I Go Pro

It’s something that every DM has dreamed of at one point or another; getting paid to run role-playing games. There were even a few schemes back in the 80’s and 90’s to set up such things; “Professional Game Master Guilds” and so forth, where one would presumably have a level of assurance that the game master would be well enough above average to justify the expense. Needless to say, such things never got off the ground.

So imagine my surprise when I was contacted by a game store, which was looking to pay someone to run an old-school game for a client of theirs. It turns out that a local businessman wanted to play in an old-school game similar to the ones he played growing up, but had no idea where to find someone to run it. So he contacted the store, which in turn contacted me. Last Friday, I ran the game for the gentleman and some of the people who work in his office, which ended up being about an hour and a half away.

The game itself was pretty standard fare for me; I brought along Castle of the Mad Archmage and a bunch of pre-gen characters, and set to. The organizer and one other person had played before (in the distant past), but the other four people had never played a game in their lives; apparently the office regularly has extra-curricular activities like this (they even play paintball at a field about 10 minutes from my house!). One person from the store came along to make sure everything went okay, and he ended up rounding out the party, as one of the attendees ended up calling out sick.

One thing I found was that this was one of the most focused games I had played in a long while. There was very little cross-table chit-chat, and they got a remarkable amount of exploring and fighting done in that time. It only took a short while for everyone to really get in the swing of things; even the people who had never played before were as engaged as anyone I’ve seen, offering good and practical suggestions to get through puzzles and traps, and holding their own in combat. It was really neat to see how people react to the game from completely fresh perspectives.

On the whole, it was a great time. The players seemed to really enjoy themselves, and it was an extraordinary honor to be called to do something like this as a paying gig. I don’t expect it to happen too often (or perhaps even ever again), but it was especially neat to have as an experience. Oh, and apparently I have “issues”. Something to do with certain particularly twisted parts of the Castle… I took it as a compliment. 😉


Please, if you haven’t done so already, consider supporting my Kickstarter for the Adventures Dark and Deep Players Manual, going on now through December 19th. I need your help to make it a reality!

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

9 thoughts on “I Go Pro

  1. Well, of course they are more focused than what you're used to. I KNOW the people you game with. A pack of meth-addled chimpanzees have more focus than we do. 😉

  2. Sounds great. In general, people tend to take something more seriously when they pay for it – I can't say I've ever been paid for GM-ing but I notice that at cons, whether due to the time limit, the lack of familiarity with each other, or the price of admission, players tend to be more focused than in home sessions.

  3. I was paid by my FLGS to run the 4ed encounters at the store. It was not much but, it paid.

    BTW, I noticed that the communication has dropped off over on the Kickstarter. Do you have any updates you can post? Is there anything in the way of concept art you can post? Like say some concept art for the cover. Who are you looking at to do the artwork?

  4. Dennis: Meth Addled Chimps? Oughta bring you up on charges for character definition!

    I think it's interesting that the OSR, even within the fairly limited circle, is well enough known that something like this can happen. Maybe, in the end, the OSR really is accomplishing the re-creation of the old editions and really bringing them to the front conciousness of the gamer collective mind.

  5. What? You mean that there are people out there who are only just now figuring out that you have "issues?" OMG!


    Congratulations, Joe! Sounds like you guys had a great time!

  6. Joe, Was one of the lucky 6 on Fri night.(the dwarf:))

    Brought back tons of memories from questing 25 years ago. Don't worry we will be back to again plunder the Arch Mage's dungeon

    Thanks again


  7. John, it was an absolute pleasure to have you and your friends tooling around the dungeons. You were a wonderful group and I look forward to your next foray into the Castle of the Mad Archmage.

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