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Meet the GMs: Graham

Make decisions. Be the character. Love the characters. Prep is death.

People LOVE stories. They watch films of every kind. Multi-part novel series dominate every demographic. And every few years or so, some television program or another becomes a booming cultural phenomenon so weirdly universal it overtakes every human mind and mouth on the planet.

So why does it happen? Why do people feel so strongly about these things? It’s all made up, after all. The people and their troubles and the happenings that surround them don’t, nor have ever, existed. Yes, they aren’t real. But we feel like they are. Often we like these fictional folks more than actual people we really know.

But why, then? Certainly there’s an argument to be made for the old Escapism and our craving for wonder and excitement. There is definitely a social need being fulfilled in our sputtering little animal brains. But I think it’s more than that.

It’s not simply that people love stories.

People love characters.

It is 100% the reason why we, as humans, buy the next book in the trilogy, go out to the movies, or stick with a TV show seasons and seasons after it’s clearly gone downhill-- and maybe the showrunners have changed or something, but over and over, we’ll keep tuning in to the new season premiere. It’s because humans love characters— just as if they were real people with whom we have a real relationship. Because the way we interact emotionally with fictional characters is exactly the same feeling in our brain as bonding with a flesh-and-blood human we’ve met in our lives.

Do you love the characters in your favorite novel? Do you feel like they’re your actual friends? It’s because they are. That love and connection is as literal and real and meaningful as anything we experience in the rest of our lives.

So let me tell you about roleplaying games. You’re going to be collaboratively telling a story. You invent the character that you’ll become emotionally invested in. You’ll imagine what they think, and—most importantly—decide what they want. You’ll be them. So rather than the vicarious tale you experience from your favorite show of love or loss, of adventure and success, or dreams and fantasy— you make the choices in the story, and in the game, as they unfold.

But you’re not fully in control. You’re not a novelist and this isn’t a text. There are other players, like you. They’ve made characters, too. On your left and your right are people just as invested in their characters as you are in yours. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll love those other characters too.

And often, but not always, there is another player—an MC, a Moderator, a “Dungeon” Master. They play everyone else in the world of the story (villains, allies, everyone in-between) and also verbally describe the physical world the player characters experience. (“You’re in a 20 foot by 20 foot made of dark stone. It is lit by candles and on the far side is a large oak door. On the other side of it, you can hear faint chanting. What do you do?”) There is a bit of a hierarchy here, but the thinner the better; the DM shouldn’t be in a Lonely Tower From On High. They are not “God.” The game, nor the story, is not theirs. Nor should the players be subjected to the story of the DM like empty vessels waiting to receive it.

Don’t over-plan. Listen to the players. Listen to each other. Think about what might happen next.

Make decisions. Be the character. Love the characters. Prep is death.

Come play some roleplaying games with us.

Play with Graham

IT'S TIME TO PRINCESS UP! You’ve earned a sword! You’ve won a crown! Now you have a responsibility to help keep Awesome World awesome and safe. Are you PRINCESS enough?! Oh...did we mention the Princesses are in a band? Games of The Excellents play similar to cartoon episodes on TV. Regardless of experience level, anyone who has ever imagined playing as a character from classics like Adventure Time and Stephen Universe will love this light, collaborative narrative experience.

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