I suppose paying some random person in the neighborhood to DM a game is a little like paying someone in the neighborhood for guitar lessons. The hypothetical guitar teacher needs to set up a curriculum, have a minimum level of skill and experience, and be willing to give up a chunk of time. And the hypothetical guitar teacher would need to demonstrate their bona fides and non-creepiness before you would feel comfortable playing with them. If they were a waste of money, then, hopefully, word of mouth would keep other learners away from him. If they weren’t a waste of time, by paying them, you have a bit of skin in the game. You’ll be slightly more likely to make games and not flake out. But if that teacher was your buddy, hopefully/obviously they would teach you for free, especially if that meant that by teaching you, they would have someone to jam with.
But generally, I agree with Armando. GMs taking money for it feels icky.
In other D&D goings-on, I had a nice memory pop up on Facebook. Five years ago, overcome with emotion, I wrote the following, which was a true and accurate recounting of actual events:
So my group finished the last battle and were basking in the afterglow of the module’s climax. Then my DM said he has some bad news, and he felt awful about it, but he wants some time off. We sputtered, “Is it something we did?” but he said it wasn’t us – he likes our characters – it was him. He was feeling confined by the 4th edition ruleset and needed to take a hiatus from the campaign, or maybe stop entirely. We demanded to know if he had some other group on the side, or was chasing some new game, and he admitted he had been dabbling in Warmachine with some local players.
I shouldn’t have been so naive to think that we would actually finish the adventure path, to go from level one to thirty together. But there’s plenty of other RPGs in the sea. This is just an opportunity to try systems I’ve never tried before. Maybe I should dive into one of those MMOs all the magazines are talking about…
So I reshared the memory, because I thought it was funny then and funny now, and added:
Five years later, and life went on. They say you never forget your first campaign. They’re right. I linger on many memories filled with exuberance and laughter, and rarely think about the party’s sudden end. Occasionally I’ll bump into one of those guys on the internet, and maybe we’ll talk about old encounters. But that becomes rare as time passes.
I found a great group to rebound with. It wasn’t too long after that breakup. Josh was an inventive, attentive DM, someone I could look face to face with as we sat at his table. We must have shared a year’s worth of games as my new party explored secrets to keep as shadows fell. I thought maybe this group and I would last for thirty levels. That game ended, too, eventually but much sooner than I expected – some people were walking divergent paths: we couldn’t stay together. I don’t blame anyone, I had a great time while it lasted.
A new edition came out, and I started feeling the itch to start a campaign on my own table. So, nervously, I asked some friends if they wanted to play, and we did. We’ve got a great big group (and great, and big) and we’ve been rolling together for two or three years now. We’ve made new memories and inside jokes and higher levels. Sure, working around hectic schedules can be tough, but it’s more than worth it.
So if your D&D group breaks up, and you think it’s the end of the world, take heart. Yes, it may be the end of your character and that specific world. But stay positive, check for initiative, and look for new groups, and you’ll get a new character to table sooner rather than later. If you start DMing, you might receive the most special gift of all: one of your players might start DMing her own game.
Five years later, and life goes on.