Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Long Term RPG Thoughts

I haven't run or played anything in more than a month - taking care of business etc. I have had some time to reflect on the whole hobby though.

  • It takes a fairly high level of effort to conceive, create, begin, and maintain an ongoing RPG campaign. 
  • It takes a long term commitment to keep one going, for the GM and the players. 
  • Playing takes up space and time.
  • The books take up space and typically are not free. If you're like me they can take up a lot of space. 
  • There is an opportunity cost as well - if you're playing for six hours on a Friday night that's time you are not doing something else. 

All of these things may sound obvious but I think that we (and I know I do) often sink down into the daily or weekly routines and don't really assess what the upsides and downsides are of these things.  For a casual player who owns a few books and plays a few times a month it's probably not that much. For those of us who are more into it though, who are constantly running, playing, or thinking about them, it can be difficult to step back and look at the bigger picture.

On one level, no matter what you're playing you are having fun spending time with friends and family and that's a good thing to have in your life on a regular schedule.

But it doesn't hurt to ask questions of oneself: Is this still a good way to spend my time? What else could I be doing with that time/money/effort/mindspace? Do I need all of this stuff? Do I truly enjoy the specific game I am running? How about the people I am playing it with? Where does this rank among my priorities? What about my other interests and hobbies?

If you're a single guy in your teens or twenties you probably have a different set of conditions than the forty-something married with kids guy who is writing this, and that's cool because I was there once too. Things change though - relationships, living space, finances, families - all can have an impact. For me there were the junior high /early high school days, then the later high school days with a job and a car, then the college days with new friends, and then the post-college days of singlehood and full time employment, and then the family days of adding a wife and kids on top of the full time job. It's worth re-assessing the whole picture every so often to see how it's working for you right now.

Now I'm not planning any drastic changes for myself right now. I considered thinning out the RPG collection but there's not a really urgent need to do so. I did end the Necessary Evil/City of Heroes game because while it was fun I was having trouble meeting the commitment and it just is not worth the aggravation when I can't maintain it like I want to. For now I'm running the one Pathfinder campaign bi-weekly and playing in another one monthly and that's enough. Anything beyond that will probably be one-offs or a limited 2-3 session game planned that way from the start. I feel like I need to spend a little more time with the non-RPG'er friends and family and that's the way I see to do it. I'd love to run a regular, ongoing supers campaign but if there's any genre best suited to short runs and one-offs it has to be superheroes and that's how I'm going to handle it for now.

I know it's not for everyone but right now I am totally happy running and playing Pathfinder. I accepted long ago that I would always have a "D&D" game if I was playing at all, and anything else would be a bonus after that. If I can work in some M&M/Champions/ICONS?Marvel after that I would be very happy too.  Spirit of 77, Feng Shui, Deadlands, and other Savage Worlds games are going to have to be one-shots or irregular games at best. Star Wars and Star Trek are "someday" games where I'm going to have to round up some new players to make them happen and I just don't have the bandwidth to do that - but I might someday.

So I'm still going to be involved in RPG's and they are still one of my hobbies. I may not have quite as much to say because I'm not as worried about the day to day new type stuff about them right now and I'm not running quite as much as I have been in the past. I will talk about what I do run here though and try to keep the focus on running and playing and less on theory, news, and generic stuff. More "games I like and am playing" and less "gaming stuff" in general.

1 comment:

Scrivener of Doom said...

I've been wrestling with similar issues regarding RPGs for a long time. There are seasons where everything seems to fall into place: all the players and the DM/GM are consistently available and have the time and the brainspace (if I can call it that) to commit to regular gaming. And then there are times when it all falls apart and other commitments mean that gaming goes on the backburner.

I've even worked up something of an RPG bucket list with a view to getting all those ideas out of my system and then putting RPGs away for good, or at least until I hear their siren call again in 20 or so years when I am properly retired and looking for something more interesting that bridge or gardening to take up as a hobby.

Anyway, good post and I enjoyed reading it and thinking about it.