The Role of the DM
I was watching a debate about old school vs new school gaming, one thing that came up I wasn’t aware of, was that in 4e there were two areas where it mentioned that having a DM was not necessary. First in the DMG there was a section about using random encounters and rewards to dungeon crawl, another was in the last section of the PH 3 (?) where it said that if you just get a module you don’t really need a DM (can anyone confirm?) but the bottom line for me is, (assuming this is true) they created a game where if you have the right supplements a DM is completely unnecessary. (this is not meant as a slight to 4e, just an observation)
I hope this IS NOT a design goal for 5th ed. To me most of the fun of being a DM is creating the world, the NPCs, the story and plots, and all of that is central on having me as a DM run the players through those plots, or act those NPC roles with the players. IMHO To have a real TTRPG you MUST have a DM. If you create a game where a DM is completely unnecessary in essence you’ve changed a role-playing game into a boardgame.
If you see your job as a DM as doing nothing but reading what it says out of the pre-written module, move and roll for the monsters, and play your NPC as a character in the party, to me your not really DM-ing, your half playing the game and sort of half DM-ing.
Your not doing work creating anything, your responses to the characters as an NPC are already written down (except for a tiny bit of improv when the characters say or ask something unexpected) your not having to balance or create encounters, or plan out what rewards will be available and really think about how the players will utilize them. The rules are so well written, there is never a need to interpret them. This isn’t DM-ing to me, its wargaming.
Sure I’ve heard the other arguments, we don’t have time to do that, we have lives and facebook and jobs kids cars blah.. we cant possibly prepare for two hours to run a four hour game… aint nobody got time for that… in my mind then you really don’t have time to run an RPG, and shouldn’t be DM-ing.
I’ve also heard the argument “we have fun doing this, shut up and let us have our fun you damn one true wayist” fair enough, but that’s also going to be my first rule of finding a game, asking a DM “are you really a player just running a pre-scripted game from an AP or are you actually going to DM?”
To me this is the essence of the difference between old school and new school gaming.