Here’s an idea spawned from a review of Mythmere’s Advanced Adventure Design Deskbook and the recent discussion about the difficulty of sandbox play.
Another group I’ve involved with runs a year long mentoring program each year for people new to it but serious about it who are interested in the controlling role. A combination of classes, meetings, and one on one mentoring by an experienced member are provided. More commonly, individuals find mentors (it is highly recommended by serious people in the lifestyle) to go to with questions and for support. In this case it’s not just the particular role the formal mentoring program covers but everyone is advised to get one or two mentors.
It is often said that a good DM can make any game better and a bad DM should ruin a perfect game. We can identify at least some of the masters both hobby wide and locally.
So, perhaps those of us trying to see the hobby thrive and make sure we have a supply of good DMs and players to play with are trying the wrong thing. It’s not the perfect boxed set or licensed game or level of rules complexity we need to provide. We need to take new people, especially new DMs, under our wings. Give them someone to bounce campaign ideas and problems off. Maybe even be their sponsor they can call when their game goes wrong. Sure, it’s more like something out of KoDT than our lives as gamers now.
Maybe it shouldn’t be that way.