One thing that might be useful to know about your contributors here is that we’re both into regular organized play. Matt does Living Forgotten Realms and I organize and run the D&D Encounters games at our local gaming store. I’ve been doing this for 16 weeks now and ran a couple of Worldwide Game Day games as well. To those of you who think I’m hard core and one of those guys that has been running D&D games every week my whole life- you’re wrong. I haven’t always been this guy.
A little bit of my gaming history
I won’t bore anyone with a year by year account of my gaming habits. But I want to share a little bit so you see where I’m coming from.
I started back in high school when my best friend introduced me to D&D using books he got from his brother. Boy, how many stories have started that way? (A bunch, I’m sure.) I stopped playing when he went away to college and then started playing later with other friends. Then we all left for different colleges and I stopped playing again. I never found anyone to play with in college but when I got my first job I eventually ran into a group of friends at work who, as it turned out, had all had pretty much the same gaming history I just related above. So we started a gaming group and played pretty regularly for several years.
Then the unthinkable happened- we all started having kids. Then those pesky kids started growing up and having activities and sports and things that required us “parents” to tend to them. Pffft… kids…
So our regular monthly gaming group turned into an every other month group. Then every 3rd month… maybe… It’s hard for 5 guys to be able to get free for 6 hrs. or so on any given Saturday. Two of us had kids sports to schedule around. One of us had a spouse with a fluid work schedule. Oh, and we lived, literally, on four opposite sides of the 4th largest city in the U.S. So for one guy to host was not really that big of an inconvenience (it was a little bit of one) but for the other guys to drive to that house was the biggest part of the inconvenience- it’s at least a 45 minute drive for any of us to get to one of the other friend’s houses. (Note: This gaming group still exists and we have a semi-annual game tentatively scheduled. We actually missed 2010 but hopefully we’ll play again this year.)
So, a little over a year ago when my local gaming store opened I was pretty excited. Finally, a place in my home town where I might be able to find someone to play with!
That opened up a whole new set of challenges, finding a group of strangers to play with. But eventually after dropping by every week or so and having people finally starting to find the place and build their own repertoire with the owners and other customers it started to happen. We started getting to know each other and to play some D&D. One thing I was always weary of was playing with lots of teenagers. By the time this all became a constant gaming outlet in my life, I turned forty. I had all these weird images in my mind from back in the 80s in news stories of gamers and they all included young, pimply faced nerds with books, Mountain Dew and dice sitting around a table with middle aged men. It seemed weird.
But fast forward 26 years and now I’m the 40 year old guy behind the DM screen with the teenagers (and 20 & 30-somethings as well) looking at me expectantly to find out what happened when they rolled that 12 (+7) vs. AC. And all of a sudden, I had to know the answer to that question and then keep everyone engaged in what’s going on.
And I really like it!
This would not be possible without organized play. The Encounters program appealed to me and when the guy running it at the store had to bow out I was hesitant, excited and scared to take it over. But it turned out to be a great deal of fun. I really like getting stuff from Wizards for free to play D&D (I’m talking about the adventures and the tokens and maps). I really like being able to play reliably, week after week (that hasn’t happened since high school). I really like being able to play D&D and only have to commit like an hour and a half once a week (my family likes that a lot). I really like sharing Dungeons & Dragons with people who used to play, like me, back in school but got out of practice and are rediscovering the fun of the hobby. I really like introducing the game to new players who will hopefully keep the cycle going after me.
So I hope you really like playing D&D (or whatever RPG suits you) and I hope you give game mastering a try or have already and I hope you really like it, too.