Professional GM


Gamer Life General Discussion


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I have been dming or gming for 32 years now and have a lot of players that like the way I run my games. I have also been published more than a few times over the years so I should know a little bit about this game I figure.
So I have been experiencing a lengthly bout of unemployment of late and seem to have a lot of time on my hands and asking myself what am I really good at? Well, I am a pretty good dm so why am I giving my services away for free?
What would they get for their money? Well, I have invested well over $20,000 in books, minis, terrain and extensive amount of Dwarven Forge. Besides, I provide a place to play. After all you can't go out and go to a movie for $10 a throw every weekend or any other form of entertainment.
Yeah, I know gamers are cheap and say why should I pay you when Joe Bloe down the street is a dm. He has been running for 4-5 years now. You can and play with your 3-4 friends. I usually have 8-12 constantly wanting to play in my games and I keep them all involved although I prefer 6-8.
I designed for Bob Bledsaw, Gary Gygax,Clark Peterson and Joseph Goodman. I also knew Dave Arneson pretty well back in the day so I am familar with how the game should be run, all the ins and outs. Not just the latest rulesets and how can I opitimize my character.


You could run a giant, interlocking campaign five nights a week with crossovers every couple of months. Let's say you charged $20/month per player, which would be about $5/session, you'd be able to a fairly minor income of $400-$600/month for sustaining a full roster of 20-28 players over 5 nights a week. I don't think many people would pay more than $20 monthly unless the game was outright spectacular.

It's not enough for rent, but it could be helpful to pay some extra bills if you're on unemployment or disability.

Best of luck.


I'd hire you heart, but I'm a dm.

I have also considered this, after hearing about a globe trotting dm.


Also really let your new "job" be known in your profile, advertise however you can.

That is an impressive list of known associates. I like your point on how the game should be run, and not just rules and optimisation. I really try and run my games old school, and sometimes the rules actually get in the way. Why I don't like cluttered PF for instance. Put together my own mini simple system, it works so far (it lives!).

Good luck.


Try it. Discuss it with someone who can point you in the right direction as regards a business plan. Be sure to understand the ins and outs of the situation legally, because there are things that happen once you start charging money for something, some of which are quite unexpected. Things such as "what responsibilities do I have if someone falls seriously ill?" and "what must I have papers for if the IRS sends their SWAT team to break down my door?"

I believe that a dedicated DM would be able to charge quite a bit more than the estimate above. People pay far more than that for a visit to the movies.

There are also other issues you need to consider: How will DMing professionally change the experience for you? When it becomes Work? What happens if one of the players accuses you of favouritism, or not giving him enough spotlight? How do you handle rules disputes? It may be entirely possible to handle, but you need to be aware BEFORE you start.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Have you considered directing your advertising not to average gamers but to corporate folks? Some firms and corporations offer organized pastime for their employees to instill sense of camraderie, group ethics, etc and might be interested in organized play for interested employees.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Drejk: Did you ever see that episode of the IT crowd where they play something like D&D? Your post reminded me of that. :)


Nope.


I already own my own gaming company and have a DBA on file. Would need to refile the tax ID though.
I doubt it would go over well here though. We had a real bad reaction about 5 years ago when we instituted a 50 cent table fee to help cover some of the costs of running a game. Got a real bad rep in the local gaming community and lost a lot of players. That and our club used to be mantitory on our dues to our National chapter. After we cut ties, I changed it to voluntary and it helped with the newer people but the community never forgets. These people don't want to pay $20 a year yet a month. It is sad. Now our dues are $15 and every dime goes back into buying books, gaming supplies, etc. Several of us invest heavily out of our own pockets to keep the club running every year. Would be nice to see some return, but it is hard to see it here.

Dark Archive

I just don't get how some people think they should be able to show up at a business, use their space and not spend a dollar there. I have a tight wallet these days also but I make it a point to at least buy a drink at the place if not more. I remember other gamers and myself jokingly calling it the Greyhawk tax when we use to have to pay a dollar at the Living Greyhawk games. I felt it was a very reasonable price, even if the GM did a bad job, it was only a dollar. The store used it to help cover the cost of printing the mods and adventure records, they even gave the DM a $5 store credit. It blows my mind to hear that you had trouble with a $0.50 table fee! I cannot help but wonder if you would have had better luck just charging a whole dollar and not bothering people with change.

I could see peopel being surprised if they showed up at someone's home. Of course any such game should also clearly define expectations up front, such as a charge for the game or bring your own food and drink, don't expect anything more than tap water for free.

Maybe you might be better able to disguise this by mentioning something along the lines of because you are unemployed, you would need a commitment from the players that your transportation fees(public train or car gas) and dinner will be covered.

I am sure some of the appeal to the game for some people at least is that they feel it is not a weekly money sink the way drafting Magic:the Gathering is every week. I like M:tG, but I hate spending good money for bad radom cards. I see it is a better value than a movie at the theater cause you get about 3 hours of entertainment for a common $10 draft set(below suggested retail price if buying them one pack at a time), you even get to keep the cards afterwards. If you are lucky, you might even get a card that when sold, pays for the next draft. Getting one of those cards is no better a chance of gambling on scratch off tickets though. So many of the cards are absolute garbage on the secondary singles market. The problem with this is that I also do not believe in paying $10-15 bucks on a movie ticket. No, I do not think Tom Cruise or Angelina is worth $20,000,000 a movie and I will almost never agree to pay modern day movie theater ticket prices. I will almost always wait to see it on DVD, Netflix, cable or just skip it altogether. Even after this complaint, when I go to a meetup.com event or something similar, I make it a point to throw something into the business, even if I am on such a low budget that I only buy a drink or sandwich, if at a game store, maybe a miniature or a pack of cards.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I think the answer to [why am I giving away my services for free] is that the [going rate] in [your market] is already $0 by a large margin.

If it were difficult to find a good gm without having to pay for one there would perhaps be money to be made.

It sort of violates the first rule of entrepreneurship. Find a need -- Fill a need.

There is very little 'need' for a good gm at any price because, for the most part, there's plenty of free good gms to go around.

On the other side of the coin rpg gamers don't generally like the 'pay to play' model. If you're pushing all your hobby money into a gms pockets, it means less money you have to buy books and minis for yourself. I cant tell you how much I enjoy the fact that once you have your books and your dice and your minis, the fact that the hobby can be enjoyed in perpetuity without requiring one more red cent ever is a great deal.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I've heard of other people doing this, they don't make big bucks, buts some extra spending money. I think adding a fee to people already at a table is rough, but starting fresh helps.

I think it also matters what kind of market you're in. In a major city, like Seattle, Chicago, or Kansas City, you're more likely to have gamers who have busy professional careers with spouses and children. They want to play, but don't have time to run a game they way they used to, but still want to play that way. For these kinds of people, $10 per person (or more even) to get several hours of gaming in with their friends is not a big deal. It's like going to a movie.

I think you'd need to be able to DM more than D&D though, which I'm sure you are. But I would try advertising with some flyers at local stores, specifically target people too busy to run their own games, adults in their 30's and 40's, money can still be tight for them, but time is often very precious as well, where as high school and college kids have way more time than they do money.


Where do you live? Or I suppose, what area would you be willing to cover?

I'd be willing to pay $10 once a week for a 5-6 hour session if I could be assured of a good group. I don't know that I'd want to play with more than 6 players at most though, for fear of being drowned out at the table. I'd also balk if I were already part of a table and the 'pay to play' model was suddenly announced. But going in to things from the start? Sure.

My biggest issue would be time. I'm already busy enough that it can be hard fitting one game a week in. Still, if you're in my area, I'd at least consider it quite thoroughly.

As a player still mostly new to D&D, I'd also pay for 'player lessons.' Example: I know that everyone hates metagaming, but why is it such a big deal? Hasn't been an issue at my table, and I'm told I'm pretty good about it... so what happens at other tables to make people hate metagaming?

Also, you know all those battle tactics, spell uses, and class features that have been optimized for so long that everyone just assumes you're doing it that way? Yeah... so what if you're new to the system? I've got a level 4 sorcerer and I've *just* figured out that sorcerers aren't all about blasting (and if you want to make one that way, you have to focus the entire build to do it). If I could get some private tutoring on how to play all the classes, and basic team tactics, and the particulars of being a gentlemen at the table, I'd gladly pay for it.

Speaking of which, does anyone know of any good books along that line? The closest thing I've been able to find was a 4th edition 'how to be a player' manual. It was informative, but I'm looking for something pathfinder oriented.


Well it is not like San Antonio is a small town. We are the 7th largest city in the US, but our standard of living is lower than Dallas or Austin.
Heck, my players come into our house expect bottled water, free pop,snacks and free food at times. They are really spoiled. As for Meetup, it costs us $150/yr to maintain the Meetup site and we rarely get a dime back. I didn't mind it when I was making $50k a year, but I have been out of work for over 7 months, sheesh.
As for a good group we have been cultivating a good group and gaming environment in our home for 14 years now. None of the gaming stores can compete with what we have here except perhaps some of the Warhammer setups.
We do offer Boot Camp sessions from time to time for new players to learn and create characters. Also board games, video games, a fully stocked library of books,dice etc going back to 1E and 40+ boxes of Dwarven Forge for true 3D experience.
But yeah, the problem is that the going rate is free here. A few of our members do pitch in an help, but 80-90% of it has been on us.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
brvheart wrote:

I already own my own gaming company and have a DBA on file. Would need to refile the tax ID though.

I doubt it would go over well here though. We had a real bad reaction about 5 years ago when we instituted a 50 cent table fee to help cover some of the costs of running a game. Got a real bad rep in the local gaming community and lost a lot of players. That and our club used to be mantitory on our dues to our National chapter. After we cut ties, I changed it to voluntary and it helped with the newer people but the community never forgets. These people don't want to pay $20 a year yet a month. It is sad. Now our dues are $15 and every dime goes back into buying books, gaming supplies, etc. Several of us invest heavily out of our own pockets to keep the club running every year. Would be nice to see some return, but it is hard to see it here.

You, a veteran dm were black-listed for charging 50 cents a game?

That is epic level cheapness on your deriders.


Vincent Takeda wrote:

I think the answer to [why am I giving away my services for free] is that the [going rate] in [your market] is already $0 by a large margin.

If it were difficult to find a good gm without having to pay for one there would perhaps be money to be made.

It sort of violates the first rule of entrepreneurship. Find a need -- Fill a need.

There is very little 'need' for a good gm at any price because, for the most part, there's plenty of free good gms to go around.

On the other side of the coin rpg gamers don't generally like the 'pay to play' model. If you're pushing all your hobby money into a gms pockets, it means less money you have to buy books and minis for yourself. I cant tell you how much I enjoy the fact that once you have your books and your dice and your minis, the fact that the hobby can be enjoyed in perpetuity without requiring one more red cent ever is a great deal.

Yeah, all good points. I was discussing demographics and rural areas with an older gamer friend, who happens to be a sheriff who runs into the poor quite a bit, now don't worry I have a few points.

The hobby can be something that the poor can really get into (and do in small numbers). My family were poor, my brother ran games and he had connections to an older group of players from years back.

In the small town situation we have never had a pay to play system, and with so much DLC and high costs of other forms of gaming, some would get really s&+!ty about this. The attitude of why should I play when I bring something to the table, and remembered my dice this week.

It wouldn't have worked in my home town because without much to do, we actually had a good coterie of players and dms. Lower socio-economic regions can be surprising bastions of dnd. Outer melbourne can be a bit like that, not much employment, people collecting swords, bows, going hunting, loving dnd and other such games.

Dnd in the Australian context anyway, has a long connection to dope smoking and high school days. There are other expenses during this time, and not always a huge amount of money on the table. Car, fuel, other forms of consumerism, dating.

In the Australian big smoke, people are also reluctant to pay for dnd, and if you have a club, they may borrow material and dodge the fees. Take what they need, give it back later, but run the games off site. It happens, some might consider it dodgy, but running from their home really has merits. There is slyness but all parties want to game but most don't want to play. My local club, there were a couple of years I didn't pay, and started running things off-site.

There is the professional classes to consider, but they might not be in it for the long haul. Seen two promising games collapse because the dm just had too much on. He had been trying to get us involved!

So considering players, trends and experiences, making money off it can be hard.


3.5 Loyalist wrote:

You, a veteran dm were black-listed for charging 50 cents a game?

That is epic level cheapness on your deriders.

Yeah, go figure, but we did have a lot of security guards in our group at the time. We have improved the social/economic level of most of our players since.


I find that most people have no issue paying to be entertained, but have more issues paying to be part of the entertainment. RPGs are known as a cooperative game, and many people have problems having to pay to cooperate. Actually, The problem usually isn't about paying per se, but paying to one person in particular, especially a friend. The fact that players would let one of their friend stranded with all the bills every time is another matter altogether...

Earning your life as a DM may be feasible, but it may be easier if people don't have the impression that they are paying you directly. My first game as a teenager was at the community hall. Players would pay the community center, who in turn hired the DM. I'm sure the DM was behind it all, but it felt like a less direct transaction.

Other posters have suggested the corporative avenue; perhaps companies and offices could hire a DM to entertain their employes, distract them from troubles for a few hours a week and cutting out on stress. Some companies do that by subsidizing sport or yoga or massages, but why not RPGs?


While I agree that a role playing game is a cooperative effort don't be fooled that it isn't the GM that isn't doing most of the work. He is involved in every action all the time. Beyond that any GM worth their salt will spend at least 2 hours prep time for every hour of game time. So if I am running 2 five hour sessions a week I am putting in 30-35 hours. So to do the proper prep time and run 4-5 hour sessions, 3 is about max for a week. To be properly compensated for one's time and effort one would have to charge $25-30 per session per player. I can't see many people paying that. Maybe for a Boot Camp training session for new players you might get a few people. That might sound like a lot of money but if I did software service calls the going rate is at least $125/hr.


If you were in my town (well in Demmark...) i would gladly pay $25-30 per five hour session playing with you as the GM. Either that or a much bigger 'flat' amount - sort of paying an amount for the expensive 'material components' ;) (your books, miniatures, DF terrain etc etc).

But i agree that it can probably be difficult getting players that are friends/long time players to suddenly pay... But still i think it would warrent a talk with them about your past and future expenses (and time) put into GM'ing and that you are without a job. CERTAINLY to my mind it's then only reasonable, and just, that they share the burden - and pay you.

On a slightly different note, you could simply TRY it. Advertise a new gaming group/gaming night/open game table, and also advertise the price to play. You might end up pleasently surprised to see how many might show up, maybe some other types of players, than those you usually see too. Would be important to advertise broadly, in relevant forums and shops, clubs, word-of-mouth etc. And of course also important to give your game the proper time to grow. With your skill, experience and credentials, i reckon that even paying players would LOVE your game (and gaming place) and spread that by word-of-mouth. In my experience we value good games, and the time to play them, far mor than money...! (and a really good GM is hard to find id say).

I advertised my own Pathfinder open game table (sandbox, small home town with nearby homebrew megadungeon). I just advertised it ONCE, more than half a year ago, in a small danish online forum, and still just this past week i have had 3 people apply for the game... 3 people that i have NO idea about how they heard of the game.
My game is well full though - people DO love old schooly sandbox/megadungeon games, dont they :) !

This just got me thinking of maybe advertising a new game, with a fee. I see SO many eager (experienced as well as fresh) players, that DONT have a GM (or cant find a GOOD GM).

And, something else, if you ever do a Google + game, consider me interested. Well or if i come to San Antonio.


I agree with LordofMuck, I would gladly pay 25-30$ for a experienced master GM with all the facilities and merchandise available. But then again it is hard to find solid GM's in Denmark, as the hobby in itself is not widely popular. I mean the Pathfinder Society Denmark group on facebook has only 125 members, and not all of these are active players. San Antonio alone would have more i believe!


Just going to chime in that just because I don't like paying a monthly fee for entertainment does not mean I am "cheap".

$20 a month may not seem like much until you factor in the nature of tabletop games: They're weekly at BEST.

Say I pay $20 a month for WoW (not that I do even that, mind you), I get to play that every day, whenever I want. If I end up paying $50 for me and 2 friends to go to the movies, that's fine because, hey, it's not a regular occurrence so it's not a constant drain on funds, or if I pay $60-70 (or for half an AP for Pathfinder...)for a videogame, I OWN that game, savvy?

That said, some people might appreciate sort of a "package deal" rather than a $X a month fee option. Offer some sort of "$50 for 4 months" deal and you're losing out on $30, technically, but I'd be willing to wager more people would pay for it because it's a lump sum of cash (likely paid the week of their bi-weekly paycheck if they're not living week-to-week) that is guaranteed to cover their gaming for the next 1/4 of a year.

Just my 2 cents, though I don't begrudge you trying to make money of off it or anything, I have some doubts about how many people exactly would be willing to pay even disregarding the whole "Even if you're an EXCELLENT GM, Bob is at least a GOOD GM and I don't have to pay him, sorry" scenario.


brvheart wrote:
While I agree that a role playing game is a cooperative effort don't be fooled that it isn't the GM that isn't doing most of the work. He is involved in every action all the time.

As a DM myself (and a pretty involved one at that), I absolutely agree with what you mean, but it remains that in this hobby the perception is that the DM is a participant like the others. I don't disagree that we fool ourselves as hobbyists, but if you advocated against that perception, don't be surprised to meet resistance.

Perhaps in a few years things will be perceived differently, perhaps thanks to pioneers like you, but right now, in this state of the hobby, DMs are considered to do it for fun. I'm not arguing if this is right or wrong; simply that I wouldn't be surprised if the idea of asking $ from friends to play (which is different from asking friends $ to split the costs of playing) would be met with resistance.

No matter how rationally I see it, I couldn't help but feeling a certain bitterness if my friend asked me to pay him(her) to DM my game. Perhaps I would have less a problem if if wasn't in my close circle of friend, or if my financial situation was less precarious. I (used to) pay for the opportunity to play paintball, laser tags and larping and it didn't bother me as much... Hence the corporative approach idea.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Another issue I'd see coming up in non-corporate play, other than the 'people don't want to pay' thing, is that you could very likely get people who ARE willing to pay simply because nobody else will have them.

If I'm paying for my gaming experience, I expect it to be a good one. If I show up and the group has a couple bad apples in it who are there because no other table will have them... I'm going to have a problem with it.

As a GM, there'd only be so much you could do. 'These are the people who showed up. I can't just kick them out. I don't have anyone else to fill the slot, and I'd be losing money."

After a while, if your customer base grew, you'd get so many willing players that it wouldn't be a problem. You might even be able to shuffle all of the 'bad apple' players into one group, where the problems suddenly disappear because everyone is of like mind. In that situation, I can see you having to go out of your way to pander to your 'unusual table,' but at least you'd be getting paid for it.


The "bad apples" would CERTAINLY not appreciate having to play with what they consider to be sub-par players. Believe it.

Liberty's Edge

However 20 bucks a month for a weekly game at about 4 hours a game translates to between 12 and 16 hours of play (Depending on the month..

That means a 4 player party is paying 80 dollars for 16 hours of table time, or between 5 and 6.67 dollars an hour.

And that doesn't include prep time, and you are way below minimum wage.


I think that was just the informal 'help me break even' model that people aren't even contributing to NOW. Professionally, he'd have to charge per session.

brvheart wrote:
So if I am running 2 five hour sessions a week I am putting in 30-35 hours. So to do the proper prep time and run 4-5 hour sessions, 3 is about max for a week. To be properly compensated for one's time and effort one would have to charge $25-30 per session per player. I can't see many people paying that.

That'd be $100 to $120 a month per player. Assuming he goes with his maximum listed 3 sessions per week, and has 6 players per session, he'd be getting $1800 to $2400 per month. That's a fair living... but it requires finding 18 people willing to pay $100+ a month on their hobby, and not have any serious disagreements within the groups.

Liberty's Edge

100 a month is pretty hefty...

Edit: And his margins are thinner when you consider the need to invest in space, materials, etc...

Dark Archive

At the very least, you should consider telling your players that you no longer have the expendable resources to pay for their bottled water and snacks. They will have to bring their own for now on or settle for keeping their belly filled on tap water. Do you live in a house and pay a water bill or an apartment without one? Even the tap water may be costing you.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

If I can finish my 20 years on active duty, I will totally become a professional DM.


Hi brvheart. I remember you from over on the Necromancer Games website. I might even be published with you over there so a major thumbs up. Sorry to say I'm not in San Antonio. Good luck on the game and employment old friend!


Finding 18 players isn't an issue. I have that especially when many of them play multiple sessions. Now ones that would be willing to pay is another matter entirely. I am, however, putting the sign back up on the mini-fridge for 50 cents for pop and bottled water.


Seppuku wrote:
Hi brvheart. I remember you from over on the Necromancer Games website. I might even be published with you over there so a major thumbs up. Sorry to say I'm not in San Antonio. Good luck on the game and employment old friend!

I remember it well and I remember! Heck, I couldn't even get paid for my design work so who am I kidding<G>? I did get a dollar or two from Bob and Goodman though.


One of the problems with a GM charging his or her players is if you think 'player entitlement' is a problem...wait till the players are paying to play. The game stops being a game among friends and something else. If you can deal with that..good luck to you. Just expect to have to change your style...that is if you want to make money. Personaly I would never run or play in such a game.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

DMs sink a lot of time and money into a quality game. Players, not so much. Their prep time is the drive to my house and sometimes looking for the latest way to optimize their character. As the group DM, I just bought another Pathfinder book tonight. I have more Pathfinder books than the entire rest of my 7 player group combined. I also have the entire 3.5 collection, the core of 4.0, most of 3.0, everything I could get my hands on 2e plus older stuff. Modules, magazine subscriptions, thousands of minis. I provide the place to play every week. I have purchased specially designed furniture and wall mounted dry erase boards for my dedicated gaming room. I do not provide food or beverages. My players pay me in food/snack during game play. (They call this DM bribery) Being a DM is a fun way to go broke, not make a living.


brvheart wrote:
While I agree that a role playing game is a cooperative effort don't be fooled that it isn't the GM that isn't doing most of the work. He is involved in every action all the time. Beyond that any GM worth their salt will spend at least 2 hours prep time for every hour of game time. So if I am running 2 five hour sessions a week I am putting in 30-35 hours. So to do the proper prep time and run 4-5 hour sessions, 3 is about max for a week. To be properly compensated for one's time and effort one would have to charge $25-30 per session per player. I can't see many people paying that. Maybe for a Boot Camp training session for new players you might get a few people. That might sound like a lot of money but if I did software service calls the going rate is at least $125/hr.

That is a huge amount of time though. Work smart, not hard.

Some want to plan everything (and may push it to a 3 to 1 scale of hours), but I find once your major prep is done, the big missions, the major players, npcs, monsters, bosses then minor prep each week and adaptability is all that required.

I also don't like salt, peppers for me.


Seppuku wrote:
DMs sink a lot of time and money into a quality game. Players, not so much. Their prep time is the drive to my house and sometimes looking for the latest way to optimize their character. As the group DM, I just bought another Pathfinder book tonight. I have more Pathfinder books than the entire rest of my 7 player group combined. I also have the entire 3.5 collection, the core of 4.0, most of 3.0, everything I could get my hands on 2e plus older stuff. Modules, magazine subscriptions, thousands of minis. I provide the place to play every week. I have purchased specially designed furniture and wall mounted dry erase boards for my dedicated gaming room. I do not provide food or beverages. My players pay me in food/snack during game play. (They call this DM bribery) Being a DM is a fun way to go broke, not make a living.

If a dm goes broke, should they commit seppuku? Thoughts?


TriOmegaZero wrote:
If I can finish my 20 years on active duty, I will totally become a professional DM.

Good luck, a mercenary dm for hire.

At least it isn't blackwater!

Shadow Lodge

I have no advice, but I'm here to wish you good luck.

Ditto to you TOZ.


brvheart wrote:
Heck, my players come into our house expect bottled water, free pop, snacks and free food at times. They are really spoiled.

I made it a point when I started my gaming group a couple of years ago that if you aren't DMing or hosting you were expected to contribute some snacks to the table. I later dropped this rule because one player was taking 'more than a fair share' shall we say. Still, I find it hard to imagine your players getting up in arms if you were to implement a Bring-Your-Own-Snacks rule - hell you'll be paying to dispose of the garbage anyway so you'd still be saving them a few cents.

Shadow Lodge

3.5 Loyalist wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
If I can finish my 20 years on active duty, I will totally become a professional DM.

Good luck, a mercenary dm for hire.

At least it isn't blackwater!

I'll accept payment in Cheetos.


One thing to watch out for when you charge for something is charging too little. After all, when you put a price on something, no matter if what you are paying for is entirely clear, people start valuing the experience accordingly. Charge fifty cents and that is what they will value your game at. Of course, it is very difficult to raise a price for something, so you really need to be certain you find a good level of this.


John Kretzer wrote:

One of the problems with a GM charging his or her players is if you think 'player entitlement' is a problem...wait till the players are paying to play. The game stops being a game among friends and something else. If you can deal with that..good luck to you. Just expect to have to change your style...that is if you want to make money. Personaly I would never run or play in such a game.

I personally wouldn't consider such an arrangement with friends. But I GM differently with strangers who "pay to be there" and "friends in my basement".

I volunteer GM'ed at GenCon this year. Mostly I did it because I was super excited about GM'ing at GenCon, I ran about 12 hours of games. Had I committed beforehand to 14 hours, I would have gotten my badge for free ($70). Also, everyone at my tables had to pay one generic ticket ($2) per 2 hour slot they sat at my tables and I ran 4 hour slots. Neither I, nor the organizers of my tables, saw the money, because we volunteered. I'll probably volunteer enough to get a free badge this year if I can.

I saw it as my duty to help give these GenCon attendees have a good time. Afterwards, I felt like I had just gotten done putting on a show, I was tired, drained and a little brain-fried. I put a lot of energy into it and I got lots of positive response from the people I played with. But I provided:

- all dice
- all printed materials
- pencils

All you had to show up with was an interest in playing my game. I set clear boundaries, as well as explicit permission for players to establish boundaries themselves, since they didn't all know each other either. If someone had been disruptive, I would have just given them their tickets back and asked them to leave and the game would have gone on.

'Player Entitlement' is not actually a thing IMO. I've never had an issue with it at my tables. When people pay to sit at my table, they are expecting me to run the table, I'm in charge of creating a comfortable gaming environment, and I don't just mean the chairs. If someone is acting like a jerk, the other people sitting at the table didn't pay for that, and I'm going to protect their interests. If it's a group of players and they're being abusive with me, I'm going to hand the tickets (money they paid) to the event organizer, explain why I'm not comfortable running the game and let them make the call.

GM'ing as an entertainer is different from just hanging out with your buddies. It can be a lot of fun, teach you a lot of things you'd never learn with just your buddies and be a great way to meet knew gamers. I know it's improved both my GM'ing and my skills as a player by expanding my comfort zone.


I didn't read the entire thread, but here is my opinion. I'm sure you could do a great job GMing professionally, but I'd do it as a hobby, not as a career.

The reasons:

1) There's not enough work to do it full time (paid for 8 hours a day).

2) People wouldn't pay enough to earn a decent living ($5 per session only make $30 every 5 hours, less than minimum wage).

3) Just like a whore, you have a good chance of getting the worst-of-the-worst people, and probably unappreciative ones too.

4) GM preparation takes a ridiculous amount of time, time people won't pay for. For example, I've probably spent 40-60 hours before my campaign even starts (Crimson Throne). Probably more. Pretty sure my player's won't be paying me $800-1200 at the first session.

5) Turning a hobby into work can sometimes drain the fun from the hobby. Just ask all the Ex-venture captains from Pathfinder society.

If I were you I'd spend my time either looking for a new job or re-training so you can get a new job, not wasting time planning someone's campaign.

This is not to say you can't GM for money in the future, I'd just focus on getting a steady job first.

But really, I'm sure you would come to the same conclusion eventually also. Paying rent and stuff usually helps with decisions like that.


3) Ouch.


So I put the sign back up this weekend on the mini fridge and sold 1 can of pop. The money for it is for the club, not me anyway. Also put out the old donation cup and got blank stares from most of the players at the table.
I thank everyone for their input. My thought in it came from the expression "do what you love". Reality is there is no money in it to be made. As many have pointed out being a dm is a good way to go broke, not make money. I have made a few dollars for my design work over the years, but frankly never covered my costs any time I did so. I didn't do it to make money, I did it because it was what I wanted to do.
So I will go on and run my group and try and find employment in my profession. Good news is I have another interview on Tuesday.


I remember two places that offered games for a fee.

One was a club that charged $2 a week and you got free pop and could play a game (MtG, RPG, or other card games... no miniature games because space was limited). But the club kept getting shut down by the place renting the space because gamers were messy. Eventually it just shut down completely.

The other was a game shop that charged $1 a week (and gave you back a 10% discount on game supplies)... but they didn't do well and went out of business.

So good luck. I think the reason the first one was more successful was due to the large player base they had. Many people went to meet and chat with lots of other gamers. I was a member of the first one till it failed. I didn't join the second one because the groups were private and there were very few people.


Good luck with the job interview tomorrow! Tell 'em Seppuku says you are a great guy and show them the contributing authors page of Eldritch Sorcery as proof. Then refer to this post. Case closed. And good luck even if you don't name drop.

Community / Forums / Gamer Life / General Discussion / Professional GM All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.