No matter what type of role playing game you referee, there is one thing that you should think about across the board: Do you enjoy what you’re doing?
This might sound a little odd at first, but if you were to really think about it, you might be left scratching your head. There are some criteria below that will help you analyze why you are the DM in the games you play, and help you understand why you aren’t playing, and instead sitting behind the screen; pulling all the strings; who knows, you might realize you would have more fun being a player.
First, in order to have fun being the DM you need to have something of a god complex. I’m not talking about the type that doctors have when playing with other’s lives, but you must have fun creating new, and sometimes strange worlds for the players to interact in. If this isn’t your cup of tea, you might not want to become a Dungeon Master. However, even if world building isn’t your strength, there might be someone else in the group who would relish the chance to start building worlds, but either isn’t that great at being a DM or really has no desire to. This would be a great combination for the two of you. He or she can design the world that you write your adventures for. This leads to the next area of DMing–being the director of your adventure.
If the players are the stars of the show, or in this case, your adventure, then you are the director and all the supporting cast members. You should have a desire to construct the world around the players, give them the tools they need to be able to act out their parts and then give them the direction they need to have the story turn out. However, in your adventure it could turn out good or bad, unlike most movies that have happy endings. Now you have your story, and you’re telling the players what they see you have to be able to act out your part of the story. If you don’t like taking on the roles of the various people and monsters that the players will encounter, you might not be the best choice for being the DM. However, if acting out the parts of your minions isn’t a strong point for you, there is one other idea. You could play all the roles in a third person style. In this fashion you wouldn’t be acting out the parts as much as you would be telling the players the reactions and statements the non-player characters (NPCs) make. Some DMs have an easier time going this route if acting out parts is not a particular point of interest in the repertoire. If you cringe at the thought of acting out your NPCs, you might be better of being a player. So much of the fantasy world relies on a DM bringing characters to life that not having a good time reflects in the lack of details to the role. Perhaps it would be better for you on the other side of the shield.
This is an interactive story, so you need to be able to have fun playing your parts. If you prefer to be the star of the show, you might want to switch roles and become a player.
Much of the excitement of being the DM is coming up with great adventures and the anticipation of running the players through your gauntlet of doom. Here again, if you would rather be slashing swords and casting spells through the adventure more than designing it, you might want to think about being a player; it would seem that playing the adventure would be more in line with your style.
So, as you can see, if you aren’t getting many of the enjoyments of being the DM here, you might want to consider becoming a player. Or, after having read this article, you agree with the excitement of the creative process and the anticipation of running players through your well crafted adventures, than you can scoot back up to your desk and start writing more, confident that you are a good Dungeon Master and that you are sure that you like what you are doing.