Content of the article: "DMing is fun and easy, but be respectful of the time your DM has to put into prep"
If you want interesting cliffhangers, dramatic story arcs and challenging encounters perfect for your party (not over too quickly, not so difficult you TPK)…
All of that takes time and attention from a DM.
If you haven't DMed before, I'd recommend it – it's really easy, it's really fun (you're just another player, but you're running the NPCs).
But the major difference is it's a much greater time commitment from the DM. I'd say every hour spent playing is about an hour to half an hour of prep work required. And don't get me wrong, it's fun!
Looking for the interesting enemies to make an engaging but balanced fight (for the ever unique party), changing enemies slightly for an interesting twist, what spells does this NPC wizard have; and why. What makes sense lore-wise. The big twist with this BBEG. A fun non-combat encounter with different skill rolls from different party members.
And of course, the most fun part: the actual setting and 'world.'
But it all takes time.
There are little ways you can be respectful of that:
1. Show up!
If the DM can spend 1.5 to 2x the time players spend on the game, you can at least show up or give advance notice when you have to cancel.
2. Pay attention during the game.
It is really sad to see people just on their phone, definitely replying to messages, or (if playing online) in Discord with 'playing Mass Effect 2' by their name. It's hugely demoralising.
3. Be careful what you call 'railroading.'
There are RPGs that require almost no prep each week, but they often have a different focus – Traveller: just a freelance starship crew trying to make money in the galaxy, making trades, avoiding pirates (or becoming them). For those games, yes, you can just point at a spot on a map and head there, then change your mind, instead stay there to try to become royalty, etc.
But, to continue the comparison, Traveller doesn't have character levels, classes, HP (yes, really) – it doesn't have all those things that make up the high fantasy encounters you're used to. As this person put it, making a cool character is part of the fun of D&D – and making cool, challenging encounters for them is the DM's job.
I'm not going to make your character do anything, but if your character 'wouldn't be interested in helping that duchess' or
Or discuss what you want from the campaign in Session Zero. Or give me till next session to prepare what you do want.
4. Give feedback!
Positive, negative, anything – if I'm putting in 5 hours a week (including session time), and you don't like it, you can tell me! I'll be ok. And if you do like it, then definitely tell your DM!
One last point, not in the numbered list, because not everyone should feel obliged to do this: DM-adjacent stuff. Recap the last session for players that weren't there. Note down things that might be important later – this character's name, that item you found, this rhyme/riddle, etc. Help other players with the rules or character sheet (even if they've been playing for longer than some people train for a full-time profession).
These things also show your appreciation and that you're enjoying the game. I can remember what happened last time in a TV show I watch or a series of movies, showing you know what's going on in your DM's game just communicates it that more clearly you are engaged, you are having fun and you appreciate them.
Shout out to the DMs, old and new – and those thinking about starting up.
- How to deal with players who don’t even show up to your sessions.
- Atleast let your players plans go off (RANT)
- Secretly antagonist PC in an evil campaign? Looking for 2nd opinions
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