Hello everybody, this is Michael. I thought I’d talk a bit about A Sense of Immersion, and our Five Month Anniversary. You may be curious why I’m doing a Five Month Anniversary, as that doesn’t feel like much to celebrate. Well for me it is. Here’s why.
Image Credit: Me! The unimpressive little logo I designed for all this back in February.
The idea for A Sense of Immersion came to me at a really hard time in my life, while my father was in the hospital this past February. I was so overwhelmed by the squeaking of shoes on the plastic floors, the gentle beeping of the machines, the chemical smells and the bright florescent lights. It was all so much; so.. carved into my memory.
Beyond the normal concerns of my father, his health, and what would come next, I had a grave thought while sitting next to my dad’s bed: “I will never forget these few days for the rest of my life.” I was certain that not even the best Dungeon Master could forge a memory this powerful.
But that’s not exactly true, is it? Dungeon Masters and players of all kinds have given us memorable experiences. Ones that will never leave us.
The key to memory is the senses: the smells, the sounds, the tastes. In Dungeons and Dragons you can’t quite get those exact feelings, but you can use the idea of those feelings to trigger the emotions and memories of the folks in your game. Just a month after my father passed away I was in a D&D game that had a funeral for an NPC we didn’t even know. My character, a Paladin, handled the service. It was eerie and unnerving. It was so familiar. I had only been to one funeral ever, but it would inform how I felt about funerals from that moment forward.
This is why I connect each monster to our world. This is why I think its fascinating and helps us all grow as Dungeon Masters. If we can make these monsters feel real, if we can connect a monster to something somebody has felt before, then we have the key to immerse them. We have the key to pull them in to the story, and make it one they will never forget.
Sticky juice on a tile floor equating to the body of a Mimic.
Holding your breath underwater till it burns like you’re trapped in a Gelatinous Cube.
Your finger being sliced open by a slip of the knife similar to the claws of an Owlbear.
It’s not even just the gruesome stuff either. Simply looking at a picture of a Mimic doesn’t quite inform you that it’s sticky, that’s in the statblock. There are dozens of monsters, and all of them have a page of game stats and background info, but with a ton of room for more. It’s the more that I’m trying to convey in all these articles. The more that nobody thinks of. It’s the more that causes legendary DMs to be such excellent wordsmiths.
It’s the DMs job to think of the details. Fun or mundane. Horrifying or reassuring.
It may all be a game. It’s for fun, and that’s amazing. But some people find the fun in these details. In the fact that it’s all so real in our heads. In the idea that five people can gather each week, become their alter egos, and win the day. I think this is the pull for a DM. The ability to form the skeleton of an incredible story, and while the players lead the way towards incredible moments, the DMs fitting those moments into a greater legend.
A fight with a monster, mystical or mundane, should never be one without a memory.
So that leads me back to my dad, and this site. His death hit me hard, but hard in the motivational way. I’d been wasting all my time thinking of how to share my form of D&D with the world, instead of just sharing it. So that’s what A Sense of Immersion was. A way for me to share how I thought about DMing with memorable moments in mind.
I started with storms, thinking I would cover environments, then sprinkle in monsters. I moved on to fire, a common hazard in these games. People enjoyed it, but weren’t exactly hooked. I myself found these articles hard to write. I thought it would be fun to try the Monsters. Owlbear was first, and boy did people love it. So I moved on to other monsters, and Sense of Immersion, as it stands, has been like that ever since. I may sprinkle in environmental topics, or even cover spells and items, but for now, the monsters are king. Because honestly that’s been the most fun for me.
Five months in, and things are looking good. I wasn’t sure I would make it, because I have a rough time sticking with a project once I start it. My friends and Mom twisted my arm until I set up a Patreon, and you folks have been sharing me with your friends.
All I can say is thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. This year started with absolute and pure misery. I turned 22, lost my father, had two funerals for him, and started up this website all in a span of five weeks.
The optimist in me is why I’ve decided to celebrate five months. Because five weeks becomes five months, and that becomes five years. I can get through this year, and I can still put out damn good thoughts and ideas while pushing myself to improve.
So that’s that. But I’m not done yet. I like to show my gratitude.
Thanks to my Mom, who pushes me to continue my goals.
Thanks to my Dad, who never did anything but try his hardest.
Thanks to my Girlfriend, who gives me the greatest ideas.
Thank you to Helen and Kili for being excellent editors.
Thank you to Connor for the purple die logo.
Thank you to my Spelljammer players, Matt, Jake, and Chris
Thank you to /u/birdoge for being my very first Patron.
And finally, Thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for criticism.
Thank you for recommendations. Thank you for support. This means the world to me, and you’ve done so much for me by reading this, and all that I make.
This upcoming Tuesday, I’ll be doing A Sense of Immersion on the absolute classic D&D monster, the Beholder. Please, get excited. It’s my biggest one yet.
And you know what, how about I make you all a deal?
I’ll do a Dragon once we hit my first year.