Post DMing Hangover: worth it.
Wow, I'm hung over. I have a blog?
I should say I'm hung over as much from DMing for 10 hours yesterday. Not even a pizza break – our host made some soup when the party went back to town to rest and heal but I was “behind the screen” and interacting with players the whole time.
So while I did indeed consume most of a growler (1/2 gallon) of a potent IPA myself over those 10 hours, it's as much the post DMing adrenaline exhaustion as anything else. The session was the latest in our co-DMed, many playered (10+), party-varied (according to who shows) Castles and Crusades campaign.
A lot of things came together yesterday. The party encountered a wide range of challenges and environments, from the exceedingly mundane (an outhouse) to the fantastical (stone melding faeries, magic eating moths). They began to grok the size and scope of the megadungeon and its myriad mysteries. For the second expedition of the day (and what DM doesn't like to hear the players ask each other at the table “want to go back right now?”) they chose a new entrance with the expressed purpose of finding how it connected back to another.
They discovered some tantalizing tidbits of the dungeon's history through asking questions related to their own goals, allowing me to dispense a bit of background narrative through the mouth of an NPC in a manner that interested them. Save your info dumps for those circumstances! Other tidbits were released through interaction with critters in the dungeon and lead to player discussion.
Threat level varied. The players, some of whom are new to D&D, are learning that "non-level dependent" danger does indeed dwell in the depths, and they should take care before dismantling wards and opening things that were locked inside. "You know, we really should 'Detect Evil' more often." (chuckle) The as yet highest level character (3rd) was nearly drained and dead and would have been coup-de-grace'd had not another PC rescued him. That encounter could have been a TPK. They also know that great treasure does also rest hidden beneath.
Players asked questions about the calendar, the rest of the world and when they could do things. While the focus of the game is on going to the dungeon, they're interested enough in the rest of the world and the details are interesting without crowding play. That's a balance that I've found hard to make before.
Our new surprise rules seem to be working great, and I'm so glad I didn't have to ask for a perception check the whole day. That's a post I should make. Our new “cool moves” house rule seems to be a great way to reward play – another post. So I hope you don't mind the crowing in this post - I'll put up something useful soon.
I'm sometimes ambivalent about this hobby. Given my time on this rock, is this worth the time I put into it? Yesterday was a blast with friends, with joys of creativity and shared experience. Today, the choice of time and the pain of the hangover seem very well worth it.