Friday, May 01, 2009

Game Master Nostalgia

Watching my boyfriend get into D&D and DMing has brought on some powerful waves of nostalgia. He's been getting all excited about his latest idea for a dungeon, a Napoleonic sailing ship that sunk on its way back from Egypt with mysterious cargo aboard, and it's been fun seeing him research it and plan it out and get to work. It reminds me of my own early game mastering, before I started worrying about whether or not I was "doing it wrong," and just played the game.

I'll be the first to admit, those early games weren't perfect, and I made a lot of mistakes on issues that these days I can handle without a thought. And he's been running into trouble on the skill side, too; he made his rooms way to complicated at one point, which caused some frustration on both our parts when it came into play. But there's a real joy there, when you first start learning and it's all about the sensation of discovery, that I miss.

It's something that the "old school movement" has brought back for me, at least a little bit. The whole "make something up and run with it" approach has reminded me of how I did things back in the day, and it's let me go back to it without also going back to not having any clue what I was doing and screwing up my games in serious ways as a result.


  1. Woohoo! Sounds like you two are having fun. What rules is he using?

    I'm a huge fan of undersea adventures myself. Lots of fun you can do when motion is suddenly available in three dimensions.

    Some things can only be learned by trying and failing, so it's pretty cool that he gets to practice on you first. (And yes, there's a reason I've jettisoned the old school fascination with screwing up the players' maps through tricky telepoters and sloping passages. Some issues are more frustration than they're worth.) Eventually, there will be the puzzle that's easy for the DM but the players feel certain that it's grounds for justifiable homicide. Only by playing, and learning how your players think, can you gain the skills to do this sort of thing well.

    (If you think it suitable, you might suggest he send this adventure to Fight On! or one of the other magazines. Sounds like an unusual setting and a fun challenge.)

  2. Swords & Wizardry, but mostly because those are the rules I'm using in the game I'm running for him. (Which, sadly, hasn't seen any play time in the last week or two.) He's also played 3.5, which I think he feels is to complicated. Once he gets a little more experience he may develop some stronger preferences of his own, but for now, S&W is convenient and simple.

    We've been talking about publishing something of his a little bit already; originally it was going to be for the One Page Dungeon contest, but his current project seems to be growing a little beyond that. I've been really impressed with the ideas he's been coming up with -- the dungeon he's already finished and that I'm currently playing through is this neat little Mayan/Aztec/Conquistador deal, and there's a lot of really interesting stuff going on with it.

  3. Very cool. Sounds like he's really getting into it. If he starts blogging about this sort of thing, be sure to let us know.