Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Unmet Gaming Needs

Warning: lame venting session to follow.

I'm somewhat unsatisfied from a gaming standpoint.  I have a lot of unmet gaming needs (I know, this is much more important than world hunger).  Basically, the games I really want to play in I can't find anyone to run.  And the games I want to run are generally not the favorite of my players. 

First, here is a quick rundown of our gaming setup:
  • We game every Tuesday night for 3 hours.
  • We've deliberately kept the group small; there are only 3 of us in total (me, Adam, Jim); we had a 4th player but he got booted over a year ago because he didn't play well with others.
  • We are all fans of old school D&D (primarily AD&D and B/X).
  • Me and Jim rotate DM'ing duties (currently, I'm running an AD&D campaign and Jim is running a B/X campaign).
  • We rarely venture into non-D&D games (the only instances being when we played PF for a few months; and we played Jim's self-made RPG for about a month)
We all get along well and can discuss a variety of topics, gaming and non-gaming.  These are good guys that I look forward to seeing every Tuesday.

However, there is (in my mind) a bit of a tension about what to play - and who should run it.  Jim wants to run exclusively AD&D or B/X.  And he's a good DM.  And I can't force him to run something he doesn't want to run.  I firmly believe that you need to let the DM decide what to run since he will be the one expending the creative juices to make it happen.  But for me, this means that I can only play in a B/X or AD&D game.

And when I DM, I typically run AD&D - because that's the favorite system of both Jim and Adam.  And I like it too.  The only exception to this is when I ran Pathfinder for a few months.  But even that was a bit of an issue because Adam loves PF, I'm "okay" with it, and Jim doesn't like it very much.  So honestly, I don't think we'll run that again.

(Thanks for Your Patience So Far!  I'll be coming to an actual point soon.)

So essentially, we are playing AD&D or B/X the vast majority (90%) of the time.  And while those are great games, I want to play stuff besides D&D!  And I want to run stuff besides D&D!  I have a decent-sized laundry list of games I'd like to play in or run.  I want to try new systems and experiment with new things!  I considered PF an experiment since it wasn't an "old school" game.  And I feel more educated for having done so.

There are lots of games on my list.  I would like to run a Pendragon campaign.  I'd like to try out a COC one-shot.  Or some Gamma World (in all fairness, both guys have professed a willingness to play GW).  Or maybe a S&W campaign.  Or Mutant Future.  Or Mutants & Masterminds.  Or some OSR stuff like Carcosa, Weird Adventures and Dragons at Dawn.  Or Mazes & Minotaurs. 

But I'm not sure when I'll get to play or run these games.

By the way, the boys aren't jerks about it.  I doubt they would say "No!" if I asked them to play one of these other games.  But any time I test the waters with a proposal, they never seem very excited about it.  At times, I'll literally bring a hard copy of a new RPG to the gaming table - kind of a "Show and Tell."  But even that doesn't generate much interest.  So that kind of kills my enthusiasm.

I've thought about trying to supplement my gaming needs by getting into a second group, but my wife simply wouldn't tolerate me being gone two nights a week to game and I can't say that I blame her.  And I'm having fun with the guys and consider them friends, so I don't want to just disband the group.

Maybe I just need to be more forceful.  I.e., decide what I want to run, learn the rules, put together a good introductory adventure and say "Guys, this is what we're playing.  Let's roll up some PC's!"


  1. The best suggestions I can give you are to convince your group to branch out into some new games, split your gaming time between this group and another that plays the other games, play some of the other games online through G+ or PBP, or try playing (or running) some of the games at conventions. None of us has enough time for ALL the games we want to play, but you can still play more of them with a little creativity and a solid internet connection.

    1. Good ideas. I think I may go with:
      *"convince your group to branch out" and
      *"online through G+ or PBP"

  2. I game once a week face to face, and once a week via G+ Hangout. The hangout almost doesn't count, as my wife is in the next room, and she knows if she needs something, i can always take a minute or two (which is why she never asks ;)

    If i run a game, which i am leaning towards, it would probably be every other week via G+. It keeps the wifey happy to have me around... heh

    1. I'm thinking I may try to get into an every other week G+ game. What are you thinking of running? Need another player? :-p

  3. Care to expand upon your Pathfinder experience and what you learned from it? :)

    1. To be honest, I'd never played a RPG that came out later than 1985. So PF was the first ever "modern RPG" that I ever tried. I really wanted to learn more about the modern aspects to RPGs, like skills and character builds, and the *ahem* slightly overinflated crunchy combat stats. So I tried it and it was pretty fun. But I still prefer my early edition stuff.

  4. I get this too. I prefer to run GURPS, but I'd be willing to run or play other systems. But my players generally greet any non-GURPS system with, why can't we just play this with GURPS? Which is fine, but no one else in the group wants to GM, so it means I don't get to try out a lot of new game systems. Or play old ones.

    I don't think this is unique - people tend to find systems they like and want to play more sessions of them. I find more GMs with Gamer ADD than players with it.

  5. This is a struggle for me too. I really want to play so weird one shots once in a while but it is hard to generate interest. The feeling is always that the time spent starting a Mazes and Minotaurs game could have been time spent playing in our 'proper' Pathfinder game.

  6. Peter, Pierce - yeah, I think we all struggle with this to a certain extent. I definitely have Gamer ADD. I just want to try out more games. It satisfies my intellectual curiousity.

  7. You could be sneaky: "let's play B/X with all these house rules" (hey look it's Carcosa). Not that I'm advocating that.

    But really the ConstantCon/G+ option is probably the best way to get exposure to other games (and you don't even have to leave the house).

    It's like Ebay: as a seller (referee) it opens you up to a much larger pool of buyers (players).

  8. I'd suggest running whatever you want. It doesn't matter much if the other players are all that excited about the idea of playing something different as long as they are at least willing to try. If you are enthusiastic about the game system you want to run, then chances are the others will come around once they play a few sessions.

  9. I'd definitely suggest slowly turning up the heat on the frog in the pan. Start by introducing some Mutant Future stuff - perhaps a portal to a strange land. There is a section at the back of the MF rulebook called "Mutants & Mazes", giving conversion rules to make MF completely compatible with LL (i.e. D&D). So there's the first notch up on the stove dial.

    Gavin Norman has put together a pdf called "Mutant Future Carcosa Chargen", which you can download from his blog The City of Iron. So now you've covered both MF and Carcosa, weirding it up slowly.

    It wouldn't be too hard to do similar things with say Mazes & Minotaurs and CoC. With the latter I'd play around with the Cthulhu Dark Ages or Invictus rules to adapt them to a D&D fantasy setting, perhaps introducing a few CoC style house rules every couple of weeks, slowly get the player's used to new flavours.

  10. Sean - that's a great point and one I will strongly consider.

    David - Yep, so just introducing different game elements until I'm playing the hybrid, house-ruled game that I feel good about. Nice!

  11. Try:

    (1) framing it as a 1-shot session to experiment with different rules paradigms and settings. Maybe your group likes things as they are now, and are comfortable. the 1-shot nature won't threaten that comfort and, if infrequent, acts like a change-of-pace thing. If they want more, then you may wish to push two campaigns (alternating by month).

    (2) offering experience in the main game for participation in the 1-shots. I don't know if that's considered cheating, but my old group used to offer XP for bluebooking, particularly if it gave the GM plot hooks for future adventures.

    (3) combine 1 & 2 with the 'turning up the heat slowly' technique mentioned by others above.

  12. Alexander - nice idea about 1-shots. And I'm intrigued by the XP idea. Maybe I can do something with that. Thanks for stopping by!

  13. (3) combine 1 & 2 with the 'turning up the heat slowly' technique mentioned by others above.
    Genting Crown