We broke for the holidays just before Christmas, but have been unable to get back together since. There are a lot of very good reasons, and much of the fault is mine–my schedule has become difficult to mesh given a series of events and conflicting opportunities.
Another roadblock is that before Christmas we’d tentatively identified the next game, but the prep required made it a non-starter for the GM. We’re now looking for other options, if only to buy the GM a little longer before his prep intensive game needs to be ready.
Going so long without a game would ordinarily have me anxious, desperately scrambling to arrange the next session. My busy schedule keeps me distracted–while I do worry, it’s not continuous concern. Another thing that helps keep me balanced is an article by Kurt. He reminds us that sometimes the best thing is to Take a Break . Read his article; many of his bullet points are beginning to manifest in my life.
I’ve been a slacker recently; while I ran D&D Encounters for the last few seasons, I haven’t given back as much to my personal game group. Now that I’m not even playing regularly, I’m coming to appreciate how nice the break from GMing and opportunity to play  really was. Martin is right in his linked article; getting to run a character is a great chance to recapture a player’s perspective and remind you of what the game is like from the player’s side.
Being a player is a little like being an anxious mom, taking her teenager out driving for the first time. Stomping the floorboards in terror–or gagging as the suddenly taut seat belt stretches against your neck–makes you appreciate having the car back under your control when the ride’s over. Even awesome, experienced drivers have a different style; riding with them can remind you of the fine differences that lead to a subtly different feel. I’ve found the same; as much as I enjoy the other GMs’ games, they’re never quite what I’d run. (Often, they’re better than what I’d manage–but we each have things that we look for in particular. For example, Kenneth Hite recently spoke about the extensive resources and research he uses to GM; he’s very dedicated to grounding his experience in real world history. He’d probably be quite disappointed in many of my games, which often embrace rules-make-world logic.)
The realization we need a GM is a challenge to me. Right now, we need someone to step up. Looking at my game library, I have many short form games that I loved reading but never ran–or ran for a few sessions, but haven’t run since. It sounds like it’s time to freshen up on some systems and get a good proposal on the table.
Several challenges follow from that decision.
- Quick Turn Around: I often plan games for quite a while, or steadily work on a campaign for while playing in another. But we’ve already been off for a few months–I’d like to resume gaming before skipping becomes a habit.
- Time Management: I’ve been a big part of the problem for scheduling; I need to embrace the extra prep time that comes as a consequence of my current work schedule.
- No Buildup: Because I haven’t been working on the next game for months, I haven’t been getting people excited about it. I’ll need a strong pitch–and it needs to contain more than just the fiction . Most short series games that I’m looking at have different priorities or responsibilities than the traditional games that we’ve been playing.
- So many things to contemplate; will the game have a traditional narrative structure? Should I schedule it for an aggressive scene framing style, like Rob Donaghue’s Rethinking the Campaign ? Decisions, decisions…
A Story of Hiatus to Purpose
So that’s my story of how not gaming led to realization that I need to contribute more–and a spark of first stabs at interim campaign considerations. How about you? What last inspired a realization about your role at the table? Has necessity driven you to experiment with new styles or outlooks for quickly launched games? What’s led you back to the GM’s chair after a hiatus?