If you’ve ever been the Dungeon Master (DM) of your very own Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) game, you’re a hero. Being a DM takes time, effort, a ridiculous amount of organizational skills, and in some cases, blood and tears as well. You have created an entire world for your friends to play around and be idiots in, and that is no small feat. You had to organize them all in the same room for once, too.
Being a DM is fun, but along with the joy, there’s also a certain amount of crap you have to put up with. So pour one out for that special DM in your life, and to all DMs, take a minute to laugh at yourself, and the situations you’ve almost certainly found yourself in.
10 Ultimate Power
As the DM, you are blessed with the almighty power to do whatever you want at all times. Your wildest dreams are only ever one dice roll away. No one can tell you what to do. No one can challenge you. You are the highest of all deities.
One of the greatest things about being a DM is the ability to bring your worlds to life in front of you with all your friends. It takes effort and time, but the awesome power you’re granted is more than a satisfactory return investment.
9 Never Enough Dice
The biggest problem about being a DM is… being a DM.
Sure, you could dedicate hours and days of your free time to drawing maps and creating vast expanses of lore for your world. You could map out every city that will play a part in your campaign, down to the shops on any given street. You could mark out the big plot points, when they happen, who the antagonist is, and how they became the villain in the first place.
Or you can buy more dice.
Ah. Instant gratification.
8 The Most Ambitious Crossover
With great power comes great etc. etc., and DMs have a lot of power. Some might argue too much power.
Killing your first player character as a DM is something of a guilt trip and a power trip at the same time. Oh no! Your friend is sad because their character is dead now because of you. But on the other hand, your friend’s character is dead because of you. Isn’t that kind of awesome?
You have the power to take and give life. You have the power of a god. What you give is merely a privilege you offer – and can be just as easily taken away.
At this point, you’re already a delusional serial killer. Congratulations.
7 Famous Last Words
“Oh boy,” says a bright eyed, bushy tailed player, “being a DM sure does look fun! I want to try it out.”
Everyone was once that player. They have either perished on the altar of world-building or have since continued to make sacrifices in the name of the same god.
As fun as DMing is, it takes a lot of… everything. Time, energy, creativity, the works. It also looks deceptively easy when you watch experience DMs weave words and spin worlds between their fingers “effortlessly.” The big secret is that even the most experienced DMs have the, “I have absolutely no idea what this campaign is going to be,” moment. The only difference is how hard you can wing it.
6 Rest In Pieces
This is the second biggest problem about being a DM: the unpredictability.
You can spend weeks building up to an encounter only for it to last five minutes as your players steamroll over it with a few well-placed Nat 20s. An important NPC you spent days characterizing might be overshadowed by a goblin with a funny hat. Such is the nature of the game.
The best thing you can do is accept it before it happens, as painful as that is. Go into every session prepared to have your plans burned down in flames. It’s for the best.
5 When Will They Learn?
Surprise: they won’t learn. Ever.
Everyone forgets that the choices they make in a campaign don’t exist in a vacuum. And, doing their due diligence, the DM gets to cheerfully remind their players of this reality every so often. Remember that high-powered aristocrat you made a fool of? Guess who isn’t going to be offering you aid in the final showdown. Remember that innocent child you murdered for fun? Guess whose parents are now out for blood.
It’s important for a DM to keep these “insignificant” events in the back of their mind. The plot twists people should see coming are always better than the ones they never saw coming.
4 Maybe They Won’t Notice
Another one of the perks of being a DM is hiding jokes for both your friends to laugh at and for you to privately giggle at, because no one else understands the inside jokes you make with yourself. Even in the most serious, grimdark campaign, there’s always room for a little humor. When you’re messing around with friends, it’s hard not to want to goof around at least a little bit.
With that said, please pay no attention to this group of three cultists, two humans and a Tabaxi named Jezebel, Jameson, and Mow.
3 Charisma Check
There has to be at least one Respect The DM Juice meme in here for those of you who aren’t DMs. Drink this juice at all times. And then tell your DM you respect and appreciate them. They work very hard to keep your campaign up and running. They do this for free and they sink a lot of time into making this fun for everybody. Say thank you. Bring snacks to the sessions. Stay and help clean up when they’re over.
This has been your Respect The DM PSA. Now back to your regularly scheduled DM memes.
2 Rules? What Rules?
Remember that first meme about having ultimate power? This meme is just that one again, but this time it’s personal.
There’s nothing more satisfying than ignoring a rule in the handbook that doesn’t make sense or makes the game less fun. Just under that is telling one of your players that rule doesn’t apply in your campaign. You feel that? That’s the power of a god.
Handbook? Useless? DM’s guide? Doubly so. You make your own rules! No one can test your might!
… Wait what do you roll for this again?
1 “I Totally Planned That”
The secret to planning a D&D campaign is to never plan your D&D campaign.
Okay not never, but don’t stress about making sure every detail is in its proper place. Your players are going to run around and stomp all over it anyway, so why not try and build something cooler with the wreckage? The faster you can learn to think on the spot, the less you have to stress about your neat and orderly campaign staying neat and orderly.
Making up stuff on the fly, you might even surprise yourself with how far you’ve come since you started DMing. Embrace the power you’ve been gifted.