Wednesday, January 26, 2022

A Perplexing Mental Spiral

 I'm not doing a lot of gaming these days. I've canceled Open Quest more than I've run it. 

I like buying gaming books. I like buying them a lot. 

I sort of like reading them. 

I like world/setting building. 

I don't like prepping for game sessions.

I don't really like running game sessions anymore. 

I'm at this really weird spot. I like the *idea* of gaming, I just don't seem to actually like *doing* it anymore. 

I've been playing the remaster of the Bard's Tale trilogy, and I find that in my head, I have backstories, and even personalities, for the characters in my party. There is absolutely no rp in BT. It's a dungeon/city crawl, with the second and third titles adding wilderness. Your characters never talk and have no personalities, yet I imagine it as a sort of campaign in my own head. The issue with that is that I'm in a space where I vastly prefer to play fake campaigns in my head than to deal with human beings, even friends. 

I still co-sponsor the board game club at this school, but I'm basically just an adult body in the room so that they can have a club. Some of the kids still ask me to roll out 5e for them, but after the last session... I'd rather put all of my dice in a blender and drink the resulting container of plastic shrapnel than DM for them again. I am trying to gently persuade one of them to become DM. (There was a girl who was DMing, but she moved away at the end of the previous semester.) 

Not really sure where to go from here. Ostensibly, I like rpgs, I just don', *actually* like them anymore, when it's time for the plastic to hit the table. (Or, more accurately, for the prompt to hit the Discord dice bot...) 

Oh, I still need to go through that manuscript for JB. I fully intend to do so, since I still like reading gaming shit, even if I don't really enjoy participation anymore. 


  1. I can empathize. The last two years have made me seriously re-evaluate what gaming means to me, and whether I really want it in my life any more. I was a "minis guy" for decades and have practically abandoned that in the last year, and RPGs (which I've been with even longer) are starting to lose their luster. Like you, I still like reading them, but using them just gets less and less appealing as time goes by.

    1. It's worth unpacking, I think... But I also wonder if it's just related to the face that I really just don't enjoy doing things with people anymore. (My wife being an obvious exception, but she doesn't do rpgs.)

    2. Yeah, there's definitely some anti-social habits developed during the lockdown that I frankly don't want to abandon yet, if ever. Gaming is a social exercise, and while you can do some of it online miniatures games are (to me) entirely pointless if you're not playing face to face and showing off your models and admiring your opponent's. RPGs are a little better, but far from perfect when filtered through one's computer.

  2. Mmm. I've been here. Where you are right now. Or pretty near the same mark.

    I got through it. To a peaceful Nirvanic (gaming) state of being. Right now...I am at peace.

    When I have a moment (which I don't right now, lots of stuff I'm supposed to be doing!) I will jot down a few thoughts that might be helpful to you. For now: don't burn/toss your books!

    More later.

    1. Oh I would sell them, not trash them.
      At any rate, many I would keep for memories or whatnot, or for what they could've been.

  3. Itsounds like perhaps you need to spend some time playing, and not running, somehow? It's hard to always be the one in the DM's seat.

    1. Sadly, I hate being a player. I retired from that a couple years ago. For awhile, I was only interested in DMing, and now not even that. I'll build a campaign, I just don't want to run it.

    2. Maybe try a co-DM thing if you can find someone to work with? I've done that in the past, where one person did most of the groundwork for the campaign and the other did most of the week-to-week planning. Both of us helped run, which made for much more convincing NPCs (since we could argue with each other in character, etc) and made split parties a breeze.

  4. Been there; mostly still there. Sometimes I go through convulsions of guilt; mostly I just float through. You can't force the fun.

  5. All right, SO…apologies in advance if this waxes long-winded:

    I have been where you’re at. Man, have I been there. And more than once.

    At one point I sold a great, big swath of my accumulated RPG collection, figuring I’d just “grown beyond” it. Over the next few years I gradually re-acquired almost all that I’d sold AND MORE. I realized at that time that I would never truly be “done” with the gaming hobby, and resolved to never make the same financial mistake again (let my kids sell my old books on eBay when I’m dead, assuming they can’t use them).

    But later…much later…after discovering the OSR, becoming a part of it, playing (and running) scads of D&D, there came a point when it became…just…so…blah. So UN-satisfying. RPGs (systems, settings, adventures, whatever) were still exciting to pick up, even (sometimes) to read. But nothing that was there was calling me to play, let alone run.

    Ennui set in in a way it hadn’t since the end of my 3E days…where I could stare down the barrel of character creation and “see” the “build” that I would be working towards over 20 levels without having any interest in going through the hoops to get there just to arrive at the end result I envisioned (if the future is known, why bother playing?). The nadir arrived, at all places, at a gaming convention, after a day where I’d been able to sit and play multiple B/X and basic-style games. And excelled at them! And had a (relatively) “good time.” Something like 2-3 years after my prior con experience when NO ONE was interested in running (or playing) any kind of “old school” D&D game and I had sat at empty tables for loooong time slots.

    I got back to my hotel room, tossed my books on the table, and wondered if…maybe…I wasn’t just DONE with the hobby. Here’s the blog post from that time; interesting that YOU were the first one to comment:

    It took me a lot of thought and soul-searching to come to the place where I am now, but I do NOW love D&D and have again, “found my groove” with it. I think your post here already contains the salient points:
    I like world/setting building.
    I don't like prepping for game sessions.
    I don't really like running game sessions anymore.
    The buying game books and (sometimes) reading them: that’s just the need/desire/search for inspiration. Creativity is inspiring! Art (both illos and the written word) can give us ideas! Even new RPG systems can yield ideas!

    Set all that aside (I mean, just accept that the collecting thang is OK and serves some purpose for your inner juices).

    What you want is a more mature form of gaming. Alexis, damn his eyes, is absolutely right: we are older, we’ve grown up. We’re not satisfied with the same kind of stuff we were satisfied when we were younger.

  6. What I believe you’re longing for are a couple-three things:

    - a fantasy world that you are invested in (so much so that spending time in it is a pleasure)
    - some folks to share that world with (i.e. who want to invest in it as well)

    That’s world building. Not game prep, not “adventure” (scenario) creation. Its campaign development. Like all the mad geniuses that have come before you (Tolkien, Barker, Gygax, Arneson, Timeshadows, Alexis, Gabor, etc.) you need to create YOUR OWN WORLD.

    And live in it.

    You build it a piece at a time. You build it when you have time. You can set it down (when you don’t have time) knowing that it’s still there to pick up when you do. It is perpetual; it is yours. It is crafted as well as you can make it…and as you grow and mature as a human, you can develop and change it to match your own growth and maturity.

    Players you invite to your world play in your world. Perhaps there is a system you prefer…I prefer a (slightly modified) version of 1E AD&D because I’ve found it works the best. Perhaps you prefer something else…that’s fine. Just pick something that is ADEQUATE to run YOUR world.

    It’s the world man. It’s the world.

    You can lavish it with as much care and attention as you want. You can change the physics and metaphysics of the place as necessary. You are God of the world…make it in your image! If your image changes, change the world. It is yours.

    There is no greener pasture than the one in which you dwell.

    I like lots of different genres. I like lots of different points in history. I like lots of different games. These are fine for the occasional one-off side-trek or week/month-long excursion.

    But I only have one world. A world of adventure. Where players can invest their own goals and objectives and schemes because THEY KNOW that the world is perpetual. If their warriors decide to retire and build a tavern that tavern will be there.

    Unless something happens to burn it down (but you can always rebuild).

    YOU invest FIRST…you plant YOUR flag. And then the players will care. If you don’t care about the world, they won’t. It’s as simple (and as hard) as that.

    That’s where I’m at right now. I’ve taken the plunge. And because of that, I have all the juice I need to continue gaming. And I can see myself doing it for a long time.
    : )