So you want to be a Dungeon Master?

Over the last few months we have been talking nonstop about Rogue Trader and the campaign you would be running for your friends. I know next to nothing about Warhammer or Rogue Trader, but I’ve been enjoying listening to your story ideas and helping you brainstorm. I love telling stories and creating stories for real people to act out is a new and fun challenge.

Well, today you told me I should run my own tabletop campaign. I quickly responded with a no thank you. While I am a storyteller and it has been SUPER fun talking to you about your campaign, I really don’t think I’d make a good dungeon master. I don’t have the motivation to create a game, much less the patience to run it for a group of people. It sounds like a very quick way to ruin friendships and give yourself a headache.

But not everyone feels the same way, of course. Obviously there are people out there who get a great deal of satisfaction out of building and running games for their friends, otherwise Dungeons and Dragons would have disappeared years ago and it definitely wouldn’t have spawned the thousands of other role playing games on the market today. A game can’t explode in popularity like D&D did without some people out there who really love reading up on tons of rules, creating complex but adaptable plotlines, and wrangling sugared up nerds. I know lots of people who DM. Hell, I married someone who likes to DM.

So what’s the pull? It can’t just be the storytelling aspect. Like I said I love telling stories  and, honestly, running a campaign sounds like hell to me. But it’s obviously heaven to others.

I think it all comes down to how people tap into their creativity. Everyone, well most everyone, likes to be creative, but not everyone likes to express their creativity in the same way. Some people paint, others play music, and I like to write stories. My DM friends also like to write stories, but in a different way.

When I write a story, I start with a concept. Usually, it’s a single scenario that I’ll put my characters in and then, using what I know of the characters, I’ll let them write the story. Basically all of my fiction stories are campaigns, except I get to be the DM and all of the players. And I like it that way honestly. I’m an introvert by nature and I like writing my stories by myself. I’ll let other people in when they’re done, but they definitely don’t get to be there during the creation process.

Well people who like to DM like to write stories just like I do, except they like involving other people in their creation process. Some people like creating in groups, which is perfectly fine, just not my cup of tea. Also, allowing people to be a part of your story means the story will be more dynamic and unexpected. There’s also little change for writer’s block. An entire group of people can’t get writer’s block at the same time.

However, as appealing as that sounds, I’m not running a game any time soon. I am the textbook definition of an introvert. I can barely play in a D&D campaign, much less run one. But at least I understand where the motivation to be a DM comes from.



Tabled: The X-Wing Story

Hello my name is Daniel and I’m a kinesthetic learner.

Feels really good to admit that.  I feel like I’ve been hiding my disability my entire life.

While I’m at it with deep, personal, devastating confessions: I really like strategy games.

I’m sorry to drop this on you all.

I don’t exactly know what it is about strategy games that I really like but I guess its similar to the feeling everyone has: feeling that you are a cunning strategist and you are unstoppable.  I acknowledge that I’m not but it would be fun to be good.


Currently I’m into X-Wing.  I enjoy playing it but I have way more fun collecting and preparing.  I spend a lot of time planning out game lists, planning maneuvers, and reading about historical strategies.  It would be a great conversation topic except I almost universally get schooled at these games.  I played Warhammer 40k for many years, and my win/loss record was pretty bad.  In those years I won probably less than 20 games total.

I don’t play Warhammer 40k anymore because the people who make the game forgot to make the game fun in recent iterations.  Most recently I’ve started playing X-Wing.  A cool tabletop involving the Star Wars universe.

I’d probably say that I’m a quick study.  While I understand the nuances of the games I’ve played, learning to be good is much harder for me.  Its pretty frustrating sometimes when I plan my army lists days in advance, compare and contrast pilots and upgrades, and think about complicated maneuvers only to have my friends turbo-stomp me.

What annoys me the most is that I know why this happens to me.

While I am a quick study, I am a shit learner.

I know what your thinking, “Daniel you fucking idiot do you even read the words you write?”

Being a kinesthetic learner means that I don’t really learn anything permanently unless I do it myself.  I don’t learn well when I’m listening or watching.  I’ll learn the fuck outta stuff if I have to do it myself.

This is why sometimes I’ll talk to people about things I’ve recently read.  It helps me remember it when I’m teaching it to something.  I’ll talk your ear off about 3D rendering techniques even if you don’t care, I’ll talk about European politics if you give me the chance.  Hell, I’ve given my cat a long lesson on the Syrian Civil War.  I learned so much more about those topics when I “teach” someone this stuff, and I also learned that my cat is a shit student.

Playing X-Wing with my friends caused me to learn the rules of the game really quickly, but for nuanced strategies I don’t fucking learn whats successful or awful until I sacrifice the lives of many rebellion pilots.

This is true for Warhammer 40k, Battlecraft (formerly Flipit), Risk, Axis and Allies, Magic the Gathering, even checkers.

I’ll plan, I’ll scheme, I’ll research, but it all falls to pieces because I can’t see the problems with my strategies because listening and looking aren’t helping me.  I have to lose first before I can learn what works and what doesn’t, and its super annoying.

I still have fun!  Don’t get me wrong.  I just like to muse about the fact that I’m inherently bad at strategy games but I love them anyway.

This is probably confusing my buddy Devon who I play with since our last game I did really well and claimed victory.  I’m pretty sure all total we’ve played something like 10 -15 games, and I’ve only won two times.  As we keep playing I hope to eventually prove a consistent opponent for him and our buddy Scott.  Games get boring when they’re easy, so I want to prove my mettle (plastic?) by continuing to lose until my limit gauge fills up.

At the very least, X-Wing is a pretty concise game.  The rules are succinct and straightforward.  The rules aren’t needlessly complex, and each model you buy comes with every single thing you could possibly need to field it.  Its awesome to play so if you are new to table top strategy games I highly recommend X-Wing.

Its funny though, even though I’m playing X-Wing pretty consistently I do yearn for a more complicated game.  Warhammer 40k had so much material and rules guys.  Just the most.  And being able to wield a complex army makes you feel so good when you know the ins and the outs.

So yeah- I love strategy games.  I’m just not inherently good.  But these games teach me to accept my faults and turn them into strengths.

I hate ending on inspiration lines like that so, uh, fuck the Empire.