I had been hearing so many things about the show Stranger Things on Netflix. About how awesome it is and just how great the story was. I took a look at the cover picture and I told myself that it looked silly.
*Below this point there may be spoilers for Stranger Things and Neverwhere*
However the people telling me just how good it was would not stop and because the characters in the show play Dungeons and Dragons my friends thought that I would love it.
Eventually I did cave. I sat down and watched the first episode and then the second and the third. By the time I hit the finale it was three in the morning and my head was spinning with all of the information that I just received.
I felt as though so many things that I have wanted just came together and were made into a movie. The show itself felt like someone was sitting behind the scenes running a game of Innocents in the World of Darkness setting. The characters were all actually being played by a group of friends and each episode itself was another session of the same campaign.
Afterwards I just couldn’t contain myself and I had to explain to my wife everything that just happened. Not only in the show but how it made me feel.
One of my favorite books of all time Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman held a similar idea to the show Stranger Things in regards to there being two worlds. For Neil Gaiman it was London Above and London Below.
In the end the show inspired me to pull out my World of Darkness books and start working on writing a campaign version of Stranger Things. Something that my friends can play in and experience, still different enough from the show that it can stand alone and knowing the show will not make it so that they automatically do everything right.
Playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and World of Darkness; one of the most critical members of the group is the GM or DM (Game Master or Dungeon Master). This individual is the one that must work to create and prepare all of the materials for each and every session.
They can choose to use pre-made modules where everything is laid out for them going in, however those individuals still must interpret what was created. They must work with that information and make it relevant to the players that they have in their sessions.
If someone is doing a homebrew they spend hours making all of the material themselves and then still must figure out how to make it relevant to the party.
Being the DM or GM is an exhausting job as you weave a story for hours on end that the players can totally destroy in a matter of moments. It can also be very rewarding as the players all experience a story that you weaved so well that they felt as though they were really in the story.
The greatest compliment to my abilities as a DM was when I had all of my players in tears around me because I told them a story about how someone in the game died protecting them.
I myself prefer to be one of the players because it is a lot of work to create and work on a campaign week after week, month after month, and all the players do is show up to play. With my current group there is no thanks for the work that I do and because of that I do get tired of telling the same story as the players keep following one major quest line. It helps me to switch gears and run a different story for a while, but my players hate that and complain saying that they love the last story so much they don’t want to leave it. Part of the problem is that once a story has been left we as a group never go back because the players graduate from college and leave, or summer time comes and everyone goes home. It is just very difficult to play in my current environment and I would love to have a group of about four dedicated players who were thankful for the effort that I put into each session.
Long post made short- Thank your Dungeon Master or Game Master today, they deserve it.
Best Playing/DMing Experience.
My best moment as a DM, I was running a World of Darkness campaign set in the setting of Innocents. Which is where the players are all characters under the age of 13. With World of Darkness the world is only slightly different than the real world. Think Supernatural.
With my very first session I started the players out in school. Gave them some bullies who were mean to them, parents, and teachers. Then the world changed. A virus killed all of the adults.
In my four hour session I described everything that happened over the course of the week where their parents died, I reduced my group of players to tears. They were all so into the story I was able to create a strong emotional response. Reducing a room to tears.
Honestly this has been the best compliment to my story telling abilities and I hope one day to be able to surpass it.
Favorite Horror RPG.
Hands down this one would be World of Darkness. When you open the main book for the first time you are immediately thrown into stories written by different authors. All of them with enough hint in reality that you really feel he desired effects of the writers. You are slammed with ideas for a story you want to tell.
In the World of Darkness books the world is the same as today only, instead of the alleyway simply being dark and scary. The alleyway looks as though light is slowly being sucked inside only to disappear past an unseen barrier, you feel a cold hand reaching up your spine while you try and imagine yourself walking into the alleyway. (Unknown to the characters a ghoul lies waiting just inside for its next victim.)
The storyteller can create any story they want and really run with it. The game has a lot of fun mechanics making it perfect for people who want to spend a lot more focus on the story rather than rules.
So my girlfriend has started prodding me to work on a campaign, irrelevant which system I use, but I just need to run something.
My first major debate was which system. I am still in college and don’t have a lot of time for pure creation so that rules out World of Darkness and Rolemaster. A lot of my players want something with a lot of substance and known rules, this rules out Savage Worlds. Now I am left with the choice between Fantasy and Science Fiction. I am a much better DM with Fantasy so that rules out The Firefly Role-Playing Game and the Serenity Role-Playing Game. So now it is between Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 and Pathfinder. In my opinion Pathfinder is Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 just better. So Pathfinder it is.
Now the next discussion is what kind of story do I want to tell? Where will it take place and so on. I think I am going to do my very first Forest Setting Campaign (having them adventure within the vastness of the Great Elven Forest of Alasee), starting the characters at a higher level (10), and maybe there will be a dragon.
In the forest they will discover many things like a great army of Goblins trying to wipe out all other races, driven by someone else to commit such a daring act. Machine like men who cannot see the beauty they are seeking to destroy. A plot from within to release a great seal that is holding back an unmentionable horror. They will find themselves traveling across the land beset upon by the great creatures themselves, then traveling into the First Tree to find answers regarding the recent evils.