The Eternal DM problem

In the few short, but action packed, years that I have been DMing I have come across an eternal problem that I struggle with, and I am beginning to get the notion that It is a problem that every GM deals with in some sort of way.
This problem has to do with the difference between marco and micro elements of the story line. Currently the Charos (my party) are in the middle of some pretty spicey expose that is revealing large swathes of the world that they are in, and all I can think is “Are they bored of this? Do they just want to dungeon crawl where I/they can focus on traps and the minuteness of the game, or are they enjoying this? I know that the second I bring the party down to the other level, I will begin to think the opposite. “Is this too fine grit? Are they bored of the slog of the crawl?”
It is true that in a perfect world a story will be created and the GM can just make a story and then focus on the details of each session as the party progresses in the story, but it will never happen like that. Writing a campaign is not like writing a movie or a book, its a constantly evolving creature or improv where you, as a creator, have to bounce back and forth between thoughts of inter-kingdom politico games happening without the party’s privy, to what kind of club that kobold is brandishing.
It is this element that I find the most rewarding, yet incredibly taxing, like spinning plates.

You want to know the completely unrelated halfling's name in the bar? UUUUH OK, gimme a sec.
You want to know the completely unrelated halfling’s name in the bar? UUUUH OK, gimme a sec.

This problem is always compacted by the fact that in the game I am running I allow a lot of choice by the players, and they know it. This makes for a GREAT game where the players truly experience the fun of DND, knowing that they can build and dash kingdoms or story lines at their pleasure, but it also means that I can never really plan more than a session or two ahead of time, and Never in as much detail and I truly would like. I see all these other DMs with pre-built castles and lazer pointer table props for light puzzles and it makes me feel a bit deflated.

I am not really sure what the point of this post was, other than to remind you the struggles that a GM puts up with. When you leave your charachter at the table, you’re done if you want, however the GM’s work is just starting, they have to prep for next week! So, If you are enjoying your game, show your appreciation.  bring the GM a bag of cheetos for them, or tell them you lie their sotory, or even better yet, don’t kill that noble with the complex backstory they have just introduced, haha.

3 thoughts on “The Eternal DM problem”

  1. Same goes for me. I’ve been running a intense story driven campaign for a little over a year now and I feel exactly like that. A lot of people I know want to try their hand at GMing and I always reccomend they don’t unless they’re able to deal with the time investment, constant change and at the end of the day being able to acknowledge that you have no real control over the game. However on the other hand I find that DMing can be one of the most rewarding experiences out there.

  2. My struggle is with creating either a challenge that is suitable for the players or creating a nemesis for them rather than just: “Oh, this is just the boss of this dungeon”.

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