The GM for hire experiment

For the past month I’ve been experimenting with offering paid games to the general gaming public.

While this sounds near-heretical to some people, I’ve actually discovered that it has a few interesting elements

  1. More effort from the GM

    While I’m not certain if this will be the case in all the games, I found myself with much more motivation to go over the usual preparation that I do in my games. This meant adding stuff like a soundtrack, better looking handouts, and improving quality across the game in general.

  2. More effort from the players

    Now that they’re actually spending for it, Players are more on the ball when playing. They don’t dither around with their phones or waste time in idle chatter or side stories. They’re on the clock and they know it.

  3. Less likelihood of piracy

    Let’s face it, here in the Philippines, most gaming groups rely on the GM to have the books. By running paid games, a GM has more disposable income to actually buy legitimate PDFs or physical books and bolstering the industry.

  4. A different kind of market

    Another interesting discovery is that offering paid games caters to a different audience. These are the lapsed or busy gamers who are only able to commit a small amount of time to gaming, and would rather pay than spend hours poring over rulebooks.

    They’re also a godsend to people who can’t get a gaming group up and running. A paid game ensures that everyone shows up (barring uncontrollable circumstances.)

  5. Rare games are easier to sell

    In a community where everyone and their second cousin can play D&D, people put a premium on GMs that can run games that simply don’t have enough GMs. I wasn’t entirely sure what kind of reaction I would get when I offered Call of Cthulhu, but it turned out to be a quite the sleeper hit.



This isn’t to say that paid games are the only way to go. I still reserve my Saturdays to run games for my close friends for free. If anything this serves as a good alternative to address the need for games by busy people in a manner that incentivizes everyone.

I’m a rather introverted sort, but I do like running games. Paid games helps me get out there to offer what I can do to others, and we all have fun doing so!


  1. This is a very interesting report! I don’t think this is an area I want to explore personally as a GM, but your experience of the effect of payment is intriguing~

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Hey Runeslinger!

      In some ways I was looking at it as a means to earn some side income for something I knew I could do well. In some ways it’s like paying someone for performance art.

      I agree that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and a lot of GMs feel that this isn’t the way to go.

    • Hi there! I actually did. The added pressure to perform made it more fun for me, and knowing that my players were busy people who would not be gaming otherwise was a big motivator.

      Also the extra cash isn’t bad either.

  2. Some questions:
    Did a group hire you as the GM, or did players book a seat at the table? Were they booking individual one-shot sessions always, or was there the possibility of longer-form play?

    Were there any interpersonal ‘problems’?

    • Hi, I initially advertised by saying I’d be running Call of Cthulhu one shot for a table of 4 to 6 players at a minimal fee. People signed up for it and they now agreed to an option to run them through a Masks of Nyatlathotep campaign.

      After the game one of the players asked if they could book me as a GM for their home table.

      Thankfully we didn’t run into interpersonal problems but I do worry about that eventuality.

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