The Isle of Dread
About the DM
Who is the DM?
My name is Dustin. I’m in my mid-30’s, married, with 5 kids. I’m a chemist by education (BS in Biochemistry & Chemistry from UC San Diego) and an engineer through my career path. I’m originally from San Diego (for the first 27 years of my life), then I moved to Yuma AZ for 3 years, then Charlotte NC for 3 years, the Raleigh-Durham area for the past 3 years, and now on to Dallas.
I started gaming at the tender age of 7 or 8, when my older cousin introduced me to the OD&D Red Box Basic Set. I played a human fighter that loved to explore caves, kill evil monsters, and find magic weapons. In my very first game, I killed an orc and found a “Sword that Breaks Rock”, which I used to clear away a caved-in tunnel only to die quickly when attacked by a giant spider. It was awesome.
I quickly purchased the Red Box, but I didn’t have any friends that wanted to play, so I relegated myself to reading fantasy books and Dungeon magazine from cover-to-cover. At some point in time I got a subscription to Dungeon magazine that began with Issue #8 (I think?).
I didn’t really play again until high school when I formed a group with my friends. We would play for 6 to 8 hours every weekend, and routinely have marathon sessions that lasted for 24+ hours. We started with the Rules Compendium for OD&D, then moved up to AD&D 2E (which was very new at the time). During that time, we also playtested modules for Dungeon magazine. We usually did 1 or 2 modules per year. Our names were published in the magazine, which was super cool and impressed all of our other geeky friends. My Dungeon magazine subscription ran through the Paizo days (back when they published outside of San Diego) until Wizards stopped making the magazine. I still have every issue, although they are pretty heavily worn. I stopped gaming when I went on to college.
Fast forward several years and I found myself in a new city (let alone a new side of the country), Charlotte. “What better way could there be to make new friends than to get back into gaming?”, I thought. I found a local game store, played in a few games and met some amazing people, most notably Neil Spicer, who won Paizo’s RPG Superstar contest a few years ago. He was running a campaign using the Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path during his run up to RPG Superstar, and I played a questioning-his-morals paladin. A few of us playtested some of his set pieces that later went in to his published work. If you ever meet Neil, he’s an awesome guy and a great DM.
More recently I’ve run two campaigns that lasted at least 2 years each, one in Charlotte, and one in R-D, and a 6-month campaign. Each time, I moved away, which forced the groups to disband. Although I wonder if the new virtual tabletop applications would allow for a group to stay together even if a player moves away?
I would describe my gaming style to be:
- pulpy, taking inspiration from Ray Harryhausen, Indiana Jones, R. A. Salvatore, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, Anne McCaffrey, with more recent influence from George R. R. Martin and Robert Jordan.
- 50/50 combat and roleplay
- The rules define the game and are a common reference point, but they can be bent to maximize the fun of the group
- clichéd or “classic”
- high fantasy, high magic
Here is a memorable scene that I hope shows how I like my games to be run.
A group of several PCs, after being shipwrecked on a lost island full of dinosaurs and ancient sites teeming with eldritch energy, comes upon a slight clearing in the jungle which also contains some ancient ruins. The monk, being the most stealthy (and a bit carefree) creeps up on the entrance to the ruins to investigate the strange pattern of markings over the doorway. The pattern begins to shift and an enormous constrictor snake head rises above the ruins, the pattern revealing itself to be the snake’s gigantic body. The monk gives the snake a flurry of misses and soon finds himself in its grasp, being crushed rapidly. His companions spring to action and begin to hack and wail at the snake. The wizard casts grease, and like a well-squeezed pustule on the backside of a unclean mountain giant, the monk is rocketed into the air. He makes several acrobatics checks and manages to take very little damage from falling through the nearby jungle canopy of vegetation. The snake, having enough of this abuse, makes to slither off in search of easier prey, but the party is able to convince it to stay for dinner (and become dinner) with a few more hits to critical areas. The party consisted of: human monk, elf wizard, human rogue, native lizardman shaman, and a human cleric. I should mention that the human rogue would soon find himself turned into a vampire and eventually cured some sessions later, then to die (again) and rise as a ghost.