While cruising the White Wolf forums this morning I noticed a discussion titled “Why do you GM?” As I was reading through the responses to the question, I realized a lot of the answers I was reading applied to me as well. Despite the commonalities of the feedback, I also noticed a lot of individuality as well. I began to ponder what my own answer to that question would be.
“Because someone has to do it.”
I think a lot of us are familiar with this scenario. While my friend Andrew introduced me to Dungeons & Dragons, he was a busy kid and was not always around to play when I wanted to slay monsters. I recruited my younger brother and sister to play with me, but I couldn’t expect them to run the game. So if I wanted to scratch that itch I had to climb behind the Dungeon Master’s screen myself. My first experiences as a GM sprung from the reality that there just wasn’t anyone else to do it.
For a lot of GMs who came into the hobby at a young age I imagine their circumstances were very similar. We discover that dog eared copy of a core book or a boxed set in a library, a bookstore, or any number of other locations. Something about the game draws us in and we decide we just have to play it. So we pitch it to our friends, we become the face of the game and we convince them to give it a try. What we have also done is set ourselves up to be the person running the game because, after all, we were the ones who brought it to everyone’s attention. Although my first experience with D&D was as a player on a picnic table behind Andrew’s apartment building, my second was describing the dungeon locale being explored by my sibling’s first characters. I was bit by the GM bug.
Later on, as I began to explore a much larger world of gaming I found similar situations kept me behind the GM screen. While I enjoy being a GM, I also enjoy taking on the role of the player as well, but not everyone feels the same way. In fact, I think most players enjoy just being players for a myriad of reasons we could discuss from now until D&D Next’s official street date without running out of things to talk about. Someone has to sit behind the screen, and I often find any player who openly admits they wouldn’t mind handling the GM role inevitably ends up doing just that. That isn’t a bad thing. It just is what it is. If we want to play the game, we need someone to run the game.
“Because I am an introvert and an extrovert.”
Actually, is that even possible? I don’t know, but that is how I feel a lot of the time when it comes to gaming. Most of the time I am not a big crowd person (except at gaming conventions, I love those crowds). I prefer spending time with my books, my research materials, and my encyclopedic websites. In the past I would fill spiral notebook upon spiral notebook with notes about every subject you could think of, and how I want to use them at the game table. Now I fill up hard drives with Word documents and PDFs, build 3D terrain, or paint miniatures but it is the same thing. I am building worlds, and that recharges my batteries if you know what I mean.
Eventually there comes a moment, an urge builds inside me and I want to show off the things I have been building to the world. For a guy who enjoys spending most of his time alone I confess this is a really strange sensation. The extrovert in me takes over and I find a way to deliver my creations to the public whether it be at the game table, posting pictures of my work, or writing for public consumption. I find myself unsatisfied until I find a way to inject my insanity into someone else’s space. Okay, I know that sounds a little creepy, but bear with me.
“Because I love being a GM.”
At the end of the day, I am and will continue to throw myself behind the GM screen because I love being a GM. I love telling stories with my players, and bringing a positive play experience to the table that leaves everyone happy. Oh, I may kill a character or two along the way, but I will do everything in my power to make sure you are having fun when your character goes BOOM! Or SPLAT! Or loses their sanity. Or… No, that idea is far too evil. Well, maybe not. Please excuse me, I have an idea I need to flesh out.