5 Reasons to Be a Dungeon Master (or other GM)

Long story short, DMs are in short supply–but you can help change that.


People like lists, and last week I talked about some things a DM needs to ask when getting ready to run an adventure. Really, though, that’s putting the cart before the horse. If you’re at the stage that you’re actually doing prep work for it, the hard part of convincing you to be a DM is already past. Now, I’ve always had a bit of a creative streak, so it made sense that I would eventually turn to DMing anyway, but back when I started playing D&D it was me and one other guy switching off responsibilities for it. I really appreciated that, but other than a Star Wars group that ran for a couple of months I’ve never been in anything really long-term since then. Long story short, DMs are in short supply–but you can help change that. Hopefully by the end of this post you’ll be more convinced of the value of running things yourself and want to give it a go.

Reasons to be a Dungeon Master yourself:

1. You get to have cool characters.

You know all of those character ideas you have bouncing around? You can use them here. Have you ever wanted to see a Dwarf Sorcerer in action? Cool, now he’s an NPC (non-player character) in your game. Elf Warlock? Sure. Tiefling Barbarian? Absolutely. If you’re someone who likes to play a lot of different characters, this is a way to do that more quickly.

2. You get to have cool monsters.

Not only can you use all those character ideas you had, but you also aren’t bound to creatures that would normally be suitable as a PC (basically, Medium or Small humanoids). A giant jumping land-shark? You can see what that will do. Like the idea of a relentlessly regenerating adversary? Try a troll. Demons, devils, angels, inevitables, slaad–there’s a whole host of otherworldly creatures players never get to use. You can even play a dragon, to use an old but good monster.

3. You get to ignore the rules.

Don’t get me wrong on this point–you shouldn’t cheat rolls or ignore what your players can do, but in building your own monsters and making rulings about their capabilities you can do things that wouldn’t normally be allowed. It doesn’t matter if the ghost has 45 hp and is supposed to vanish at 0–if you want it to come back for unfinished business, it can do that. I had a Cleric player one time who came to a door sealed with unholy power (a variant of the arcane lock spell) who, after an appropriate check, I told realized that he could use Turn Undead to dispel it. He promptly said, “But my ability can’t do that.” It can if I say it can.

4. You can exercise your creative side.

I think everyone likes to express creativity in some way, whether that’s telling stories, improvisation, acting, etc. One of the great things about DMing is that there’s a lot of potential artistic expression that can go into it. If you like drawing, make maps or draw characters for your players. Writing? Make a detailed plot. World-building? I…might have done a few posts on that topic. Whatever your outlet, chances are good you can find some way to express it through D&D.

5. Your DM needs a break.

Technically, this may not be true–and there are some people who are happier behind the screen than others–but I think nearly  all DMs enjoy the chance to be a normal player and not worry about everything that’s going on. This was a large part of my motivation for getting into it when I did: I didn’t think it was fair for one person to do all of the prep work forever. And I really do love running games, but given that my current group has been going basically a year with little interruption (and I haven’t been a player in years no matter how you count it), I need a break. (Our adventure ends tomorrow night, in fact, before going on indefinite hiatus.) Even if it’s something short or a side adventure, your DM will probably appreciate you taking on the job for a little while while he or she recharges.

So here’s a few reasons to take up DMing yourself and not always leave it to others. What else can you imagine that would incentivize you stepping behind the screen?

Author: lpivellius

I am a gamer of all kinds. Sometimes I write about them.

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