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How can I get paid to be a Game Master?

Jan. 29, 2020 by damian


Professional Game Mastering is becoming more and more popular in the RPG and tabletop community. As an interest in higher quality games and convenient scheduling becomes more important to players, Pro Game Masters are filling the void.

The results thus far have been great to watch and experience.

In speaking with many of these GMs, I have learned that they are really enjoying the prospect of being able to justify their time and investment in preparation in their craft while at the same time helping others enjoy better games.

That’s not to say free GMs are at all inferior. Better games due to hiring a Pro GM could be due to a number of reasons: Chronic scheduling issues, flagrant cancels and no-shows, more adequately prepared GMs, greater inclusion of those “extras” such as utilizing music and other additional effects, and so on.

In this article you will read about some of the Professional Game Masters that have joined LookingForGM.com and agreed to share their success stories - or stories of them just starting out into the profession. Let’s help each other find new ways to improve the way we run games and increase accessibility for players in the community.

If you want to learn how to become a Professional Game Master and get paid for your time, keep reading!

Peenicks
How and why did you become a ProGM?
That's a funny one, because I got tired over the quality of players I got when recruiting players for free games and more so even with friends. Over the course I've seen unfriendly people, toxicity, people who come to your session and are there just to be there because they have nothing better to do on a Sunday, and everything that you can come upon that would literally burn you out as a Dungeon Master.

<h5><b>”At one point I said to myself that I cannot let this negativity affect me but somewhere along the line I realized that players who actually want to play a quality game pay for one.”</b></h5>
Surely everyone has read negative player experiences ranging from lazy game masters to toxic players, to toxic game masters. I wanted to provide a service for a game that will welcome everyone in a friendly and non-toxic environment with a goal to play the game and have fun.

Currently I am the game master on Roll20 for 3 Pathfinder Second Edition groups running the Age Of Ashes Adventure Path which is Paizo's first foray into Second Edition 1-20 level publishing.

<b>How long have you been doing this professionally?</b>
5 months, I started in September with the release of an introductory adventure from Paizo for the Second Edition called Fall Of Plaguestone. After that it was my first taste of what quality, interest and dedication means in a player.

<b>What are some challenges you faced?</b>
None actually. As a rule of thumb I have always been a stickler for rules and made sure to prepare my games to the best of my ability. The players are the core here. You are the storyteller, and being unable to tell a story is a bad experience for everyone at the table.
Hope this is sufficient.

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<h5>Insomniac</h5><hr class="post_break">
<b>How and why did you become a ProGM?</b>
I have been a professional GM for a couple of years now. I have been in high demand in the local convention circuit for years and I saw an opportunity when players constantly asked for me to run games for them. I am currently running three local campaigns and one online campaign.

<b>What are some challenges you faced?</b>
The challenges are spreading the word and convincing people that a paid GM is worth the cost. The most common rebuttal is "I can get people to GM for free". In my area, D&D and Pathfinder are the only games, so I specialized in games outside of fantasy. My prices are pretty low compared to others in the area, but it can still be a tough sell.


<h5>Joanne</h5><hr class="post_break">
<b>How and why did you become a ProGM?</b>
3 years privately professional. 15 years as a professional DM at conventions.

I like DMing and enjoy introducing people to new systems or roleplaying with good experiences.
That is how I became a convention DM. An individual from a company played under me and then invited to DM their system. I got paid in swag, free overnight stays during conventions etc.

My boys are both the victims of bullying so I started up a safe place for victims of bullying, the quickly spread to include youths/children in school ages who had social interaction issues or who needed an escape from home.

Then to include a group for dying children. I do the professional DMing to fund it.
I teach them to DM and provide rooms, books, pens etc for their use.

<b>What are some challenges you faced?</b>
Finding compatable players to make a group is the main issue. Or players who want to be special (homebrew that is unbalanced).

I run normal systems just with adventures from the company the wrote the system...to get people interested in their systems/games.


<h5>Footgroose</h5><hr class="post_break">
<b>How and why did you become a ProGM?</b>
Hello, my name is Footgroose, I am a new ProGM who started their first monetized game on the 20th of January this year. I am a relatively new fan of tabletop rpgs, I started a little over 3 years ago running D&D 5th edition in my attic with some pals from high school, and ever since that first day playing as Eldritch the Loxodon Warlock I have been absolutely fascinated by the hobby. Since then I've run several D&D 5e games, a few homebrew Jojo's Bizarre Adventure games, and several brand new superhero systems with who would later go on to be my partner in crime Lerpul.

I met Lerpul during my first Jojo game, I put out a call on 4chan for people who would be interested and he came answering, and we've been friends ever since. He's the one who initially came up with the idea to go Pro, and after he put the idea into my head I couldn't stop myself from leaping at it. I'm a young dude, and generally people my age are locked into service jobs or become part of the fast food industry, stuck as wage slaves working ungodly hours doing something they hate. But as soon as I learned that I could make a career, if only part time, doing what I love with people who shared my interests, I couldn't help myself but leap at the chance!

<h5><b>”But as soon as I learned that I could make a career, if only part time, doing what I love with people who shared my interests, I couldn't help myself but leap at the chance!”</b></h5>
And so me and Lerpul became a duo, working together to set up a campaign that not only our players would love, but we would love to DM for them. Pro DMing is tedious work, and it takes a lot of effort, preplanning, and forethought to pull off, but nothing is quite as rewarding as hearing your players say "I had a good time". While it's not something I would probably do as a permanent career, I want to get a doctorate in cognitive neuroscience someday and go on to be a researcher, I can see myself pursuing Pro DMing for a long time.


<h5>Ivan</h5><hr class="post_break">
<b>How and why did you become a ProGM?</b>
I became a professional GM as a way to get additional income as I am a doctorate student. Thought that being someone with both the experience and the academic background could offer a experience your standard GM wouldn't.

My current project is to build reputation to then began streaming the games, then launch a YouTube channel, and finally publish as a third party for well stablished franchises. I had been in this for two years.

<b>What are some challenges you faced?</b>
The cultural shock since I am a spaniard and all my players hail from all over the globe. There is also the intergenerational gap.


<h5>Dice Told Tales</h5><hr class="post_break">
<b>How and why did you become a ProGM?</b>
I became a Pro GM because I love Dungeons & Dragons but I always preferred GMing over playing a character. Maybe because I prefer keeping secrets over being kept out of secrets. Anyway, I decided to go Pro because I saw this tremendous demand for people wanting to play. Shows like Stranger Things and Critical Role have piqued great interest in the culture for D&D, and suddenly everyone wants to play but nobody knows how. As for getting started, I just…started. I registered an LLC one day and bought the domain name. I started telling people I had this service and suddenly I’m a Pro GM!

I registered Dice Told Tales in late September of 2019. Then life happened over the Autumn and I’m thrilled to pick up this project again with the start of the new year!

<b>What are some challenges you faced?</b>
Being a pro GM is still a business–a fun business, for sure, but there are still all the non-GM aspects that come with it. Billing. Taxes. Scheduling issues. Not to mention finding the balance of the day job and family alongside helping people tell stories.


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