About a week and a half ago, two hours into my Curse of Strahd game, I hit a major milestone in my return to playing tabletop roleplaying games. By my calculation, that was the point where I’d DM’d for 200 hours since returning to the fold. A hug accomplishment.
I first made the leap back into DMing in June 2016, after recruiting a group of players on the Fantasy Grounds forum and mixing them in with some guys I knew in real life. About a month prior to that, I’d set up a game on Roll20 to run but fear struck in the days running up to it and I panicked and cancelled the session. I was scared I wouldn’t be able to run the game successfully enough to meet the expectations of serious players.
Of course, this fear still haunted me in the run up to the Fantasy Grounds game but because I had a couple of players on board whom I’d known for years, combined with the fact that I was running the relatively beginner friendly “Lost Mine of Phandelver” from the Starter Set, I overcame the fear and got on with it.
The first session was great and the campaign took off. It took me about a dozen sessions to finally shake off the nerves and butterflies before the session but the group eventually finished “Lost Mine” and proceeded on to the first homebrew adventure I’d written since 1993!!! Another milestone.
Incredibly, this campaign only came to an end this past week, after a year and nine months. Players came and went and at times, out of fear that sessions would be underattended (and an inability to say no), we had too many players (I think one session had 7 players in it). However, the same core party stuck with me throughout that time period. That’s a long commitment to make to a beginner DM. I’m very grateful to them for that.
Since then I’ve gone on to run Curse of Strahd with another group. An adventure like Curse of Strahd would have terrified me at the start so it’s a great indicator of my growing confidence that I now run it without batting an eyelid.
I’ve learned a lot in the 200 hours I’ve been DMing again. The most important of these is not to panic. I’ve forgotten plot lines, monster actions, magic items and been confused over location maps. None of it mattered. What mattered was that everyone had fun. I must have been doing something right as they have signed up to play “Tomb of Annihilation” next, again with me as DM – although not until I’ve had a short break to prevent DM burnout.
I’m so glad I got back into gaming. It’s now a “thing” in our house. My kids have played (although my son is keenest) and I’ve run a few adventures for them, the most recent being yesterday afternoon. Being able to take your kids on an adventure is great and it’s such a simple gift to be able to give them. Pure imagination.
Here’s to the next 200 hours.