I just had the best D&D experience of my life. I'm sure how awesome Zoom DM's can be is old news for most of you, but for me it was a cool discovery.
For my son’s birthday I organized a father son ski trip for him. Just an overnight at the local mountain with his two best friends and their dads. He likes D&D so I wanted to make that the evening entertainment, but the other two dads are D&D newbies. Like 100% newbies who not only had never played before but didn’t really understand the whole concept. But they are good guys and were game for it.
I wanted to make sure everyone had a great experience, and I knew having a great DM would be part of that. The problem is—I’m not a great DM. Not even close.
A friend turned me on to a guy named Thor Knai who does D&D games via Zoom. I wasn’t really sure about that idea—I just didn’t see how it could be anywhere as good as an in-person DM—but I decided to give it a try. I contacted him, told him what I wanted (a fun 3 hour experience for four 12 years olds who played a little D&D and three 45 year olds who knew nothing about D&D) and he took it from there.
I had been worried about the time and confusion and hassle of making characters for newbies, but Thor pointed me to some premade characters so people could just choose the role that seemed fun to them.
On the night of the campaign we met up by Zoom—dad’s in one room and kids in the other. Thor used Zoom and Roll20 to take us on the campaign. He set the scene with a wintery background and ambiance music, etc. He showed us pictures of our characters that they he had found for us—and immediately the kids were 100% all-in. He did voices for various NPC’s and acted out the character interactions. When we scored a hit on a giant Thor bellowed, flinched, snarled, roared. It was so fun!
The boys threw him some curveballs—one decided to make a random fox he saved from a trappers snare his pet and communicate with it (he was a ranger and was convinced he could speak to foxes)—but Thor just rolled with it and incorporated it into this rich story he was laying out.
For the various actions he knew honestly our characters and their abilities better than we did. I had sent him the character sheets we had all chosen and he knew the stats and abilities and spells cold. For the dads who understood nothing about D&D everything was just smooth and effortless. They’d say what they wanted to do and he would seamlessly incorporate the rules into making the action come to life. Middle aged guys who didn’t know a d10 from a hobgoblin ten minutes before were leaping up and down and yelling with excitement when they rolled a 20.
One of the boys was a rogue and leaped from the shadows to attack a giant that was threatening his dad. He yelled “I saved you dad!” and his dad yelled back “You did. I love you, man!” This guy had tears in his eyes the rest of the game.
We could hear the boys laughing and cheering from the other room the whole time.
On our drive home the next day all we could talk about was how awesome the experience was.
We are definitely doing this again. And I’m going to start another D&D group with my wife and my brother who lives in another town and his wife some of our friends. It’s going to be awesome.
Obviously I can’t recommend this Thor Knai guy enough.
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