With March 4 fast approaching, it’s time to talk about how to properly appreciate your Gamemaster.
What? You didn’t realize that March 4 was GM Appreciation Day? Shame on you, Players! Shame on you!
As previously mentioned in my article “This Is the Thanks I Get”, being a GM is a lot of hard work. More so than any other player of the game, the GM has to really know the rules well and play well every time. If one player slacks off a bit or had a bad day, the game will likely continue on relatively unaffected. But if the GM is down, or not feeling well, or slacking off, the game really suffers. Add to that the fact that your GM has to develop scenarios, choose monsters and treasures, run the NPCs in battle, and be ready to react to the crazy stuff you Players come up with, and it’s quite a job.
Depending on your GM, he might also be choosing music for your game, buying all the game materials, keeping a campaign Wiki up to date, and a lot of other things that contribute to making the game great.
So the *least* you guys can do is give the GM some appreciation!
Food, Glorious Food
Yes, I made a show tunes reference. So sue me.
The point is, there are very few GMs who don’t eat. Unless they’re robots or something. You can always show your GM (and your fellow players) some appreciation by bringing food to the game. This can really run a wide gamut. Making sure to pick up chips and an extra bottle of the soda you know your GM likes to drink is a nice way to let your GM know you care. If you’re like my Seven Kingdoms players, the table might end up laden with M&Ms, cookies, celery sticks, butter-crunch cashews, and one or more cheeses . If you’re like my Cthulhu players, you might be breaking out various wines over the course of the night. That’s just how we roll.
For extra brownie points, treat your GM to some pizza, or offer to show up early and cook something like a casserole so that everyone can have a hot meal before the game starts. There are actually some great books about making gamer food, from snacks to full meals, like “Spoon and Fork” and “And Their Tummies Growled”. Even if you’re not much of a cook, these sorts of things will help you make something to help your GM feel loved…and well-fed.
There are some wonderful products out there that you can offer to get your GM. Does your GM collect miniatures? Pick them up a box or two of the pre-painted minis from WotC before they’re all gone. Or get everyone to chip in and buy something really special, like the Beholder Collection, or the amazing Orcus figure. You know it’ll just eventually get used against you anyway, so why not?
If you’re playing Gamma World, grab your GM some of the booster packs of the Alpha Mutation and Omega Tech Cards, or if your DM is using the Fortune Cards for a D&D game, pick up some of those.
Dice are always a good option. Very few GMs complain about having too many dice. Or get just one really cool die, like the flashing critical D20 from ThinkGeek. Everyone in my house got one of those this Christmas, and we all love them. That little blink when the 20 comes up feels like victory every time.
If there’s an official GM screen for the game you’re playing, and your GM doesn’t have it, think about investing in it for them. Or get a crazy off-beat treat like a pack of maps from Gamemastery, or a set of Dungeon Tiles. They’re all ways to say, “I love your game, and I appreciate that you run it.”
And if you’re not sure what to get your GM, a gift certificate to a Friendly Local Gaming Store is always nice. Then your GM can buy their own Beholder Collectors Set…and kill your characters with those beholders later.
Beyond the Game
So yes, it’s called “GM Appreciation Day”, but that doesn’t mean you *must* get something that can or will be used at the gaming table.
Gift certificates for lots of places can be great. Sure, your GM might use that Amazon or iTunes credit for gaming stuff, but maybe they want to pick up the latest Decemberists album instead (and who would blame them?) There are few people I know who’re into games that aren’t also into movies. Gift certificates for the movies make a great gift, too. And back on the subject of food (you’ve seen my pictures…you *know* it’s a favorite subject of mine), gift certificates to a favorite restaurant, or even taking your GM out to dinner can be wonderful. Many GMs, myself included, wish we had more non-game time to just hang out and chat with our players. Of course, we often end up chatting about the game, but…
Lots of gifts are gamer-y, but they aren’t necessarily specific to your game. There are lots of great board games and card games out there, too. A rousing game of Betrayal at the House on the Hill, Castle Ravenloft, or Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow might give your GM some ideas for a new adventure. Some of those are expensive prospects, but you can always get your group to chip in together, depending on your resources.
Just Say Thanks
Now I know times are tough…Lordy, believe me, I know it. It may be that you’re reading all these suggestions and cringing at the thought of parting with your hard-earned dollars, and I wouldn’t blame you. The fact is that many GMs will be quite happy to be appreciated with a simple thanks. Just tell your GM what you’re enjoying, and what you’re not enjoying, honestly. As a GM, I crave feedback from my players. Was it a good game? A bad game? What did you like? What did you not like? What a GM always wants to do is run the best game possible, and feedback helps a lot.
At the end of the day, just a simple, “That was a great game. Thanks for running it,” is sometimes all the appreciation your GM will need.
But chips help, too. Seriously, you can’t afford chips?
Cheap ass Players…
How do you intend to show your GM your awesome appreciation for all that he or she does? Have you done something n the past to make your GM feel really loved? Did it prevent him ro her from killing you with their Beholders Collection? Let us know.