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  1. LordEntrails's Avatar
    As always, well thought out and written. The only aspect that I you didn't address is the social pressure that can influence the dynamics. Such pressures don't alter the underlying power dynamics, but it does influence them.
  2. Xydonus's Avatar
    Interesting topic for a blog, and this is something that I discussed before in a podcast. I would concur somewhat although I wouldn't call it a dictatorship, not sure that's a label that should be applied to an rpg gaming group but it is somewhat accurate.

    I think any GM who runs his group in a tyrannical negative fashion is just on course for a self-destructive path and it won't be long before the group just falls apart. And then it's a matter of time, resources and energy spent in building up a new group, but if a GM can't get out of bad habits then the cycle repeats. Because of this, and because of the risk of losing players, the GM has more to lose. Sure, the GM has more power at the end of the day, but they have the most to lose because they have invested the most in a game/group.

    In my case, I'm running and still running a linked campaign (over 5 books) that is in its fourth year. I cannot imagine all that time, investment and work going down the toilet. The players are invested as well, but not on the same level as the GM. So ultimately, the GM has the most to lose by running what you might call a non-benevolent dictatorship. If it happened to me, sure I could go and build up a new group and so on, but by god would I be absolutely disheartened if I had to do that. So the GM could find themselves held hostage at that notion, and having it dictate how they GM.

    The same goes for players as well. Any disruptive players in a group are essentially inviting a good kick from the GM. A disruptive player for whatever reason can potentially destroy a group if not dealt with. Usually its good to try and hash it out first, but sometimes the only way to solve a problem is to remove the disruption. That in itself is where the power dynamics come into play, in that a GM can essentially do that without destroying the group in most cases.

    And for a player, finding a new group, a new gm is much easier than the GM having to work in new replacements or build up a new group. I do believe such a term (dictatorship) being benevolent or not, is probably born out of frustration from the player side. And what I mean by that is that players who have left or been forced to leave groups by a GM will probably look back on the GM with a negative label applied - hence, the idea that the GM is a dictator of sorts. But the old saying... if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. Sure, GM's call the final shots. Always have. It is the nature of the game. But I do think it might be an error to apply that label to one and all.

    I would argue in long-term settled groups with players who are regulars, the power dynamic can shift into the players hands simply for the fact that the GM would not want to lose a long-term investment and may even placate in some places. In these cases the GM is somewhat submissive to the players.

    So personally, I'd imagine the power dynamic shifting in some cases. It really depends on the group at the end of the day.

    And I like to think of the GM as the final arbitrator rather than a 'dictator' because player input is valuable and nearly always necessary to a good working group.
  3. LindseyFan's Avatar
    Interesting premise and well researched!
  4. amdawursk's Avatar
    I argue that paying a GM is just the natural progression of any service. Rpgs are becgoming more popular but people like to play, they don't like the pressure of having to build the world, build the npc's, build the adventure and plan out the time. In rough estimate one hour for a players game time is about 4 to 5 hours of just prep for the GM. On top of that, the GM has to work a regular job to survive in general, pay bills, get food, etc. So they have to actively set aside time to plan this out, sometimes on a biweekly basis or more. Gms are in incredible high demand I could post on one of these forums and get 7 players in a few days at most. But if you're a player finding a GM is very difficult.
    Further, a lot of gms are lazy (not the majority). Everyone has some sort of bad GM story where the GM railroads players cause they gate them "going off script", or refuse to adjust encounters to the party's skill level, either up or down, to keep it a fair challenge. Or just lose interest. Paid games would allow gms with the passion to focus all their attention on improving their craft to make it worth the time. And the market will keep quality in check, as more gms start to build businesses around gaming, the market will become competitive. I can understand why many people are against paid gms, but I do not agree that it is the same prostitution. If we wanted to stick to our principles, all services sold for entertainment is the same as prostitution. It is no more prostitution than play actors, than authors than game designers. The world operates on trade. You want me to do something for you, you need to do something for me. You want someone to type out spreadsheets, I'll do it if you pay me. You want read the book I spent 3 years working on, you can if you pay me. You want me to spend 20 hours building an adventure for you to derail for your entertainment, I'll do it if you pay me.
    No, just getting paid doesn't make you good at your hobby, but it is an incentive to improve your craft. I'm currently working on my drawing hobby so I can draw out my npc's and characters for my games, and if I get good enough, I'm going to offer to do commissions for other gamers who want them.
    The one biggest benefit of paid GMs verses unpaid, is control over players who join. The pay wall creates a filter and the gms price determines the guard of the filter. A GM who charges a 20 dollar game per player will have a higher amount of players interested over the GM who charges 50 dollars. I know people who would pay 50 dollars for a 6 hour session with a reputable GM. I know people who would pay 20 bucks just have someone run a game, I've been offered money to GM.
    The ultimate fact is, as long as rpgs become more and more popular, paid gms will be unavoidable. Not everyone can run a game, not everyone wants to run a game, so to help control supply and demand, pay walls will become more and more common. If your not willing to pay, it's going to be harder to find a GM than if you are willing to pay. It's not going to be a super well paying career path like any subjective based service, but it will be like YouTube, some people will do it for fun, some will be able to make a small amount of money, some people will make a reasonable living, and some people will thrive and make a fortune.
    My last point of contention is your advice on, "if you can't find a game, run one yourself..." If you apply the prostitution analogy to it, it breaks that analogy, if you can't find a prostitute for free, become one yourself. GMing most of the time now a days isn't just amongst friends, it's with random people, I get 3 new players every month on average for adventures league and after a while other players drop off. I've made friends yes, but most of the time it's closer to a "one night stand" relationship than "normal" relationship. I know you mean well so this isn't meant to seem over aggressive, but I feel it's kinda insulting to equate paid GMs to prostitution cause the further extension from that is we're a bunch of dumb prostitutes cause we offer our services for free when we could be getting paid for it.
  5. BobTheMercenary's Avatar
    I need to find one of these paid games. Im tired of not having a game to play in. At least if the GM is paid he'll be there.
  6. Saladin's Avatar
    Of course ó thatís why I pirate modules and software, and sneak in to concerts. Who do these greedy Capitalists think they are? Their time and creative abilities arenít worth anything.
  7. wmsmitty's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by LordEntrails
    Interesting article I just ran across; https://www.rollingstone.com/glixel/...-games-w479506

    It's from April 2017, so not new, but new to me.
    I saw this a while back. I even checked out their channels. They're knowledgeable guys and know the game quite well; but nothing out of the ordinary. In my mind anyway. Their approach and content isn't anything that I haven't already done as a GM. ****, I've been GMing since 1988.

    But again, I don't fault them for making money on what they love to do and I don't fault the players that pay them. Basically, Youtube enabled them to do this. If there was no Youtube, these guys wouldn't be getting paid. They took advantage of an online medium early on and are now profiting from it.
  8. mervhd's Avatar
    A lot of good thoughts here. I for one am not apposed to pay to play games but I can see how people would feel like it cheapens the experience. With that said I can see how it can bring some stability to flaky games. Nothing more annoying than a player or DM flake out at the last minute... online or in person.
  9. dulux-oz's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by mlesnews
    As I'm just getting back into RPG after 40 years, I found that your advice is spot on to what is normally referred 'Need before Greed' in most modern MMORPGs. Breaking this down further with dice rolls, buy-in and buy-back is geniusly simple way to resolve looting rights. Sage advice sir, thanks!

    You're welcome
  10. mlesnews's Avatar
    As I'm just getting back into RPG after 40 years, I found that your advice is spot on to what is normally referred 'Need before Greed' in most modern MMORPGs. Breaking this down further with dice rolls, buy-in and buy-back is geniusly simple way to resolve looting rights. Sage advice sir, thanks!
  11. LordEntrails's Avatar
    Interesting article I just ran across; https://www.rollingstone.com/glixel/...-games-w479506

    It's from April 2017, so not new, but new to me.
  12. Felix4099's Avatar
    People spend entirely too much time talking about why they don't like this or that. It's not illegal. If you don't believe in paying for a DM, then don't. Go do something you enjoy.
  13. mbabbs's Avatar
    Doesn't bother me - if someone wants to make some money out of professional GM'ing and others want to pay for it then great. Got no problem with that.
  14. wmsmitty's Avatar
    Free market enterprise. If players are willing to pay a GM money to run a game; kudos to the GM. Live and let live...what's the harm? If you don't believe in paying for the service of a GM, don't. If you are a player who is open to paying a GM to run a game, then who are we to judge? If the players are finding value for the experience of paying a GM for a game, then good for them. Personally, I would never pay a GM to play an RPG; but let's flip the coin. How many of us have paid to play RPG's at GenCon? You're paying to play a game there. So what is the difference? The experience of attending a convention?

    DM's spend a lot of time prepping their worlds, adventures, buying modules, miniatures and spending money on all sorts of gaming accessories to provide a great gaming experience. All players do, is show up with their character, PHB and maybe a miniature to represent their character and play. The opinion of the poster is a valid one and one I partially share; but it is an opinion and I myself am not one to judge the success or failure of players paying a GM to render a gaming experience. If money can be had as a paid GM, then good for that person. I wish them continued success; it just won't be me that will be contributing to their success.
  15. Lunalight's Avatar
    I think I understand the points you are making. Please correct me if these are unfair reductions.

    1. Roleplaying games are an activity to be conducted amongst friends. Paying people to be a friend is problematic. Therefore, paying for your roleplaying games is problematic.
    2. Paying for someone to operate your game misaligns their incentives, giving you an inferior experience.
    3. You are getting ripped off because the money you spend does not result in a better experience.
    4. You are better off searching longer for a free game/making a game yourself than paying for a readily available game.

    If I have this correct, then I have a few counterpoints.

    Addressing point 1, I don't think that roleplaying games are conducted with friends in the traditional sense of the term. Especially online, people who play games with each other have very little if any commitments to each other, and can often be flakey. I think we are united by a common hobby, but that doesn't make me friends any more than going to a convention makes me friends with everyone who attends. Roleplaying games are an opportunity for friendships to foster for sure, but there is something inherently attractive about people being committed to the game for reasons that you can control.

    As for point 2, I agree that definitely can be the case. When paying for games, the expectations should be made very clear what sort of experience will be delivered. If a player actively seeks out an easy mode and is willing to pay for that experience, I don't mind them cheapening their own experience, but the problems stem from the group nature of games. If some players seek a challenge and others want easy mode, then the GM cannot deliver one experience without compromising the other.

    For point 3, you are half right. You are correct in saying that there are amazing GMs who do not charge the players for the experience and that having to pay for an experience doesn't mean that it is worth money. However, I think it is weird to say that GMs need to be good at being GMs to justify charging for their games. It doesn't have anything to do with quality, but instead availability. Maybe I want to spend a few extra hours working on making my campaign a more enjoyable and compelling experience, but I could also spend that time relaxing or working more hours. Undoubtedly the most dedicated to the game will accept the sacrifice of their relaxation or opportunities for additional income, but if you just wanted more people to expend such effort, paying them is an efficient way to create that result. More people are willing to create quality experiences for money than those who are eager to do so for free. There is excellent and unique value in a GM who is willing to spend their time and resources towards creating a fantastic experience for their players, but there are just not enough of them to sustain all the players looking for a high-quality game.

    Lastly, on point 4, I think that while that is a valid subjective opinion, I can't say it will exist as commonly as you might want it to. For many people, roleplaying games are about having fun, and not having to deal with real-world problems. If I can pay money to make GMs and players adjust their schedules to fit mine, that is an enticing proposition. GMing, while able to be done by a 12-year-old, is something which involves a lot of management. If you don't find the act of GMing entertaining, then you will probably try to find someone who does. Failing that, it is usually easy to find people who enjoy being paid money in exchange for services.

    As an afterthought, I wanted to address your comparison of love-making to paying a prostitute. I admit, when you pay someone to GM for you, that makes it hard for them ever to become your friend. The power that you hold over them makes that prospect challenging. It could be the case that the pinnacle of the roleplaying experience could be lost through paying for your GM. But, the accessibility of the pinnacle of the roleplaying experience and that of finding a loving partner are significantly different. Most people have an intrinsic desire to be loved and to love. Few have the desire to be a quality GM for the sake of it. If it means that more people can play games of good quality, then the existence of paid games seems to be a positive force towards achieving that goal.
  16. Zuger's Avatar
    I just wanted something for when my PC's find 100,000 cp and say we will take them :-) I like to ask how
    And finally magic users will consider using other spells than fireball and cone of cold ^^
  17. Myrdin Potter's Avatar
    I don’t have an issue with someone charging to run a game, and if people are willing to pay, then it is their money, their choice. Paying for entertainment, especially entertainment done well is really not a big deal.

    Would I charge to run a game? For charity, yes. Otherwise, no I would not. I am paid quite a high rate when I work as a consultant and I place very high standards of performance on myself because of that. There is no way that I would charge someone to DM as I enjoy it for its own sake.

    The hobby itself and this program and these forums are supported because people pay for them.

    I respect and mostly agree with dulux-oz’s opinion, but the counter balance to that is that I will not interject my dislike of their behavior into thread or conversations where it is not wanted. The new forum rule to keep aggressive advertising down is enough and they are welcome to their own threads and personal business.
  18. GunnarGreybeard's Avatar
    I think I might find it hard to kill a PC or not fudge rolls when $$$ is involved. Kind of invokes a 'quid pro quo' that I wouldn't really be comfortable with, but maybe that's just me.
  19. LindseyFan's Avatar
    Kind of like CPR.
  20. LordEntrails's Avatar
    GMing is a valuable skill. Not everything that has value should be traded for money. Or has the same value when it is traded for money. imo.
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