View Full Version : Curing DM's blues?

2009-11-11, 08:14 PM
So, I find myself in a bit of a conundrum recently. I'm more or less the go-to GM of our group for 4e (which is the most common RPG system we use nowadays). We're a bit of a beer and pretzels style of gamer, so we're usually there to have fun with light hack and slash RPGs. Now, originally I co-DM'd with two other guys. One just doesn't DM anymore as he's less capable of adjusting to things on the fly, and the other got his start with trying to kill off the entire party with dungeon delves (this was known, and agreed on by the entire group, as we would only lose close-to-none investment characters), but either doesn't have time to make his own stuff up, or has a hard time breaking out of hard 'nearly-kill-em-all' fights. Now, he's an excellent Choasium CoC DM, and does just fine with other systems.

Now, I greatly enjoy DM'ing, I just miss the playing. I occasionally think of NPCs or various character/archetype ideas, and suddenly one will just just off the pages and run with their own thread, and before I know it they've spun themselves off into one of those character that are part of what makes me greatly enjoy RPGs. I've worked one or two into recurring NPCs, but I flat out refuse to ever put DMPCs or DMNPCs that are capable of detracting the feel of cool from the actual PC party. PbP RPGs used to be how I'd vent this out of my system, but I started developing bad habits of being online way longer then I should be, so I canned it all.

I've also gotten used to gaming with an actual group of people, so the pace now grates on me, even though I used to be okay with it. Finding another real life group isn't a solution, I don't have the extra time in the week to game twice, and I'm not aware of any non-crazy gamers in the local area that aren't already in our group. I guess what I'm looking for is being able to get that creative venting/unwinding feeling of being a player and not the person running it all, without distracting from obvious real-life priorities. Any thoughts?

2009-11-11, 09:07 PM
I guess what I'm looking for is being able to get that creative venting/unwinding feeling of being a player and not the person running it all, without distracting from obvious real-life priorities. Any thoughts?If you're willing to create your own adventures and campaigns, you can utilized your creativeness on intricate plots, hooks, and getting the players engaged. However, with systems like D&D that can involve a significant amount of time dealing with the mechanics.

I'll also suggest plot-point or sandbox campaigns (whether created or purchased) to involve the players a bit more in the details. That lets you offload some of the minutia of step by step planning onto the players.

2009-11-11, 09:52 PM
I hear ya, man...

So far, I have played in one 4e game and had loads of fun as a Kobold wizard. Then that game died and since then all I have done is DM, some 4 or 5 games so far (one currently, one in "hiatus"). Granted, I am/was (not sure) playing in a 3.5 game, but it's not the same thing, since the ideas I get for 4e are not easy to translate into 3.5 terms (try making a Defender paladin and you'll see what I mean)...

So, yeah... Pretty much you gotta find another group or someone willing to DM in your group... One thing I did and which can help pass the time is have a "spare PC" available. So you create a character that you'd like to play, background etc. but leave him "fuzzy" enough that someone else might take it and turn it into their character. Then, when/if a PC dies and they can't/won't rez him right now, this PC can show up and be played by the guy-who-died until his old PC comes up or forever, if he prefers. The fun part of doing this is, since you know the story of the game, you can make a PC that makes sense (especially if he just pops up in the middle of a dungeon and joins the party).

2009-11-11, 10:07 PM
I feel your pain. We've got one guy in our group who is an incredible DM. He's tons of fun, great story, great opportunities for character development, awesome encounters... but he tends to get burned out pretty fast. The solution we've got is to switch off DMing-- I'm the other DM, and one of the other players is working on creating a homebrew setting so he can start running sometime early next year. It allows everyone to be a player in at least one game.

Short of getting someone else to DM, the only solution I can think of is cutting back how often you play... but that doesn't solve the main problem, which is that you want to be a player, too. PbP might be a solution-- I usually go to that for the opportunity to play builds and characters I probably won't get the opportunity to play IRL.

Sorry I'm not more helpful. >.<

2009-11-11, 10:20 PM
Same boat. Started playing with a group of RL friends with a great DM who was the older brother of one of the players. We had a bunch of sessions together, alot of deaths, alot of fun, but then the DM got busy with RL issues and stopped running them. A friend offered to DM the group, but unfortunately he just couldn't weave a fun game. So I offered to DM and I've been doing it ever since.

I like to DM but it's alot of work sometimes, especially if you haven't been playing with the system for years upon years and have to look a bunch of things up. No one else is willing to DM.

I turned to PbP games to get my PC urges out of the way, but so far of the 6 games I successfully applied to, 6 of them have fallen apart at the very beginning. The DM that was so active during player recruitment suddenly can't push the campaign forward and then stops posting. Every single time. Ugh.

The solution? Politely nudge someone to try DM'ing, offer to help them. Point them to a nice, easy, short module -- WOTC hosts some freebie ones that are good. Pray that they enjoy the experience. If that doesn't work, cut back on D&D. Seriously. Go pick up Modern Warfare or something. Stress-free fun, you'll wonder why you didn't take a break earlier.

Don't feel forced to do something you're not enjoying.

2009-11-11, 10:29 PM
Have you considered chat based games? I've found they're more reliable than pbp and you only have to be on the internets for a few hours at a time. That's how I manage to stay sane and get my player fix.

2009-11-11, 10:29 PM
Ugh. You have NO idea. I've been DMing for 9 years, straight. I haven't been a player in that length of time, well, not for more than a few hours at a time once per every year or so.

I've burned out twice. Each time I come back, I have done so at my friend's bequest's, not my own will. I want to be a player dammit! Not a freaking DM anymore... :smallfrown:

Akal Saris
2009-11-11, 11:17 PM
Yep, I know the feeling as well - I've been the main DM for as long as I can recall in my home group, a good 8 years now I'd guess. Now that I'm away in grad school, I actually get to be a PC for a change :P

It's a pity that I haven't found a great DM around here yet though - one of my friends tries very hard, but it's his first game and he's still learning the ropes. The other DM just doesn't try very hard to make it fun for the PCs - it's more about competing with us, which gets old fast.

My advice is to nudge some of the PCs into trying DMing every once in a while, and to run 2-3 different campaigns for the same group - that way there's more than 1 campaign to occupy your imagination and to prep for. I also play PBP games, though they are indeed a time sink.

2009-11-11, 11:24 PM
Write fiction. You have good ideas. Run with them.

2009-11-11, 11:41 PM
Kill one of your friends, preferably an insolent one like Larry, who refuses to bring potato chips even though he's sworn like five times now to bring potato chips. Then bring his head to the gaming table, set it down and say "Now are one of you bastards going to DM, or are we going to have another little 'accident?'"

But if you prefer a murder-free solution, I suggest trying a different system. If you only play fantasy games, tell your friends that you want to run a superhero game, or Call of Cthulhu. Shake things up. Maybe that'll help.