Going Pro: Should I Pay to Play?
Paying a DM to run a game for you is a controversial subject. But it has a lot of benefits for both the player and the DM. We’ll discuss the EIGHT benefits for the players in this post.
Accessibility Vs. Quality
Let me start by being clear. I don’t think everyone should pay to play Dungeons and Dragons. I don’t even think most people should pay. There has to be a fine line between accessibility and funding the richness of the hobby.
If you pirate stuff, you should not be welcome at a table. The burden of accessability should fall on WotC, Content Creators, and DMs.
The SRD is enough to play the game, but not enough to fully experience the game (unless grapple is the only feat you want). Wizards needs to promote organizations and events that make their legally sourced products readily available.
Content creators deserve to get paid what they’re worth. It leads only to the richness and expansion of the hobby. Content creators raise the quality of the game overall. But they cannot be in it just for money. They need to produce high quality content, at a fair price (this includes not too low!), and they need to make free content as gifts to the community in addition to their paid content. However, the only way to truly know if this free content has any quality, is by establishing yourself as a trusted source with established, pay-worthy titles. After all, you DO get what you pay for.
DMs need to provide their players with everything they need for a fully immersive game. While players should ideally be paying for their own copy of the PHB, dice, and maybe even a miniature or two… if we’re truly promoting accessibility, the burden of supplies needs to fall on the DM.
The Benefits of Paid DMing
You may not think you ever want to pay to play with a quality DM. That’s fine. But whether you like it or not, there’s a market out there for it. And it actually ENHANCES the quality of the hobby and the individual experience of the game when done correctly.
What do you deserve, as a player, if you’re paying for a DM?
- A DM that has proven quality, experience, and knowledge of how to balance the game in multiple situations.
- A fully customized and tailored experience that is based off what the players want. The game should focus on the DM’s narrative only if that was pre-established.
- A style of DMing that custom to the player. Yes, Professional DM’s should be able to change their style based on who’s playing.
- A free session. Your DM should offer you a free 4 hour session before you pay to see if you’ll be satisfied. This does not inlcude whatever session 0 prep you need to do with him.
- A “No Shit Tolerated” table. If you violate the experience of other players who paid, you’re out. Maybe you get your money back, maybe you don’t, but paid tables should guarantee a no-drama attitude.
- A high quality of PLAYERS. Players who pay show up. They put their all into the game. They don’t waste time messing around on their phones or on facebook. Because it’s their money their wasting. If your sick of playing with crappy players, try a cheap paid game and see how that changes your experience of the quality of player.
- Premium immersion features. If you’re playing online, the DM should be providing the premium version of whatever VTT their using. If you’re playing in person, they should be providing all the miniatures you need, battle mats, etc.
- Greater community. Some of the best players I’ve played with have been strangers. I now consider them my friends. I never would have met them had I not taken a chance on playing with strangers. Yeah, it can be fun playing with friends. But I have friends who are some of the best players I’ve met, and some of the most insufferable players I’ve met.
Room for Both
There’s room for both paid and unpaid DMs in the TTRPG community. I believe its our obligation to support both forms of play.
Our next posts will focus on what a DM should charge for a game, what qualities they should exemplify, and how to stream the preparation of a campaign so you don’t need to overcharge.
Stay classy friends. We’re part of the best community in the world. Let’s act like it.