Hoser
 member, 30 posts
Fri 3 Jan 2020
at 22:14
Pro GMs
Firstly, I want to make it clear that this post is not meant to be any sort of advertisement or solicitation for a money making enterprise.

I just read an article about profession GMs that stream on Twitch, organize in person and skype sessions, or otherwise monetize GM services (Bloomberg, The Rise of the Professional Dungeon Master).

One of our players floated the idea of getting a pro GM to host a play by post game. As we all know, play by post games are notoriously susceptible to sudden death on rpol.

I have found that running a game takes at least an hour a day to get some good posts out and keep things going.

Would you ever consider paying a GM for play by post?
If so, how much?
NowhereMan
 member, 341 posts
Fri 3 Jan 2020
at 22:19
Pro GMs
I did it once. Game was fairly slow, so we only paid something like $5/month. Worked out okay, and I'd do so again if I felt I couldn't get one otherwise.

I was a paid GM myself, years ago. Worked for a store rather than for a set group of players, but the end result was the same: running a game for strangers in exchange for money.
bigbadron
 moderator, 15835 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Fri 3 Jan 2020
at 22:39
Pro GMs
I wouldn't consider paying a GM for a play by post game.  Nor would I ever consider charging players to participate in a game I was running.

The reason for the latter is simple - some days I get home from work way too tired to post in any of my games.  If I knew players were paying money with the expectation that I would be posting on a consistent schedule, I would stop enjoying the game in short order.
Westwind
 member, 79 posts
 "[Sad] is happy for deep
 people" - Sally Sparrow
Fri 3 Jan 2020
at 22:48
Pro GMs
Two points:
  1. If I don't have time to GM now for fun, getting paid a nominal fee won't change that.
  2. I would have a hard time trusting a paid GM that I couldn't see face to face. Is the GM's motivation a fun game or a quick $30?


But you each make up your own minds.
donsr
 member, 1797 posts
Fri 3 Jan 2020
at 22:51
Pro GMs
yep..paying for a GM..or playign to pay won't happen for me , unless  it was  something Like Nowhere said.

 it would have to be  in a professional pl;ace   and  Face to face..and there would have to  be  checks and balances  as well as a decent  prize  at the end  of  a campaign.

 other then that?  I GM because I love my games  and my players...

 the games I play in a like a a lot , or feel some sort of  loyalty to stay.. so?.. I'll be amature for ever!
evileeyore
 member, 269 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Fri 3 Jan 2020
at 22:59
Pro GMs
As someone who was a professional GM repeatedly, I'd only pay for a GM in the same field I was employed in:  LARP.

Running a LARP is a lot of work, so I'd feel perfectly justified in paying/being paid for the experience.
nauthiz
 subscriber, 638 posts
Fri 3 Jan 2020
at 23:21
Pro GMs
I think, in that format, probably not.  I've been in PbP games that I have enjoyed enough that I would consider the entertainment value absolutely having an opportunity cost for the GM that I'd be willing to offset financially.

However PbP games require a lot more than just a GM.  I've been in enough that have gone poorly due to player attrition, the group just not jiving, etc that I would be reluctant to start out with the game as a service, at least at a monetary level that would likely be enough to both compensate a GM and, perhaps more importantly, ensure enough "buy in" from the players to keep them actively participating and working to help make the game a success.


I don't think the idea of paying a GM is a crazy one or anything.  I've technically done it each time I've played a game at a convention or the like, since I paid to get in and the GM likely benefited by getting to enjoy all the other aspects of the convention at either a discount or free of charge.
donsr
 member, 1798 posts
Fri 3 Jan 2020
at 23:50
Pro GMs
Nauthiz, that convention stuff  has checks and Balances

 there is a  little  Comicon  near me in Altoona .. a friend of my daughters  was playing  in a Hero Clicks   thing.. the  Prize  was a  Dr Manhatten the thing was like  2  foot tall.

anyway some kid from the low end of the age  scale tried to cheat on the 'clicks'.. the  GM maintained a record of it  and  called him on it.. the kid lost then. though my daughter's  friend  was on the 'upper end' of this  'age scale" game. it was only that the GM caught it.

 they had to buy in ( as a side bar, the kids DAd wouldn't let him enter  any more)

 the point is.. Gaming  can be   a fine line when it comes  to  the 'bad things' that happen. In my games I do the rolls off  board  and only have   the  players  roll if my roll was  very very bad..or if its  a 'turning point' so they can have  more  of a  hand in the game...

 if you were paid. you'd have to  have your guidelines there and have the players sign off...I like it better this way
facemaker329
 member, 7146 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Sat 4 Jan 2020
at 00:15
Pro GMs
Gaming is a leisure activity for me...in many cases, I play for the social interaction more than the gaming experience.  So I would never consider being paid to be a GM (it's far more trouble than it's worth for me).

And there's only a very limited number of situations where I'd consider paying a GM...and they all fit the same pattern.  If one of my old friends, who have been among my favorite GMs to ever play with, offered to come into town and run one of their games, but needed money to help make it happen, I would think about it.  But not for someone I didn't know and enjoy playing with.
EightBitEighties
 member, 51 posts
 A Blast From
 The Past!
Sat 4 Jan 2020
at 04:52
Pro GMs
Paying a GM for a play-by-post format? Absolutely not. It's just not worth the investment. I rely on PbP to cover the universes where there isn't a viable alternative for the stories I like, such as Shadowrun, BattleTech, and nWoD. Granted, SR and BT have video games, but they aren't video games that encapsulate what I want.

On the other hand, I do occasionally stream our TT games on Twitch and Discord and if people like what I do, they can throw some money my way via Patreon, but I don't do it BECAUSE of the money. We stream the games because we have a good time and we think it's something other people might like to watch and enjoy. Would I ever consider doing it exclusively for money? No. I do it for fun. I do it to hang with my friends and have a good time.
gmpax
 member, 1155 posts
 {insert witty quote here}
Sat 4 Jan 2020
at 07:02
Pro GMs
I've never paid to play, nor been paid to GM.  And I have no immediate plans to do either.

However, if I were to do such a thing for a Play-by-Post, with it's inherently (s)low(er) pace of play?  I think I'd just set up a Patreon, with a modest amount per month ($2 or $5), and then commit to an average per-week rate of posting.

"Average" is IMO the key.  If I say I'll average 5 IC posts per week ... one week of dipping to only 3 or 4 posts isn't an issue, because the week prior and/or after, maybe I was able to get eight of them.

EDIT TO ADD: also, any new game would have a one-month "trial period" for all involved.  If the game can't get going in that month, hey it didn't work, no harm no foul, and no money changes hands.  New joins to an existing game, would also get a one-month trial period, for the same reason. (Note, many real-time paid games give the first 1-2 sessions for free, for that same reason.)

This message was last edited by the user at 07:04, Sat 04 Jan.

Isida KepTukari
 member, 329 posts
 Elegant! Arrogant! Smart!
Sat 4 Jan 2020
at 15:48
Pro GMs
gmpax - That is an excellent idea!  Patreon's a clever notion for people wanting to do this sort of thing, as it gives everyone a little wiggle room (with an average posting rate agreed-upon) but also keeps everyone honest with the monthly rate.  I could see paying a modest amount for that service ('twere I in the market), and if I had need, I could see being a DM under such a system.  I think that seems viable for those looking for something of the sort.
Mad Mick
 member, 991 posts
 GURPS beyond measure,
 outlander
Sat 4 Jan 2020
at 18:34
Pro GMs
Id be curious to see what rates a GM for hire would consider reasonable. It would certainly beat working as a substitute teacher, but the pay would need to be competitive with other types of jobs to be worth it. A decent painter could work for hours on a piece and sell it for hundreds of dollars or more. A decent writer could sell a book themselves or to a publishing company. Id think a competent GMs work would be a of a similar nature to artists and writers but would need to be paid accordingly for their work.

Patreon is a nice idea. It wouldnt cover the cost of labor, but it would be a nice thank-you to the GM.

I think of mod-makers on platforms like the Nexus, which has a donation system. Most mod-makers receive very little in the way of donations, but some of them do okay on Patreon.
gmpax
 member, 1156 posts
 {insert witty quote here}
Sat 4 Jan 2020
at 19:20
Re: Pro GMs
Mad Mick:
Id be curious to see what rates a GM for hire would consider reasonable.

For real-time games - either face to face, or via a platform like Roll20, I've usually seen prices of $5 (per player) cited.  Sometimes higher, as much as $10/player, but those are much less common.

quote:
It would certainly beat working as a substitute teacher, but the pay would need to be competitive with other types of jobs to be worth it.

No, it's really not going to be enough to quite your day job, I shouldn't think.  It's a side hustle, at best.

Assuming you run a table of five players, for four hours, and totally ignoring prep time, that's still just $6.25/hour as a wage.  But, that prep time is still something you'll need to put in - you have to bring your A-game every week, to keep people paying that fee, after all - so in the end, it's more like $4/hour.

Even if you charged $10 per player, got six players in the game, and ran the same campaign concurrently (somehting published, like Descent into Avernus, so that you keep your prep time down to an average of 1 hour per table) ... you can hit $12/hour ($60 per table, divided by 4 hours of play and 1 hour of prep).  But even that would be pretty slim pickings as your primary income.

TL; DR: "pro" GMing isn't going to make anyone rich.

This message was lightly edited by the user at 19:37, Sat 04 Jan.

evileeyore
 member, 270 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Sat 4 Jan 2020
at 22:12
Re: Pro GMs
gmpax:
No, it's really not going to be enough to quit your day job, I shouldn't think.  It's a side hustle, at best.

When I was running VLARP out of a club 3 nights a week I made more in one night than I now make at my day job for 40 hours.

However, that was a particular and specific market, that no longer exists.  The city was starved for VLARP and willing to pony up to get into the night club.  I was paid $1 per head that signed into my LARP, I was getting 300+ people Tue and Thu, and 500+ on Sat, into a club that legally could only hold 100 people (almost everyone playing in the LARP went outside into the courtyard, parking lot, and neighboring empty lot to play).

So, very briefly back in the late 90's, I was making a minimum of $1k per week, cash under the table.  I quite literally one month before the market dried up (one of my assistant GMs opened a Camarilla chapter right after I decided being an alcoholic and running a game in a goth club was a bad combo).


That isn't to say you can't make some money running LARPs (or even maybe tabletop).  There are professional LARPs in Europe, but they are rather entirely different affairs than we are used to here (the closest we get is Burning Man and Wasteland Weekend), but I've known people who run NERO and make a good 'side hustle' (one of whom funded buying property and a decent portion of the house they built, the property purchase was for space to, you guessed it, run NERO).
Yaztromo
 supporter, 319 posts
Sun 5 Jan 2020
at 11:28
Re: Pro GMs
Of course I wish all the best to pro-GMs and would be pro-GMs, I can see a decent amount of interest in this profession, but personally I'm not really interested in it.
gmpax
 member, 1158 posts
 {insert witty quote here}
Sun 5 Jan 2020
at 17:48
Re: Pro GMs
evileeyore:
gmpax:
No, it's really not going to be enough to quit your day job, I shouldn't think.  It's a side hustle, at best.

When I was running VLARP out of a club 3 nights a week I made more in one night than I now make at my day job for 40 hours.

A LARP is inherently different, in that youhave a much, much, much higher player-to-GM ratio.

In a LARP, even with multiple GMs, it would not surprise me to see as many 20-30 players per GM, maybe even more.

In a tabletop game, anything past six starts to get unwieldy, and 20 is just completely unmanageable.

Your example, of having a total (across a weekend) of 1,100 players?  Picture if the money you collected was divided twenty-five or thirty ways.  ~$40 is nice, but you aren't going to live on it for a week.  :D

If you bring the prices up from $1/player to $5/player, yes, now you're at ~$200, but that's still awfully slim to try and live on ... assuming you didn't lose players due tot eh increase in price.
Mad Mick
 member, 997 posts
 GURPS beyond measure,
 outlander
Sun 5 Jan 2020
at 18:51
Re: Pro GMs
Ive been doing some reading recently on Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. Their style of TTRPG would probably be different than a lot of peoples here, but if anyone could have been suitable for pro-GMs, it would have been those guys, but I didnt come across a single instance of their charging money to be a GM (though I suppose they could have). For them, it was about contributing to the hobby, and if people bought their books, excellent, but even at the end of Gygaxs life, hed ask if people wanted to play and then DM for them.

That said, as a player Id love for RPOL to implement some kind of donation system for GMs akin to Nexus Mods donation system for GMs, even if its just paying for perks to be unlocked for GMs, though that will probably never happen and would have the potential for abuse/unfair treatment.
soulsight
 member, 296 posts
 Reality is 10% perception
 and 90% interpretation.
Mon 6 Jan 2020
at 03:27
Re: Pro GMs
Wouldn't it be more logical, on PBP at least, to pay a GM by the word? A five thousand word short story can sell for under five dollars (US), so let's just use that number. This means each word is worth a mill. If the GM logs his posts, counts the words and divides by one thousand, that could be the dollar charge.
Now while everyone racks their brain to figure out what an average week would cost, I'll plan my post on invoicing, billing, and sales tax.
gmpax
 member, 1160 posts
 {insert witty quote here}
Mon 6 Jan 2020
at 21:11
Re: Pro GMs
soulsight:
A five thousand word short story can sell for under five dollars (US),


I'm gonna stop you there, for just a moment.

That's the retail price, for a mass printed story.

To the best of my knwoledge, Freelance writers generally get paid a lot mroe than one mil per word.  Orders of magnitude more!

Here's a breakdown I found in one article, of writers by quality and typical per-word pay:

Tier 5 Typically non-native speakers. Typical rate: ~$0.07 per word

Tier 4 Either veteran writers who lack the talent to write better, or talented beginners. Typical rate: $0.10-0.20 per word

Tier 3 The very solid. These are the 75th percentile and above of freelance writers, and are usually the ones hired by companies to write full-time. Typical rate: $0.20-0.30 per word

Tier 2 Extremely solid writers who make a great living through their craft. Typical rate: $0.50 per word

Tier 1 The absolute best of the best of freelance writers. Frequently featured on websites like Forbes, Inc, WSJ, etc. Very picky with their engagements. Typical rate: $1.50 per word

Now, if we presuppose that a "Pro" GM willing to be paid by the word is most likely to be Tier 4, with a few pushing into Tier 3 ...?  Even dividing those rates up by, say, five players will produce a MUCH higher rate of pay than you suggest.

At $0.01/player/word (less than a Tier 5 writer could get writing fluff pieces for a news-aggregator website), writing 5,000 words would earn $50 per player, or $250 total.  This is what a publisher would pay if their rate was $0.05/word.

At $0.03/player/word (average for Tier 4 writing), writing 5,000 words would earn $150 per player, or $750 total.  This is what a publisher would pay if their rate was $0.15/word.

At $0.05/player/word (average for Tier 3 writing - and about as good as I'd ever expect for a PbP game), writing 5,000 words would earn $250 per player, or $1,250 total.  This is what a publisher would pay if their rate was $0.25/word.

...

Yes, perhaps YOU could buy the ability to read that 5,000-word article for only a fiver.  But the reason the publisher will sell access to you for so little, is because you are only one customer out of a hundred.  Not one player out of five.

...

And, the final string to my bow: who determines wordcount?  What constitutes "a word" for that count?

Consider the table below, which was just one small part of a single post I wrote as background material for an upcoming D&D 5E game (specifically, detailing "the coin of the Realm"):

CoinCommon NameMetalD&D ValueDragonsCrownsKnightsNoblesCommons
20 DragonsImperial DragonPlatinum20pp202004002,00020,000
5 DragonsGrand DragonPlatinum5pp5501005005,000
1 DragonDragonPlatinum1pp110201001,000
5 CrownsSovereignGold5gp1/251050500
21/2 CrownsHalf-SovereignGold2gp, 5sp1/421/2525250
1 CrownCrownGold1gp1/101210100
2 KnightsChampionElectrum1gp1/101210100
1/2 CrownHalf-Crown (Bastard)Gold1ep1/201/21550
1 KnightKnightElectrum1ep1/201/21550
2 NoblesDouble-NobleSilver2sp1/501/52/5220
1 NobleNobleSilver1sp1/1001/101/5110
1/2 NobleHalf-nobleSilver5cp1/2001/201/101/25
5 CommonShillingCopper5cp1/2001/201/101/25
2 CommonTuppenceCopper2cp1/5001/501/251/52
1 CommonCommon (Bit, Pence)Copper1cp1/10001/1001/501/101


Go on, hit the QUOTE button and take a look at just how much coding goes into a table like that.  Especially all the X/Y bits.

:)

And while you're at it, what would the wordcount-equivalent be for a map, like the one below - which, yes, I made myself (using software - the license for which, by the by, costs significantly more if you use it in a for-pay manner):

https://i.imgur.com/PDC1yu7.png ((EDIT: apparently direct image posting isn't allowed here, so, you'll have to follow the link to see the map.))

Those are just two snippets from a game I don't expect to last past 5th or maybe 6th level, if that long.  (I'm going to be running Into the Borderlands, specifically the updated module B2; the map is of the Pilgrim's Rest Inn, which the module only gives a rough size for, not an interior map like that.)

Now, I'm doing all of that work gratis.  So just think what I'd be putting together, if I actually expected to get paid for it?  :)

This message was last edited by the user at 21:24, Mon 06 Jan.

evileeyore
 member, 273 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Mon 6 Jan 2020
at 22:49
Re: Pro GMs
gmpax:
Go on, hit the QUOTE button and take a look at just how much coding goes into a table like that.  Especially all the X/Y bits.

You should look into using Open Office Calc to output all that "coding" so you don't have to hand code it.  I mean, you have set up the code once, but then you can generate further tables by building the table in Open Office and then exporting it.  If you expect to have to generate that sort of table more than say, once a year, it would cut that work load right down.


(Not parade raining, just pointing out, there may be easier options for you.  Especially if you can use 'easy tables' here to bypass all the <table></table> nonsense.)
gmpax
 member, 1162 posts
 {insert witty quote here}
Tue 7 Jan 2020
at 00:14
Re: Pro GMs
I'll look into that, evileeyore.  :)
praguepride
 member, 1530 posts
 "Hugs for the Hugs God!"
 - Warhammer Fluffy-K
Thu 9 Jan 2020
at 15:44
Re: Pro GMs
A friend of mine did paid GMing over online sites. I would never pay for a play-by-post due to the speed at which it moves.

I think he charged $5 a player a session (it as weekly so he made around $100-$200 a month but it definitely wasn't worth his time. He would spend about 5 hours in prep and 5 hours a week running it so he made equivalent of $5/hr give or take. Not terrible but not even minimum wage where we're at.

Instead he would use that money for either compensation for his time, or more often, he would dump it back into the game using it to offset license costs for things like Hero Lab or Photoshop or whatnot so he could up the quality of the game.
evileeyore
 member, 274 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Thu 9 Jan 2020
at 22:28
Re: Pro GMs
praguepride:
I would never pay for a play-by-post due to the speed at which it moves.

I've contemplated it simply because it would ensure a better posting rate.  A) The GM is getting paid, so they will post whatever rate they set in the contract, and @) the Players are forking out cash, so they're more likely to take the game and posting responsibilities seriously.

I've contemplated it.  But there are enough games going that I've yet to really think it was necessary.