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D&D General Dungeon Master or Referee?

Marc_C

Solo Role Playing
In older D&D books the person behind the screen is often called the Referee, which implies an impartial stance but also contains authority (final word). Dungeon Master doesn't have the neutral connotation and puts a higher emphasis on authority (master). Do you see yourself as a referee or a dungeon master? Or are they both just the same thing?

I see myself as a Referee.
 

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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I think it's a silly distinction. On the other hand, referee to me implies neutral arbiter that preplans everything and is generally in an adversarial relationship. DM means more than that.

But it's semantics, I don't attach any particular meaning or negative connotation to the "master" in DM. There are only so many words in the english language. 🤷‍♂️
 

ninjayeti

Adventurer
To me a "referee" is a person who interprets and enforces the rules. While that is certainly part of a Dungeon Master's job, it is a pretty small part. To me a Dungeon Master is a person who invents worlds and characters, improvises stories in collaboration with players, acts in multiple roles, makes tactical decisions for enemies, and oh yeah, also interprets and enforces the rules.

So I see myself as Dungeon Master, which is a much larger role than that of referee.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
In older D&D books the person behind the screen is often called the Referee, which implies an impartial stance but also contains authority (final word). Dungeon Master doesn't have the neutral connotation and puts a higher emphasis on authority (master). Do you see yourself as a referee or a dungeon master? Or are they both just the same thing?

I see myself as a Referee.
The DM is often called a referee, but only because that's ONE of his multiple hats. I see myself as the DM, because that's what I am and have been since I started playing during 1e.
 


Marc_C

Solo Role Playing
I think it's a silly distinction. On the other hand, referee to me implies neutral arbiter that preplans everything and is generally in an adversarial relationship. DM means more than that.

But it's semantics, I don't attach any particular meaning or negative connotation to the "master" in DM. There are only so many words in the english language. 🤷‍♂️
You obviously never watched any sport. A referee is neutral, not adversarial... otherwise he is fired! :p
 

Marc_C

Solo Role Playing
Referee comes from wargames, going all the way back to the Prussian kriegsspiel. Dungeon Master used to literally mean you had created a big dungeon that you ran players through, which is an increasingly inaccurate term for the role in D&D.

I still say "DM," but I'm trending toward changing my usage to "referee."
That is pretty much also why I call myself a Referee. (I love wargames).
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
You obviously never watched any sport. A referee is neutral, not adversarial... otherwise he is fired! :p

Yeah, I think others have explained it better: the DM is a lot more than just a referee. They're a participant. Besides if I was master at the table my players would know to bring snacks! :mad:
 






Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
'Referee' implies sort of neutrality and passiveness that I don't think the role actually has or should have, and 'dungeon master' is a bit cringey D&D specific term. So 'gamemaster.'
Nah. Nothing cringe worthy about it at all. It's just a term for someone who takes on the roles involved with that side of the game in DUNGEONS and Dragons. I mean, he could have gone with Dragon Master I suppose.
 


Marc_C

Solo Role Playing
Nah. Nothing cringe worthy about it at all. It's just a term for someone who takes on the roles involved with that side of the game in DUNGEONS and Dragons. I mean, he could have gone with Dragon Master I suppose.
Maybe we would say more Dragons! Interesting term.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I have never liked the term referee - it implies arbiter of two sides... and in my mind in RPGs there aren't two sides - there is one group with one goal (have a good time). The GM and players facilitate that goal for each other.
Definitely. I refuse to be adversarial and engage with arms races with the players. I want those who play in the game I run to have an enjoyable time.
 




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