Fighting Game Master Burnout

After a long break between roleplaying as a kid, I started playing with my current batch of players nearly a decade ago. In that time, I have sat almost exclusively in the game master chair, only occasionally becoming a player. Those ten years have been spent running almost universally Dungeon and Dragons, covering second, third, and fourth edition.

I am sick of it.

The spark that always got me excited to run a game is flickering. It has been fading for a while now, but it took me a while to realize exactly what is happening. I am suffer from burnout: both as a game master and with Dungeon and Dragons. Luckily, my group is understanding about all this. We’ve come up with a pair of parallel solutions to try and solve my burnout.

The first is to get me out of the GM chair. I haven’t been a player in years; and the last time with any character continuity was when my brother ran a Dark Sun game in the early 90’s. I think the change of pace should help recharge my juices. In the short term, one of my players has volunteered to run at least one session of our current campaign, taking up where I left off. Going forward we can either have him be the primary GM, or rotate others into that chair as people have time and interest.

The second solution involves getting out of D&D. Part of my stress with the system is how crunch heavy it is, both in the prep and the running of the game. There is a lot of work on my part, which I think was a major factor in my burnout. As such, I am looking at low-crunch systems, with higher player investment in story/world building. Current contenders are Dread, Dogs in the Vineyard, and Spirit of the Century.  Not sure if we’ll do some or all, pick one or rotate. The key is simply to get out of the crunch heavy D&D and into something simpler and free-form. This allows me to shed the parts of GMing I don’t like and focus on the things I do best.

For now, we will try doing a combination of both. We pick our game based on who’s coming, who’s ready to run a game, what people are feeling, rather than rigidly being tied to any schedule. At worst, we’ll find things we don’t like, which will help us narrow down what we want to do. Ideally, this will lead to us playing better games, more often. Can’t ask for more than that.

-That is all.


One thought on “Fighting Game Master Burnout

  1. Lucas Bell says:

    I am actually working on our next quest while on my lunch break. I hope I can live up to the standards you made for DMing.

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