First Time DM: Careful What You Wish For!

As you may know by now, I had my first time sitting in the D&D Dungeon Master seat when I shared it with DMJazzyHands / Eugenio Vargas as Co-DMs for Rivals of Waterdeep. I wrote a whole series of posts about it! It was fun, it was nerve-wracking, and I wasn’t sure I was ready to handle the reins on my own.

However, it’s 2023 and I’d been thinking about what kinds of different content I wanted to try on my or other channels, and in a group message with friends, I said that I was putting testing out Twitch Guest Star on my radar with an eye towards hosting others on my channel and maybe running a TTRPG game. Maybe.

And when I say, be careful what you wish for, I mean it. Whispered words into the universe occasionally have an effect, or… it was just a massive coincidence which resulted in a Twitter direct message shortly afterwards of someone asking if I would be willing to DM for a one-shot. Cut to me sweating, typing, deleting, re-typing and eventually saying, “Sure, what the heck, let’s do this!” before I could over-think it anymore.

To give a little background, when I was a panel about tips for memorable TTRPG one-shots at PAX Unplugged, a few of the panelists discussed giving their characters accents and affectations which led to an idea of some of them bringing their “old lady” characters to a game together. A hilarious idea that wasn’t that far out of scope considering the talent on the panel.

I just didn’t think it would happen with me in the DM seat! But it is happening. In 9 days. 😬

Did I mention that I’ve never really run anything on my own before? Also that since it’s a Golden Girls-themed one-shot, I am sort of homebrewing the adventure? So many firsts for me. A lot of nerves, not gonna lie. For those who have said they’re looking forward to it, and told me I’m gonna be great, I really do appreciate it. Now I just have to let myself hear that and internalize it. 💖

I’ve reached out to some friends to look over my ideas. I’ve got a story in mind, but I need to refine it, because as you may have also seen, I over-write. We have about 2 ½ hours for the game, and we’ll be allowing charitable donations to give magical food & drink items to the players, so I am definitely going to have to ways to scoot them along to the final set pieces.

Gilded Gals, a Golden Girls-inspired one-shot taking place on Kobold Press’ Twitch channel benefitting The Trevor Project

At worst, I’m going to have four very talented players bringing their amazing characters to life and I’ll just watch them improv for 2 hours. Which, sarcastically, would be the worst. 😄

I am using writing this blog post as a means to distract me from the stress and anxiety of refining the one-shot, but I’ll get back to it today and while I think it’s strong enough now for me to start cutting bits that might run long, or add threads just in case the collective cast (myself included) runs into an utter lack of inspiration… I also need to make it more D&D’ish. I’m pretty good at coming up with an idea and fleshing it into a story, but I need to make it playable.

Non-Player Characters (NPCs) need stat blocks. Player Characters need things to do that might require actions and skill checks. Locations need descriptions. The plot needs hooks, the adventure needs some sort of stakes. If there’s going to be combat or something using combat mechanics, I need to come up with an encounter. I need to give my NPCs personalities, regardless of whether I do voices for them or not. And because I know that I over-write things, I need to figure out what and where to cut so that I can give the players room to vamp while still allowing me to get them where I’d like them to be. (And now I need to take a deep breath to calm down after realizing what I still need to work on.)

I probably still won’t feel ready until about 15 minutes after we go live, but I am looking forward to it. If I have fun, maybe I’ll do it again. If I don’t have fun, then I’ll remain secure in the knowledge that I enjoy TTRPGs better as a player than as a dungeon master. Either way, it’s going to be a ridiculous time for a great cause and I hope to see folks hanging out in chat! 🖖🏿

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