Pay to Play

I’m seeing more ‘Pay to Play’ type of TTRPG either online or in-person (with more people getting vax and local govt. lifting restrictions).  Pay to Play is where players pay the DM/GM to play in a RPG game. You may also lump in RPG Gaming cons in this category as well. In general, I’m not a fan of pay to play. We typically play with friends, and I don’t see why I would charge friends or even acquaintances to play. Trying to make a quick buck off someone doesn’t feel right. We do have people chip in for group pizza order or bring a dish for pot luck or BBQ events

However, some folks are running games online or at public locations like game stores with game sign up and strangers. I’m not sure if they are charging to play to make money / profit, to cover book / service costs (like Fantasy Grounds or Roll20), game maps/minis/accessories, or their personal prep time for game.  If you are charging people to play in your game or campaign, I hope that you are bringing value and unique elements to the game. Having played or GM a certain game for several years or knowing the games rule set doesn’t qualify as unique value to me. Lots of people could qualify for those criteria.

If you are spending money for premium online services with Fantasy Grounds / Roll20, I could see trying to recoup some of those costs. However, if you are charging for your time (in prep or game session), you better be a darn good story teller and know the mechanics of the game  and adventure inside out. The players should be getting value for their money. Paying for amateur service doesn’t seem right just like with any other service. For new players that want to get into a new game or learn how to play, perhaps that is the value they are getting in being taught how to play. but once the game gets going and they know the ropes, I would question what value they are then getting. As there is no public universal rating system on GMs, it would be difficult to gage how experienced or good they are. 

If I were to get into a pay to play game or pay to play at a Con, I’m looking to see if the GM has written or published any gaming material. It could be writing on a free blog on RPG topics, releasing a zine, writing a module / supplement / game, doing their own podcast, or youtube channel etc. Something to show their experience and thought process. if its some rando dude on a FB group that loves to game and wants to get paid for his hobby, then I’m not so sure. Not knowing what unique value that person may bring to the table would make me hesitant in putting money in to play. 

I could see some gaming groups contributing money into a group pot for shared assets like player guides, minis, play mats / dungeon models, online subscriptions, and purchasing modules / adventure paths. Being a GM does take time and cost more money than being a player (purchasing more books and modules). For me personally, I enjoy reading thru modules / supplements and prepping for game.  Would it be nice to be paid some money for doing this? Maybe, I think it would turn an enjoyable hobby for me into a job type expectation if I were to be paid. Feels like it would put pressure on me to make sure my players were getting value for their money. Could it up the quality of the game? perhaps – but I don’t want to put that stress onto myself. I have enough stress from my day job and want to be the guy in the bathtub of riches at some point.