I am using art by Jason Thompson in this article. His walkthrough maps are insanely fun and detailed
What is my Role?
I assumed I was just a DM who did the reporting. Every few years the store would tell me that they'd take over the reporting (why, I never knew) but within a few weeks they'd stop doing it and our store would lose our gold status. Gold status means that your store gets D&D books before the release date, and it used to mean getting cool free stuff.
The communication in the store is not ideal. I long ago learned that the best way to exist in that store is to just do your thing and don't ask questions. It's a space to meet people and run games, and in that department it is pretty fantastic.
I had an ominous feeling a month or two back. It was after the store owner came up to me and made a comment to me about reporting the games in the DCI system. He said something to me about showing the other DMs print-outs of the reports, which was completely out of the blue. I didn't even know what he was talking about.
Basically, I was reporting the games, but sometimes I'd smoosh them into one big report. That meant that sometimes, a DM would be put in as a player. Additionally, sometimes I listed Encounters games as Expeditions games. I've called wizards before, and they told me as long as I listed the names of everyone who played, it didn't matter. It was true that I wasn't reporting the games completely accurately.
So I thought to myself, well, OK, let me do this right. I will report these games perfectly. I took the owner's comment to me as a challenge to myself to make this game in the store as good as I could for everyone, not just my table.
I made sign-in sheets in photoshop. I encouraged each group to give themselves a group name and to share with me what was going on in their game. I tried to assume more of a coordinator role. But at the same time, I also was getting really fed up with the whole situation.
I decided to write an article about the game store, not to post in my blog, but just to vent and try to sort out the situation. Once I had finished it and read it over, I decided that I was nearing the limit of my tolerance for this place, and if it got worse, I'd quit.
The Fateful Sunday Game
This session was awful. I had what I like to call a "problem player", and for almost a year I've tip-toed around the guy. His dad plays in the campaign, too. In this session, the problem player complained about getting attacked while resting in a dungeon. He tried to rules lawyer his way into casting spells on invisible monsters. He tried to claim that a djinni's create whirlwind power was a spell that he could counterspell, and then when I shot it down he laughed and said, "It was worth a try".
Most offensive to me was that he greedily snatched up windvane, the artifact spear to the dismay of the 14-year olds he was playing alongside. This player had taken the only artifact in the previous campaign as well.
After this horrible session was over, I tried to move this player and his dad to another table. His father, who plays the game with him, refused to move. He said that his son was disabled and that I was violating his "civil rights".
I had been extra tolerant of this guy because I suspected he was not well. When I worked at the movie theater, we had a lot of group homes come in. When I say group home, I mean disabled people who live in assisted living communities. Sometimes, they'd bring someone who would make a scene in the theater. We'd have to ask them to leave. So they left.
Maybe I am just wrong. Maybe my job as a DM to manage this kind of thing. I could certainly understand the dad wanting to protect his son. It is nice that the guy cares.
All I know is that a thought popped into my head during all of this: I don't want to do this anymore. All of this people management stuff has become too difficult.
The father and I ended up having a series of heated phone conversations. I explained to him that his son could still play D&D in the store, just at a different table. His father again said no, his son was playing at my table.
Now I was getting really mad (as well as slightly amused). I said, "So the next time we play, you two are going to sit at my table? And I am going to refuse to run the game for you... and so we're all just going to sit there?"
"Civil rights", he said.
I wonder if we had moved our seats to another table and left him and his son where they were sitting, if they would have moved with us.
The Store's Take
Why wouldn't he have told me that he already knew what was going on right when I called?
The whole thing boiled down to this situation where the owner claimed they would make them switch tables, but I was wary.
This is what I feared would happen: They'd bend to the dad's will and tell me to just keep running for him. The dad was hellbent on sitting at my table, and I could honestly picture having mall security come and drag him out. Neither scenario was at all appealing to me.
If I could have, I would have just kept running the game for the dad and his son to avoid all of this conflict. But the fact is that my patience had simply run out.
I Failed My Save
So I said to the owner, "I think I should just quit. This isn't for me."
For seven years, I've been running games in this store. I built D&D in there from absolutely nothing. In 2008, there were no games of D&D going on. Now in 2015, we have five tables going and the store contains more D&D players than magic players, in a store that has massive magic events.
Would the store owner beg me to reconsider? Would he reassure me that this could be taken care of in an efficient manner? Would he give me a nice little thank you for helping him build D&D games in his store while encouraging the players to buy things to support him?
Here's what he said: "OK. See you around".
Seven years of encounters seasons, lair assaults, game days, free RPG days and my own Scales of War public play campaign which went from level 1 to level 30 (two years of weekly play!). That's all he had to say. "See you around".
I still have my Great Modron March home game, but that is on hold for a couple of weeks until Jessie gets back from vacation.
I have a number of D&D dreams, many of which were fulfilled in the game store. I was able to run a bunch of classic adventures like White Plume Mountain and Baba Yaga's Hut. I got to run a game for kids, and it was extremely awesome.
I have two D&D dreams left:
- I want to form a group of all-female players and a female DM. I don't want to play in it, I just want to hear about the game and what happens in it.
- I want to run a game for senior citizens. When I say that, I mean I want to go to an old folk's home with a briefcase and run a campaign for people 67-years old and up.
I will probably write a few guides in the next few weeks while I set up new games. It's a weird time but hopefully things will work out,