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Paid Gamemasters

Hi all. I run a site called The Tangled Web and we have a lot of roll20 users over there. We recently began an initiative that is geared towards prolonging the life of online pen and paper games run on Virtual Gametables. In my 8 yrs of running TW, I have seen so many games die prematurely due to a lack of accountability for all involved parties. In order to solve this problem, we decided to offer up games wherein the player pays the GM to play each week. The cost runs $7 for a 4 hour session run by a prescreened GM. I would like some feedback on this from your community if possible. Would you consider paying a GM to run a live game on roll20? Is $7 a fair price for a 4 hour game? As a GM, would you be willing to run games for money? I am also debating whether or not to confine our GMs to using a single gametable or if we should let them play on what they prefer. My choices for Gametable are either roll20 or maptool. Openrpg is what i got started on but it has branched off and takes so much crap to install that it just isnt user friendly enough. I like the browser based ease of use that roll20 offers... but, well, I'm sure you guys kniw the pros and cons of roll20 vs maptool so I won't reiterate them here. I was going to try out the pay version of roll20 a while back and review it but as payment via paypal was frowned upon I never bothered. However many of our members love this software and the free version did all the basics so, apart from dynamic lighting, you cant beat the ease of use. So... would you folks think that paid games are something you would take part in? I'm curious to see the reception it gets around the web. I look forward to hearing from you all.

Edited 1399523684
But seriously, as a GM, I don't think I could take 'profit' from GMing. I wouldn't mind having players help with materials though. As a player, unless the GM was significantly better than me, I wouldn't give them a single dime. But I am stingy.
Pat S.
Forum Champion
Sheet Author
As a gm, I would never charge players for my game. There was a thread in the off-topic section before it was closed that almost started a flamewar and it was based on someone posting an interest check about what you (the OP) posted. I think this matter should be discussed in private with the Devs first then after cleared with them, it going to the public if it is allowed.
Duvik, this comes up from time to time - this is one example of how it usually goes on the forum. Given the disparity between the number of players and the number of GMs, I think something along these lines could work. It's going to be an uphill battle to gain acceptance and I don't know if money changing hands is going to solve the accountability issue. I think it's a reasonable suggestion for Roll20 to accommodate this sort of arrangement, but I have no idea how that would even be accomplished. Would you consider paying a GM to run a live game on roll20? No. There are enough free games out there where if I wanted to play in one, I'd probably be able to. Is $7 a fair price for a 4 hour game? Not to me. For seven bucks, I can get a book, DVD or on sale video game and have more entertainment value from my perspective. For 30 dollars a month, I could probably bribe someone to run a game via pizza and a Mentor subscription. As a GM, would you be willing to run games for money? Oh heck no. I've been GMing consistently on Roll20 for over 18 months now and have run into some people you couldn't pay me to have in a group again. I also use running games to get away from the rest of my life devoted to for-profit activities. I've also run the occasional session that just fell flat for whatever reason, I'd hate to have the pressure of making it worth people's money on top of it.
Some of the previous posts remind me of discussions about some sort of immorality in an artist selling art. This is hardly a couple bucks an hour. The GM is going to eat more in 4 hours than he's going to make off a single player. I'm going to try my best to be an adult about this. I would actually consider paying my GM. The common idea of what a good DM is like, is so far behind what is actually good. I haven't truly enjoyed being a player for the better part of a decade. If I knew the GM as a vetted, skilled individual who immersed me and brought that tabletop love back into my life, I would pay quadruple the modest price you proposed. 7$ is more than fair. That's a lunch, and instead it's four hours playing the greatest reality suspending games to ever exist. It's enough to not exclude great, creative players for financial shortcomings and to also reward the GM's effort with the handful of players pitching in. And I would run a game for money. I take my GMing very seriously. Being illusory, rewarding, charismatic, detail oriented, big-picture mindful, a performer, a builder, a writer and adjudicator all at once is a task that many many men have fallen before, and many continue to. (too many) That said, I would want to know my players. I wouldn't GM for entirely reactionary, obnoxious, or childish players for any amount of money. I would like not only talk to them before hand, but run a short session for them, to see how the dynamics of the group work. And I'd probably be more comfortable with actual meet-ups over internet connections, where you can't give people the eye or read your players emotions as well. I believe a mutual understanding needs to be in place. Someone willing to facilitate a groups wants and needs, and able to impress them needs also the desire to do so. If it were someones job, and they were tasked with running it entirely for pay, I imagine it would be a poor experience.
If I was more financially able, I would consider it. Especially like how John said. If they brought something to the table that I couldn't, and made it worth my while. I would do 10$ a session if I could afford it. But if they were lackluster in their performance, I would critique them very hard and if they didn't improve, I would cease the contract immediately.
Sheet Author
API Scripter
Duvik, this has become a bit of a hot-button topic in recent months. The flurry has died down a bit, but there was some serious vitriol on both sides of the fence. Myself, I went and joined a for-pay campaign a little while ago, since I had the disposable income and I wanted to see what it would be like. My GM is charging $5/session, but there have been other prices listed before on the forums, like $30/campaign. I'm enjoying the campaign I joined, but I don't get the feel that the payment is adding anything to the player buy-in (/pun) or accountability. I suspect that if my GM dropped the weekly fee and continued the campaign, the only noticeable change would be in the size of our wallets (and while I can't speak for the others in my game, $5 is... about 6 minutes of work with my paycheck, not something super noticeable).
To each his own, but this concept just seems wrong to me. I run a few games a week and would never charge anyone to play, I have had a player give me a gift subscription payment through roll20, but that was all him wanting to support me and this site. For those people who want to make money doing this may I suggest streaming your games on a service like twitch, you can set up a paypal donation button and if you are good enough to charge per session from your players you should be good enough to entertain viewers online and let them give you the money. DM'ing is a labor of love, love of the game and love of the community. Sure putting together a game is work but that doesn't mean you should be paid for it, working on your yard is work but you do it so you can take pride in what you have done and so your familiy can enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Nolan T. J.
Roll20 Team
This sort of conceptual conversation is not directly related to Roll20, and therefore off topic and disallowed here.