This post has been closed. You can still view previous posts, but you can't post any new replies.

What Stops You From GMing?

1491611559
Suzanne W.
Roll20 Development Team
We want to create more content that will help budding or brand-new GMs to take that final leap into running their own games. But first, we’d like to hear feedback from you! If you’ve never GM’d before, why not? Maybe reading an entire rulebook is intimidating. Maybe you’re nervous about putting yourself in the spotlight in front of your friends. We’ve all been there! What has made you hesitate when you think about GMing? What one thing would you like advice on, that might convince you to GM your next game? We’ll be using your feedback to make a series of YouTube videos to hopefully help more people get their GM wings!
Trying to align pre-made combat maps with the grid and all of the planning work, mostly.
I am currently a DM, so I may not be your target audience for this question. But here are some of my thoughts from when I started on Roll20. It took a little while and research to begin DM'ing on Roll20. Although I've been doing it now for a while, taking the plunge took effort. Here are some things that I had to overcome to get ready for my first session. General DM nerves. It feels like a lot of responsibility and commitment, and coming to grips with everything it entails took a little while. Learning the interface. It took a while just to learn the Roll20 interface. Understanding even simple things like GM-layer, or laying out maps, or dice rolls took time to get familiar with, let alone understand how to explain and play with others. Learning character sheets. Every character sheet is different for each system, and learning the quirks of the sheet you are using takes work. Implementing my starter set into Roll20. Even having learned the systems, I still had to figure out how to actually make an adventure inside of the program. Learning how to make tokens work between maps, how to build NPC's vs Mook tokens, etc. were all important. Getting maps from  my adventure book into the program was an additional challenge. Figuring out what exactly I was looking for from players, and then how to invite them to my game. The system for looking for a group works well, but knowing what to say to get the types of players I was after (and even trying to figure out what exactly that meant) was a hurdle.  The unexpected hurdle was getting so many applications to my game that I had to figure out how to sort through them and make sure I was picking people that I wanted to play with. This turned in to an unexpected added burden of starting a campaign, although it did give me a great gaming group that I've been playing with since my very first session as a DM.
1491618303

Edited 1491618332
I can’t speak as a new DM as I have been at it for nearly 16 years but as a DM who has learned multiple systems and frequently engages with new GMs. I think the most daunting thing about learning to Game Master is just the process itself. In most cases it means you need to read and know both the player rules and GM rules, then try and make sense of it all. After that you need a group to practice with which is hard to do if you have no experience or you can try and play by yourself which is kind of null point. Even with the flood of great youtube tutorials and shows it is still a huge amount to learn. Although this has not stopped many in the past, it is a barrier to new GM and has been voiced quite a few times. It was posted earlier this week by another user and I think that it’s a great idea. A GM academy where experienced GMs hold lessons where they teach new GMs different aspects of the craft. This could be lessons on how to use roll20 and the different ways to use assets, on different systems and the way the work, the lore of a specific systems and how it incorporates into the mechanics, how to voice act, how to create custom content, how to set a scene… everything and with the amount of GMs we have and how helpful they all are I am sure we could develop this easily.
1491618817
Mike
Plus
I'm a fairly new-ish GM (played D&D on and off for years but never in a GM role) and my main hesitation about starting was that I felt like I had TOO much to do... too many rules to learn, too much prep to do, too many ideas (that often rabbit-holed leading to too much story/lore), etc. Plus the anxiety of being the main "narrator"/driving force for the game added to that stress. Finding players was difficult (before I knew about Roll20 that is!) and I was often worried about everyone jiving together, feeling responsible for the group. I think the biggest help in getting over all that was exactly what you are doing, creating videos and explaining what you might come across in a GM role that you wouldn't in a player role, how you adapt to changing circumstances and improvising, and that being a GM doesn't mean you have to be responsible for everything. Exposure to alternate game systems helps with this, where there might be a greater focus on collaborative storytelling/world-building by everyone in the group. I've learned to adopt some of that mentality and embrace the chaos, take the suggestions of my players (it's our  game, not just mine) and not be afraid to make mistakes. Now I really enjoy being surprised as a GM and coming away from a session thinking "oh wow, I didn't expect this to happen but now I am pumped to start prepping for next session!" It really invigorates me and gets creative juices flowing, all because of the other people in the group. So all in all it was mostly the stress of feeling responsible for everything, not knowing all the rules or being expected to know all the rules, prepping and overprepping, and being nervous about what I would do when players improvised or ended up derailing what I had planned. Oh and the stage fright haha.
I just GM'd my first fully online game on Roll20 this last week. I have GM'd 2-4 games a month at my home over the past 2 years. I came to Roll20 because one of my players moved out of the state. We used Roll20 once or twice just so that we could keep her in the game. It felt like a lot of extra work to get the map set up, miniatures loaded, the dice system figured out, etc. Especially since, at the time, I had most of the group at my table and only one player online. Now that I have run a session of a game where everyone was playing remotely, I do think that Roll20 offers a unique and interesting experience for me and my players. I am still learning the ropes. I struggled a lot this week switching between maps. Each time I would switch between the maps I had prepared, my players tokens would disappear, or the token settings would reset. I lost a lot of time repeatedly reseting token settings. I am sure that there is a better way to do that, but I bring it up because there are lots of little things that happened throughout the game that I felt slowed down the play. I feel like if me and my players learn how to utilize Roll20 fully, both in preparation and in play, then GM'ing a Roll20 game might feel really rewarding and like a good use of our time. Right now, I am still wondering whether or not I would be better served using that time just to prep for my table-top games. 
1491627055

Edited 1491630587
1. Setting up everything for the first time can be a process that scares people away from GMing. Setting up character sheets and monster cards, the tokens, the spells, the handouts, the maps. That's a chore and if someone is not ready, r20, while simplifying a lot, doesn't do the most tedious tasks. Implementing even a few most basic mobs in a game can take a long time, if you're doing it for the first time. 2. Fear of the new people expectations. You basically are going to be telling a story with a bunch of, usually, strangers, that can put a halt in many would-be GMs minds. The fear of failure, of not being good enough, of disappointing people that went out of their way for make time specifically for you.  3. The myth surrounding the legend. Many people fear the role of GM, seeing it as something obtainable to very special chosen ones. Of course it's not true, anyone can be a GM and be decent at it, as long as they have a story to tell, but especially for new people that role carries with it some form of mystical, almost magical status. 4. Every player I talked to wanted to be a GM one time or another, but when they try, they get burned, either their group falls apart, or there's something wrong with the story they are telling, or for whatever reason, their first experience is not an enjoyable one. So they don't try again, cause they got burned.
1491660953

Edited 1491661613
I'm a fairly new gm myself, currently running a weekly swrpg and another weekly DnD5(LMoP) campaigns for like 1 1/2 months now. I'm gona try to gives some of my experiences sofar. 1. Don't overplan or don't plan at all, the players are going to rip plans to shreds anyway. 2. Prepare some basic encounter ideas so you can draw upon them anytime. 3. Be consistent with youre rulings (ex. always reroll wrong rolls)(happends a lot in swrpg) 4. Let players write an application the likelyhod of getting dependable players seems to be higher this way 5. Let the players make a recap of last session, at the start of a new one, so everyone knows what's going on !6. dont allow metagaming no "let me try that i got skill3 in athlethics" forcing players to speak in charakter  with each other lessens youre work load and    adds more rp while letting the pcs feel more alive! (also you might want to prevent the players from seeing each others charakter sheets) 7. Use the dreaded "Do you really want to do this?"ff 8. Ask the players at the end of the session for 9. From time to time let the players know why they just fucked up and give them some idea what they could do next (so you tried to swim down that river with 10kg of expolsives on youre back without anything to help you and a brawn of 1 of course you drowned ) 10. Hurt youre pcs dont be to forgiving and dont fudge rolls, if there is a real threat it makes successes so much more rewarding 11. There is a lot of things you can do to harm the pcs beside from letting them die this ranges from losing limbs to killing friends or even turning those friends hostile towards the pc, losing equipment is also always an option. 12. High !intelligent! risk -> high reward 13. It isn't only youre universe let the players make up facts (and lessen youre workload) 14. Make sessions not to short mine go for 5-6 hours normally 15. Use breaks should you feel like the Session lost momentum und you need a second to think 16. Making shit up on the fly is the single most valuable skill you can have 17. Charakter sheets are complicated and often enough its just easier just using printed out pages for youre NPC which also allows you to make notes everywhere Ps. english isnt my native language so sry for bad grammar
1491679209
greg
Pro
Nothing, been Dming and creating for a homebrew since 1984 in three different rules systems.   We are currently back to AD&D with a few house rules.  If you ever have a question on DM/GMing let me know. cheers remember its about fun.
1491679465
GMing RPGs There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of youtube videos on GM advice for the most popular RPGs. There are some geared toward Roll20. Perhaps a thread where people can share their favourites? To stay on topic, when I moved away from my gaming group we still wanted to play so we looked for online options and - Roll20! It has built-in dice tools, a page to draw a map (I used to use cardboard geomorphs or draw directly on a vinyl battle map) and the ability to plunk down tokens as miniatures. So we had everything we needed. The rest is about the story of the game which builds from player input from a backbone story-arch. Since then, I've learned to use sheets, macros, the various layers of maps, searching for tokens, maps, etc.. I subscribed for the extra features and they have really added to the game. But the biggest hurdles were the sheets and macros. I would suggest if Roll20 were to produce Youtube videos it would be on How to use the blah-blah-blah sheet, starting with the basics and showing off the goodies built-in, as well as, how to make the sheet do 'this'. The same for macros, API buttons and other neat stuff. I'm deliberately being vague but such videos would help not only the GM, but the players as well. Wikis are great but some people are visual learners.  GMing Boardgames This is something I'm getting into. I've created two boardgames and am working on more, including adapting copyright material for my own games. The only barriers are the card decks and rollable tables not working like I need them to for some of the games.
1491680207
I was not confident that I would be able to DM on Roll20. I have been a DM, off and on, for decades now. I hadn't played in about a decade, mostly because I have moved around a lot and couldn't keep a group together. So I looked at Roll20. I was a little afraid to jump in and DM a game, however, because I was unsure about the interface and (probably scariest of all) finding a group of strangers players to play with. I'll admit that I was lucky finding some great players (although there was a little turnover to start with - in the one game I've run so far I've had 4 players drop out, but I still have 2 from my very first session), but the community here is great and I'm sure that if I selected a whole different group of 5 out of the 35 to 40 or so applications I received, I would still be having a blast. Perhaps one thing Roll20 could do to encourage DMs is a video highlighting how to use the "Find a Group Feature" including tips and tricks for best practice in writing a listing and selecting players? As far as getting familiar with the interface goes: the one thing that gave me the minerals to DM on Roll20 was watching the D&D Adventurers League Tyranny of Dragons series on youtube. Watching Adam (Skinnyghost) DM online, and seeing how he did things, gave me the confidence to jump in and get on with it. I'd recommend it for any DM who is unsure about starting a game on Roll20. I feel that this series, and others like it, should be more visible on Roll20s home page.
1491696709
Brian
Pro
Sheet Author
API Scripter
Time required to run a game I'd be proud of, and the fact that I want to play, as well (which I can get by also joining a game or two, but that cuts into my time...) I ran a long-running Unknown Ponies game while I was unemployed and had lots of time on my hands. Now I have a full-time job and I can't devote the same effort to running a game as I did before.
For a very long time (well, maybe not a LONG time), I used Fantasy Grounds as my VTT of choice simply because they had the D&D 5e Core Rule books (Player's Handbook, Monster Manual, Dungeon Masters Guide) integrated into their VTT. That lack on Roll20 kept me from doing more than just tinkering with it. At one point, I even stopped my subscription. But the more I tinkered, the more comfortable I became, and the more willing I was to use it. However I think that a large stumbling block for many DMs is just that lack. They, like I did, may not feel comfortable nor confident about running again without all that information at their fingertips, items ready to drag and drop, monsters to pull and populate, etc., etc. The SRD is nice, no argument there, but it isn't the Core Rule books. I suspect that the Roll20 team is working on the Core Rule books (taken from hints dropped during that last stream). Once those are available, I think that we may see more and more DMs running games because the workload will drop significantly.
1491707164
Acrid
Plus
Not being able to migrate resources between games certainly limits how many games I run.  Not just between games i make, but between games i have a co-DM role in, or where the DM is willing to share their content with me.  If someone put 20 hours into a map, is cool with sharing the fruits of their labor with me, and the content they built it from is free or we both own, I'd like a better option than investing 20 hours of my time into duplicating his work. 
1491720074

Edited 1491720104
The difficulty in meeting players who will not be jerks in game. Filtering out everyone who implies or says they are going to be cool, and they are not. because of the PM system, it takes multiple PMs back and forth to establish just the basic idea of who they are, what their gaming needs are, and how they might react in a game. The sheer amount of players that apply to games, because of the poor ratio of DMs to players.  Multiple players get to play DM dodgeball, and  "I don't want you on my team / You didn't make the cut." Even so, players make it through the vetting process or turn out to be incompatible with the game, either because they lied to get in, they didn't read the signs on the front door, or they do not care what the signs said, and applied anyway. Ditto for DMs, in that some do not advertise their style at all.   The only real way to get to know people is to play with them. LACK OF SUPPORT for OFF BRAND GAMES. Traveller is listed now, because we pushed and advocated for it.. In past years, getting new games added to the "Plays" lines on game description hit massive stonewalling by the Administration. To this day, there are still games that MUST be listed as PLAYS OTHER GAMES. "We wait for at least a few ongoing games to list..." Except how do those games get found, except through LFP, period.. because you cannot as a player search for them efficiently. Unless I missed something. Inline chat doesn't work all that well. Skype and Teamspeak and Discord are getting used regularly. I get it that roll20 doesn't work that well via smartphones. Limits of technology. Not much to be done there. But an issue, if I want to log in and make some characters or something from my phone. Instead, I have to wait to get home. There are a lot of things I like.  I generally enjoy the people I meet.  But sometimes, there is such a vast mismatch between the kind of players I am seeking, and who is applying, that I despair.  I get it that players are desperate to find a game. I try and match and preface my style with like minded players.  but it is such a hassle to do this through text / PM. Players who will just depart after a week or two in game, no notice.  After myself as GM, and maybe a few helpful players (who do coding or maps, or art sketches or whatever) have built something pretty special. DMs across the board who flake out and set up a game, and then game day arrives, they bail. to the point that there is an attitude of wait and see now, if "This game will get off the ground." So DMs who will get it "Off the ground, have to do so much work to convince people it will fly that it is like we have to hanve an art department and avatar markers and all of it.  And we are expected to be as proficient as the guys from Critical Role. When we are not, people are for some reason surprised. Lack of a list of Quickstart rules sets that are out there.  These are provided free by the relevant companies or pay what you like, or for a few dollars.  Why oh why must we every time search for it ourselves. the answer: nobody on roll20 has the time to keep such a list updated, except the few GMs here who are not involved in file sharing, and wish to play by the rules. The prevalent attitude of players who demand, literally "a .pdf or torrent of the rules or they are not playing." That needs to stop. But it won't. Arrgh.
1491730964
I have just come back to D&D and Shadowrun after many, many, many years from DMing when everything was purely tabletop. I think I echo some of the similar reasons why returning to DMing/Gming might be daunting. 1) Rules - although I had a really good understanding of the rules when I used to play, many have changed and this requires a time input to actually learn this and possibly adapt this to a new campaign. 2) Players - there are many players out there and it is important to fine a group which matches your campaign and philosophy about the game. Yes some players see new DMs has easy prey and become rule quoters. As a new DM it is difficult to over come this barrier and it can cause some conflict. I think establishing ground rules about this has been successful at times. 3) And talking about time - that is definitely the final point. In order to run an effective campaign I need time to organise and create it. This can often be difficult when streaming on Twitch, running a radio station and having a full time job! - is sleep really necessary? :) Hope this points are brief enough and relevant. Inwils
1491746174

Edited 1491746795
I DM'd my first game a little over a year ago on Roll20 and have been loving it. I run an irl campaign now as well and actually prefer to have the group play in Roll20 with laptops, even as we interact face to face. It is an amazing feelin and keeps everyone more engaged and focused than any other format I've played with before.  That being said... there are some major roadblocks to DMing here: 1) Maps - There are lots of resources online to find some great free maps. And, of course, the Marketplace has some good resources as well. The thing is... I already pony up over $100 a year for the Subscription so I can use things like Dynamic Lighting, mobile app access and not having my players sit through adds when i switch between screens. So I'm very unlikely to spend more money. To this end, I actually learned a lot about how to use GIMP (a free open source program similar to Photoshop, for those who don't know) just to make the maps I wanted. Because as nice as things are online, it's not likely I'm going to be able to easily find a map that would be appropriate for exactly what I want to happen in the session. While this is a skill I'm glad I've cultivated, it's also one that has taken hundreds and hundreds of hours to do and it STILL takes roughly 5-10 hours to set up the maps (including the actual map itself, dynamic lighting, prop + object placement) every session. I don't have any suggestions on how to trim this back, but anyone who wants to use a map (one of the biggest strengths of Roll20, in my opinion) has a long uphill battle of experience they have to slog through to create the types of scenes they want.  2) Object Search - Okay, this ties into Maps, but deserves its own mention... the way Roll20 allows me to search for objects such as a table or a drgaon's egg to put down in my map makes creating sessions great. For either map building before a session or for on the fly needs, such as my player wanting to create a Spiritual Weapon in the form of a frying pan, the system is a great tool. HOWEVER, it has major flaws. First being that you literally cannot search for more than one word. I can type "dragon" and I can type "egg" but the second I type "dragon egg," no results show. Also, the quality of the results can sometimes widely vary, which I know isn't something Roll20 can directly control since it is powered by Google, just a roadblock of another thing a new DM could spend a lot of time struggling with.  3) Tokens - The logic behind tokens is great and allows for a TON of versatility. It's one of he other strengths of Roll20. But learning how to hook up tokens to character sheets seem a little daunting to a new player, as well as the little nuances that make it very important. For instance, just typing in HP on a token is a bad way to go, because if you move to another map and already have the token set up there, it will show full health unless you link it to the HP of the character sheet. There's no good way to cut down on this type of dependency, but some head's up of good token maintenance, especially between maps, would go a long way. Also... the Token little badges or status icons of whatever. GARBAGE. I'm really sorry to sound so negative, but every time I want to track a status like Frightened or Stunned or Prone, I just look at those nearly forty options and shake my head. What's a good Prone sign... the guy hunched over with lightning bolts coming out of his back? These icons are all way too vague and unhelpful. A complete overhaul with easily decipherable icons for common conditions across some of the more popular editions would be insanely helpful.  4) Layers - I'll lump Layers and Drawing Tools together here in one item, for the sake of space. Layers are great - it allows me to make the maps feel organic and alive by having items hidden from view or locked from being able to be moved when I want to select something. I really wish there was a way to access the Dynamic Layer through the Right Click function, like the other layers, but the Quick Key shortcut of "L;" works well enough for those who can discover it. My big problem with Layers is how Drawing Objects so completely and totally ruins this. Want to create a cone of effect? Well... I hope you like struggling to click something for a couple minutes and totally chop up the pace of the game! Put three medusas in a room together and try to figure out a way to show the cone of their vision in a way that the players can see and avoid and without making it impossible to move either the cones, the players or the medusas... drawing (or even using objects from the search) that need to cover a large area visually but still need to be moved make the map nearly impossible to manage. If there was perhaps a better way to have tokens generate cones or fields this would be easier, but as is, it is incredibly daunting for someone new to the DM system to do something that is remarkably common.  5) LFG - This has been harped on this thread quite frequently, but it's worth noting... the DM needs to do a LOT. They need to create a world, they need to know the system, they need to build maps, they need to know the rules... and, yet, where I can envision a new DM being put off and sent running for the hills is the LFG. Because in addition to be master architect, they also need to deal with the D&D equivalent of a Craig's List ad and the flood of strangers, each one with varying degrees of ability to read + follow instructions, varying levels of skill (either with the game system in question, Roll20 in general or a combination of the two) and, to be blunt, varying ability for basic social etiquette and niceties. Some templates on how to post a LFG (such as what questions to ask of potential players, the best ways to gather potential character information, prompts to talk about your style of DMing to players, etc.) might help on this front. Also... and I hate to suggest this, but... a rating system, for both players and DMs, to give feedback on inappropriate behavior, flaking out behavior of not showing up, overall experience, etc. would provide some piece of mind. I don't mind taking a Roll20 noon under my wing for a campaign, I just don't want to spend time getting to know a player, doing possible chats to make sure they are a fit, discuss potential character backstory and world building for me to find out that this person regularly applies to 20 games a week and flakes out on most of them. I always tell DMs new to Roll20 to over recruit, as the chances of you making it to your third session with all the players who said they would be interested is not high.  I really love Roll20 and think it does amazing things. For a new DM, though, combing through the Wiki, trying to figure out how to use the interface and becoming familiar with what your system's character sheet can do can be overwhelming. And while there are lots of resources out there in terms of Forum posts, Wiki articles and YouTube videos, there isn't a clear path for anyone to take it they have the thought "hey, I may want to be a DM." If there was a catalogue of step by step guides, from the first steps on how to create your LFG to the most advanced concepts of how to integrate APIs, I think it would help tremendously. Each DM wouldn't need to follow the map to a tee, but having a map in general could help in knowing if you are skipping steps or are making mistakes without having to suffer the pain of going too far down a given path before things are FUBAR.  /end ramble post EDIT: Also, just an idea but... what about some free One Shot modules for some of the most popular systems, with everything already pre-built, for those that subscribe to the Pro service? Something that takes the initial shock of "I have to build everything to even see if I'd like being a DM" away and makes the first experience a little easier? It could also work as a way to showcase the talents of some of the Marketplace artists/creators, for anyone interested in their future products. Just a thought. 
EDIT: Also, just an idea but... what about some free One Shot modules for some of the most popular systems, with everything already pre-built, for those that subscribe to the Pro service? Something that takes the initial shock of "I have to build everything to even see if I'd like being a DM" away and makes the first experience a little easier? It could also work as a way to showcase the talents of some of the Marketplace artists/creators, for anyone interested in their future products. Just a thought.  I hugely second this. For me, the most daunting thing about GMing is getting the maps, minions, etc prepared. It's not something I tend to enjoy. I like running a scenario or campaign, but I don't enjoy the process of creating it. Therefore, having it prepared for me is something I find particularly appealing.
1491751064
For me, its spending days working up a scenario, detailing NPCs locations and trying to make a rich gaming experience then having people bring silly, or unthematic characters to the game and try to shoehorn in whatever gag they've been cooking up for however long. You try to establish a mood and a continuity only to have them crap all over it and derail the game 'for teh lulz'. That's why I rarely GM for people I don't know.
1491752425
[Deleted]
Sheet Author
Zed said: For me, its spending days working up a scenario, detailing NPCs locations and trying to make a rich gaming experience then having people bring silly, or unthematic characters to the game and try to shoehorn in whatever gag they've been cooking up for however long. You try to establish a mood and a continuity only to have them crap all over it and derail the game 'for teh lulz'. That's why I rarely GM for people I don't know. This. So much of this. I one hundred percent agree that there should be some way to rate players on a player scale and gms on a gm scale, kind of like a feedback thread where people can comment on their experiences with said player/gm.
1491755569
SFX said: Zed said: For me, its spending days working up a scenario, detailing NPCs locations and trying to make a rich gaming experience then having people bring silly, or unthematic characters to the game and try to shoehorn in whatever gag they've been cooking up for however long. You try to establish a mood and a continuity only to have them crap all over it and derail the game 'for teh lulz'. That's why I rarely GM for people I don't know. This. So much of this. I one hundred percent agree that there should be some way to rate players on a player scale and gms on a gm scale, kind of like a feedback thread where people can comment on their experiences with said player/gm. I empathize a lot on this front, but that would cause soooooo many problems.  
Brian said: SFX said: Zed said: For me, its spending days working up a scenario, detailing NPCs locations and trying to make a rich gaming experience then having people bring silly, or unthematic characters to the game and try to shoehorn in whatever gag they've been cooking up for however long. You try to establish a mood and a continuity only to have them crap all over it and derail the game 'for teh lulz'. That's why I rarely GM for people I don't know. This. So much of this. I one hundred percent agree that there should be some way to rate players on a player scale and gms on a gm scale, kind of like a feedback thread where people can comment on their experiences with said player/gm. I empathize a lot on this front, but that would cause soooooo many problems.   While I think a way to inform each other about experiences with other players and different GMs, I agree with Brian. A rating system would bring about many problems of its own and could be easily abused. 
1491783410
Andrew (Halfling Gypsy)
Pro
Marketplace Creator
Zed said: For me, its spending days working up a scenario, detailing NPCs locations and trying to make a rich gaming experience then having people bring silly, or unthematic characters to the game and try to shoehorn in whatever gag they've been cooking up for however long. You try to establish a mood and a continuity only to have them crap all over it and derail the game 'for teh lulz'. That's why I rarely GM for people I don't know. Completely understand that perspective. In RL I've done a big monthly "Adventurer's League" type thing, and I'm working on one in R20 at the moment. So LOTS of D&D for me. The usual hassles with them are: - People only wanting to play their overpowered cheese - People deciding that what they desperately need to play is the half-pixie orc bard who uses drums for their music - Chaotic Stupid, Chaotic Murderous, Chaotic "Let's trip my friend over near the lava pit! Yay!!!" So I totally get this.  Not heaps you can do but engage, educate, and if none of those work... ostracise.  It's frustrating when they derail it for everyone else and you lose otherwise good players from your groups.
1491791498
I think having a passion for maps and worldbuilding, storytelling and just general creation is key to being a DM. Everything else is just mechanics, and as a longtime DM I think there is no shame in calling on the expertise of your more experienced players. For example, if I am struggling to recall a particular rule, I'll just whisper one of the players (who also GMs!) to clarify things for me.  As a DM, you don't need to know everything! That's why the compendium is there in game. Anything can be looked up. Make sure your party are patient... put that in the game listing! "Brand new GM, so your patience is essential." You'll find most people are pretty happy just to be involved, and more than happy to help out.  And really, the best way to learn is by doing it. 
1491812968

Edited 1491813606
Ive trained a few DMs in my time. And Ive found the primary thing, and if I may be so bold, the only thing that prevents people interested in DMing from DMing, is pretty much the same thing that prevents anybody from learning to do anything. The unwillingness to start small. When I teach someone to DM, I insist they do as little as possible. I have them run zero prep games where they just scribble out rough maps and use letters for monster tokens, and only use monsters from the monster manuels. No macros, just straight up dice rolls.  And this teaches them how really simple and basic the actual essentials to DMiing are. And then that everything else, is just gravy on the meat. But I think one thing that could help, is a way for DMs to share their self made resources. I basically have a couple monster manuels worth of monster sheets in my character vault. And I dont know how to share them with a burgeoning DM. Being able to share resources would make learning to DM easier.
1491837489
I like GMing more than I like to play. A huge part is the prep work but one has find that right balance between prep and winging it. Unfortunately finding that balance involves a lot of trial and error. Here some GMing tips: 1. You are a storyteller and referee not the adversary. A GM "wins" when everyone has a good time. 2. Like in improv you want to say "yes" to your players. Make a thing and everything possible (with the appropriate modiefiers of course). 3. Be transparent and don't fudge dice rolls. 4. Tag along NPCs should never be more powerful than the PCs. Don't take the spotlight away from your players. They are the heroes, make them feel as such. 5. Create a balanced mix of combat, role-playing, dungeon crawling and puzzle solving. Too much of one thing gets boring. Pace out all those interactions. 6. Always let the players win but make them feel they barely made it. 7. Make use of tag along NPCs to steer the group in the direction you intend the game to go. 8. Off load game upkeep to the players like writing synopses, keeping track of loot and other mundane tasks.
I've been DMing for a while now, but (going back to the OP), one thing I'd like advice on is how to keep players interested and invested in longer campaigns.
1491851057
If I may conjecture I assume the subtext of the OP is to figure out why aren't there more GMs out there. It seems there's a great demand for GMs but little supply. A few key qualities are needed to be a worth while GM that create the shortage. 1. Prep time. This seems to be the most talked about barrier. This can be mitigated by the use of modules. Roll20 does provide access to some modules maybe providing a greater amount and variety would reduce this barrier.  2. Skill. GMing is an art/skill. All players want to be part of a well ran game and a skilled GM is a major factor. Not everyone has the talent for GMing and I've seen many games fall apart due to a GM running the game poorly. The players typically either get bored or frustrated.  Maybe Roll20 could implement some sort of paid service using certified GMs. Obviously there is a great demand for quality GMs that is not being meet. Perhaps such GMs could be certified by Roll20 and rated by their players to provide feed back. I know many might find the idea of paying for role-playing games abhorrent but introducing some monetary incentive might bring in some talent.
1491860923
Fantastic amount of very good conversation here. While the OP is seeking input from players who aren't GMing, the very nature of GMs and players will lead to more GMs answering than players. Looking at the preceding few posts, GMing is an art form, a skill set, a hobby, a pursuit, a passion. Good GMs do the maps, the prep, the story lines, the monster cards, everything, for the love of the prepping itself.  GMs have to part artist, writer, personnel manager, actor, and listener. It's not necessarily easy to do, but it is personally very rewarding. While rule number one must be that everyone has fun, the GM should always look for that "sweet spot" with their mix of players. This is challenging, if not daunting, with players you don't know.  But, returning to the OP and the purpose of this thread, present GMing to interested players with all pitfalls and challenges revealed. And perhaps throw in an enticement, perhaps a contest of some sort for never-before GMs. Just a thought.
The biggest challenge for me is to prepare for the game. That includes learning rules and preparing characters for the group to interact with: being lazy with your game means that the group won't have a lot of fun, generally. Being a player is a lot easier because the work you put in the game is a lot less than that the GM has to pour into it. No matter how you slice it, this will always be the answer to it: GMing=work. There aren't a lot of people who are suited for taking up the mantle of the GM because they won't put in work in their game. That's the main issue. There are other problems, such as planning that everything can go only one way: your way. But that isn't something that holds people back from GMing: that is only bad storytelling in itself, plain and simple. The only thing that can be done is that the GM takes pleasure in building their world and that the players enjoy and thank the GM for pouring their creativity and breathing life into the game for them.
1491867075

Edited 1491867656
Edit: I mis-read the OP and thought it was about Roll20 but it's more about GM-ing in general.  In my experience it's been the lack of appreciation/enthusiasm. GM-ing is a ton of work and when players can't even be active in the game forum it really takes the wind out of your GM sails. I also pay for a pro membership to give my players the best experience. I've never once been gifted a month of pro or even have been thanked for my membership which gives players my benefits for free. This has been the biggest rub for me. I feel that if there's a way to verify that you're a GM and running an active campaign, the players should have to pay for the pro level membership for the GM and the GM shouldn't have to pay at all. I also feel that GM's bring traffic to the site a lot more than players. I'm not trying to dis players since I have been a player myself but still... that's my story.  It certainly helps that there is now an option to be a paid GM. That's a great step in the right direction. 
1491872412

Edited 1491875175
Grognardus said: Edit: I mis-read the OP and thought it was about Roll20 but it's more about GM-ing in general.  In my experience it's been the lack of appreciation/enthusiasm. GM-ing is a ton of work and when players can't even be active in the game forum it really takes the wind out of your GM sails. I also pay for a pro membership to give my players the best experience. I've never once been gifted a month of pro or even have been thanked for my membership which gives players my benefits for free. This has been the biggest rub for me. I feel that if there's a way to verify that you're a GM and running an active campaign, the players should have to pay for the pro level membership for the GM and the GM shouldn't have to pay at all. I also feel that GM's bring traffic to the site a lot more than players. I'm not trying to dis players since I have been a player myself but still... that's my story.  It certainly helps that there is now an option to be a paid GM. That's a great step in the right direction.  I found the first part of that issue seems to stem from lack, of updates on Roll20 as it defaults to once per day or something.  I've set my notifications to every time there's a post to help with that on my end but most people don't even know about it.  It should default to every time there's a post or reply, and then someone can change it to less if it's too much.  This is why it's so common and CONSTANT regular complaint that sees many a campaign go down before they ever start. I agree with that second part too.  Roll20 should have a require players to pay 2.50 for X campaign to provide PRO.  A GM gets 4 players who pay 2.50, they click on the ONE GM they want to support that GM is granted PRO access.  One player leaves the campaign and unclicks support for said GM that GM loses PRO.  Every dollar after 9.99 that gets gifted to the GM.  It also doesn't mess with the current system and only effects those who don't want those "extras" or have it in addition to. I mean I could send these guys pages after pages of ideas because they are going to eventually lose to other companies.  The adaptation of this company to the changing environment out there is insanely slow, while quick thinking companies are building from the ground up ideas that Roll20 should already have implemented considering these companies are still on paper and code. Just looking on Kickstarter makes me question spending my money here day by day seeing what's out in the environment being planned. BTW You should have a player store where items can be bought for .99 cents.  Portraits, Tokens, ect,.  As it seems like 99% of the burden is on the GM.  Might as well pick up all that money your leaving on the table.  1 portrait for 1 dollar.  Easy profit.
1491872820

Edited 1491872912
Andrew (Halfling Gypsy)
Pro
Marketplace Creator
Surok said: If I may conjecture I assume the subtext of the OP is to figure out why aren't there more GMs out there. It seems there's a great demand for GMs but little supply. A few key qualities are needed to be a worth while GM that create the shortage. 1. Prep time. This seems to be the most talked about barrier. This can be mitigated by the use of modules. Roll20 does provide access to some modules maybe providing a greater amount and variety would reduce this barrier.  2. Skill. GMing is an art/skill. All players want to be part of a well ran game and a skilled GM is a major factor. Not everyone has the talent for GMing and I've seen many games fall apart due to a GM running the game poorly. The players typically either get bored or frustrated.  Maybe Roll20 could implement some sort of paid service using certified GMs. Obviously there is a great demand for quality GMs that is not being meet. Perhaps such GMs could be certified by Roll20 and rated by their players to provide feed back. I know many might find the idea of paying for role-playing games abhorrent but introducing some monetary incentive might bring in some talent. I make modules for the Marketplace. And I agree with R20's view on module creation... if its worth playing, and was worth making, then its worth reimbursing.  Considering that my hurdle to releasing more often is usually artwork (and that I dont' have a warchest of cash to source artwork by commission) I wouldn't want to give modules away much.  I get that it would give me profile, but I'd be making a short one-shot with maybe 10 scenes tops, and the artist would need to be doing it pro-bono which is a harsh thing to ask artists because they hear it SO often. (As an idea of costs, I don't think I could get a short module's worth of art for less than $400USD for portraits and tokens with the right to keep selling them) Some GMs do paid work, via Patreon or similar. You can see them on the LFGs... I don't, but that's how I roll and I don't run heaps of games because of RL work, family, personal game sessions, etc. I'd consider GMing more, but at that point of constant GMing I'd have to basically make doing D&D my 'job' which to make a living from in Sydney means I'd be looking at getting $500+/wk from GMing, Marketplace, etc.  That's a lot of GMing and a lot of contributing from people.
1491873910

Edited 1491874824
Andrew (Halfling Gypsy) said: Surok said: If I may conjecture I assume the subtext of the OP is to figure out why aren't there more GMs out there. It seems there's a great demand for GMs but little supply. A few key qualities are needed to be a worth while GM that create the shortage. 1. Prep time. This seems to be the most talked about barrier. This can be mitigated by the use of modules. Roll20 does provide access to some modules maybe providing a greater amount and variety would reduce this barrier.  2. Skill. GMing is an art/skill. All players want to be part of a well ran game and a skilled GM is a major factor. Not everyone has the talent for GMing and I've seen many games fall apart due to a GM running the game poorly. The players typically either get bored or frustrated.  Maybe Roll20 could implement some sort of paid service using certified GMs. Obviously there is a great demand for quality GMs that is not being meet. Perhaps such GMs could be certified by Roll20 and rated by their players to provide feed back. I know many might find the idea of paying for role-playing games abhorrent but introducing some monetary incentive might bring in some talent. I make modules for the Marketplace. And I agree with R20's view on module creation... if its worth playing, and was worth making, then its worth reimbursing.  Considering that my hurdle to releasing more often is usually artwork (and that I dont' have a warchest of cash to source artwork by commission) I wouldn't want to give modules away much.  I get that it would give me profile, but I'd be making a short one-shot with maybe 10 scenes tops, and the artist would need to be doing it pro-bono which is a harsh thing to ask artists because they hear it SO often. (As an idea of costs, I don't think I could get a short module's worth of art for less than $400USD for portraits and tokens with the right to keep selling them) Some GMs do paid work, via Patreon or similar. You can see them on the LFGs... I don't, but that's how I roll and I don't run heaps of games because of RL work, family, personal game sessions, etc. I'd consider GMing more, but at that point of constant GMing I'd have to basically make doing D&D my 'job' which to make a living from in Sydney means I'd be looking at getting $500+/wk from GMing, Marketplace, etc.  That's a lot of GMing and a lot of contributing from people. See this is interesting, I'm guessing there no right to use tokens from the Monster Manual/Volo's Guide.  If Roll20 entered into an agreement to allow tokens to be used if the GM has said purchase that would be smart.  It would also spur purchases of those two items.  If your modules said REQUIRES: MONSTER MANUAL PURCHASE . It would aleivate a good deal of the cost I would imagine.  It might also be why I see other services with an edge in modules. If they were really smart they'd develop mapping tool to help spur module development.  Which I'm seeing with other companies looking to jump onto this market. I also think, Roll20 should offer up a patreon like service directly on Roll20 through PAYPAL.  I'm not sure what the legal issue here is I'm sure there is one but I can't imagine what that limitation is considering the wide range of services that allow it.  In fact, it should be right below to where you see the amount of players in the game.  It should say DONATE TO YOUR GM FOR HIS WORK.  Lead to paypal or something.  The idea of players paying 2.50 maybe make that a variable sum.  You can choose to play $5. and every dollar after 2.50 goes to the GM selected. All this should be optional, but make it available. On that note when a game is ended, a button needs to be created by ROLL20 that allows a GM to end the game, it should send everyone in the current session to a page (the exit page).  On this page it should have the same donation button along with a rating system.  The GM never sees the rating no one ever knows the rating however as the GM gains better and better ratings he should be given rewards of some kinds. 500 stars (one free month of PRO with all players subs (using the idea of 2.50 again) going to the GM.  On and on. Trying to think how you could make $500 a week.  The only thing I can think with all these additions is to place it on twitch.  Really at that point this service needs to be turned into dedicated software with easy to stream options to twitch.  Increasing it's viewership and popularity.  At which point you may well be able to turn it into a job.
Stop trying to monetize this system. When I started DMing all those years ago I did it because I wanted to and enjoy playing a game not to make weekly wage, that's what a job is for. You want to turn DMing in to a job than maybe you are doing it for the wrong reasons. $5 a month is nothing, it equates to $0.161 a day (on a 31 day month), I tip more for a glass of coffee. Not everyone wants to make a twitch stream, most people just want to play the games.
If not making money is what's stopping you from GMing, then I really hope you will not be a GM at all. When the motivation to GM switches over from "I have a story to tell" to "There's this module I have/made, now how to make money off of it" there's something seriously wrong with why you are doing this. 
1491902573
Acrid
Plus
Eh, i really don't think the thing stopping most people from jumping into the DM role is a lack of monetization.  Effort is the big factor for me.  This system makes it easy to distribute your work if you monetize it, but impossible to share if you don't.  If I collaborate with another DM to build a map or encounter, only one of us can own the work and take it into our other games.  If we both bought the license for the resources used, or used free resources, why should I have to duplicate the entirety of the effort to make my own copy?  If i were leaving a game and wanted to bequeath the map to the replacement DM, also impossible.  There is plenty of necessary effort to fulfill the role without adding artificial effort. 
1491903339
Sky
Pro
Thiaren said: If not making money is what's stopping you from GMing, then I really hope you will not be a GM at all. When the motivation to GM switches over from "I have a story to tell" to "There's this module I have/made, now how to make money off of it" there's something seriously wrong with why you are doing this.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to make a profit while participating in your hobby. There are plenty of people that do that and create the very games and modules and art that you and many others already buy. A DM charging for his time and services is no different than a hair stylist or an artist you commission for artwork. No different then someone you pay to mow the lawn and trim the hedges. The stigma against professional DM's is fading and I am glad for it. I know myself that if I were able to run a weekly game on a reliable schedule, it would definitely be a paid service because I'm tired of shit players. Players that are paying for quality, professional DM'ing are much more likely to be invested in the campaign and not doing stupid crap like Andrew talks about above. The DM that works hard to craft an interesting narrative and world for his or her players deserves to get paid just as a novelist that writes a story deserves to get paid. There are people that DM or write simply for the sake of doing so and good for them. But to say that there's something wrong with wanting to make a living doing what you love... that is what is wrong.
1491906786
Andrew (Halfling Gypsy)
Pro
Marketplace Creator
Volomon said: Andrew (Halfling Gypsy) said: I make modules for the Marketplace. And I agree with R20's view on module creation... if its worth playing, and was worth making, then its worth reimbursing.  Considering that my hurdle to releasing more often is usually artwork (and that I dont' have a warchest of cash to source artwork by commission) I wouldn't want to give modules away much.  I get that it would give me profile, but I'd be making a short one-shot with maybe 10 scenes tops, and the artist would need to be doing it pro-bono which is a harsh thing to ask artists because they hear it SO often. (As an idea of costs, I don't think I could get a short module's worth of art for less than $400USD for portraits and tokens with the right to keep selling them) Some GMs do paid work, via Patreon or similar. You can see them on the LFGs... I don't, but that's how I roll and I don't run heaps of games because of RL work, family, personal game sessions, etc. I'd consider GMing more, but at that point of constant GMing I'd have to basically make doing D&D my 'job' which to make a living from in Sydney means I'd be looking at getting $500+/wk from GMing, Marketplace, etc.  That's a lot of GMing and a lot of contributing from people. See this is interesting, I'm guessing there no right to use tokens from the Monster Manual/Volo's Guide.  If Roll20 entered into an agreement to allow tokens to be used if the GM has said purchase that would be smart.  It would also spur purchases of those two items.  If your modules said REQUIRES: MONSTER MANUAL PURCHASE . It would aleivate a good deal of the cost I would imagine.  It might also be why I see other services with an edge in modules. If they were really smart they'd develop mapping tool to help spur module development.  Which I'm seeing with other companies looking to jump onto this market. I also think, Roll20 should offer up a patreon like service directly on Roll20 through PAYPAL.  I'm not sure what the legal issue here is I'm sure there is one but I can't imagine what that limitation is considering the wide range of services that allow it.  In fact, it should be right below to where you see the amount of players in the game.  It should say DONATE TO YOUR GM FOR HIS WORK.  Lead to paypal or something.  The idea of players paying 2.50 maybe make that a variable sum.  You can choose to play $5. and every dollar after 2.50 goes to the GM selected. All this should be optional, but make it available. On that note when a game is ended, a button needs to be created by ROLL20 that allows a GM to end the game, it should send everyone in the current session to a page (the exit page).  On this page it should have the same donation button along with a rating system.  The GM never sees the rating no one ever knows the rating however as the GM gains better and better ratings he should be given rewards of some kinds. 500 stars (one free month of PRO with all players subs (using the idea of 2.50 again) going to the GM.  On and on. Trying to think how you could make $500 a week.  The only thing I can think with all these additions is to place it on twitch.  Really at that point this service needs to be turned into dedicated software with easy to stream options to twitch.  Increasing it's viewership and popularity.  At which point you may well be able to turn it into a job. For anything you sell you need copyright permission from the copyright holder. Now that may mean what is effectively a lone operator like myself is trying to negotiate a licensing contract with Hasbro... which I don't relish at all.  And frankly, having good artists lets you get whatever feel you want from a module.  If you want to help me spur development of modules (since I'd mostly be D&D 3.5E and a bit less in 5E) then I'm happy to get messages from artists who would want to collaborate with me making portraits and tokens.  I don't think its especially fair to expect the artists, who are often professionals, to give away their work; I don't ask a Doctor to see me for free, I don't ask a Lawyer to do Conveyancing for free... so I'm not planning to ask an Artist to give me art for free.  If I'm intending on selling it, then I intend paying the artist for their work. The consensus between almost all of the artists I have spoken to, who make maps on R20 (such as David Hemmenway, Gabriel P, Munky, etc) find the best mapping programs to be graphic editing programs such as Adobe products and GIMP. I use GIMP for my stuff. I'm not going to get into why and how R20 do or don't let stuff like Paypal/Patreon in or how or whatever. That's their jag.  It's not getting paid that is stopping me from GMing, it's mostly time away from my business. If I was going to make GMing my business, then you're getting into different arithmetic. And GMing as a business is a very different ballgame to the Chemistry is do during the "9-5". I wouldn't want to see a kind of 'star payment' system. That's just going to be wide open for abuse and jerk-behaviour, same as a player rating system is open to the same thing.
1491914753
Brother Sharp
Pro
Translator
I do understand that I am not certainly the best fit to answer on this thread, however I wanted to give some opinions as to what might prevent me as an ongoing GM to continue GMing. The main thing that makes starting new campaigns and bringing more players under my wing is the lack of edification to the players (and GMs to some extent). Both players and GMs have their own duties when a game is being held. The GM has the duty of notifying the players interested in joining about all the details they should know before committing. Whereas players have the duty to follow the GM's instructions and be enthusiastic and compassionate and punctual above all else. I would add in there the role of Roll20 to moderate and provide a platform that best suits the users. A game will run smoothly only when both the players and the GM fulfill their basic roles, and when both of them work in conjunction with Roll20 improve the environment. In this regard I would say that the least knowledgeable of their roles are the players. The players do not understand the impact that their presence has, even if it's just one player. Leaving a game with no notice is as grave and insulting to the effort that the gm has put as is to keep playing without enthusiasm. The same goes for GMs in general, you need to lay out everything you are aiming for or the experience that someone might expect from your game. Mismatched expediencies are what make players leave and cause new GMs to never recover. I would be willing to hold more games for more people if we could have support from Roll20 to make a mandatory edification course that all players need to go through, alongside videos of why your presence and attendance as a player is important. This ideal might make me seem like an alien but where I come from I have yet to experience a playerbase like Roll20's both on IRL and online games.
1491925254

Edited 1491925511
Vegemite Dangerous said: Stop trying to monetize this system. When I started DMing all those years ago I did it because I wanted to and enjoy playing a game not to make weekly wage, that's what a job is for. You want to turn DMing in to a job than maybe you are doing it for the wrong reasons. $5 a month is nothing, it equates to $0.161 a day (on a 31 day month), I tip more for a glass of coffee. Not everyone wants to make a twitch stream, most people just want to play the games. I feel you on this statement but I don't think it's about making money. For me it's about essentially requiring GM's to pay a monthly subscription to run games and not forcing players to do the same. The GM already (out of love for the hobby not love of money) invests heavily into a campaign with time and resources and it's very hard to GM here without a pro subscription. I have 0 issue with paying $10-$50 per month to enjoy my hobby but players should have to invest as well and not have me pay for their hobby. As the GM I pay for every player to be able to use the API, scripts, sheets, no ads, campaign material, etc. It's like if this were Warhammer 40k in real life and if I want to play a match with someone I have to buy their army and terrain for them. Sure, you can GM with a non-paid sub but you might as well just run your games over Skype sessions and bypass Roll20 all together without pro. I honestly think that if every member had to pay a flat $10/month to participate regardless of if you're a GM or player then that would solve a lot of problems. You'd see way more participation and way more GM's of whom are the people driving revenue to the site. 
1491935737

Edited 1491935754
Grognardus said: Sure, you can GM with a non-paid sub but you might as well just run your games over Skype sessions and bypass Roll20 all together without pro. I honestly think that if every member had to pay a flat $10/month to participate regardless of if you're a GM or player then that would solve a lot of problems. You'd see way more participation and way more GM's of whom are the people driving revenue to the site.  So forcing the thousands of people who play for free to pay 10$ per month leads to higher participation?...how exactly? Sorry, mate i agree with you, that it can sometimes feel "unfair" that the GM has to invest 95% of the time, effort and money into a campaign, but i don't see how forcing people to pay would do anything but drop the playerbase by 90%.
1491936157
Suzanne W.
Roll20 Development Team
Thanks everyone who gave feedback! We've gotten a ton of excellent, honest suggestions about what stops people from taking the final step into GMing -- and that's exactly what we wanted, because it will help Roll20 think about helpful video content that might bridge that gap for as many people as possible. Since we've got plenty to go on, and since the discussion has now gone a bit off-topic, I'm closing this thread. Thanks to all who added to the thread!