March 3rd is International Game Master’s Appreciation Day! Whether you play Dungeons & Dragons and have a Dungeon Master (DM), or some other system with a Game Master (GM), Referee, or whatever you want to call it, this is a day to say thank you for the one who runs and organizes your TtRPG sessions.
GMs do a lot of work each week preparing for the upcoming session. They plan ahead for the story, whether it’s prewritten or original, they probably don’t know all the rules, but they make the call anyway. They try to balance challenging you, without killing you, making it believable, without it being boring, and creating a cool story, without railroading you into one. GMs do a lot of work, so this March 3rd, take time to appreciate yours. Here are some ideas.
Run a One Shot
Some GMs do it because they love to run games. Some GMs do it because no one else will. Regardless of which camp your GM falls in, either way they would have fun playing as a character again, even if for just one night. So give them a chance to take a seat on the ride, instead of building it. It doesn’t matter how bad you think you’ll be, or how scared it makes you. Your GM will have fun, they will appreciate the night off, and you’ll get a taste of what they do every week.
Pay for Food
A game session usually takes hours, so it’s common in that time to have a meal. When I GM, I often also host, which means I also often provide food for my players. Some groups order pizza, and split the cost. If you want to appreciate your GM, you could pay for their portion of the order, and if you can afford it, it might even be nice to get food from an actual restaurant, and have a real dinner, as opposed to just takeout. Imagine having your game night with Olive Garden, instead of just Domino’s.
Let’s get real fancy, and make dinner! Obviously only make what you are comfortable making, and making a lot of. If you know how to cook a certain dish, make that and bring it, even if it’s just a dessert or appetizer. If you really know how to cook, there are themed cookbooks so you can help set the atmosphere. There’s the Heroes Feast official D&D themed cookbook, the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, as well as many more that can help get you in the headspace of your characters.
Clickety-clackety, I roll to attackety. You play TtRPGs long enough, and you start to hoard dice like a goblin. Not only that, but there are some really cool dice out there. You can never have too many dice, so find a cool design, and get them some new dice. Basic sets usually start at $5 at your local game store.
Let’s say you have enough dice (unlikely, but go on), but whenever you roll the dice, they fly all over the place, fall off the table, are leaning against a book and you argue whether that’s a 19 or a 2. Let’s go ahead and clean that all up with a dice tower. A dice tower lets you drop a dice in the top of the tower, it rolls down, getting a good roll (as opposed to just dropping the dice), and it lands in a confined area, that’s flat and clear. They are great, and give a second more suspense to each roll.
Alternatively, if your table gets a little crowded, and a whole tower seems to take up a lot of space, I recently received a dice mat, which is my favorite game day accessory. Some of them are flat (easier for carrying) and they fold into what is essentially a little bowl for everyone to roll in. The one I got (pictured below) holds two sets of dice, and rolls up like a scroll case, and looks so cool. These essentially do the same thing as a dice tower, but smaller and easier to carry.
Does your GM seem to have everything? Well, do they have a candle to set the mood? That’s right, Cantrip Candles are D&D themed candles, that each have a d20 within the wax, that you can only retrieve once you’ve used up the candle. They have a list of scents for various different settings, and they all have high reviews. Here are just a few that jumped out to me.
- Library Scriptorium “Parchment, Aged Wood, Leather”
- Dungeon Depths “Dust, Stone, Water”
- Den of Thieves “Smoke, Red Wine, Aged Leather”
- Sanctuary “Ginger, Incense, Saffron”
- and more!
Hero Forge Gift Card
One of the biggest advances in TtRPGs lately is the custom mini, of which Hero Forge is leading the charge. You can fully customize your minis race, gear, platform, stance, color, and more. Every time I think of a cool character concept, I run over to Hero Forge to see what they would look like. They even have bases that can hang on the GM Screen, to show initiative order to everyone. Gift cards start at $10, and go up to $100, and the minis start at $20, and also go up to $100. Or if you have a 3D printer, you can buy the custom STL file for $8, and print it yourself. Or, you can always just buy a basic mini online, if you want to get a bunch of monsters, that is also very helpful.
Lastly, this is the most expensive of all options, so don’t feel any pressure to go this route. However, if you really want to, buying a rulebook for your game is a fantastic present. While D&D has this reputation, it is true for most TtRPGs that there are more books available than you need to run the game. There are core rulebooks, addendums for specialty rules, published adventures in their own books, as well as lots of third party additions that bring new angles to the game. There are even some books, like The Player’s Handbook for D&D, that it doesn’t hurt to have multiple copies of, because everyone at the table can use their own copy.
At the end of the day, no matter how you choose to show your appreciation this March 4th, it is always nice to hear a simple “thanks for running the game” at the end of every session. A little acknowledgement every week will go further than some new dice or a dinner. You are all having fun, playing a game, but the truth is that they are putting in extra time and effort, and deserve to be appreciated for that.
Say Thank You
I know, this might seem cheesy, and many of you probably already do that. But take a moment and think about whether or not you thank your GM at the end of a session. I know that you are probably friends already, and you show your appreciation by being engaged and bringing energy and joy to the table, but saying the phrase “thanks for running the game tonight, it was really fun” will stick with a GM when they inevitably have Imposter Syndrome after you all go home. I’ve played at tables where no one said thank you, and it did not lessen my love of playing with those people. But I’ve also played at tables where they said thank you at the end of every (or at least most) sessions, and it always felt nice to be appreciated. So take a moment and say Thank You to your GM for everything they do for you.