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The DM Should Utilize Help From Peasants

Written by Krystal - Published on June 9, 2010

As a DM we often get overwhelmed with all the extra jobs and things we have to take care of, and it causes a lot of us to “burn out”, or the game runs dry and players make negative comments. These are all elements that all DMs desperately avoid, and can cause a lot of DM stress. Today, I’m here to tell you that this is unnecessary and there are preventative steps we can take.

DnD can often times be tricky, so share the responsibility. You are the DM, you can do that. Ask someone else to keep track of initiative, have other players be the “peasants”, so if anyone has character creation questions you trust that person to be able to answer, and only ask you specific questions related to your world. As the DM it is always your responsibility to be the fallback guy, so if they have a disagreement or are unsure of something, that’s when you step in to make the final ruling.

You can also have someone else keep track of figurines and map details, after you draw out the original map of course! Perhaps you have a lot of NPC names you are forgetful of, or tavern names for that matter. Have someone keep track of places, people, events. In our groups, we reward experience in the next gaming sessions for people who took notes in the last gaming session. The more thorough the notes, the more experience we give. This makes fun for later on if you ever feel like rewriting it in a story form, as well. Also, if you guys ever need to look up a rule, have someone assigned to do that, while they are looking up the rule continue on with the game to keep it from burning out or slowing down.

As a player, there are circumstances you should also watch out for! There are little signs that show you when a DM is getting stressed in game, if they are having to pause a lot when trying to describe something they may be stressed due to all the tasks he or she has to take care of. Save the game and offer to take the responsibility of initiative or anything else the DM will allow. Also, if you notice that the group constantly strays from topic, gets rowdy or goofs off a lot more than usual, this could also be stressing the DM out a bit — it often times makes the DM feel like the game isn’t interestting enough (which may be true), or that we are not doing our job as a DM to keep you entertained. Try to watch out for those, and help the DM along the way with little gestures here and there. Don’t try to take control of the game, this is another thing that will kill it for some of us DM’s, and it’s never good when you as a player try to do too much of the DM’s job; they are there for a reason.

Post more suggestions! Feel free to discuss it here! This is just a starter post, there are many other ways you can help out when you’re NOT the DM, and we’d like to hear your ideas. So leave your comments, and let’s discuss what helps YOU as a DM!

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Written by Krystal

At a young age, my mother opened up her own gaming store. We had two game rooms, an office, and the front area which had a ton of miniatures and books. I helped manage that store for several years, my mother teaching me the ropes and treating me like an adult so I could learn. Even beyond that she played games at stores like Haster Hobbies and several other places. In fact, my parents met gaming! DnD kind of runs in my blood, as well as any other gaming you can think of. I’m simply a gamer at heart, an artist, and a jack of all trades. I love to write and that’s why I’m here at Dungeon Mastering! I’m going to be going to school for Video Game Design, and my bf is going to school so he can publish Core Rule Sets. In the short few years I’ve been with him I’ve learned all about how to create my own rule system and create a game from the ground up! But my expertise is not limited to DnD alone. I’ve ventured far into Call of Cthullu, and beyond to games like Shadowrun and some White Wolf games..though I’m not a big fan of dice pools. :)

Anyways! Gaming is my passion and my life. I game constantly, go to conventions, and so much more! Maybe I’ll see you there! Happy Gaming!

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4 Responses to “The DM Should Utilize Help From Peasants”
  1. david says:

    I completely agree! In fact I take it one step further and sometimes when the characters get separated or if a new player is waiting to be included in the campaign, I allow them to play monsters and npc’s for me. I tell them that there main character will get xp based on how well they play their “role” as a npc or how much ass kicking they do as a monster. I had one of the players even after a lengthy period playing monsters over numerous sessions say “I kind of miss kicking all your asses” to the rest of the group, and the other players say “well we’re glad to have you on our side now as you were brutal when you were a monster!”

    Its pretty fun to see them battle each other, and they all enjoy the challenge, and it allows me to better play more monsters and do better “monologue’n” ;)

    d4d6d8d10d12d20.com – My RPG/Game Blog

  2. Noob says:

    A lot of this is really helpful, especially the section on note taking. I have one player who from day one has taken notes on everything, having a player who does this can be very helpful if you don’t mind occasionally being corrected by the player because you forgot some minor NPC’s name that they met ten sessions ago.

    I would also add that sometimes all you really need from your players is a quick diversion. If my players notice their DM searching through his notes having misplaced a page that might take a while to find, they turn up the role-playing a bit and have in-character gambling, or arguing, or whatever the situation warrants. This gives time for the DM to get organized and keeps everyone in game.

  3. TheWhite says:

    I love it when players make their own map as they adventure. Hell, I’ll give em grid paper and the scale that I’m using so they can do it more easily. The amount of times that I’ve got to the start of the session after we left a dungeon crawl mid way and thought “DAMN, I have no idea where the PC’s are!” and proceeded to just look at the map they have been making, found where they ended it and thus found exactly where to start :D very nice.

    Also, I’m currently playing in Pathfinder Society (organized play where characters have specific faction missions in each adventure that the other players don’t know about), the DM never has to worry about remembering when each faction mission is coming up or in process because we get little slips of paper with the details. In each two-hour session there is about half an hour of gameplay that the DM doesn’t need to know anything about, that’s a good quarter of the game that the players take care of for the DM.

    As for players taking note of when the DM is getting stressed, we had one DM in Society play who started taking out his own issues on characters. First sign of a stressed DM, using Coup De Grace rules on PC’s just because the DM doesn’t like their tactics


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. […] The DM Should Utilize Help From Peasants This article from Krystal says up front that the GM should recruit the other players to help the game run more smoothly. I’m 100% in favor of this and already leverage this to its greatest when I can. The GM already has so much to do, that any little bit that can be farmed out to the players is beneficial. […]

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