member, 4290 posts
Thu 6 Oct 2011
at 23:23
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
Only problem with doing something for money - or worse, to make a living - is that it tends to suck the fun out of it. It's the same for anyone in creative professions - sure, you might enjoy it more than being an accountant or financial analyst (at the price of much, much lower income), but it'll never be as fun as doing it for free.

A free GM can muck around, take part in the game, and generally treat it as a social event. A paid GM has to make a lot of preparations (get your money's worth!), deal with the business side (accounting, marketing, insurance, etc), not to mention keeping everyone happy. Paid GMs aren't running a game - they're running a business.
 member, 71 posts
Thu 6 Oct 2011
at 23:46
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
Generally, there's only one time I'd agree on GM's getting paid at all: When they're at a convention or other place where they are providing a service.
And there should be a disconnection between the payment and the game (so, essentially, the GM should be paid for helping the con out with running  a game, and the players should, if they pay specifically for the game at all and it isn't just included in the ticket, pay for access to the event)

Besides, there's supply and demand:
In a convention, there might be 20 players and 5 GMs, so while that still gives 4 people a GM, if you refuse to pay for a certain plot, there might easily be another player or five wanting to play that plot because it's better than most of the offered ones.
In a normal situation, you might have a group of 5-7 friends who like tabletop RPGs, and if one person doesn't want to pay for your game it's now 4-6. You would have to get non-friends in on it, which is generally a bad idea when most players are friends x3 (It's one thing to get a group of strangers together and get to know each other while playing. It's another to get 3 friends and a GM together and then bringing in a stranger)

So, yeah... Getting paid for GM-ing is a bad idea in my eyes >:3
But, in a game where people spend different amount of time GMing (for example because they are the GM for entire games at a time, but do change it in between games) you could have a rule saying that the GM doesn't have to pay his share for food and drink, which would be more than enough payment :P
It'd help a small bit when it comes to getting the lazy ones to actually do a game every now and then :P And if they complain about the pizza cost, you could just go "then run a game :P"
Mad Mick
 member, 246 posts
 Keep Calm
 And Carry On
Fri 7 Oct 2011
at 04:36
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
I've often thought a GM ran a game so well that he or she deserved to get paid, or tipped, or something.  Like you guys say, paying for the grub or bringing the drinks works for tabletop play, but that doesn't exactly work for online play (hence, I often find myself saying something like, "Hey, if you're ever in town, I'll take you out for dinner!" - but that sounds all stalker creepy).

But I'd be afraid that paying the GM would send the message that I expected something extra out of the game, a ruling to go my way, cool loot, that kind of thing.  I buy albums, games, and books and go to shows, but a GM's creativity doesn't get the same monetary reward.  But swapping out by GMing for the group works.  Kind of work in kind - you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours.
 member, 98 posts
Sun 30 Apr 2017
at 01:22
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
I'm necroposting (Hope I don't get in trouble) but I've been researching Professional DMing for a while and this is a great article:
 member, 174 posts
Sun 30 Apr 2017
at 01:52
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
I remember stories told from my old group about crazy sized D&D games with, like, 15 people all playing at once, back at the store they used to have Magic tournaments at.

My thoughts on that were, "Man, for a game that big, it'd have to cost money." Then one of my friends tried to convince me to do just that. No way, not with 15 people, that's for sure! LOL

We had games that size and larger at the Sentry Box.

To make it truly feasible for a GM to make a living, you'd be having to charge at least $7.50 per hour per player with a minimum of a four hour game. Combine that with five games a week. Each game could potentially go longer and with probably two hours per game of prep time. With each game having at least five players.
 member, 99 posts
Sun 30 Apr 2017
at 02:21
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
In reply to Shaman (msg # 47):

Good math. Ideally I would love to run a site for play by post and use a top notch mapping system.

I don't think I would even want to run an in person game again. If everyone was close it would be cool to run in person occasionally to supplement the online.

Anyway. This is a pipe dream of mine but it's epic some people are doing it for real.
 member, 71 posts
Sun 30 Apr 2017
at 02:37
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
The way I look at it, we already have people who make a living doing things like:

1. Opening boxes on Youtube
2. Answering other people's emails
3. Playing video games
4. Arranging furniture and clutter in otherwise empty houses

I could go on, but there's a lot of "jobs" doing stuff that really has no inherent value in a "producing physical goods" or "providing a service necessary for life" sense.  I think since human labor has so man different outputs and technology increases the output of human beings, you'll just see more and more of this kind of thing over time.

So this could be a thing some day.

TL;DR: as more and more stuff is automated in the economy, economically what's happening is more and more previously frivolous uses of human labor became viable.
 member, 127 posts
Sun 30 Apr 2017
at 03:04
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
I used to GM semi-professionally. I was employed by a gaming store to run a game of whatever tabletop RPG was currently the popular in-print one (3.5, 4e, Star Wars Saga, and Pathfinder, over the years). I wasn't paid by the individual players, though.

I also payed a GM once or twice to run games that no one in our group wanted to run. Payment wasn't a lot, especially when split across all members of our group (7-ish at the time), but the game was enjoyable enough for everyone.

Overall, yeah, I'd do it again on either side. I'd take that job again, assuming it would pay well enough to be worth it, and I'd certainly pay a GM to run a game no one in my group wanted to run, but everyone wanted to play. A few bucks here and there to make sure that no one in my group was unhappy with their role in a game is super okay with me.
 member, 100 posts
Sun 30 Apr 2017
at 03:34
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
In reply to drewalt (msg # 49):

Very good point! :D

In reply to NowhereMan (msg # 50):

That's cool man. I think RPOL would ban something like this (unless it was advertised as off-site) and it seems very few games go un-started. However, it seems MOST games go unfinished.

I've been on the site maybe 2 months and I've already seen like 6 games fail I was invested in.

One thing I would love about being paid to DM is the likelihood the players would prioritize that game and stick around. But maybe not.

This is another reason I wish RPOL was an APP (easier notifications & update as well as exposure to new "markets"), or that Jase would accept money to pay outside developers to help leap the site forward. Hell, he could even do Kickstarter campaigns (or similar) to raise funds to develop certain features. Anyway, off topic. Sorry.

I love the idea of a paid membership site to do Play by Post. Maybe someday I'll tackle that. :D Or more likely, I'll just dream about it while working... :-)

This message was last edited by the user at 03:35, Sun 30 Apr 2017.

 member, 529 posts
Sun 30 Apr 2017
at 03:57
Paying a GM-DM?
I personally feel that it would be tacky of me to charge money to run a roleplaying game, in most circumstances at least.

I think that if you are going to run something online, and you want to charge money, you should work at becoming a Twitch/YouTube personality and stream the games.  The audience can pay, while your players and yourself provide the entertainment.

I think maaaybe in a situation where they want a specific game run a specific way, I would be okay with charging a nominal fee.  Simply because the input I have into how things are setup and run is much less than I would have in a game of my own choosing.

If it's a charity event of some kind, then I'm okay with players (and GMs) being charged a nominal fee.

Anything else, I would feel poorly about asking for money.
 member, 128 posts
Sun 30 Apr 2017
at 04:12
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
In reply to byzantinex (msg # 51):

Oh, there's no doubt that a paid game would be banned from RPoL. It was mentioned specifically in this thread already.
 member, 101 posts
Sun 30 Apr 2017
at 04:16
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
In reply to NowhereMan (msg # 53):

Didn't read the whole thing :D

Anyway, I've got my own forum setup for some other games already anyway. No biggie.

I'll just keep dreaming... :D
 moderator, 15348 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Sun 30 Apr 2017
at 04:43
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
In reply to byzantinex (msg # 51):

That's cool man. I think RPOL would ban something like this (unless it was advertised as off-site) and it seems very few games go un-started. However, it seems MOST games go unfinished.

Offsite Gaming rules:
6. Only free sites/games may be advertised on RPoL. If there is any fee involved, even after a trial period, the game may not be advertised in this forum.

So even if somebody were running a game elsewhere, they could not advertise it on RPoL.
 member, 102 posts
Sun 30 Apr 2017
at 04:53
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
In reply to bigbadron (msg # 55):

Also good info :-) Thanks

Anyway. Cool pipe dream.
 member, 1388 posts
Mon 1 May 2017
at 03:02
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
This pops up on several Facebook groups I frequent, and the universal truth is this:

If you're not offering something that's much better than what the players can already get for free, then you really shouldn't be trying to make a business* out of it.  Find or create a need that's not being met and then meet it.

* I consider this different from asking for compensation for the module, minor transportation costs, materials costs, or similar expenses.  That's reasonable and fair (if agreed to ahead of time), though probably not more than a few bucks.
 member, 133 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Mon 1 May 2017
at 04:55
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
In reply to swordchucks (msg # 57):

I have from time to time bought modules for GMs to run as a way of giving back.  When a GM asks for money for the purchase of tangible assets, ownership of the assets sooner or later becomes a topic of discussion if it is not made clear at the outset.

I also have no problem with helping supply refreshments and snacks for a game session.  If we decide to order in for pizza or Chinese food, I do my part there, too.

I'm with most everyone else who says, in effect, that a pay-for-play game needs to meet a higher standard, for the reasons already explored.
 member, 1418 posts
 I should really stay out
 of this, I know...but...
Mon 1 May 2017
at 05:00
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
That's the problem.  It's not that what GMs do isn't, at the heart of it, totally worth being paid for.  There can be a lot of real work to it, and I know I get more entertainment value out of, say, my GM's here (hi, guys!) than I do from any number of other things that I pay for without blinking - say, going to the movies, or from video games.

...But as long as I have this nice stable of people willing to do it for free, and who, frankly, do indeed do it very well... then, um, they totally have my deep appreciation.  And I do try to contribute to the community by doing a bit of GMing myself.  And... er, I hope your day job is going well.

(Now, would I trade my firstborn son for a solid game of TORG?  ...Well, he's a teenager, so I might be gaming the system a little there.  I mean, no!  No, I absolutely would not.  The very thought!  ..Unless maybe if I could run two-- no!  Never!)
 member, 2119 posts
Mon 1 May 2017
at 19:03
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
In reply to Utsukushi (msg # 59):

Since he's a teenager, depends what day we ask you?  LOL  Of course on those days, he's not going to be worth much to anyone else either.
 member, 1168 posts
 "Hugs for the Hugs God!"
 - Warhammer Fluffy-K
Tue 16 May 2017
at 17:34
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
My friends and I have debated about this. My two friends who are awesome GMs want to run games for money and we kind of do that with one-shots that we make for conferences but the problem, in my opinion, is that the real value of RPGing is hanging out with friends and once money starts changing hands it changes things...

Would you consider someone your friend if you paid for it?

I would perfectly be willing to pony up for a one-shot like if Wil Wheaton did a charity thing or what not but it's really more like "I'm paying money to hang out with a celebrity for charity, this is the activity that we will do". I have also joked with friends about hiring escorts or strippers and plunking them down into a Pathfinder game :P

BUT the bottom line is that while I'm perfectly willing to fund books, dice, snacks...those are things I would do for friends anyway but to pay them to be in my presence just sours the whole underlying concept, in my mind.
 member, 26 posts
Wed 17 May 2017
at 04:01
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
BUT the bottom line is that while I'm perfectly willing to fund books, dice, snacks...those are things I would do for friends anyway but to pay them to be in my presence just sours the whole underlying concept, in my mind.

This is a very salient point.  Money can change relationship dynamics.  It doesn't have to but it can and often does.  That's especially true when you consider that there's plenty of fun to be found in the hobby - we wouldn't do it if there weren't - but everyone can have an off night.  Sometimes sessions just... kind of suck.

And sucky sessions are generally just shrugged off as a part of the whole RP thing, because sometimes everyone's off their game.  But if you're paying someone to entertain you, then your expectations are likely to shift pretty dramatically in regards to what you get out of every session you pay for.  You go from messing around with friends of an evening, to actively paying for a service that, presumably, you expect to receive.

If the act of dishing out money to your GM damages the spirit of the game then I can see how it might be a disincentive.

However, NowhereMan makes a good point:
I also payed a GM once or twice to run games that no one in our group wanted to run. Payment wasn't a lot, especially when split across all members of our group (7-ish at the time), but the game was enjoyable enough for everyone.

I can see a lot of benefit coming from this.  I can't count the times that members of my old troupe would say they wanted to play this, or try out that, but nobody was actually willing to run the game.  Someone (usually me) would get talked into doing it and would almost invariably find that when we were badgered into running games we, as the GMs, wouldn't enjoy it that much.  And when your GM doesn't enjoy the game they're running it probably won't be running for very long.

So what about a mid-way point, a compromised incentive?  Rather than offering money, offer to pay for their meal.  'If you run this game we'll pony up and pay for your lunch,' or whatever.  Most people would do that for a friend anyway, if someone was short on cash, so it's less of a social pressure, but still reimburses your GM for their time and consideration in doing the job that you, the players, don't want to do.

As people get older and move apart, as well, travel distance becomes an issue.  My old troupe now live scattered anywhere from an hour and a half to two and a half hours' travel from me, so joining in with them is no longer a reliable option I can pursue.  Which is sad, but oh well.  That's life.  In circumstances where a GM has spent a significant amount of money on travelling to the group, whether they're running a game that nobody else wants to or not, I think it's reasonable in most circumstances for the group to put money toward their travel costs.
 member, 181 posts
Thu 18 May 2017
at 01:48
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
I have never paid a GM, but I would be open to it if I felt it was worth it. The way I see it, I pay to read books, I pay to watch movies, I pay for other forms of art and entertainment. Why wouldn't I pay a GM for the work they do if I felt it was worth the deal?

If I did pay a GM, obviously I wouldn't have a same relationship with him/her as I would with close friends that I game with at no cost (outside of pizza or whatever). It would definitely differ from what I'm used to, but I don't necessarily think it would be better or worse because of that alone. It would depend on the totality of the circumstances for me.

I read an article written by a professional GM once. He explained how and why his business worked and I feel he made a pretty good case for it. Wish I could find it now.

All that said, while I don't think I'm a bad GM, I don't think I'm quite good enough to feel comfortable asking someone to pay me.
 member, 81 posts
Sun 28 May 2017
at 15:08
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
Oh wow - I've never even thought of this but I would LOVE to be paid to GM! There are two sides to this: first, its great for the GM (obviously). Secondly, it means the players have literally invested in the game, so they are going to want to get their money's worth. That should lead to a slightly different relationship between players and GM than usual, and I suspect it's one that I would love.

Can't believe this never occurred to me before.
 member, 147 posts
 The horn that wakes
 the sleepers
Wed 31 May 2017
at 19:54
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
As a player, I'd most certainly consider the services of a professional GM for a one time thing. Like a RPG themed birthday party, where I could invite a few guests and we could all have fun without any of my guests needing to take on the work of being the GM.

But other than that, I probably derive the most value from an RPG of spending time with friends and crafting a story for them or having one crafted for me as a shared experience. Having a third party doing it for me would diminish part of the appeal for me for some reason.

That said, I would definitely pay for the chance to play at Matt Mercer's table.
 member, 147 posts
Wed 31 May 2017
at 19:54
Re: Paying a GM-DM?

This message was deleted by a moderator, as it was a double post, at 20:27, Wed 31 May 2017.

 member, 1137 posts
Tue 13 Jun 2017
at 00:07
Re: Paying a GM-DM?
My experience leads me to believe that one's enjoyment has two sources, the game, and the social gathering. The social gathering enjoyment woukd be there regardless of what is played. Could be chess even.

But I find that the enjoyment of the game comes primarily from the GM. I've had GMs that I'm thankful were nit my first, because if they had been, I would never have played a second session, ever.

I have had very few GMs that can run the game so well, that the enjoyment of the game actually surpases the enjoyment of simply spending time with friends. Those are GMs that I'd go be a player for even I didn't know the other players, heck, I'd go play their games even the other players were people I despised.

Such GMs make it seem like the difference between playing tag football in the schoolyard vs playing professionally. That difference is something I'd definitely find worth paying for.

Finding a GM up to snuff however, is a difficult task.

I myself, aim to be such a GM. I literally study playstyles and GM advice to become better, and not just casually.

Of course, knowing and implementing are two vastly different things.