Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Burned out on gaming

I never quite thought I'd get here... I'm realizing I'm just plain burned out on gaming. Over the past few years there have been some glimmers of worthwhile gaming, and lots of teeth gnashing. This past weekend, other than sort of lame forum and blog following, I've been divorced from gaming. I've been really looking forward to the time I spend in the LEGO room.

One problem is finding enough variety. After a stint of relatively successefull gamist Arcana Evolved (Monte Cook's alternate D&D), we stumbled around. Cold Iron didn't quite cut it (the players never got into what I see as one of the strengths of the game - the strategic choices of magic items, and maximizing their effect in play). Burning Wheel crashed and burned. RuneQuest seemed a possibility, but ultimately died because the majority of the players were looking for gamism not simulationism. Dogs in the Vinyard seemed like the first real possibility of really reaching the young wife, but gamism seems to be rearing its head again (not to mention my first attempt at town creation seems to have been a disaster).

So I'm looking at a game session tomorrow, where we will theoretically finish the Dogs town and talk about what next, with absolutely no enthusiasm.



At 6:53 AM, September 06, 2006, Blogger buzz said...

Heck, take a break and play some other types of games with your group. Bust out the boardgames, TCGs, or CCGs. Heck, go out for dinner together and catch a movie. Or don't hang out together at all for a while.

If everyone is determined to RPG, then spend some time on a group fact-finding mission. Have everyone surf around and look for new games that interest them. Then, either in person or via email, hash out what to try next.

At 10:36 AM, September 06, 2006, Blogger Bankuei said...


Why force a game you have no excitement for? Take a break, figure out what you want, figure out what the other folks want (by observation and thinking about it, not long discussions or quizzes or any of that wackiness), and figure out if those ever have, or can, meet.

Burn out means you've been fighting to get something for along time, and haven't really gotten it.

At 11:47 AM, September 06, 2006, Blogger Frank said...

Yep, I'm pretty much planning on taking a break.

After that, or during that, I plan on trying to nail down what I want. And then I'll consider how to get there.

In the meantime, I'm open to suggestions of systems other than D20 that might satisfy a strong gamist game with miniatures style tactical combat.

Last night I had a very relaxing and cathartic evening of sorting LEGO...


At 1:40 PM, September 07, 2006, Blogger Bankuei said...

Hi Frank,

You might want to check out Agon or Mechaton. Some people have a good time with big combats with Savage Worlds, but I personally haven't played it.

What parts of D20 is it you -don't- want?

At 2:29 PM, September 07, 2006, Blogger Frank said...

Hmm, have to look into Agon. Mechaton is really purely a wargame, which is not what I want (I definitely want RPG aspects - plus the ongoing campaign aspect).

My issues with D20 are:

- D&D magic - mages start to dominate (plus Troy Costisick has a valid point about clerics, though I don't find them dominating the way mages do).

- Prep time, especially if you aren't using D&D (writing up high level spell casters is a pain - if I could stomach D&D, there's plenty of fine modules).

- Iron Heroes might have been a solution, though it sounds like folks have had some issues with it, and I'm not sure I want to try and fix them (and I doubt a revised edition will be coming out of Malhavoc).

What may be worth focusing on are the elements of RPGs I do like:

- Tactical miniatures style combat. D20 is slightly too crunchy here, but it works, and it's familiar to lots of people. Cold Iron was almost ideal (though it has the problem of really wanting an 8 character or more party which is somewhat incompatible with a 4 player+GM group being ideal these days - and of course is unpublished and unknown).

- Has character advancement and game to game continuity creating a strategic element (D&D gets it through class and feat choices, magic items to a lesser extent, Cold Iron gets it primarily through magic item choices).

- Definitely has a creative role playing element. Has system ala Lumpley Principle.

A general issue for me has been that as a player (usually sitting in the GM seat), I still want that strategic element. That is one of the biggest reasons I run an NPC party member (a GMPC if you will). I have yet to see a workable way to get this strategic element through opposition (though there have been some good honest suggestions made - don't want to discount them).

In the meantime - I let myself get talked into a short term game of Elf Quest. So much for the break... I still need to do some deep soul searching and decide what to do about the young couple. A large part of me hates the idea of telling them I don't want to play with them, that they don't measure up, but that's my honest feeling, they just don't want the same style and depth of play I want, and I'm tired of the husband's single tracked mind on PCs (he already has new Arcana Evolved PCs ready - just in case...crimeny, how do I get this guy to come into a game with an open mind and create PCs WITH the other players???? I'm beginning to be convinced it's his disability (Aspergers Syndrome)).

We ended up with a lengthy talk about like half the RPGs in my collection. I was all prepared with several board games to play instead and avoid too lengthy a discussion (though the board game list was quickly winnowed down to two that would work for the wife).

And there's the other fundamental problem. The set of games that work for the wife is so incredibly limited (and honestly, D20 isn't one of them). I have a belief that with patience, Dogs in the Vinyard or The Princes Kingdom might actually work for the wife, but my patience is shot (and I'm also starting to be of the opinion that they would work best WITHOUT hubby throwing a spanner in the works).

Hmm, bit of a rant there... But then my real purpose with the original post here was to blow off steam. That some good suggestions come out of it is secondary.

Back to D20 - where my thoughts are generally leading, though right now I'm in the mood to let them cook for a while, is as follows:

1. Slow down the XP rate. Have people level every 3-4 sessions, not every 2.

2. Be up front - the campaign will only last 6-9 months. We will probably end somewhere around 9th level (this is open to negotiation so we actually set a hard ending, say when the PCs earn 10th level they "win" and game over).

3. The game will be pure gamism. Players will be encouraged to tune their skills, if you want a couple fluff things for color, fine, but don't spend all your skill points on shit that won't come into play. And no deep character concept shit either (none of this "play before you play" character back-story).

4. Players should be able to commit to a regular weekly schedule for the 6-9 months. I realize circumstances come up and change, but don't tell me before we even start playing that you're going to miss half of October. Christmas is the one exception, I know I'm out of it for 2-3 weeks. New players will not be accepted unless we have an opening because someone did have to bail out (and please bail out as soon as you realize your schedule isn't workable any more - no "gee, I might or might not make it this week" for three weeks...).

5. We're going to use my idea about each player introducing one book. Amended slightly - books of spells will be closely examined for impact, I don't want to add hundreds of new spells, most of which will never actually see play (except for the ones that turn out to be imbalanced or some shit...).

6. Whatever PH* we use, all PCs must be well grounded in. Don't try and bring a D&D cleric into Arcana Evolved. Don't propose a high Level Adjusted race that means you won't be taking any class levels for some time (if ever).

* I'm half tempted to use D&D (for more compatibility with modules). Arcana Evolved is a strong possibility. I've also got a few others that might be fun to try (Thieve's World/Sanctuary, Game of Thrones, Nyambe, Blue Rose, and maybe one or two more).


At 4:06 PM, September 07, 2006, Blogger Frank said...

Hmm, just skimmed through some Agon stuff - it doesn't sound appealing to me. Too much abstraction.


At 12:18 AM, September 08, 2006, Blogger Bankuei said...

Hi Frank,

I still need to do some deep soul searching and decide what to do about the young couple....that they don't measure up...(etc.)

It really sounds to me like you a) are struggling to keep a "group" together here that isn't really trying to do the same thing, b) aren't having a good time, c) have already decided you don't want to play with them, and the only thing keeping you together is that you keep trying to get "A" out of this.

Why waste your time and theirs? Also, why say "measure up"? They want something different than you, that's not a performance factor, just different tastes.

It seems like you keep wrestling over systems- but there is no system that makes everyone like the same thing, when their goals are that different.

It's ok. Point them to other players or resources that are in line with the kinds of gaming they want, and try to find folks who are in line with yours.

At 11:13 AM, September 08, 2006, Blogger Frank said...

The hard part for me is telling them I don't want to play with them. It would have been so much easier had hubby not managed to change his work schedule 3 years ago... He's definitely got a severe case of "desperate role player" which unfortunately is related to the disability issue, compounded now by some issue which means they currently are not allowed internet access. Of course obviously I can't be responsible for their entertainment, but a big part of me feels sorry (and I don't have an alternate game to point them to).

The second part for me is coming to terms with the fact that Cold Iron just isn't going to cut it in my current gaming environment. I myself don't have the time for the regular 8-10 hour game sessions that make the strategic shopping for magic items time worthwhile, and the non-engineering college environment I'm in makes it unlikely to find players that would appreciate it.

Of the games I'm aware of on the market, D20 comes closest to meeting my needs for actual play. Which at least means I'll have no trouble getting players (every time I've recruited, I've really wound up with more players than I needed), so holding the group together isn't a need for me. I do need to put some thought into how to structure and sell a D20 game so that it will best meet my needs, and not get players upset when I quit before they make 20th level - but that's mostly as simple as saying "this campaign will probably end at 9th level or so."


At 1:18 PM, September 08, 2006, Blogger Bankuei said...

Hi Frank,

Yeah, you're not responsible for -taking care of- other adults. All you are responsible for doing is treating other people respectfully.

As far as D20, I don't think you'll find any real trouble with people crying because you stop at 9th level.

Remember Fun Now? It's a game, not a marriage.

At 4:07 PM, February 18, 2007, Blogger BTCorp said...

This sounds like Forgist Overanalysis Syndrome.

You've let all the deconstructing and analyzing and dissecting and stereotyping and criticism that runs so rampant over there kill your enjoyment of the game.

It's pretty blatant, in how every mention of your game experiences is sprinkled with "gamist" this and "simulationist" that, and your judgements over what other people do, etc., that you're just over-thinking everything and not enjoying yourself any more. You can never actually experience an activity if you're thinking about how you're performing the activity *while* you're performing the activity.

Bet you don't worry about how "simulationist" you're being while you play with your Lego's do you? There you go. What you need to do is forget about the theory, stop killing your games by worrying THAT MUCH over cerebralizing everything and everyone, and just "be".


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