The Responsibility of Hosting

2008 February 25
by Vanir

Every game needs to be hosted somewhere, even if it is in the mysterious tubes of the internets. But for those of us who have not yet received your brain jack implant, we usually pick somebody’s house. After last week’s post on dungeon management styles, I found myself looking for other similar topics and ran across an article by a rather smart man named Robert Donoghue called Utility of Manners.

There’s a lot of really good stuff in that article that make me step back and think about things for a moment. For starters:

“the host often has additional authority to allow them to fulfill those responsibilities. This is non-dictatorial. With the exception of kicking people out, any authority granted to the host, such as the ability to establish a schedule, plan events and so on, is ceded to them by guests for any number of reasons. Most often it is because the guests understand that these things must happen, but they are not in a position to do so themselves.”

I find this interesting because the DM might find themselves in this position one of two ways: as host of the game and as physical host of the group. I know a very large number of groups depend on the DM to do all the organizing and scheduling as well as planning and running the game.

“Sometimes guests step up and assist with these responsibilities – they clear dishes, clean up, drive people home and so on. Done right, this can greatly decrease the burden on the host, but this does not absolve the host of responsibility.

This is all opinion, so take it as that, but it is also something else: it is and explanation of what I consider the necessity of the GM.

(And as a small additional point, it is also part of the reason I object to the GM as host)”

The man’s got a point. If the DM has to physically host the game, it’s more for him to have to worry about than just planning the adventure.

Depending on your group (and your chosen host), getting ready for a session might take a little time or a lot. In our group, wherever we play (which could be several locations), the host generally tends to clean up the place before people show up and cleans up once everybody leaves. They get some help at the end of the night but by and large if we host at my house I spend 5-10 minutes cleaning up a mountain of soda cans and sweeping up crumbs. We order a pizza usually, which makes food prep and dish cleanup pretty easy — but if you’re the type of group that sits down to a home-cooked meal beforehand, this could get a lot more time-intensive.

If you’re a DM and you feel like you have way too much to do and there’s never enough time to get everything done before the session starts, this might be a good thing to look at. Talk to your group, and see if you can take some of the non-DM-specific responsibilities off your shoulders and put them on one of the five or six other pairs of shoulders in your group. Work it into your group’s social contract. This will distract them so that you can more easily plan their untimely demises.

4 Responses leave one →
  1. Dave The Game permalink
    February 26, 2008

    In my current campaign, we have regular hosts for the game. However, it means that I bring a large amount of stuff with me to the session instead of just having it readily available.

    It also means with all that stuff I debate whether or not to bring it in from the car or not after every session… (usually not)

  2. ChattyDM permalink
    February 26, 2008

    As Dave says, this type of travelling DM freak show works better if the adventure is either props-light… something neither me nor my colleague from Maryland are, or follows a very well defined adventure plan (i.e. Dungeon crawl or improv light scenes).

  3. The DM permalink
    February 26, 2008

    Our extended gaming group tends to work like this:

    Married guys are the DMs
    Married guys host
    Married guys wives make lots of goodies

    Now, the interesting thing to me is that the married guys were the DMs before they were married.

    Moral of the story? DMs get more action.

    We did play for a while at one of the single guys’ places, and I figured out really quick how to reduce the material I needed to bring with me. Fortunately, the host had a DMG (how often do you use that during a game, anyways?) and a host of other supplemental books. I always copied anything I needed out of supplements, brought my MM, dice, screen, and props, and I was all set.

  4. kanati permalink
    March 1, 2008

    I miss our home-cooked meals days. As much from not cooking the meal as it is getting a home-cooked meal from others.

    We should investigate doing this again.

    Nothing was more interesting than watching (hearing) my chili reintroduce itself to the world after having been eaten. It was a musical night.

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