Getting started

15 11 2008

Recently I’ve been a tad naughty regarding my idea of finishing the Rules Cyclopedia. I have not abandoned the project but I’ve also stayed away from actually reading the book. I believe that this stems from a lack of precision in my objective in doing so. In particular since my current role-playing situation is pretty much devoided of… well role-playing, I believe I have this subconscious little feeling that even if I do end up reading the bloody bastard (although heck of a book) I will have no person to play it with.

I'm a sad freaking clown, what did you think?!

Whatcha looking at, punk?!

So boo hoo apparently I have no players, big deal, huh? Well thank you very much for asking, you imaginary sarcastic bastard, because I do believe it’s quite a big deal. See this is the issue: my gaming friends and I pretty much stopped role-playing together, probably from a mixture of different tastes and the fact that each one felt that getting together to watch a movie or play a videogame was much more FUN. What’s more, I get the feeling that my on-line group of role-playing buddies won’t be role-playing for long, since we’ve had more problems to consistently game than Mother Teresa to go to the butcher’s. And she’s bloody dead.

To add to that ill cooked soup I must say that there is a very annoying and insidious idea creeping into my brain right now: Why the hell am I writing about role-playing games if I’m not getting any role-playing done?  So you (my obsessive and guilt inducer imaginary friend) will forgive me if I haven’t felt so inclined to go back and read how elves get half damage from breath attacks when they get to level 9, but hey sometimes it seems a little irrelevant.

There are several options to my dilemma… one of them would be to attend to a local role-playing club, the thought of which makes me feel like that old widow in pretty much whatever movie that feels ‘rusty’ at the thought of getting intimate (it means having sex) with a man again. Or maybe it’s the almost flawless record of crappy role-playing and less than stellar afternoons that my experience with these places has.

By now you will probably say that I’m just a bitter man, and if you want to play that game I’ll tell you that the sky is blue. The point is that organizing all this shebang is just getting tiring and frustrating… and I HAVEN’T EVEN BEGUN!

This is obviously not getting me anywhere. So next step is to set up a game plan for my short term role-playing future (which also contains writing for this little place I have.) And to make sure I really push that “reader’s involvement” envelope as far as I can take it, let me ask for your opinion on the matter. My next post will deal with the possible game plan, and I’m pretty excited about the idea of sharing my thoughts with fellow role-players here since (in a mastermind manner that would make Napoleon Hill proud) I’d like to step on the shoulders of giants (the community) to try and solve this drought that accurses my gaming land as of late.

So, while the plan is cooking, what are your thoughts on this “starting over” state that I find myself in? What are the venues you’ve found successful in the past? What would you do and what would you avoid?


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7 responses

16 11 2008
Tommi

Here’s some ramblings and links for finding more roleplayers. Hopefully they are of use, even given you current plan. Personally I have thus far played with friends and friends of friends. The local university roleplaying club is a welcome bonus.

You might want to try contacting local roleplayers by means other than the club. I have no idea how common roleplayers are thereabouts, but Nearbygamers (a useful service in and of itself) knows of at least one.

Of course, the best way of finding players with similar tastes is playing with people with no experience with roleplaying games. Many will learn to play in the way you first play with them. Friends and some people in the school can be asked with little social cost even in the case of rejectment. Or put a note on some wall somewhere.

If you can get over the initial attitude, see this post by James Raggi, who lives in Finland, yes knows very little of the language, and has a game up and running.

Here’s another article on getting a game group (and keeping it: http://www.gamecircle.org/modules/AMS/article.php?storyid=11 . The idea of game circles explained in that site is also solid, if you have the time and energy or one. (I don’t.)

20 11 2008
Ravyn

When I’m in a slump like this, I try to arrange a play-by-post. It’ll probably work better for you than it does for me; I imagine you’ve got a favored system that people still play. Have you considered wandering by the Giant in the Playground boards, or plothook.net?

Have you sat the group down (or even the members one by one) and asked why they aren’t having as much fun anymore? Or if they can’t answer that, going a bit more roundabout and asking what had made it fun before, and then just sort of compared the answers and figured out what was missing? Tried a new system?

I second Tommi’s advice of bringing people into the hobby. I’m not sure about your style, but I know that when one of my old GMs was advising me on recruiting–you can probably guess the kind of style I favor, since you’ve seen my work–he told me to try “the writers, the musicians, the theater people and the philosophy majors”. It seems to have worked pretty well.

20 11 2008
the_blunderbuss

Thank you guys (well guy and gal) for the comments, let me address each one separatedly.

@Tommi
Hey lad, the links were ‘tre’ awesome. Specially insightful were the two on recruiting and keeping a gaming group together (hint: people, go give them a read, specially the one at Gamecircle.com for ideas that can help you out if you already have a group going.) I’ll try to put those ideas to good use as soon as possible (also the guy at Finland is really funny.)

As far as Nearbygamers(.com) I’ve finally gone there and made an account. It’s probably the third time you bring it up (it’s a great service) so it was about time I signed up for it and tried to use it. I’ll give you a follow up on that as soon as possible…

@Ravyn
It’s unbelievable, I boot up the internets and say “Hey let’s go to Ravyn’s place to get depressed at the mountain of content that I’ve been missing out on… wohoo!” and there I find you posted a comment over here. It’s been a while, glad to see you again lass.

Play by post: I’ve been thinking about this, if only to maintain some roleplaying going even while the gaming groups are coming and going. The issue is… I think it’ll be just too slow. Of course I’m saying this without actually trying it (and I’ve already pre-signed up for one of my current on-line group PbP when it comes) but I think I’ll have a hard time getting my fiction together if the pacing is too slow. But I’ll give it a try.

As for my local friends, I’ve talked with them about it, but nothing as focused as it’d be needed to pinpoint exactly what the issue is. Since we played different games (with different gms) it’s a bit hard to tell, but I think I have some clues. Different goals and different styles of gaming is certainly one. A clear example is the difference between one of my friends and I. He comes from the D&D camp and certainly wants to focus on a challenge that makes the game more “gamey”: There are winning and loosing conditions and the fun of the game is to use one’s wit to win, within the rules of the game (which are certainly broad being a roleplaying game and all.) I’m closer to Tommi in the style of play, so I’m usually more commited to creating a satisfying fiction (which can be challenging in itself) rather than experiencing a tactical game, and when he ran a game it had the game-breaking effect of detaching me from the experience. I was experiencing the games as a rules layer rather than a shared fiction and that made me not happy about it. That’s one example… we have also had a lot of “one session games” that were not made for one session, we just never continued it (a lot steming from my lack of time actually put to create content for a game and from a lack of commitment to a schedule for gaming.)

So far I’ve spoken to one of my friends and I think he’d be in for a little adventure in the land of OD&D (since he really likes adventure/action roleplaying I can tailor the experience quite easy) and I might have to start introducing some people to the hobby as well…

Fred

PS: That was a loooong reply, wasn’t it? Glad to hear from you guys!

20 11 2008
Ravyn

Glad to see it’s helping.

The recruiting to the hobby sounds like it’ll be a good bet for you, and your style definitely sounds like the type for the writers/musicians/theater people/philosophy majors recommendation I was given.

Ouch, style. Worst way to go.

21 11 2008
the_blunderbuss

@Ravyn

Ouch, style. Worst way to go.

Now that requires further explanation missy ^_^

26 11 2008
Ravyn

Heh, sorry about the lagtime.

I’ve found gaming style conflicts to be the thing that gives me the worst difficulty. Rules vs. story is definitely the worst, as it’s really hard to run a game that satisfies both, but I’ve seen groups that nearly came to split over things like tone (imagine if most of the group and the GM are operating in this cheerful, slightly silly tone and in walk two people who look and sound like they’d just stepped out of a really gritty barbarian novel or something) or approach to the game (I’ve nearly come to fights with a fellow player of mine because of the different ways we treat getting into character and the fact that I worry about in-game consequences and he, well, doesn’t).

I think the more story-driven a player is, and the more important being able to maintain suspension of disbelief is, the more trouble a difference in style between GM and player or between player and player is going to cause.

27 11 2008
the_blunderbuss

Sorry about the lagtime? You don’t need to apologize, you’re talking to the guy that writes once a month… tsk tsk, bad Fred.

In any case I had an idea of what you were talking about, but your response confirmed it. And I find myself agreeing with you. What I usually do, is to put it in terms of goals and means. Those with different goals and means (at a roleplaying game) will have to compromise at different levels if they want the experience to be enjoyable.

The examples that you provide ring a clear enough bell in my head. I (as I think pretty much all of us) have had terrible afternoons due to those factors. Lately I’ve come to realize that I hold certain things about roleplaying games very close to heart, or rather that I have this idea of what a roleplaying game should be and that I’m turned off (and rather annoyed) at styles different than mine without giving them the proper chance.

Of course, at some level, this happens to everyone… but I believe that there is a deeper need for clarity in these situations: the clarity of knowing what is it that you want out of the roleplaying game (what do you want the game to be, what kind of experience you want and specially what is it that creates the ‘fun’ for you) and what means (in a broad and flexible but pertinent manner) you wish to use to get to that goal. This clarity needs then to be applied to the social interaction in a way that places everyone’s intentions as clear as humanly possible and play (if deemed possible and worthwhile) should then steer towards achieving a balance among this different ports.

And I’m beginning to feel dry and methodical and this answer is TOO DARN LONG. Have I bored you yet gal?

Fred.

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