New GM: Why I Became a GM


Hello everyone, I’m the new guy here at TPK so I thought I would introduce myself a little with this first post before I start writing all over the places where you expect Jim to be.

My name is Ryan Walsh, although around the interwebs I often go by Rhino of Steel (ah, the nicknames of youth). I am a current Master’s student and soon to be PhD student in Classical Studies at Waterloo and McMaster respectively. My focus is on history and this passion will be the inspiration for posts exploring the use of history to inspire your games.


The height of cool to 14 year old me.

I have been playing tabletop RPGs for only the past three years, although I have rarely been away from games in that time. The first game that I played in was run by Jim and it sucked me into the world of RPGs, and D&D specifically, immediately. I wanted to explore this new hobby to its fullest extent, I became involved in another game and started theorycrafting other class builds and devouring what materials I could get my hands on to make me a better player. I was excited whenever game time came around and whenever it ended I started going over what I had done and how I could improve my characters.

Then, the games stopped. Schedules became too different and it was impossible to keep the games running as they had before. I was disappointed but I still continued reading about D&D and RPGs in what spare time grad school left me. But now I didn’t feel limited to examining player and character aspects but all facets of the game. Setting, style of game, hooks, adventures, monsters, etc., etc., I was reading it all. And I began to have an idea.


I made most of my game here.

I spent a month in Germany with my then girlfriend (now fiancĂ©e) who was also in my master’s program. She was busy working away on her thesis in the library most days which left me with spare time to work on whatever I wanted. Rather than forge ahead on my own thesis like a responsible grad student, I decided to start work on my first ever D&D game.

I had built up this huge storehouse of knowledge on D&D but lacked an outlet to make use of it so starting my own campaign made perfect sense. I quickly realized what a huge undertaking starting a new game can be, especially if it is your first. But I also discovered the joy of crafting a setting, the excitement of wanting others to experience your creation, and a whole host of other benefits that being a GM gives you.

From there it was a matter of picking my system, bringing together a setting, deciding what adventures to incorporate, and assembling my players, all topics which I will deal with in future posts. I enjoyed every step along the way and the more I delved into my game, the more ideas came to me and the more hooked I became.

In short, I became a GM in order to continue to experience RPGs when I was unable to participate as a player but I have stayed a GM because of the sheer fun of it. In the future I will be discussing various challenges a new GM must overcome based on my own experience but for now please let me know what drew you into GMing or if you haven’t been a GM yet, what is stopping you from doing so?

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