Preventing DM Burnout

A post that was linked in the Google+ OSR group caught my eye - "DM Burnout!" It's something that has happened to me in the past, although the "burnout" was just as much related to "Life is taking over my priorities and changing them" as much as anything else.

For me, burnout was/is when I hit a low point in my creativity, on top of doing something without any energy return. Or I have an extremely bad experience that suddenly exposes all the little annoyances and irritations that suddenly I just don't want to deal with it all anymore. This is true whether for gaming, for our teaching/presenting or other things I get involved in. It's those times when my Aspie kicks in and I want to nuke the site from orbit and find a new planet to live on.

When I restarted my campaign in 2015, after a 4 year hiatus due to a life project, I wanted to find a way to become a Steady-Freddie and not get burnt out. For me, that means two things - getting a positive energy return on what I'm doing and keeping things new and fresh. To do that, I needed to make some changes to my campaign, which I did, and now instead of mustard farming, my players are real heroes. It's still not easy and they still hate the Troll Mage, but my players are kicking ass and taking names these past two years, and it's made the campaign mean something to do.

But there's more. Another thing I'm doing is opening up the campaign so much that I constantly have new things to explore. The wargaming. The running of convention games in other Duchies. The shifting of games from 1:1 D&D to skirmish-wargaming D&D and back. It feeds my GamerADD to have all these different options.

Plus, for me, running sandbox style means my players are always up to something different, keeping me on my toes in what to think about. Finally, we meet about 1x/month, sometimes 2x/month. That keeps it from getting to grindy as well. Instead of "what are we doing THIS week", I appreciate that our time is limited, so I make those monthly games really count. If you're going to have players at the table, unless they *are* mustard farming, then have their actions mean something. Maybe not on a grand scale, but they can make a difference, for weal or woe, at any level and they need to feel that as much  as see it.

So far, 2 years into the restart, I'm feeling pretty good. In fact, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed - trying to paint 70+ minis and prepare some serious terrain for GaryCon and Little Wars, plus keep up with the wargames and D&D games in the campaign world. Hardly burnt out right now... more of "I don't have enough time in the day!"

This will probably be my last post of 2016. 2016 can go fuck itself, it's been such a shitty year in deaths within pop culture/science/academia. And also with the Back to the Future 2 movie coming true (Cubs win! Biff gets elected to WH!) (Ooo, I'll lose some Trump supporters on that one... heh...) and with some tragedies in my family and friends. I'm glad to see 2016 GTFO.

It's my sincere hope that 2017 brings us all good health, prosperity and joy/love in our lives. May you all have a Happy New Year and be safe!

Fight On!


  1. 2016 could have been better. Here's to a better 2017! Fight On!

    Cheers, Mike!

  2. 2016 was the worst one yet.

    Looking forward to 2017 & wishing you and yours a Happy New Year!

  3. I can say right now that some of your posts (especially the recent one about 1:1 combat) will help me do new things with my campaign. Thanks for writing up your thoughts, and have a great new year!

  4. Thank you all!

    @Fuzzy - thanks for the kind comments - good luck with your campaign in 2017!


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