D&D 5th Edition


And if they wrote it.

I don’t mind a nominal fee. The $2 table fee at the LGS is fair. $10, fuck no.


I felt hella guilty for “charging” $4 to run my tables at GenCon, because events are mandated to basically collect $1/hour for their duration from every participant in Event Tickets to give back to GenCon proper. You could set a higher price than $1/hour, of course, and pocket the remainder, but I was aghast at the mere thought of it.

A lot of larger GMing outfits, however, charged beaucoup bucks for their sessions. My buddies that played in some of Baldman Games’s semi-official D&D 5th Ed adventures were paying $12 a pop, and the mini-campaign was split into three sessions! $36 for maybe 10-11 actual hours of gaming? Jesus that’s crazy pants.


Cons are pretty much exempt from this, from me.

My local con charges a fee, obviously. They used to charge $3 for each game you signed up for as well. Part of this was to help ensure people who signed up for games actually showed up.

Last year they changed it to a flat fee with signups. It worked out well, At something like GenCon, i don’t mind a per-game fee.


Yeah, I mean, I can get a minor fee for the con, but GMs taking money for it just feels icky to me, tbh :-/


It’s amazing that the adventure modules are all $50 (at least the wizards ones). I’d buy them just to read, but not at that price.


Gone are the softcover b&w official adventure modules. I do love the hardcover and color inside, but I agree - if I’m not running it, the prices are way too high just to read. :(


I would pay a $20/night table fee twice a month to go to an @ArmandoPenblade run RPG provided you also served your food.

Maybe more.


Ooooh, great point! Count me in for $25!


The more I think about this, the more I wonder if there’s a working business model there.


I generally try to cook for my players every so often. Gonna try to do something really fun for the third anniversary of my Spaceward, Ho! game in a few weeks!


So, as an aside, I was thinking of popping a couple of the AL seasons on roll20 later this year depending on how school goes. Anyone interested in playing?


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.


That’s a great memory, thanks for sharing.

Yes, I agree on the DM taking money. At cons, I don’t mind, since a con by nature is a commercial enterprise. I think on Roll20, if the DM had to create all the maps, and entries, I could see some sort of a fee. But not $10/week. But, if there is a demand and they can make money off it, good on them, I guess. If you can run a few games a week off the same mod, where your overall setup and prep time is reduced, you could make a good side living doing it.


It looks like a pretty niche industry as well. There’s also DMs for hire via Roll20, FG, and other platforms.




Thanks for sharing that article. Those guys sound like they have a nice side gig, if not exactly making raise-a-family-with-a-lake-cabin cash.


That was a good read, thanks.


I mean… If I ran two four-hour, $10/person tables a day, every weekday for 50 weeks a year for an average of five people, I’d… clear about $25k before taxes, work harder than I do now, and be completely reliant on my skills in my favorite hobby to sustain my life.

This, by the way, is why Armando’s never opening that food truck, y’all.


I don’t see the problem with creative, talented people being paid for their time. You gotta be highly organized, know the ruleset backward and forward, and have a great deal of performative ability.

I dunno…I wouldn’t mind paying a pro DM $25-30/hr to provide a high-quality experience, rather than Joe Blow from the down the street where every session is a struggle.


I think it feels weird because I completely associate RPGs as something friends do together to have fun, like watching movies or playing boardgames or sitting at a coffee shop and talking about Kafka. Sure, it takes some organization on the part of the GM, but having poured my life into that activity for the last few years, I’m not sure it’s quite so onerous as everyone makes it out to be, or at least it certainly doesn’t have to be.

So on some level, the thought of commercializing the a interaction with your friends and turning it into a cold, businesslike transaction seems. . . weird at best. Skeevy at worst.

The idea of a mercenary “professional GM” disbursing fun to groups of people. . . I dunno man. I mean hey, consenting adults spending their own money and all, but the whole thing is just weird to me :)


$25 to $30 an hour? Too rich for my blood.