Why the DM is often the host of the game session:

because eff lugging around a crateful of books, screens etc etc!

Comments

  • Because it reinforces social authority ?
  • That's a side-effect that in itself has pros and cons.
    But practically it's been so nice to play at my home because if we want to look up something weird, all of the books are right here
  • I think the most common reason is easily that the GM is the one who cares about the game activity most, overall. In my experience the majority of the rpg hobbyists are "casuals" who will show up when asked to, but won't take any responsibility for prepping, hosting or even learning the rules. That's just the nature of the hobby.

    Regarding the hauling logistics, I'm a pretty big guy so it's not a problem for me to carry even the more extensive gaming sets around. Despite this, it's historically been common for me to end up hosting the games I run, just like others have hosted the games they've GMed. Having clear distinction between hosting and GMing has been an exception in my gaming history. The best hosting has nearly always come from GM hosts, too; they just care more about making the game session pleasant all around.

    Nowadays the most reference-heavy games benefit greatly from digital sourcing, of course. I'd say that my old school D&D pack would probably weight another 20 kgs if I tried to have the adventure backstock on paper. A hybrid approach is much more reasonable: print out the first-rank stuff that has a high probability of being needed in a given session, and rely on digital reference if you end up needing something else instead.
  • edited April 2018
    I am a frail old lady is what I am
    Do you use a laptop or tablet? What brands are good
  • My technology use is is very idiosyncratic, I don't recommend anybody doing what I personally do. Like, my go-to device for digital tabletop game reference is an old Cybook Odyssey e-ink reader, a solution I do not recommend to anybody - an e-ink reader has its advantages, but for this purpose it's just a stupid choice that shows off how lazy I am about taking the digital dimension seriously. (Specifically, an e-ink reader is slower than a conventional laptop or tablet with a LCD display. This makes look-up and reference unnecessarily cumbersome.)

    When handling other people's portable digital devices, I've come to conclude that a big tablet is likely to serve the GM's needs best. Get one of those tablet table stands and it doubles as a GM screen. I don't like a laptop as much, as it takes more table space and the keyboard is generally not useful for tabletop play.
  • edited April 2018
    I do only paper and pen at the moment -- I don't have a smartphone and I access story-games through an old DOS 386 with dialup -- but had thought it could be good to document some of the developments and revelations, hence keyboard
  • I don't like reading from e-readers so stick to old-fashioned paper books. I see the advantage of using technology (my wife uses her Kindle a lot whilst travelling, for example), but I prefer good old paper character sheets and a pencil.

    My usual complement of books, notepad, dice box, maps, figures and assorted paraphernalia makes travelling with it a pain in the rear end. I'm a large-scale bloke but two paper-filled backpacks plus a case of figures (plus any snacks, drinks and so on) is enough to make me wince.

    On the figure front, being home-based means that I would have access to my entire collection, currently taking up several bookcases, and be able to pick out a suitable miniature for any occasion (if I have the right one in the collection). There is no way I could lug all the figures around without employing very large trolleys or a fork-lift.
  • That's a very D&D-centric answer Sandra; I ran a game yesterday and the entirely contents of what I needed fit in a very small "messenger bag"; It was a 9' tablet, charger, few pencils, about 8 sheets of paper and a paperclip that I ended up not needing to use. To be fair, the host provided some decks of cards but those could easily have fit in the bag without impairing me much.

    Outside of a small number of games, there's not enough material to worry about having to lug it.

    I think Eero's right: The GM usually hosts, since the GM is usually the most invested in the game. (Disclaimer: None of the games I'm in right now are being hosted by their GM)
  • Yeah, Eero's answer is probably the biggest reason. DeReel is probably right too. My answer in the OP was one I hadn't thought of before.
    And you're right about it applying mostly to D&D. When we play Fiasco we can play anywhere♥
    We ran "the Ice" in a Malmö café♥
  • edited April 2018
    I concur with previous observations but I'll offer myself as a counter-example. In my gaming life I usually GM'd but almost never hosted. I didn't even own the books for the most part, but I would learn them by heart faster than my gaming group. It's now when I do most of my gaming over voice chat that I have started to "host" in the sense that I organize the time, write session reports (for posterity and absent players) etc.

    I think part of it ties into the ceremonial aspect of GMing. You don't necessarily care more than your players but you do take responsibility for leading the ritual, doling out responsibilities to the players and grounding people in the shared fictional space. I think this is why many traditionally focused roleplayers don't take to story games as easily, because many story games intentionally disrupt the ceremonial aspect, the narrative control becomes less "sacred and mystical" when everyone has it or some fixed algorithm sets the pace and boundaries instead of a ceremonial leader.

    The insight of GM as ceremonial leader is taken from this post which I highly recommend:
    http://hackslashmaster.blogspot.se/2017/12/on-dungeons-dragons-problem.html
  • In my circles, the host is almost always the one with the best physical space for gaming. This includes table, open space, two-players-live-there-rather-than-one, and who-has-the-books-minis-or-etc.

    GM is determined by who wants to run a game, who has mental bandwidth, how many of us could make it and what does that mean re: what game we're going to play, and, somewhat, who hasn't GM'd in a while.
  • Thank you Krippler, that was spot on.
  • Also, in the US where a lot of people end up driving to their games, weight of books is less relevant than if you're hoofing it on public transit. ;)
  • Not wanting to carrying too much stuff is one of the practical reasons why I like one sheet games. It's the least important reason but still, I almost always have a one sheet game in my satchel.
  • In my circles, the host is almost always the one with the best physical space for gaming. [...]

    GM is determined by who wants to run a game, who has mental bandwidth, how many of us could make it and what does that mean re: what game we're going to play, and, somewhat, who hasn't GM'd in a while.
    That describes my gaming experience perfectly!

    Although I also agree that Eero is right on about the emotional investment being quite different - almost without exception, significantly higher for the GM. That means it's often the GM who ends up being the social leader for - for instance - scheduling the next session.
  • Also, in the US where a lot of people end up driving to their games, weight of books is less relevant than if you're hoofing it on public transit. ;)
    So I hear that "LA is a great big freeway"♥
    Yeah over here it's trains & busses
  • We usually play at the place of whoever would have the most trouble getting a babysitter. =)

    For years, this has been a gamer family with three kids. Both parents play (but rarely GM) and their kids drop in and out of the campaign -- only their teenage son is a regular since we've gone all OSR! =)

    As far as lugging around stuff is concerned, I recommend Microsoft's Surface Pro. The killer features are a detachable keyboard (so it doesn't eat up much space at the table), the pen (so I can annotate .pdfs and my own prep docs on the fly, write down hit points on-screen etc.) and the fact that it's a full-fledged PC (with whatever software floats your boat -- in my case I organize everything with OneNote).
  • With my group we never had any correlation between hosting and GMing, even in the old days of huge printed books.

    It's even easier now that we have all of our books in pdf format: my laptop is all I need for that (we still use physical dice, paper, pencils, and tokens if needed).

    Sadly, it's far harder now to find the time for all of us to play, but that's another topic…
  • We usually play at the place of whoever would have the most trouble getting a babysitter. =)
    I'm a player in a campaign like that, the couple are players and their DM friend (who also plays in my campaign) just plays out of the core books + yawning portal + laptop.
    Just that it's sooo nice to be able to like go to some obscure 2e box set and pull out a map or w/e

  • To add to the chorus, my groups generally choose the host based on a combination of:

    * Central location (no one has to travel SUPER FAR)
    * Nice space (I have a pretty central location, but my table seats 5, cozily.)
    * Parental duties. (For whatever reason, people seem to think that two adults are required to put a two year old to bed. Firsthand study indicates that two is in no way sufficient, so dropping to one wouldn't be much of an issue. ;) )

    GMing hasn't entered into the calculus in a while, though it WAS the driver once upon a time. My theory here is that it's more socially normal to say "Hey, does everyone want to come to my house and [do thing]?" than it is to say "I'd like to [do thing], other person, can we use your house?"
  • Although I also agree that Eero is right on about the emotional investment being quite different - almost without exception, significantly higher for the GM. That means it's often the GM who ends up being the social leader for - for instance - scheduling the next session.
    Yeah, I think this nails it. I'd say single-GM games are usually more rewarding for the GM than the players. If this wasn't the case, you'd have more players organizing games.


  • Yeah, I think this nails it. I'd say single-GM games are usually more rewarding for the GM than the players. If this wasn't the case, you'd have more players organizing games.
    Disagree. If this were the case, you'd have more people GMing games and way fewer people complaining than they can't find a GM.
  • edited May 2018

    Yeah, I think this nails it. I'd say single-GM games are usually more rewarding for the GM than the players. If this wasn't the case, you'd have more players organizing games.
    Disagree. If this were the case, you'd have more people GMing games and way fewer people complaining than they can't find a GM.
    Yeah I was thinking the same thing

    Edit: OK, otoh I can't argue with Eero's post either!

    eternal september me too
  • There is no contradiction between GMing being more enjoyable and GMs being rare if the type of enjoyment provided by GMing is not achievable by the majority of gamers. To me this seems like a reasonable case to make: we might simply be observing a hobby where only few are capable of GMing, and those who are usually prefer to do it because it offers more for them to do. This would make it so that GMs are rare despite GMing being more fun than playing characters.

    This is not dissimilar to the music hobby, by the way: those play who can, while those who can't just listen.

    A gut check: how many non-GM gamers do you know who enjoy the rpg hobby more than the GM who enjoys it the least? I think that for me that number is probably zero over a longer time-frame. The most motivated non-GM I know is an occasional GM, in fact, even if not the primary one in his circles, and he's still only barely as motivated as the most frustrated and disillusioned GM I can think of.
  • Yeah, I think that music analogy works great, but not in the way you think.

    Most people listen to music because they don't CARE to learn an instrument, not because they can't.

    I definitely know a couple of players who enjoy this hobby WAY MORE than several reluctant GMs in my circles. Their enthusiasm is AMAZING, and they clearly deeply enjoy every game.
  • Most people listen to music because they don't CARE to learn an instrument, not because they can't.
    As a (non-pro) musician, I agree. Enjoying other's creativity and being creative yourself are two very different things! And not everyone would enjoy performing in public, or even just creating and crafting and polishing and rehearsing a piece.

    Bringing that back to GMing: it takes more effort to GM a game than to play a PC, and GMing puts you into a "brighter spotlight" than the rest of the players. People who enjoy GMing find that - usually - more rewarding, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it would be like that for everyone.

    That said, learning to play an instrument is definitely a huge investment in time (and money), and some people would enjoy playing, but can't invest enough into learning. So I don't think that the other argument is completely wrong, either.
  • tbh, I personally feel like GMing is way less work than playing a PC. It just uses a different skillset (sort of).
    The other GM in my group and I both view GMing a campaign as taking a break from the hard work that is playing.
  • A bit like throwing a party, too : you spend something, but win something else. It's a conversion of capital. So, watch your conversion rate.
  • I think the combination of traits that make someone into a GM often (not always) coincide with them being the host:

    * Leadership qualities
    * Socially forward
    * Motivated
    * Organized

    Often (not always), players just want to show up and play a game.

    There's nothing that says that the charismatic, motivated, organized leader-GM can't say, "Hey, Bob, can you host the game this week? Friday at 7, okay?" but I suspect that tactic fails to a greater degree than, "Hey, players, game at my house on Friday evening, as usual." Because the GM is more organized than Bob, and Bob drops the ball sometimes.
  • Although I also agree that Eero is right on about the emotional investment being quite different - almost without exception, significantly higher for the GM. That means it's often the GM who ends up being the social leader for - for instance - scheduling the next session.
    Yeah, I think this nails it. I'd say single-GM games are usually more rewarding for the GM than the players. If this wasn't the case, you'd have more players organizing games.

    You'll note that I didn't say GMing is more fun. (For some people it is; but often it isn't, depending on a whole host of factors.)

    However, I will fight tooth and nail to defend my observation that the GM's role leads to greater emotional investment.

    It's not about fun or not fun; it's that the GM has generally put in more thought, more time, more care, work, or passion. She has higher expectations, more of an idea of what to look forward to, and is keen to see the payoff on her work.

    She might enjoy it a great deal, or she might just see it as hard work, but, either way, she's committed in a way players generally aren't.

  • tbh, I personally feel like GMing is way less work than playing a PC. It just uses a different skillset (sort of).
    The other GM in my group and I both view GMing a campaign as taking a break from the hard work that is playing.
    This is a fascinating counterpoint; my guess is that the way your group plays games - with the players collectively developing the "plot" and storyline - means that there is a lot less for the GM to do than in more "typical" roleplaying groups.

    In the same way that the "typical" GM has an idea of what to look forward to and to see coming, the player in your game does the same work - investing in a vision of future play, planning it out, developing details and emotional attachment, and so forth.

    Does that sound anywhere near the mark?
  • That's exactly on the mark, Paul. Thank you. :)
  • Nice! Thanks for confirming.
  • For what it's worth, I view the argument that the GM is the host because they are emotionally invested to be largely beside the point. The GM is running the GAME because they are emotionally invested, but I feel like the interesting part of this discussion is "Why does the GM ALSO host the game when they could just as easily play somewhere else."
  • That's great, Airk, we got sidetracked into "why are they GM" (or DM or Keeper). Not "I have to make my bed twice weekly now b/c I'll have players here" which was the orig question. And shlepping books is the first think that comes to mind♥
  • I got more willing to run elsewhere when I started running games that a) other folks maybe owned the core book and b) I had etext as well as print. I still do like having print, though.
  • Yeah, that makes sense. I noticed the more my shelves got weighed down by Forgotten Realms classics I found myself reluctant to leave. "But what if, what if they go to Huzuz?"
  • Yeah, that makes sense. I noticed the more my shelves got weighed down by Forgotten Realms classics I found myself reluctant to leave. "But what if, what if they go to Huzuz?"
    Then hopefully it'll take them long enough to get there that you'll be able to reference it later. ;)
  • edited May 2018
    Disagree. If this were the case, you'd have more people GMing games and way fewer people complaining than they can't find a GM.
    But you can't run a game unless someone organizes it. I believe you'd have more people running games if they didn't have to organize them too.

    And the people who say they can't find a GM? Sometimes they just really can't, but often it's that they want a specific play experience, and it's hard to achieve that as a player.
    You'll note that I didn't say GMing is more fun. (For some people it is; but often it isn't, depending on a whole host of factors.)

    However, I will fight tooth and nail to defend my observation that the GM's role leads to greater emotional investment.

    It's not about fun or not fun; it's that the GM has generally put in more thought, more time, more care, work, or passion. She has higher expectations, more of an idea of what to look forward to, and is keen to see the payoff on her work.

    She might enjoy it a great deal, or she might just see it as hard work, but, either way, she's committed in a way players generally aren't.
    Yeah, maybe I'm simplifying things too much.
  • I'm not familiar with the reference, DeReel.

    Do you have a link that expands on or explains the source of that quote?
Sign In or Register to comment.