Like many Dungeons & Dragons DMs, Eric VanSingel was a player “millions of years ago when I was in high school and college.” He put the game away through his adult life until his eight year old daughter asked him to teach her D&D. Now Eric’s daughter is a 12-year-old DM, and Eric is a pro DM with StartPlaying.
Since he’s seen RPGs played from several different editions, perspectives, and age groups, Eric’s biggest strength is his adaptability. He always does his best to meet his players halfway in his rulings and tailor the gameplay to the tastes of the group. He’s not shy about asking for feedback. He encourages other GMs to be open to criticism, especially when it comes to a session’s pacing.
What is your favorite TTRPG to run and to play in? Why?
D&D 5e but I want to get into some smaller indie games. The familiar fantasy setting leaves the game wide open for exploration, role play, and combat. I like all three!
Do you prefer homebrew or premade adventures? Do you have any favorite table rules?
I like some of the Wizards of the Coast stuff - namely Ghosts of Saltmarsh and anything in Phandalin - they did a good job of making communities that were a springboard for more adventure than what is written. So even a published adventure I will sprinkle in bits of my ideas in. I really like some 3rd party content coming out of patreon creators as well. I have my own homebrew setting on one of the uncharted continents in the forgotten realms setting that I am really pumped to get going.
In my games, drinking potions is a bonus action, administering potions is a regular action.
A role play house rule is: “If you say it you do it.” Joking around is cool but if you say you do something I’m going to hold you to it. Mostly because hilarity ensues.
Where do you gather your inspiration from?
Video games, books, mostly audiobooks. I like to listen to books while I game prep, draw and make maps.
You make your own maps? What other unique things do you bring to the table?
Silly voices and I do make a lot of my own art/maps for the games.
What is your best advice for players and GMs?
The more you play the more you learn and there isn’t a one set way to play. Some people like more role play, others like the crunch of combat. Play, find what you like best and do that. All with the caveat that you are there to share an experience, and work together as a team.
For GMs, the biggest mistake is probably the two extremes of either being far too literal with every single rule or not following the rules. I think there is balance found with the rules being a guardrail for how things play out. It’s ok to allow some things a la “rule of cool” but doing that all the time is just confusing.
What do you like about StartPlaying? Do you play a lot of online TTRPG games?
Everything! I mean, it’s all right there with a quick browse. I like to play too and it’s one of the only outlets available to me for both my daughter and I to be a player in the game. I can play with a diverse group from around the world online! I think our differences is something that can make a TTRPG great. And, it goes without saying but these days it’s a safe environment where we can kind of escape the pandemic for a few hours without going anywhere.