note: very long post but worth
I have been playing dnd for literal centuries at this point. I've had good and bad gms. good and bad players. and I won't lie, I was "that guy" for a while when I first started thinking it was just skyrim in tabletop form. eventually I realized the beauty of a game that relies on imagination and i reformed. but no matter what, what every single tabletop gamer has in common is that we were all beginners at some point.
when my friend sunny (names are changed for privacy) seemed interested after watching me play a session of a homebrew campaign. I stopped the game and asked everyone if sunny could join in. the GM said it was okay since we were only 3rd level. we were lacking support, only having a bard(jacob), me the ranger, barbarian (chris), and rogue (jasmine).
he didn't know what to play, as we told him we lacked support but he also wanted to fight. we recommended he play a paladin as he could have his oath right off the bat and we were gonna level up to 4th at the end of this session (milestone not xp). we told him ooc that for this session he would be center of attention so he didn't feel left out but not to expect this from future sessions and he agreed.
he had an amazing time and so did the rest of us. (we even noticed a bit of flirting going on with him and jasmine) fast forward to the end if the campaign, we were 10th level. he didnt like roleplay but we were patient and eventually he started joining in more and more. he was a good support, and a good damage dealer. he understood where his strengths and weaknesses lay and never stole the spotlight.
at the end of the campaign we slew the bbeg a homebrew monster that was basically a watered down celestial turned dark. the whole party lay beaten but alive largely thanks to sunny distracting the celestial long enough for jasmine to get the last hit with a flanking sneak attack.
we all loved dnd. at least we thought we did. every single time we looked at sunnys face from 3rd to 10th level it was full of more emotion than any of us. he was happy when we claimed victory and he felt sorrow when we stumbled upon a burned down village.
side note: jasmine and sunny got together thanks to the rest of us being wingmen. especially thanks to Jacob, who had a silver tongue rivaling that of his bard.
we officially ended the campaign and almost immediately sunny asked when our next session would be. we all looked at eachother and with no words spoken agreed on the same thing. we all told him he should be our next GM.
he seemed nervous but agreed to do it. we informed him on all the terminology, lent him the sacred 5e players handbook we all pitched in for, and that being a GM was no easy task at all. 2 weeks later he calls all of us up and says he's finished with his plans. a few days after that we sit at the table, get our drinks and snacks together and have our session 0.
after we were done with our characters and everything we realize we actually have the entire day off so we decided to start the campaign. he smirks, almost like this was his plan the whole time. he asks for a bit more time and we all go to the living room to play some games. almost an hour later he comes out and says he is done prepping and is ready for us to go play.
we all walk in and sit at our laptops. we use dndbeyond for character creation it's just easy, but we all notice that we have a different character sheet open. instead of my 1st level dragonborn paladin, there was a 20th level human paladin. in fact, all of us had 20th level characters with the same class as our original characters. (our original characters were untouched. he had made new characters for all of us at 20th level)
what came next was by far the most fun I've had with any GM. this campaign lasted about a year using milestone level ups again.
we started off the campaign using these 20th level characters, and with no warning whatsoever were put in a massive castle and an equally massive freaking lich dragon (homebrewed) what proceeded was probably the most intense hour and 15 minutes ever as we desperately tried to kill this dragon. we had to help him with dicerolls, and what different spells and abilities did, and how to handle our more creative attempts at defeating this beast (jacob who was a druid this time asked if he could use vines to clamp its mouth shut)
Chris (sorcerer) was the first to fall, as the dragon bit him in half. I (paladin) followed as the beast decided to whip me into a wall with its huge spiky tail. jacob (druid) and jasmine (artificer) died at the same time as the dragon let out a blue inferno rolling across the stone courtyard. our former GM, sarah (cleric) was the last to die. she was in the back supporting us and attacking where she could. as the rest of us died the dragon reared its head back and let out a bellowing roar. she rolled just enough to avoid being feared and decided to just pray to her god. the dragon lowered its head, and started sprinting. it rammed her through a stone wall and into an abandoned stable. her last prayer must've been heard as a golden lightning bolt struck the beast on its head and it fell limp along with the cleric.
fast forward 200 years, and stories are being told of what looks to be a smoky black dragon flying through the mountains. our party of 1st level characters decide they want to be adventurers together, not knowing they'd have to finish off a monster long forgotten.
his campaign was brilliant. he had encounters I hadn't ever really seen in dnd before. a mysterious creature following us through a forest, repeating things we said during our first fight with it, and now weilding my greatsword, a vine whip, and the ability to heal itself. we had to run and everything that slowed us down ran the risk of having to encounter it again.
later on we had a village defense session where a horde of goblins and orcs were gonna attack and we had to set up defenses. (he used ship combat with our ship being the wall against just a bunch of enemies) we had some of the villages braver inhabitants (4 fighters, 5 rangers, 2 wizards) helping us out but they each had lives of their own.
we used the couple days if prep time to gather them together and they each had unique stories, family, friends, and reasons for defending the village with us. when we tried to use them as cannon fodder, we were surprised when they called us out for being ass holes. we weren't fighting for these men, and they weren't fighting for us. we were working together and we had to act like it.
in the end they managed to break down the wall but we held them back with the help of a well placed double eldritch blast (thanks wizards) and the fighters forming a spartan wall thing at the opening.
he was decent at roleplay, the emotion and personality in every character was down but he had trouble with voices often using the same voice for different characters. but that didn't matter
in what seemed like an eternity a year had past. we were all finally 20th level. we had gone through thick and thin. we caught low life bandits, and killed demon lords. we solved murder mysteries, and other fun unorthodox encounters.
and yes there were sad moments too. while in a city our artificer(jasmine) was pickpocketed by a group of misfit teenagers. after a pretty fun chase scene we caught them. we found out they were orphans, growing up and relying on eachother. as fate would have it there were 5 of them. we each took one of them under our wing and trained them in our ways.
jacob who trained one of them to become a druid as well handed him his dagger. they thanked us, and set off on their first adventure. 2 months of real life time later, we decide to go after that copycat monster again. we travel to the forest and hunt it down.
we shouldn't have.
when we found it, it had many arms and was nearly twice the size as it was the last time we had seen it. another difference was its weapons. now it held a claymore, one arm ending in a large gun barrel, one arm had a bear claw, one arm held a staff, and in the last arm was the unmistakable shape.. of Jacob's dagger. now it sounded like it was screaming in pain. it kept yelling "leave me alone" and "run" and at some point it just started pleading for help and crying.
we actually started crying as we fought this monster and once we finished it off we took the weapons back. our cleric found a small medal adorned by most clerics as a symbol of their god pinned on its black leathery skin.
3 levels later, wielding the weapons of our disciples now attuned to our level, we traveled to the mountains and find a huge ruined castle sitting in the side of a mountain. we walk in and hear a bone chilling screech. out from around the corner of a ruined wall, was a huge black dragon, missing a horn and a golden forked lightning pattern running down its face and neck.
this time, none of us died. after a 30 minute battle the only body hitting the ground was the black dragon, and the campaign officially ends.
you don't have to be Matt Mercer, or a world renowned author to be a good GM, you just have to put the work in and not being an ass helps too.
Sunny and Jasmine are getting married btw wish them luck
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