Professional Dungeon Masters: Should You Hire One?


If you are reading this article then you probably know that Dungeons and Dragons is currently more popular than it ever has been. This popularity has brought on a wealth of new players, not just to D&D, but to the tabletop gaming community in general. The surge of new players, however, has made one thing apparent in many communities, there aren’t enough DMs. I struggled with it for years when I first wanted to try playing D&D and I have seen many others in the Portland area not be able to join a group because they couldn’t find one that didn’t have room, or for some reason wasn’t willing to take on newcomers to the game. That doesn’t have to be the case anymore, now you can hire a professional Dungeon Master. Still being a rather new idea, the DM for hire concept sounds strange to many old-school players, but I am here to tell you just why you should hire a professional DM for your next group.


Why Hire a Professional Dungeon Master?


The one thing you can’t play Dungeons & Dragons without is the books. That being said, as a Dungeon Master, collecting all of them so you can offer as much content as possible to your players is no small feat. With the core books, supplements, and settings that have been released for 5th edition we are looking at over a dozen books. Now if you want to find out about any of the cool new monsters, magic items or other content in any of the pre-written adventures, that’s nearly another dozen books. Considering these books run about $50+ when they release, the price tag gets hefty really quick. Now that you have them though, you’re good, right? Nope. Now you have to read them to get all the sweet, juicy information nuggets out of them. It’s a lot of information to take in, and for someone looking to do this for the first time, it can be intimidating. You don’t have to own the entire collection and you don’t have to have it all memorized to run a good game by any means, but, if you hire a professional Dungeon Master they are going to have access to, and know, most of this stuff anyways, because that’s just what we do.


Premium Supplies

One thing that can become a bit overwhelming for a dungeon master trying to run a really immersive game is the amount of supplies it can take to do so. Making sure you get proper miniatures for all of your players and the monsters they fight can pile up really quick, especially when you are running a full campaign style game. The number of different monsters available is staggering and trying to buy minis for any of the larger sized monsters gets very expensive, very quickly. Making the maps for all of your minis to be used on can also be costly and time consuming. By hiring a professional DM, not only will you not have to worry about buying/collecting maps for your group, you will also usually get access to other supplies you may not feel the need to spend money on. For instance, in my groups I provide custom 3d printed miniatures of both player characters and baddies, spell cards, minis, and other official D&D game accessories, dice towers, and even dice if you don’t have your own. With a DM for hire you just need to show up with your character sheet ready to play.



I know that I am not alone in the sentiment that time and scheduling are the most difficult issues when trying to maintain a consistent group. Life is wild, especially in the times we live in. It can easily get in the way and throw off a group, sometimes even ending them. This strain is made even more difficult on the Dungeon Master. Not only do they have to organize the group getting together, and then running the game, they also need to find time in their schedules to put together the game they are running for you, whether that be worldbuilding for the setting you are playing in, designing encounters, or writing the story. Depending on the kind of game you play, this may not take much time, for others there can be a good number of hours of prep work that go into a single session. With a DM for hire you don’t have to worry about one of your friend’s feeling burnt out or pressured just to make a session happen. Your DM for hire will be focused on your game and will be there to make sure you get the most enjoyment out of your game as players. It is also a good way to get a consistent game. They will be there ready to go at your agreed date and time, and 1-2 people not being able to make it to a session won’t keep it from happening, like it very often can with a casual group.



This is truly what sets a professional DM apart from the rest. When you pay for a professional you are going to get an elevated roleplaying experience. As I said earlier, an experienced DM has already put in all the time they need to learn to run a great game and they have all the tools they need to do so readily available. Professional DM’s know exactly what it takes to set the mood with vivid descriptions and ambience and are trained in giving you an immersive game. Bringing characters, monsters, and places to life with in-depth reactions from the game world and rich, involved storytelling can really make all the difference.


How Does Hiring a DM work?

It’s pretty simple really, contact us! If a DM for hire wants people to hire them, they have probably mentioned their services somewhere online. We will chat with you about the kind of game you are looking for and things you would like to get out of it. Though most DM’s are restricted to running games remotely online at the moment because of the current pandemic, most offer in person games as well. Some DM’s that I have seen only offer one-shot adventures but myself and others I know offer everything from one-shot adventures to week-long summer camps to full-length campaigns that meet weekly until the story is seen all the way through. You can find DM’s out there who just have a list of adventures to choose from that they have memorized and you can also find those that will give you a completely custom tailored experience based on what your group wants to get out of the game.


Is Hiring a Dungeon Master Expensive?

This is going to vary from DM to DM. Each DM sets their own pricing. The thing to know here is that,from my experience, pricing is generally handled in two ways, depending on what kind of game you are looking for. The first is a flat fee for the session. This is typically used for people booking one-shot adventures and allows the players to save a few bucks by making sure they have a nice full group available for the game, therefore the split is split between more people. This could also be used for a week-long summer camp kind of scenario. The other is an individual hourly fee. This pricing is typically used for long-term campaign style groups where players are allowed and encouraged to take their time and explore the worlds they play, in the way they want to. From what I have seen, this type of pricing generally comes with a minimum session length and minimum group size to ensure the DM’s work outside of game time is valued. Most Dungeon Masters that are worth paying for are rather flexible and will be willing to work with you to get you the gaming experience you are looking for.


Should I Know How to Play D&D Before I Hire a DM?

Absolutely not! Any Dungeon Master worth their salt can run a game, even for an entire group of newbies, just as easily as a game for a group of veteran players. If anyone is calling themselves a professional Dungeon Master, and isn’t willing to have new players at their table, is doing a disservice to the title! I know myself and other DMs that I know will offer a free session zero before starting a campaign This is where the group will meet up and go over creation creation with the DM there to walk you through doing everything properly. It is also a chance for the DM to go over any story setup things they may have as characters are created and also allows a chance for them to go over the mechanics of the game with the group while allowing time for any questions the players may have so everyone can be as prepared as possible before the game starts.


How Many Players Do I Need to Hire a DM?

This can vary depending on the DM and what kind of game you are looking for. If you are trying to start a full campaign style game then it is most likely a DM won’t start a game with less than 5 people and will probably cap out around 8 at the most. If you are just looking to book a one-shot adventure then the DM will most likely just have a set price that the game is booked at and split between however many players there are, and they will most likely have a suggested amount of players listed wherever you find their booking information. Regardless, you can always reach out for them and let them know what you are able to put together. Who knows, maybe they can make a special game for you and a small group!


Should You Hire a Professional Dungeon Master?


If you can, hiring a professional Dungeon Master for your next game is a great way to go. It may not be for everyone, but if you are looking to find that get with that next level of excitement, rich immersive roleplaying, and epic adventure you should give it a try. Maybe you just want to give someone the gift of a really great gaming experience, or maybe you want to use it to finally rope in that one friend you’ve always wanted to play with? There are plenty of occasions where hiring a professional DM can upgrade your experience.

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About The Author

Justin Dixon
Justin Dixon
Dix has been playing D&D for over 7 years and has been a professional dungeon master for about 3 years. He has been a featured author in multiple releases from Grim Press including Creatures of the Underdark and soon The Goblins of Beetle Hollow from Crumbling Keep. He has worked with the acclaimed pop-up tavern Orcs! Orcs! Orcs! He is the producer for the Help Action podcast and played Amelia Whiteheart on the live play podcast The Swordcast Adventures.

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