Dungeon Master Dilemma: Navigating Gas Money Etiquette in Tabletop RPGs

Dungeon Master Dilemma: Navigating Gas Money Etiquette in Tabletop RPGs

Settling the Great Gas Money Debate: A Tale of Tabletop RPG Etiquette

Ah, the complex world of tabletop RPG etiquette—a place filled with monsters, treasure, and endless debate. While many tabletop players are happy to toss a few coins into the collective pot to ensure a smooth and enjoyable gaming experience, sometimes we find ourselves in situations where one player, well, doesn’t want to chip in. Such is the case of the Great Gas Money Debate, which started when a university student went above and beyond to be a Dungeon Master for a group of players.

So, let’s settle this debate once and for all, shall we?

The Situation:

A student offered to drive an hour from Denver to Boulder to serve as a DM for a group of eager Call of Cthulhu players. While the student didn’t ask for gas money, one member of the group suggested that everyone chip in a few bucks to cover the cost of gas since the student would be taking a day out of their life and driving two hours total. But, one player vehemently refused, arguing that since the student offered, they should be willing to do it for free.


Is this reaction bonkers? Let’s lay out the nuances of the situation and see what we can uncover.

The (Un)written Rules of Tabletop Etiquette

Tabletop gaming is a communal activity, and as such, there’s a certain level of etiquette involved. One unwritten rule, for example, is that if you’re hosting a game night, you can reasonably expect your guests to bring some snacks or drinks. However, this particular situation is a bit more complex, as the “host” becomes a traveling DM—raising the question of “who’s responsible for what?” in the grand scheme of things.

Know the rules

The Value of a Dungeon Master

For those who’ve never been in the hot seat (quite literally, as all of my DM experiences have included some profuse sweating), it might not be immediately clear just how much work goes into being a good Dungeon Master. From creating a world and story to managing player interactions, it’s a labor of love that requires time, creativity, and dedication.

Should this hard work and dedication be rewarded with a bit of cash for gas? That’s up for debate, but it seems like a small price to pay for someone who’s dedicating their time and effort to make your game night that much more enjoyable.

The Balancing Act of Friendship and Money

Navigating the delicate tightrope of friendship and money is never easy, especially when you factor in the complex ecosystem of a tabletop gaming group. While it’s important to be understanding and respectful of every player’s financial situations, it’s also essential to recognize the bigger picture—that being, the value an experienced DM can bring to your game night.


The Ultimate Verdict

So, is it bonkers to expect someone to chip in a few bucks for gas money when a DM is going out of their way to travel and put on a memorable gaming experience? Personally, I don’t think so.

Ultimately, in a world where you can be transported to far-off lands, battle fearsome foes, and share countless laughs with friends, the cost of a few gallons of gas seems like a small price to pay for an adventure of a lifetime. If you really can’t find it in yourself to contribute, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate your priorities and think about what kind of player (and friend) you want to be.

Of course, this Great Gas Money Debate may never be fully resolved, and that’s okay—our tabletop escapades will continue regardless. But let’s take this opportunity to remember the value of the people—DMs, players, and everyone in between—who come together to create something magical on game night.

And hey, maybe next time you host a game, consider picking up a six-pack of beer, a few bags of chips, or even just tossing a couple of bucks into the pot. After all, it’s a small gesture that shows appreciation for everyone’s time and effort in creating an unforgettable gaming experience.

Happy adventuring!

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