The Aging DM

Featured artwork is Medieval Fair – The Wise Wizard by Ciao Monteir

Lords, ladies, lads, and lassies, I am Vinni the Troll and I am old.

I am on the cusp of my 50th birthday. As the milestone draws near I can’t help but think of what getting older will mean for me as a gamer.

I’ve been playing D&D for nearly 37 years, and board games longer than that. Since I was old enough to learn at my Mom’s side, she would learn the rules and then teach me by example. It is to her influence that I attribute my lifelong love of gaming.

In my 30s I would often ponder what tools an aging gamer would require.  How old would I be when I stopped rolling dice? Will I find a retirement community that has a D&D club? How many stories will I have to share with my neighbors? How many will I have forgotten? How many will I repeat?

Unfortunately, I inherited my mom’s poor eyesight as well as her love of gaming. Through my 40s it has only gotten worse. I have many dice, and though I used to choose them based on their inherent beauty, I find that now the contrast between the print on the facets and the die itself is more of a deciding factor. I’ve even considered the blue tooth dice that send their results to a phone app, but their cost is quite prohibitive. It is only a matter of time before I cave and buy them though.

The era of online TTRPGs and tools provided is a boon to me as well. Browser pages and PDFs can be magnified with a few keystrokes. Gone are the commutes to a weekly game, lugging along a stack of books and snacks, only to face the return trip. I do miss meeting face to face, but Discord and Roll20 are extremely convenient. Over the course of the past couple of years, due to social distancing, I have made new friends around the world that I would not have had the pleasure of meeting if I had stuck with face-to-face gaming.

For that I am grateful.

With decades of experience behind the screen I have become an accomplished improvisational Game Master. With a few stat blocks and the vaguest of plot outlines, I can weave an entertaining tale for my players, and for myself. Not knowing what to expect has become one of the greatest thrills of running my Malhaven campaign.

Even though I miss the simpler days of just being a player, I relish my role as a DM. When a minor henchmen makes your players want to know more, or the wizard’s familiar becomes the object of envy, it fills my heart with such joy. I now see myself as a mentor as well. As I get older, new blood rises to fill the lower ranks of the uninitiated. The seeds are planted for new heroic tales to be told and remembered.

If I’m lucky, I may even find a budding GM and help them get started.

That will be my legacy.

Live, laugh, loot.

2 thoughts on “The Aging DM

  1. At 52 myself, a lot of this sounds familiar to me. I’m faring a bit better with the eyes but still getting accustomed to requiring reading glasses for the first time in my life.

    I suspect you may be on to something with the thought of retirement community D&D clubs. Was just thinking of that the other day. While there certainly were people older than us playing back in the day, our age group really marked the first huge boom for the hobby. I have to think that most retirement communities will be sporting RPG group 15-20 years from now.

    Liked by 1 person

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