How to be a Dungeon Master and an Introvert at the same time

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How to be a Dungeon Master and an Introvert at the same time

Post by ArcticFox »

Yes, it can be done. You can be introverted and a good DM simultaneously. You just have to take a somewhat different approach.

I've been DMming for... well... a long time. The first time I ran a D&D game George Bush was president. No, not George W. Bush... His father. Yeah. I've been doing this a while...

...and doing it wrong.

If you're introverted you know how hard it can be to have sustained participation in a group of people. It's exhausting, frustrating, you get grumpy, tired, player characters start dying...

Believe it or not, there are ways to mitigate these problems so that you can be an awesome Dungeon Master AND an introvert. These are all things I've learned through experience, which means I did it wrong for a long time before figuring out how to do it right.

Keep your D&D group size small. Don't try to be the hero DM with 10 players because you hate to say no to anybody who wants to join. Sometimes you just have to say no. It stinks, but there may be other ways to handle it, like splitting into separate groups if you can get someone else to DM, or running both groups yourself on separate days. Don't feel beholden to the "always room for one more" idea. The best size for a D&D group if you're an introverted DM is 4 people. 5 is pushing it, 6 is the extreme upper limit that should probably only happen when someone occasionally wants to sit in for a session or two.

Keep the session relatively short. If you start to feel your energy level flagging and you find yourself daydreaming about retreating to your introvert den, that's a good time to call it a night on the session. For me, I find this is usually around the 3 hour mark but your mileage may vary. Plan for that number, once you know what it is. My players are used to getting to my house between 7 and 8, then leaving around 11.

Take some time in your introvert den before the game begins to charge your batteries and get ready. If you work all day and then immediately go into DM mode then you'll truly be torturing yourself. Set aside at least an hour or so between the time you get home and the time people start arriving. This is even more important for men, because psychologically, men need more wind down time after work than women do.

Gently but firmly encourage people to hit the road when the session is over. This usually isn't too hard if your session ends late at night, but sometimes people get into chatterbox mode because your D&D session might be the only time they see each other. Just let them know you're tired and it's nothing personal, you're just ready to get some rest. You aren't being a jerk if you do this and you're not lying either. Your emotional/mental batteries are depleted and you need some time to recover.

To be honest, I'd give this advice to ANY DM, but it's critical for introverts. We live in a culture that rewards and promotes extroverted behavior, so we usually think in terms of what an extrovert would do. That needs to change.
"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool."
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Re: How to be a Dungeon Master and an Introvert at the same time

Post by ccgr »

Solid advice, thanks for sharing your pearls of wisdom!

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Re: How to be a Dungeon Master and an Introvert at the same time

Post by Sstavix »

I do enjoy being a DM even though I am an introvert, but I think it's because of my approach to DMing. I focus less (a lot less) on the rules and technicalities (I'll let the players hash those out) and more on the story and the characters.

So when I'm behind the screen, I'm not Todd the GM. I'm Blackfang, the dragon who seeks to dominate the village. I'm Penelope, the friendly barkeep who seems to have a crush on the dwarven party member. I'm King Durfreese, who has delusions of grandeur about attacking the neighboring, larger kingdom (primarily because he's being manipulated by his councilor, who is an Enchanter - oh, and I'm him, too). Basically, I step out of "me" and become the other characters, in order to move the story along and help the players get immersed in the world.

This approach seems to work very well. My players still have fond memories of the adventures that they had when I ran a campaign based out of Waterdeep (D&D 2nd Edition). And it wasn't due to lucky rolls or epic combats (which did indeed happen), but the stories about the characters themselves that they remember.

I've never had an acting lesson in my life. But I think part of it may be due to my writing ability. It can be easy for me to slip into the mind of a character I've created and generate dialogue for him or her or it. It just takes practice. And it's a skill I still use today - not behind the screen, but in real life. I can set aside my usual Introvert self and adopt a different role for a bit in order to get the job done. Most people I deal with on a daily basis probably don't realize that I would be happier spending hours in a quiet room with a good book, or a computer game, or whatever doesn't involve face-to-face interaction. All they see is the mask I portray to them.

See? D&D can help with your life! :lol:

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