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James (DM_Shroud)

Professional Game Master
James (DM_Shroud)he/him

8 Reviews


Player for
46 years
GM for
46 years
Hosted over
0 games

About me

Hey, I am James AKA DM_Shroud. "If I am telling a good enough story that people are going to want to come back to it, week after week, building relationships and gaining friends among the group, always eagerly anticipating next week's adventure, then I am doing my best work as a Pro GM.” I've been a DM/GM for 46 years, starting with Traveller in 1977. My primary VTT platform is Roll20. https://roll20.net/ My Roll20 .net DM Profile: https://app.roll20.net/users/563150/shroud I have run 4,000 hours of games via roll20 over the last 8 years for players worldwide. Some games are better served by different VTTs: Role - https://www.playrole.com/ Fantasy Grounds - https://www.fantasygrounds.com/home/home.php Foundry - https://foundryvtt.com/ Talespire - https://talespire.com/ Owlbear Rodeo - https://www.owlbear.rodeo/ I let other GMs run scenarios. I am known for and prefer interactive, longer, character-driven narrative full-length campaigns, in multiple genres, including Fantasy, Space Opera, Cosmic Horror, Conspiracy, Science Fantasy, Modern Military, Wild West, Post-Apocalypse, and Espionage. I prefer narrative games with well-defined characters with story arcs like a TV show. Let me know what you want to do, we can work to set it up. About Me: I have always been an avid fan of Sci-fi. As a child and into my teen years, I immersed myself in Star Trek, Star Wars, and the writing of noted classic sf authors, including Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Phillip K. Dick, Joe Haldeman, William Gibson, Robert A. Heinlein, Frank Herbert, William H. Keith, Jr., Ursula K. Le Guin, Carl Sagan, and Walter Jon Williams. I read about 3 books a week. Military service left me a disabled veteran since 2001 and now I am trying to reinvent myself as a professional Gamemaster, Space Artist, and Author, and return to that early love of Sci-fi that never really went away. These days, I am a retired US Navy sailor, living in beautiful Northern Thailand in the foothills of the Himalayas, trying to make sense of the crazy journey that is life. My ability to do worldbuilding compliments my writing ability. When I am not writing or gaming, I am designing fictional solar systems or working on cartography maps of all scales for games and novels. I hope my Pro DMing, and writing will one day pay for my 3 kid’s college and I strive to inspire others as I was inspired as a young man reading sci-fi novels late into the night, by flashlight. Now, in 2022, at age 56, I write novels and run online games as a Professional Roleplaying Game Referee, with an all-white tiny house panther, a Thai Lt. Col. Wife, and three kids. As a GM, I like to run a gritty, realistic, low-fantasy, and low-magic, open-world D&D sandbox with occasional tactical table elements (low combat), heavy narrative elements, and lots of roleplaying with milestones for advancement. I have done professional Voice Acting, and indie feature film acting and production. I am a college-educated member of Mensa and also a Pro-Level Gamemaster on Roll20.net since 2014. I have worked in the gaming industry as a credited, professional play tester. Before leaving America to move to Thailand 6 years ago, I created a Pittsburgh Roleplay and Boardgame Meetup group, the "Steel City Gamers" that I developed by recruiting, running games, and teaching others how to run games. Over 9 years, that meetup has grown to almost 900 people. I ask that players don’t deviate from their character. When a player character suddenly becomes a chaotic neutral problem for the party and divorces themselves from responsibility to the campaign as a player, they take the fun out of it for other players. My groups treat each other with respect. I have run all-female player groups, especially Game of Thrones, but also a female spy James Bond RPG group and I’m LGBTQ+ Friendly and dedicated to hosting a great gaming family-friendly experience. I allow under 18 in some of my games, but a parent's permission is required to play, and only with 100% consent of the rest of the group. I run games for mostly USA Player Groups, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday Evenings, usually starting @ 7 PM on West Coast PDT, and 10 PM on East Coast EDT. I do have an early Friday morning "Lost Empire" D&D 5e game, but that game is currently full with 6 players. I cannot usually do USA Weekend Games hosting, as I go out of the house on family trips. Check out my games. Welcome to my Mind.


GM style

My Style Manifesto is thus, (Adopted from the Professional Game Master Society) 1. Be courteous, and respectful, with a well-organized presentation for my gaming clients. 2. I will not cancel game events without prior notification to my Game clients. 3. I will not make complicated financial arrangements with my clients. Return policies can be complicated– just keep it simple. 4. I will be courageous, and write the best scenarios I can. I will use technology wisely wherever it improves the specific game at hand. 5. Each of my games is like a tree. I will do the work required to make it grow, and prune whatever is dead to keep the game lively. 6. I will endeavor to be entertaining. I will use voice, as well as improvisational description, and literary motifs to craft a better performance. 7. With everything above in mind, I will have fun in my role as a Professional Gamemaster. * * * * I am an Actor/Role-player as a player and DM. I used to design World War 2, and Vietnam-era wargames, so I am well versed in Tactics and Strategy at all levels. I love to do maps of all scales- from taverns to entire continents and worlds, using the best software available. I like to prepare handouts, character pictures, and lore handouts to support the game campaign. I generally run games in a gritty/realistic style, including critical hits, disabling injuries, encumbrance, weather effects of cold, heat, snow, etc. thirst, and starvation. Combat happens, but it is usually very deadly, and should only be engaged in by choice, to support the job at hand, not just for combat-as-drama. it is too easy to lose characters that way. GM Preferences: Combat Frequency Casual: Story-based combat encounters, with logical side encounters, and minimal random encounters. Combat Style Advanced: Encounters exploit mechanics, strategy, and movement. Failure to overcome these challenges results in losses or death for your character. Story and Significance Story-Driven: Encounters relate to detailed plots and conflicts. Key details of the encounter could mean the difference between life and death. Story Type Intrigue: I design Encounters around shifting political loyalties and uncertain motives. Enemies in encounters may not show their true faces or may not be obvious. AND Adventurer: I design Encounters around mysteries and strange events. Untangling these stories will provide much-needed information, as the campaign progresses. Treasure Importance Casual: Loot is uncommon. Magic or high-tech items are sparse to rarely found, but powerful. Surviving as an adventurer is a dangerous life, sometimes forced on you by circumstance. Game Pace Easy Going: The game is always moving forward with overlapping events, adventures, or quests, but I still space events out. There may be time for training and research, but you never know what might come up next week. If an opportunity comes up, you might not want to turn it down, as it may be a while before the next knock on the door comes. Combat encounters can happen but infrequently (perhaps 30% of a scenario). Mass battles are rare. I don't want to take up story time with mass battle game mechanics, often, I'll rule this by Fiat, common sense, or have key scenes that involve the player characters that determine the direction of any large battle. Advancement Easy Going: Leveling is slow, to keep survival edgy, without a lot of hit points gained, for setting reasons. Players can expect to level several times in a year of the game depending on the events of the game- the typical character will level during an average of every 4 to 6 adventures, based on milestones, for a level-based system like 5th Ed. D&D. Game Play Tone Serious: We play the game and only the game. No dick jokes. Limited puns. Limited out-of-character comments. We are all adults here. Metagaming Tone Easy Going: Everyone tries to remember not to use real-world knowledge or decide actions based on what page the Monster Manual is open to currently. The party comes together semi-organically with an overriding theme.


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