Friday, May 22, 2020
I'm taking a break from running D&D.
I write that sentence, and then I stare at it. Then I stretch, then I write this sentence. In about thirty seconds I'm going to get up and microwave another cup of cold coffee, maybe use the bathroom, then return to the keyboard.
[*sips hot coffee*]
Almost a year ago, I made a decision to really get back into AD&D, or at least make a valiant stab at it. I wrote a few posts about rangers and illusionists, and I watched (or listened to) a LOT of webcasts on AD&D, the best of which are the two Grogtalk dudes in Florida who I find HIGHLY entertaining (their antics, self-deprecating humor, and snarky comments often make me laugh out loud).
But it's hard to run an AD&D campaign without like-minded players. And I have no such players at the moment. OD&D has been quite enjoyable...better in many ways than AD&D. Customizable as it is, it's quite easy to make it as "Advanced" as you want it. But the same old gripe returns: why bother doing the work, when you can just play the (Advanced) game that already exists?
[*sips coffee; thinks for a moment*]
There are two issues that arise from the game I've been running. One is the small pool of players I have available: I don't want two or three viable regulars; ideally, I'd like five to seven. Even four players is too small a number for the type of game I want to run. The other problem is the age and ignorance of the kids. Or just that they ARE kids...I'm not saying kids can't run or play D&D, just that I'm not comfortable running the type and style of game I want with kids. Not with my own, not with other peoples'.
[*sips again; pauses again*]
Taking a break from running doesn't mean taking a break from reading or designing or (possibly even) designing for the game. It just means what I wrote: I don't want to run a D&D campaign at this time. And this is sad because...well, the game is meant to be played, right? And if I'm not playing or running the game, do any of my jotted thoughts or designs or writings count for much? I can't see that they really do...and consequently that makes me feel...I don't know. Like a fraud, I suppose. At least, like someone who has no right (or less right) to talk and write and theorize and design then someone actually doing the work of playing and running the game.
Plus it's sad because...well, because I want to run, but I'm tired of being frustrated. Someone once said something like "no gaming is better than bad gaming" and I wasn't so very sure I agreed. Certainly, I would have had a harder time buying into that expression back when I lived in Paraguay. Now, well...I'm starting to come around to the idea.
So, I'm taking a break. Been playing quite a bit of BattleTech the last week. Been considering running some Boot Hill and Top Secret for the kids (my kids, anyway). Maybe some Marvel Superheroes or D6 Star Wars. Lightweight stuff that requires little in the way of world building or investment.
I can't run D&D that way anymore. I mean, I can, but dammit, it's not satisfying. Not to me, anyway.
[*pauses to get reheated coffee from the microwave*]
One-off games of D&D are not my thing anymore. The game is designed for longterm play and development over time. That, at least, is how I derive the most enjoyment: watching characters (my own or those in my campaign) go from being pawns and patsies to individuals of note and legend. Watching their impact on the fantasy world. Seeing how the setting changes based on the actions of the protagonist characters.
Those other "lightweight" games? They are designed for minimal impact. The Succession Wars continue whether or not the Mechwarriors' lance is wins or loses a battle. A gunfighter in Boot Hill may affect the fate of a small western town, but the mythical west continues unheeded. The actions of the agents in Top Secret cannot stop the Cold War, only foil (possibly) some villainous scheme bent on world domination...and failure simply means an end to the game itself (always with the possibility of starting it up from scratch). The same holds true for Star Wars and Marvel: the game is structured and limited by the impositions of the genre and setting.
Which makes for easy, light gaming...if not especially deep or enriching stuff.
Oh, I have toyed with the idea of doing something non-D&Dish but equally "deep:" adapting something like Heroes Unlimited to the concepts found in Savage Worlds' Necessary Evil or even LESS conventional (like The Boys)...but again, I don't really have the players to do that sort of thing. Mature gaming demands maturity, and I don't just mean the ability to curse and drink beer. I'm talking about the ability to be amused by something more than the vicarious thrill of sniping law enforcement with imaginary firearms...enjoying genre conventions while subverting them requires one to understand them, no? Eh...like D&D, that's a lost cause at the moment.
Anyway. It's Friday, and it's Memorial Day weekend and for the first time in its nearly fifty year history, there will be no Folklife Festival in Seattle. This is the extremely depressing for Yours Truly but, you know, people are dying all over the country (still)...I mean, what are you going to do? And depression and disappointment are par for the course these days. Maybe I'll get around to doing my taxes or something.
Regardless, D&D will NOT be on the menu.
Hope the rest of y'all are doing well. I know this whole post is kind of a bummer, but I hope the the near future holds good things (and good times) for all of you.