DMing by the seat of your pants

I have been a DM since 1978. I have navigated every iteration of the game so far, from original flavor to extra spicy. Some editions were more successful than others, but to be honest I enjoyed them all from a storytelling point of view because that’s what Dungeons & Dragons, and all roleplaying games for that matter, is to me: a vehicle for telling stories.

I am not now and I never have been big on rules and table lawyers annoy the living hell out of me. I am more than happy to make a snap judgement call rather than crack the book to divine some obscure rule on cover or perform some sort of calculus to determine if you get a bonus reaction when the moon is in conjunction with Tempus’ outhouse.


Rules-Lite, baby. That’s the way we rolled back in the seventies, when Led Zeppelin still ruled the air, and that’s the way I like to keep it rolling (and yes, Led Zeppelin is still in heavy rotation in my DVD carousel).

That’s why, ultimately, I preferred Basic and Advanced over 3rd, 3.5, & 4th Editions. That was some rules heavy slogging going on. It weighed the stories down. It made every action a grueling act of attrition. It ground narrative flow to a halt. It is also why I have wholeheartedly embraced 5th Edition D&D.

Granted, it helped that, coincidentally, we were putting the band back together just as playtesting began on 5E.

d20The Oak Hill Dungeons & Dragons Club had a reunion game, originally intended as a one-off, that quickly became a monthly event. We dusted off our old AD&D Manuals and took our polyhedrons out of storage, but talk immediately began circuiting the table about making an edition leap.

Some were keen on 3.5 and embracing Pathfinder. Others wanted to stick with the old tried and true from ye olden days. I encouraged we give 5th Edition a shot. I took part in the Wizards of the Coast Playtest and liked what I saw. A year later, we were all in.

5th Edition has been, pretty much, what I want from a game. It’s flexible and as simple or complicated as you want to make it, which is perfect for me. This edition has put story first and that’s the way I like it.

Granted, they’re so story-driven that it’s pretty much their entire focus. Me? I’m not a module guy. I like to write my own stories, not tell someone else’s. 5th Edition gives me that freedom. I can ignore the Dragon Culting, Elemental Templing, Demon Raging or give it my own spin. It’s my call.

It’s tailor-made for a seat-of-your-pants DM.

And that’s me, in a nutshell.


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