He Makes a Decent Living as a D&D 'Dungeon Master'

'Wired' profiles New York City's Timm Woods
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 22, 2017 10:20 AM CST
Odd Professional Title: D&D 'Dungeon Master'
Dungeons & Dragons is enjoying a newfound popularity.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson)

Like a lot of kids, Timm Woods developed an intense fascination with the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. Unlike a lot of those kids, the 30-year-old Woods is now making a living at it as an adult. Wired profiles the Brooklyn resident and his unusual profession: that of a "Dungeon Master" for hire. That is, he runs games for groups of players, guiding them through their dragon-slaying journeys with his encyclopedic knowledge of wizard spells and the like—figure $250 or $350 for a three-hour session. It turns out that plenty of people are willing to shell out for the expertise, and Woods is also branching out into the version called Dungeon World for younger players. At the moment, he's overseeing nine games a week, and it can be a tricky business.

"I've had people say they want me to be harsher as a DM, and I don't always take that advice," says Woods. "If I'm too much of a hardass, then they're really gonna start questioning what they are paying me for." In other words, he needs his clients to have risky adventures, but he might steer them away from fatal encounters, because it makes sense to have returning regulars. Woods, who isn't the only such professional DM, might spend months researching and planning a game for clients. (The story notes that the players' version of "Basic Rules for Dungeons & Dragons" has 80,000 words and byzantine subcategories.) "He's worth the money," says one regular, a New York City educator. "Being a DM requires a lot of brainshare. I don't know how Timm absorbs it all." Click for the full story, which recounts the newfound popularity of the 1970s cult favorite. (More Longform stories.)

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