We are proud to introduce you to our Dungeon Master of 2019 Kathrine (Squid). She was submitted by her friend and player Erin. Here is what Erin has to say about this awesome woman:
There is a fundamental correlation between a great Dungeon Master and a great friend, a great human. It’s rare in “the real world” to find someone who embodies what it takes to master both of these things, and often, you think that this kind of hero only exists in the worlds we create, rather than those in which we physically live and breathe.
Katherine Czerwinski, or, as her campaigners affectionately call her, Squid, is such a larger than life person. While I call her a hero, she would most certainly roll her eyes at the comment and continue on with whatever she was doing before I interrupted her with something so ridiculous.
Squid DM’s with sass and sarcasm that has been well refined over time, but with such a gentle touch that she allows her team to build on the story she’s created without micromanaging the play. She trusts her team with her vision to bring their own unique experiences and expertise into the world to make it a living, breathing reality in its own right. This is a good quality to have when leading any project: trust your team to be experts in their field and bring your vision to life. They will have more of a stake in the project, the campaign, whatever it may be, too. (After all, we are all greater than the sum of our parts).
Squid knows her players on a close and intimate level, developing a relationship with not only the group as a whole, but each player. This is where her heroism begins.
Behind the escapism that comes with each campaign, there are real people dealing with real tragedies and hard times (2019 has dealt everyone a pretty rough hand, it seems. Or should I say, we all rolled very poorly on coming through this year unscathed?) In fact, this was how she became my hero. I’d just met her through our role playing, and mere days after this introduction, my dad had a stroke that would put him in the hospital for four months, and in a coma for half that. I woke up every single day to doctors telling me that we needed to consider taking my dad off life support, that we had to make decisions that would shatter our lives.
And a text from Squid.
Every single day. When I was with it enough to apologize for being absent in the RP world, she was always a calm voice that assured me not to worry about it. She’d let me cry about my dad if I needed to, or she’d talk with me about my characters when I needed a break from the real world. Favorite flavors of tea, pros and cons of cold weather versus hot, whatever I was able to talk about, we did. On the days that I didn’t have the energy, she was still there, a constant, strong, encouraging presence. One day, she made the comment that my character loved lilies. I asked when I told her that- and I never did. She knew me so well that she knew some of these details without having to be told, she knew how to stand by me in my tragedy, and she knew perfectly where my character fit in the beautiful world she’d created as a DM. She understood that these little details helped paint a larger picture, and that as small as they seemed on their own, they did matter.
She understands, in any world, that it’s all about heart and humanity (even if you’re an elf or an orc).
Even after my dad was released from the hospital (permanently disabled, but my God, alive), she reached out to me every single day for more than three years. I was always welcome at the table, always loved when I wasn’t available.
While this particular story is a couple years old, it is only one example of the ways that Squid embodies the perfect DM, at the table and away. Life never tends to slow down or stop throwing curveballs, and she is always on the field, ready to be a coach, mentor, and team player.
These days, Squid has miles and technology and schedules to battle and manage, and has never failed to bring the group together. She DM’s twice a week in live games and in an ongoing basis in a text based game. She cared about the characters that are brought to her world, and she cares about the players behind them. She does an incredible amount of research to make the world believable. Even if the rules of the world are her invention, she makes them believable. In any situation, she knows her players and what they need from a situation- both during the campaign and in their own lives.