I was reading up on being an entrepreneur when I discovered an article with surprising relevance to Dungeons & Dragons. The entrepreneurial quality check by the UK government lists seven qualities of successful business owners, which I quickly noticed also apply to successful Dungeon Masters. Coincidence?
I’ll go through the list and you can tell me if you agree.
#1: Self-confidence. As a DM, you must be confident in your ability to run an entertaining game session. Don’t expect your players to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself.
#2: Self-determination. Always remember that the quality of the game is your responsibility. If your players’ interest is waning, you might not be doing enough to keep the game moving.
#3: Being a self-starter. The DM leads the game. It’s up to you to kick-start the campaign and keep things going - don’t expect your players to carry the game for you. You’re Dungeon Master, not Dungeon Assistant.
#4: Judgement. You might be the head honcho, but it’s equally important that you take in feedback from players. A good DM can sort through player input and decide whether or not it’s beneficial to the game.
#5: Commitment. It’s a game, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take your role as Dungeon Master seriously. Dungeon Masters spend on average four to five times as much money on the hobby as players, whether that’s buying adventure modules, miniatures or campaign setting material. Be prepared to invest more time and money than you would as a player.
#6: Perseverance. Taking a group of player characters from level 1 to 20 and beyond is a time-honoured D&D tradition, and it’s certainly an achievement. When you start an extended campaign, be prepared to stick with it.
#7: Initiative. The Dungeon Master can’t be passive: he has to take the reins. That’s not to say you need to railroad your players in a fixed direction, but unless you take initiative there’s a good chance your players will wander aimlessly and get bored. You’re the Dungeon Master - take charge!