I had an interest in playing and running Dungeons & Dragons games a long, long before I ever learned to play — ever since I found a faded pink box in our games cupboard and tried without success to decipher the contents of the rulebook. It wasn’t like any game I’d played before — there was no board or anything of the sort to guide you, only your imagination and the imaginations of your fellow players.

I tried when I was a kid, and I tried again after I got into roleplaying games for the console and computer — after I played Diablo, I tried to create my own system, but I was still missing the core concepts that went into being a roleplaying gamemaster. I didn’t know how to organize my thoughts, direct the story, or facilitate play. I didn’t know how to be a fair judge and I didn’t know how to improvise. I didn’t know how to plan.

It wasn’t until late in 2003 that I finally got to play with an established group of gamers and I finally started to get it. Once I saw how it was done, I was running my own game within a month. I already knew how to create worlds and characters, and now I knew how to present them to a group of players. And I made every possible mistake there was to make in those first couple years. Thankfully, I had very forgiving friends.