Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Building a Break into the Routine, and Looking Hard at What I Want to Run (and Play!)

 More random Deathbat musings. So one thing I have come to accept is what I have really known for years now: I am burned out on GMing games 1-3 times a week. I am also burned out on Roll20, but it does make life easier so I'll give it a pass.

One friend of mine has stepped up to start running a game in my place on Saturday night, which is great. I was running a 5E/Spelljammer sort of deal and it hammered home my issue: I was enjoying it in the moment, but dreading the time between games, having to find the time to prep and get motivated. When I am not motivated, excited for the game at hand, that to me is a clear sign of burnout. 

Locally, only a few people in my gaming circle ever GM or try their hand at it. For the vast majority of it, I end up as GM. This is at least partially my own fault, because for most of my decades of gaming I have generally preferred to be the GM as much as possible....I liked the job a great deal for so many years, and as a result I had a lot of players who also liked being players. Gamers who maybe liked to GM a lot? They found other game groups. So my selection over time leaned heavily toward 1 GM and lots of players who like being players.

Over the years, on occasion I'd feel the burnout but some player could step in and guest GM for a while, but it wasn't too often....just enough for me to get the break I needed and rekindle my enthusiasm for the process. 

But in the last few years, for various obvious reasons, I am hitting a hard wall. I want to enjoy the game as I have, but there has been fewer opportunities for guest GMing (especially in the VTT era where that requires more than the usual planning) and so I haven't gotten a break, at all. Thankfully that is changing a bit. It is also a bit harder, because I think two other things are happening that I need to consider carefully.

The first item is that I may have run so much D&D over so long a period that it's just not as engaging for me, anymore. In fact, its been easy to just show up and run a game on what borders on auto-pilot, a part of me so conditioned to run it that it is why I feel like I can have fun "in the moment" while otherwise utterly dreading the task in the time between sessions. In the old days I varied gaming a lot more than I do today. Indeed, GURPS used to be my main system, and as both GM and player I had a small but very dedicated group that was up for whatever; and that system let us do the Whatever part quite well. But in recent years....outside of Cthulhu and Cypher, its not very different, and there are a dearth of the old style of more subtle, investigative and historical/SF games I used to run going on. Some of this, admittedly, is that I have different players with different styles and expectations....and I also feel there is some merit to the suggestion that how players engage with a scenario has changed over time (possibly due to the influence of video games), but that is another blog post in its own right

The other part is best summarized, I feel, as old age. I am 51 now, and there's still years to go with every bit getting worse, but I can feel it in my bones: I am just not as energetic as I used to be. Maybe 3+ nights of gaming a week with me as GM is just no longer a thing I can do, or necessarily want to do! Maybe one night a week might be better....and maybe I need to make that a live night, just to force myself to get out of the house and not sit, for yet more hours, in front of a computer screen. So yeah, I think age has a lot to do with it. Unfortunately age gets us all, and I know some players and ex-GMs who stopped running games for much the same reason. 

So for now, solutions I have include:

1. Game fewer nights as GM, get others to take up role more often. Try being a player more, its a welcome relief to be worrying about just one character for once.

2. Look at my games, and put more time (quality) over quantity into what I really want to do; find players who are also in to it. Finish that GURPS Egypt campaign and run it. Start that Cypher Godforsaken campaign when I am good and ready. Prepare the next Cthulhu or Delta Green story arc. Do the stuff that I feel personally more invested in these days.

3. Give D&D a long, hard break. Also, its cousins and heartbreaker buddies, whatever they may be (PF2E, OSE, etc.).

Things to ponder!

EDIT: This post feels awfully doom and gloom at the moment, but I admit I am riding a fun high from running tonight's game. Still, we have a plan of sorts, and it involves Pathfinder for Savage Worlds soon. 

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