August 21st, 2006

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 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. :(