Who's In Charge Here?

Game Master, Dungeon Master, Storyteller: different games have different labels for this role, and I dislike most of them. For instance, the cooperative storytelling aspect greatly influences the way I run games. If I'm running the game, my job as I see it is to facilitate your story. I'm not the Storyteller, I'm just the stage manager. I design and organize the set, make sure there are plenty of props on hand for you to play with, and try to make thunder for you at appropriate moments.

I am also not the Master of anything, really. I try to be responsive to the elements my players want for their stories. In the Kingmaker game I run, I asked that each player give me a wish for their characters. These wishes could be anything, from artifacts they wanted to acquire, to scenes they wanted to play, to more abstract story elements. One said he wanted "to create a large, stable, and prosperous nation." As he noted, this is basically the goal of the Kingmaker AP, but it still tells me what kind of story he's looking to tell with this character in this game. Another wanted a dragon companion. While I made sure she knew it would be a while before I granted this powerful wish, I am absolutely going to make it part of her story.

It may be important to know that I want my players to invest emotionally on some level in their characters. To that end, I tend to encourage activities away from the table. This may take the form of journal entries or in-character forum discussions, which I reward with mechanical goodies (such as Hero Points or bonus Drama Dice or what-have-you). Players may choose not to participate in these; though it does make me a little sad when they do, I understand that they may not enjoy such things or simply not have the time. (The latter is the reason I'm actually terrible about doing this myself when I'm a player in games with similar practices.) But one of my favorite experiences was when I actually made my players (not their characters) cry at the table with an emotional scene. I knew that they were invested and that I had given them a good story.

What follows are some of the games I have run.

Pathfinder AP: Kingmaker

This campaign has hit a few bumps that had us taking off months at a time, which is why it has taken so long. But the players keep coming back, so hopefully we'll reach the end before 2017 is out. While this is the only one on the list I did not write myself, I have heavily modified the later books in the AP, as I have issues with... lots of things which I will not go into here.

L5R: Kanshigumi

Loosely based on the historical Shinsengumi, this game was a series of stories about a mixed-clan police force in the capitol. It has easily been my most popular Obsidian Portal campaign, mostly due to the research and writing of Bookkeeper


My family and I do a shared GMing game, with each of us narrating an episode before passing the mantle on to the next.


I have a deep love of grimdark settings, and this is my favorite. My feeling is that they encourage stories of personal heroism. If you're unfamiliar, imagine the Lord of the Rings, but Sauron wins in the end. One hundred years later, welcome to the story. It was in this game that I made the players cry.

7th Sea

In direct contrast to grimdark games, I also adore this epic swashbuckling game. I have only run it once, though.


I started a game in Per Bastet. It didn't last long, to be honest, but I am in the process of building a Midgard campaign that will probably take us back there.