The Stones on Him

I’ll warn you now, this one is a bit ranty…
For one reason or another I haven’t been around the Paizo Forums over the last months. Work, other work, sleep, gaming…these all conspired to keep me off the forums. So now that I have some time on my hands (HIRE ME!) I made a point of heading back over there. I’ve always found the Paizo Forums to be a great place to virtually hang out. For a Pathfinder RPG lover like me, it’s like shooting the breeze with fellow Pathfinderites in my Friendly Local Gaming Store.
Now, if you have ever hung out in a game store, you can probably spot the “but” in the above simile (Grammar Science!). If you haven’t spent extended time in a gamer environment, here is your break-down: All else being equal, you will encounter 19 gamers you want to talk to for every one you don’t. And that one is the one that stands out; he’s/she’s the one that doesn’t bathe, drones on and on about their character, tries to constantly borrow your dice/books/figures… You get the idea.
Why do I bring this up? Because I found my Twentieth Geek on the forums today. I have copied the post below in italics without editing; the section that offended my eye is bolded by me. From “Lord Snow”, posted with the title “Best for newbieplayers, expirienced GM?”:

summery of my question: is Godsmouth Heresy preferable as a first module than Crypt of the Everflame to a group of newbies with an expirienced GM? Should I introduce the newbies to the game by handing out pregenerated characters and teaching them as the game rolls or should I explain evreything out first? and are 6$ an hour a reasonable amount to charge for the game?
I am and have been a GM for quite some time now – the past 10 years, I believe. Now that my last year in high school is nearly over, I decided to start making money from my hobby and run some D&D to some 7th graders for it. Now, the way it looks like I’ll have a group of 5-7 children (I won’t take more even if more will sign up as I think huge group unable good gaming), most of them with very little playing experience and all of them without any real understanding of the rules. What I hope to accomplish is not only having an enjoyable game with them but also helping them understand the game.
So my plan is to hand out pregenerated characters (perhaps the Paizo iconic, perhaps something of my own brewing), and sort of explain the relevant rules for every encounter they face so that they’ll get to try out the rules the very first time they hear them. Do you think this is a decent way of doing this?

Anyway, I’m also wandering which PF module best suits my needs here. there’s Crypt of the Everflame, which seems to go along precisely with what I planned. I worry about this one, however, since I don’t think it’s continuation, Masks of the Living God, would hook newbies as much as it does old timers… is the Godsmouth Heresy better?
And as a side note and last question: do you think 6$ an hour from each kid is legitimate, given that I plan to do 4 one and a half hour sessions per month? For me that’s about 180 bucks a month and I also have a day job…

Here is my reply on the forum, also unedited:

I think it is great that you are willing to GM for younger players that are new to the game. I think your basic plan for helping them through is good, and Crypt of the Everflame is definitely a good mod to start with. If you are playing 1-1/2 hour sessions, I don’t think you need to worry too much about the next mod in the series; you will be months before finishing in any case. And nothing stops you from doing it as a one-off, and moving on to another mod.

In answer to your last question: No. No I do not think that is legitimate. Charging to GM Pathfinder? I hate to tell you, but there are a lot of people who can GM for free out there, including one of the Grade 7 students (which is, frankly, probably a better learning experience for them).
I am sure you have a lot to offer as a GM, but I can count on my thumbs the people I would directly pay to have GM for me. I have been playing RPGs for 32 years now, GMing for easily 25 of those, and it would never occur to me to charge someone to play a game with me. Heck, I’m currently laid off from my job; you think I wouldn’t want to get paid to play Pathfinder right now?

Personally, I think you are doing the hobby a disservice by trying to charge for a service you should be happy to provide. And in my opinion, it is made even more irresponsible that you would do this to kids in Gr. 7, who really have no way to know better. When they go to their next GM and find out they could get this for free, at best they are going to resent you.

Anyway, my two cents. You are free to ignore or respond. And I am certainly interested to read other opinions. Cheers!

And here is what I wanted to write:
Begging your pardon, Lord Snow, but are you out of your f#$@ing mind?! I bow to you in horrified awe; never, in the 32 years I’ve spent in this hobby, have I ever considered dreaming of charging people to play a game with me. And while there are a few people that I would gladly pay for a seat at their gaming table, none of them are a teenager. I realize that to those seventh graders you must be like unto a god, but c’mon…this is a hobby we are all supposed to be enjoying. Not only are you taking away their opportunity to learn the game organically among their peers, but you are fleecing them by making them pay for something they could get for free.
I’m sure you can see why my initial response was not the one I posted.
Why did this bother me so much?  Let me distill it down…

The RPG hobby has never been truly bursting with practitioners. It isn’t like we are going extinct, exactly, but it would be safe to say that gamer “birth rates” have dipped, while “death rates” (literal and figurative) have held steady. With the competition provided by 3D movies and computer/console gaming it can be hard to attract new players to our hobby. Not impossible, just hard. With the shiny enticements of the digital age, it does not take a lot for young players to find an excuse to not play table-top games. Enter someone who is going to charge them for their entry to the hobby? Best case scenario: they like it, keep paying to play with this guy for a while, and then feel burned when they move to another GM who does not charge them because really, the idea is ludicrous. How are they going to feel then? Foolish, certainly. Maybe foolish enough to bail on a hobby that could have given them a lot of enjoyment. Worst case: he gives them a bad experience, and they resent the hobby because the paid to play a “crappy game”. Either way the hobby loses potential members.
And this may be a bit liberal hippy-dippy, but I don’t think kids should have to pay to play role-playing games. Yes, they will have to buy the books/pdfs eventually. And yes, I am aware that fees are paid for games at cons and in gaming stores. But every hobby has a buy-in point. And in my experience you aren’t paying the GMs at cons and game store events, you are covering your share of space rental, prize support etc. What I am flat-out against is the idea of showing up at my FLGS and being told I can join a game but the GM is going to charge me $6/hour. Especially when the fee is couched in terms of teaching new players the game. What?! Christ on a rubber crutch, gamers should be falling over themselves to get another person into the hobby we all love, instead of cooking up selfish impediments.
The only way this hobby keeps going is if we stick to what has worked up to this point: every one of us acting as a Gaming Ambassador. Be friendly and open when people have questions; smile through the ignorance, ours and theirs; and be visible and audible in your passion for the hobby.  If we can manage to do that even a little bit, we can make this hobby flourish.
So Lord Snow, all due respect: I hope those 7th Graders turn your “kind” offer down flat. If they do, we may have a shot of gaining some new enthusiasts down the line.
Quoting The Untouchables: “Thus endeth the lesson.”  And hey, feel free to completely disagree with me.  I would be interested, from a Devil’s Advocate standpoint, to hear a counter-argument.

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