There is a lot of stress involved in being a Dungeon Master or Game Master. I see my husband go through the different stages of stress at throughout the day. DM’s have to put together the game, they are usually in charge of making sure everyone can show up, and they balance listening with upholding the rules of the game. There are a few ways to make it easier on the DM and give them some appreciation.
The DM Hangover is real. At the end of every session, once everyone has gone home, my husband just falls onto the couch and is exhausted. It takes a lot of brain power to manage all the things the are involved in running a game. On top of that, we usually cook for our table and provide a hot meal for everyone to enjoy. He is the cook in our household and works on that as well as the game. Sometimes it is too much and we have to have pizza delivered just to give him a break. My husband usually doesn’t recover from his DM Hangover until the end of the next night after a game.
In order to make it easier on my husband, I help out as much as possible. I help prep the meal, get the table set up for gameplay, and I take care of him after each session. I bring him food so he eats something, most of the game he doesn’t eat much because he has to talk. Those of us who have partners or spouses that run a game should take care of their significant other before and after a game. It helps take some of that stress off their shoulders when they know they have support. Even if you don’t play, it is always nice to help them relax after a crazy day of adventuring.
It is also nice for those who are just attending and are not romantically involved with the DM to show their support as well. It helps both parties out if the players comment on the game before the night is over. Everyone at our table usually sends messages after the session talking about how great it was and what their favorite moments were. This helps the DM know what he did right and what might need to be adjusted and it encourages them to make better content to continue wowing their players. I always make sure to let my husband know that he did a great job and what I enjoyed most about the session.
Many DM’s appreciate being told how well they did. My husband and other DM’s I’ve met have been very self conscious about how their games are taken by the players. They want to know they’ve done a good job. If they know they have, because the players let them know, they work all the harder to make sure each part of their adventure is amazing for the players. My husband has put in so much work with terrain building, encounters and story to make sure all of our adventures are fantastic and engaging. Each time, he improves and makes everything even better to top what he’s already done.
Self care is important for those DM’s that do not have a partner or spouse to care for them after a session. I would recommend getting everything ready for yourself the night before. Have a spot ready to collapse in, favorite snacks prepped just for you, some relaxing music or TV and anything else you might want nearby. Making sure you are taken care of will go a long way to relieving the exhaustion and stress of running a game. Even a nice shower can help you relax and regain strength. We run eight hour games but even if you only run a six or four hour session it can still be tiring.
Making sure your DM is taken care of and that they know how they did after a session can go a long way to alleviating the stress and exhaustion that comes with the responsibility of running a game. It helps the whole table out and ensures that the DM doesn’t suffer from DM burnout too soon or too much.
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