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I Am A Mayfly, I Am A Fool...

I am a gaming mayfly. And I'm very upset about this.

I got off the telephone with Tammy Powers, one of my Sunday afternoon gamers, earlier this evening, and ever since then the conversation has been echoing around in my thoughts. I hadn't spoken to Tammy in a couple of weeks, since she was on vacation, and it was a conversation about various stuff, including the gaming group, that hadn't happened for a while, so...

It's sad, really. I suspect that part of it stems from the different nature of the two gaming groups that I run. The Friday night gaming group, consisting of four to seven players at any one time, is full of vibrant, social players who come out to play the game and interact with the other player characters and the NPCs, and to share a storytelling experience. In contrast, the Sunday afternoon group consists of three players, one of whom (Tammy) is very social and gregarious and who loves to interact with the other player characters and NPCs, but the other two players are... Well, one of them (SteveR) is a social wallflower who is terribly indecisive for the most part, and the other (Andrew) is a socially inept (or anti-social, I'm not sure which), whose characters are either completely passive or totally aggressive in their response to the game world around them. By and large, Andrew will go with whatever SteveR and Tammy decide. And there's the rub. There's an apathy on the part of SteveR and Andrew that I think has rubbed off on me, to some extent over the last few years, I think.

Be that as it may, I find myself in a situation where, since the last time I ran DragonQuest and Universe for the longest time, I keep flitting from game system to game system like a mayfly. Sure, I ran a few games for three to four months - these include TORG , Blue Planet , and WitchCraft - but for the most part it's been vacillating and mayfly-like flitting from game flower to game flower.

Why is this? Part of this stems from the fact that I've always been more into the social and cultural aspects of roleplaying games, rather than the "action/combat" style of rpging that exists out there. My early gaming life, both as a GM and a player, focused more on game systems that encouraged physical combat and violence, and didn't construe the concept of conflict in other ways at all. Doesn't mean I wasn't happy with this, but let's face it...one grows up. One matures from the gaming style that one had into a more adult form, and this is what I did over the years. But my tastes in gaming style have changed over the years, and the flexibility of campaigns and the like has changed with the re-envisioning of the roleplaying game industry that has occurred over the years. I don't really enjoy the rolling of dice every five seconds or so to resolve a combat situation any more. I want more out of my gaming experience. Games like Agone (a wonderful fantasy rpg that has so much going on in the world), Continuum (the time travel rpg where the players are part of a larger community), and Fvlminata (the roleplaying game set in a version of ancient Rome where the empire never fell) are three of the game systems that I adore, simply because they are so full of the social and cultural elements, but still include some elements of action and physical conflicts. But I can't get the Sunday group to play these games.

When I rediscovered the world of Tékumel, and the really nice set of rules that Guardians of Order (alas, another game company that has folded) created for it, I felt as if I had come home, and to be honest, I don't regret the decision to go back to M.A.R. Barker's wonderful game world. On the subject of GoO... The fact that Guardians of Order is no more and they won't be supporting the game with new products doesn't really bother me. There are plenty of resources about the game world out there, and the designers of the Guardians game are the ones who own the copyright; they have promised that support material for the game will continue in some form or other. So I don't really have any worries on that count. The Friday night group has finished their fourth scenario (each one running around 4 to 5 weeks), and I have enjoyed GMing the game with them. Insofar as the Sunday group goes, I find myself dissatisfied with it from the point of view of the Sunday group these days because neither SteveR nor Andrew appear to be all that interested in the game anymore. And I don't know what to do about it. How can I motivate myself right now, when I can't seem to motivate them...?

For those reasons, my mind has flitted to the possibility of running one of two other systems, Deliria (which I've mentioned here in previous posts) or a|state , a very atmospheric gothic science fiction rpg with a Dickensian flavour to it. And yet I know that Tammy will be seriously upset if I switch from Tékumel right now, since she wants to play something for a period of time.

What has annoyed and irritated me the most about my mayfly tendencies the last few years or so is the fact that I have spent hundreds, likely thousands, of dollars buying rpg systems that my players (for the most part the Sunday group) don't want to play, even though they were excited at the thought in the early days of gaming. Which in some ways makes me a bigger fool than a mayfly, I suppose. Not a pleasant thought.

But you know what?

While this turned into a rant to some extent, I gotta say... When it really comes down to it, I don't know why I'm a gaming mayfly these days. But I wish I weren't. :(


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 22nd, 2006 04:00 pm (UTC)
Chill Out

Geez, sound more depressed than aggravasted. That said, I think you need to chill out, calm down, and just have fun with the gaming again. We're doing fine with Tekumel, and I'm glad to see that the collapse of Guardians of Order hasn't turned you off the game system and world. As for the Sunday group, well...we're the Friday group, so we won't talk about them. :)

Aug. 23rd, 2006 02:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Chill Out
Hey, SteveB,

Thanks for the comments and the kind words, my friend. You're right about my need to chill out and relax and all that, but still, I just feel like a fool about this, you know, especially the expenditure of the last couple of years.

As for Guardians of Order, well, I'm not worried. There's plenty of TEKUMEL material out there to use, and I've got a good supply of stuff, so... :)

Thanks again. :)
Aug. 22nd, 2006 09:11 pm (UTC)
Your no Fool, I'm an Idiot
John its not so much that your a fool as two of your Sunday players, I know who we are, are idiots.

Continuum (the time travel rpg where the players are part of a larger community), and Fvlminata (the roleplaying game set in a version of ancient Rome where the empire never fell) are three of the game systems that I adore.

I don't recall having any problem with these two. As I seem to remember it was someone else who didn't want to play Fvlminata, not me. My misgivings about Continuum stemmed from my not understanding how a campaign would work. In fact I had been looking forward to playing Continuum when you switched alternates. Though, I have no objections to a|state or Deliria either.

There in lies the problem. I'm afraid to make a choice. Because, if I do, I'm afraid, I'll piss-off either you or Tammy. Of course, by not making a decision, I usually end up making it worse. Hence, why I usually try and workout a head of time what you want to run, and Tammy wants to play. As you can see, that technique works, not!

I don't feel there is anything wrong with Tekumel, I'm getting out of it as much if not more then I've put into it, though you seem to have to do a lot more reading for it then seems right. I'll just have to try harder I guess.

I mean, I've made some bad choices in character type, mostly in poorly thought-out attempts to broaden the type characters I play. Again that's not working at all...8(

As to the buying stuff for the games. I have no real advice for that except to suggest that perhaps you should wait until after you've run a game six-or-so months before buying supplemental materials for games. Or, have us buy you the games we want you to run...

I don't know what else to say...
Aug. 23rd, 2006 02:57 pm (UTC)
Re: Your no Fool, I'm an Idiot
Hey, SteveR,

No, I am a fool - a fool for having spent so much money on several of the game systems over the last couple of years. I'm more angry at myself about that than I am at any of the gamers I play with. :)

As far as Continuum and Fvlminata go, well... I seem to remember in the former after you had to be rescued by Tammy's character with the mattresses on the ground, that you were very hesitant about playing the gmae again; with the latter, Tammy didn't really want to play the Roman Empire game, and I can understand this. But, are you saying that you'd rather play Continuum than a|state ? :)

From the point of running any given rpgs or whatever, I try to run the stuff that my *players* want to play, but certain players (who know who they are) don't really tell me - or perhaps don't know - what they want to play. As for Tékumel , well, you're stuck with that one for some time, methinks. :) But I could just as easily have switched to something else with you guys, 'cause we haven't played an rpg in a month.

Yeah, but see...if I had waited that long to buy the stuff for Tékumel , you would not know as much about some of the cultural details and the like that you have access to now. As for the Agone stuff, well, I really wanted that stuff. Heck, I thought at the time that I'd be running that game as the fantasy rpg until I was too old to game any more. *sigh*
Aug. 27th, 2006 02:57 am (UTC)
Re: Your no Fool, I'm an Idiot
Hi Guys,

Since I triggered this discussion, maybe I should comment as well.

I don't think there was a problem with game systems we were playing, with the exception of a few like Underworld where I couldn't figure out how my character "lived" in that world.

Over the past couple of years, I've become...dissatisfied with the constant jumping from one system to another. We create characters (taking way to long to do so) and maybe play one session before going to the next. I remember before, we would play one system for a long time allowing our characters to grow and evolve. This hasn't happened in a long time. Here is a possible theory on why this happened.

Originally we started off with a larger group of players and we are now down to three players and the GM. We have basically two followers and a reluctant leader. We have a "role" player, a "Roll-Role" player and a "roll" player. Some of our tastes in gaming have "matured" and we no longer want just hack and slash games.

This leads to the problem of finding a game system that would match these players, as I'm sure John will attest. Some systems just don't work with this group with the way the dynamics are current set. Fvlminata and the other Victorian game just won't work if one of the guys doesn't take the leadership roll, sure I can manipulate stuff in the background ;) but they have to be the leaders when interacting with the NPCs, that is IF they do any interacting (sigh).

Another problem with a small group is that if one of the players keeps missing game sessions, it makes the group even smaller and really hangs up the plot. This also happens when one of the players is unhappy with they way things are going and clams up. Leaving only the NPCs to talk with. This can be very frustrating.

The thing is, having a small group can be great if things go well. Characters get more "Stage" time and more GM time. Yet when we shine that spotlight, all I hear is crickets.

The only times I see them light up is when we are rolling dice for combat. This can be disturbing since one player doesn't seem to have any sense of morality when playing, (not you SteveR) slaughtering a fellow unarmed player character in the market square.

I want to play in a game, not just create and recreate characters. I want to interact with fellow PCs, not just the NPCs. I want my character to grow and evolve. Is this too much to ask?

John has done as much as he can and as you can see, its stressing him out. And I've been trying to shine the light on the other characters and get them to talk but it just isn't working. We need the cooperation of the other players....

Gee, now I'm depressed. Okay..shake it off.

We'll wing it on Sunday and see what happens.

Aug. 27th, 2006 02:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Your no Fool, I'm an Idiot

I'm not going to reply to any particular aspect of what you posted here (if SteveR wants to, that's fine with me), but I want to thank you for saying this. You put some of my thoughts on paper here pretty well, and addressed the issue quite nicely.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


John Kahane

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