311 - GM'ing for Cash

Oh. Also

Todd. Great points. I guess where I’d deviate here, to me, it’s not "because it’s not written into the rules, but because I wasn’t expecting it. If the GM tells me that in this campaign, I’m going to have you guys name a bunch of buildings, and towns, and rivers, and stuff, ok, cool. I expect that. Or, if I don’t want to do that, because I feel it ruins the feel of walking in a world as some folks have commented, then I thank my buddy for the invite, but this isn’t the game for me. As far as the GM being another player, yes and no. Yes, the GM should have fun. Yes, the GM does 95% of the work. But, the GM has the most control. I’ve never understood folks who “have to run this game because my group won’t play the game I want to run”. If my buddies didn’t want to run the game I offered, I’d have other players, and I sure as hell wouldn’t run a game I didn’t like. I’d rather sit home and read than play a game I don’t enjoy.

Tom, more great points, but I again would like to deviate. “if it’s the end of a campaign, an easy win shouldn’t be possible.” I think it can. I ran a 2ish year long campaign, where the goal was to break out the mayor/ major crime figure in an area who had been kidnapped/ arrested by another kingdom. Most of the campaign was overland getting there, a lot of hostile territory, etc. Once they managed to slowly work their way into the city/ fortress, they did a ton of recon, measured tunnels, marched out cell distances in paces, etc. The break out was a cinch. And to distract the city from the break out? Assassination of the king. I don’t remember what the exact mechanism was, but it was well thought out. I’m not taking that away. They kill the king, they rescue/ break out the mayor, now they have to escape a city that’s looking for them and literally on fire (it was a diversionary tactic… with drawbacks…) They still got their win, their planning made it easy, but there are just a few more hurdles. They don’t get to sail off into the sunset. They still have to get across the city, break out, do other stuff to get away, make it to the docks and then… well… then they actually did sail off into the sunset.


@OldSchoolDM I have read that book. It’s definitely interesting.

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Great to have you here - and if you’ve got pointers/comments/etc on the show that you like to clarify or correct us on feel free. Your perspective would be good to have.

On the point of the GM having the most control, this feels like a myth we place on the GM’s role (and probably pushed by a lot of 1980s GMs who acted like they were gods). Because if the GM has the most control, can they finish the adventure without the players? If the answer is yes, all hail thine GM. If no, perhaps we’re all not giving ourselves enough credit as players OR we’re really placing a lot of pressure on our GMs.


I think it’s more pressure placed on GMs IMO.


Then we GMs need to ask ourselves…

Are we putting this pressure on ourselves or is it coming from the players? Me thinks we’re doing it to ourselves 9 times out of 10.

I’d agree - I would also say that it’s a self fulfilling prophecy. We act/talk/behave like it’s all on us then that’s what folks will believe and come to expect.

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I absolutely agree players should do a lot of the steering. Where do the players want to go? What are thier goals? Who do they want to talk to. 100%.


I do think then it’s the GMs part to play to have that town to interact with, to flesh NPCs, to build the dungeon.

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I’m firmly in Brent’s camp - this is a fun hobby not a job - for me.
Also - it changes fundamentally how you might run a game - you TPK your home group and they might gripe, but they’ll be back next week - not so likely if they have paid for the experience.
With a paid group there is an expectation that you are working for them, and should GM the way they want you too - it changes the dynamic.

Finally - the word “professional” - which you brought up and talked about in the episode (I was ranting to myself the whole time wishing I was in the chat… so I’ve come home to post…)

–start pedantic rant—
Professional - I’ve seen it used a lot lately in our hobby, usually in regards to game designers, and …

Mirriam Webster’s definition (aside from the primary meanings with regards to taking vows or making a confession) is:
“a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation.”

You can check specialized knowledge - but there is no academic preparation to become a a “game master”, and while there may be courses on game design from the technical coding end of the world, I have not heard of anyone graduating with a Bachelor or Masters degree in “game design”.

Medicine, law, accounting, psychology, teaching, engineering, these are professional fields.
Those of you who hold degrees and have to pass certifications either required by the government OR the overseeing body of the industry itself - you are “professionals”.

If someone is a professional they have to have some sort of certification, I have worked my way up in the IT field, but in no way could I be considered a Professional - not with a single 20 year old Novell Administration certificate to my name.

I am happy to say there are people who are paid for be game master - but no one, Chris Perkins included, can be considered a “professional” game master.

–end pedantic rant—

Great episode as always!

Good luck to those who get paid to play!



I’d argue there may be a bit more nuance, especially when you look under the second definitions heading.

True true, we could look at a professional GM as someone who personifies what it means to be a good GM. They’re acting professional. As for any academic version of the term, we’ll just have to wait until our grandkids get to graduate with a Master in Gamemastering from Duke University

That’s actually my point - what are the ethical & technical standards of being a DM for money?
There simply are not any - and we should use the term “professional game master” as it implies a standard that does not exist.

I know colloquially we ask each other 'what’s your profession" - but if I’m a clerk in a bookstore I’m not going to claim I’m a “profession clerk” - what you do for a living, and how you ACT while you work does not make what you do a profession.

It’s one of those terminology things that bugs me. Until there ARE standards, and an Industry and someone to whom one might be accountable, it’s not going to be a profession.

To fall back on old forum terminology - Your Mileage May Vary.

I think my favorite thing about the word profession is that it’s primary meaning is to take up Holy orders.
Which is not something I knew until I looked it up.


Technically you could claim the same about musicians…

Personally I would prefer the term narritavie coordinator. :slight_smile:


I expect the term of “professional” in the context of GMs derives from writing-industry standards. The Science Fiction Writers of America pretty much defines “professional” based on how much someone has made for sales of writing (it also includes criteria for game writing, but no gamemastering… yet? :grinning:). Hence comes the term “semi-pro” in the industry, for those who have sold their writing but not at the rates specified by the Association.

If one of the definitions for “professional“ proposed here was applied to writing, it’s likely that the only writers who would qualify are those with MAs or PhDs in the Fine Arts, and many of those see publication only through university presses, not “mainstream” publishers.

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All that really matters here is that @Rweston agrees with me :grin:


Exactly brother!


GMing for cash: I never paid a GM cash to play. Yes I’ve brought drinks and food for someone hosting the game.

Have I ran a game for cash? No

Would I? Yes and yes.

I’ve tried getting someone to run CoC for me. Specifically some of the more popular modules. My friends would play but GMing CoC, running a new system, is too much for them currently. So I went to roll20. A handful of CoC games available to play. Mostly just D&D games.

Getting into a game was difficult.
Waited two weeks to play and the Keeper canceled.
Joined another game.
2 of the five players joined.
Went on a few months like this.

Had another game got cancelled online today.

So I did something I extremely regret. I’m running Masks of Nyarlathotep without ever playing it :weary:.
Thought running it would satisfy my hunger. Kind of wish I waited till who knows when.

Am I charging? No
I want to feel comfortable with the system and module before I charge for the following campaigns.

So why pay or request payment? Commitment.

If I pay a buck for a session, I’m committing to play for that session. All too often players and GMs flake out on roll20. My personal group won’t because we value each other’s time. It feels to me a lot of players online don’t because they don’t know each other. Paying to play confirms your commitment. I’m planning on charging $1 per session per player.


I can confirm this. People who pay to play, rarely ever miss a session without a great deal of notice. I think in 3 years it’s happened twice.


That is true - you put $ on the line and people will tend to show up.


I mean, isn’t that the whole idea of paying a dollar or two per convention game?