Jim Murphy is an original D&D player and DM from the 70s who still plays today. Totally the greatest Ref in the world or close.
Couple years ago I got a chance to watch Matt Colville shoot an interview video with him and it turns out he has his own YouTube channel which I can 100% recommend if you're into that thing. In it he talks about a lot of D&D and other RPG specific things. I don't think he does actual play videos. He shares his minis, shares his specific tricks and traps, specific prepping methods, and philosophy. I'm totally a disciple now.
Get a load of this story. It's amazing.
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I have no idea how to embed a video on Blogger, which is pathetic both for me and for Google. This should be baby stuff. Here is the link:
This is an epic tale and made more epic by the telling.
Two things happened here that can only happen when people really understand what they're doing here.
The first thing is, Jim had one path set up to play. And Steve said, "well, what about this other path?"
And instead of convincing him to try the one Jim had laid out or barring him somehow from trying this audacious mission, Jim said, "Yes. Okay Steve, try it." And he let him try it and he prepped what Steve wanted and he bought into Steve's vision of the campaign rather than the other way around.
That takes guts and trust and not everyone who Refs even knows they don't have what it takes. Some Refs don't know that this is what it takes sometimes (not always but sometimes). Some Refs just can't but Jim can and that is so commendable.
The second thing is that Steve had a vision for his dwarf that he wanted the dwarf to have a beginning, middle and end. His man was not an idealized image prior to the adventures; his man was going through a life story with a life and with a death both with meaning.
His goal was to leave a lesson to the campaign world - to create a myth and legend. This is not something gold can buy; and neither can the attainment of mere amoral glory. Players, keep this in mind. Sometimes it's okay that your goal is not to be the biggest, baddest guy on the block. Sometimes the real meat of a character story lies somewhere other than putting an orc to the sword.
Anyway. Jim allowed Steve to put his man to certain death even though Jim didn't know beforehand Steve was going there.
These guys trusted each other. Jim trusted him when he said to save the nobles, and Steve trusted Jim that Jim would let him play it out.
So that second thing is trust and deep camaraderie and deep friendship. Like a marriage. It's so hard-won that the value of achieving it is bigger than the game.
You and I may never win a Super Bowl together or build a house for ourselves to live in together, but we can achieve this victory together - the victory of friendship truly fought, won, and demonstrated - with our little elf talking and funny dice - and that's a hidden but invaluable part of living well and being human and one which is readily available to be had through RPGs.