I'm in a Good Place.*
I hope you all had a relaxing and enjoyable Labor Day weekend (at least those of you who celebrate it here in the good ol' U.S. of A).
I myself had a great weekend and did a lot of thinking on a lot of subjects. It was a time to reflect you might say. After completing last month's RPGaDay Challenge, I had to take a good long look at my current gaming 'state of affairs' and figure out the answer to a most perplexing question.
If I am presently running two campaigns and playing in a third that are all going well and a lot of fun, why am I feeling not quite fulfilled gaming-wise?
The short answer of course is that I am never 100% pleased with my gaming endeavors, always striving to do better, to do something more memorable, more amazing than the last game. I'm a perfectionist well aware that nothing and nobody is perfect but that doesn't stop me from holding myself up to a higher standard that I will probably never attain.
Hmmm. That paragraph had a bit of a bummer vibe to it and that's not what I want to convey here. Rather, I want to communicate that coming to this realization has given me insight into what I need to do come 2019.
While there are a number of games I'd love to run based on subject matter, IPs I like, neat game systems that match those ideas, and so on and so forth, what I really need to do is get back to my 'Art Films'.
My good friend Dave has said (and I have mentioned it on the blog before) that I run two types of games, 'Art Films' and 'Blockbusters'.
Most of my campaigns are Blockbusters. They are action/adventure stories with larger than life characters, locations, and situations, easily accessible to the average pop culture fan and gamer. The genres and settings most commonly covered in Blockbuster campaigns are Superheroes, Hard Science and Space Opera Science Fiction such as Traveller Star Trek and Star Wars, and my D&D-But-Not setting.
I have been running Blockbusters for the past few years, almost exclusively, with the exception of a short campaign here and there that would qualify more as an 'Art Film'.
Art Film games are generally more esoteric in concept. They focus on character personalities, goals, and stories about philosophical or conceptual exploration. These are games that make the players think, really think, about the natural of Humanity, the universe, life and death, or whatever idea we're looking to explore.
Alternatively, an Art Film game can tell a more traditional story but with a different approach. They are often more subtle, and sublime, subdued or surreal. Fantastic elements, be they Magical or Scientific, are often creepier and more mysterious. The PCs do not have supernormal abilities themselves, though they exist in the setting, or if they do they do not understand them and/or can not fully control them.
These types of campaigns can be run in a wide variety of systems, some of which are designed to be more unusual, some of which can be reconfigured to serve the purpose of Art Film gaming. Examples include Changeling: The Dreaming, Golden Sky Stories, InSpectres, Steal Away Jordan, Tales From The Loop, and my own Unfinished Business (a Ghost Story game I am designing).
One of the things I've noticed is that comedic games are easy to turn into Art Film games. Art Films often require a touch of humor added here and there to alleviate some of the pressure of more serious elements.
I feel that it's time to run an Art Film again.
I want to do something different. Something I've never run before, or not in a long time, or not quite as I have before. I want to wow people. I want to see real emotion on people's faces. I want to do research, get artwork, make maps, etc. I want...I need...to create something incredible.
The key to all, the bottom line you see, is that I feel I am in position to develop and run such a campaign. All I need is the right audience.
Now...what to create...and what to do with it.
*By the way, the title of this post and the image are from my new favorite television show, the hilarious and absolutely amazing series, 'The Good Place'. If you haven't seen it, do so. I can't explain to you what it's about, as that would give away part of its brilliance. I would love to run a campaign that is like this show.