Making Money by Being a GM

Would you hire a GM to help you develop your campaign or adventures? Personally no, but one enterprising GM, going by the name of DNAphil, thinks people will and has launched a GM Consulting business. For $10 an hour he offers advice, draws up plot outlines, flesh out backgrounds and help design new rules. I’m sure DNAphil is an excellent GM but I really cannot see this as working.

Firstly I doubt the broader economics pans out. How many GMs are there with this much cash in their pockets? The second problem is that what DNAphil is selling are the best bits of GMing. Coming up with ideas and planning gaming sessions, these are the fun parts of being a GM. It is the drudgery tasks, like generating stat blocks or mapping out every last room of the dungeon, that I would be willing to pay someone for. Yet these are the services that DNSphil specifically won’t do.

I wish DNAphill all the best however much I doubt the business model but what he represents is a growing shift in gaming and 6d6 Fireball is part of this.

Pre-internet, an aspiring GM would hope to get the occasional adventure in White Dwarf or Dragon magazines and maybe, just maybe, the shot at writing a module for TSR or GW. That has been very slow to change but there are a growing band of writers and creators who want to earn some money from their hobby. 6d6 Fireball falls into this category. Rob & I are longtime gamers who want to earn some money from it so that we can spend even more time doing what we love. We are doing it by selling fantasy miniatures. Free City’s open design approach involves people making donations (effectively buying memberships) to gain access and influence. DNAPhil is offering consultancy and numerous people like Chatty DM are blogging, picking-up a small income from advertising.

Reading the signs in the chicken entrails, I think a change is coming in gaming. This will not happen overnight but it will significantly change our hobby. The internet effects how information is distributed. That information can be science or music or films or even RPG adventures but somehow the RPG market has not changed that much compared to other businesses. However WotC / Hasbro can see the change coming, hence the huge and bungled effort with D&D Insider.

The history of business and society shows that when change happens, the big, established players are the worst affected. New players in the market, riding the waves of change become dominant. Think about how Google now rules the world, just 10 years after being founded. Or how the upstart Microsoft beat the massive IBM in the battle for the desktop computers. What does this mean for the biggest brand in our business, D&D? That depends on how nibble WotC / Hasbro can be in adapting to the change.

6d6 Fireball plans to be part of the change. In the next couple of months we will be offering a radical new way to produce and publish everything from random encounters to complete rule systems. Best of all, it will be free to use and free to read online.

We cannot say anything more at this time other than Watch This Space!

3 comments

  1. First, thank you for the link and your discussion about the idea of GM consulting. I will say that it is a very niche market, and likely not a service for everyone. As for if people will pay for GM advice, I will state that people are willing to pay to attend workshops and seminars at conventions to listen to various GM’s (including myself) give GM advice.

    What I am offering, which I think sets myself apart from the vast amount of blog articles and forum posts (which I contribute to both), is that I am offering one-on-one advice. I think you see that in a somewhat limited form online, when people post responses to a discussion thread, or write a custom blog article.

    As for taking away the best things that make being a GM, that is coming up with ideas, I agree with you. I would rather a developing GM hire me to help teach them methods of generating ideas, so that they can grow as a GM and, to be honest, not need my services in the future.

    I think that while a large number of GM’s have access to the internet and its generalized concepts and ideas, there a number of GM’s who have specific issues that are not addressed in the general blogging market, and that is where I would come in, as your personal GM Consultant.

    As for any illusions about this being a sound business venture, I have none. In fact I am at my day job right now, getting the day started. What I am really offering an extension of what I have done in years past at GenCon, but this time providing it in a one-on-one environment, and tailored to the needs of an individual GM.

    I think the topic of making a business out of the RPG hobby is an interesting one, and I appreciate the the post and your views.

  2. Making money out of this hobby is a thorny issue . The hobby itself leans away from any kind of corporate success in so much as the ‘action’ really takes place in the imaginations of the players. Quite often the best games are had when not enough or only incorrect figures are to be found , when you think back to the events of a game you dont get a picture of the figures and floorplans in your head do you?

    As for people needing help with creativity though, get this ,
    A couple of years back I co-hosted a panel entitled ‘The role of the GM’ at The World science Fiction Convention in L.A. and one of the questions asked was ;

    One of my players has a very high level cleric whos out of control. How can I reign him in ?

    No really , I replied ‘how pious has this cleric been lately?’ and the guy was elated , so much so that he came and thanked me profusely afterwards. Another question was how to deal with players who just disrupt the game , answer , you dont invite them. But the point is , people obviously do need help with their Gming.

    Oh and Hi Rob , Andy Norman put me on to your site after you took Mr chambers to the airport the other day. I have one pic that fits your excellent site name pretty well. Although quite sketchy , its dynamic. Drop us a mail and I’ll send it you. Love what youre doing here btw .

    Jamie.

  3. While I don’t know if GMing for hire will succeed or fail, I stand strongly behind Phil and am also his first client.

    I do however agree with you that a change is coming. Being heavily involved in the RPG blogging market I can feel deep in my gut that there’s a shift of the talent pool from Forums to Blogs.

    Having discussed it with some industry people, they give Bloggers more and more authority and listen to us (Heck I got my open letter to Hasbro be actually read by management over there!)

    I too am looking at non-advertising driven ways of making money out of the work I do. I think e-books and starting a RPG imprint of licensed material is the way to go.

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