So I’ve come across some people online who are Game Masters for hire. As in they charge money for sessions with them.
And I wanted to ask what the general opinion on this is. Just get a discussion about the topic going. What do you think, are pros and cons of a paid GM and would you pay for a GM who really knows what he’s doing?
Personally, I’m actually in favor of this being a thing. I’ve been GMing D&D 5e for 3 years now and played in quite a few campaigns. I even got to master a few one shots at Vienna Comic Con last weekend. And I think, GMs who really put effort into it actually deserve to be able to make a living with it. I’m seeing it as an art form that takes effort and a lot of effort and experience to master.
Also, if there’s anyone doing this already, especially in Austria, I’d be interested in your experience so far!
I understand the arguments in favor of paid GMs but I personaly disagree. I would argue that it makes a step in the wrong direction in that it excludes the DM from the friends group and it means that the DM is not there to have fun himself. I fear that this will create wrong relationships in the relationships between players and DMs.
To simplify…I beliebe the DM should be a friend and player, not an employee.
At something like an AL I have seen it done in a format that allows a DM to ofset some of the costs of minis and adventures. Specifically hosted at a game store. People pay the store $3 for the evening and the store gives credit to the GM for each player at the table. it works out around $20 in store credit for the GM which is enough for a couple of packs of minis etc. Basically enough that each time the GM can expand their resources and have better and cooler stuff for their players.
Not a bad thing I would say. I mean, we have the temptation in our own group of giving the DM some money sometimes. The guy is a beast, spends so much time on prep work, props, maps ecc… He has lots of fun doing it, and that is what’s most important. But I would totally understand if one felt like combining business and pleasure.
I’m with @SlyMaster with this one.
The issue with “DM for hire” that it probably won’t be fun for the DM anymore and probably neither for the party after a while. The DM might be forced to play with such people, who do not fit to the DM’s style - or the opposite will happen, which could easily ruin the fun factor. Even worse, what if the player’s have some formal complaints about it? “I didn’t imaged the game like this…”
On the other hand, I agree with you guys, if your DM made up a great game for you and all of you had a great time, feel free to reward the DM for that (which can be anything from a “thanks!” to a financial support). But don’t make them feel preparation/running like a duty which is linked to financial motivation, but the goal of ANY game should be to have fun - for both the party and the DM (where, as an additional bonus, some participant might also reward the DM for that).
there is nothing wrong with GMs for hire, but i personally wouldn’t go for it
as a GM/DM i don’t mind if people want to help with supplies or pay for a drink or something, i mean we did ask for donations for AL/VALUE and got a lot of supplies that way
i certainly want to have fun when dming and not feel forced towards anything because i’m being paid for it, but on the other hand even for a game with a group of friends you should clear at the start what type of campaign everybody is expecting or looking forward to
I don’t think concept of “GM for hire” is the right way to go. A roleplaying group should (at least in my opinion) consist of friends. Friends who want to have a good time together while playing games. If money is involved, this could sour the whole experience.
What if the GM has to cancel the game at the last moment because of some personal trouble? You paid for an evening of entertainment and now you got nothing. This could lead to some weird situations between group and GM. What if your character is killed in a very cool way that you just don’t like? What if you think it’s high time that you finally get your Holy Avenger, but your GM won’t give you one? So many things could go wrong. And situations like this can be difficult to resolve even without an awkward employer/employee relationship thrown into the mix. What if the GM depends on the money he/she earns with the “GM job” and therefore has to put up with the crazy demands of his/her group? This could turn one of the best hobbies into something very bad.
Of course, this does not mean that the GM shouldn’t be compensated for all the extra work he/she has to invest into the game. If the GM has to buy the rulebooks/adventures, brings awesome maps and minis or invests money in props or other stuff, then the group should talk about splitting those expenses. But even GMs who “just” provide an awesome plot and play experience at the table should not be left out in the cold. Bringing chips and beer or paying for the pizza every now and then goes a long way. As long as the GM feels appreciated, he/she will probably be glad to keep up the good work.
For me, the GM is not there to entertain the group. The GM is part of the group and therefore deserves to enjoy the game as well. If the GM is not entertained by the game he/she runs, it might be time to talk to and/or leave the group.
If you really want to earn money with your awesome GMing, then the entertainment you’re selling should not be directed towards the players at your table, but to an audience. Maybe create a podcast, Youtube channel or twitch stream. This way you and your friends can have an enjoyable game. And if your viewers/listeners like the game you play, you can ask them for donations or something.
Though I think it’s important that a GM for hire in my opinion wouldn’t be doing it anymore for their own entertainment. They would do it for the profit and therefore for their customers, in this case the players. That makes things a lot different I think, so many of your arguments, like “it takes away the GM’s fun” seem a bit out of place for me. Once you decide to charge people for what you’re doing, you kinda promise a certain quality of what you’re offering. And the others pay for that, not for your own fun. Bit just with any other field of work, having fun doing it is probably not unheard of.
Also, I think that hobby GMing and “professional” GMing should be differentiated. A hobby GM should be part of the group at the table. In a way, they are players just as much as the others are. A GM for hire though would be a Freelancer offering an entertainment service for the players, which they would be paying for. That means, they are service providers and entertainers, not players. If the GM is fine with that premise and still finds fun and fulfillment in that, I’d definitely say “go for it”.
And I feel like people fear that this is aiming to replace hobby GMs who do it for their own fun only. But I think that couldn’t be further form the truth. Just like there are hobby musicians, football players, gamers, you name it! The service a GM for hire would be offering is more directed at the players and their fun, which I think, in itself goes a long way in making it fun for the GM themselves.
So I’d say, the money in this would be nothing more than an insurance that things are gonna be entertaining for the players. And like with any other freelancing job, you don’t have to accept all customers! If there are players that the GM feels not comfortable mastering a game for, they are in their rights to just not accept the job, I’d say.
I agree that there are more factors within this - that hobby and professional GMs can both exist and that there is a difference between paying a GM for their time amd helping defray the cost of materials.
I think the tent is big enough to hold all these models, For me, a paid GM is like a attending a one-shot at a con, why not? Personally I prefer the group of friends model as that is what I’ve always done. I would not expect to be paid to GM, I do it because thats my hobby.
As long as everyone, GM and players is getting what they want at the table, great.
I personally think the concept of a paid DM is intersting, but might comes with some problems.
First of all I wouldn’t book a DM for a longer adventure, maybe one time for a Oneshot or so and i think a lot of the players here will share that opinion.
That doesn’t mean that i don’t wanna give my DMs something back for their prep work, just not with a paycheck.
But i can really imagine Companies paying for DMs as part of a teambuilding event.
In all the things I’ve read about payed GMs I’ver never read about them charging their friends. That would indeed be weird. I don’t see why one couldn’t GM for friends, while still selling their services as GM to others. Creating content for money is also very different from selling a service. Many people are good one one of those but bad at the other.
To me payed GMing is the difference between starting a band with friends (Hobby DM) and paying session musicians to jam with you (payed GM).Paying your friends to jam with you/dm for you is a terrible idea which would likely end in awkwardness similar to things you mentioned.
Hobby GMs being compensated for their costs is also great and something tables should strive for. But from what I’ve read in interviews and otherwise that’s not really what most payed GMs are about. It’s really about them being able to get income for a job they enjoy instead of whatever job they would otherwise have.
No matter how much my players appreciate me or how often they pay for my pizza. It would still never allow me to quit my job and DM for them instead. But someone who charges players could do that and I think that’s great.
It turns DnD into a job/business with all the good and bad that comes with it. Personally I think people being able to turn their hobby into their job is amazing.
It’s not for me. And I also can’t see myself paying a GM anytime soon. But I think it’s great that it’s a thing.
I didn’t say that payed GMs charge their friends. Mainly because payed GMs are not friends with their groups. And you are correct, directly selling your time and effort to your customers (= players) is different than creating content on a bigger scale for a larger audience to enjoy. I just think that the latter could be easier and more fulfilling.
I also think your comparison between payed GMs and session musicians is flawed. I’ve read this comparison before and it somewhat implies that payed GMs are more professional and their GMing is of higher quality. And I think very often it’s exactly the other way around. (Or at least it can be). Someone who’s job it is to GM can never provide the same awesome experience as a really passionate “hobby” GM can for their close friends. These “hobby” GMs will put much more time, love and effort into their campaign, way more than a hired GM who’s on the clock could do.
People who can turn their hobby into a job are very lucky. But they must be careful, because otherwise they might lose what they love, and their new job turns into a slog. I think if you are looking for a steady, fulltime job with an acceptable income, selling your GM skills will be difficult. But if someone can pull it off and has fun while they do, that’s great.
I see nothing wrong with hiring someone for entertainment.
Will it be different than having a friend do it? Sure, but that can be said about any profession in life. With a friend as a mechanic your car will be better serviced. A friend that does your wedding ceremony will be more memorable. etc.
I was hired by a store to DM at a convention. I got payed by it, the visitors payed an entry fee. We all enjoyed the game.
Not all people who have interest in PnP have also the time commitment to prepare an adventure. Life get’s busier the older you get, so if someone would prepare an adventure (maybe an official one as well) for a reasonable price: that’s a good deal!
TLdr: If you have the luxury of a friend doing it:GREAT!
If not, here’s a great service.