A man is walking home late at night, as he wanders three young lads pass by him, he picks up a small segment of their conversation:
"So they barricaded the doors with tables and chairs, Craig tried to smash down the door but he wasn't strong enough, so I leaped through the window and got straight into fighting"
That man is probably wondering what event took place in which all that happened, unbeknownst to him that none of it ever actually happened.
I find it odd that I'm able to look back on fictional events with such glee, yet at the same time proud. I'm proud because I invented such situations such characters that stuck in my player's minds all these years ahead. Whether it was the sight of a huge blue tiger man leaping out of a fountain or the rush of charging up a vanishing stairs to fight the general above the war, or even just an illusionist mastermind who abused the rules at the time.
But what I'm also proud of is my players, they're a clever bunch so they are. I've never believed in railroading them, maybe guiding them or dropping pretty big hints (No that commoner just left town, and he somehow got to the top of the continent in a day "So let's teleport after him!" sigh...) but ultimately they're there to play their characters and have fun. To be fair I could have created some more mounted combat situations, maybe some more stealthy places, or even just a coherent reason why these people would be travelling together (Seriously, two arcane-haters and a mage?). Really it's the power to do technically whatever you want whenever you want that drew me to Dungeons and Dragons, the freedom it brings is overwhelming.
Take for example my current bunch, they chased an unimportant man over an entire continent, discovered and ancient artifact, defeated a living temple, bested an arcane tournament, saved a town from raging elementals, defeated a druid cult and discovered the origins of the universe, now how many of you can claim to do all that?
As the Dungeon Master though, you do have less freedom. You may be considered God, but you have to look after your followers well, so everything might be a bit in their favour (A few fudged rolls here, a lucky magic item there) because without them, you're nothing. I do have my fun though, partly in what my players bring to the game (I'm going to see if Baleful Transposition is said more times than Detect Evil was) but what I bring to the game.
Imagine an architect, he meets this family who want a house built, he gets on great with the family and loves all their little quirks so he wants to build them a good house, something worthy of them, that's a bit like what being a DM is like. Good players need a good world and that's where I squirm with delight. The humble village, the mysterious mist, the immeasurable pillar in the centre of the world, all these and more are the things I put most of my heart into. However, one cannot forget the NPCs, the little quest givers and item sellers. While players have to stick as one character, the DM can leap between many, and the more often the players meet that NPC, the more you become absorbed into the roll. Flanagan, my generic dwarven bartender was nothing more than a little comic relief, but he was visited so often, players having full conversations with him, that I fell in love with his little self, and enjoyed playing him every time he gets involved. Even bit characters play importance, everyone will remember Jim Fillius as the bumbling town guard, even if he rarely did anything, or Gulliver, the mysterious travelling salesman who is essentially just an excuse to sell magic items in places that normally wouldn't sell them. So you have your well crafted world and characters, but they still need life breathed into them, so you create festivals, funeral processions, government forms mystical ancient pacts, guardian forces and unknown factors of the world to make it all come to life.
Never skimp on the small details either, you'd be surprised what people hang onto. For instance, everyone will remember the tavern called "Flagon of Flanagan" or the more cringe-worthty "Winter's Wonderland" (The potion shop owned by Weld Winterstone, oh the Josh-level puns...). You want your players to sit down and not only feel like they're playing a game, but feel like they've entered a real and living world, assuming the role of their character, who should feel as real as the world around them. When you get emotional responses from you characters, you know you've done well. Some players remember the fear they felt as a colossal stone figure chased them through a forest, others remember the pride they felt as they used all their know-how to break out of prison (Only for it to hilariously fail moments after), while all of them, current players and old players, remember the burning anger they felt thanks to a Glissa Shadowsong, Good times.
Well! Now that was one hefty update, that probably rambled on incoherently in some parts but still!
Sitting here crafting worlds in his head, this has been Alex!