Here’s the obligatory: Being a game master can be the most rewarding aspect of the RPG hobby. You get to be a referee, a storyteller, and a builder of worlds which your players can explore.
Here’s the ideal: You get to introduce your friends to an interactive storytelling experience, sometimes for a single or handful of sessions, but many campaigns have lasted for years providing enjoyment for all participants.
Here’s the reality: Being a game master can be a chore. Nobody else has the time or inclination to run a game so you’re it. Your players often show up late or not all. Mr. Rules Lawyer likes to argue about the rules. Mr. Edition Warrior thinks your game needs an upgrade. Mr. Splatbook wants to play a variant character class and try stuff not in the core rules. You spent 3 or 4 hours last week preparing the adventure for this session, and now your players want to go on a different adventure.
I became a game master when I was 11 years old because I wanted to. I saw D&D as a vehicle for my creativity, a way of telling stories. And for a time, this was good. I’ve had hundreds of hours of time well spent running RPGs.
It’s all those other hours which have made me question: why do I even bother?
You can find thousand of tips and tricks on being a good game master out there, but they’re worthless if you can’t get a good group together, one that’s dedicated.
The Number One rule of game mastery is to entertain your players, don’t bore them.
If you follow this rule everything else will fall into place.
The Number Two rule: be willing to walk away.
Mein Gott im Himmel, you’ve got figure out when to walk away and quite investing your time and energy into a shoddy campaign. Or with a bad group of players. Or trying to start a campaign when nobody seems interested, or if you don’t really have the time.
I haven’t run an RPG since sometime in 2016.
The break’s been good. I am re-evaluating things.
Though it has brought about a certain kind of ennui John Arbuckle experiences in Garfield Minus Garfield…