Hello and welcome! I’m Yubi, and I will be your DM very, very soon. I’m excited and frankly a little nervous.
My first introduction to D&D was an afternoon I spent listening to a group of my friends playing Mutants and Masterminds, including two of the players now in this very podcast. I left their house very confused. Afterwards I dabbled here and there when I was invited, but it never quite grabbed me. I never knew the rules, the stars weren’t aligned, the groups were never consistent, and I had a lot of work for my degree to do. I didn’t get it. Then I listened to The Adventure Zone and watched Critical Role, and boy, did it click. For the first time I saw D&D as something existing beyond bare math and rigid rules. D&D was the art of creating a living, breathing story with your friends – something unique, only created because you and your friends were right there at that moment.
I was hooked.
It was a long way from the countless solo creative hobbies I had. I’ve always been a writer and storyteller, and I’ve always liked to Be In Charge. Historically, I’ve not been very good at sharing that space. When I was 8 years old or so I was cast as the lead part in the school play. Halfway through the performance I decided my fellow actors just weren’t into it enough, and I decided the only thing to do was to play their roles as well. How incredibly gracious of me. I’ve come a long way since then. Now I feel like there’s nothing more rewarding than creating a space and inviting people in.
The draw to D&D is twofold for me. I delight in collaborative storytelling, and I am fascinated by the idea of choice. This ties into my personal belief of what my job is, as a DM. I create a space in which players can be characters, and I provide them with growth opportunities. My players sit at the very core and heart of the game. They drive and push the story with their actions and words and interactions, and I weave the threads of the story they are telling together. I give them choices. I make them make choices. I give, I take away, and they grow. They never know which choices are important, which ones are just for flavour. What will have an impact on the world around them and the overall story. My DM screen is as thick as steel. All they know is what they do matters, but not necessarily how, when, or why.
Or, at least, that’s the intention.
The reality of DM’ing is a messy internal “oh god okay I guess you’re doing that now that’s fine yeah yeah yeah no no this is fine I can improvise”. After all, nine times out of ten when my players take me away from my session notes, the story they create is so much more vivid and interesting than anything I could write alone. But learning to allow that sort of freedom for both myself and the players is something that took a lot of practice. In the end, I think it all comes down to trust. I trust my players to not brutally murder every NPC and ignore every plot hook. I trust myself to be able to twist and turn the session to follow their driving force. This creates a balance where the players are behind the wheel of the car I built for them.
Which brings me to The Mortal Path. This is a collaborative story. They wrote fascinating, varied characters with intricate backstories. I wrote a beginning. I’ve sketched arcs, depending on what they do. I have little stories I want to tell. I will make space for the stories my players want to tell. I have events, crises, rewards – all ready to be slotted in when and where they fit.
But I haven’t written an ending. I’ve written a final choice.
And I’m so excited to see what will happen.