The DM’s Role, Part 2 – Is Not

And now for the second part of my three part series on the Role of the Dungeon Master. This post will be on things that the Dungeon Master is not. These are things that are separate from the role of Dungeon Master, and while they are sometimes overlapped, are not in anyway integral to the responsibilities of the DM.

I have two roles, and they come down to the beginning, and the end.

  • Inspirer – At the beginning end of the spectrum, the Dungeon Master is not the Inspirer. It is not the DM’s job to make sure the player’s are inspired. The DM, in his role as the Creator, is responsible for making sure the campaign setting is inspiring. But the DM needs to be inspired by his Players as much as they need to be inspired by the DM.Granted, the DM is frequently the Most Experienced Player, and it is the responsibility of the Most Responsible Player to make sure other Player’s feel creative, to help them get their sea legs. But if the Player is having trouble thinking of a cool concept, or creating a wild character, or finding a niche they want to fill, it is as much their responsibility, and the responsibility of the other Players, as it is the DM’s, to make sure that those concepts and ideas are brought to fruition.
  • Decider – At the other end of the spectrum, in the end, it is not the Dungeon Master’s job to be the Decider. Some may argue this point, but I’m a firm believer that this is a holdover from the Most Experienced Player overlap. The DM should not necessarily have the final call.If there is a conflict in regards to the rules, I strongly feel that unless the DM knows oodles more about the system than the Players do, the DM shouldn’t rule by fiat. The Players should reach a consensus. Sure, if one Player is abusing the system, it’s the DM’s role to squelch that abuse, but otherwise, the DM should engage the Players about how they feel the system should be run. The DM shouldn’t just decide what they think is best without the input of the Players. The DM may be somewhat “in charge,” but they run the table at the pleasure of the other Players.

Now, some players may not agree with me, but I think these two are pretty clear. There are other roles that I will be presenting in my third part that I think are more subjective, but I think these two roles are clearly not intrinsically linked to the DM’s role.


2 responses to “The DM’s Role, Part 2 – Is Not

  • Tommi

    I think it is everyone’s responsibility to be the inspirer to each other. Other than that, you speak wisdom.

  • Dave

    While I think you are correct regarding the decider role, DMs take caution: Make sure that consensus creation doesn’t take up the majority of your session.

    My group, (un)fortunately, is full of very experienced players. As a result, we can sometimes take a long time to come to a consensus. In that situation, it is best to have the DM take the rein and make a decision, and we can come to a consensus after the fact.

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