Jeremi Finn – Mega Nerd and Dungeons and Dummies DM
August 1, 2022
Jeremi Finn is a mega nerd. He also sits behind the screen for the pretty-darn-smart D&D YouTube series Dungeons and Dummies. His level of nerdness is epic. We hope his story inspires you to celebrate your inner nerd.
Finn, 45, lives in Kaufman, Texas. He and his wife have been married for 17 years and have a daughter who is just beginning to play D&D. He teaches high school engineering, although he did start out in English Language Arts. He combines both of those worlds by drawing on his ELA knowledge (and love) with his passion for building stuff. To date, his building projects include:
Outdoor “druid circle” to accommodate social distancing during the height of the pandemic
“Bud Hole” (aka gaming room) in a converted room in his attic
Gaming Table/Virtual Tabletop
Hundreds of hand-cast terrain pieces
Drawers for his (massive) miniature collection
A one-of-a-kind Orrery of the Planes
Born to be a Nerd
From the day of his birth on May 25, 1977, he was destined for nerd-dom. For those who do not know what that date represents, it was the day Star Wars: A New Hopewas released. He is a huge SW fan.
Finn officially started playing D&D in the late-1980s. But he actually “discovered” the whole idea of strategy RPGs years before.
“In elementary school, my friends and I made up a game. We made two identical maps on graph paper, but the “map keeper,” had marked secret traps, and the goal was to get from one side of the map to the other. I showed it to my parents, and they said ‘that looks like Dungeons & Dragons. You should play.’”
– Jeremi Finn
But Finn said he didn’t take to the game right way. He read a lot of the books in middle school, and by the time he got to high school as a freshman he was confident enough to serve as DM for a small group of friends.
“I was a terrible DM. I railroaded them all over the place. If you didn’t do what it said in the module that the players should do, I made sure you did it!“
– Jeremi Finn
Dungeon Master – Dungeons and Dummies DM
Finn’s railroading problem is a thing of the past. And his players say he is a delight to play with.
“Jeremi is fantastic at doing voices and really making the players feel invested in the game. I’ve also played with him. As a player, he makes me feel all our time playing is valued and that he respects it enough to put in the effort.“
– Chris, one of Finn’s Dungeons and Dummies players
The Dummies’ DM
Jeremi Finn serves as DM for the YouTube actual play channel called Dungeons and Dummies. They play every Wednesday at 6 pm PST/9 pm EDT.
Finn has served as Dungeons & Dummies’ DM for over a year now. It is a weekly, actual play D&D YouTube channel and has a cast of five. Its tagline is: a show that rolls a natural 20 on planning and a critical fail on execution – every single time.
DM Advice – Give Them What They Want
Over the years, Finn has learned a lot about the art of Dungeon Mastering. He has some advice.
“The role of the DM is to be flexible, to figure out what your players want and then give it to them. You have to adapt. It is going to be different for every group and every person. Some players are really into strategy, so you are going to do a lot of combat. Others are more into role play, so you end up doing a lot of theater of the mind.”
– Jeremi Finn
He stresses that DMs can, and should, adjust whatever module or scenario they are using to accommodate what the players want. For example, if your players like roleplay and dinosaurs, there is no reason you can’t run Tomb of Annihilation. He is currently running Lost Mines of Phandelver with a good friend of his for his daughter and some of her friends.
“You can choose what elements to bring forward – combat, exploration or role play. Just keep in mind that, if whatever you are doing doesn’t contribute to the overall story arch, it really doesn’t belong.“
– Jeremi Finn
Finn does have his preferences. He thinks combat is boring. It takes too long. That might seem a little strange coming from the man who has so much combat-friendly stuff (miniatures, terrain and a huge gaming table/VTT). But that is exactly the point. Finn, may not like combat, but many of his players do. So he gives it to them.
ELA and Engineering – A Great Combo
Finn is a serious J.R.R. Tolkien fan. He has studied The Silmarillion at length, with a copy of the Atlas of Middle Earth in hand at all times. He is adamant that The Silmarillion‘s creation story is “the most beautiful creation story ever written.”
English Language Arts (ELA) has always been one of Jeremi’s great loves. He taught elementary and high school ELA for 15 years, before being seduced over to the engineering department. Finn is one of those special breeds – just as comfortable with a 3D printer as he is with the Lord of the Rings. Which makes for serious fun whenever people gather at his rural home in Texas.
Finn’s Mega Nerd “Stuff”
The rest of this article can basically write itself, as a picture is supposedly worth a thousand words. To be honest, it is hard to adequate describe some of the cool stuff Jeremi Finn has either built or “created.”
The Druid Circle
When COVID-19 hit in early 2020, Finn’s in-person D&D players refused to stop. However, all being wise, scientifically-minded people, they were committed to following all the social distancing guidelines. So they decided to play outside, around Finn’s fire pit.
They put a post in the middle of the pit and drew a big circle. Everything was marked off with buried bricks, to make sure they were six feet apart. Everyone had a little table, and they hung a huge projector screen for the maps. They dubbed this gathering space the ‘Druid Circle.’ It is shown in the photo above. It was a highly memorable time!
“That winter it was freezing cold and we all “huddled” together while staying apart. That summer was burning hot, and we all had to wrap wet towels around our necks. It was as wild as it was uncomfortable. But many of us still regard that as our favorite time of doing D&D together.“
– Jeremi Finn
The Bud Hole
Finn has a Bud Hole in his attic. It’s like a “man-cave” but for nerds of any kind. He built a huge gaming table for it. Sometimes, they use miniatures for their games. Other times, they use the digital tabletop that Finn built into a frame, that sits on top of the table. All-in-all, it’s awesome.
The room also provides space for a huge, customized cabinet that stores all of Finn’s miniatures. He has a lot. He both makes miniatures with a 3D printer and buys them. He buys a lot but is able to pay for his purchases by getting cases of WizKids miniatures, keeping what he wants and re-selling what he doesn’t on his website. As of this writing, he estimates he has upwards of 2,000 unique miniatures waiting to hit the table.
Finn has been making terrain pieces for his games for around 20 years. He started with Hirst Arts molds. He used dental plaster, as it allowed for high details in his creations. Finn doesn’t do a lot of casting since he got his 3D printer, but he still has plenty of pieces to play with.
“Nerdy” Gurdy, Orrery and More
It would be virtually impossible to list all the cool nerd stuff Finn has created over the years. He’s been at it for a long time. The list does include an Orrery of the Planes (the gold thing) and a “Nerdy” Gurdy. Each piece Finn creates for his nerd pleasures show an attention to detail and a love of adventure.
Jeremi Finn is a seriously talented nerd. He is shown here with a hurdy gurdy he built after hearing a friend talk about seeing the “nerdy” gurdy. He found a link online, borrowed a laser cutter and cranked it out. As a high-school engineering teacher, he knows about building stuff.
Orrery of the Planes
Finn said the D&D world of the Forgotten Realms is his “first love,” but the Planescape campaign setting is his ”soul mate.” An orrery is a mechanical model of a solar system. After seeing some pictures of real-world orreries online, Finn thought it would be cool to have one for the Planescape setting. When he couldn’t find anything online, he started designing his own. After hours of CAD-work, 3D printing, and laser-cutting and assembling, Finn is now the proud owner of a one-of-a-kind Orrery of the Planes.
”When you want something that doesn’t exist, you just have to make it yourself! Isn’t that the spirit of D&D anyway?”
Finn’s Orrery of the Planes is unique, just like him. If you know any one-of-kind nerds, we want to hear about them.
This article’s author, Carla Bumstead, is relatively new to the world of nerds. But she greatly enjoys highlighting those who have seriously dedicated themselves to their nerdly desires. If you know a nerd with a cool collection, or a cool story, let her know. Send an email to email@example.com. And if you have an opinion on this, or any story, please leave a comment. Carla loves comments.