Dungeons & Dragons Online

Women, How Can a DM Make a Game Feel Most Inclusive to You, or More, “Yours”?

(This post could end up being long, if so there will be a TLDR)

Also, lemme start by saying, I’m a dude here trying to be the best DM I can for my female players and looking for advice, if that’s something that’s gonna bother you, then just don’t pay attention to the post. All the best.

“Books have sexes; or to be more precise, books have genders. They do in my head, anyway. Or at least, the ones that I write do. And these are genders that have something, but not everything, to do with the gender of the main character of the story…” – Neil Gaiman

I think about this quote a lot, in addition to some of the conversations of recent episodes of Dimension 20’s “Adventuring Party”, about how stories (and not to a fault, but just as a quality) usually end up feeling one way or another on a spectrum of masculine or feminine. In the context of TTRPGs that does not mean a boy’s story is slaying dragons and a girl’s story is picking flowers, we’re past that sort of thinking I hope lol.

But, what I have often seen (and done unconsciously) is take part in stories/tell stories at the table that feel like the women/girls at the table were just tagging along to an adventure with themes and storylines right up the ally of most of the guys at the table. I’ve seen them take that storyline and make it their own, but watching Dimension 20’s latest season, “The Seven” and seeing the talkbacks for it have made me realize how often some women have never felt like a male DM has told a story that felt written to include the experience/themes of being in the world as a woman (before Brennan at least, they seem very happy with his story so far).

I’m not saying all of this to say I feel bad because I’m a guy or I feel bad because of the stories I’ve told or that anybody should feel those things. I’m just saying that recently I’ve learned that being inclusive means more than having people that aren’t like you at your table, but also giving them a proper space to tell their stories. I’m also not saying that a DM has to make any specific strides or changes to a game for it to feel inclusive or for women to feel safe and represented.

WITH ALL THAT SAID, I’m a male DM that’s starting a new long campaign, with three (new) women players and one guy. As I prepare for the sessions and the story, what advice do you have to help me build habits to make stories feel as if they belong to them and are made for them just as much as anybody else’s?

I hope this post makes sense, I just wanna make my stories feel important and meaningful to people, and I feel like this a topic that isn’t really touched on so I figured I would throw something out there.

TLDR: Starting a new game with a group of three girls and one guy and I wanna make sure I’m not just telling stories that feel natural to me as a dude that loves fantasy, but also telling stories that feel as if they can and do belong to the women at the table.

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