Tuesday, July 07, 2009

RPG off-season and how to feed the need

Due to various family circumstances, friends taking vacations, work schedule conflicts and whatnot, it has been almost two months since our group has played any of our ongoing RPG campaigns. We've met a time or two since then, but for other games, one of which is still in closed beta.

Which brings me with unusual swiftness right to the point.

What do you do when you, for whatever reason, can't get a game on?

In the past, I've fallen back on play-by-post online web forum games. Providing the players are all enthusiastic and share a common style of play (be it narrative, hack-and-slay, or even the much discussed "roll-play" attitude), these games can be a great outlet to sate the unrequited need for high adventure. But often these games fizzle because one or more players or even the game-master loses interest. Granted the same thing can happen with a face-to-face group, but the yawning and fidgeting usually cues you in. A PbP can sometimes lag for days or even weeks even if all players are still eager to continue. Eventually somebody will post "Are we still playing" in order to snap the game out of its slumber.

Of late though, PbP gaming has lost its popularity to more flashy graphics multi-player games (not naming names here) that grant the player instant gratification and in spite of all those jokes about MMRPG online gamers having teeny spans of attention, they still manage to be able to play for hours. That being the case, there's always somebody online to game with, even at 4 AM on a Tuesday. I may not speak on behalf of all traditional gamers, but I just can't keep an RPG session going that long or start one that late, even with stockpiles of Mountain Dew and triple-fudge brownies. Besides, my relic of a PC probably can't handle the software...and yeah, my OSR friends would revoke my membership card and glow-in-the-dark secret decoder ring.

And then there's the real-time online option. Depending on how sophisticated you and your buddies' computers and internet connections are, there are programs out there that can provide you with a virtual gametable map and virtual dice. For the rest of us who aren't quite so well-equipped or technologically savvy, there's still the opportunity to run a game in any ordinary chat application. Of course the beauty of that plan falls apart when one or more of your players is a slow typist or worse yet, completey incoherent in chat rooms.


So..for the past weeks I've been filling my usual gaming time with miniature painting and a good deal of blog reading. But I just can't bring myself to post on a regular basis about playing the games I love when I've not actually played lately. But I do want you, the Esteemed Reader, to know that I've not lost interest, nor have any of the guys in our group. We've just been busy. Life does that to a person from time to time.

With the real promise that regular game nights will resume at the end of this month, I am thinking it is time to once again prepare for that little one-off adventure I blogged about a few months ago. It'll do me good to get out the books again and shake some of the dust off of my imagination. It's been rather underworked lately.

Until my next blog ... sooner or later...hopefully.... I wish y'all happy gaming.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like what you need are some good old fashioned Tunnels and Trolls solo adventures!

Samuel Van Der Wall said...

I don't normally link to my own blog in comments, but my co-blogger John Lewis just wrote about this issue. He had an illness in his family that pretty much kept him away from gaming for the last two months or so. He just recently got back into both blogging and gaming. He wrote a post about what he did to pass the time when he wasn't gaming with his group.