As a DM, do you think you’re entitled to rewards or compensation for your services? I’m not talking at home around your table, though if that’s true, more power to you. I mean D&D public play, specifically D&D Encounters.
I’ve recently opted out of running Encounters on a regular basis. One of two DM’s, the other being the shop owner, I ran approximately 70 weeks of D&D Encounters in a row. Most of the time I loved going, but there were other times I felt I had to. I hate feeling that way about a hobby.
Honestly, the majority of Encounters is teaching newbs. The first couple seasons brought in a lot of veterans, but those haven’t been around for a while. Each new season brings in a different lot, all the same, newbs. More and more, with each passing season, the newbs grow in number. Encounters went from a game, to me teaching D&D to a class of 4-7.
I could handle that. It was fun for a while, but teachers get paid. I got a calendar.
The store gives me 20% off anything purchased in the store. This was helpful up until they cancelled Miniatures. I got to keep all the adventures I ran, of which all I care about is the maps. A while back Wizards sent me a side-trek adventure for Tomb of Horrors (as if it weren’t long enough). All these things gather dust, low on a shelf. I want something more.
I endured for another season, maybe two… honestly I lost track. It became a part-time job. I got burned out and said my goodbyes. Good terms I hope, but I can’t help feeling I let folks down.
Recently I got an email from the store. It was a generic email, sent from an email list, stating the stores need for DM’s and their new rewards program.
- DM’s will receive $2 in-store credit per player participating in their game.
- Some events they will now require players to purchase something from the store.
Seems like a pretty fair gig, right? Still not enough for me to sign on full-time. I said I’d love to help with any Game Day’s of course, would run a month or so of Lair Assault (I want to kill me some players), could fill in on an “as needed” basis with Encounters, but I just didn’t want to sign on for another 3 month job.
The best parts about running a game are outside the game table. D&D Encounters robs DM’s of the power to create, reducing them to an adjudicator of stat blocks and tactics. There, I’ve said it.
Obviously Wizards marketing is working, drawing in the new players (customers) and slowly erasing the stigma of a tarnished brand. I’m glad for them. I love to see 4e gaining more and more popularity, and even more glad to see the next generation of gamers rolling dice for their first time. The thing is, if Encounters keeps going strong, DM’s will get burned out. What are they going to do about it?
I don’t think it should be the stores responsibility to keep the DM’s motivated. Wizard’s needs to step it up. If each season had a special-edition large miniature, that would be worth it for me. If each season had special-edition dungeon tile, I might go for that. I want Wizards to give me something top-shelf, something other gamers would look at and desire. Imagine a simple rewards system that appealed to the collector in all DM’s. A system that makes DM’s want a part-time job teaching newbs.
Do you participate in D&D public play? Always out of the goodness of your D&D-loving heart? How does your store handle burn-out?