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Why DON'T you want to GM?


I know this board is populated by more GMs than players-only, but I wanted to ask anyway:

If you do not want to GM, why? What about it makes it unpalatable to you? Have you tried and decided not to do it any more? Have you not tried? Do you imagine some day GMing?

Other folks are welcome to comment too, of course, and it is fine to talk about how you felt before you decided to GM, but I would like this discussion to focus on those that don't and won't. Thanks.

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The Hardest part of GM'ing which makes me not want to do it is finding the right people to play with. Putting together a group is by far, for me at least, the LEAST pleasant thing about being a GM. I used to hear a lot of people complaining about prep and dealing with problematic players. I think that the trick to dealing with problematic players is screening them out in the first place. Granted you're not always going to be able to catch everything (especially with extremely talented sociopaths) but for the most part you can.

Systems that I don't like I simply don't run or play in. And for particularly crunchy systems I don't mind doing a whole bunch of hand-holding. But the primary reason I haven't run a game since my 10-year Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign ended (almost everyone from that group has moved away or moved on) a few years ago is that I find the idea of putting together another group exhausting. And to be fair I'm low-key going to be measuring any new group I assemble against my old players who were really, REALLY great. Great Players and more importantly, great people.


WotC President Runner-Up.
I can only imagine this is inspired by the discussion in the SPG thread. So this will just be an expansion to what I said over there.

I was really afraid to, honestly. I started playing D&D when I was around 14-15 years old. We primarily played 3.5e. Very early on I had a strong desire to DM. I had stolen, pretty much in it's entirety the plot line from my favorite fantasy series as a kid. I thought it was a very interesting premise and I wanted to see how it might play out differently in the confines of a D&D game. Halfway through the session my brother, just asked

"This is Deltora Quest, isn't it?" I was stunned. I shouldn't have been. I don't know why I would have expected my older brother to not have read the books his younger brother was obsessed with. He hadn't read them in the way I did, but he had read enough to remember the part I was trying to copy, and he started rattling off what he remembered and essentially spoiled all of my planning for the next couple of sessions.

In that moment I was totally lost. I had zero idea what to do as far as improvising or changing direction.

So a decade later, I hadn't played much D&D. my original group fell apart and I was never able to find another one. I played in a couple of online games but nothing ever clicked. So I just didn't play. A few years ago, I was getting back into it. I purchased the core three books on sale on amazon, and read them. I was listening to The Adventure Zone, and consuming lots of D&D content on YouTube. I had also gotten back into Magic The Gathering, which had released the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set around this time and I was seriously hungry for more D&D. I had conceded to the fact that I probably wasn't going to find a group to join, and if I wanted to play D&D, I'd have to make a group, which meant running a game.

From that first session, the lesson I took from it was that I wasn't prepared enough. So I spent probably close to two years working on maps, on NPCs, on plot lines, and all this world building and stuff. I even found a few friends who were interested in playing. I kept pushing off scheduling that first session though, because I was afraid I wasn't going to have enough content.

Last year I ended up moving out of state to be with my current partner. It's been challenging being away from home, but that's part of the cost of making a long distance relationship a short distance one. She's been very accommodating however, and has worked to try and get me integrated into her friend circle. One night at a bonfire someone mentioned the online game they were in. My girlfriend mentions I like D&D, and suddenly lots of other people are talking about how they've always wanted to play, or maybe they played once and wanted to try again. On the spot I offered to run a game.

I also made the great choice of taking all of that old world building and stuff I did, and just throwing it away. I made a simple dungeon with like 5 or 6 rooms, modeled after Matt Colville's Running the Game example dungeon. Goblins kidnapped the Inn Keeper's son, and the party needed to get him back.

It was so simple it felt stupid. And it ended up being so much fun. We're four sessions in now and I'm loving being a DM. I'm trying to find a way to recruit a new group that might be able to meet a little more often.

TL;DR. First session went poorly because I didn't know how to actually prepare for a session. This gave me severe performance anxiety and kept me from trying again for a very long time.


Well I can DM D&D in my sleep at this point, but I really felt what it's like to be a new GM when I started with Pathfinder.

My reservations centered around (less than thorough) familiarity with the mechanics, wanting the game to run smoothly, being proficient enough in the VTT I was using, and making a challenging** and interesting game.

**Maybe it was just the one Intro module (Menace under Otari), but my players blew through it, easily curb stomping all of the monsters.

I'm currently only playing, not GMing. The main reason for that is time. I know from past experience that I need at least a few hours of prep time before I feel comfortable running a game (maybe a bit less with non-trad stuff like PbtA). And in the past few years, these hours have been rather hard to find (no single factor, but the combination of job, other commitments and occasional health issues has been eating up significantly more of time than it used to).
Now I do have plans to run occasional Friday night games again, but I don't think that will happen before I complete one of my larger spare time projects. And even then I'm mostly looking at shorter adventures with different systems, not full-fledged campaigns (even though I do enjoy them in general).


I think is has some of a different mindset. While I like being the DM, I would also like being a player. Ideally, I would have 2 games a week and do both. Since I cannot, I find things are a bit stuck and while the game is going fine a part of me would take a break for a campaign and feel less pressure.

There is some pressure/problem with being the 'leader' and likely doing the organizing and reminding to get the game started. I do not really have that since it is the same group and same time it has been for years and everyone knows. There is also the design and running the game pressure people feel and risk of burnout.

Thomas Shey

During periods when I didn't GM, it was because to run a game in a fashion I considered satisfactory, it required more energy than I had. Or I was having trouble with the only group available and didn't feel a need for the stress (this could easily be true with groups I had no trouble playing with).


I GMed a wee bit in high school, and I sucked at it (I sucked at playing too back then so it's all good). Then I had a long, long dry spell through college and into adult life. Past two+ decades I've mostly been a player (3.5e, 4e, Spirit of the Century, BRP, ORE, Torg Eternity, Torchbearer 2, Blades in the Dark, Stonetop, a few others). Last year I started GMing Torg Eternity for my regular group, to give our poor GM a chance to play. I hated it at first. Just hated it. So prep intensive (we're on roll20, but even in person it would be a chore), and the rules I thought I knew well as a player turned out to be such a mess when I had to adjudicate. I worried about screwing up, I had a player or two lose their temper briefly on some ways I handled certain actions, even though they knew I was new at this, and was generally not liking it a bit. I wrote an initial mission myself, then modified a short one from the sourcebook set I backed, and now am running the big "adventure path" from that same set. I wrote a little bit of homebrew supplemental material for that (the equivalent of new feats and such, changes to handling spiritual corruption), encouraged the players to play at least one native to the realm they were adventuring in, not a one of them did, and they ignored my supplemental material. Hrmph.

Then, at some point I stopped caring so much about being on top of everything, or about the players all making total aliens to the setting and ignoring the stuff I'd made up (and hoped to playtest!). Although the VTT prep still sucks, I just breeze my way through the adventure and the gang still has fun riding the railroad and seeing the sights. If I screw up, I say so, rewind or retcon, and nobody's feathers get ruffled. And I have abandoned any idea of publishing any material for the game because it's just never going to get any feedback.

I recently got to try Dogs in the Vineyard and would love to GM that someday. In the meantime, I am hoping to find another group to be a player in. Even for Torg Eternity, which I had grown to hate so much for a while, for reasons mentioned above and more. (I'm on the west coast, hit me up and see if we can schedule it. :LOL:)
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