Updated: Jun 26, 2020
Who doesn't love the thought of being a DM? Having the opportunity to build an entire universe from scratch is a rush. One thing we as a community don't talk about enough is how emotionally challenging it can be. Between content creation, material management, and actually running your campaign; most Dungeon Masters (and even some players) experience true burnout at some point in their careers.
The question is how do we recover?
We can certainly push through the lack of creative juices and force ourselves to produce content for our PC's. We can decide to hand our responsibilities off to a trusted Dungeon Master to help carry the burden. For me, it always comes down to the campaign I'm running.
For some context, The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss was the cornerstone of the world I built for one of my long-running campaigns. I couldn't have been more pumped. Basing an entire session on 5th edition while (sometimes) seamlessly combining elements from Kingkiller like Tempe, the Chandrian, or Names gave me life. It still does when I think about it.
If memory serves, that campaign lasted about a year.
It was fluid for the most part. We drank, laughed, and generally enjoyed each other's company. And, as most campaigns do, it slowly fizzled out. This was due to a combination of traditional reasons. Schedules, timing, and life all sort of got in the way. There was something else that lingered over my head though and I didn't realize it until a few months later.
I was burnt.
The elements listed at the top of this article were all things that really took a toll on the magic of D&D for me. I loved creating the content, but I couldn't make the time. I loved leading sessions, but it was a struggle to get everyone together consistently. I loved the creative aspects of dungeons and dragons, but I just didn't want to be forced to create.
I think that's something we all struggle with at some point. To me, it comes down to feeling overwhelmed. As a DM in most campaigns, you're the one that is responsible for the engagement of your players. That can be a massive burden to bear.
One fix I've seen applied is in my current experience with The Bottlecap Brigade. Having a group of players that are actively invested in making the experience amazing for everyone (including viewers) is so cool to watch. It fosters creativity, engages everyone, and helps to build a community. Having the freedom to collaborate and create with a group of likeminded artists is something that everybody deserves to experience at least once in their life.
Dungeons and Dragons is a fucking amazing game. It deserves the opportunity to be even better through the active involvement of its participants. I guess what I'm trying to say with this whole thing is that if you're a Player, help your DM. Get creative. It'll make it more fun for everyone involved and nurture a long, interesting campaign for everyone involved.
For more great advise I always recommend checking out anything by Matt Mercer. He has the uncanny ability to help make running your campaign both more efficient and creative.