But burnout is an important thing to talk about. Largely because burnout doesn't just happen to the DM. Burnout can affect players as well. Burnout is often a chain reaction caused by a variety of circumstances. In my campaign it has worked out like such:
- I got tired of being the DM....so I stopped trying to create exciting dungeons.
- My players started to get bored with just move to the next room, kill, move to the next room, kill, repeat.
- Players started getting bored with their characters and to spice things up they keep switching characters on me.
As an experienced DM, I see the dangers of staying the course. If it keeps running unchecked, then players will start skipping sessions and eventually the group falls apart. I told my players that one of them had to take over as DM every other week to give me time to recharge.
Instead of one of my players taking over as DM for D&D, it was suggested that we play Shadowrun instead. This is a good idea for a group suffering from burnout. It gives the entire group a chance to mix it up in an exciting RPG world that is nothing like D&D. It gives all the players a chance to refresh and cycles out the DM so that the primary DM...like myself, gets a chance to be a player.
However if you're going to stick to D&D there are ways to swap things out so that everyone gets a chance to try something new.
- Have at least 1 if not 2 backup dungeon masters. This keeps the rotation of players and stories fresh.
- When you swap DMs, swap characters. This gives each DM a chance to build his own story without interfering with the other DM story lines.
- Use different campaign worlds. If you're always playing Eberron, try Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk...or in August when it comes out I highly recommend Dark Sun.
Burnout on the part of the players or the DM is a strong sign of session death. Combating burnout is the job of everyone in the group, but the DM should especially keep an eye out for it. Keeping things fresh and interesting ensures a long standing group that always looks forward to the game each week.
Until next time...