I received an email from https://lookingforgm.com/ where they invited me to be a featured GM on their site. The site is a directory of games looking for DMs and DMs looking to run. I have no shortage of games to run locally, but I am looking toward this as a side-business that might give me a few bucks in my pocket. This article is more of a musings on the prospects as well as a mission-statement approach to how I'd like to see this done.
LFGM does not have any pricing guidelines. It does have a (simple) payment infrastructure which basically boils down to Min/game, cost/game or cost per player. I'd really like something more robust. I'd like to have minimum cost per hour which would be divided between the players. I'd like to get around $50 per hour to run these games. That translates to (roughly) $12.00 pr player per hour for 4 players in a four player game. That would net me about $200 per game.
LFGM also has a rating system so I may have to run a few games a lower rate in order to build ratings in the system. Perhaps charge a lower price ($5/hour would net me $80 for a 4x4 game) at first then gradually raise the price to the higher rate. ($8=$128, $10=160, $12=$192). That's not a bad strategy I feel.
What is provided for this service? Included in a "game commitment" is a pre-game "Session 0" which would be no longer than 2 hours (preferably 1 hour) to get an idea of what type of game they want, what sort of characters they are thinking of and any backstory building that is required. It would include all of my prep time (about 1 hour per 4 hour game on average). It would include running the game (4 hours with some "wiggle time' of up to 30 minutes to complete encounters). So it would mean that I am committing 7-8 hours of my time for the fee I am collecting.
What do I expect from my players? Treat the game like you are in it to play. Respect my (and your fellow players') time and don't just goof around or waste everyone's time. If you don't know how to play, be honest. I can spoon-feed you the rules and cues if you want me to. If you want a munchkin experience I can do that too. If you want deep role-play or hack and slash those are styles I can run. But be clear up front what you want to play so I can prepare the game you want. I request that you not meta-game the adventure. If you know something don't use player knowledge that your character doesn't have. I also request that you be fair with the other players, don't cheat or force the other players into situations that make them uncomfortable, don't let your idea of your character make you become an enemy of the party (unless that is part of the story you want to play...bearing in mind the other players will know that up-front so they don't have hurt feelings about it). That last one would include behaviors like randomly attacking party members of personal slights, or stealing from party members, or having personal "quirks" that might make you compulsively do these types of things without letting you fellow player know that it is a behavior you can't control. And in that last instance, make sure they are okay with it...if your game play is going to make someone else have a bad time then you can't do it.
What should the players expect from me? A fair game. It isn't the DM vs the Players it is a cooperative story. There is a random element and sometimes the dice are cruel. You will see what I am rolling. I will plot the adventure but you drive the story. If the plot isn't adequate or is a little too railroady then I need to know how you feel and we'll discuss it out of game. But trust me during the game and I promise I'll try to make it worth it.
What is not allowed? I am not interested in "Evil PC" games. If that's what you want then I'll have to decline. This does not mean that you can't be evil, but it does mean you can't do evil without consequences or repercussions. And the party is (supposedly) your allies so screwing them over is also off the table. This isn't a PC vs PC game. I reserve the right to allow any homebrew you find into what is essentially a game you are renting from me. If I don't like it then it doesn't go into the game. I also reserve the right to adjust any homebrew that is brought in (mid-game if needed) if it is breaking the game. If that's a deal-breaker for you then so be it.
Is your game Adventurers League legal If you want it to be, then yes, it is. I have a DCI number and am an experienced AL DM. I'll run specific modules on request. I'll take care of logging the paid games into my DM's log and I'll provide you with a reward summary for your personal Al logs. I'll send you a PDF of any certs that you get. But, be aware, I'll also enforce the AL guidelines, and I'm kind of strict about them.
Who owns the copyright on what in a custom game? This one is tricky, but Wizards of the Coast owns all the D&D-related stuff. If I am running a published adventure then all of the rest of it is owned by that author. You own your character and any backstory that isn't related to the adventure or to Wizards-published material. If I write the campaign/adventure then I own it (minus what you've provided to it). Personally I'm not doing this with an eye to publishing, but I keep a lot of notes and have been asked about publishing stuff before. I'd rather spell all this out up-front.
In conclusion, I'd like to let this be an opportunity to be a professional DM. I've been doing this for 40 years and so if I can get paid for it, then I'm stoked to try. I'm not sure if I can do this for a living (yet), but we can try it and see. If you have cash and want to try with me, then you are welcome!
Care to Comment?
Season 7 - preview (D&D 5e - Adventurer's League)
Not a bad game. Looks like the new adventures from the Tomb of Anihillation adventure are going to be very 'mission' based. The mission I went on was both challenging and level-appropriate.
Phlan 2-1, 2-2, and 2-3
Very interesting premise. Some of the modules (Phlan 2-3) were poorly thought out or (2-1) poorly written. I did end up having fun, however, mostly due to the caliber of the players in the game with me. Each of the three adventures was a different group, which made it a little mind-bendy to justify, but it was a lot of fun to meet players from all over and try out some really high-powered combos
Engle Harry Potter
Went into this with no idea what it was, but it was very easy to pick up. It was an almost-no-rules RPG/Storytelling framework using pre-established characters (in this case Harry Potter & company). It was fun and we basically rewrote the entire Prisoner of Azkaban novel in our game. Fun, but not something I really wanted to spend a lot of time on. I had a later Engle Firefly game that I chose to blow off.
Bowling for Zombies
I spotted this game in the dealer room and decided to skip it. I had signed up for it because I like the name but when I saw it was a push-your-luck dice rolling game I dropped it from my schedule. Not a huge fan of push-your-luck games or dice-rolling.
Doctor Who:Time of the Daleks
Since I had dropped a couple of events I had some time and Gale Force 9 has put out some of my favorite stuff so far. This is their Doctor Who game. It uses a dice-matching mechanic and is semi-cooperative which can make for a fun game. It plays very much like the TV show with Daleks and lots of planets and monsters tumbling through. We failed to complete the game within an hour, but if we'd had another 30 minutes we probably would have. They seem to be dispensing with huge boards and the playing pieces are big cardboard circles that come and go as the game progresses. It was fun to have mix-and-match companions. And when a regeneration occurs it is just madness all around!.
Giant-Sized Catan Star Trek Federation
The Star-trek themed Catan is a lot of fun with a few minor changes to the familiar game. It was a tense and close-fought game which I lost in the end. I was in the lead for much of the game until the other players decided to pool against me. I ended up losing by a three points 9after I lost my largest army card). The Giant-sized version was great because the foam dice we used were VERY random which always makes for a good game.
Arcane Academy Tournament
Only nine competitors instead of the 16 that they planned for so we played 3 x 3-person games instead of 4 x 4-person. I won my first game (mostly be the 5-point pencils down bonus) but lost the following two games (although not by much). In the end they decided to run 2x 4-person games for the final and sadly I was in 5th place. Which meant I was was not in the lowest 4 (which played for a copy of the game) or the top 4 (who played for a 'prize pack' of AA plus some other stuff). Later I stopped by thei Th3rd World booth and they gave me a bunch of stuff for being a loyal fan, player and...frankly competing. No complaints.
A few Good Men, Women and...things
Another almost-no-rules RPG this one set in a super-hero world. The "old guard" heroes have set up a test for their replacements. Character generation consisted of "What is your name?" and "What is your (single) super power?". Mine was "Granite" (pronounced Grah-NEET) and "Invulnerability". I said I was basically a "rock monster". We had a lot of fun taking the 'tests' that the heroes set out for us which went sideways thanks to the interference of some of the villains in the city. But we prevailed in the end and most of us were named the new heroes of the city. Had a good time with a group who were really good and open improvising players. I am not sure anyone felt like they got stepped on. My only gripe was one of the players, after hearing all of the other players powers and abilities, chose "earth moving powers" which felt sort of vague and undefined. I noted that the GM marked that player's powers as "tunnelling" which felt like he (appropriately) narrowed it to one power. But I also felt he missed an opportunity to keep with the 'elemental' theme that we had going and could have chosen an ice or water based power. But that's a minor quibble.
This is the new skirmish-level tactical miniature game from Gale Force 9 (who make the Firefly Boardgame). This was a real preview since the game is not due for release until October sometime so we were playing with prototype sets. They were so prototype that they were still tweaking the scenarios and rules as we were playing. But the game was fun! It was fast-play. Even with five players (the maximum for the base game) it ran an easy hour. It was quick to learn and they used a clever system for 3-D tactical maps with detailed figures that allowed it all to fit in a single box (with room to spare). I will definately be buying the game when it comes out.
Fiasco "Rock Band 2"
Straight-up Fiasco Madness. The basic premise is a group of aging rockers "get the band back together" for a final tour. Each of us had our own reasons for going back in, and in true Fiasco fashion, things went completely sideways. One of the players had the worst possible miserable fail you can have. Another had the best possible result you can get. My character broke even. The wrap-up stories were both sad, infuriating, and completely bonkers. Great game and great players both!
Nerdlesque presents d20 Burlesque
I was not about to miss this, and once again managed to score front row seats. The ladies (and guys) of D20 put on a great show and I managed to Live blog most of it on Facebook. My phone was dying right towards the end so the last couple of acts didn't get recorded. But it proved an awesome night and I went home in a great mood.
Phlan 2-S (D&D 5e - Adventurer's League)
A sort of 'mini-epic' event where all of the tables work together towards a single goal. Got a chance to play with some of the best players I met on the Phlan 2-(1,2,3) adventures which was a lot of fun. The adventure was kind of 'grindy' but we were being creative in how we dealt with threats and so it didn't feel like we were just pounding on things. Good wrap up game to end on.
Over all Observations
Having a roommate was okay. It alleviated some of the financial burden and I didn't hit him up for parking costs since I was moving around each day and we missed our connection to head back to the room twice of the four days. Riding in together was easy, making the connection to ride back proved to be the hardest part. He wasn't great company but that's not what I was looking for. Might try it again, probably not with him.
The hotel was a little overpriced for what it offered. It was under renovation and their 'breakfast' offering was pathetic. But the rooms were clean and spacious and their staff was very polite and helpful. Might try to get one of the closer hotels next year.
I spent a lot more time in the dealers room than I thought I would. I'd originally planned to spend a couple of hours for the whole thing but I ended up doing it in three different sessions of about 45 minutes each time. It was a big crowded, noisy, busy place and was a little overwhelming. I think this way worked better and I might try to plan it that way next time.
I didn't pre-book my parking because I could not remember what parking cost nor what I'd save doing it that way, and by the time I went to do it, it was gone. I will not make that mistake again. I will pre-book my parking next year. Also I did my registration at will-call and I am not sure of my reasons now (I think it was the only mail option they had was priority mail which was pricey) but given how long I stood in line on Wednesday when i could have been doing other things, I'll probably have them mail my registation next time.
Given how many comments I got on my Third-Eye Games shirt, I may have to hit up Steve for a free shirt in exchange for distributing some literature to the crowd/game companies in attendance. I got a dozen comments or so on the Motorhead-esque "Live and Win" shirt. I'd also like to see about organizing a bus of folks from this area. There's enough of us that I think it might save a few bucks to travel in a pack and register as a store group. We'll see how that develops.
Care to Comment?