Monday, September 25, 2017

Time Spent DMing

As part of his latest post, Alexis challenges DMs to estimate how long they have spent working to become a DM. Below I do the calculations to estimate for myself how long I've spent actively DMing and working on the game.

I ran a bit on and off from 13 to 15 but none of it really stuck, so I won't count all that.

I'll start from 16 and my first group of serious players. At first I was running a group of 8 to 12, often one session Saturday and one Sunday with some players attending both games. I'll say each running was 5 hours, that's 10 hours per weekend for ... about 4 months, so 160 hours. Let's say prep work took half that amount of time spread out of the rest of the week, so multiply by 1.5 and we get 240 hours.

The group thinned out to about 6 people and we started a new campaign, that was probably another 6 months, and I did a more meticulous job of prepping I would say, so let's say 5 hours per weekend plus 7 hours prepping = 12 * 4 weeks = 48 * 6 months = 288 hours. That campaign might have been longer, maybe 8 months? 10? but it definitely didn't reach a whole year, and I know it had a definite conclusion since that's how I did things back then.

I ran another campaign, timing probably similar to the previous one, let's say another 288. Running total is now (+ 288 288 240) 816 hours.

Let's increase that by ... 10%. Call it a round 900. That's to account for the fact that so much of my time even when not specificaly prepping for campaigns, was also taken up by D&D books and forums and blogs.

OK, then college. Fair bit of gaming but not much DMing first year. Second year, 2013, we gamed the whole first semester, let's say a total of 10 hours a week between the long sprawling game sessions and writing and rewriting tons of rules, and fourish months in the semester, so 16*10=160 hours, which sounds way too low but is probably right. Running total 1060.

[War story aside: I was dating my first girlfriend and running her and her crop of friends plus my buddy Jonas and it was a huge blast. I look fondly back on those days. The game was kooky: characters included a bio-syntha-cyborg and a lady minotaur alongside thieves and wizards, and each class rolled random upgrades at each level up (kind of like sage skills in a way.) On the design side I was working with a concept of giving EVERYTHING levels, so cities would have levels based on their size which would determine the availablility of items and the possibility of placing bulk orders; artisans and craftsmen would have levels indicating how good their product was; whole areas had regimented arrays of themed random tables plus bleedover into other areas. It wasn't at all what I would run today, but the guiding principle worked.]

After that I didn't run for about three years.

I picked up again in the fall of 2016 and ran weekly sessions of about three hours each for about 7 months all told. Let's say prep specifically for the game as opposed to more generally working on D&D was the same amount (was almost certainly more but I want to be conservative.) That's 6 * 4 * 7 = 24 * 7 = 168 hours. Running total (+ 1060 168) 1228 hours.

OK. That's all the game sessions and prep specifically for them. But what about all the additional time, especially since Fall 2015, which I have spent working on my computer programs, writing my blog, and researching?

I do track on a daily basis whether or not I worked on D&D that day, and I have compiled some statistics and graphs to show how the habit evolves, but I haven't plugged data into those calculations recently and it would take a while to do so. Furthermore, they don't track the exact amount of time spent. I can, however, confidently hypothesize that since November 2015, I've spent a minimum of an hour a day on average working on D&D. It's an educated guess so let's use it. The duration since Nov 2015 to today, 2017-09-25, is 5 days short of 1 month shy of two years. The exact number of days is (+ 365 (- 365 (+ 5 31))) = 694 days. Thus, 694 add'l hours.

The final total is 1228 + 694 = 1922 hours.

Good exercise. It reminded me how far I've come.


  1. But you didn't finish the linked post's thought. Where are you "expertise-wise"?

    1. I know how to use my tools (programming and writing) to design both static content (rules) and new tools (economy program and the infrastructure under that.) I'm an intermediate programmer, neither a novice nor an expert, and I'll probably be intermediate for a long while yet. As for writing, although I write a lot[1] for someone who doesn't consider himself a writer, and others tell me I write clearly, I know that I am very hesitant to release items into the wild and often bits of bloggable material will languish in my journal or in my blog folder. Working on that.

      I really can't say how good I am at running sessions. I've barely run at all this year and I keep having to do the same thing over and over: scrounge up a couple players, teach them the minimum to get them a character, run a session or two and then have everyone flake on me. I can't tell you what my current skill level is because I don't have a stream of consistent RECENT data and haven't had any for a while. Pisses me off. I do know I'm better than I was last year, coming off three years of no running.

      Is this kind of assessment the sort of thing you were getting at?

      [1] I keep a journal near-daily. That's my primary writing. I mostly write about the events in my day and my moods and feelings, but I also copy into it any email exchanges I want to preserve and any blog posts I write. In the first year, 2015, I wrote intermittently and achieved ~10,000 words. In 2016 I wrote more frequently, and achieved ten times that. This year I'm on track to write about 150k, with long stretches of daily entries. It's become a habit now, and I find I almost always have something to write about each day.