Tonight, I’ll be running the third session of my newest Dungeons & Dragons campaign. I’m still learning as a Dungeon Master, so it’s nice that two of our players are new, one is my husband, and the other two have only played for a short time. I don’t feel so self-conscious about my DMing style. Even still, I feel disappointed at the end of a session, like I could have done much better. I always ask afterward if they liked the encounters, but sometimes I think they’re just being nice, silently ridiculing my encounters and judging me harshly. Sometimes, I think I’m too fragile to DM.
And that’s strange, because I take writing criticism really well. I’m like a writing rhinoceros.
I wasn’t always that way. When I first started writing, I was really eager to get others to read my half-finished work. After a general consensus of meh, I stopped letting other people read my stories. I lost confidence in myself, in my writing, and I suffered for it. For a long time, I constantly questioned myself, every single decision I made within a story. That led to timid, safe stories. I didn’t try to write anything I didn’t feel safe writing.
It seems that my DMing has taken this turn. I started out gung-ho about it, but when my players didn’t respond to my encounters and story the way I had envisioned, I lost my confidence. In an effort not to have anyone complain about my sessions, I’ve thrown in simple battles, a straightforward quest, and I’m even working with an official D&D low-level campaign. Personally, I find it all safe and boring.