Two weeks ago I began a blog post series entitled “Yes, I’m a Dungeon Master. Yes I’m a Woman”, and so far I’ve covered the very basics of Dungeon Master (DM) craft. This week I want to take a step back for a moment and discuss why I felt such a series was necessary when hundreds of online sources (which are probably more thorough) already exist that cover the art of table top role playing (TTRPG). With regards to the rule books, Dungeon-Mastering is largely the same for both men and women*. However, as a woman there are some minor differences that I think affect how a woman DMs versus how a man DMs, and all of those differences originate from issues embedded in our culture and the mentality of the people playing the game rather than the game itself.
My inspiration for the post series was originally sparked by the dismal Google search results for “dungeon master woman”. I had hoped to read the online musings of other women who DM, but this was what I found instead…
Not only are the image results offensive, the first webpage result is a viral Craigslist Ad asking for a topless woman to dungeon master at a bachelor party, and the second result is a post on the history of rape as a game mechanic in Dungeons and Dragons.
Gee whiz! If I wasn’t already involved in DnD, and this was my first search to explore being a Dungeon Master to start a newbie group, I would be incredibly disheartened. Google’s suggested search of “dungeon master women” gives you somewhat better results (like Dungeon Master t-shirts in women’s sizes!) but still do not point you immediately to any kind of useful resource. Since posting Part 1 and Part 2 of “Yes, I’m a Woman. Yes, I’m a Dungeon Master”, I am pleased to see them appear as result #3 when I conduct the same search now for “dungeon master woman”:
Being part of a change is important, and I am proud to have infiltrated Google’s search results, but I am by no means the first woman to chronicle her role playing experiences on the internet. If you dig deep enough you can scrounge up some more:
- “Girls play D&D too” Facebook group
- News Article: Female-only Dungeons & Dragons club vanquishing sexism in fantasy gaming
- Blog: Go Make Me A Sammich: A (mostly) humorous on how not to sell games to women
- Book: Confessions of a Part-time Sorceress: A Girl’s Guide to the D&D Game
- And a counter article against the book: “Why I don’t want Shelly Mazzanoble to represent female D&D players” from Go Make Me A Sammich (same blog as above)
- Kickstarter: WITCH: a dark, modern fantasy role play game (created by Elizabeth Chaipraditkul)
- Youtube: “Dungeons and Dragons and Gender”
- Youtube: “Girl’s Guide to Dungeons and Dragons”
- Youtube: “Girls Play Dungeons and Dragons for the First Time”
Apparently there also used to be an official Wizards of the Coast message board called Astrid’s Parlor which was dedicated to creating a safe space for women to discuss gaming, but it has been discontinued. The posts from the board’s last day seem to indicate the closure was from lack of use rather than WotC deciding women no longer needed a safe space for discussion.
After spending some time searching the interwebs and reading/watching the various resources I found, I failed to find the unique perspective of another woman DM (please correct me in the comment section! I’d love to meet/read/watch others!). With this blog series I want to fix that. I want to provide some positive encouragement to any woman asking herself (and the internet) how to be a Dungeon Master.
I also want to promote and advertise the fact that women are Dungeon Masters to the general public, and help assuage the fears of women who haven’t even played DnD yet, much less considered running a campaign. I feel heartened when I see images or hear stories of other women enjoying hobbies that I enjoy, especially when they are in a male-dominated sphere. Dungeons and Dragons has been enjoyed by women for as long as the game has existed, and I think our ranks will only grow as we make our presence more public. I’d love to hear your experiences playing DnD as a character or as a Dungeon Master, so please share in the comments!
READ NEXT: Part 4
*Note: historically there were rules that limited the roles women characters could play in Dungeons and Dragons, but current game versions are not only egalitarian, the rule books take special pains to use male and female pronouns equally.
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