Best DM You’ve Ever Had
At the end of a month of thinking about D&D stuff, and with all the nostalgic reflection that inspires, I’m going to bestow this most prestigious honor on my good friend Kevin. (’Sup, man?) Kevin was the very first DM who ever ran me through a D&D session (as has been recounted here previously and was linked to on Day 1), so on some level, he can be held responsible for how much of my life has been gloriously wasted on this stuff the past thirty-odd years. But even more that, Kev was a DM I always looked up to back in the day, because playing in his games showed me how to be a better DM.
I remember Kevin for the epic scope of his campaigns. (You ever wanted to play a D&D campaign set on Larry Niven’s Ringworld? You ever wanted to play a kick-ass heroic adaptation of Lord of the Rings? We did BOTH AT THE SAME TIME!!!!) I remember the almost perfect amount of detail that went into his games — enough to make a scenario and its setting and characters feel real, but never so much that it felt like an alt-history lesson. I remember his ability to extemporize encounters out of thin air, often with no actual game materials in front of him. I remember with great envy Kev’s ability to keep a campaign moving by adroit improvisation, deftly talking his way out of the most insanely random shit that his unappreciative players (including me) could throw at him.
All the things Kev did (and made look easy, to my eyes at least) comprised skills it took me a long time to master as a DM. And though a number of different DMs (including me) have been behind some of the anecdotes relayed here over the past month, Kev’s games are ones that I still look back on most often. Not just with nostalgia, but for inspiration. I suspect that if DMing has any ultimate goals beyond the entertainment value, the world building, and the sense of satisfaction that comes with helping other people have a good time, being able to inspire players thirty years after the fact is probably high up on the list.