Roadworthy: Judge Joseph “Shaun” Hale!

Welcome to Roadworthy! This is a chance to show off a Road Crew Judge and allow them to share their experience and wisdom. We provide these profiles to help provide insight into their personality and style, and maybe give up-and-coming Judges some advice on improving their game.

The Road Crew theme for 2019 is Road Trip! We want you to get out there and experience the world. Whether it be in real life or online, you can always explore unknown lands and make new friends. Who knows, maybe we’ll put you up on our website. Jump on into the Road Crew program for your chance!

Out of rural West Virginia comes our latest Roadworthy Judge. His passion and commitment keep him going, and on pace for an incredible number of Road Crew games in a single year. Meet Judge Joseph “Shaun” Hale!


Roadworthy: Shaun Hale!

What’s your name, where do you live (and game), and how would you describe yourself?

My name is Shaun Hale and I live in Rural West Virginia, near Beckley. I have the option of a few different gaming locations but the one that I absolutely love is the Dragon’s Den which is located at 109 Main Street in Beckley, WV. 

I love gaming and exploring how people react in different situations both in character and out. I would think myself an ‘OK’ DM but with grand desires of wanting to be a GREAT DM. I’m not there yet, but I am continually working on it. There are so many aspects of the game that I run into that I have not considered before and sometimes they take me by surprise. Luckily I have several people in my group who are also DM’s and they keep me in-line.

How did you first discover DCC?

Back in 2007 I was traveling to North Carolina for a conference dealing with my work. I don’t remember the store name, but I stopped in at some hobby store to see if they had any original modules for D&D. I picked up what looked like a module, but in book form.  It was #29 – The Adventure Begins. I remember reading the words “Remember the good old days when adventures were underground….” And from that point I was hooked.  Mainly because I DO remember the good old days and I remember when in 1975, a friend of mine invited me over on Christmas day to check out this new game he had gotten: One of the original D&D boxes. 

As I flipped through that book it all came back to me. The adventures my character and my friends’ characters had! Of course, now most of those people are gone having passed from this realm into another, but for whatever reason I have been left on this earth and through gaming I make more and more friends. One of my ‘oldest’ friends was actually met through gaming. He still plays with my group on the weekends.

As of “right now,” how many Road Crew games have you run in this or past seasons?

I ran only a few games in 2017 but in 2018 I was playing in a game and the DM had life to happen and we were without a DM. I quickly jumped into the seat and have been DMing the game since. I ran 17 Games in 2018 and by April 2019 I have run 13 games. I don’t anticipate that we will slow down this year and I am shooting for 50+ games by the end of the year.

What’s your favorite Road Crew game experience so far?

I think that introducing new players to the gaming experience is one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences a DM can ever have the thrill of enjoying. I say rewarding because when it ‘clicks’ and you see those “ah hah!” moments in a new players face, nothing can beat it. I say challenging because not all the players are always willing to let a newbie figure things out…so trying to keep the meta-gaming down to a low is real work at times. 

Overall though, the fact of getting together with friends and un-met friends is my favorite experience! So what if the new player just walked up to a beholder zombie and wanted to parlay? One cannot imagine the joy in the DMs eyes when another new player asked a red dragon wyrmling for directions…. Truly unique experiences!

Tell us where you run your Road Crew games.

As I stated earlier, I have several places that I could set up shop and have run a few private games at my home, but my area of choice is at the Dragon’s Den in Beckley, WV. The owner, Allen Walker, allows us to play in a private room where we are not disturbed, and if the game goes on past closing he is willing to accommodate us. 

What advice would you give to other Road Crew judges?

When I was younger and first tried my hand at being a DM I found that the players NEVER did what I wanted them to. This was very frustrating to me and I found myself not enjoying the game. It was later in life when I was playing under another DM that I asked what kept him from having those anxieties. He stated simply that “it is a game, have fun, don’t stress, let the players do what they will and you will find that everyone will enjoy the game a lot more, even yourself. 

So with this approach in mind, I try to run each my games. Admittedly when my party of 10 just walked through the major encounter because of some little silly thing I didn’t foresee, I probably have a twitch in my eye, but it passes and we all have a laugh at how easily they defeated the BBED (Big Bad Evil Dude). Of course, I always point out that there is always the cousin of the BBED….

This question comes from from Judge Valerie Emerson “Do you have a go-to or favorite adventure to run at Road Crew events? What adventure do you most recommend for a first-time judge at a convention? Why?”

I really like the old school feel of things and that being the case, OAR 1: Into the Borderlands is my favorite starting point because it gives plenty of opportunity to role-play and plenty of monsters to kill. Expanding upon this starting area, a DM could feasibly take a party to max level by upping the inhabitants and adding in a few choice DCC modules here and there….

Of course, the fact that the module has been around almost as long as I have been playing also helps. So which cave was it you were in? A, G, E, or D?

Author: pandabrett

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