Well, here we go. Like many beginnings I feel like I’m forgetting something. Is the oven on? Oh it is, but that’s because I’m making cookies.
Hi! I’m Joe Fulgham. Some of you may know me from podcasting. For six years I was one of the three hosts (and creator, researcher, editor, webmaster, online store…) for a podcast called Caustic Soda. These days I’m working on The Dreaming: The Sandman Read-Along Podcast.
I’m also playing a lot of role-playing games, and hanging out with my improv friends, and thinking about what I want to be when I grow up.
I’ve finally decided.
What I want to be when I grow up is Your Dungeon Master.
Dungeons & Dragons is experiencing a popularity surge. There are podcasts allowing listeners to follow groups of professional funny people as they play RPGs. Celebrities are joining geeks for publicly performed RPG (and boardgame) sessions. RPGs like D&D are being used for therapy! People are becoming very interested in “that D&D thing” even if they’d never really thought of it before.
For an absolute newbie it can be daunting. The books are huge and full of an overwhelming amount of information. Running a game seems to take in-depth rules knowledge, storytelling confidence, math skills, preparation and loads of experience. While it’s not entirely true, it can seem insurmountable.
I think that’s sad. I love role-playing games. I’ve been playing since January of 1980. My friend David had an uncle in America who bought him the D&D Basic Set for Christmas and we were exactly the kind of geeky pre-teens to hide in the library every lunch hour to play it. That “Stranger Things” D&D scene could’ve been a documentary of my childhood.
I kept it up through my college years, where I switched to a theatre major and fell in love with improvisational comedy. My improv troupe consisted of me and my regular RPG buddy Brad as “The Robin Goodfellow Players”. I loved when RPGs were a structured form of improv, and shied away from the “memorize this adventure, try to stuff your characters through it” parts. This tended to mean I was a player, but as the one with the most drive to play I’d often end up as a half winging-it DM, with varying degrees of success.
I’ve kept up with Dungeons & Dragons. My group skipped over 2nd Edition (I was off playing various Superhero RPGS) but Ryan Dancey himself pushed a copy of 3rd Edition into my hands at GenCon and I’ve been playing it since.
Fast forward to a few years ago when Eric Fell of The Critical Hit Show (it’s improvised D&D, of course I love it!) introduced me to the 13th Age system. I instantly fell in love with its stripping out of the “tactical miniatures combat” parts of traditional D&D (which are better done in video games), was bowled over by its use of “Backgrounds” to define character skills, and embraced its emphasis on character-driven storytelling. It does all this while staying true to the core concepts and feel of traditional D&D.
13th Age finally crossed the divide between improv and DMing for me, and the experiences I’d craft with it, even with completely new players that have never played a role-playing game in their life have been amazing.
People who began with insisting “I’m not creative” would tell me tales of their Wood Elf Unicorn Rancher guarding the open forest ranches for their mistress the Elf Queen, watching the open meadows (respectfully) so the noble steeds could replenish their numbers after a savage attack by the Orc Lord. Another, worried they “wouldn’t be good at the game,” would strike a mighty killing blow on a great evil, and then describe the heroism in detail to the rest of their admiring group.
RPGs are great. Everyone should give them a try.
I’m now here to help with that.
I’ve honed what 13th Age has started down to a package that an experienced DM can use to lead up to six completely inexperienced players through a full one-shot adventure, including character creation, in a single five-hour session, with wrap-up time to spare. If you’ve ever wanted to try roleplaying games, you can hire me to be your expert guide. If you fall in love with it you’ll have everything but a copy of the basic rules to continue running the campaign yourself, or hire me again to continue. I’ll help you out with advice the whole way!
I’ve got so much to talk about, it’s going to take extra posts. Here’s a decent place to take a break.
If you’re already interested, you can see my availability for booking on my profile page.