I guess it happens to all of us as DM's\GM's at one time on another. Losin it, general suckatude, lost for ideas, burnout. Whichever it is, when it hits me, I have a hard time breaking though it. Sometimes while under this malaise, it makes me feel like a bad or incompetent game master, and you swear that your players will see right through the carefully crafted DM mojo and realize "Hey! This guy is floundering!" DM confidence "plop" right in the toilet. Thinking about this the past couple days (yes, I am in a little slump right now) I thought back to my gaming past for some insight.
When I first started playing D&D many moons ago with the Holmes basic set, my friend Mike was the DM. I had convinced him to do it, as I saw that blue book with the dragon on it in his room, and begged and pleaded to play. So Mike DM'd that first summer, me having one character, and much fun was had. B1 In Search of the Unknown was my first module. Thinking back, I am sure we made up a ton of rules, and I remember getting a Pegasus (!) mount at one point (Clash of the Titans, the "real" one with crappy special effects, probably just came out).
After that summer Mike quit playing, and I had to convince the rest of the guys in the neighborhood that hey, this D&D thing was cool! So, with a bunch of friends as first time players, guess who got to be the DM? This is probably a familiar situation for many people. I don't think I ever "wanted" to DM. To my young mind playing was soooo much cooler! So throughout grade school and into middle school I was mostly a reluctant DM, playing only occasionally when I could convince one of my friends to do it.
Now comes the part where I think my problem starts. In middle school, I started attending Saturday game sessions of the local college gaming group. Wow, I was blown away. These guys had more creativity in their pinky toe than I had in my whole soul. I was the youngest person there, and I HOPE I was not just that young annoying kid to them. It was here that I saw what a "campaign" was, we had always just played modules and one off games often with different characters. It was now that I thought "Boy, I really sucked as a DM"! Also I started thinking we had been doing it all wrong for years. I do not think that way now, but that may be for another post some day.
Flash forward to the more present day, and the current situation. Our gaming group of six or seven people has been together for about 8 or nine years, playing 3.5 edition Dungeons and Dragons. I was a player up until about 8 months ago, when I ran a one-off Labyrinth Lord session one day for a couple of them, including our usual DM, Dave. That sort of did it, and Dave really wanted to play more and had a good time. As our 3.5 campaign came to a close, it was decided that I would be running the next campaign. So now I am the DM (LL) running our monthly marathon sessions (10 - 12 hours plus). I am now running a game for the first time since college, almost 20 years ago (holy crap I am getting old).
After seven sessions , the ole Muse has left me a little bit. I think I know why. I always feel that other people have such a wider imagination and ability at creating things than I do. My confidence wains and I start to feel like maybe another guys game would be better. The little devil on my shoulder says "My players are not having as much fun with me. If only I could come up with better stuff like Dave. Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I will just eat worms and die." :)
Well you know what? Forget that! This is my game. I bring unique things to the table that others may not. Just go with it and do not compare or hold yourself up to others. Have fun. Learn from mistakes. Try something that you feel as a player, you would love to face. Start writing, drawing a map, whatever just to start working. Get started, and many times you snap out of it and the stuff flows like water.
Paul's Gameblog: Ego Through the Ages
2 days ago