So you want to turn your Dungeons & Dragons, Call of Cthulhu, or Pathfinder experience into a career. Perhaps you’ve even already run a few games for conventions or an up-and-coming livestream. But in order to make the jump to full time professional Game Master, you’ll need the right tools. We trust you’ve got the dice, books, and knowledge. We’re here to help you discover a platform that lets you find players (or lets players find you), set up an easy scheduling system, and get your money quickly.
Should You Make A Patreon Or Use A Pro GM Site?
An initial search might lead you to general websites like Fiverr, Airbnb, or Patreon. These businesses have been in the game of selling services and experiences for years. This means you can expect reliable tools when it comes to setting up a schedule and monetizing. However, since they try to service many things, they won’t help you much with discovery. They’re also just not made for GMing. This means you miss out on valuable industry data which could help you learn what kinds of campaigns players want, as well as community resources like art commissions. There’s also the literal cost of the companies taking a bigger service fee.
Unless you’re already a well-known content creator with the clout to go right to Patreon, you’ll want to work with a site that was made for paid TTRPG games. Even if you do have that following, Patreon doesn’t give you the robust scheduling and messaging tools that a dedicated pro GM site has. To truly service your patrons, you’ll have to balance the benefits of a monthly subscription with the more customized specialties of a pro GM site. The people behind paid GM platforms know and love these games as much as you do, and have designed their sites to cut out the complications and get you running games (and earning) faster. Notable names in this space include Demiplane, Camp D&D Online, and StartPlaying.
Which Pro GM Site Is The Best?
This will ultimately come down to personal preference (and we might be a little biased in favor of our own StartPlaying), but let’s break down what the top paid GM sites offer.
Demiplane’s biggest selling point is that it has native voice and video chat so that players and DMs are always on the same page. There’s also various functions for campaign note-taking so that one player isn’t always playing secretary. This focus on communication features make Demiplane a strong choice for established parties. When it comes to matchmaking, you’ll find more expansive options in a site like StartPlaying.
Camp D&D Online strikes an interesting first impression with its colorful site and exciting live-action trailer. DMs are advertised as trained actors who run a “rehearsed and cleverly written campaign.” Character sheets are automatically updated so players can “focus on the action and worry less about the logistics.” The way it plays out seems very much like a Zoom escape room mixed with live theater. This is great for those who want to parley D&D into an acting career. However, since it runs like a show, this service maintains a smaller pool of DMs and is subject to application.
Other common names in the space are Roll20 and Warhorn. Roll20 is better used as a platform for running games. It has a robust set of tools and forum communities, but its main focus is playing the actual game online. Roll20 also does not take payments. Warhorn is closer to a signup sheet, and is usually used to list mass games for conventions. When it comes to player/GM matchmaking and taking payments, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
That brings us to StartPlaying. The goal here is to let you set up games however you want. D&D is abundant, but there’s also a healthy amount of Vampire: The Masquerade, Pathfinder, Monster of the week, and indie systems. GMs are free to choose Roll20, Foundry, Discord, Zoom, or whatever other communication platforms they prefer. Players can likewise filter game searches to find their favorite communication apps. GMs are free to set the price of their games–with many free beginner sessions on offer–and can feel relieved knowing StartPlaying only takes a 10% cut. This comes on top of fraud protection, recurring payments, and advertising to help players find its GMs.
The StartPlaying community is also a bonus, with a very helpful GM Discord group. Game Masters frequently help each other source art for their games, learn new systems, and navigate the platform. Whether you’re a seasoned GM of many campaigns, or haven’t picked your DM subclass yet, StartPlaying can set you on the path to success.