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John

Professional Game Master
John

4 Reviews


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

About me

I run Player-centric original content games. The main theme is established, the story is there, but these are elements the players choose to engage and I let the players write their own tales. I'm indifferent about the outcome, which seems to surprise a lot of players. I don't care how the story unfolds, although I try to make the most dramatic things happen, the dice and the players' action are the final arbiters. On that note, I roll everything openly. Secret checks are only rolled by players if they wish to conceal an action or outcome. I'm currently working on two new campaign ideas: a Wyrmling game and gestalt Psion game. I've done a couple of dragon games before and they were big hits so I would like to try that again. I ran a Banite Spy game over a decade ago where they were gestalt psions and it was a lot of fun so I wanted to try that concept again (gestalt psion not spies). I'm also open to player ideas for campaigns. The DFR game was the outcome of my last "new game" brainstorming session where a player said, "I'd be in if we go evil." My psion idea got trashed and we started the game the players lounged at. I started playing D&D in June of 1991, at the age of 20. I had been exposed to it in junior high, as ALL of my friends played but I never really gave it a chance. My first character was a 7th-level elven F/M. I was dropped into a fully fleshed-out campaign and just started fucking shit up. After Koto's unfortunate annihilation, I started DMing my own game. It was wacky and made most Monty Hall games look like an essay on sentence structure by Tolkien but it set the stage for me to become the main DM of our group. 31 years later, I'm still the only regular DM. I've run dozens of games over the years and up to 6 at a time. I've looked at other DM claims of the games hosted and questioned the math. I've been DMing for 31 years (a long time by most standards) and even if I ran 6 games at a time, every year, for 31 years (which isn't true) I'd only be at 186 games. I'd be comfortable saying I've run close to 100 games but not all them have become epic campaigns. I generally start my games at 1st level (unless there's a reason to start higher) and I have played all the way to 22nd (once as a player and as a DM in my Seafaring game from 2012, which is ongoing). I'm also running a 17th-level game (Chaos in the East), as well as a 14th-level game (Plane Escape), a 10th-level game (East Marches), and an evil 14th-level (going on 15th Banite game (Dark Force Rising). The 6th game is The Lost Empire which no longer has anything to do with the Ruins of Alren as they are off trying to stop the Exarch of Orcus from rising. They just got to 15th-level. The Plane Walkers (about to hit 4th level) is just a backup game we play when there's a schedule conflict. Due to extra players applying for the LE game, I started a group two of that campaign. They just got to 9th-level. In 2016, I started looking into running commissioned games and have been building a player base ever since. In 2020, I started a D&D club at the high school I worked at. It was originally another teacher's plan but he was new to D&D and was struggling to get the kids interested. One day I just gave them all premade characters and started running a game and the rest was history. That was probably my best D&D gig as the school picked up the tab and the kids were just happy to play. We started out once a week, then twice a week, then I broke the group into two smaller groups and ran four days a week. It was so popular the VP forced me to do it five days a week. He would literally come and displace me from my supervision slot so I could run a Friday session. I only run D&D 3.5. Why? I don't have time to play all the D&D I want to play, why try to half-ass something else? If you are looking for a group or have a group and need a DM, hit me up. My Roll20 profile: https://app.roll20.net/users/44433/taibhsear


GM style

I can pull off pretty much anything players like. I don't often do voices as I suck at them and it mostly seems cheesy. I've run super serious games and I've run complete slapstick games so I can honestly say I'm comfortable with just about anything. I like to have a central tension that doesn't interfere with the story moving in any direction even though I've often been surprised by the direct the players take things. I enjoy tactical games if players are tactically minded. I've played with a lot of ex-military people and find they are particularly good at maneuvering around and anticipating my strategies which I find really brings the game to life. My games tend to have a lot of combat both random encounters and plot based battles. Obviously, if the players want a less combat-oriented game I can tone it down. These are the types of things I determine beforehand with my Player Preferences Survey. Combat Frequency 1 - Limited: Minimal combat encounters, just what’s needed to resolve the conflicts involved in the story. No unrelated or random combat encounters. 2 - Casual: Story based combat encounters, with logical side encounters, and minimal random encounters. 3 - Adventurer: Combat driven story encounters, with logical side encounters, and common random encounters. 4 - Radical: Combat driven story encounters, with many side encounters, and frequent random encounters. 5 - Monty Hall: “Why is there a dragon’s lair 150 feet from the main trade route?” No answer provided. “I roll initiative.” Combat Style 1 - Tactical: Encounters are designed to test your knowledge of game mechanics, strategy, and movement. Failure to excel in these things means death for your character. 2 - Advanced: Encounters are designed to exploit mechanics, strategy, movement. Failure to overcome these challenges results in losses for your character. 3 - Adventure: Encounters designed to challenge mechanics, strategy, and movement. Failure to overcome these challenges results in tougher encounters and diminished rewards. 4 - Radical: Encounters designed to challenge your ability to give and receive damage. Failure to maximize armour class, hit points and damage potential results in the party laughing at how useless you were in that last fight. 5 - Monty Hall: “89 points from one hit? Ouch! I power attack for 20.” Story Significance 1 - Story Driven: Encounters are designed around detailed plots and conflicts. Key details could mean the difference between life or death. 2 - Important Plot: Encounters are designed with plot details in mind. Key details could mean the difference between winning and losing. 3 - Adventurer: Encounters are designed with some plot detail in mind. Key details could provide shortcuts and tricks to defeating foes. 4 - Unimportant: Encounters are designed with minor plot details in mind. Key details could provide an advantage in defeating foes. 5 - Irrelevant: “I’m sorry, did you say 400 ogres come over the hill?” Bingo chips slip onto the game map. “I cast divine power and righteous might before they close the distance.” Story Type 1 - Steeped in Intrigue: Encounters are designed around trying to figure out who is the enemy in a tangled web of lies. 2 - Scandalous: Encounters are designed around shifting political loyalties and uncertain motives. Enemies in these encounters may not show their faces or may not be obvious. 3 - Adventurer: Encounters are designed around mysteries and strange events. Untangling these stories will provide much-needed information. 4 - Limited Mystery: Encounters are designed around odd occurrence and unlikely events. Discovering the cause of these events may help resolve them. 5 - Monty Hall: “Does it have loot and/or large bags of xp?” Treasure Importance 1 - Unimportant: Loot is minimal. Magic items are sparse. Surviving as an adventurer is a tough life forced on you by circumstance. 2 - Casual: Loot is reasonable. Magic items are rare. Surviving as an adventurer is an easy life albeit a dangerous one. It’s probably the best paying occupation for the individual’s skills. 3 - Adventurer: Loot is free-flowing. Magic items are uncommon. The lifestyle of an adventurer is luxurious and envied by most although still dangerous. It’s the best paying occupation for the individual’s skills. 4 - Extravagant: Loot is abundant. Magic items are common. The lifestyle of an adventurer is luxurious almost from day one. Adventurers are everywhere, vying for quests and treasure maps. It’s such a great occupation that anyone with armour and a weapon claims to be an adventurer. Unfortunately, the danger level remains, leading to many unskilled adventurers being dinner for trolls. 5 - Monty Hall: “I start opening the portable holes then I get out the shovels.” Game Pace 1 - Relaxed: Unless the plot demands it, the game moves slowly from one event to the next. Emphasis is placed on resolving conflicts and moving the story forward. Adventures and quests are spaced out with plenty of downtime between for research and training in between. Combat encounters rarely (1%) happen between adventures. 2 - Easy Going: The game is always moving forward but events are still spaced 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 encounter can happen at any time but seldom (10%) do. 3 - Adventurer: The game moves forward quickly with overlapping events, adventures, or quests. Even during down times, adventure is never far off. Combat encounters are uncommon (30%) but present a much more significant risk. 4 - Radical: The game moves forward at a dizzying pace. There is constantly something that needs to be dealt with and never enough time to get to it all. Lackeys are sent to deal with lesser issues while the party prioritizes their conflicts. 5 - Monty Hall: “FIRST we deal with the tarrasque, then we’ll go after the dragons, and we can send our cohorts to deal with the hobgoblin army closing to the east.” Advancement 1 - Relaxed: Leveling is a moderately rare occurrence. Most significant NPCs will level once per year depending on the events of the game. In game time, you can expect about this rate of advancement through levels. 2 - Easy Going: Leveling is more common. Players can expect to level several times in a year of the game time depending on the events of the game. 3 -Adventurer: Leveling is common. Players can expect to level each month of game time depending on the events of the game. 4 - Radical: Level is very common. Players can expect to level each week of game time depending on the events of the game. 5 - Monty Hall: “YES! I killed it! Did we level?” Game Play Tone 1 - Serious: We play the game and only the game. No dick jokes. No puns. No out of character comments. This is D&D, not kindergarten. 2 - Easy Going: We play the game with a serious tone, but no one complains if someone drops out of character to mention the score of the last hockey game or to make a perfectly timed pun. 3 - Entertainment: We play the game for the fun of playing. Our enjoyment takes precedence over the tone of the game. 4 - Radical: We play the game as a backdrop for hanging out and having a good time. Some sessions may be dominated by old stories or current events depending on how everyone feels each time we get together. 5 - Monty Hall: “I chuck my greataxe at a pregnant Gnoll. SO MUCH PLACENTA!” Meta-Gaming Tone 1 - Serious: Nothing about the game world is known beyond what you have experienced in the game. The party /is formed organically and comes together without consulting each other about races, classes, skills, or feats. 2 - Easy Going: Everyone tries to remember not to use real-world knowledge or make decisions based on what page the Monster Manual is open to currently. The party comes together semi organically with an overriding theme. 3 - Entertainment: Everyone tries to keep it out of the game, but we don’t care that much unless it spoils someone’s enjoyment. The party comes together with a theme to provide player cohesion and make the game move forward in a logical sense. 4 - Radical: No one really tries to keep metagaming out and no one really cares. The party is manufactured to be as cohesive as possible and fill all the roles they can. 5 - Monty Hall: “I’m not sure. Can I roll a knowledge (meta-gaming) check?” Time Management To help me best use my time, let me know which of these are most important to you (1st-7th). I don't mind doing any of the options, but I would like to know which things my time would be most appreciated. Detailed maps and dungeons (lavishly decorated versus walls and squares) Interesting stories and plots (meaningful hooks and stories versus monsters let's go kill them) Detailed and interesting NPCs (fleshed out and interactive versus the guy who buys our loot) Fleshed out locations (Inns, towns, counties maps versus descriptions or theater of the mind) Unique or custom monsters (never the same thing versus cookie cutter MM versions) Customized treasure (unique items, detailed loot, instead of cash value) Detailed magic Items (history, description, unique abilities versus stats and page number in DMG)


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