.

So without further ado, in my next article, I will begin with a little story I’ll call “Sodomy of the Horse”.

Trust me, it’ll make sense by the end…(-_-;)

Writer’s Edit:  It should be noted right now — and it is since you’re reading this — that this new article series is not an attempt to create a “How to DM” guide.  I honestly wouldn’t know where to start.

Treat the DoaDM series as literal journal entries — or a “diary”, if you will. (I didn’t find it that funny, either.)

The format is going to be very informal, the way a diary entry usually is, when you are attempting to write as you recall.


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