You spend countless hours poring over hundreds of pages of materials, memorizing important details: names, locations, events, prior statements (of course you have read F. Lee Bailey).
You carefully craft an outline of the story you wish to tell, filling in details as you go along, based on the materials in your possession.
You find that you are talking to yourself, rehearsing what it is you want to say and how it is you wish to most effectively communicate your themes so your audience does not get bored.
And then, even with all your hard work, just before it’s time to start, your palms start to sweat—but you know that you cannot project anything other than confidence in order to do your job right. So you take a deep breath, namaste that shit, push the fear out of your mind [fear is the mind killer] and steel your resolve to do your job the right way.
Then despite all of your preparation, memorization, and confidence that you know how things are going to work out, someone whips out their goblin cock.
I am talking, of course, about Dungeons & Dragons. Did you think I was talking about trial? PSSSSSSSSHhhhhhhhh you better improve your Wisdom stats, my dude.
Despite being a full-on nerd for 36 years running, I did not play Dungeons & Dragons growing up. I was the kind of nerd that thought Star Trek and Battletech and musical theatre and Magic the Gathering were all cool, but Dungeons & Dragons was a bridge too far. I guess I was some sort of nerd elitist? This was dumb. D&D is super rad. I am no longer a nerd elitist.
I started wanting to play D&D after listening to the popular podcast HARMONTOWN (this was a weekly show with Community/Rick & Morty creator Dan Harmon and his friends. It was funny, and I am sad Dan decided to end it last year because every episode felt like a fun hang with my friends).
Early in the show’s run, Dan (while somewhat inebriated, I assume), sua sponte asked whether anyone in the audience had a set of dice because he wanted to play D&D. A man in the audience raised his hand, and they began playing D&D. That man is Spencer Crittenden, and he is far cooler and more chill than I can ever hope to be. (They have an animated TV show now called “HarmonQuest“, where they play D&D. It is on VRV and you should watch it).
Listening to these weekly-ish games on the podcast, I came to realize that I was VERY WRONG about D&D. D&D is not for nerds, D&D is for rad people who like to use their imaginations and tell stories and improvise and hand with their friends and maybe get a little too drunk as they go on adventures to try recover the hoard of the dragon queen (Wow, young nerd me was a total elitist dick). It was A W E S O M E and much fun.
To do their job right, a DM must know their shit cold. While a DM is allowed to look up rules, stat blocks for creatures, maps, etc., your players get bored when you do this. It kills the vibe and flow of the story your are trying to tell. It’s better if you KNOW YOUR SOURCE MATERIAL so you can keep things moving. And even if you know all of your shit C O L D, inevitably your players will pull some WILD SHIT THAT NO ONE COULD HAVE PLANNED FOR AND GOD DAMMIT YOUR HOURS OF PLANNING WERE JUST DEFENESTRATED FUCK FUCK SHIT FUCK TIME TO MAKE SOME SHIT UP I GUESS OH DAMMIT I HOPE THEY CAN’T TELL I AM TOTALLY MAKING ALL OF THIS UP ON THE FLY I’M GONNA ROLL WITH IT FUCK FUCK FUCKKKKKKKKK.
If you have ever tried a case, this probably sounds familiar to you.
I only started DMing about two years ago, after several years of trying to make someone else do it. When no one else wanted the commitment, I assumed the mantle. While I often regret assuming this responsibility (as it is a lot of work, and I am a solo practitioner who usually works 12-14 hours a day), it is totally worth it when your players say to you “Man, Leo, that was a great fucking session. I had a lot of fun”.
If you have ever won a case that you tried, you know this feeing. It is a rad feeling.
I’d like to think that being a DM has made me a better trial lawyer, but I think the truth of the matter is that being a trial lawyer has made me a better DM.
In closing, I present to you a delightful ditty from Jeffrey Bryan Davis, who has joined in our Curse of Strahd campaign. You might know Jeff from Whose Line is it Anyway? [Note that while I want Jeff to be my friend and play in my game just because I am the greatest person alive, this is not the case. I pay Jeff money to play in our game—he is a live performer and has a Patreon. I do not regret paying Jeff money to play in our game because 1) I think Jeff actually enjoys it; 2) He is great; 3) Maybe if I pay Jeff money long enough he actually will like me enough to be my friend without me paying him. This last part is doubtful but a man can dream].
Ladies, gentlemen, and folx of all/any genders, I present to you, Pringles Dick (a song Jeff wrote while on tour with the Whose Line? guys):
Roll for initiative.