log in or register to remove this ad

 

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


log in or register to remove this ad

darjr

I crit!
@Burnside keep us informed about the event please?

When doing in person games, how many of those are remote to you? How many DMs outside of your local area.

How many DMs and games do you currently manage?

Also do you ever host DM classes? Especially voice stuff and/or improv?

Also how stable are the groups?
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
@Burnside keep us informed about the event please?

When doing in person games, how many of those are remote to you? How many DMs outside of your local area.

How many DMs and games do you currently manage?

Also do you ever host DM classes? Especially voice stuff and/or improv?

Also how stable are the groups?

1. Will do!

2. We have DMs across the US & Canada and I am currently working to line up one in Europe. However, with the DMs that are not local to me, we only get them online clients so far. I have never arranged an in-person game for a DM outside the greater NYC metro area. However, keep in mind that almost all of this has been during the pandemic, so it just has not been possible to run many in-person games, period.

3. I personally currently run 2 ongoing online (paid) weekly campaigns, and 1 online (personal, unpaid for friends) bi-weekly campaign at the moment, and am a player in the podcast game which records twice per month. So:

Curse of Strahd (weekly, paid) - DM
Lost Mines of Phandelver, has now transitioned to Rime of the Frostmaiden (weekly, paid) - DM
Dungeon of the Mad Mage (alternating weeks, free personal game for friends) - DM
Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus (actual play podcast) - Player
One shots (about 1/month, usually free) - DM

Personally, as publicly advertised games I will only run one-shots. My ongoing paid campaigns are actually invitation-only, to players with whom I've already played in one-shots, or if a player I know approaches me to run for them. For me, even though it's for pay, if I am committing to a long-term campaign, it has to be with the right players. No money is worth running hours and hours and hours for the wrong players.

4. I don't host classes, but we do have a Discord server which has an advice area where we help other DMs, and once a month we do a free audio show on Discord where anybody can join in & ask questions. The Discord link is here: Connect with Us

Everything on our Discord is free. We also post discounts on our DMsGuild stuff and the occasional free map, and we have starting doing some video prop-crafting videos. Example: Time-lapse, making the spirit board from Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft

5. The groups are very stable. As somebody mentioned upthread, people who want to pay to play D&D are generally serious, dedicated players who are going to show up on time and be very focused for the sessions they have purchased.
 

J-H

Adventurer
I don't think anyone's going to get rich DMing, but for someone who's good at sales, marketing, and DMing, and has access to a good market, it can be a great side hustle, second job, or mid-earning full time job. I don't think it'd be enough to support a family on a single income on. The areas that support higher fees (Silicon Valley, NYC) also have higher costs of living.

My main obstacle to playing D&D is that time. I have a job, a small homestead (1 hr per day), and 2 small children that we homeschool. Life is full!

I could see paying $5-$15 per session for a good DM (5 players, $75/session, 5 hrs = $15/hr or $30k per year @ 40 hrs/week) if I had time. The one group I play with now - most of them probably wouldn't... but again, time is the big constraint for us.
 



I don't pay for dming currently - all my groups are going strong - but if I were to pay, I'd want more than just a game that happens. One thing that would push me toward paying is art assets - online that means enough to keep the visual style of the entire campaign consistent - all pc tokens, all monsters, all backgrounds in the same art style the whole way through turning the whole thing into a cohesive visual experience (and matching music), that's something I'd pay for.

In a live game it would mean minis and terrain.
 


1. Does it pays well, no, but one shouldn't compare a business to a
I'd pay $20/session for what I imagine is a professional level DM.

The 45 kUSD a year is the result, given 6 to 7 players per session, 4-hours sessions and 15 USD/session/person, and 8 to 10 sessions per week, 52 week/year. (52*9*6.5*15=45,630). 10 sessions is one session each night, plus 3 additional on week-ends. I am not sure one could perform well at DMing when it's the end of the week, the Sunday night session, third session of the day. Marathon sessions happened to me when I was younger but I wouldn't say they were great sessions until the end... And at 6 to 7 players per session, it's hard to do character specific spotlight and story, something you might want from a great DM. It's certainly possible to deliver such a performance, but the preparation amount would be intense and the business would be close to minimum wage, tiring for the DM in the long run and have no way to improve profitability in the long run.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
1. Does it pays well, no, but one shouldn't compare a business to a


The 45 kUSD a year is the result, given 6 to 7 players per session, 4-hours sessions and 15 USD/session/person, and 8 to 10 sessions per week, 52 week/year. (52*9*6.5*15=45,630). 10 sessions is one session each night, plus 3 additional on week-ends. I am not sure one could perform well at DMing when it's the end of the week, the Sunday night session, third session of the day. Marathon sessions happened to me when I was younger but I wouldn't say they were great sessions until the end... And at 6 to 7 players per session, it's hard to do character specific spotlight and story, something you might want from a great DM. It's certainly possible to deliver such a performance, but the preparation amount would be intense and the business would be close to minimum wage, tiring for the DM in the long run and have no way to improve profitability in the long run.

That doesn't take into account the time you also have to spend promoting and marketing your games, plus prepping adventures, or expenses.

I personally couldn't run 10 4-hour games per week and have them actually be good games - even if I wasn't also working full time at a day job. But maybe someone could.

$15 USD per player for 4-hour session isn't a viable rate tbh. You need to charge a bit more. $15 per player is sustainable for a 2-hour session.
 

I personally couldn't run 10 4-hour games per week and have them actually be good games - even if I wasn't also working full time at a day job. But maybe someone could.
I think it's doable if you kept everyone to a very tight timeline and using the same material, similar to running convention games or AL games at a store. This week everyone is starting chapter two of Witchlight, next week, everyone will finish it. After that, everyone moves in step to chapter three, etc. Then you'd only need to master one set of material at a time. The big challenge would be backfilling with other content as needed when one group blasts few faster than expected.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
I think it's doable if you kept everyone to a very tight timeline and using the same material, similar to running convention games or AL games at a store. This week everyone is starting chapter two of Witchlight, next week, everyone will finish it. After that, everyone moves in step to chapter three, etc. Then you'd only need to master one set of material at a time. The big challenge would be backfilling with other content as needed when one group blasts few faster than expected.

Oh, yeah, I think a person could do it, but I think I personally couldn't because I would burn out and be miserable running that much. And if I'm willing to burn out and be miserable, there are more lucrative things I could do than DM.

For me, I can comfortably run 4 or 5 4-hour sessions per week and feel confident that I'm running good games. Anything beyond that starts to feel like I'm in a Beckett play.
 

CubicsRube

Adventurer
Supporter
I would pay for sessions of games systems I haven't been able to get to the table.

Coriolis, blades in the dark, the Sprawl, etc.

I've tried looking through roll20 available games and it's all D&D.
 

I would pay for sessions of games systems I haven't been able to get to the table.

Coriolis, blades in the dark, the Sprawl, etc.

I've tried looking through roll20 available games and it's all D&D.
I found GenCon Online very useful for that last year. I would jump on there the day they open up registration and snag those game sessions, if I were you. (In fact, I might join you on a few of those games.)
 


Problem is that I'm in Australia. Time zone is not friendly for me, or my wife
I hope that someone, or lots of someones, will decide to make something like GenCon Online a regular occurrence around the world. Especially in regions of the world where travel time and expense can be a challenge, moving at least a portion of cons online just makes too much sense.
 

CubicsRube

Adventurer
Supporter
I think there'd be a market for it over here. Great for a number of expats in Asia who miss their RP groups from back home.
 

Never did and never will have players to pay to play at my table. That said, I do understand those that wants to get paid and those that are ready to pay. I had a former player turned DM that changed area to live in Montreal near one of the universities over there. He works as a part time mechanic and he DM for money.

At the time in the beginning of the 90s he was asking for 10$ per players per session and he usually had 6 groups. Now he asks for 20$. My last contact with him was about five years ago at the funeral of his father. He still had 6 groups, of 5 to 6 players and was often forced to say no to many others. So I guess there always was a market for paid DM's skills. I wonder if, with the pandemic, he is still playing...
 
Last edited:

ECMO3

Explorer
Now lots of people are willing to DM for free because they enjoy it. So I can't see it becoming a big moneymaker except for a few people.
Free online games are not the same though.

I started playing online during COVID and there are plenty of free games but I have found many of the players that sign up for those games are not invested in it. It is also difficult to do a campaign in a free game because most free gamers are looking for something this Friday, not every Friday. One game in particular I played I did not have fun. The other three players in what was going to be a campaign wanted to murder hobo and just be "silly" for lack of a better word. There is nothing wrong with those kind of light games on occasion but it is hard to find a good game that is free.

As such I no longer play free games, I will gladly pay $15-$25 a session as the games are worth it.

On roll20 it seems you have a lot of full paid games and a lot of DMs waiting for players and not a lot in between.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I'm thinking if doing this due to lifestyle basically. And injury. Early retirement.

Some here are doing it and charge $25 a head (almost $20 usd). Another group was advertising for a DM willing to pay $25 each for 7-9 players.

House is paid for so rent/mortgage doesn't matter. I wouldn't charge for friends, anyone else maybe. Or if it's a larger group pay me. Generally I cap my groups at 5-6.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top