The GM is Not There to Entertain You

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Do you think the GM is responsible for your fun when you play? Does how you feel depend on whether you are playing with friends, randos or pros?
The DM puts in 99% of the work. It’s their game. But they set it up for the players to have fun. The DM should be entertaining, but the DM is absolutely not responsible for the players’ fun or entertainment.

The DM sets up the world and situations and the players control their characters and make decisions. If the results and outcomes of those decisions are fun and entertaining, great. If they’re not, too bad. The DM is under no obligation to change the world or bend over backwards to deliver personalized fun to each player in a box with a bow on a silver platter. The DM is not a storyteller nor is the DM an organ grinder.
 

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Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
The DM puts in 99% of the work. It’s their game. But they set it up for the players to have fun. The DM should be entertaining, but the DM is absolutely not responsible for the players’ fun or entertainment.

The DM sets up the world and situations and the players control their characters and make decisions. If the results and outcomes of those decisions are fun and entertaining, great. If they’re not, too bad. The DM is under no obligation to change the world or bend over backwards to deliver personalized fun to each player in a box with a bow on a silver platter. The DM is not a storyteller nor is the DM an organ grinder.

I certainly don't put in anywhere close to 99% of the work in the game I run. Maybe 30% if I'm feeling frisky.
 

The idea of the GM putting in 99% of the work (or whatever variation in which the majority of the work is put in by the GM) is odd to me. Like I get the sentiment. But I also believe a lot of this work is self imposed, with little thought to actual payout or seeing if it’s necessary for game enjoyment.

Example: I paint minis and build terrain for my games. I also make databases and spreadsheets to link factions and information and move and such together. It’s fun! Good old lonely fun. But none of that is necessary to run a good game with my players. I could claim that this work is 99% or whatever, but it’s somewhat disingenuous to imply that it’s necessary work needed to be done for the game to happen.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I wanted to spin this out of the "power creep" thread because I think it is worth its own discussion.

I see a lot of people making comments that strongly suggest they think that it is the GM's job to provide them with entertainment. Most obvious is the "restaurant" analogy I see popping up more and more often, with the GM cast in the role of chef and restaurateur. I think this is wrong headed and detrimental to the fun of everyone at the table. An RPG is more like a dinner part, where everyone is contributing to the enjoyment of all. Even if one person is cooking, they aren't the "chef" in what that implies about service.

Now, this might not be true with paid GMing -- which is why after having done it a little, I am not a fan. Even at a convention, I am still a facilitator of fun, rather than a vendor of it, if that makes sense.

Do you think the GM is responsible for your fun when you play? Does how you feel depend on whether you are playing with friends, randos or pros?
On the other hand, many GMs viewing running the game as inherently an act of service, much like hosting and cooking for a dinner.

But, even then I agree with the sentiment that GMing isn’t a “job”. Still, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to talk about reasonable expectations, nor does it not being a job remove the obligation of the GM to do thier best to facilitate a satisfying experience, and make sure the players are comfortable and feel safe, just like a dinner host.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The DM puts in 99% of the work. It’s their game. But they set it up for the players to have fun. The DM should be entertaining, but the DM is absolutely not responsible for the players’ fun or entertainment.

The DM sets up the world and situations and the players control their characters and make decisions. If the results and outcomes of those decisions are fun and entertaining, great. If they’re not, too bad. The DM is under no obligation to change the world or bend over backwards to deliver personalized fun to each player in a box with a bow on a silver platter. The DM is not a storyteller nor is the DM an organ grinder.
That’s one way to play D&D, sure. Not to my taste, but as they say, some people juggle geese. 🤷‍♂️

The dismissively hyperbolic language like “on a box with a silver platter” is probably counterproductive, though. No one who sees the GM role as having obligations expects a silver platter, literally or metaphorically.

As well, the idea that the GM isn’t a storyteller is very particular to a set of play styles, and not remotely close to widely true enough to declare like an axiom.
I certainly don't put in anywhere close to 99% of the work in the game I run. Maybe 30% if I'm feeling frisky.
Yeah seriously, and at least 1/4 of the work I do put in is wholly voluntary. The players aren’t demanding personalized magic items or a homebrew world.
 








MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I've noticed that the tread uses "GM" and is filed under TTRPG General, but nearly all the answers about how the DM is responsible for running most of the game seem most applicable to D&D and D&D-like games. There are games where the the DM is a facilitator and the players do nearly everything. Not all TTRPGs require a great deal of prep and require the GM to be responsible for all the lore, options, NPCs, etc. And, playing games like this, can help you realize that the same can be true in DnD to some extent.
 

Reynard

Legend
I've noticed that the tread uses "GM" and is filed under TTRPG General, but nearly all the answers about how the DM is responsible for running most of the game seem most applicable to D&D and D&D-like games. There are games where the the DM is a facilitator and the players do nearly everything. Not all TTRPGs require a great deal of prep and require the GM to be responsible for all the lore, options, NPCs, etc. And, playing games like this, can help you realize that the same can be true in DnD to some extent.
It hardly seems worth debating or discussing outside of traditional RPGs, though. It's a given other kinds of RPGs that, where ig is not so obvious with D&D and traditional games.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
It hardly seems worth debating or discussing outside of traditional RPGs, though. It's a given other kinds of RPGs that, where ig is not so obvious with D&D and traditional games.
I don't find it worth debating but it is worth discussion. I think a lot of DMs put to much on their shoulders. You can hand off quite a lot to your players and that kinds of collaborative running of the game can be a lot of fun. How much and how often depends on the group, but most games can benefit from throwing some of these techniques into their games.
 


willrali

Explorer
I’m pretty much the forever GM. And I acknowledge that my job is to do almost all the work in bringing the fun. I need to provide the story hooks, NPC interactions, fun scenarios, opportunities for loot and advancement — basically the whole framework for the fun.

The one thing I expect from my players is to read and understand the damned rules before you arrive at the table. Know what your character can do, how to advance your character, and how the game works. That’s all I expect. If you can’t even do that then you’ve no place in my game.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I don't find it worth debating but it is worth discussion. I think a lot of DMs put to much on their shoulders. You can hand off quite a lot to your players and that kinds of collaborative running of the game can be a lot of fun. How much and how often depends on the group, but most games can benefit from throwing some of these techniques into their games.
This is one the best reasons for a D&D GM to play indie games. Especially with 5e, you can just use a lot of systems and ideas from others games, like flashbacks, metacurrency, escalation mechanics, rolling to find out not pass/fail but what effect doing your thing has on you, and a ton of others, without any actually adjustment of mechanics needed on the 5e side.
 

MGibster

Legend
I've noticed that the tread uses "GM" and is filed under TTRPG General, but nearly all the answers about how the DM is responsible for running most of the game seem most applicable to D&D and D&D-like games. There are games where the the DM is a facilitator and the players do nearly everything. Not all TTRPGs require a great deal of prep and require the GM to be responsible for all the lore, options, NPCs, etc. And, playing games like this, can help you realize that the same can be true in DnD to some extent.
I pretty much use DM and GM interchangeably. And while you're right about games where the GM is a facilitator and the palyers do nearly everything, I think those games are in the minority. The most commonly played games have the same DM/Player dyanmics as D&D.
As a DM, I don't even try in the slightest to make the game fun. I make the game interesting. Then the players bring the fun.
I try a little bit. If I know a player is interested in something in particular, I'll try to make sure it's in the game. But I'm such an awesome DM that I make it look effortless.
 

Reynard

Legend
This is one the best reasons for a D&D GM to play indie games. Especially with 5e, you can just use a lot of systems and ideas from others games, like flashbacks, metacurrency, escalation mechanics, rolling to find out not pass/fail but what effect doing your thing has on you, and a ton of others, without any actually adjustment of mechanics needed on the 5e side.
A lot of people don't want meta currency and other similar tools in their game because they are immersion killers.
 

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