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Day 30: Best DM everrrrr

ff_gygax_fThat’s rather tricky, is it not? After all, on the off chance that any of the people I have gamed with care to look at this bleat into the aether, I don’t wish to insult them either by omission or by specific reference.

I never met Gary Gygax. We lived in different countries and I have never had the ability to go over to GenCon. But we did communicate on email. I wrote some material for him for the Lejendary Adventures system before he up and died, stranding my work unpublished. I got a feel for his sense of humour at that time, and it seemed to conform to what I had come to expect from my our peers here, somewhat puerile, youthful and playful. I would have liked to have met him as I feel that, as the godfather of the whole damn box-and-dice we call roleplaying, we could have laughed together and found some common ground that transcended culture.

In the world of flesh and blood that I have inhabited, I recall and praise the following GMs:

  • Glen. We played first at High School, and breathed life into each other’s struggling teenage egos. I recall no specific adventure, but I do recall the great conversations, the smiles, and the shared sense of adventure. We fell out of course, over a woman, as we grew older. And that was a damn shame, though perhaps inevitable.
  • Craig. This was a love/hate relationship and remains so. We inflicted terrible killer dungeons on each other, and then fell out over a woman, again. He was the Best Man at my wedding. Despite his aversion to camping, I remain convinced he would make a good adventuring companion, though I do suspect he would trip me if we were being pursued by zombies.
  • Murray. Was mad at the time, bless him. But, man, did he know how to compose a fantasy world. Tremendously immersive. If I could play again in that world, with this maturity and the available time, I would leap at it.
  • Matthew. Again, quite mad at the time and intent on making off with my wife. But some of the ideas were stellar. I’m sure he has a great set of games and adventures going on, but I am safely out of that circle now.
  • Greg. Long time GM of a Harn campaign that he told us about, but never let us be part of. An experienced DM that was all DM’d out. Some fun one-off adventures that never developed into a campaign.

And all the one-off DM’s that I have had the privilege to adventure in their worlds. I recently, for example, had a go using the Pathfinder (3.5) system. Stephen made a great DM, and in another time and place I could imagine continuing in his campaign world. But I don’t want to work that hard with rules.

And so, what makes the best DM (a slightly different question from the one asked)? It is the willingness to make the Story the centre of the play, and not the rules. I don’t really care what dice I have to roll and when with what modifiers to achieve a certain goal. I want to know what things smell like, and feel like, and taste like; I’m happy to have the results of a declared action narrated.

That’s what those five, above, that I recall, could do. Just talk, and bring words to life.