Burnt Out

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In addition to my many other hobbies (see my previous post), I also play Dungeons and Dragons every week. For the past two years or so, I’ve been the DM for our group. We started out playing in-person and then moved online when the pandemic hit.

For a while, I was also the DM of several play-by-post games on DNDBeyond. One lasted for almost a year, which I am tickled about. I learned a lot, and it was a lot of fun. But eventually it ended, so I am down to just our regular weekly online game.

We use Roll20 and Discord and have played several adventures over the course of the last few years. We started out playing Tomb of Annihilation in-person and then switched to Roll20 when we could no longer meet. It was going well, but then a couple of players had to drop out and the game just kind of fizzled. They had made it almost to the end tomb, but didn’t want to continue on.

So we found another player to round out the group and they decided to play the Icespire Peak adventure. We made our way through that, including all the add-ons. I did have a small respite for one or two sessions while someone else DM’d, but then he returned to college, so he didn’t have the time anymore.

We opted to play Waterdeep: Dragon Heist next, and we are almost done with it. They have located the vault and the keys, so it’s really just the last bit of the dungeon next session and we will likely be done with this adventure.

I’m torn about what to do next. I am severely burnt out being the DM. It would be nice to just show up and play without spending hours of prep before each session. I enjoy it, but I’m ready for someone else to do it for a while. Unfortunately, I don’t see any of my players stepping up to DM if I don’t. So now I’m torn between continuing to DM even when I am burnt out, or likely having the group split up because no one else wants to DM.

Personally, I’d like to try some new games, including the new Burn Bryte space game, as well as Humblewood, a game that uses D&D rules but has a new setting and player races. None of my current players are interested in any of those, however, so I don’t know what to do.

Actually, after thinking and writing about it, perhaps I’m not burnt out from DMing, I’m burnt out from managing players – dealing with issues such as late arrivals, last-minute cancellations and the like. Which is a whole different problem – and one that’s pretty easy to fix. So I’ll continue to DM this adventure to its conclusion, and then after that, I’m going to let my group know that I will be taking a break as DM. Perhaps one of them will surprise me and step up – though I’m not holding my breath. If so, great. If not, then I am free to find another group to play with, whether as a DM or player.

I will say that I have thoroughly enjoyed using Roll20 to play online. Even though I love playing in person with miniatures, the process of drawing maps and such was a huge hassle. It’s so much easier in Roll20 to set things up, even though I’m usually extra lazy and just purchase modules that are already all set up for me. It also makes it a bit easier to find players, since playing online removes a lot of the scheduling stumbling blocks you encounter when playing in person. I may even try playing an asynchronous game in Roll20 if I’m feeling really adventurous.

We’ll see what happens when this current adventure ends. In the meantime, I have lots of other projects to keep me busy. 😛

6 thoughts on “Burnt Out

  1. Interesting read. I used to DM a lot too and sometimes got burnt out too for some of the reasons you describe. I’m glad you are liking the online platform. I looked into it but ended up not doing it because I got busy with other priorities and decided that I didn’t want to add the time commitment of DMing to everything else I was doing.

    One thing that has worked for me at avoiding burn out has been shared worlds where several people take a turn DMing in the same world but otherwise using the same characters and maybe having the games be episodic. The thing is, I’ve noticed over the years that many people like to play D&D but people who want to DM are much less common.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, the supply of players far exceeds the number of DMs. And I like being the DM, but putting in hours of work for players to consistently show up late (even online!) and/or be obviously focusing on something other than the game during play is frustrating when I’m spending hours of time prepping. Which is probably why there are more players – it’s easy to just show up and play!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve certainly lived that myself and yes, definitely easier to show up and play. When I do get a chance to play in a good, long term campaign as a player, one thing I generally offer to do to help the DM (though I’m also happy to just show up and play if such help isn’t really welcome … one doesn’t want to be pushy) is take on the work of organizing the players each week and seeing who is going to make it and who isn’t and reporting what I find to the DM. As a past mostly DM myself, I think sometimes it is an awful lot of work to put all of that work into the game, including running it, but have to do all of the player organizing and cheerleading too.

        Another thing I learned from watching another DM years ago that I liked is he offered everyone a “job” at the table. You didn’t have to have a job but most people did because he gave your character 100 XP per level per session for doing the job adequately. One job might be keeping track of XP for the group, another treasure, a third doing initiative, and so on.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Interesting. I would never have thought of giving in game rewards for out of game activities. I’ll have to see if there’s a way to do that that works for me. That’s actually one of the reasons I like using Roll20 – a lot of those housekeeping tasks are automated or made much easier with the online tools.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes, I imagine Roll20 does automate a lot of stuff, which is good. What I saw happen with the “player jobs,” is that the DM didn’t really have to push it at all. He just asked if anyone wanted one and I said, and the other players, once they saw their characters would be getting XP wanted one too.

        Liked by 1 person

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