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Rat13

Pay to Play?

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For the last year I've been playing in D&D's Adventure League at my local gamestore. In that year we have gone from one table with an occasional second, to three full tables and we're approaching the need for a fourth. So the decision was made to start a "pay to play" system.

 

Currently we meet every Saturday and run four hour sessions. The price they've decided will be one dollar an hour. So each player will pay four dollars a session, which will be paid to the DM in the form of store credit. The idea was to help the DM's pay for miniatures, books, modules, and anything else they may need.

 

I'm a bit on the fence about this. I make sure the shop receives at least three dollars each week from me in sodas, and usually end up spending about twenty each month on random comics and figures. It might not sound like much but between myself and my wife I feel we do our part (She usually makes a "large" purchase every two weeks). So as far as paying our way to the shop I believe we're covered.

 

Now as for the DM I'd say we're a little lacking. As a group we do our best to change out our DMs so they have a chance to play. Thanks to my wife I've started helping out in that department though.

 

At the moment I am currently a DM so I know how hard running a game can be, not to mention the prep that goes into it before you even reach the table. Personally I end up prepping about two hours every week. As a DM I don't feel comfortable accepting money in a "pay to play" system though.

 

The only reason I'm even DMing is because someone had to and my wife kinda volunteered me. If I was a player I think I'd support this "new" system (the shop is making money with the added benefit of the DM being able to get necessary "supplies"), but as a DM this just doesn't feel right to me.

 

Am I being crazy? This is my hobby, even though painting is the main part, taking money just feels dirty. Does anyone else feel like this?

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Don't feel too bad about it. I've DM'ed at Cons--and for the RPGA for a bit--for many years, and we always get comped for running sessions. So there is quite a precedent for this sort of thing. 

 

DM'ing is a "labor of love", but plenty of folks are happy to kick in a little bit for it. Heck, going to a 2-hour movie would cost at least $10...

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I do get that you're uncomfortable with taking money from your players, but one thing my players told me again and again was how they felt uncomfortable seeing me buy all the stuff without them contributing.

So I would take the money. 4 dollar per player per week will probably still not really cover the cost. And if you still feel dirty about taking their money you could always take it to sponsor a new/kid DM to get them started. 

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From what I understand, it isn't really all that uncommon for busy shops to rent table space. The shops I've been to don't do it, but at the same time they're both ghost towns 99% of the time and kind of expect a little bit of coin to come their way through incidentals like snacks and occasional purchases of goods. As you're talking a weekly event where you take up 3 tables for a few hours, I don't think it's all that unreasonable. It may feel weird, but I don't think it's anything crazy. Especially when you're doing it for something organized, like Adventurer's League. It's right up there with events like Friday Night Magic, where they have open tables that you can play a pickup game at, but if you want in on the tournaments there's always going to be a buy in.

Edited by Unruly
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 Since the money's coming to you in the form of store credit, don't think of it as being paid for your work as a DM - you're not actually getting "paid" at all. What's happening is that your expenses as a DM and the cost of running the game are being subsidized by the playing community at large.

 

That store credit can be used to purchase books, dice and miniatures for use with the AL games. (At six players per table, a DM is only going to be getting $24 a week in credit, which as we all know won't go very far.) Now you'll be able to have extra sets of dice on hand for players that forgot theirs, or give a set of dice to someone who doesn't have one. Print up a giant stack of extra character sheets. Bring extra pencils/pens. Buy an extra copy of the PHB to keep at the store as a table reference.

Buy snacks for the younger folks who had to choose between buying snacks and paying to play. Or buy snacks for your whole table.

 

There are dozens of ways you can reinvest that small amount of money back into the game.

 

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I get it. As somebody who usually ends up being the GM/DM, I've never done it for the purpose of any kind of compensation, or even defraying of the costs. I never expect my players to contribute to the funds, etc. However, you also have a store front that appears to be rather full at least one day of the week every week. Its possible that while you and your wife are buying stuff every week, with occasional larger purchases, a lot of the other players are not. Even the $3 in snacks you mention though don't really go very far from the perspective of the store. You're there for about 4 hours but the store has to pay an employee at least minimum wage (presumably somewhere around $8/hour) and the store doesn't even "get" all of that $3 since a good portion of that goes into the cost of acquiring said snacks.

 

Note, this isn't to blame you in any way. I actually think its great you make a concerted effort to give back to the store, and frankly, your spending habits as described mirror my own at my FLGS. I'm guessing you could get the snacks cheaper elsewhere for instance, etc. What's likely going on though is that the store is seeing that although they have a lot of people in the store, they are not actually seeing a lot in actual sales -- especially since a lot of the 5ed books for D&D seem geared toward DMs (in the form of adventure books, etc.). So this is a way to help the store get a little bit of money flowing through the store to help defray the costs of being open during those hours, including clean up and all that.

 

Now all that said, if you are really feeling bad about being "paid" to GM, then you can simply put the funds back into the group. As mentioned above you can buy extra minis, dice, etc. for the group to use. You can buy that new campaign book that comes out to run a group through it. Heck, you can even buy and paint minis for the characters of the party, etc. to give out near the end of the campaign. Does the store sell map tiles or other gaming accessories for terrain and such? If so, you can buy some of those to use in the game and enhance the player experience. So yeah, technically you may be "getting" the money, but in reality you're putting it right back into the game and as such, giving it back to the players.

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Keep in mind, this is NYC, but my FLGS charges $10 to anyone who wants to come in and use their tables whether to take advantage of their board game collection, paint, or play RPGs. There's an option to pay $75 for a 3 month membership, which does save some cash if you play weekly. Which means my players fork over some serious cash on a regular basis just to play D&D with me. Now, coming from Baltimore, where there wasn't anything like that was a bit of a shock, but it seems to be the norm around here. 

 

As for me as a DM, I get a bit of store credit every week, and 35% off anything RPG related I buy. 

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14 hours ago, Rat13 said:

The only reason I'm even DMing is because someone had to and my wife kinda volunteered me. If I was a player I think I'd support this "new" system (the shop is making money with the added benefit of the DM being able to get necessary "supplies"), but as a DM this just doesn't feel right to me.

 

Am I being crazy? This is my hobby, even though painting is the main part, taking money just feels dirty. Does anyone else feel like this?

I totally get it.  I've been the GM (an admittedly poor one, but I've been one), and it's just "part of the deal."  You guys are rotating, so that's good.

 

Take the credit.  Build up supplies (dice, sheets, Bones minis, etc.) and maybe even small prizes for the players if you don't see anything special like a book you want.

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6 hours ago, Mad Jack said:

 

 Since the money's coming to you in the form of store credit, don't think of it as being paid for your work as a DM - you're not actually getting "paid" at all. What's happening is that your expenses as a DM and the cost of running the game are being subsidized by the playing community at large.

 

That store credit can be used to purchase books, dice and miniatures for use with the AL games. (At six players per table, a DM is only going to be getting $24 a week in credit, which as we all know won't go very far.) Now you'll be able to have extra sets of dice on hand for players that forgot theirs, or give a set of dice to someone who doesn't have one. Print up a giant stack of extra character sheets. Bring extra pencils/pens. Buy an extra copy of the PHB to keep at the store as a table reference.

Buy snacks for the younger folks who had to choose between buying snacks and paying to play. Or buy snacks for your whole table.

 

There are dozens of ways you can reinvest that small amount of money back into the game.

 

Exactly.

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Though it still feels wrong to accept money for a job I agreed to do for free, I think reinvesting is the way to go. It could knock some money off my next hardcover, provide personal miniatures to the players who don't have one, I could also switch from the dry erase tiles I've been using and purchase a foldable dry erase mat, and if all else fails I'll just give the credit to my wife.

 

As for sponsoring new players I'll have to play that by ear. Most of our new players already have everything they need and I already have plenty of loaner dice and miniatures. 

 

Hopefully in about a month I won't have to DM anymore and this will all be a non issue.

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