Friday, May 12, 2017

New Campaign Jitters

Starting the West Marches game with my son and others this weekend. It'll be my first time DMing in front of an actual face-to-face group in several years, and there will be (potentially) many new players I've never gamed with before. And my son in the mix.

Most of my recent (as in the past 4-
5 years or so) gaming has been online, via Hangouts, with the Busan Gamers and/or Dean's Eberron campaign.

Man, I really want this campaign to go well, so my son can have a blast playing. And I know I should just relax. I've been DMing for longer than some of my new players have been alive. I got this.

But it's also a 5E game, so a somewhat new system for me. I've got a fair amount of player experience with 5th, but not DMing. So, there's a bit of background anxiety in my head.

Once the first session rolls around this Sunday afternoon, and things get going, I'm sure they'll be fine. But I've always had somewhat low self-esteem (a nerdy D&D player with low self-esteem? Say it ain't so!) and I just need to resist the urge to over plan everything. I've got enough hexes plotted out, I've got a system that will allow me to improvise if the manage to get beyond the first few areas outside the home base. I've got decades of DMing experience to fall back on if things go unexpectedly (and surely they will!).

It's not weird that we put so much pressure on ourselves as the DM. Despite what a recent Kotaku article reviewing a book about Gary would tell you, in any edition of D&D the DM really is the most important aspect of the game. The players can and should take an active roll in the game. We need players to play in the game. But without the DM, there is no game at all.

And apparently I've got a bit of a reputation as an awesome DM here in Busan, but I'm thinking to myself, "Nah, I'm just an average DM who isn't afraid to let the games get silly and isn't afraid to have fun when I DM."

So, what do you folks think? Anyone else suffer from "new campaign jitters" when you know rationally that you have no reason to be nervous? It's just a game, after all, and a game we love.

Anyone want to take contention with my stance that the DM is in fact more important than the players? I don't mind hearing opposing viewpoints.

Any words of encouragement so I can snap out of this funk?


  1. I can't give you any useful advice because I also have terrible self-esteem. I assume that every game I run is awful and the players hate it.

    The only thing I can suggest is to ask the players how things are going at regular intervals. I tend to find that -- despite my own feelings -- they are having a great time and are enjoying the game and that fights off the idea that I'm doing a terrible job, at least for a week or two.

  2. No advice to a dungeon master whom I already consider capable and entertaining; but you have got me thinking. My preference is to think of fantastic set pieces and then hopefully the players will stumble into them and enjoy them: a turducken; clowns with deadly tricks; prophecy soup summoning planar draconic spirits; pumpkins watching a gate; tapestries coming to life...

  3. As usual, I had nothing to worry about. The session went pretty well. There was only one new player (not new to gaming, just I'd never played with him before) and he's cool.

    The party explored three hexes of wilderness, my son caused lots of trouble for the party, they found some interesting ruins, a bit of loot, fought some monsters, Richard's (the new guy) PC nearly died...and they did indeed take definite steps to avoid having to roll on The Table of Doom!

  4. Have fun. Have fun. Have fun and .....

    Have fun!

  5. @ Dennis:

    So glad to hear it went well...I know the nervousness of which you speak. Perhaps a post on the session would help with the decompression?
    ; )