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Secret-keeping is the DM’s most important job

Of all the stuff that a DM does, the most important one is to be the keeper of the secrets. To know (or have a way to find out) the off-screen canon game state. Like, the characters have a treasure chest that they haven’t opened. It’s your job as DM to know what’s in there.

If you’re playing a kind of game where you’d just be making it up, or roll randomly every single time, your group doesn’t need a DM. Now, random generation is something I do use a lot; it’s a necessary tool for bigger game worlds. But I don’t use it literally 100% of the time.

I’m not trying to shame or intimidate anyone here. I want more people running these games, not fewer. We started with just the starter set and had fun right away, only slowly making things more detailed and expansive. And nobody’s perfect: I’ve been running our game continuously since 2014 and I still accidentally do things like this yesterday:

―Uh… That’s odd… It says that this golden statue is invisible…?
―Sandra, you’re not supposed to tell us that it’s here!
―Oh! But, uh… You guys have that sword that lets you see invisible things, right?
―No, that’s our other party, you insensitive clod!

I’ll just keep doing my best.♥︎

I do a good job for the most part. Things like that only happen like five or six times per session.

Everything else a DM does can be delegated

You can work on the rest of the game together:

Running monsters,
portraying NPCs,
calculating prices for castles and armies and magic items,
keeping time records,
looking up rules,
scheduling the game,
getting food,
rolling dice…

The only desert you’ve got to walk all alone is prepping and keeping the secrets. Don’t prep what’s gonna happen, only what has happened and what’s already there.

I used to be in a situation where my friends didn’t really wanna play and getting a game together was like pulling teeth so I didn’t dare delegate stuff to them. (Their reluctance was understandable since back then I didn’t understand the basics of what makes these games fun; it was more Sandra Story Hour than participatory culture.) Now that I have a group that actually wants to play, we can do stuff together that makes the game more awesome.