Five Terrible Reasons to GM

GMs are a special breed of hero selflessly spending untold hours slaving away over adventures and even entire campaigns. For many, GMing is almost a way of life, a way to spend untold hours of fun with friends sharing amazing stories. But for others, it can serve a darker purpose.


While I often encourage gamers to have a go at GMing—it is incredibly rewarding—there are clearly some reasons why you absolutely shouldn’t GM. These include (but are not limited to):

  • You are a control freak. You might lack control in your personal or professional life and so you exert the control you so crave in the game itself. You do this by railroading the players through adventures and exerting undue influence during both the game and character generation. Characters who don’t fit into your vision have a funny habit of meeting horrible (and permanent) deaths.
  • You are an amazing GM. The previous GM was crap; he was clearly running the game wrong. You have decided to GM so you can show him how to run a game “properly”. You mention this repeatedly at the table from behind the unassailable fortress of your GM’s screen.
  • You want to control your friends. Every GM—normally when very young and just starting out—has done this. In-game events are used—subtly or unsubtly—to control out of game events. Some friends get preferential treatment while others seem continually doomed to ignoble, capricious deaths.
  • You have an amazing story to tell. The story you want to tell is amazing and the players will love it. Anything that gets in the way of telling the story—including the players’ actions—must be crushed. After all they don’t understand your vision. The story is everything! When it’s finished, the players will thank you. They’ll beg you to GM again.
  • You got guilted into it. Sometimes no-one wants to GM and someone has to step up. That’s fine as far as it goes—everyone should take a turn now and then if only to give the current GM a break. This, this is the least worst reason to GM. However, if you really don’t want to run a game your frustrations are bound to eventually bleed through into play. If these frustrations manifest themselves in a series of overly difficult encounters, it could spell disaster for the players (and the campaign).

So, if you are thinking about GMing because of any of the reasons I lists above think very carefully before getting behind the screen.

Did I Miss Any?

Did I miss any terrible reasons to GM? Let me know what they are, in the comments below.

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Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

3 thoughts on “Five Terrible Reasons to GM”

  1. Truth be told, I’ve done the second one. Not because I’m an amazing GM, but because the other guy was crap. He was options 1, 3, and 4. And then mocked everyone for falling before his incredible might.

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