View Full Version : Why do you DM?

2011-09-15, 03:01 PM
I DM 3.5 for about 4 years now (shorter campaigns, lasting from one-shot to half a year) and after some serious reconsideration and some documentaries (Dungeon Masters (2008)) I am realizing that I like the most to tweak encounters (in broadest sense of monsters, traps, puzzles and RP shenanigans) to a thin point between beateable and unbeatable for my players. Its a bit like tunning a graphic card. How far can I push it before I ruin it? Also, I live to see people overcome my rather impressive obstacles.
I admit, there were a few ruined cases of TPKs and such, but people still love to have me as a DM.
Also, I love to use powers, abilities and SLA monsters have instead of just stacking hp, AC, to-hit and dmg. A lean monster with low AC, low hp, yet maybe some decent defensive abilities and silly high init. mod. and party-wrecking abilities? Awesome.

2011-09-15, 03:45 PM
I DM because I enjoy creating a story with other people that can bring their characters to life and challenge them on an emotional, moral, and mental level. I guess I'm a Bard in the simpliest sense and I love nothing more than to tell a grand tale. I have the intelligence and patience for complicated rules and stats but the knack for making it simple and fun for my players. Even when I haven't prepared as much as I would have liked and I end up 'winging it', my players rave about how amazing of a DM I am for them. As much as I like making other's characters and stories come to life, I enjoy introducing each and every NPC, monster, and item. When I come up with these things, they seem grey and almost dead. But then I get to show them to my players and suddenly they are colorful and alive. It doesn't matter whether it is PbP or in person, I just love being a DM. Even when my players lament over their character's deaths or failures, I know that the next victory or return from the dead will instill them with that familair feeling of greatness and joy.

2011-09-15, 04:46 PM
I DM because it's awesome! It can be a whole lot of work. It can be frustrating. But I really enjoy taking an idea for a plot, planting the seed, and watching my PC's really water it and make it grow. The prep is the work part. The PC's ruining my carefully knitted together yarns is the frustrating part. What I think makes me a good DM is that I like to listen to my players and encourage them to try things that are off the wall.

PC "Ok, I want to run and leap off this stairwell and grab that chandelier and swing across to help the wizard"

Me "Sounds good, describe exactly what you want to do and lets figure out how you can do it and I'll tell you what happens."

I think the best part about DnD (or whatever RPG you play) is the interaction you get to have w/everyone. It's pretty awesome making an encounter your players really have to think out side the box to make it out of alive. And it's really awesome that they will come up with idea's to do that that you were not even close to thinking about.

Lastly, there's that satisfaction that your the Big Chief here. It's pretty fun beating the snot out of PC's!

2011-09-15, 04:58 PM
I love interacting with complex systems, designing them, hypothesizing on changes they see when new elements are introduced, so on and so forth. A setting worth the name has all of this, and it blends in my love of genre fiction settings, gives my creative license, and lets me engage with a narrative. GMing is writing, but without the work and with a delightful element of unpredictability.

I am also a very social person. Sure, I am, strictly speaking, an introvert. However, I love to spend time with a small group of friends, particularly when in any thing that could be reasonably well described as a creative endeavor. Again, GMing is a perfect fit for this. That I would like role playing games was inevitable, and that I would drift to GMing another inevitability. All I needed was an introduction to the concept, and my mother played D&D back in the day, so I even had that.

2011-09-15, 05:04 PM
Because nobody else ever would, so I just got stuck in that role. And over time, grew to like it.

2011-09-15, 05:19 PM
I DM because the players make the story dynamic.
I love to come up with back-story narratives, over-arching mythologies and plot hooks, but when the players sit down, roll dice and make their decisions, in whatever ways they can imagine, and I have to catch up with them and make the results exciting enough to keep them playing, it's one of the best rushes in gaming.

It does fall down a little when the players demand pure hack-and-slash style games, but luckily I haven't really played with a group that doesn't try to make the creative most out of any situation (plus, they get to count how many more gray hairs I have by the end of the campaign).

2011-09-15, 05:44 PM
Because no one else in the group is willing to that day and i'm bored of sitting around. Unfortunate, but that's usually how I end up DMing.

2011-09-15, 05:49 PM
I DM because I enjoy creating a story with other people that can bring their characters to life and challenge them on an emotional, moral, and mental level.

The same for mee, too. Especially the moral part.
That, plus i love creating a world and "simulate" how the things develop, with and without the interference of the PCs.

I think my first time i started DMing was when i was playing Baldur's gate 2 with friends over a multiplyer game. We player the LOTR party, and i impersonated Gandalf. Note that i didn't even know what dnd or a d20 was.

After a couple sessions, i started modifying things. I was hosting the game, so i loaded the MP game, hacked in a magic sword and dropped it somewhere.
Then, when we would play, i told them my magic sense was tingling and guided them to where the sword was hidden, so that the other players would find and take it.

Later, i started playing the game alone, to see the story, so that i could foreshadow events to the other players, provide them riddles for future quests, etc.

I never realized i was effectively DMing until i heard of Dnd and started DMing for real. Its been 8 years now, i played Dnd for a few months, and DMed the rest of the time.

Archpaladin Zousha
2011-09-15, 05:52 PM
I DM because nobody else know HOW, and if they do, they don't want to volunteer their time. Which leads to some pretty sucky games, because my organizational skills are terrible, which makes me a terrible DM. :smallfrown:

2011-09-15, 06:13 PM
Why do I DM?
I love the creative aspect of DMing. I love creating worlds, NPCs, villains, towns dungeons, and much more.
I also love telling a good story, like hanging out with friends and someone brings up some old escapade from years ago. I want the players to look back at the stuff they did in my games and say “remember that time…”.

These two are probably my primary motivations as a Dm. I enjoy other aspects, but not as much as these two.

2011-09-15, 09:39 PM
I've been thinking about this a bit lately, as the last few (or few-plus?) campaigns I've run have failed to really keep my interest, and I don't like having to wrap things up while the players still want to keep going...

I would have to say that initially (back in '78) it was to be creative and to a large degree to show off my creativity, even to the extent of railroading a bit and maybe undermining the players' creativity and control of their characters in some cases. Although even those games where (IMO) good fun, I learned not to do that and it led to some good games where the players where really creative and did a lot of neat stuff, but also to some games where nothing really seemed to happen. I think that, especially recently, I'm gun-shy about actually trying to tell my story, but the players aren't really ending up trying to tell their own stories, or at least not in the way I'm looking for...

2011-09-15, 10:16 PM
For the stories. All the stories of player massive wins, fails, and crazies. Because I never would have come up with half of the stuff my players do as a group on my own.

2011-09-15, 10:17 PM
#1 I love roleplaying but i find i get bored quicky when restricted to just one character.

#2 Im all about cause an effect, i love trying to manipulate my players into doing what i want with out forcing them onto railroads. There is nothing i like better then when my players do exactly what i want them to do and think it was all their idea and that they are screwing me over.

#3 I love at the end of the game where my players are all so worked up that they can't sit down, stressing about what they are going to do next. Then once the game is done they are happy talking about their plans for next session. The calls and emails i get between session about this and that to do with the game, seeing the players genuine enthusiasm.

2011-09-15, 10:23 PM
So the main DM can rest once in a while. Also, I love the players expression when I describe the enemy they're fighting. And for the last one, I like to think all of us can be heroes (I've been the hero in a couple of campaigns, let the others shine!).

2011-09-15, 10:26 PM
I DM because I have stories to tell and I'm not a very good writer.

That and seeing the look on a players face when the completely unexpected or absurd happens.

2011-09-15, 10:34 PM
It's the story for me, and also coming up with ways to challenge the players. Particularly when I can come up with ways to do so with non-combat encounters, as my fine-tuning of combat encounters is not always so fine - although when I do get the difficulty on combat encounters just right, I like that.

I started doing it originally just to take turns so that the other two people in the group would get more time playing, but once I managed to figure out how to plan campaigns (although that's still both my least favourite part and what I'm worst at), I began to enjoy it in its own right.

2011-09-15, 11:19 PM
The most sane and competent player at my table. Naturally I had to do it. It can sometimes get boring after all these years as a GM, almost a decade and I can count the games I've been a player in on one hand.

2011-09-15, 11:26 PM
I DM because I secretly hate myself and am compelled to subject myself to hours of tears and frustration.

but seriously, because it's fun.

2011-09-15, 11:46 PM
I prefer to play, but DMing is fun, too. It's fun to know that my friends are having a blast because of me, it's fun to set up dilemmas, especially moral ones, for them to sort through. I don't have any consequences beyond the actual results of their actions (I'm not an alignment dictator), but having them care, in an in-game sort of way, about characters I've created, situations I've dropped them into... it's really awesome.

And I love being surprised by my players. Like I just had them jumped by a bunch of bandits, bard took out most of the group with the Sleep spell, so they ended up with a bunch of helpless criminals at their mercy. They tied them up to ask where the camp was... and then they didn't know what to do. Kill a bunch of guys who were at their mercy? Let criminals go? Turn them into the law, where it's already established they will be executed for their crimes? They even considered making them slaves of a sort, to spare their lives...

I love my players ^-^ And that, ultimately, is why I DM.

2011-09-16, 10:26 AM
I only ever DM for one-shots, apparently. I get awesome ideas in my head and plan for hours and hours to play that game and make a campaign out of it, and then everyone is suddenly unavailable for weeks at a time :smallannoyed:

All good and well though, as I'm not really a very good GM. I tend to railroad like mad and prefer lower power levels the likes of which might disturb some of the D&D players on this board...

Still, I enjoy the creative outlet, at least. I tend to only DM when our usual guy is burnt out though. Which is frequently... I think we both prefer to play, rather than GM, and everyone else in the group is new or only there for a social activity.

2011-09-16, 10:56 AM
So the main DM can rest once in a while
This. The main guy needs a break now and then, so I help out. Personally, I don't think I'm that good at it and our main guy is much better than me, though the players still give me encouragement (probably because I indulge them with their beat-em-ups).

We generally stay in the same world (just a different part of it... I'm on one side of a continental divide and he's on another), so it's also fun to put my own spin on events and see how our games interact. Sometimes it's a minor thing, and often the "news" is corrupted by the telephone game. However, if we influenced the disposition of a King, "awoke" an Evil, or once even caused a (un)natural disaster, it makes a bigger deal. With the disaster, it even screwed up the global economy, so the more distant city in my game was in noticed shortages in iron, gold, and other heavy metals, so prices for everything went up and a gnoll invasion (they were displaced by the giants and orcs who were displaced by the disaster) caused a literal need to turn ploughshares into swords, with limited success.

2011-09-16, 12:26 PM
I DM because nobody else know HOW, and if they do, they don't want to volunteer their time. Which leads to some pretty sucky games, because my organizational skills are terrible, which makes me a terrible DM. :smallfrown:

Exactly this.
I usually say that if I DM I want someone else to organize the meetings.

Anyway, I DM because...
To crush my players, see them driven before me, and to hear the lamentation of the women!

2011-09-16, 01:25 PM
I DM because I love to tell a grand tale, and a tale is so much better when assisted by others. To somehow make a group of characters fit in a story is quite fun.

I hope this new group will finally let me tell a tale like my last group did. I'll be running my Ravenloft adventure, (EtCR + allot of homebrew). I DM better during fall and winter...

2011-09-16, 01:26 PM
Because if I didn't, I wouldn't have a game at all. . . .

2011-09-16, 03:58 PM
I enjoy creating an interesting story that my friends are both interested in and wish to develop. I enjoy that slightly sadistic feeling when I through my players a curve ball they did not see coming and could very easily get them all killed.

But mostly I enjoy the roleplay. Admittedly there is a charm to playing a single character and watching them develop, but I get to play any wacky idea that comes to my mind and can drop it as soon as it bores me. The toad voiced bar-maid who offers assistance and is truly out for herself for laughs. A barbarian dwarf who can't go a single conversation without telling outrageous tall-tales about his accomplishments. A true sociopath torturer trying to grab power. I get to play all of them.

2011-09-16, 05:02 PM
I like having complete control. That, and I can play a variety of characters when I get bored with one.

2011-09-16, 05:17 PM
Because I suck at creative expression, and DMing is the only way I can get people to put up with it from me.

Probably not the best reason, but hey, it's an honest one.

2011-09-16, 06:34 PM
I got started because I was the one who understood the rules best and had the free time to do the prep work (at the time, my job was the definition of "55 minutes of wait followed by 5 mintues of sheer panic" / "Hurry up and wait").

I've stuck with it because I love building worlds and creating intricate plots. In fact, I'll be the first to admit my "intricate plots" are my strongest & weakest point. "<TheEmerged>, you're the only storyteller I know who could make a trip to the grocery store more complicated that War & Peace."

"I did that once, the episode was even named Warren's Peas..."

Truth be told, my players trained me to be thus. They'd start talking to the most off-the-wall NPC and I'd feel the need to create the backstory for said NPC. Since I had more than enough time to prepare, I started creating backstories for every NPC I could think of the players might meet. That meant I started coming up with motivations, subplots...

Yeah, I'm aware of this weakness and work to counteract it. Especially since my free time is greatly reduced now.


There is also the joy of world-building. I don't mean this in sense of making maps taking into account the plate-techtoncis and so forth. I suck at map making. But I love to sit down, stare at my computer, and think things like,

"How does it affect society to have teleportation portals?"
"Why would a drow and a gold elf have the same mythology when they disagree about everything else?"
"What does it mean to be a police officer in a world where most criminals are bullet proof?"
"Why does someone who can transport tons of material long distances almost instantly with minimal effort turn to crime instead of putting UPS out of business?"
"What happens if we take this old cartoon we all liked as kids and take the background premise seriously. How does this really play out?"
"Well, what happens if we take three or four unrelated fictional worlds and mash them up?"


There's an additional joy to DM'ing these days. We're an older gaming group now. That means some of the players at the table are the children of the other players. I'm getting to be a corrupter of the youth spread the joys of my hobby to a new generation. There's just something about sitting across the table from someone that has spent their lives thinking this sort of thing is about picking options off a menu. "What am I supposed to do here?" "What do you WANT to do?" And I'm proud to say, they're starting to really get it (the older one already was, now the younger one is genuinely starting to get it).

/evil cackles heart-warming awwwwwws

2011-09-16, 08:01 PM
I'm a systems geek. I like reading RPGs, looking at how they work, predicting how they can influence the games played in them. I also like playing different games to see them in action. It's not easy for me to get other people to read and remember whole rulebooks so that I can take over the player's end of yet another western or scifi system. So I put on my GM's cap and run the games.

I also find it easier. In most games, the players are going to be active and my role as GM is largely reactionary. I might set up the initial scenario and have a few handfuls of surprises to toss into the game, but it's the players who have to drive the action, and who really do the politicing and scheming.

I'm also a very bad player - I tend to get tired/frustrated with concepts when they don't quite take off; in most games, once you draw up a character, there's an obligation to stick with throughout the campaign; as a GM, there's room to juggle which characters are on-screen and there's a bit more liberty to shift the emphases and tone of the game.

2011-09-16, 08:37 PM
Primary Reason: Nobody else in my primary group will.

Secondary Reason: I like world building, and I really am the best at it in my primary group because I'm the only one who puts effort into it.

Tertiary Reason: I am working on my own roleplaying game, and I kinda need to GM it most of the time. Though I have gotten to play it once.

Das Platyvark
2011-09-16, 09:54 PM
I DM because I have ideas that I can't put to any other medium without it turning into real low-brow material. Also, because I like to scare people.:smallwink:

Science Officer
2011-09-16, 11:36 PM
1. Building characters is fun.

2. DMs build more characters than players do.

->3. Being a DM is more fun than being a player. Q.E.D.

2011-09-17, 10:02 AM
Nobody else in my IRL group has the time or desire to DM...leaving me who has time and the barest inclination to enjoy building a world.

I DM on the forums cause no one runs the kind of games I want to play in so I run them for others.

Kol Korran
2011-09-17, 06:22 PM
i like thinking up situations with which the PCs can interact, things to challenge them, intrigue them, make them wonder and so on.

and then see how the characters actually react, which is at least to some extent unexpected, and makes me keep on my toes. love that! this is the part of the game that is with the other people, what they contribute to the experience

i also enjoy the planning part, thinking of people, monsters, items, lore, situations, cultures and more, filling my mind, interacting and blending, until i sort them out and try to pull the bits that i'll need for the game, ones that will be most interesting, most useful, most fun. in a way, this is like playing the game for many more hours than the "Actual game" does. i love this part, the creative planning part quite a bit.

and lastly, i enjoy the fact that i am responsible for my friends fun, and that i manage (most times) to provide a fun experience for them, a bit of a break from the hard and demanding lives we live (we are all over 30, and have quite a few responsebilities). if they offer a praise it really gets me grinning!

anyway, those are my reasons