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Josh H (he/him)
Published Writer
Game Designer

1 year on StartPlaying


Highly rated for: Inclusive, Creativity, Visual Aid

About me

Hello! I'm Josh. Imagine a crazy-haired burned-out gnome became somehow human-shaped, got trapped in a costume box, and decided pirates have the most comfortable outfits for an era of climate change. I've been making up worlds since I could dream, and GMing various 5e games since before the world went indoors. Switching from in-person to Zoom or Discord meant I could really flex some artistic muscles, streaming dynamic encounter maps on Photoshop. Over the years I've patched together a living out of good fortune, working in escape rooms and kid's parties, doing house removals and event management, but my crazy ambition is that I might pay rent with storytelling. I am neurodivergent with ADHD, somewhere in the LGBTQIA+ rainbow, and I love watching the delight on people's faces when I reveal a plot twist. I have been known to work miracles, but to paraphrase Mr Pratchett: most of magic is just knowing one extra thing.

GM style

Before sessions with new folk, I take everyone through Session Zero. This hour-long micro-session involves all the players but has a special focus on anyone who hasn’t played before, anyone new to the virtual format, and people who don’t know each other. We go over the simple safety tools I use during my sessions, everyone’s characters (including private discussions for secrets), and more in-depth descriptions of the world to help blend in backstories. We clarify rules as we go, and I support new players. I encourage my players to let me know if they are uncomfortable for ANY reason, especially if it’s coming from me. Everyone is fallible. I take criticism very well, appreciate being corrected swiftly, and will adjust accordingly. Maybe there’s a Teachable Moment™ that we can gently make our way through before returning to the game. I really enjoy bringing new folks into D&D, clarifying what the rules are but also why they are that way. I believe in Rule of Cool, so understanding the rules is better than memorizing them. For example, if a Kraken throws a shark into the muzzle of an airship’s arcane cannon, how many damage dice should the occupant wizard roll if the shark’s confused and angry thrashing catches his prosthetic leg? All we can do is muddle through together. Yes, the above example did happen one time. It was great. As much as possible, I create combat situations where the goal is more than just eradicating the enemy. I love slow-burn chaos, surprises, unexpected solutions to impossible problems, and innovative ways to use spells or abilities. One of my players had this to say: "What sets Josh apart as a Dungeon Master is his remarkable balance between flexibility and rule adherence. While he values player input and is open to incorporating their ideas, he doesn't lose sight of the game's structure and balance. Josh skillfully weighs the feasibility of each suggestion, ensuring that the campaign remains cohesive and the mechanics of the game stay intact. This balanced approach ensures that players are encouraged to think creatively and explore new possibilities…" I have found the best technique for allowing folks to attend sessions is to have one-shot adventures set in persistent worlds, sorta like a West Marches type situation. This allows players to drop-in & drop-out, solves the perpetual scheduling problem, and keeps team dynamics fluid while still remaining invested in the locals and lore. It means fewer cliffhangers but if you come back after a couple of missed sessions then you get to describe your character's downtime activities. Do you like rich world-building? Because this is great: "Josh's talent lies not only in creating memorable characters but also in designing awe-inspiring places that leave players breathless. His imaginative landscapes feature ancient ruins shrouded in mystery, enchanting forests teeming with magical creatures, and sprawling kingdoms bustling with life. Each location feels meticulously handcrafted, with attention to even the smallest details, immersing players in a living, breathing world that sparks the imagination. It is this careful world-building that allows players to lose themselves in the beauty and wonder of their surroundings." Reading that makes me blush. I love fleshing out an imaginary world, and I’ve been doing it since I could talk or hold a pencil. I dislike the laziness of planetary monocultures when it’s both more realistic and more fun for the world to be unfathomably diverse. Communities inherit eccentric traditions, build new industries over ancestral ruins, tangle themselves up with conflicting laws, explore new fashions, react as best they can to unforeseen challenges, and then heal in unexpected ways. I also love to make interesting characters. I am what some might call a ‘silly voices’ GM, but a silly voice does not always mean a silly character. Likewise, characters are more complex than the alignment grid. A ragamuffin rogue might collect embroidered pillows, a loving mother might be a corrupt politician, an oozing vampiric myconid witch might be lonely on date night. Is a character chaotic or lawful if they’re guided by the iconoclast tenets of an anarchist movement, the fractal etiquette of a fey court, the unique superstitions of obsessive compulsion? Even though I do the character’s voices, I can’t always predict whether the players will make friends or enemies. For me, the extreme player agency provided by TTRPGs is their major advantage. Unexpected solutions will likewise have unexpected consequences that a GM can include like no video game ever could. I don’t just build worlds out of simple narrative bricks, they’re like twisted flowers with players causing all kinds of strange new branches. In conclusion, one of my players had this to say: "Through his skillful world-building and the integration of narrative and setting, Josh creates an immersive experience that transports players into a realm of limitless possibility. With him at the helm, adventurers embark on an extraordinary journey that unfolds within a tapestry of captivating people and places, forever etching their names in the annals of Dungeons and Dragons lore." Come join me in creation!


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