DMs have more fun... or do they?

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Over on the What's A Player To Do forum, there's an interesting discussion going on about the fun vs the burden of DMing. Some posters, along with WotC, subscribe to the idea that DMs have the most fun, but not everyone agrees. In fact, it's suggested that, for the majority of DMs, the workload that comes with DMing is too high for the pay-off. If this doesn't change, there is a risk of communities running out of motivated DMs. 

So, this raises two questions for me. 

  1. Do people who DM regularly think DMing is more fun than playing, and why (not)?

  2. How can you increase incentive to DM, in home games as well as organized play? 


  1. DMing is more fun than playing.  I just enjoy it more.  Can't say for sure why, but it probably has to do with the fact that I've been mostly DMing for about 32 years.  It seems more of a burden when my players are a burden rather than a help.

  2. Actively recruit and retain good, motivated players who don't cause more problems than they solve, and dump the bad.  Not sure how to increase incentive for organized play, but I don't do that so I don't really care about it.

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

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Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

1. I enjoy both DMing and playing and I tend to suffer from a little bit of "grass is greener" syndrome.  If I DM for a long time, I start thinking about all these cool characters that I would like to be playing.  If I am a player for a long time, then I start thinking of all these cool adventures that I would like to be running.

2. In my local gaming group, I feel like we are blessed with some fairly mature gamers.  We tend to operate on the "do unto others" principle - if you like other people running games for you, then sometimes take your turn and run games for them.  Not everyone wants to run a long, complex campaign but if the less enthusiastic DMs are willing to run a published LFR mod on the one week when the usual DM is travelling or sick then I think that builds a lot of good will.  And it helps people get their toe in the water, and realize that DMing isn't really THAT hard.

We were going to try to formalize this system at our local gaming store, keeping track of how many mods each person had run and played in.  If it ever came up that there were a limited number of seats at a table, priority would be given to the people who had a better run to play ratio.  In practice, it hasn't really been a problem since it's usually the same guys from Monday nights who show up and play at the game store and they are all pretty willing to take turns.
I heard that they are making a new video game, where you control the Netherese flying citadel of Sakkors, raining death on your helpless enemies below. Working title: Mythal Command.
I don't believe that DMing is more fun than playing. But I also don't believe that playing is more fun than DMing. They're different kinds of fun, and that difference is what makes both enjoyable in my eye. As a DM, I can create a wonderful worlds that my players and their characters can rise above to become heroes that the people of those worlds will remember forever. As a player, I can become one of those heroes myself. Each process has its own merits, and I don't think I could choose one over the other as more fun or a better experience.

That being said, I DM more than I play, so I would like the chance to play more. Doing so would require increasing incentive for other players to try the role of the DM.

To increase DM incentive, I think you don't always need to have someone with a great imagination, but more someone with a fair imagination, and a desire to use it for anothers benefit. As a player, your mindset is largely selfish. You want to become a hero (or villain in such cases), and killing monsters, saving towns and defeating evil masterminds is one way of doing so. Players work for themselves towards that angle, even if they work as a team to obtain it. DMs, however, work not only for themselves, but the players as well. A good DM doesn't send his players into the jaws of death and lets death have its way with them. He challenges them to overcome death, providing a 50% chance of victory or defeat in the worst case scenarios. Most DMs see their position as the opponents of the players rather than the storyteller and rules arbitrator. It causes them to have the same mentality as a player with more than just one character to play. They want to win rather than help the PCs make their characters grow and expand their stories.

An episode of Dexter's Lab in which Dexter and DeeDee both take turns running a tabletop game for Dexter's friends, both with varying results, is a good example of Good DMing and Bad DMing. Even if DeeDee's game was childish in comparison, she made it a better experience for her players than Dexter did. A good DM does not write a good story. A good DM helps the players to write a good story. At its heart, DMing is like being an editor for a magazine, and the players writers who send their works into to be published. You can't always publish everything they send in, but you also want to see them succeed, because their success is the same as your success. Furthering this type of DM mindset is step one in getting more players to try DMing as well.

Step two, I would say, is to eliminate the fear that a DMs work has to be perfect/epic in its nature. Many of the best DMing tricks involve little more than proper pacing and eliminating needless details, but many people think that DMs have to put in a mountain of work to run these great adventurers. Sure, a DM does put in a lot of effort, but they don't ever truly achieve perfection in their preparations. One of the most common stories you will here from DMs is when they set up these grand ideas of challenges and trials for PCs to overcome, and then a clever player finds a way to bypass it all and win the day. All that hard work down the drain. To this, not only must we teach new DMs to not plot everything out so much with such detail, but to go with the flow of the story more, and use that flow as the guideline for setting up the next challenge the PCs should face. Instilling this in practicing DMs would also help to further their own works and goals, making DMing a much more rewarding venture for all people concerned.

Of course, it's not something that's for everyone. One of my players knows he can't be a DM because he would either be too hard or too soft on his players. But I'm sure there are many players out there that would like to DM their own games one day. It's all a matter of  helping them to keep it simple and make it great fun for everyone, not just themselves.

Just my 2cp on the issue.
Might as well answer the questions myself too. 


  1. I've DM'ed a lot this last year. I usually suffer from a small burnout when I have a great idea for an overarcing campaign story, but not for all the single adventures. And at the same time, publication of player resources doesn't stop, so the character ideas start to pile up. So basically,  I think DMing is fun for a few sessions, and after that someone else can take over the reins while I play one or more new characters. 

  2. I think Wizards should offer the DM more options for constructing interesting combat encounters. The reason combat in 4E is so interesting IMO , is because there are so many great options out there to build that one really cool character. But with monsters, I don't experience the same thrill as a DM when I put together an encounter. It's basically pick and choose monsters that seem appropriate for the setting, and throw them against the players. If I really sit down to construct a cool and challenging encounter, not only does this take way too much time, if I go all-out I'm afraid I'll kill my players! So Wizards, not more story & locations, but focus on tools for encounter building!

1. I like DMing slightly more than playing. The strong interest I have in playing may be attributed to the fact that I am only rarely permitted the opportunity to play as I'm pushed to be the DM most of the time. But if I had to compare, I'd definitely say I like DMing more than playing. I'm sure that's simply related to my gaming experience (DMing since 1991) and my nature. I like to create, design, and manage things. DMing has all three. Plus I'm fairly good at reading people and interpersonal communications as this is my trade.

2. 4e made some good strides on cutting down the DMing workload. I can remember spending days on just NPC/monster stat blocks in 3.X. Now I can bang out an encounter quickly and spend the time saved on layering it with cool effects and story elements so that I'm telling a story with the encounter, not punctuating the story with it. I can see the barrier is still there, however, since I have to twist arms to get my players to run games. I asked them why that is and much of it is related to the workload, even if it's just a mod. I personally find that to be laziness, but I can see where that perception comes from.

A lot of people would rather just show up to play than spend time "backstage" preparing all the material. I suppose if WotC spent some time coming up with really compelling stories and encounters in their published adventures/campaigns, it would be more of a draw for DMs to want to run them. Most of the time when my players get their hands on a published adventure, they want to tear it apart and change it because it falls so flat. This increases their workload and thus creates a barrier to DMing. If I were WotC, I'd spend my time and energy on creating published mods that are so damn good, people will be clamoring to run and play in them. As a DM, I don't need another product to give me a power that pushes 1 and knocks prone but with pixies involved. I'd much rather have a sweet adventure with an awesome, nonlinear story and dynamic encounters. That would certainly encourage the players I know to DM more often. (And every adventure should link to several other published mods in some way so that once you've completed one, you just HAVE to run another to see what else happens...)
Just finished reading the original thread and I think it just comes down to personality types.

I ran the same campaign with several different player groups over eight years or so.  In my experience most people do not like to DM.  I ended up the DM at a young age and have only been able to play one or two characters in the last ten years (I also took a big break in 08 until now).

The people I've played with like the idea of DM'ing, but like the idea of a character with a story better.  They like being the Sherlock Holmes, Wolverine, or D'Artagnan in a story.  When I used to go to conventions (here in CA) many of the games would have full player groups but then get cancelled for lack of DMs (I'm looking at you LFR). 

Being a DM typically involves a heavy workload and that is often equated with less fun.  A player can show up with the minimal required effort and still have a good time.  If a DM shows up with minimal effort its more of a crapshoot.

I feel as an old DM of D&D/HERO/GURPS/ETC that 4ED has created a larger rift between players and the DM.  I like aspects of 4th, but I also feel that some of the material and phrasing is geared towards coddling the player.  I'm back in the gaming world and only been running 4th for a few months, but I can't shake that feeling.  Perhaps it will change.

Just my opinion.



 
For me:
Do people who DM regularly think DMing is more fun than playing, and why (not)?
I enjoy both. But my enjoyment as a player depends a lot on the DM I have. I need a DM who is at least as good as I am for me to enjoy the game. (I know I am a good DM because I have 33-years of player feedback telling me so.) They don't have to do things exactly the way I would, but they have to be as confident and clear in why they do things the things they do. I enjoy life as a player when I don't find myself wanting to step into the DM hat in the middle of each session. I have found only a handful of DMs in my life who provide that level of play. (There are also a number of DMs on these Boards in whose games I would love to be a player.)

How can you increase incentive to DM, in home games as well as organized play?
I don't even try to increase the incentive for others to DM. For me, it is one of those things that must be found, not given. At best, I simply encourage any player who offers me "non-player feedback" to give it a try.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
DMs have a workload burden? I just do everything on the fly, never noticed any workload issues Tongue Out

That said I like both playing and DMing, preferably either both at the same time (with 2 groups, or 2 alternating campaigns) or one after the other (if there's only one group, alternating DMs between adventures)
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Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
I suppose if WotC spent some time coming up with really compelling stories and encounters in their published adventures/campaigns, it would be more of a draw for DMs to want to run them. [...] If I were WotC, I'd spend my time and energy on creating published mods that are so damn good, people will be clamoring to run and play in them. [...] (And every adventure should link to several other published mods in some way so that once you've completed one, you just HAVE to run another to see what else happens...)



This!

More modules like Reavers of Harkenwold!

Rich Baker and Bruce Cordell should be almost exclusively developing adventure publications.  It is no mistake that they keep showing up on best adventure module lists.  I'm not sure how Paizo can publish adventure path after adventure path and seemingly make money at it when WotC always complains that they don't make money on products designed for one sixth of the D&D market.  If the adventures were of consistently good or better quality and included things like NPC portraits, detailed backgrounds and settings, and notes on how to run them I would shell out subscription money just like Pathfinder Adventure Path customers do.  As it is I just buy them and raid the PDFs for art, maps and ideas that I can use.

It's time for WotC to show some lovin' for the DMs and not just the players.  

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

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Please join our forums!

Concerning Player Rules Bias
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
Gaining victory through rules bias is a hollow victory and they know it.
Concerning "Default" Rules
Kalex_the_Omen wrote:
The argument goes, that some idiot at the table might claim that because there is a "default" that is the only true way to play D&D. An idiotic misconception that should be quite easy to disprove just by reading the rules, coming to these forums, or sending a quick note off to Customer Support and sharing the inevitable response with the group. BTW, I'm not just talking about Next when I say this. Of course, D&D has always been this way since at least the late 70's when I began playing.

A lot of people would rather just show up to play than spend time "backstage" preparing all the material. I suppose if WotC spent some time coming up with really compelling stories and encounters in their published adventures/campaigns, it would be more of a draw for DMs to want to run them. Most of the time when my players get their hands on a published adventure, they want to tear it apart and change it because it falls so flat. This increases their workload and thus creates a barrier to DMing. If I were WotC, I'd spend my time and energy on creating published mods that are so damn good, people will be clamoring to run and play in them. As a DM, I don't need another product to give me a power that pushes 1 and knocks prone but with pixies involved. I'd much rather have a sweet adventure with an awesome, nonlinear story and dynamic encounters. That would certainly encourage the players I know to DM more often. (And every adventure should link to several other published mods in some way so that once you've completed one, you just HAVE to run another to see what else happens...)



Big +1 on this. This is the answer to #2.

For the question #1:

It is my experience that DMs are more passionate about the game. We are constantly thinking about how we can engage our players, improve the world our ideas inhabit, create interesting, fleshed out NPCs etc. As a DM I "play" D&D constantly. Not to say players aren't passionate about the game by any means. But as a DM I never bemoan the work. Its part of playing the game. When I'm drawing up maps and writing up monster specs its constantly from the perspective of "how can I engage my players?". Then we sit down and I get to see it pay off. You can't beat that.

Being a player is fun, but I play with DM goggles on. I think of how I can adapt concepts I'm enjoying to my campaign. Battle mechanics that I could use etc. In fact, my favorite thing about playing is it makes me a better DM.
1. Much prefer DMing.  Been playing this game for 25 years and the vast majority of that has been as a DM.  I love pretty much every facet of DMing - the world-building, the story-telling, encounter design etc, etc.  The role that you have as a player seems limited in comparison; although I still enjoy playing every now and then and think that it's important to sit on the other side of the screen every now and again.

2. Good players - in my experience no other factor comes close to having as great an impact on how much I enjoy a session.  For someone attempting to DM for the first time, an engaged and supportive group of players will make all the difference as to whether they continue or give up.
Over on the What's A Player To Do forum, there's an interesting discussion going on about the fun vs the burden of DMing. Some posters, along with WotC, subscribe to the idea that DMs have the most fun, but not everyone agrees. In fact, it's suggested that, for the majority of DMs, the workload that comes with DMing is too high for the pay-off. If this doesn't change, there is a risk of communities running out of motivated DMs.

3e assumed a DM to player ratio of 4:1.  4e assumed 5:1.  Why?  Probably because feedback/research indicated that 4-player groups aren't that typical.  IMX, if you're willing to run a game, you can find 8-12 players with little difficulty.  Players are always looking for games, often for /any/ game, even games they don't care for with DMs they know aren't that good.  DMs rarely have trouble filling games.  Of course, I live in the SF bay area, so there's no shortage of people for anything.  I'm sure things are different in less densely populated areas.

DMing, though, can be a lot of fun, it just apeals to some personalities more than others.  Maybe they're somewhat less common mindsets, but I think there're other factors:

In an RPG, the point is often (well, these days) to tell an 'interactive story' in which the PCs are the heroes.  If you think of such games as player vs DM competitions, the DM is signing up to lose.  So DMs, even more so than players, need to embrace the cooperative nature of the game, which isn't for everyone. 

And, DMing is a lot of work.  You need to come up with a world, with challenges, with NPCs, you (get to) RP a vast cast of supporting characters, you control multiple figures in tactical combat and they're different every time - and, on top of that, you have to play 'judge' (indeed, that was an early alternative to DM or GM), settling player disputes & interpreting/adjusting the rules.  D&D was never the easest game to run, either.  It was a weak, inconsistent system that you had to keep on top of to prevent/fix problems, and, it has a hoary culture of intraparty antagonism, power gaming, greed, & paranoia.  A lot of us who run D&D run it because we've been doing it a long time - since a time when there was little else to choose from - and are set in our ways.  

4e has helped with both those issues, it's more up-front about being a cooperative game, and it's much easier to run, with more consistent/balanced rules, and easier to create & run monsters, handy formulae for reasonably blanced encounters and so forth.  But, DMing is still a lot of effort compared to playing, with less of the 'spotlight' rewards (when a PC does something awesome, everyone at the table apreciates - not so much when a monster or NPC does something awesome).

So, on balance, while it's easier to run these days, the rewards are still a bit more subtle than those of simply playing, and it's definitely something only a minority of gamers can really get into.
 

So, this raises two questions for me. 

Do people who DM regularly think DMing is more fun than playing, and why (not)?

There is one situation in which it is always more fun to DM than to play.  That's when the other would-be DMs in your group suck.  I know that's not a very nice thing to say, but there are good DMs and there are bad DMs, and the latter don't often know who they are.  The best defense against a bad DM (that you may still want to be friends with) is "hey, why don't I run something for a while!" 

Other things that can make DMing more fun are having more 'narrative control' of the 'story' - if you're a frustrated writer, and more 'creative outlet' in terms of playing many different RP parts.  There's also a personality type that loves putting a world in logical order and presenting it for exploration, unfolding all the little details and justifications for it's fantastic wonders. 

How can you increase incentive to DM, in home games as well as organized play?

I don't think you can increase the incentive - the positive aspects are there for individuals to find an apreciate, if DMing is for them.  I do think that dis-incentives could be reduced.  In the case of D&D, it's already been made technically a lot easier - designing an encounter is a lot less work than designing a character, for instance.  I think the remaining oportunities for improvement are in the area of cutting down on unpleasant DM tasks.  Problem players, for instance, are arguably the worst thing about DMing - players who abuse rules, hog spotlight time, disrupt play, and so forth.  Short of a can of mace in the boxed set, there's not a lot the game can do about disruption, but it can help in keeping that splotlight moving - from simple things like cyclical initiative and defined actions, to complex ones like robust class balance, a game can give the problem player a lot less to be obnoxious with.  And /that/ really makes DMing a less fearsome undertaking.



 

 

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I think it's self-evident that different people will enjoy different parts of D&D to different degrees.


That means that some people will have more fun DMing, and some people will have more fun playing.  And anyone who's spent 10+ years DMing probably enjoys it.



Personally, I enjoy both, but like Seeker95, I need a DM sufficiently good that I don't feel the need to step up and take over the campaign to really enjoy playing.  And in person, I haven't met a lot of those; and as a result I DM more often than play.
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.

Do people who DM regularly think DMing is more fun than playing, and why (not)?



No, I think they're just different kinds of fun.

As for why I DM alot?  Well, to put it bluntly, I'm pretty good at it.....
But I got good at it for two reasons:

1) In the beginning {somewhere near the Dark Ages} I was the only one willing to do it.  I wanted to play D&D/RPGs more than the others in my circles.  Most were willing enough to play, just not willing to invest the effort it looked like it'd take to do so as a DM.
So for a good # of years, if I wanted to play this game I had to be the DM.
Thankfully I eventually met other players/groups.

2) I have a never ending supply of creativity.  I need to use it someplace/somehow..... 
DMing lets me do that in spades.   



How can you increase incentive to DM, in home games as well as organized play? 



Right now I game in two circles of friends.
Group 1? 
We've begun an enforced rotation.  It doesn't matter if your efforts are good/bad/otherwise, you're GOING to take a turn doing this  - because the two of us that are the regular DMs need a breather for family/jobs/medical etc.
Group 2?
This group needs no incentives.  Every single player is also a fully capable & willing DM.  There's just not enough time for everyone to run something all at once in any given week.  The good news here is that there's never a shortage of something to play.

As for Organized Play programs?  
I'm NOT a fan of these.  I detest WoTC {or other RPG, Minis, CCGs, etc companies} telling gamers what flavour of fun to have & when to have it. 
So I really don't care if they have DMs or not.     
I DM a lot. I really enjoy it. Sometimes though, you don't want to have to worry about any of the hassels. you want to be able to zone out in the middle of combat, or wander off and find a beverage while two people are chatting. Sometimes you just want to win a combat. Being a player is a totally different experience. 

DMing is like relaxing by playing Skyrim. Playing is like relaxing by playing Mario. Both are great, but they are two greatly different experiences.    

Increase incentives for people to DM at home? Tell your friends to lay off the pressure. Remind them its all a game and doesn't matter. Ask if someone wants to try DMing, and say no one cares if it sucks. 

Increase incentives for people to DM at organized levels? Relax the player base. People say the DOTA community is hard on new players, god don't let them try to DM at organized play. If you are going to DM organized play, you had better have DMed a hundred organized play events prior or the players will transform into screaming 3 year olds. People are mad if you DM wrong, they spent money and time to do this, and you aren't giving what they paid for. Thing is, every DM is different, and different is not wrong. 

In all reality, I think the only way to get people to behave better at organized play events is to ban all the old school DM is law types. "Sorry, until you drop that BS you aren't welcome back". Yes your number of players/DMs will drop. But your percentage of solid or enjoyable games will skyrocket.

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"



  1. Do people who DM regularly think DMing is more fun than playing, and why (not)?

  2. How can you increase incentive to DM, in home games as well as organized play? 




I will agree with others and say that they're both very fun, but in different aspects.  I like DM'ing because it lets me create worlds, events, artifacts, etc.  I love to play RPG's, read books, etc, and gather ideas from them.  I love throwing in Politics (even though I am very new at doing so), I love being able to challenge my players with ethics, puzzles, etc.
One of my favorite things to do is creating maps.  I don't know why, but I love being able to sketch out hills, rivers, broken bridges, whatever.  But I apologize, I am just ranting now.

When it comes time for me to play, my favorite part is character creation, specifically the back story.  I often times turn my backstories into essays.  Everything I love about being a DM is reversed into the things I love about PC'ing.  I love exploring the worlds, solving the puzzles, hitting the traps, etc.

The group that I started playing DnD with takes turns DM'ing.  We have our main DM who gets the campaigns rolling, then each of the PC's takes turns setting up a portion of the campaign.  The part that they create slightly revolves around their character, but that's how we work ourselves into the Paragon Path/Epic Destiny - by resolving our pre-adventuring conflicts. 
You can't reason someone out of a position that they didn't reason themselves into.
Over on the What's A Player To Do forum, there's an interesting discussion going on about the fun vs the burden of DMing. Some posters, along with WotC, subscribe to the idea that DMs have the most fun, but not everyone agrees. In fact, it's suggested that, for the majority of DMs, the workload that comes with DMing is too high for the pay-off. If this doesn't change, there is a risk of communities running out of motivated DMs. 

So, this raises two questions for me. 

  1. Do people who DM regularly think DMing is more fun than playing, and why (not)?

  2. How can you increase incentive to DM, in home games as well as organized play? 




1. DM makes me envious of being a player.

2. Support your local DM. Treat him/her with something. Either food or a gift. 
Ant Farm
I definitely enjoy D&D as a player, more than the DMing. However I rarely get the opportunity to actually play as opposed to DMing.

I do enjoy DMing, with organisation of the adventures, prepping the maps and storylines etc, but I love developing a character, building his\her personality as the game progresses. A recent character I loved playing was a female, half elf Paladin of Sune. She was a red head, flightly, flirty and generally came across as a rather unserious airhead. Her underlying story was she was the daughter of a powerful Zentarim female commander.
Her mother was cruel and brutal and actually seduced the character's father, an elf captive. Overal she had a horrific backstory that the other characters didn't actually find out about for over a year. Her story was one of dangerous risks, with her smuggling desparate Zents, out of the evil city, helping them with money whilst trying to ensure she was never discovered as a paladin (not evil).
I rarely DM.  I like designing encounters and dungeons and running combat can be fun, but that is about it for me.   In 3.5 that was a good bit of work, but it was the main part of DMing I found interesting then.  4E seems like a lot less work on that front, but I have not actually DMed it.

Actually running a campaign, as in coming up with an original plot, characters, and story and getting players to go along with it, is not as much fun.  Especially since in my group we have a couple people who like to do more sandbox type stuff with their PCs and I am much more of a railroad type DM.  Plus I don't like having to RP a bunch of different NPCs and keep track of multiple plots.  I am not that interested in homebrewing my own world so I don't get that much out of that, but if I got a good idea that part could be fun.

And the people I have DMed for say the combats I run are very interesting and fun.  My stories are not that interesting though.  Not much WotC can do to make me want to DM more than what it has done already in that I know running 4E is relatively easy on the part that I like.
As a player, you need to:

1) Read and understand the combat rules that apply to you, personally.
2) Read and understand your own powers and the VERY LIMITED number of buffs and support actions a Leader can give you
3) Have a general plan for what sort of Feats and powers you want when you level
4) Have a miniature (optional)

As a dm you need to

1) Read and understand the combat rules that apply to every single PC or monster
2) Read and understand every players powers and all the buffs and debuffs your monster can give them
3) Have a general plan for what sort of encounters and challenges the PCs will face
4) Have a gameboard, a number of battlemaps, and a collection of tokens or miniatures

In addition, you need to

- Script a plot for the PCs
- Adapt to PC innovation on the fly
- Create interesting plot twists and engaging challenges

And this is in game.  Skill sets you need out of game

- Understanding player motivations and personality, and adapting your presentation to fit this for your group
- Bringing in every player so they feel included
- Adapting to different levels of player understanding, and smoothing over in-group problems (the one new guy who reads every power he has every time he makes a decision, or spaces out playing games on his iPhone until it's his turn then takes 5 minutes to decide what to do).
- Carefully and constructively work with your players to ensure a similar level of party competency and gaming knowledge.

And to top it off, you get the fun of the following:

- People blame you when your plot engages four of the five players at your table but NOT THEM
- People complain when the skill challenge you design feels contrived because they wanted to just hit things that day
- People complain when you rule their 'nifty build' is totally inappropriate for the group you're in
- People complain when YOUR PERSONAL setting doesn't have something they want
- People complain (and go on messageboards and then come back and taunt you) when one of your rulings on the ENTIRE RULES COMPENDIUM, INCLUDING EVERY SINGLE ERRATA EVER ISSUED AND EVERY POWER IN EXISTENCE is incorrect when you're trying to run a quick, on the fly combat that doesn't take forever
- People complain when some other DM has a house rule they like (even if it's totally unfair, broken, and stupid)
- People complain that you restrict their character choice when you veto their chaotic evil rogue who has 'kill the entire party' written all over it


-------

Oh.

And by the way?  Fourth edition?

The easiest edition of Dungeons and Dragons, and one of the easiest RPG systems produced by any game company in the entire world to Dungeon Master for.

And by the by?

You'll get people complaining you're not running that horribly broken slopfest called 3E/Pathfinder ('cause pathfinder is new and shiny).  They don't give a damn that the overhead of keeping the entire party on level is higher, the overhead of making encounters (because CR is a stupid system that doesn't work) is higher, the overhead of making a gameworld (because PCs can sneeze hard and break the game) is harder, the overhead of knowing the feats that are problem kittens (Frozen Wildshape, Greenbound Summoning, Abberant Wildshape, Assume Supernatural Ability, Divine Metamagic, Planar Shepherd, Initiate of Mystra, Initiate of the Svenfold Veil, Cancer Mage, Dragonwrought Kobold, SHALL I CONTINUE CAUSE I CAN I HAVEN'T EVEN GOTTEN OUTSIDE OF TWO CLASSES YET).  They wanna play a system where they can break the game and laugh at you as you try and clean up the pieces.



How immature are the people that you're paying with? Also:

  1. If you don't like Dm'ing, don't do it.

  2. If you don't like playing 4E, don't play it. 

You can't reason someone out of a position that they didn't reason themselves into.
How immature are the people that you're paying with? Also:

  1. If you don't like Dm'ing, don't do it.

  2. If you don't like playing 4E, don't play it. 



I like DMing, and I like playing 4E.

But if you seriously have a group of players where there is never:

- The guy who sometimes is on time but just often arrives late
- The guy who just cannot decide which power to use during combat
- The new guy (/Significant other of long time player) who doesn't seem super interested in what's going on
- The guy who just doesn't give a darn about anything that isn't related to how HIS CHARACTER is REALLY COOL
- The guy who just loves to make references and jokes while you're trying to move things along

Then I commend you.

Interestingly, many of these people have gone on to be people I enjoy roleplaying with or having in my games, but I'd say that four times in five (if not nine times in ten) it's the Dungeon Master who has to fix these problems.  

You can say 'if you don't like DMing then don't do it,' but if you're curious as to why people 'don't do it,' then there's some very good reasons. 
We'll never run out of dungeon masters. Someone will always take up the mantle. Besides, I've only ever heard complaints of not being able to find players over the years.

In my group of five, only one of us hasn't run.
GreyICE, although you've made a nice list of all the things people complain about on this forum, you're not far from the truth IMO. Most of it depends on how good your players are, and with crappy players, the game is no fun. Especially the list in your second post is full of things that still annoy me, even after playing with the same people for a few years. 

Guess I'm on the verge of another DM burnout..
The key to avoiding it ive found is my inner realization that I'm not a nice guy. I don't have to bend over backwards for my PCs.

I don't allow non-good pcs anymore. Too much trouble. I make the party coordinate characters to get a balanced group. I have a standing rule that you may never have a PC alive in any other game of DnD that shares a class with the one you use in my game.

I don't have loot lists, I don't have mandatory upgrades, and if I ban a power it is banned.

Hell, for my next campaign I'm planning to inform the party that they are all eldarin and see what they come up with.

It's my game. And you know what? It's more fun if the pcs work with me. And I have no qualms about ensuring it happens.

See, if there was one flaw with every edition of every game it has been emphasizing player choice. Try allowing yourself some DM choice. Youd be amazed that it actually works.

PS I'm not saying arbitrarily screw over the PCs, I'm saying that a DM is allowed to have a vision and a purpose, and to ask that players work with him to realize it.
There has been lots of great input on this thread. Even the arguing hasn't become ridiculous yet.

I'd like to address one of greyice's points of some emphasis on dm choice. Now I haven't played in your game, so I can't be sure how you play up the idea, but I love the principle. The DM is also a player.

I don't dm as much as I did in the past but I can honestly say I put in more hours of prep time than I did game time. Its a lot of work that is highly rewarding when you have some good players.
Do people who DM regularly think DMing is more fun than playing, and why (not)?

Absolutely. It's kinda like getting four turns as a player instead of just one (especially important since 4e runs too slow for me as a player). Of course with great fun comes great responsibility, but even the preparation work is part of the 'fun' of DM'ing (even if it is 'hard').

How can you increase incentive to DM, in home games as well as organized play?

4e did a lot in terms of streamlining prep and putting knowledge of PC powers primarily in the hands of the players. However, I want published adventures to contain more cool stuff to assist me in looking terrific for my players:
- Handouts
- illustrations
- 3-D diagrams
- pictures of actual game-board setups
- NPC's with pictures and dialog that I can read verbatim
- Easy to read and use skill challenge formats
- Streamlined adventure mechanics/formatting: some encounter designs are needlessly complicated (which ultimately makes things less fun for everyone as the DM has more to track). Streamline that stuff... less is more.


The DM is also a player.



I also go with the notion that the players are "DM's" in their own right just as the DM is also a player. In that vain, I give the players a ton of leeway to modify "our" game, not "my" game. I get to decide if the rocks fall on you, but you get to tell me what color they are, what they feel like when they're crushing your spleen, and where you think they came from. If your idea is better than mine, I'll work it in even if it's completely contrary to something else I had in mind. I never try to marry myself to a particular idea or notion outside of the style/theme we have settled upon during Session 0. I use player ideas just as much if not more than my own.

Thus, it couldn't be more true: Good players make a DM want to DM more (#2). That's probably the best incentive out there, but among the hardest to see realized.
DMing is a RIDICULOUSLY hard challenge in my current group...

2 of us want normal encounters, and will tweak their characters to an extreme to steamroll said encounters.  If the encounter ends in 1-2 rounds, thats bonus points.  If they kill 1 or more standard monsters during a surprise round, even better.

3 of us want engaging story with deep characters and lots of interaction with NPCs and locations.

4 of us want balanced encounters that challenge the party and make us use all our tools to succeed.  EVERY player contributing in a meaningful way to encounters is a must for these 4.

2 of us don't do well at optimizing characters, and one of those 2 strongly dislikes moderate to large alterations of the character to raise the power level.

2 of us tend to get bored with our characters quickly and want to either level up fast with plenty of retraining, or to simply play a new character.

2 of us have a hard time in the spotlight, but also resent not getting a chance to bring our character to the forefront.

2 of us tend to think very quickly on our feet and fire off suggestions about "what to do next" - often becoming the in-practice party leader, when in fact both players prefer a more democratic style despite the quick responses.

there is more....so much more...

but that shows for now how tough it has become to DM for our group, as the players (there are 6 of us, with one of us DMing at any given time) are galvanizing more and more towards our "tendencies" - finding restrictions (for the uber-power-gamers) or lack thereof (for the non-optimizers who want to be meaningful in combat) BOTH unacceptable.

As a self-proclaimed rules-lawyer (no matter how hard i try i just CAN'T seem to hold it in!) and person who can get bored of my character quickly, and one of the spotlight hoggers, i can certainly be a headache for any DM, as any of us can.

I think....to actually answer the question...
I prefer to DM if the other option is to play in a different DM's prepublished module.
I prefer to Play if the DM is running a homebrew campaign (in either a homebrew world or a traditional setting)

I find modules FAR FAR too railroady for my tastes to play in, as Wizards tends not to follow the general wisdom of the DM forums (a failed encounter doesn't need to end a game - which happens in EVERY encounter of 95% of modules).

When allowed to have my character impact the way the DM plans the next session (an unexpected choice sets the DM preparing new material for the new road), i LOVE it...

In most other cases, i prefer to run a game. 
My current game is an attempt to push towards a communally-created game world, where the PCs have the power to suggest locations and events, and i'm quite likely to include them if i at all am able to.  We're playing a wartime band of paragon heroes, which kind of caters to both the combat hungry crowd AND the intrigue/NPC crowd.  I'm using all of my considerable monster and encounter design tricks and tactical knowledge to create encounters that specifically challenge the power gamers while still challenging the non-optimizers.  
All in all, there's a great deal of challenge in what i'm doing right now, and i'm loving it, getting more into running a game than i have been in a long time.

hopefully it lasts...                          
..oh wow, first let me apalogize for not reading all the posts alot of them are long, so if I say something that has been covered.. ..im sorry..

..I love DM'ing because, I am the corner stone, I am the reason people gather around the table for hours at a time, I am the story teller, the entertainer, the reason to be.. ..I am the focus, the purpose, the beggining the end, and everything inbetween..

..you can call it ego, you can call it narcassism <--typo maybe.. ..you can call it whatever you want, but for a few hours a week people are waiting for you, relying on you, depending on you to make the night special..

..oh man what a f***ing rush..
A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men. - Willy Wonka
When allowed to have my character impact the way the DM plans the next session (an unexpected choice sets the DM preparing new material for the new road), i LOVE it...

In most other cases, i prefer to run a game. 
My current game is an attempt to push towards a communally-created game world, where the PCs have the power to suggest locations and events, and i'm quite likely to include them if i at all am able to.  We're playing a wartime band of paragon heroes, which kind of caters to both the combat hungry crowd AND the intrigue/NPC crowd.  I'm using all of my considerable monster and encounter design tricks and tactical knowledge to create encounters that specifically challenge the power gamers while still challenging the non-optimizers.  
All in all, there's a great deal of challenge in what i'm doing right now, and i'm loving it, getting more into running a game than i have been in a long time.

hopefully it lasts...                          



That's pretty much the only way I DM. And because it's a challenge to me to be creative both with stories and encounters, I find it a lot of fun. That's my incentive to keep at it.
I'm a player in Tubaman's game and I'm one of the power gamers, engaging story lover, and quick thinker. We really do have a really wierd and random mix of personality types at our table but some how we've managed to make it work(sort of).

As for the actual question I'd say I like playing a lot more than I like DM'ing. I've DM'd a module in 4th ed, a one off in 3.5, and ran a Dark Heresy campaign for a while and while my players for the most part all seem to really like my DM'ing style it drives me crazy because behind the screen I know I haven't prepped enough and I'm never sure what's happening minute to minute let alone session to session. I'm a procrastinator so when I prep it's last minute and I'm just not good running off the cuff story wise at least.
...behind the screen I know I haven't prepped enough and I'm never sure what's happening minute to minute let alone session to session. I'm a procrastinator so when I prep it's last minute and I'm just not good running off the cuff story wise at least.




..there in lies one of my strong suits.. ..I have seen so much fantasy, sci-fi, anime, horror, suspense movies and read twice as many books.. ..that I do not have to do much prep, and what prep I manage to accomplish is at the table why the PC's are talking about whatever..



..for instance, um.. 2 weeks ago my PC's wanted to hunt for lycanthropes that had been kidnapping and murdering people in a major port city, so they decided to hunt in the sewers for some "where"rats (pun intended) even though clues pointed somewhere else.. ..I had no sewers drawn up, so I used the sewers from the video game Diablo 2, act 2.. ..and ya know what, 2 of my PC's recognized the theme, but it was still fun..
A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men. - Willy Wonka
@skewed

I'm strange I guess. I can run off the cuff like that but only if I know what's supposed to be happening so I can find some way of connecting it back to the general intended story. I guess what I'm saying is I can handle things going off the rails if I know where the rails are to begin with.
I made the original point that 4E is designed for players to enjoy more than DM's, and I stand by it. However, I was discussing organized play - where the players receive an entire world of shiny rewards for participation - story awards, new feats, new powers, new magic items. There is no corresponding treadmill for DM's to run on that gives them incremental rewards.

Home campaigns are a very different animal. DMing is equally enjoyable, or more so in my opinion, to playing in a home campaign, because you have much more control of the story and the experience. You have the joy of designing encounters and watching them challenge your players, and watching them overcome the challenge.

It's a totally different experience.
Hell, for my next campaign I'm planning to inform the party that they are all eldarin and see what they come up with.



This is actually a better idea than you're making it sound. Seemingly arbitrary limits, at least anecdotally speaking, seem to lead to some of the most reportedly fun and interesting games. The all (X race) or all (X power source) party comes to mind prominently. 
@skewed

I'm strange I guess.



..I do not think you are strange.. Smile

A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men. - Willy Wonka
Hell, for my next campaign I'm planning to inform the party that they are all eldarin and see what they come up with.



This is actually a better idea than you're making it sound. Seemingly arbitrary limits, at least anecdotally speaking, seem to lead to some of the most reportedly fun and interesting games. The all (X race) or all (X power source) party comes to mind prominently. 



Just make sure your players are looking forward to the idea as much as you are. If they're all doing it reluctantly, it might not be as much fun. I find most players are willing to give it a shot, but you only need one player in the group that sees it as a nuisance rather then an opportunity to ruin it.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
Just make sure your players are looking forward to the idea as much as you are.

This brings to the conversation a big difference in the types of players / DMs out there.

I no longer have a group of friends that I play D&D with. Rather, I have become friends with a group that I play D&D with. We came together at the invitation of a DM who had a world/game idea he wanted to implement. The same is true for my games. I send out a call for players when I am ready to start a new campaign. That call for players includes the world limits. In this manner, the players self-select for my games. So I don't need to "check with my players" on such things.

But I recognize that my earlier days of D&D (high school completely, and college to a lesser degree) were more friends-based than game-based. This meant that what Pluisjen has suggested above was a requirement.

Tailor the advice to the circumstances in which you play. One size does not fit all.
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
The idea is that they are in the feywild and without warning all the portals to the plane they are trading partners with cut off. You can still perform rituals to go there, but no one ever comes back. After a large war party with the sole goal of returning immediately fails to make it back, travel is banned.

The eldarin characters are all young, promising students. Maybe they have friends over there, maybe they just want to 'take a risk' but they all construct a portal in secret and cross over.

Obviously because of DM travel is now one way... Because of a catastrophe sweeping the land. Oh and apparently its been about 200 years. Now things get interesting.