log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D General Professional DMs making $45k/year off it?

Um, holy crap. I had no idea professional DMing -- which was still the subject of flame wars and mockery only a few years ago -- was now this profitable.

From Polygon:
Bethany Dillingham has been playing Dungeons & Dragons since the early ‘90s, but she was having a hard time trying to find a new game in 2018 when she hopped on the virtual tabletop platform Roll20. She found there were so many people trying to get into games that she couldn’t get a slot. Then she saw the section for pay to play games, hosted by professional Dungeon Masters (DMs), that typically cost between $5 and $25 per session.

“I played a game and thought ‘I can do that,’” she said. “It’s a good side hustle.”

Dillingham was working as a bartender at an Olive Garden in Goldsboro, NC at the time, and that side hustle quickly turned into her main job. Now she runs about eight to 10 games a week, charging six to seven people $15 each for four hours of 5th edition D&D.

“I think that being a storyteller is an art form,” she said. “It’s the same as a guy playing a guitar at a concert, or a painter. If you’re telling a good enough story that people are going to want to come back to, then they’ll pay for it.”
Well, I guess I know what I'll be doing if I get laid off in the next round.
 

log in or register to remove this ad



You can DM, sure. But the hard part — like any business — is building the business, the customer base, etc. I would imagine that it’s a a lot of hard work to build the business up to the point that this person has.
For sure, but getting steady temp work in a big city is work, too. (Last time I was unemployed, I had to apply to six different agencies, call each of them daily and then wait for them to decide I was too close to qualifying for benefits and for them to tell the customer that I was unavailable and tell me that my services were no longer required.)

Downloading and mastering all the virtual tabletops and posting on all the forums is less work with more personal control over the results. And a hell of a lot more pay, even compared to temping in one of the biggest cities in the world with a greater than 100 wpm typing speed.
 



Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
For sure, but getting steady temp work in a big city is work, too. (Last time I was unemployed, I had to apply to six different agencies, call each of them daily and then wait for them to decide I was too close to qualifying for benefits and for them to tell the customer that I was unavailable and tell me that my services were no longer required.)
Yeah but you had agencies. Now try that without the agencies!
 




If you are serious about this being a backup plan, I strongly suggest you start now.
I have no intention of getting laid off and I turned down a job offer at a competing organization months ago. I was being tongue in cheek about it being a back-up plan.

That said, it wouldn't be a terrible way to pick up a little extra cash if this is still a thing when I retire.
 





You can DM, sure. But the hard part — like any business — is building the business, the customer base, etc. I would imagine that it’s a a lot of hard work to build the business up to the point that this person has.
I think it's a lot easier to make money DMing on Roll20 and similar platforms than it would be for physical gaming. For online gaming your customers can be anywhere in the world, and as long as demand for (paid) DMs outstrip supply the business should grow naturally as long as you're able to put on games good enough that players keep coming back. There are already effective online tools for finding players.

Now, if DMing for pay becomes popular then DMs might have to start competing for players, then the job could quickly get brutal.
 


Stormonu

Legend
I had a discussion with my son just a few months ago about this very subject. He wanted to set up a Patreon sort of thing where’d he would DM, so I sat down with him and we worked out what he’d have to charge and do to make a living at it, and at what level he’d be comfortable with.

—————————
Assuming a 40-hour work week, 4 or 6 hour game session, plus prep time.

Desired: $15 per hour pay ($600 per week; $31.2K pretax).

Assuming Needed: 6 players per session. 2 sessions per day, 5 days a week - 60 players needed (that’s a lot of people right there).

Cost per player - $10 per session.

Not bad, but would you pay $10 per game session?
——————

This was a very basic napkin math, not including costs for materials (books, minis, computer, VTT, subscriptions, etc.), travel, medical, taxes, prep time (factor in prep time of 1-2 hours per group, you lose a day’s worth of players and cost per player rises about $2 per player). Likewise, a smaller play group would increase the cost too.

It’s definately one of those things that‘d be great if you can do it, but you’d certainly have to build up a client base - and it’d be a LOT of work to keep up with (10 game sessions worth of notes a week?).
 

payn

Hero
Yeah 40-60 dollars a month locked up of your disposable income is a lot. People pay it obviously, but I cant imagine there is an overabundance of paying customers.
 

It’s definately one of those things that‘d be great if you can do it, but you’d certainly have to build up a client base - and it’d be a LOT of work to keep up with (10 game sessions worth of notes a week?).
I suspect, although it's not spelled out in the Polygon article, that a lot of these pro DMs are recycling the same content over and over again, so they get a lot more out of those prep hours than an amateur DM would, who's unlikely to run a given adventure for different groups more than once or twice, especially in the same month.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top