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Shops with Pay for Play

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
I have yet to see a business that provides you with a game master and TRPG once you enter and pay the hourly fee.

Some close, but not quite, businesses:
  • Paintball provides a referee for a fee, and you pay for paint.
  • Snakes and Lattes provides a table...I think you rent board games there?
  • Collectible card games get you a shot at the prize for your price of admission.
  • Escape rooms provide the puzzles and game master, but no RPG.
  • Coffee shops provide the games, but no GMs. Pay by beverage.
  • Video arcades provide the games and GM/CPU on a sort of gambling basis, but no tables.

Do you know a place where you can rent a GM and RPG for the evening? Would you go if you did?
 

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billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
Do you know a place where you can rent a GM and RPG for the evening? Would you go if you did?
I'll preface this by saying that I have gone to gaming clubs at the local student union and conventions where gaming comes relatively close to the GM-for-hire model, though usually not for money. I've gamed in those circumstances reasonably happily. But no, I doubt I'd be interested in renting a GM/RPG for an evening under most circumstances. The limitations of the model, when it comes to scratching my RPG itch, are just too many/great for me to be interested.
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
In the sense of "walk in any time, and a GM will be available"? No, I have not seen that.

The owner of one FLGS I know does run D&D for a fee, but it is the "We will run at times X, and if you join us it'll be $N per session". His game store has a parlor/play area, which you can rent out, and for special occasions (like, say, a bachelor party), you can have him put together and run an evening of game for you.
 



Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I have yet to see a business that provides you with a game master and TRPG once you enter and pay the hourly fee.

Some close, but not quite, businesses:
  • Paintball provides a referee for a fee, and you pay for paint.
  • Snakes and Lattes provides a table...I think you rent board games there?
  • Collectible card games get you a shot at the prize for your price of admission.
  • Escape rooms provide the puzzles and game master, but no RPG.
  • Coffee shops provide the games, but no GMs. Pay by beverage.
  • Video arcades provide the games and GM/CPU on a sort of gambling basis, but no tables.

Do you know a place where you can rent a GM and RPG for the evening? Would you go if you did?
I probably would at least try it out if I didn't have a regular group.
 

MGibster

Legend
Do you know a place where you can rent a GM and RPG for the evening? Would you go if you did?
My local game store has a summer camp type program for younger people to come in and play some games. I think it's $15 bucks a head per game and it comes with a DM. (I say DM because I think the game is always D&D.) That's about the closest thing I can think of. Would I go to something similar for adults? Probably not. Gaming is a social activity and paying someone to run a game for me seems somewhat sad.
 

Jmarso

Adventurer

This is in Boise, Idaho. The owner has the biggest library of gaming books, miniatures, and terrains I have ever seen gathered under one roof. You can rent rooms to run your own games, hire a DM for your group, or play a 'drop in' game with one of their DM's. And because it's billed as a 'premium' DnD experience and you pay to play, problem players are simply not tolerated. It's not very expensive, although that's a subjective thing to say. A four hour 'drop-in' game session runs you $15. Not sure what the rate is for renting a game room for your own game, but split among a table of players it would be negligible. Mood lighting, sound-system tie-ins, and all materials (books, dice, pencils, paper, minis, etc) provided on site.

For the guy who owns it, this is definitely his 'passion project.' He's also a stellar DM.
 

babi_gog

Explorer
Have seen this model in a couple of FLAGS where I used to live, though in the fixed time slot. There are also a few online options for this I've seen as well.
 

When I was running an open gaming table at a local gaming cafe, they started charging $5 for a seat at the table for a session (which was much cheaper than the hourly rate for the wristbands to play the pinball, arcade, and console games there).

Some people stopped coming when they started charging, but honestly the table was over capacity at that point and I was glad to have it shrink.

$5 for a night out is pretty cheap. I've easily spent way more at concerts, club nights, and bars for less enjoyable evenings.
 

In Malaysia, just before the pandemic, I heard about one boardgame store trying to recruit DMs to run paid D&D sessions on-store, but the lockdowns threw that plan out the window. I know a few people here are playing in person again, but the shop hasn't tried to revive that project as far as I have heard. At the very least they did survive the lockdown...
 

aco175

Legend
I would try something like this. Kind of like a convention but a little more to pay someone for a night entertainment. What the dollar amount is, I'm not sure. A 4-hour night is like 2 movies, so maybe $25/player is ok.
 

Just before lockdown, one of the pizza joints in Albany (OR) was looking for a DM for a pay-to-play. It was tips plus food and gas... but my drive time put my gas above their threshold. (My FLGS gave them my name and number... after asking permission).
I recall they were looking at $3 for the evening, plus drinks and food, no outside food/drinks allowed.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
. . . Gaming is a social activity and paying someone to run a game for me seems somewhat sad.
I understand; it's why I won't pay for a GM on Roll20. So a shop would have to offer something more or different from a home game (see post 9). . .

Would Conventions count? You pay a fee to get in and join in the games there...
I would try something like this. Kind of like a convention but a little more to pay someone for a night entertainment. What the dollar amount is, I'm not sure. A 4-hour night is like 2 movies, so maybe $25/player is ok.
Kind of like a convention, but with better beverages, less noise, and definitely lower price. Live music, fewer celebrity panels. Really, I'd pay $5 to get to try a new game (still need to play Symbaroum) with some strangers. Maybe $10 if the group is good, and it runs for two hours. Hmm, plus a free coffee, maybe? Anyway, the comparisons to movie nights, live music, and conventions are fair. If a gamer (or future gamer) would pay X for a night of entertainment, why can't (isn't) a TRPG be that entertainment?

Or we could pitch a GM-Pass to our local coffee shops:

- GM-Pass: bring in/entertain 4 beverage-buying patrons, and you get 1 free drink.

Anyone want to print us some punch-cards for this? 🤓
 


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