Confessions of a DM Nov27

Confessions of a DM

I had what I thought at the time was a brilliant idea. To solve the conundrum of adding a fourth player into the party midway through a campaign, I would make the new character a spy. He would be offered a substantial amount of money to keep an eye on the original three characters. Then the agency he worked for would betray him, and he would end up working with the three as a double agent. I had high hopes for this plan, and was rather proud of it. The day of the session rolled around and I put my scheme into action. Everything was going fine, until the dice betrayed my spy and the other characters found out he was following them before I’d had time for his employees to betray him. The other players’ characters—a wary paladin, a druid with guarded emotions, and a warlock with a penchant for distrust—were, naturally, suspicious. The poor new character was caught, searched, interrogated, and tied up by the others. The session ended with him sitting alone in a tavern, unsure what to do next, and the other three players leaving town. If I see my life as a tug-of-war, I will always lose, wishing I had put more points into my strength attribute. Things certainly did not go according to plan. If there is one thing I am learning as a Dungeon Master, it is that whatever plans I make, the players will find a way to spectacularly ruin them. I try to plan for how my players will react to what I throw at them, but I cannot prepare for everything, and they will most likely pull something that hadn’t occurred to me. The consequences are often interesting or hilarious, but it means that...

The double-x representative Mar09

The double-x representative...

I was at a board game event when a friend came up to me and said “Thank you for being the double-x representative.” Sure enough, as I looked around, I saw that she and I were the only two women in attendance, but she was on her way out. I don’t mind hanging out with guys. The men in my board game circle are my friends and I’m happy to play games with them. But lately I’ve been noticing something: more and more often I am the only woman who shows up. I remember a time when the numbers were more even and more women participated, so I’ve started wondering where they’ve gone, and questioning why they don’t come anymore. Area of Effect Commander Allison Barron also noted that she is in a similar situation, and I’ve read enough to know that a lack of women in board game circles is not an uncommon thing. If you’ve noticed an imbalance in your group, ask “who’s missing?” and then ask “why?” I found a study on Women and Games by Dr. Erin Calhoun Davis, a sociology professor at Cornell College in Iowa, that explores the reasons why women like playing board games but feel unwelcome in board game circles. Davis found that the women she interviewed play games for very much the same reasons I do: they find games fun, social, and intellectually challenging. Most self-identified as gamers and had been playing for many years. So why are there still so few women in board game circles? The interviewees cited a number of reasons for this. One was childcare, which is still mostly done by women. The women who had children felt they did not have the time to play a four-hour board game while...