D&D 5E What's fun about being a DM?


He / Him
Lifelong DM here.

Often I see posts about the hard work of being a DM, groups searching for a DM, the various responsibilities of a DM...

This thread is not about any of those things.

For those of you who love to run the game (and I am one of those), what is fun about being the DM? What drives you to take a seat behind the DM screen? What do you love about it?

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Rolling LOTS of dice!

I enjoy framing scenes and encounters and enjoy watching my players interact and sometimes deconstruct those!

At the end of the day providing a platform for my friends and I to get together and have fun is the main reason I enjoy it.


Patron Badass
The satisfaction of knowing my players had a good time. Doesn't matter if it was a balanced time, a terrifying time, a serious time, or a wacky time.

I just want to know that my players appreciate the work I've done for them. Might sound like a selfish request but I like knowing my work is meaningful and joyful.

Another satisfying moment is seeing those f**** beg for their lives under my foot, but that's secondary to the first.


No rule is inviolate
Not knowing where the story is going to go. Ever.

When players solve an encounter in a completely unexpected way, or the dice roll against all odds, leaving us with a crazy memory.

Creating realistic NPCs that take on a life of their own. When players care about them, whether it be love or hate, it's job well-done.

Coming up with twists and turns that players haven't seen before. Easier when I was 12.

Getting people together who end up becoming friends, even if life later takes us apart. A DM can be a magnet that attracts players and a glue that holds them together.


Creating a good story that the players enjoy. Even if I use some pre-made modules in the whole campaign, I try to make a few side adventures to fill in some things and make it player focused.

I like making the modules themselves. I have not made a world in a long time and just use FR, but creating places to place around Phandalin or another location is fun for me.


I like the spontaneity of it all. Sure I can outline the points I want to hit next sessions, but the unpredictable stuff that happens on the fly brings me the most joy.
I also really like making maps, creating fun combat encounters, picking loot, creating lore and NPC’s, etc.
You also get to play more than anyone else at the table, and it gets easier the more you do it.
The euphoria at the end of a fun session as a DM is unbeatable, especially the brainstorm of ideas of what to do next kicks in.
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1. Creating a story in which players participate.

2. Creative encounter design in fun.

3. PC's role-play play a character. DM's role-play the world including a wide variety of many characters. Feel like something different? A new NPC coming right up.

4. In a non-PVP game the DM creates battles to fight against players. The intention is to lose but it's still fun.

What's fun? Designing a story, setting it up, and seeing where the party goes with it. Sometimes it goes sideways, but that surprise is part of the fun.

On a side note, it mostly scratches that itch. IME, most perma-DM's have to DM. They may take a break, but campaign ideas will boil within the subconscious until one becomes so strong it cannot be contained. DMing isn't a hobby, it's an obsession o_O

Khelon Testudo

Cleric of Stronmaus
It's an absolute rush to see how the players react to your npc's, how they respond to your setting and set-ups, and ask you questions you have to come up with answers on the fly, and then how they run off with your ideas in ways you never thought of. And inspire your own imagination to heights you'd never have reached otherwise. Those aren't every session, but the best, most memorable sessions.

If you've ever played a game like table tennis: it's like verbal, mental version of having to respond to each volley from your opponent. But you both win if you or they hit a ball in an entirely unexpected way.
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It gives me a chance to show off my epic DMNPC's and show my useless players how awesome I am.

Seriously though it's incredibly rewarding running a campaign that the players beg you to run, talk about events in game during the week as if they really happened, and that you can see they're genuinely enjoying as they play it.

You're creating and facilitating a social event where your friends are getting together, working together, imagining together and having fun.

That's the reward. It's incredibly satisfying when it all comes together.


Kinder reader Inflection wanted
I have only GM'd a maybe 10 times so maybe I am not qualified to answer... but, I enjoyed the prep work about as much as the game. I liked building the dungeons, finding the maps, making the puzzles, make the traps, drawing it out / sorting tiles, and programing for my digital sessions. It was all fun because I was doing it for my players and with them and their characters in mind. Its the same excitement I get when I am making my character to fill a role in a party. Maybe I am weird because the "work" was fun.

I haven't done it more because I was nervous wreak during the games, one group didn't enjoy it enough to keep playing (I blame myself, it was my first 4 games, I think I didn't give enough reward, it was a bit on rails because I needed some training wheels, and the party wasn't sure they wanted to play to begin with I kind of drug them into it) and the second group was enjoying it but one of them invited a GM friend to play as a player on my 10th game and apparently he is only happy when he controls everything so everyone quite to avoid playing at the same table and by everyone I include myself. I could not restart a new game because it became clear I could not invite that person or the person who invited him and I didn't want to start a new game without them because I would have to explain why they were not invited. They moved away, but I ended up as a player in another game because I am too nervous about how those two went to try with people I don't know well.

I was certainly surprised by my players a few times and designed my second campaign to allow a lot of player freedom, but our games were restricted to 2 hours for second campaign and just as I got setup to follow the party instead of hook and pull down a line, "the other GM" player showed up. Still kind of wish I could have used all my work. Maybe I will once I have 4 people I want to play with who are interested and willing to let me try.

Khelon Testudo

Cleric of Stronmaus
Yeah, running for strangers is much harder than running for friends. I've run a couple of convention games ("con games" might be misconstrued! :D ) but only well after I'd been running for my friends for years. There has to be trust on all sides of the table, and to appear trustworthy it helps to appear confident.

There's a lot of talk about "spotlight time" and how player's either compete for it or the DM hands it out evenly.

As the DM you always have the spotlight whenever the characters are interacting with your world.


Creating stuff - player content, adventures and worlds.

Watching the story unfold. Sure, you can present five different paths, but its entertaining to see players take the sixth and where they end up.

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