Yello! My name is Ben, aka Arbriar, and I love Dungeons & Dragons. I’m still new to playing the game itself, having first given it a real go in 2015, but the two things I have loved since I was a child can be boiled down into D&D. Story telling and strategy. Ever since I was a child I loved books, so much so that in the 8th grade I was banned from the public library because I was reading so much my grades started to drop. At the same time I would spend hours at home playing games like Command & Conquer cheesing the AI to build sprawling bases and massive armies, or Pokemon trying to push a truck for a Mew. In high school a friend introduced me to the Legend of Drizzt series by R. A. Salvatore, and as I lost myself in the world and its many characters I noticed something. About ten books in, the covers started to change, and a little DD symbol started to show up on the spine.
My friend and I learned that the Forgotten Realms that we had grown to love had at some point been bought and incorporated into a game called D&D. This was around the time we were sinking hundreds of hours into games like The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, and we figured we would love to try out this “pen and paper” game. A bestiary box was ordered, and lots of pdfs printed, both standard and homebrew alike. But after fighting a few beasties, we realized that without someone to actually tell a story, we weren’t getting much out of it that the video games in the next room couldn’t provide. At that point the dungeon master bug hadn’t bit, and I can’t help but wonder how my life would be different if any one of us had decided to take the story telling reins.
Fast forward many years later, four and a half working in a movie theater, college, marriage, and moving a couple hours north of home and we find me working in a bookstore. At this point I’ve developed an appreciation for turn based strategy with games like XCOM and Fire Emblem. As I’m getting more comfortable in a new setting, one of my co-workers asks me if I would be interested in joining a few of his friends to play D&D. They were starting a new campaign called Curse of Strahd and were looking for one or two more players. I mentioned that I didn’t really have any experience with it, but I’d give it a try, and he recommended I check out a show called Critical Role to get a feel for it. I agree and a week later, after many hours of binging CritRole, I’m sitting at a table making my first real character. His name was Arbriar and he was a middle aged dragonborn fighter, just out for one more good paying job before he retired.
By the end of that campaign, Arbriar would go on to betray the entire party, becoming the general of Strahds armies, and after passing him over to the DM (Melkiri), a villain to be feared. I didn’t start out wanting anything like that to happen, but when the moment came and I realized that that was what the character would do was the same moment I became forever hooked to D&D. We finished that campaign as a party sent in by the gods to right what had gone so terribly wrong in the realm of Barovia. A quest which we eventually succeeded at, though not without great cost to the characters involved. I might have to type up that story here at some point.
Not long after that game ended, I started running my own game in a world of my own creation called Alnerim. In time I started running a second game that we have used to work our way through the products published by Wizards of the Coast. Even now we are nearing the end of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, and I am super excited to get into the madness that is the Dungeon of the Mad Mage. In the past two years a week hasn’t gone by where I haven’t played D&D, much less strategized with friends, or created my own homebrew.
Whether it’s how to open a bag of holding full of caltrops into a dragon goddesses mouth, or pulling the Void card and using the Fate card to save an NPC’s niece instead of my own character, it’s the stories that we make together and share that I truly love about D&D. I might have to type up those stories at some point as well, and speaking of, what can you expect from me here on Guild Master Media? One-shots for D&D 5th edition for sure, sprinkled in with the occasional sub-class, and maybe even a full class or two (those are hard). Probably a smattering of board game reviews as well, since the same friends who have given me a love of D&D shared there obsession with board games as well.
Outside of that, who knows? The biggest goal for me is to inspire others to give D&D a chance (or a second one) If you had told me three years ago that I’d be invited to join in on a live streamed game of D&D, I’d have probably laughed at you thinking it was a joke. That was something for nerdy voice actors, not retail workers, and yet here we are. Thank you for joining me on my little ramble, and here’s to many more in the future!