New GM Month 2020 (week 1 – Introductions)

[Editor’s Note: January 7, 2020 was the launch date of the New Gamemaster Month for 2020, which is intended to provide guidance to give a new/inexperienced GM the skills to run their own game. Participants can choose from four games by four different publishers and Trish Koning has agreed to come on board to take on Unknown Armies, by Atlas Games for us. You can read Trish’s entire series to date HERE. -dc]

I have been a nerd my whole life. It wasn’t until I turned 30 that I really began to realize how awesome that was. Growing up in a small town of 5000 people on the east coast I had limited opportunities to let my nerd flag fly. I grew up watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Samurai Pizza Cats, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Sailor Moon, and Gargoyles. Cheering on my older brother as he played Mario Bros. 3 on the NES was the highlight of Saturday mornings. True love was discovered when I received my coveted N64 in ‘99. I was lucky, however, and found my tribe early in life. I had true friends who committed to playing weekly Capture the Flag games with glow sticks in the local gravel pit, hosted themed movie marathon nights, discussed the finer points of Gundam armour and even continued to dress up for Halloween well into our university years (at least by that point in time we were giving back to the community by collecting food for the food bank rather than candy). Early signs of my cosplaying career? Maybe. 

In high school, my nerdiness was explored through writing short story fiction and screenplays. I dabbled in One Act festivals, although a career in acting was short-lived as the adjudicators always commented on how I couldn’t keep a straight face while on stage. I spent many lunch hours at school watching friends play Counterstrike while discussing current pop culture with an amazing mentor teacher. I attempted to play Dungeons and Dragons in grade 11 but struggled to allow myself to get immersed in the role-play possibilities. I was too socially anxious to really allow myself to play.  It would be 17 years later before I attempted another RPG game again. 

Fast Forward to a career in teaching, marriage, kids, thyroid cancer, divorce – I’m still that nerdy kid from Antigonish, Nova Scotia only now I have the confidence to not only let the nerd flag fly but also recruit others. 

I’m still learning the ins and outs of Dungeons and Dragons but I have been enjoying the campaign I have been a part of for the past year. What I love about DnD is the creativity that goes into everything – from your character’s backstory to problem-solving situations given to you by the Dungeon Master; the freedom is really wonderful. I also love challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone by interacting with the party members (I still struggle with keeping a straight face at times, which for a noble elf can be an issue). 

When I was approached with the opportunity to write about Unknown Armies I was really intrigued by the synapse: “a modern-day occult roleplaying game about broken people conspiring to fix the world.” As a social studies teacher, examining the purposes behind peoples’ actions is always fascinating to me. Studying human nature and all the good, the bad and the ugly that goes along with that within a role-playing world just seemed really exciting. It wasn’t until I downloaded the digital copy of the player book that I realized it is a bit more horror-based than I was anticipating. I’m no stranger to horror, however, it isn’t my favourite category to dive into. I’m not about to turn away from a challenge though and after reading the first paragraph by the creators I’m hooked on the storyline tone and concept. I can’t wait to explore this world and take you along for the adventure.  

You can sign up for Free Gamemaster Month at any time at and join the conversation on Facebook at

Unknown Armies is published Atlas Games, who can be found online at or on Facebook at

Born in Nova Scotia, this transplanted Blue Noser has called Alberta home since 2007. Trish Koning is a mother of two and when she isn’t wrangling her own kids, she works full time as a middle school humanities teacher. An avid nerd Trish enjoys all aspects of geek culture from Cosplay to Dungeons and Dragons. You can follow her adventures on Instagram at AtakCosplay.