What’s the most important part of being a good DM?

Every Dungeon Master (DM) is different and their style and craft grows just as their players learn and grow together. A lot has been said online about learning to DM, including Matthew Colville in his introductory video on his YouTube channel.

There are many skills DMs can improve and hone over time, such as story-telling, improvisation, characterization, learning and adapting rules as well as diplomacy with a party of players who aren’t getting along.  It can be exhausting building worlds and frustrating swapping out plots they made for new ones the players choose to follow.   But it can also be very rewarding.

So what is the most important part of being a DM?  A sense of humour is important, for sure.  Patience is definitely a virtue.  Imagination is very important and adaptability vital.  But to outline what I consider the most important factor in being a good DM, watch DM Matthew Mercer in the following classic clips from Critical Role:

Grog and the toilet

Another clue is this scene from Episode 3, where the group is planning 

My personal answer to this question is simple; It’s listening.  It’s giving the players the space they need for their characters to grow and be creative.  The DM facilities their adventure, he does not control the players.  This means that the characters have room to interact and have brilliant moments such as those highlighted above.  It also means the DM doesn’t have to be a full-time performer, actor, comic; that would be exhausting!  Let the players play and then there is a healthy balance between player interaction and adventuring.