What about DMing is fun for you?


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So, I've DM'd here and there, not a seasoned pro by any means, but not a complete amateur. However, after doing some self reflecting, I've found that I haven't really had any fun doing it.

So naturally, being the introspective type, I ask myself why and consider what about it I have enjoyed as well as asking myself why I bother doing it in the first place. My personal answers feel weak to me, so now I come to other DMs.

What about DMing is fun for you? Maybe I can learn some things I've not done, not tried and find the spark / passion that I think is there, but not making itself known.


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I'm much the same way; I don't enjoy GMing that much. I have lots of fun planning, creating stuff, and imagining how great the campaign will be. Then reality sets in and my campaign really isn't as great as I thought it was, the PCs do something I didn't expect and everything just breaks, or I forget something really important. For me, the build up to running the campaign ends up being more fun than actually running it. Even though I know my idea will probably suck when I implement it, its a pretty sweet ride up until that point.


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I enjoy the story telling and world building. I do homebrew campaigns only, and along with the help of my players we build wonderful, imaginative worlds.

I don't always care for the game prep, as I've been the GM/DM for 95% of the time for 30 years now, but it turns out to be worth it if my players have a good time and look forward to the next session. Sure, I'd love to be a player much more often, but as long as we keep having fun I'll keep doing what I'm doing.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Well, it's a lot of work, and it's a rare person indeed who is always willing to GM- I certainly don't fit the bill- for the nextfew months, I'll be switch-hitting, GMing Hell's Vengeance in bits and pieces, while someone else runs us through some L5R. And when Strange Aeons drops, you bet your boots I'm not GMing it.

But for me, the fun is in watching the players "get" things. Watching them pick up on clues I put there for them to find, seeing them come up with solutions to problems I hadn't even considered, and, for me the big one, helping their characters tell their stories. True sometimes the story is, "Bill the Brave triggered a trap and got gutted, ending his quest to find his enslaved sister tragically early, forcing his player to roll up a new guy and taking him out of the game for the rest of the friggin' session," but the payoff is, in many ways, like the payoff of a good day teaching.


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As far as actually playing the game goes what I find fun is:

1) When I surprise the players, usually with a big reveal and they think it’s cool.
2) When the players surprise me by doing something clever or putting things together sooner then I thought they would.

Basically, as DM/GM I run the game and already know the area, encounters, NPC’s, story, etc. so the only thing that really makes it worth doing is seeing things unfold in unexpected ways and seeing the players having a great time.

Having said that I still prefer a 50/50 split between playing and running games, unfortunately it tends to be me running the game 90% of the time.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

For me the fun comes from sharing something I love with others. Sometimes it can feel like work, and there have been times where I've bemoaned the fact that if I didn't GM there'd be no game at all, but it helps (for me) to just enjoy hanging out with friends on a regular basis, doing something we all enjoy. I tend to think of my role as GM as more like that of being the ghost in Mysterium: I'm still playing the game, I just have a different role to play, and the game doesn't function without it. I find it hardest when I take it too seriously.


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I enjoy providing my players with a game world that I would enjoy playing in. I like getting to play a variety of NPCs and reveal their stories. But the part I find most satisfying is knowing that I helped my friends tell the story they wanted to tell. Being a GM is a lot of work, I don't particularly enjoy the prep or bookwork aspect of it. However, at the end of the night when my players say, "That was f'ing awesome!"— that's a pretty good feeling.


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Crushing the characters before me and hearing the lamentations of their players. That is best in the world.

Silver Crusade

My favorite part is creating interesting environments and characters for my players to interact with. When I hear my players say "Hey, let's ask ____ for help" instead of directly asking me who they can talk to, it gives me a warm feeling.

Liberty's Edge

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I enjoy telling stories. Especially ones with plenty of action, good character development, and competent protagonists. So, GMing lets me do that. I need to adjust to deal with PC actions, but...

I also enjoy putting people in situations and then seeing what they'll do. GMing definitely allows that, too.

I also enjoy mechanical fiddling with a system, both changing certain rules and creating mechanically fun and interesting characters. GMing allows plenty of that as well.

I'm also a bit of an actor. This bit is more why I like playing, to be honest, as that lets me get really in-depth into one particular character's head, but I do also enjoy the GM side of the coin with getting to roleplay a lot of different people. That's fun.

I also enjoy world-building, especially on a small scale. I enjoy peopling a small town, or working out all the different power-players in an area. That kind of thing. Coming up with a set of interconnected groups of people and how they interact is fun.

I additionally enjoy making people happy and being in control of situations, and both of those things are definitely part of being a GM.

So...I enjoy a bunch of stuff about it.

Though, honestly, if you don't, I'd suggest that examining what you enjoy about being a player might be more useful. What needs and experiences that you enjoy as part of being a player that aren't part of being a GM?


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Moto Muck wrote:
Crushing the characters before me and hearing the lamentations of their players. That is best in the world.

There comes a time, DM, when the monsters cease to sparkle, when the gore loses its luster, when the screen becomes a prison, and all that is left is a man's love for his friends.


As with most of them creating worlds and stories.
Then get with friends and have some good time tougheter.
And thinking about some new and strange material to keep the surprice effect.
Or just the fun of playing a lot of various classes & monsters.


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For me GMing is a means to an end. The end is to have fun with my friends.


I run games for the beauty of the creativity. I play the Paizo Adventure Paths, which are interesting in themselves, but my players send their characters into situations not covered by the modules, forcing me to flesh out details and make the NPCs three-dimensional. Sometimes they derail the adventure path, solving the problems from an amazing, unexpected direction.

My players put the same effort into making their PCs three-dimensional. Current party members in my Iron Gods campaign are a nerdy dwarf experimental gunsmith, an artistic strix skald, a brooding genius half-elf magus, a clueless human fighter, and a perky teenage human bloodrager. All of them are more interested in holing up in a workshop crafting new equipment than in defeating the bad guys, so I have to redesign the plot hooks.

I read novels as another hobby, and most novels have strong conventions about drama, tension, and fitting the events of one chapter into only a chapterworth of pages. The story of a roleplaying game has the wrong characters with the wrong timing constantly missing predesigned opportunities, inventing awkward new opportunities, suffering setbacks from bad dice rolls, and winning undramaticly from good dice rolls. The PCs fight the currents of the story instead of flowing with the plot, and create a new plot with realistic depth.


Making lots of interesting NPCs. Honestly I hate GMing and would rather game. That said almost no GM I know ever goes into higher levels, so all that planning and effort that I put into characters, the hours devoted to creating their backstories and everything else I do is wasted. So I just GM, and then I get to take things to max levels, develope LOADS of interesting NPCs who often level along with the party, and the end result is a world I would want to play in.

Grand Lodge Contributor

I love world-building, story-telling, NPC creation, character interaction, plot development, surprising the players, being surprised by the players, making playlists of background music, arbitrating rules, preparation, research, performing, I enjoy all of it - but most of all: having a good time with friends.

The Exchange

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I like it when they scream.


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I like watching players be great. I like pushing the characters to a point of desperation, but leaving a few openings that allow their characters to break out that one special thing they do.

Now, I kinda suck as a gm, but when I get this to work I consider it a success.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

For me it's the player reactions - when I see them care I feel the most satisfaction:

When they want to keep playing past our 11pm finishing time.
When they don't bother about the treasure but want to read the cryptic clue.
When they sit back in their chairs exhausted after a tense fight.


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Cole Deschain wrote:
while someone else runs us through some L5R.

You have no idea how jealous I am right now.

As for what I enjoy about GMing, it depends on my mood. Sometimes I love setting up or planning out a mechanically intricate combat encounter. I love getting to try out character concepts, I always have too many to ever get to play them as a player. Other times I just don't have the energy for that, and in those instances I love when winging something pays off, like when you decide at the last second to add a character quirk to an otherwise unremarkable npc that really makes the players remember the character for months later, or when you start tangling yourself up with story threads and feeling trapped by your own spur of the moment answers and then you see that one piece of info that ties everything together and makes it all make sense. I love the post-game discussions, and hearing what parts really grabbed the players' imaginations or they found really tense. I love seeing what solutions my players come up with and how they role play their characters, and thinking out what the logical ramifications of their actions might be.


Specifically: I enjoy building the models, enjoy seeing my players have fun, enjoy having an excuse to get together every other week for a few hours and hang out, drinking beer, and play a game.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

For me it's a few things.

Crazy player creativity - "So, I pick up the 12-foot long table, and charge the skeletons."

Comedy - The demon lord lifts his head, and in a rumbling voice demands "who dares to disturb me?!" Player, not missing a beat - "I'm sorry, we can't come to the phone right now, please leave a message after the beep. BEEEP!" pause "RUN!"

Basically, having fun with my friends.

Silver Crusade

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I like GMing better than playing because I like knowing what's going on. I'm the kind of person who reads the ends of books first. I also find it hard to remember all the pieces between sessions enough to really appreciate how everything comes together when I'm playing. Basically, I like GMing because I get a better feel for the story.


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Feasting upon their tear stained character sheets.


I wish my friends did fun things in game... I had to tell one of them to stop thinking mechanics and shove his fist up a snake's cloaca once. Their version of having fun with the characters is to roll die at encounters, think they chose the right options to build their characters (they think they power game, I mean, but have never heard of an AoO loop, which I'm about to fix), and never use creativity with... well any of their stuff. Heck they don't even read their spells or abilities or feats. I honestly have to teach them everything and pull up all their abilities at the time they are using them.

But for whatever bloody reason, they constantly want to have a game running and act like it's crack.

Oh, yeah they also enjoy that I give them excessive wealth to make up for the gaming difficulty, as I run things assuming they're broken characters and they aren't. And they enjoy spending that wealth on ostentatious clothing


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As a GM I have fun:

  • Presenting a campaign world with locations, encounters, mythos, timeline and NPCs.
  • Presenting a wide variety of encounters that engage the players, and encourage them to have fun playing their characters.
  • Knowing I have general control of the storyline and timeline, with occasional (sometimes unexpected) exceptions.
  • Knowing that players will use wits and creativity to solve encounters, and vary their tactics to fit the situation.
  • When everyone at the table participates in the game to the amount they are comfortable with.
  • When players are friendly, kind, and enjoy themselves.
  • While I decided if a roll is needed and add the modifiers, the dice decide the outcome.*

* GM, and even player "Cheating" (i.e. ignoring dice rolls) is a highly debatable topic. Like all issues, discuss it beforehand, and come to a consensus on how your group views it.

player fun:

Players enjoy the game for different reasons then GMs.
As a player, I have fun:
  • Controlling the actions of my PC.
  • Customizing my PC with skills, feats, equipment, and other features.
  • Knowing that if I generally play well, and have a little luck, I will do well most of the time.
  • Having my characters decisions and actions affect the environment and story.
  • Getting experience and treasure that allows me to increase the power of my character.
  • Feeling that I can, and occasionally must do my best to defeat encounters.
  • Knowing that my fellow PCs are supporting me, and that we act in each others best interests.
  • Knowing that my PC is on par with the rest of the party and that we affect the game in fairly equal amounts.
  • Not knowing exactly what to expect, and trying to be ready for anything.
  • Even if bad things happen to my character, or the dice go against me, I still have fun if I am engaged in the game.
  • Feeling that in most opposed circumstances, it is the dice that decide the outcome.*


I like the power.
Also providing fun to my friends and boyfriend.
But mostly the power.


1) Creating deep, colorful characters that my players love and form connections with... then killing one of their favorites in a brutal way.

2) Watching the dawning horror on my player's faces as they put everything together.

3) Drinking tears.

4) Storytelling, and helping their characters develop. It enjoyens me to watch their world burn.

5) Creating tiered, complicated boss fights a la Dark Souls.


1) I get bored controlling one character.
2) I like to make sure others are having a good time.
3) I'm good at it


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the best part about GMing for me is that moment when I look around the table and everyone is smiling

the moments when everyone is laughing and all of my players have bought in

the moments when all of my players are so in-character and so invested in their time at the table that I can pretty much just step back and not even say anything for awhile as they make the world in front of them their own

those moments when I am roleplaying an NPC or an encounter and all eyes are riveted on me waiting for what I am going to say or do next in response to the great play of my group

that is the stuff I do like


1. Getting to create.
Since I picked up the red box as a kid and started reading CS Lewis and Tolkien, and others I've had adventure ideas in my head. GMing (and doing sysop work on MUDs) has always allowed me to create those stories, places, etc and then learn the parts of the story I didn't know about (that's where the PCs come in). Other than referencing some modules and Dungeon Magazine, I've never run prebuilt worlds or campaigns...always homebrewed, and often an entire story line is just a few bullet points, the rest I improv on the spot, and then fleshout between sessions based on what they players decide to do. My wife mentioned after about 9 months of playing, she see's that desire to create in my GM style and finally gets why I wanted her to play.

2. Time with my family and -play time-. We have 5 children 12/10/8/6/4 and family time is really important to us. Gaming for a few hours where you're all interacting together -as- the game is IMO way better even than playing board games (although we like those and UNO as well). Also, getting to just -play- as an adult and be someone I'm not...actually be -lots of people I'm not- as the GM. Its therapeutic, and I hope it is also setting a good example for my children that you can be a responsible adult and still never "grow up". GMing is playing...you get to do a lot more than any player.

3. Hearing the players talk about the game. have you -ever- heard someone say more than "they had a hot hand that night" when remembering a past monopoly/poker/horseshoe league game?? But players and GMs will talk in detail for hours about what they did in character, as well as contemplate "I wonder what happened to xxx or what would have happened if we did xxxx".

4. Pushing the players to their limits. I love sports, and good coaches get the best from their athletes. I look at my GM duties like that - know the players and their PCs, figure out how to challenge them and allow them to grow, and then putting the opponents/challenges/RP situations there that let them excel (and sometimes fail).


There are a lot of great answers above that mirror my own feelings. I am a fantasy-genre addict and so my nerd fantasy brain is "always on." I am a student and lover of history, in particular the history of warfare and weaponry. I enjoy pondering how I can harness the things I learn from history by using them in-game.

If I had to make a list, I love:
Writing, reading, storytelling, improvising, imagining myself in a monster's shoes (RPing, simply put), getting others involved in my stories, making people smile when they had a great game session, making people's eyes go wide when I do something unexpected or frightening (in-game!), the fulfillment of sharing the story with some friends, the shock I get when my players do something unexpected that throws me for a loop, creating new and interesting monsters to encounter, creating new and interesting magics and magic items to keep things interesting, providing confounding moral dilemmas for my players to work out, world-building, adventure-building, drawing characters and scenes, mapmaking, the social experience, learning what every other player loves about our hobby and trying to deliver that to them, ...and more.

I know a lot of people shy away from GMing because of the expected burden of prep work. I actually find some of my prep work to be downright fun because it is where my fertile imagination gets an outlet onto a piece of paper. I get to imagine horrible villains, scandalous rogues, conflicted heroes, memorable shopkeeps, horrifying monsters, and how I will introduce them to my players.

I can honestly say that my games are more improv than prep. I do some basic prep work (core NPCs info so I don't stumble, names of places, names of important people/powers that be, and a few adventure hooks) and then I go to game with an open mind, letting the players pick their paths. It is so much damn fun to have an unwritten chapter that my players and I get to write together, and that is the core of what I love about GMing.

Liberty's Edge

For me, the reason I GM is when I moved it was easier to find a group of players looking for a DM than a DM looking for a player.


Hey, Third Mind:

Damn, there's a lot of great stuff here people are posting. I'll be a bit repetitive probably.

My undergrad years were spent attaining a B.A. in Theatre Arts (cue the money hordes!) so DM-ing is a bit akin to my experience directing and constructing scenes. It feeds the artistic beast inside me. (Our joke at the table is that "We're making art here, dammit!")

My favorite part of DM-ing is the improvisation involved. No matter what I've prepared for, my players are always going to do something unexpected and fun. It reminds me of scene-work. The listening involved is so tremendous and lovely - remaining open to anything that may come my way behind the screen makes for a fun, organic experience. Our most memorable moments at the table, over all these years, have arisen from the unexpected. I love watching it all unfold and watching my friends discover their characters and joke with each other. It's grounding.

I also like the preparation aspect of DM-ing. I'll have my jamz bumpin' in the background while I draw, write, read, and prep for the next gaming session (and since I work at a micro-brewery I have that liquid courage to keep pushin' on, heh heh...)

I hope that was somewhat helpful or insightful, haha. I really enjoyed the question you asked. Cheers, Mate!


I enjoy being able to create and be TONS of characters. I love when players really hate or really appreciate an NPC. I like (with player permission) fiddling with the rules a bit.

I just love making stuff. Cool curses, artifacts, dungeons, creatures... It has less value in a vacuum, and having my players meet and breathe life into my ideas so that they become ours, which is something more, is one of the most rewarding things I've ever experienced.

I love playing and haven't gotten enough of it lately. But I will ALWAYS be down to DM at least 1 campaign.


I enjoy (trying) to create challenging encounters for the group, seeing the "We're boned" looks in their faces, and then the excitement/relief when they actually prevail by the skin of their teeth through some miraculous means.

I also enjoy (trying) to create trivial challenges that the group should not have a problem with, so that they can feel powerful. (until the magus decides to cast spells in melee and refuses to cast defensively, then gets crit on an AoO)

I like giving out clues as to the bigger picture, slowly revealing the mystery, watching the group piece together what is going on in the bigger picture.

The campaign I am currently running is my first time really GMing, aside from a couple one-two shot games. I've found the more I have been doing it, the more I enjoy it, and I hope my players feel the same way. Because ultimately, the best thing about GMing is seeing the enjoyment of others.

Dark Archive

^^Control Freak^^

... and I love putting together campaigns and allowing my friends to explore my creation.

... and miniatures... lots and lots of miniatures!


Being the GM is fun for me because I get to be creative when not gaming. As player my creativity ends with my Character. Once I have my character there is nothing but waiting for the next game session. As GM I can spend my time building the game. This may be enriching an Adventure Path, this most typical or building my own world and the adventures set in it.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I've had the good fortune of players who half write the evening's action for me. A misplaced or ill delivered clue on my part has more than once derailed the pedestrian plot I had and plunged the table into a hunt for goblins in January, a rooftop chase in a burning town in February, a political power play over three sessions in March and April, hopefully ending in June. None of these did I plan or expect, and the first two set up the last in ways I still am baffled by.

I look at GMing as watching a show, my players being the actors and writers.

My old group had a rule that you had to play between GM duties, a frequently broken thing, but one that helped on fatigue.


Mostly the story telling, but the looks the players get on their faces every so often is just the icing on the cake.

There was a time where the players saw that the host of the library they were in was slowly transforming into...something. Fiance rolls something crazy high on her knowledge checks to identify it. When I told them the host was turning into a dracolich, the general reaction was "Oh. Oooooh. Oh god," "Wait, what?!" and "Uhhh...do we run now?" Seeing their faces on that sort of thing was beautiful.


Bwang wrote:

I've had the good fortune of players who half write the evening's action for me. A misplaced or ill delivered clue on my part has more than once derailed the pedestrian plot I had and plunged the table into a hunt for goblins in January, a rooftop chase in a burning town in February, a political power play over three sessions in March and April, hopefully ending in June. None of these did I plan or expect, and the first two set up the last in ways I still am baffled by.

I look at GMing as watching a show, my players being the actors and writers.

My old group had a rule that you had to play between GM duties, a frequently broken thing, but one that helped on fatigue.

Sounds like so many of my games!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

The reactions my storytelling elicits from the players.

Sovereign Court

DominusMegadeus wrote:
Moto Muck wrote:
Crushing the characters before me and hearing the lamentations of their players. That is best in the world.
There comes a time, DM, when the monsters cease to sparkle, when the gore loses its luster, when the screen becomes a prison, and all that is left is a man's love for his friends.

LAAAAME!!!

;p


Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

To crush the players, to see them driven before me, and to hear the lamentations of their women!

Oh, wait, that's something else... mostly I like telling the stories. Preparation is pretty cool, too. I'm currently doing the map for Redlake Fort in Giantslayer (2 full megamats) listening to the radio, waiting on pizza, and contemplating a glass of Scotch. Good times.

I get a kick out of watching them wiggle around to figure out what the clues mean, too. My experienced crew is distrustful of just about everything I say, expecting some hidden meaning. I'm new enough that they aren't yet sure when I'm leading them down a primrose path, or into the gates of Hell. My noob crew has just discovered that the characters they encounter may not be truthful (Vault of Thorns), so I expect to see some change in their attitudes, too.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

Take a deep breath and remember it's just a game. Keep it light and have fun by allowing players and you to socialize and laugh. A big help for me is playing in the same group for years with people willing to rotate gming responsibilities and allowing the players to help dictate the rules when I am unsure. And as far as the rules, don't be afraid to break them and just go with what feels good or what will make it fun for the players...if they have fun you have fun!


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The world building and populating it with NPCs is a great deal of fun. I do enjoy the story telling aspect you get with being the GM. To me if my friends and spouse are enjoying the game, it is way more fun than doing other things.


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

The fun I have is reacting to the unexpected ideas that players have. In fact, it's often the less experienced players that are the best at this. It often works better to have a loosely defined idea of NPC motivations and larger story arc elements, than to plan everything out. Ultimately, the players almost always "find" more interesting ways to take things. Let them write some of the story for you.

With that said - I love reading the books, and drawing dungeons, and all that stuff. But if you don't enjoy doing that, there is a way forward. I also make my own circle game tokens with player and NPC art - rather than use minis. In my experience, it's more immersive and ton of fun to make.

With a little practice, you can use a lot of stock APs and module material to back up the encounters you end up needing, and the players rarely know the difference. Don't waste time stating up an NPC (unless you like doing it, then by all means). If you tell the party they're facing a mutant beast from some alchemist's lab and describe it in story terms, but you're using the stats of a some BBEG from a module - no one will know or care.

This requires a fun group though. If players are too focused on auditing what you're doing as a GM, or telling other players what to do, that's a no-win. Avoid those people.

Liberty's Edge

Keep in mind...I am HORRIBLE at impersonations.

Nevertheless, if I can portray one character accurately (funny drunk, ambitious sidekick, devious schemer) I think I have done my job...


Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

In-character play is pretty fun. I did a well known judge in Mummy'a Mask, on Halloween no less, in-character and everyone got in as well. We had a blast.


I enjoy the entertainment that I give to my friends and family.

Sometimes there’s not much reward. Other times, I can see the excitement on their faces and it is worth all the effort.

I’ve been DMing for about 30 years now. I’ve been running the same homebrew world for almost 20. I love it when I hear people telling stories about my games or how intricate the setting is.

About two years ago, I somewhat reluctantly started a game for my daughter and her friends who were then juniors in high school. They enjoyed the first game and more showed up after hearing about it. When graduation came, I assumed we’d be done since most were going off to college. I was surprised that they wanted to keep going and some would play via skype when they could.

I enjoy seeing my players encounter interesting situations, conflicts, and characters.

I also love tactics and strategy. Since I usually have a good idea on what my PCs can do, and survive, I like to create epic battles.

And some of the best enjoyment is when a few players hang out after the game to talk about the game, what happened, and what might happen next.

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