I have DMed for 5+ years now and it is the most satisfying and joyful experience out there. I love hearing my players suddenly put the clues together. That moment where everything makes sense and oh no it's so much bigger than they thought. I love hearing their joy and yes even their anger or frustration with the world or the characters I put before them. It is amazing to experience these places and people through the points of view of the people sharing that table with me. I host games that are heavily dependent on story and will happily bend rules into a pretzel if they are getting into the way of our story telling. That being said, I also tend to play quite strategic games. I think a story without the spice of potentially losing everything becomes bland and uninteresting. It is important for me that the players care, not only about their own characters and backstory, but that they come to care for the other player characters and their stories as well. Probably the most fun and engaging moments are emergent and so, over the years I have been teaching myself to build story as much as possible from what the players bring, rather than start with a pre-conceived notion of what the plot is and who the bad guy is and what to do about it. All of that can and does emerge out of simple play and I love uncovering it with the players. Now THAT is an adventure!
TLDR I like to play a story heavy game, with real stakes where death can happen even in random encounters, where sometimes you have to flee the battle to survive and where the player stories direct the plot. I play weekly with 20+ year D&D veterans and complete newbies and I have done so for years. If a glorious character death is better than a cheesy win for you, then you and I gotta play! My preference is to run audio over Discord with Roll20 as the VTT I cannot DM on camera, my poker face is nonexistent. I love stories that mix fantasy and sci-fi elements. I love stories that get real dark... Before the protagonists turn things around. But there should always be space for a little levity too. If the choice ever falls between story or game mechanic, I am more likely to choose story. The combat aspect of my games tends to be fairly tactical however. I will build tough encounters even for random encounters and there will be fights that are impossible or as close to as make no matter. I expect good judgement and leadership from the players. The real threat of character death is necessary for a really deep, immersive experience. Yes, I have killed player characters in their session ones... I have no regrets. If I have a guru among celebrity DMs it's probably a child born of the unholy union of Matt Colville and Matt Mercer. - You are welcome for that mental image. - While I can and have run modules before, my preference is to build a world FROM player backstories rather than shoehorn backstories into an existing world or scenario. And the best world to do that in, is the world we build together. That being said I have run many games in the Forgotten Realms and I know it fair to middling. I expect players to be considerate of each other and courteous to me. In fact, I start every campaign with a reminder, that everyone at the table are responsible for everyone else's fun. If at all possible, I prefer to run tables with a mixed group of genders. They tend to be more relaxed and less drama prone. The no-no's: I have very little patience with rules lawyering, arguments over game mechanics or game disruptions. Every person at a D&D table set aside free time to play D&D, not to listen to someone go on about rules. If you are unhappy with a ruling you can take it up in private after the game.
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