July 18, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

View all posts by Veronica Morley →
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