Our final Casters and Cantrips Player Character Spotlight is our illustrious Dungeon Master himself: Miles Duffield! Miles talks about being a professional DM, the difference between a group gathered around a table and a live show, and the charity work he does with Geeks4Good!
RP: Tell us a little bit about yourself!
MD: I’m Miles Duffield, I’m a geek, a weirdo, I love birdwatching, sword fighting, storytelling, and food and drink, but especially when it’s a secret. I’m an ex-actor/stuntman/dogwalker from Telluride Colorado, and I’ve lived across the US, but I currently reside in Brooklyn NY, where I stream on twitch.tv/geeks4good, and am a professional Dungeon Master. My service is specifically for the busy, the curious, and the serious: i.e. people who don’t have time to prepare and run a game, people who want to learn but are daunted by the size of the rulebook, and people who know exactly what they want, and need someone to deliver it for them. I run a bunch of systems, and can learn any you are interested in trying. People can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to, well, book a game with me.
RP: What is Geeks4Good?
MD:Geeks4Good is a twitch variety channel that streams tabletop RPGs, video games, and board games in order to raise funds and awareness for different nonprofits and charities. I started G4G in 2017, confused and disillusioned with the world, and just started… Doing it! We had a great year, shot up, gained an amazing following, and raised $15,000 for various nonprofits and charities including Child’s Play, Game To Grow, and Paws and Stripes. We went on a hiatus in 2018 when I realized that my do first, ask questions later had made a fragile structure that was going to fall down, so we’ve been restructuring hard for the last year and a half, and I’m gunning for a re-opening of our tabletop content mid-2020! Meanwhile though, I’m streaming video games, and GM musings 5 days a week from 1-9 with a dinner break somewhere in there. Come hang out at twitch.tv/geeks4good!
RP: When/why did you start playing RPGs?
MD: I started playing RPGs in freshman year of high school. I remember seeing the 3.5 edition core pack of Dungeons and Dragons in my local Hastings, who for those of you not from the southwest in the mid new-millennium, was the Christian-acceptable Hot Topic with way more books and movies. I brought it to my mom, and told her that I thought I needed it, the 100+ dollars for the core set still being a massive expense for me. I remember her looking at me and it a little suspiciously, and saying, “are you sure,” and I said, yes, I am sure.
I rolled up 10 characters on the car ride home. Got so sick I puked.
RP: What are some of your favorite RPG systems to play?
MD: I am in love with D&D, especially as a Dungeon Master. It gives me the flexibility I need to shine. I’m also a huge fan of Starfinder, and the new Pathfinder, while I haven’t gotten to play it, is the future of stimulatory RPG systems. It’s brilliant. Recently I’ve developed a deep obsession with Arc Dream’s new Delta Green Edition, and the written modules for that are unlike anything else I’ve seen written down other than the maddening scrawls of my own prep. I also have a soft place in my heart for Shadowrun, which has my favorite fictional world ever, and Rememorex, an 80’s nostalgia indie game by my friend Sean Jaffe, of Nerdy City has some of the best character creation mechanics in the business.
RP: How do you find people to play with?
MD: This is something I’ve always struggled with. I have trouble making friends, and finding friends who are also interested in playing TTRPGs is doubly hard. But honestly, there has never been a better time than now for it! I see more people daily that I never would have expected getting into D&D! Ask around! Be Bold! Be kind and welcoming!
RP: Do you prefer to be a player or the DM and why?
MD: I am now pretty solidly a DM. I love storytelling, I love improvising, and I love the illusion of control and shattering it, for both my players and myself. Riding the wave of being a DM on their high is as good as the feeling of perfectly blocking a sword cut you had forgotten was in the choreography. DMing is that feeling over and over again. Constant inspiration and expiration. Riding a strange edge.
RP: Do you play board games at all? What are some of your favorites and why?
MD: I do! I love board games! A special favorite of mine is Everdell which is about woodland creatures making new towns around the Evertree! It’s so precious, beautifully crafted, it merges pieces of about 6 different mechanics from other board games seamlessly, and at the end it’s really pretty to look at and everyone feels like they made something, no matter how many points they got.
RP: Do you consider gamer an integral part of your identity?
MD: Yes. I started playing video games when I was very young. I cried over Mario, threw controllers over Ocarina of Time, and celebrated my first perfect Call of Duty win with pizza. I found board games much later, but in-person gaming has become the part of my life I chase more and more. Tabletop roleplaying games are my favorite things in the world.
RP: How do you balance gaming with your real life?
MD: This is not good, but I don’t. I love it so much, I made it work. That has led to a bunch of personal problems and a solid degree of psychic pain as I figure out work-life balance when everything I love becomes work. I’m finding that I am able to find greater peace when I’m actively taking time to do things that I don’t like the most, but that calm me; long walks, meditating, physical activity. It’s been a balancing act that I’ve failed at quite a lot. But you learn to juggle primarily by dropping balls, so I’m on my way.
RP: What are you most looking forward to for Casters and Cantrips?
MD: The audience. I’m not trying to butter you up. Live audiences change everything. And with our interactive mechanics that we’ve designed, based on the metagames we played on Geeks4Good, you are going to have greater opportunities to reach into the game and change it! I’m very excited to see where we take each other. And this weird wacky world I’ve built... I did it all live on stream on Geeks4Good, so feel free to go check out the VODs for a preview.
RP: What are some things you do as a DM to prepare for a new campaign? What do you have to change to prepare for a game that will be streamed?
MD: I largely write out sensations of places. Things that help me describe the places I think we’ll end up in. I dream a lot about problems that might arise, and solve little things before my players even get there. I try to fall deeply in love with the ideas I have, so that adoration carries over to my players, and they love and fear the things I bring to the table. The thing that a year of running games on stream taught me is that the only difference between running a game in private, and running a game in front of people is that you speak a little louder, and you make eye contact with the audience as well as the players when you story tell. People want to be at the table with you. D&D is performative by nature. I don’t need to work at it.
RP: How do you think the interactive audience will make this game different than a “traditional” D&D game?
MD: Chaos. Pure chaos. Showing favor or animosity towards the players, you are going to heighten the amount of impulses in the room, which is going to raise the stakes, which is going to be remarkably exciting. Interactive games are my actual favorite thing in the world.
RP: Do you have any advice for people just starting out with RPGs?
MD: Yes! It took me YEARS to realize this: The game is yours. D&D once you’ve bought it no longer belongs to the designers. Play the game your way. Find players who like to play the same way. Be respectful. Be kind. Be understanding. Listen. LISTEN. Don’t pay attention to the FB groups or the message boards, or anyone who tells you how D&D “should” be played. In fact, avoid people who use the word “Should.” Have fun. It is a game after all.