DM Tip #10: No Passion, No Fun
This is a huge one for me, like Top 3 kind of huge when it comes to running a game, any game. You need to have a passion for the game you are running. If you don’t, you won’t have any fun, and most likely, neither will the players. Being a DM is often a thankless job, and that can make it a struggle at times to find that passion, but without it, games shrivel and die.
Ah, but what does having passion for a game mean? It will vary for everyone that sits behind the DM screen, but I am going to let you know a few things that help me find that passion, that love of the game that I need as the fuel to drive me onward.
Know the system you are running.
This doesn’t mean you must have an encyclopedic knowledge of the rules, but you should know it well enough to avoid most of the stumbles along the way. This means reading the rules. If the system itself doesn’t seem fun to you, that will show when you run the game, especially if you constantly home-rule every aspect of it. A system of home-rules isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is ground that must be laid out well before the first session even begins.
Know the setting.
This, of course, is easier if you are building your own world—but even then, it can be a pitfall. Read source material if you are playing in a pre-made world. Again, you don’t need to know everything, but you should absolutely know as much as you can about the immediate area the players will be in. If you are playing in a world where elves and dwarves have been at war for a thousand years, you should know that, and it should affect how your elf and dwarf players are treated in the world. If you are making your own world, be consistent.
If you are running a completely pre-made adventure, read the entire thing before you even begin playing. You may think the players won’t get to a certain point, but you can—and often will be—wrong. If the adventure doesn’t seem fun to you, then why are you going to run it? If you hate it, that will show, and your players will hate it too.
Know when to take a break.
Every DM has times when they are just exhausted by the task of running the game, especially if you run one or more regular weekly games. When you start to feel overwhelmed, step away from it for a bit. This will depend on you as a person, as stepping away can mean leaving the game entirely for a bit, or just sitting on the other side of the screen and being a player. Burn out is a dangerous thing, and I have seen it drive too many good DMs from their games.
Lastly, passion is contagious.
If you come to game, roaring and ready to play, that enthusiasm will spill over onto the players. If you view running the game as a chore, the players will start to feel the same way. Why play if no one is going to have fun? I mean, that is the point of playing, right? So, let your passion shine and your sessions will too.