June 20, 2024
The Crafty Dm

Meet the Crafty DM

By Chris Burson (Crafty DM)

Hi! My name is Chris Burson, also known as Crafty DM.

I am an avid Dungeons & Dragons fan and have been playing since 1977. I am a married, a retired mail carrier and a Marine veteran – happily living out in Turlock, California.

Since the pandemic, I have been actively making digital maps both for personal game use and professionally. I was recently hired to convert Troll Lord Games C series of Castles and Crusades and D&d5e adventure maps for use on the VTT platforms. Many of my map works are available through my Ko-Fi page for download and use in your own adventures.

Chris Burson, The Crafty Dm
The Crafty DM (aka Chris) and his wife live in sunny California.
Photos courtesy Chris Burson.

Hooked Early

I got into Dungeons and Dragons at around the age of 13 when a friend asked me to come over and give it a try. I had so much fun. I was hooked and have been playing ever since. I quickly became a Dungeon Master (DM) when my friend moved away and taught many of my friends to play. This quickly grew into other role-playing games and even wargames.

I played D&D almost constantly in high school – every chance I got. When my parents moved, I became one of the primary DMs and coordinators for a large group of kids and young adults. We played regular Dungeons & Dragons games along with others at Dania Hall in Livermore California almost every weekend during the summers and Sundays during most of the year.

After a short time attending junior college, I joined the Marine Corps and served my first two years on the aircraft carrier USS Midway, with the 5th fleet out of Yokosuka, Japan. I had no access to game materials and there was extensive time at sea. But I still found time to make and create my own role-playing games and play them during downtime with many of my fellow Marines and sailors. I met my wife in the Philippines during this time and brought my love for her and gaming back to the US, where I served out my term of service In Camp Lejune, North Carolina.

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Chris the Crafty DM served in the Marine Corp (where he did enjoy D&D during downtime).

After my time in the Marines, I returned to California now a father and eventually got a job working for the US Postal Service, I worked long hours but still managed to find some time to play RPGs and wargames. It was during this time I became adept at crafting terrain and painting miniatures. I even made and sold my terrain units at regional gaming conventions under the name Battlefield Props. 

For a several years life and work got too hectic to really play. So I watched many of my game books and miniatures gather dust in my garage. I would occasionally get some time to share the games with my two sons and my nieces or a couple friends My youngest son would break out my old D&D books and host games in my garage with his friends.

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Chris has a 3-year-old grandson named Fox.

Return to D&D – Crafty DM

As I neared retirement, I started making terrain again and started using the moniker “Crafty DM.” I picked up new 5th edition D&D books, looking to get back into the game. I was amazed both with the game and the new sort of “renaissance” that was spawning from it.

There were all sorts of creators – from You tube, Twitch, and the Internet – for a game I loved since I was 13. When I was young, there were times D&D and its fans had been ridiculed, mocked and made fun of. Now it was popular and accepted. So I started to run a weekend game with some of my coworkers and friends.

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It was the pandemic that “forced” Chris into learning how to make digital battle maps.

When the pandemic hit, I thought my gaming was going to end. But my friends and I started looking for options to play using Virtual Tabletop tools. After a crash course and a few YouTube videos, we had our games up and running. I also stumbled on a new love out of necessity – making digital maps under the name The Crafty DM (or simply CraftyDM). My friends were telling me they looked so good I should try and sell some, so I did. 

Crafty DM has plenty of map goodies available on his Ko-fi page.

Crafty DM – Community

This soon led to the one respite that came out of the pandemic for me – this wonderful Dungeons & Dragons gaming community. I soon found not only new passions in old things but a fantastic supportive community. I have met some wonderful people, including Chuck Cumbow of Troll Lord Games. There are simply too many positive and supportive people I have the pleasure of working with and meeting than I can mention here.

I love creating and helping others find their own adventures in role playing games and providing them with knowledge and the incentive, tools and, maps to run a good game.

The Crafty DM – Where to find his creations

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Veronica Morley

Veronica Morley recently graduated from Tufts University and majored in Computer Science with a minor in Literature. She currently resides in Palo Alto, California. She is a contributing writer and developer to the site AITrueReview.

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