GMing experience


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So, I've been playing & gming games in pathfinder for almost 2 years now. And after all this, I've come to realise... I prefer GMing to playing. I'm unsure whether it's an issue of bad gms, good players, or some other arcane source, but I always come out of GM-ing in a better mood than playing.

While I'm sure many see this attitude as abberant, I was wondering who else here is like this. What made you prefer GM-ing? Or dislike playing? I am quite curious.

Grand Lodge

I've been a GM since I was introduced to D&D, nearly 34 years ago. For me, I prefer to GM, as it caters to my creative side more than playing a PC does, and I like that. When I am behind the GM screen, I can assume the role of anyone within the game world that the player characters interact with, from the guy behind the bar to the horrible monsters and other foes the Player Character's must face; which to me, is far more exciting that playing just one single PC at a time. Being a GM also lets me create the world around the player characters, it lets me draw the maps to the locales that they will explore, etc.

So yeah, it lets me be creative in ways that playing one single character at a time just cannot accomplish.

Sovereign Court

I love to GM and play. However one of my two gaming groups makes playing super annoying. They tend to play individuals who dont really trust each other and everybody is out on their own. They only work together because they have to. This makes playing a super drag but on the flip side I love to GM for them.

My second group asked me to run an AP which I was cool with. Though I really enjoy playing in this group. They are the opposite they want characters to bond and play as a team. Its much more refreshing.

So for me it depends entirely on the group.


I've been the default GM for over 25 years now, and while I enjoy it, I wish I was a player more often. I get to be a player 3, maybe 5 times a year if I'm lucky. I miss being on players' side of the screen.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I much prefer to GM rather than play. As I like to say, it is hard to go from Phenomenal Cosmic Power to itty bitty player space. Still, I absolutely understand the value of being on the other side of the screen to get alternate takes on GM styles and to remind myself what the players view is.


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Pan wrote:
So for me it depends entirely on the group.

Group dynamics are important. Guess I havent had any luck yet on finding a group I give well with. I'm a "day" rather than night person myself, which makes most groups (who play nights) rather difficult; when you're already exhausted, it's hard to have fun. Need to find day groups (which are exceedingly rare).

My players seem to have fun at least, so I guess that's something. Keep it coming folks.

Liberty's Edge

I think I am better player than DM, and DM out of necessity.


I gm PFS at two different stores, and for my family at home. I also am gm'ing a Shattered Star AP and a Serpents Skull AP.

All of these at the request of players, so I guess I enjoy the GM chair and people recognize that.

But OMG, let me run Raglum across the battle field with his great sword in his hands......

Let me reign forth destruction with Nesterin......

I love playing this game to.


I'm also prone to being on the gm side of the screen than not... I do think at the end of the day its a pretty even mix of capability and desire that puts me there. There's a lot of freedom to be had as a gm in terms of putting something together exactly how you like it, and I think I prefer playing off of others more than being driving force in the campaign. I enjoy improvisation and thinking on my feet.

As a sandboxer gm that puts me in a pretty good place.


I started DMing at the age of 12, in 1976. I've always loved doing it.

The Exchange

The role of a GM is that of a story teller. The role of a player is more like that of an actor. Of the two, I much prefer the story teller. I have considerably more experience as a GM and enjoy it better, though I don't mind playing every now and then.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I've been playing since the late '90s, and (attempting to be) a GM for most of that. I'm not sure whether I prefer playing or GMing - I have a ton of bad player-habits accumulated by being behind the screen so much.

So much of my experience was with casual pickup games that I can run pretty much on the spot if necessary. I'm constantly coming up with ideas to use in campaigns.

I enjoy running lots of campaigns (for various reasons). My current GMing schedule is:

Carrion Crown - every other Saturday.
Wrath of the Righteous - every other Friday.
Serpent's Skull - every other Monday (currently on hiatus).
Council of Thieves solo campaign - by appointment (currently on hiatus).

I'm scheduled to start Iron Gods soon, and Mummy's Mask when one of the campaigns I'm playing wraps up. I don't know yet what I'll run when Carrion Crown wraps, but we're in Book 6, so there'll probably be another one there soon.

I only play in two campaigns - for others, that may seem like a lot, but it's nowhere near as much as I'd like. Nobody else here has the combination of time, desire, and talent to run a game, so it's usually on me.

I understand about coming out of GMing in a better mood, though. ^_^


I've been GMing about a year now. I enjoy it, but only about as much as playing.

Grand Lodge

I vacillate back and forth. But on the whole, I am usually right there with you preferring the GM's chair. Particularly because I love villains - and it's rare (but not impossible) that a villain can work in a group of PCs.


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I GM more than I am a player, but I attribute that to lack of quality GMs that have been involved in my groups. If I could find a GM that put a lot of work into their campaigns, then I would enjoy playing.

Another aspect is that I tend to get bored of characters fairly quickly. As a player, that is difficult as you don't want to bring in a new PC every few sessions. As a GM, you control all of the NPCs, so kind of hard to get bored.

Sovereign Court

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I GM much much more than I play. Mostly because, as people tell me, I'm a good GM, and they want to play at my table. And because, like Tri Omega Zero said...it's hard to let go of all that power.

Sometimes playing and not knowing anything seems so...constraining. But it can also be fun to let go of almost all responsibility and just enjoy oneself.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Through numerous editions of the game, I've always preferred to GM.

-Skeld


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I enjoy GMing more, but love to take breaks periodically and just be a player. The challenge for me, then, (just as a player) is deciding one what ONE character to play!


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I enjoy GM'ing more, but occasionally, a campaign comes up where I can make a character that I simply fall in love with. Something fresh and new and entertaining.

But overall, on a general basis, yes ... I prefer GM'ing to playing as well. I like the subtle difference in creative energies involved in GM'ing as opposed to playing. You don't have to think of your own character and nothing else, you have to think of all your NPCs and the entire world in which the game is played. I like the mental gymnastics of that.


I go between wanting to play and GM. It also helps me to not forget what it's like on the other side of the screen.


I prefer playing... however... I do love GMing nearly as well, and can't go too long without getting my GMing fix.


Pan wrote:

I love to GM and play. However one of my two gaming groups makes playing super annoying. They tend to play individuals who dont really trust each other and everybody is out on their own. They only work together because they have to. This makes playing a super drag but on the flip side I love to GM for them.

My second group asked me to run an AP which I was cool with. Though I really enjoy playing in this group. They are the opposite they want characters to bond and play as a team. Its much more refreshing.

So for me it depends entirely on the group.

You should check out The Mountain Witch. It's a one-shot RPG about a group of ronin hired to climb up a mountain and kill a witch. It includes trust mechanics (which includes breaking that trust). I have not played it yet personally, but I've heard great things.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I enjoy both playing and GMing. They really scratch different gaming itches. It's hard for me to say which I prefer.

I've played RPGs since 1982. From the start until '99, I split my time pretty much evenly between both sides of the GM screen. I had a campain end VERY badly, and I went on a decade-long GM hiatus until I started GMing a "Rise of the Runelords" Pathfinder cmapaign in 2010.

Right now, I'm splitting my gaming on both sides of the GM screen pretty evenly:

I GM one face-to-face PFRPG game. It's a weekly homebrew campaign set in Korvosa, that's about two-thirds adapted/modified published modules and one-third pure homebrew.

I'm a player in my other face-to-face game. That one meets sporadically on the weekend. We're playing "Skull and Shackles" using Pathfinder, although there's talk about switching the game system to D&D 5th Edition.

I'm in four PbPs on the Paizo boards:

GM: "Rise of the Runelords"

GM: Pathfinder conversion of the AD&D module I6: Ravenloft

Player: "Shattered Star"

Player: "Carrion Crown"


Digitalelf wrote:

I've been a GM since I was introduced to D&D, nearly 34 years ago. For me, I prefer to GM, as it caters to my creative side more than playing a PC does, and I like that. When I am behind the GM screen, I can assume the role of anyone within the game world that the player characters interact with, from the guy behind the bar to the horrible monsters and other foes the Player Character's must face; which to me, is far more exciting that playing just one single PC at a time. Being a GM also lets me create the world around the player characters, it lets me draw the maps to the locales that they will explore, etc.

So yeah, it lets me be creative in ways that playing one single character at a time just cannot accomplish.

In my case you're preachin' to the choir brother. I too hearken back to the very early days of dungeons and dragons, and DMed before I ever played. Not that I don't enjoy playing if I get a good GM, I do, but I just feel more comfortable being the little man behind the curtain than the poor schlubs dancing along the yellow brick road.


I usually gm at my groups, the rare times i get to be on the other side only ever last so long. Nobody else in my group(s) seems to have the storytelling endurance to see a story through.

.

Its a lot of fun to make up stories and characters, but its sometimes tough to align a story with what the payers wanna do. Too many times i've had players not even attempt to find the next story hook, waiting for someone else to point at the next lump of xp meat to kill or general murder-hoboing.


I prefer GMing. I'd love to play, mind you, and relish the times I get to, but for the last 35 or so years I've been the GM in most groups I am in. I enjoy the world building aspects and the story telling, although I do miss the fun of bringing a character along and finding things out from the other side of the screen.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Our group is in a weird position at the moment. I prefer DMing exclusively and the others prefer playing - but I dont want to hog the best bit of RPGing and they think I 'deserve a break' so we keep switching to what none of us prefer. :/

Social niceties just get in the way sometimes.

The Exchange

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I GM to collect GM creds so I can start my characters at lv 2, with little scenarios wasted as possible ;)


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People seem to prefer that the guy who knows all the rules and corrects the other members of the table when they screw up is the GM, and not a player, so I am much more liked as a person when I GM.

I am able to turn off the compulsion to correct others when playing, but it takes an active level of internal control on my part which leaves me unable to fully immerse myself in the game, so when I get the opportunity to GM, I look forward to it.

That being said, when I get in a group that actually knows their stuff, it's great to be a player. My latest group is about 80% of the way there, which is impressive considering 3/5 of them have only been playing Pathfinder for about a year.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I haven't been a player since 1989... of course I didn't play for quite a few of those years, only getting back into it in the last 6 years or so :-)


I play PFS at 3 locations; at one location I prefer to exclusively play, at the second I prefer to exclusively GM and at the third I do either as required to get as many people playing as needed.

I HATE HATE HATE having the place where I play or the place where I GM need me to do the other. In the case of where I GM I have already prepared for the game by reading the scenario and drawing the maps.
The place that I am playing means that I do not have anything ready to go and am not in the correct frame of mind to run a game.

The third location I sorta prep something and hope to play. Not the best but still better then nothing.

I do not enjoy GMing because I can always see where I made the mistake. I will nit pick the little things that I forgot even after I have prepped everything. I hate the pressure that I place on myself and always feel that I let the players down. Unless it runs perfectly(i.e. players follow the clues and the encounters are effective.)


I'm with Pan on this one: it depends on the group. After 30+ years of being the default GM I tend to be very "engaged" as a player. That is, I know I like it when players take an active role in the game, have personal goals, use tactics in combat and try to make plot leaps or answer questions out loud. This is what I do then as a player.

This doesn't always go over well with some groups.

One game, as a player, we had a witch tied up in a cellar. My personal character was at another location. The GM seemed to be floundering with what to do about the witch when I rolled a Knowledge: Arcana roll with my guy at the other site. The GM asked why I was rolling and I said "well this is where we took out the witch. Wouldn't I know something about them if I made a roll? Don't witches usually come with familiars?"

The GM had forgotten the witch's imp familiar.

Suddenly a big smile comes over the guy's face and he turns to the 2 players whose PCs are in the cellar. What followed was a hard fight of these two, with no magic, trying desperately to locate an invisible assailant in a cluttered basement. I mentioned stuff to the GM about Tiny size versus Medium in cramped quarters, mentioned to the players how there's tons of dirt and soil to throw in the earthen floor, and generally made a nuisance of myself. Not surprisingly I was not asked back.

On the flipside it can be really rewarding. On a few occasions I've directed traffic in combat and helped folks really take advantage of terrain. Reminding fellow PCs with high Climb skills or a Climb speed that if they're standing on something while attacking they get a +1 in melee for higher ground goes a long way toward being the go to guy in fights.

I guess what it comes down to for me is that GMing is easier than playing. I know that sounds contradictory but here's what I mean. When I'm a player I only have control over my guy. I can suggest things that others can do to enhance the current encounter or scenario but this usually ends negatively for me - probably more of a crappy personality on my part than anything to do with gaming.

As a GM though, I'm free to create on the fly. If you make up a few encounters and some key info of where the plot starts and where you want it to eventually get to, you've got a game. Plug-and-play details and encounters as you go and let the players get there, all the while making up whatever you want to as you go.

Still in all, I like playing. It's not control thing; I'm not trying to be the leader or the alpha at the table or anything. At least, I don't THINK it is but a psychologist might tell me differently. Bottom line when I'm a player I like getting to be part of a team. That's the ONE thing I do miss when I'm GMing.

When you're a player you're one of a few set to the challenge of facing the entire gameworld together. There's a kinship between the PCs and some bit of that translates to the players themselves. It's lonely being a GM sometimes. My characters tend to be battlefield control arcane types, helpful halflings, or classic heal/buff/revitalize divine types. I LIKE aiding my team.

As a GM my "team" is all fictional: NPCs, the villain's organization, etc. Essentially I'm an army of one, all by myself, watching a few of my friends bond with each other over the shared experience of surviving tough fights, achieving goals or otherwise overcoming the odds.

TL/DR: bottom line, GMing is easy but lonely work. Being a player has it's rewards but there's a fine line between helpful teammate and annoyingly metagaming control-freak. In the end I'm usually the GM and I'd anticipate it'll probably stay that way.


captain yesterday wrote:
I haven't been a player since 1989... of course I didn't play for quite a few of those years, only getting back into it in the last 6 years or so :-)

Whoa but DUDE; you haven't been a player in 6 years at all? Don't you get burnout? How do you keep at it for all that time?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I use adventure paths and I hardly change anything :-)


I don't plan adventures at all, letting the story of the campaign evolve spontaneously according to the goals of the players and the whims of the dice gods.


I have a rough idea of what I'd like to have happen in a game (encounters, NPCs, information that can be gathered, etc) but for the most part I just let it go where it will.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I have mostly been a GM since I started playing back in 1975. I prefer being a GM over a player. I like to map out all of the encounters, like the Amber Dice group does. But, it seems like I go through a drought every 5 years where I don't have a group of players for awhile. (Which I am going through now :(


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kevin bienhoff wrote:
I have mostly been a GM since I started playing back in 1975. I prefer being a GM over a player. I like to map out all of the encounters, like the Amber Dice group does. But, it seems like I go through a drought every 5 years where I don't have a group of players for awhile. (Which I am going through now :(

I found Meetup.com to be incredibly valuable for finding players and/or groups.


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thegreenteagamer wrote:


I found Meetup.com to be incredibly valuable for finding players and/or groups.

I use tinder. I just say that I'm into "roleplay" and I get hundreds of hits each day. Most of people who respond want to meet up at bathrooms and reststops which I find odd.

The Exchange

Muad'Dib wrote:
thegreenteagamer wrote:


I found Meetup.com to be incredibly valuable for finding players and/or groups.

I use tinder. I just say that I'm into "roleplay" and I get hundreds of hits each day. Most of people who respond want to meet up at bathrooms and reststops which I find odd.

You didn't tell us if these people want you to be the master in the game or just a player...

Quote:
TL/DR: bottom line, GMing is easy but lonely work. Being a player has it's rewards but there's a fine line between helpful teammate and annoyingly metagaming control-freak. In the end I'm usually the GM and I'd anticipate it'll probably stay that way.

(I did read your entire post but this is easier to respond to).I'm surprised as my view on it is much different. I never feel lonely as a GM, for two reasons. First, I get to share a story with my friends. They are the ones getting to experience it in game form, but I am the one who gets to make up stuff and throw it at them to see what they'll do with it. How can I feel lonely when a group of four friends gather around a table in order to experience a story I want to tell?

Second reason that I don't feel lonely is that as the GM I'm the most active person in the table. Each of the players can let his attention wonder every once in a while, while I always have to be attentive, not only responding to my players but also thinking of everything else that's going on. That means I', constantly speaking, constantly engaged, constantly interacting with my friends. Our sessions are 50% social encounters anyway, so it all works out.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Prefer to GM-- have since I was in middle school. I enjoy the creativity both in and out of game. More than that, though, I prefer to be on the whole time I'm playing. It keeps my mind busy. As a player there are lulls where you're off camera or waiting for someone to work through their combat turn (sometimes at an excruciating pace). As DM, I feel like I have to stay engaged and keep things moving the whole time, which I enjoy.

I generally don't run into player problems as I'm pretty selective about who sits at the table. Close friends or people who we "test out" in one-off games. I'm sure if it was a random draw I'd find DMing less enjoyable. I have several guidelines that I expect people to adhere to-- stuff like no pvp, no chaotic neutral (as an excuse to do whatever people want), the camera follows the good guys, its on the player to find a reason to stick with the group-- the camera doesnt follow random tangents unless they add to the story.

At the end of the day, I love crafting a story with people and I want to do it with people who are vested in telling a good story rather than enacting their id all over the place.


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I wonder if this is the appropriate place to ask this, but is anyone else annoyed when they, as a GM, spend a lot of their personal time preparing for game day, and a player (or four) shows up having done absolutely, positively, diddly squat in the intervening time, especially if they gained enough exp for a level and were supposed to level up between sessions, or go shopping between sessions, or make a major decision between sessions, and now you have to wait while they get all that done during table time?

That annoys the living crap out of me, especially when I'm a GM, but even as a player, I look at the others like, "Dude, that guy works his butt off to let us have fun, and you can't even level up in a week's time, you lazy bastard? Oh, but you had time to post on Facebook about how you were out at the bar until 4am pumping drinks into a skank that walked out with another dude? I hate you."


The Green Tea Gamer wrote:
I wonder if this is the appropriate place to ask this, but is anyone else annoyed when they, as a GM, spend a lot of their personal time preparing for game day, and a player (or four) shows up having done absolutely, positively, diddly squat in the intervening time, especially if they gained enough exp for a level and were supposed to level up between sessions, or go shopping between sessions, or make a major decision between sessions, and now you have to wait while they get all that done during table time?

That's a topic for its own thread. But yeah, definitely. I've had players who missed the first session, and would show up to session two and just then start creating their character.

One of my former players explained that working on D&D stuff outside of the actual D&D session felt like "homework." So he would refuse to do any kind of work or research on his character unless it was during the actual session.

It makes it very difficult to keep things going at a good pace as you only have a limited amount of time to actually play. Ideally play time should be filled with playing rather than character building.

Sovereign Court

The Green Tea Gamer wrote:

I wonder if this is the appropriate place to ask this, but is anyone else annoyed when they, as a GM, spend a lot of their personal time preparing for game day, and a player (or four) shows up having done absolutely, positively, diddly squat in the intervening time, especially if they gained enough exp for a level and were supposed to level up between sessions, or go shopping between sessions, or make a major decision between sessions, and now you have to wait while they get all that done during table time?

That annoys the living crap out of me, especially when I'm a GM, but even as a player, I look at the others like, "Dude, that guy works his butt off to let us have fun, and you can't even level up in a week's time, you lazy bastard? Oh, but you had time to post on Facebook about how you were out at the bar until 4am pumping drinks into a skank that walked out with another dude? I hate you."

Yes. I usually stop playing with such players.


I'm playing in two games online at present and running one game at my local shop. I find that I like being able to bounce back and forth. I enjoy GMing, but that is only if I have enough prep time during the week. If I'm running behind, there's no faking it.

Conversely, unless I'm leveling a character for play, there is no prep to play a game. I like the balance of being able to do both. I might get burned out on GMing if I never got to play.


Hama wrote:
The Green Tea Gamer wrote:

I wonder if this is the appropriate place to ask this, but is anyone else annoyed when they, as a GM, spend a lot of their personal time preparing for game day, and a player (or four) shows up having done absolutely, positively, diddly squat in the intervening time, especially if they gained enough exp for a level and were supposed to level up between sessions, or go shopping between sessions, or make a major decision between sessions, and now you have to wait while they get all that done during table time?

That annoys the living crap out of me, especially when I'm a GM, but even as a player, I look at the others like, "Dude, that guy works his butt off to let us have fun, and you can't even level up in a week's time, you lazy bastard? Oh, but you had time to post on Facebook about how you were out at the bar until 4am pumping drinks into a skank that walked out with another dude? I hate you."

Yes. I usually stop playing with such players.

I have that problem with some of the younger gamers in my in-store game. They just don't do what they're supposed to do between sessions. I punish them by not letting them level up during the session if they didn't do it beforehand like everyone else.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

My group has been doing this since forever, well except shopping, they love that, however they usually amend up with no torches for underground, but yet the Rogue for masterwork stilts... any way they always forget to level up, I fussed at first but they wouldn't budge so I stopped worrying about it, plus it's hilarious when you're in a fight and one person attacks another is putting on stilts and the other two decide that's the best time to pull out the dead body jammed into the hole in the wall (don't ask)


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I'm thinking about just telling the players if they don't level up between sessions they don't get to level up - period. Pretty sure after a session where they're not the level they should be, they'll do it.

Still annoying, though, especially when it's not the entire group, and other players are giving the annoying one the same look I am.


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The Green Tea Gamer wrote:

I wonder if this is the appropriate place to ask this, but is anyone else annoyed when they, as a GM, spend a lot of their personal time preparing for game day, and a player (or four) shows up having done absolutely, positively, diddly squat in the intervening time, especially if they gained enough exp for a level and were supposed to level up between sessions, or go shopping between sessions, or make a major decision between sessions, and now you have to wait while they get all that done during table time?

That annoys the living crap out of me, especially when I'm a GM, but even as a player, I look at the others like, "Dude, that guy works his butt off to let us have fun, and you can't even level up in a week's time, you lazy bastard? Oh, but you had time to post on Facebook about how you were out at the bar until 4am pumping drinks into a skank that walked out with another dude? I hate you."

You just described the three main players in my group. One of them leads a very busy life and I can see where he might not have time sometimes. The other two do not. But I put up with it because we've been friends over 25 years.


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A very busy life? I had a player who pulled that. Literally doesn't have 20 minutes a week? I called BS on him. We don't play together anymore.

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