So, as the title says, I didn’t have a game this past Sunday. The reason? Because I just needed a break. Today, we’re going to talk about DM burnout.
It happens to the best of us: we DM time and time again, likely for multiple games and for multiple days, that stretch into weeks, months, and even years. I’ve played all of three game sessions in the last year, if that tells you something.
Remember my article Why I Am the Forever DM? If you haven’t read it, go ahead and check it out. I’ll wait.
Here’s a D&D Meme for those waiting with me:
Okay, now that you’ve read it, you can see that being the Forever DM, however rewarding has a major drawback: burnout.
So, here are my tips to avoid burnout.
1: Take a Break (like I’m doing this week):
Seriously, take a break. Especially if it’s a weekly game or something, take a week off! I’ve known many a DM that not only DMs every week, but hosts as well (I know this because I’m one of them, at least pre-Covid). A break, like any type of vacation can do wonders for the mind and body of a Dungeon Master.
Think of it like being at work. You go there day after day after day, right? And what happens at the end of the week? You get some sort of day off or weekend or some such to recharge.
What do I use my breaks from being Dungeon Mastering to do? I write. I plan for the campaign. I write adventures. Or, sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly burned out, I don’t do anything related to Dungeons and Dragons or any other sort of tabletop roleplaying game! I actually took a break! I hung out with my kids, particularly my 3-year old in just a special time to play with him. My family is really cool. We watched Hamilton. Awesome production.
You do you. But you do you in a relaxing and recharging sort of way.
2. Have Someone Else DM a One-Shot or Short Adventure/Campaign:
This cannot be stressed enough for the Forever DM: LET SOMEONE ELSE HAVE THE REIGNS AND DM!
I have control issues, okay? Most Dungeon masters that I know have this problem to one degree or another. It is part of the reason, in my humble opinion, why we are good at what we do.
But be willing to give up the reigns and play.
You cannot imagine the relief it can be to be the obnoxious player for once (just kidding! Be a good player!).
Be the rules lawyer. Be the model player that you want your players to be.
Try to enjoy yourself with playing, planning your character out, creating that character you thought would be awesome but had to make an NPC instead!
The possibilities for this are endless here.
Here’s the catch: what if none of your players wants to step up and DM to give you a break? Well, pretty easy fix: do step one (above) and find a game while you are taking your break. Find a Discord or Roll20.net game.
Two of my favorite servers on Discord are Arryn or the DnDBeyond servers. Easy to find a game to play in.
Roll20, on the other hand, has a “Join a Game” option, where you can find a game to play. It’s got a customizable search function to find just the right game for you.
3. Change Game Systems and/or Genre:
Okay, now I’m going to say something that may offend some of you. Are you ready? Yes? Okay. Here it goes.
Dungeons and Dragons isn’t the only RPG system or genre out there.
There, I said it.
There are SO many systems and genres out there. To name a few: Runequest, GURPS, Pathfinder, d20 series (Modern, Future, Apocalypse, Past, etc…), Shadowrun, and the list goes on and on and on.
I can remember being disillusioned with D&D. Yeah that happened. Remember that edition we don’t like to talk about? 4th Edition? Yeah, that made me quit playing D&D.
The next game I ran? A Fallout themed d20 Future/Apocalypse game that went swimmingly and turned into a zombie survival game (long story; I’ll tell you all about it some time; I even incorporated The 100 in it). It was one of the best campaigns I have ever run and my players still love to talk about it. In fact, when I moved away from there, they got me a Super Mutant Pop! figure as a parting gift, signed by everyone.
Switching things up a bit can always help alleviate boredom and burnout.
Do you have any tips about avoiding DM burnout? Leave them in the comment section below!
Until next time, Dear Readers!