Monday, September 25, 2017

Time Spent DMing

As part of his latest post, Alexis challenges DMs to estimate how long they have spent working to become a DM. Below I do the calculations to estimate for myself how long I've spent actively DMing and working on the game.

I ran a bit on and off from 13 to 15 but none of it really stuck, so I won't count all that.

I'll start from 16 and my first group of serious players. At first I was running a group of 8 to 12, often one session Saturday and one Sunday with some players attending both games. I'll say each running was 5 hours, that's 10 hours per weekend for ... about 4 months, so 160 hours. Let's say prep work took half that amount of time spread out of the rest of the week, so multiply by 1.5 and we get 240 hours.

The group thinned out to about 6 people and we started a new campaign, that was probably another 6 months, and I did a more meticulous job of prepping I would say, so let's say 5 hours per weekend plus 7 hours prepping = 12 * 4 weeks = 48 * 6 months = 288 hours. That campaign might have been longer, maybe 8 months? 10? but it definitely didn't reach a whole year, and I know it had a definite conclusion since that's how I did things back then.

I ran another campaign, timing probably similar to the previous one, let's say another 288. Running total is now (+ 288 288 240) 816 hours.

Let's increase that by ... 10%. Call it a round 900. That's to account for the fact that so much of my time even when not specificaly prepping for campaigns, was also taken up by D&D books and forums and blogs.

OK, then college. Fair bit of gaming but not much DMing first year. Second year, 2013, we gamed the whole first semester, let's say a total of 10 hours a week between the long sprawling game sessions and writing and rewriting tons of rules, and fourish months in the semester, so 16*10=160 hours, which sounds way too low but is probably right. Running total 1060.

[War story aside: I was dating my first girlfriend and running her and her crop of friends plus my buddy Jonas and it was a huge blast. I look fondly back on those days. The game was kooky: characters included a bio-syntha-cyborg and a lady minotaur alongside thieves and wizards, and each class rolled random upgrades at each level up (kind of like sage skills in a way.) On the design side I was working with a concept of giving EVERYTHING levels, so cities would have levels based on their size which would determine the availablility of items and the possibility of placing bulk orders; artisans and craftsmen would have levels indicating how good their product was; whole areas had regimented arrays of themed random tables plus bleedover into other areas. It wasn't at all what I would run today, but the guiding principle worked.]

After that I didn't run for about three years.

I picked up again in the fall of 2016 and ran weekly sessions of about three hours each for about 7 months all told. Let's say prep specifically for the game as opposed to more generally working on D&D was the same amount (was almost certainly more but I want to be conservative.) That's 6 * 4 * 7 = 24 * 7 = 168 hours. Running total (+ 1060 168) 1228 hours.

OK. That's all the game sessions and prep specifically for them. But what about all the additional time, especially since Fall 2015, which I have spent working on my computer programs, writing my blog, and researching?

I do track on a daily basis whether or not I worked on D&D that day, and I have compiled some statistics and graphs to show how the habit evolves, but I haven't plugged data into those calculations recently and it would take a while to do so. Furthermore, they don't track the exact amount of time spent. I can, however, confidently hypothesize that since November 2015, I've spent a minimum of an hour a day on average working on D&D. It's an educated guess so let's use it. The duration since Nov 2015 to today, 2017-09-25, is 5 days short of 1 month shy of two years. The exact number of days is (+ 365 (- 365 (+ 5 31))) = 694 days. Thus, 694 add'l hours.

The final total is 1228 + 694 = 1922 hours.

Good exercise. It reminded me how far I've come.

Monday, September 11, 2017


Forgive me for the lack of updates in the last two months. I've been preoccupied with finding work, my game has been on hiatus since June or so, and furthermore, because I was feeling a lack of direction in my projects, I gave myself permission to stop thinking about D&D entirely for as long as I needed to get my groove back.

A week or so ago, after a break of about forty days, I started working on D&D projects again. As my game will be starting up again soon, with a party partially or entirely composed of all-new players, I decided it was finally time to set my game in the real world.

I've decided to start the players off in Moravia, a land which is now part of the Czech Republic, and I've chosen 1650 as the starting year (because it will allow me to make use of resources Alexis at Tao of D&D has created, especially his detailed maps.) And even though I've only been researching for a short while now, to my delight I've found no end of details on tnis area which are immediately gameable.

For example, look at the Wikipedia page for Castle Bludov. It was destroyed about 200 years before my game takes place, leaving only cellars and moats.

What do you suppose might have moved in during the intervening two centuries?

This example may seem a little pat, since "abandoned structure which has been recolonized by monsters, bandits, etc" is a trope. But to me, this feels different because I am not making the castle up out of thin air. Because the ruined castle is real, the rest of it will seem more real as well -- or so I hope.

Finally, let me update you on my other projects.

I've begun rebuilding the economy program, not only because the data will have to be changed from that of my made-up world to that which I am scouring from my 1921 Colliers Almanac and from material Alexis has provided on the matter, but also because the current program has many dead parts baked into it which are leftovers from previous iterations (such as, for example, placing cities randomly on the map and assigning them goods and services based on their hex's climate, then connecting them by semi-random networks of roads. None of this panned out in practice.)

The "character GUI" program has been placed on hold. I've made no headway there. I am, however, planning to dabble in computer graphics, to see if I can make an interactive version of the kind of world maps I've posted here before.

Finally, I've been working with a game designer friend on some prototypes for different kinds of game logic. Nothing has borne fruit so far, but some of our material has gone along directions related to the "spellpower points" magic categorization system I talked about here, so I thought I'd at least mention it.