Wallpaper via Wizards of the Coast

What’s it like playing a Dungeon Master for the first time ever? On this week’s episode of Kotaku Splitscreen, let’s discuss.

Kirk’s back from vacation, so he and I spend some time catching up and talking about my adventures in the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Then we chat about some of the other recent goings-on in gaming, including Octopath Traveler, the ArenaNet debacle, and that typo that ruined the AI in Aliens: Colonial Marines.

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Jason: ...So I put this session together, and I started preparing this campaign. And on Saturday, I ran my campaign for the first time, and it was really interesting for many reasons. A lot of interesting lessons come out of DMing for the first time, and I suffered from some of the pitfalls that a lot of first-time DMs make, I imagine, like railroading your players because you have a full gameplan in mind and you want to make sure they follow your path. So I’m already taking lessons and trying to figure out how to do better for the next time. It was very entertaining, it was a lot of fun.

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Kirk: First I want to know, what was the story?

Jason: I made up a story. A lot of people recommend doing a pre-made one for your first time, but part of the fun for me was coming up with stuff. So it’s set in the Forgotten Realms, and the story I came up with was that a previous group of adventurers... had killed Cyric, the god of lies in Forgotten Realms canon. As a result, everyone had peace for a while, people were super psyched, and then eventually weird things started to happen throughout the world. So that’s the premise...

SPOILER WARNING: If you are in my D&D campaign, don’t read this!!!

Jason: Basically the concept is going to be that a lot of people around the world are trying to become the new god of lies, so the party is going to have to find and defeat a bunch of these people, and stop this from happening. And then I’m taking a bunch of different things as they come—I came up with this dungeon for the first session that had a bunch of different puzzles. They actually solved one more quickly than I thought they would. Basically there was a room, and there were Zelda-style crystals, and a lever. There was a mural in front with two parting clouds and a sun, and the orbs would all change colors: red, orange, violet, etc. Basically the concept was that you had to create a rainbow with the orbs, which I expected to take a while to figure out but they figured out pretty quickly. [Probably because the orbs changed colors in rainbow order, which in retrospect may have been too easy a hint.]

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So I’ve just been coming up with all these crazy puzzles and ideas. Basically when you become a DM, and I’ve heard people say this before but didn’t really know it firsthand until I did it, it just takes over your life. Every spare second of every day, or everything I see, I’m like, ‘Ooh, I should come up with a variation on that to put in my campaign.’ Every second I’m just randomly thinking of things.

Kirk: It’s like a much healthy variation of, ‘Oh, I should tweet about that’ or ‘That would be a good Twitter joke.’ A better outlet for that same kind of background process in your mind.

Jason: Yes, so true. Instead of trying to decide what to make an Instagram story about, you’re thinking of ways to entertain your D&D campaign. So yeah, it was really fun, it was a really good group.

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For much more, listen to the full episode. As always, you can subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts and Google Play to get every episode as it happens. Leave us a review if you like what you hear, and reach us at splitscreen@kotaku.com with any and all questions, requests, and suggestions.