It’s Dungeon Master Appreciation month. Wizards of the Coast has offered up a bunch of articles on that, including suggestions on how to show appreciation. I’m currently a DM, with players coming over every sunday and my campaign going into year three (and 100 sessions!). While it’s certainly cool to be appreciated, I don’t think doing something special is particularly required or expected.
Mess Up My Sandbox
I’ve created a lovely little sandbox world for my campaign to take place in. Then the players come along and totally mess it up. This being a tabletop game, there are no real limitations on what they can do, like in a video game. Any hair-brained scheme they can imagine, they can try and do. It leads to wildly unexpected outcomes when they decide to work with the mafia boss’ wife, unintended deaths because half the party decided to have tea mid combat, and plotlines being thrown out and becoming improv routines because I couldn’t possibly predict that they would decide to chase a silly little sub story for two sessions and get a party member arrested. And of course, the session where one player wanted to negotiate a peace treaty between warring factions, and I got every other player to put aside their characters and play a diplomat from a relevant world power instead so we could actually play out that negotiation.
Yes, all those things happened. My sandbox is a mess these days, with everybody out of place, characters missing, planned storylines abandoned, other ones scribbled into the notes after the fact so I’d remember what in the world just happened, and so on.
It’s delightful. When we have a moment together that people talk about weeks later, that’s all the appreciation I really want.
Love Thy Players
And that’s really it, for me. The whole idea of DM appreciation is weird to me. I wound up running this campaign because one I was playing in ended, another player made a suggestion and offered to buy a source book for someone willing to run it, and I had an idea for a story I wanted to see play out. Here we are.
I know that the DM does a lot of work to make a campaign happen, having done it for a couple of years. I’ve had to make maps of embassies so the players could try to kidnap someone (for the mob, who then ransomed that person back to the same embassy for a tidy profit). I’ve got a fictional tabloid newspaper full of stories about what’s going on in the world. There’s weekly updates. Ledgers on item shop sales. On and on it goes.
But without those players who give me their Sunday night for years at a time, what have I really got? Not much. All the time they gave me to tell my little story to them is a great present, and I’m very thankful for it.
At the risk of being cliched, that they keep finding time for me is the best form of appreciation they can show me…
But… Let Us Play Too!
Okay, there is one more thing they could do – Run A Game!
The only downside to all this time spent as a DM is that since I started, I haven’t been a player in any pen & paper game. I’m kind of antsy to get playing again, and pretty eager for someone to run a game that I can play in.
One thing we don’t have is an overabundance of people willing to DM. We can always use more. If you want to thank your DM but don’t know how? Try running a session or two where they can just be a player. Trust me, that is the nicest thing you can do for us!