Confessions of a Gamer: Dungeon Mastering

Behind the DM screen I can’t exactly remember when I decided to run my own games as game master. When I am not mistaken I have been playing roleplaying games for some time already when I read about “Traveller”. I was immediately intrigued by the game since it reminded me of the Foundation novels by Isaac Asimov. So I decided to get a copy of Travellers and run it for a couple of friends.

Alas I can’t remember much from my first steps into game mastering, but I think we never played Traveller again. Before I went to university I only ran a few games of Shadowrun. But for most of the time I played in other people’s campaigns.

When I started studying physics at the university I met quite a few people interested in roleplaying games. Within a few months I had a regular gaming group and we played Shadowrun again. I have to admit that I didn’t know all of the rules and most of my adventures were improvised on the spot instead of being properly prepared, but we had a lot of fun. For several years I ran a game almost every week, which helped me to improve my GM skills.

Since I’ve started GMing, I’ve run games using various systems including Deadlands, Shadowrun, D&D 3rd Edition, D&D 3.5 Edition, GURPS, WHFRP, several WoD games and many more. I never was a one-system-guy I always collected various role-playing games. Alas I haven’t run all of them yet. And a few of the games I own I will probably never use.

When I think about it, my motivation to run games as a game master is two-fold: first and foremost I love creating worlds and stories and on the other hand I love to try out new games. And since it’s pretty hard to convince other people that they have to run a certain game for you, I decided to run the games myself. And since my players keep coming back for more, I can’t be that bad as a GM.

Currently I run two games: a Rippers game for a couple of friends and a solo game with my girlfriend. If I had more players and a bit more time I would love to start a third game. But I wouldn’t mind to be player in a game run by someone else.

If you have any questions about my history as a game master, feel free to ask. And I am very interested to hear your story. Why and when did you start running games for your friends? Do you prefer being GM or do you enjoy being a player, too? Any comment is welcome!

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

3 thoughts on “Confessions of a Gamer: Dungeon Mastering”

  1. Man, this should have been a blog carnival topic then it would have been a real treat to get to know every bloggers' stories.

    For me, I pretty much started getting into RPG by myself and needing a bunch of friends to play this game with me, I took up the job. It seems I haven't quit since then.

  2. I started DM'ing back in about 84 or 85. I took up the reins because I'd played about 4 or 5 D&D sessions (red box set) and my elf had never made it to 2nd level. XP was awarded to the player that killed the monster or shouted that they were opening the chest first. With the different progression rates and low hp I just died and died. So I started running a game and loved it.

    I migrated to AD&D and ran that for probably about 10 years, dabbled very, very, very, briefly with MERP. I GM'd Paranoia, played shadowrun, runequest, CoC and probably about a dozen others whilst at university.

    After that I lost interest until 3e came along, ran one game before becoming a regular 3.5 player. I GM Star Wars for my playing group and am now running my first 4e campaign.

    Of course I think this qualifies me to write a blog advising other people how to play the game but that's because all dragons have a really high opinion of themselves, particularly old silver ones.
    .-= Argent´s last blog ..Handling a Major Battle in 4e Part 2 =-.

  3. Hey Stargazer!

    I started GM'ing for friends in high school during lunch breaks (and *ahem* lesson breaks).

    Quite often we'd roleplay freeform using some of the background and story from an rpg, or we'd come up with our own rules and setting.

    My favourite campaigns from back then were champions, wfrp, dark conspiracy and d&d. Our DM for the d&d game drew up maps in the back of his maths textbook…man, we never did make it to that black dragon though 🙁

    At the moment I'd love to be DM'ing again but my current group is really getting it's teeth into board games. Hopefully I can steer 'em towards some rpg action soon!

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