The Rise of the Professional Dungeon Master?

In BusinessWeek, of all places. Honestly, I suppose it’s fine, but I could never do it. for a couple reasons. I’ve been blessed with a lot of great players, although I understand the issue of too few DMs and too many people wanting to play. It seems universal, and I am well aware of the relationship between supply and demand. But:

  1. I DM because I enjoy it – more so even than playing, and I think that a lot of people would feel the same if they tried it. It is more work, but once you start, it’s feeds itself. I’m making a wooden rack to hold maps, for pete’s sake. With little lights on the bottom of the levels. Having a blast with it. I make props! But I do all this not because I feel obligated but because I want my friends to have fun. That’s not something I’d feel comfortable doing for money. Money connotes professionalism and my games are decidedly not professional. The work of a talented amateur, perhaps… but not professional.
  2. Even more so, when one takes money to provide a good or service, that transaction defines the relationship between those people. There’s service, there’s recompense for that service, and there is the expectation of quality on the part of the buyer. As a DM, I’ve had good days, bad days, and days when my players were not happy, where I was not happy. As a DM and friend, these things happen. As a service provider – what happens if one of my players (who, as a professional DM, are not my friends, although as a service provider I may be in a position to have to pretend they are) feels they haven’t gotten the appropriate quality of service for their money?

I invest a fair amount in my games, and am fortunate to be in a position where I can and happy to do so. It’s not entirely selfless – I enjoy bringing my players new and interesting games, and I myself am a collector of sorts and enjoy trying out new things myself. I don’t begrudge those people who can make a business of DMing. But it’s not for me.