June the 10th will mark a year since my Lost Mine of Phandelver campaign began and as such a year since I started actively gaming again after a 23 year absence. While I had started delving back into D&D in April 2016 by purchasing the core books, June was when I finally made the leap back into DMing a session.
I’d had many false dawns with regards to getting back into roleplaying games over the years. Periodically I’d dabble in getting hold of PDF rulebooks and mull over the idea of getting involved again but would always chicken out in the end. Last year was different. It just felt right and I’ve not looked back since the Player’s Handbook dropped through the letterbox. I’ve made many new friends from as far afield as Michigan and Brisbane as well as rediscovering the game with lifelong friends who played with me back in the day. I’ve also played a small part in getting other friends, who I didn’t know then, but who were playing D&D in their own groups back when they were at school, into the game again.
The past year has been eventful. The campaign has survived player disagreements, some scheduling woes (although minimal) and most critically my son being diagnosed with Leukaemia which led to a brief hiatus.
In fact, the game has proven to be quite cathartic in dealing with my son’s condition. Because we play over Fantasy Grounds, it has given me a social outlet which doesn’t require me to be absent from the house. I can still be around in case of emergency. The game has also been a welcome distraction from what is an extremely stressful situation.
My return to D&D has been way more fun that I’d ever have imagined. I did dabble with other systems as well. Pathfinder, 13th Age and Call of Cthulhu have all made an appearance in my personal library. Of all of these though, only 13th Age has really seen an outing. I’ve yet to find anyone to play Call of Cthulhu with and Pathfinder, while it may have seemed better than 4th Edition D&D seems a pointless addition to my collection given how inelegant and complex it is in relation to 5th Edition D&D.
I’m now also running a mini-campaign over Roll20 which has further challenged me as a DM and I’m really now finding my feet and growing in confidence when it comes to running games. My experiences in the last year have also highlighted to me how little I actually ran games back in my youth, or how rarely I ran them correctly. Like any teenager back in the 1980s, my games were probably more shambolic than they should have been. All I remember is fun though, so that is the main thing.
Up until this week, I was running three play by post online games. I’ve since had to quit them just because I no longer have the time to update them and was really neglecting them. That was probably the low point of the last year as I hate to disappoint players. The fact of the matter is though, I started these games in lieu of having any real life games running. It was an easy way to break myself into the hobby and for a while it went well. Ultimately, I realised I was more interested in running real life games and I’ll be focussing my efforts on those going forwards.
To anyone who has played with me in this past year, thank you. It’s been a pleasure. May you roll natural 20s where possible. I hope we’ll still be gaming when I celebrate the second anniversary of my return as a DM.