Welcome to the 13th day of 2019’s RPGaDay. The word prompt is MYSTERY.
It’s no mystery why I love roleplaying games. I’ve been a storyteller all my life and rpgs afford me the opportunity to immerse myself in a grand experiment with my friends and utilize what is my greatest asset — improvised yarnspinning.
I was never, from day one, a fan of published modules or campaign settings. Oh, I liked them well enough to read, but when it came to running my own games, I preferred creating my own worlds, weaving my own stories, outside of the confines of someone else’s narrative.
Gary Gygax couldn’t believe anyone would buy settings and adventures. The DM had all the power at their fingertips. Why would they ever want to play in someone else’s sandbox? He wrote:
“You are not entering this world in the usual manner, for you are setting forth to be a Dungeon Master. Certainly there are stout fighters, mighty magic-users, wily thieves, and courageous clerics who will make their mark in the magical lands of D&D adventure. You however, are above even the greatest of these, for as DM you are to become the Shaper of the Cosmos. It is you who will give form and content to the all the universe. You will breathe life into the stillness, giving meaning and purpose to all the actions which are to follow.”
By creating your own universe, you control the mystery that your players seek to unravel. Therein lies the wonderment of it all. It’s why I have played the game for more than forty years. As much as playing D&D is addictive, being a DM is even more so.
Not that I wouldn’t mind a chance to immerse myself in a single character again. But it’s an extremely rare occurrence for me.
My style of DMing is less en vogue as it once was. While the modern idea of the non-adversarial DM has always been a part of my playbook, so many still cling to the comforts of the pre-written adventure.
There’s no mystery there for me. I need the frontier and the wildlands. I am a Borderman seeking adventure out beyond the confines of civilization… beyond the reach of the Wizards of the Coast.