Sunday, April 24, 2022

Melancholy Daydream

My unintentional and frankly unwanted hiatus from blogging continues.

In relation to my plans for my 45th Anniversary in the RPG Hobby, this blows. I am feeling really down and while I've run some great sessions within the last few months, my overall mindset is one of frustration and disappointment. 

There are several factors that contribute to this, though some are more difficult to define then others. An ongoing and general dissatisfaction prevails. My games (for the most part) are not particularly exciting, memorable, or special. My newly developed Star Wars aside that is; that one feels like the 'good ol' days' have returned. Thank The Force. 

I recently ran a Star Wars one-shot unrelated to the new campaign with some members of my regular Friday night group and while the players liked it (or said they did), I found it a let down. Right from the start, literally the first minute, one of the players interjected with what they 'didn't want the game to be about' and it took me not only by surprise but completely knocked the wind out of my sails. I hadn't planned to set up the kind of story the player didn't want but now it felt neutered, like that wasn't a possibility if at some point in the scenario someone wanted to go that way or if events happened to lean in that direction. 

It's like we're going out to a buffet restaurant and someone proclaims, 'The one thing we shouldn't have is sushi!'. OK, we said we were going to a buffet. Not sure why you're bringing up sushi. Then you go and in addition to steak, French fries, salad, chicken, and dozens of other options you also see sushi and it looks good. There is an unspoken feeling of not getting any though since one person put it in your head that that's not why we're there and putting some on your plate might upset them. 

That's a major problem with my Friday group. I often feel hamstrung on what I can do and not do because of one or two particular players and their very specific ideas of what things should be in the games we play. I have very specific view too but I tend to look at ideas with the mentality of 'how can I make this work within the parameters of this setting' instead of 'X does not work in the parameters of this setting. It just does not.". 

Also, don't open any game session with a 'don't do this', 'you can't do that', negative statement right off the bat. It sets a tone that sucks all the energy out of a thing right from the start. 

Anyway, I don't have much else to say. The second part of our Ghostbusters two-parter was OK, good but not as great as part one. Pacing issues that were mostly my own fault. 

Yeah. Nothing else interesting to report just now. 


Hoping your gaming is going well.

Barking Alien


  1. Hmm. That’s pretty interesting. Which is to say, I think there are several topics in this post worth a bit more scrutiny / analysis.

    1. Anything in particular? I am all ears. I need some inspiration.

  2. Well, it’d be nice to have some more specifics to dive into; for example:

    - you state you’ve had “some great sessions” in the last couple months, but follow that with “my games (for the most part) are not particularly exciting, memorable, or special” and that “ongoing and general dissatisfaction prevails.” Ok…we’re the “great sessions” exciting, memorable, and/or special? How so? We’re they satisfying? If not why not? What would “satisfying” game play look like? What’s the problem here? What needs to change?

    - you talk about a “major problem” in your Friday group related to one or two players. All sorts of questions arise for me: why are these players dictating terms to the GM? Are you running age they want to play in? Are you running a game you want to run? If not, why not? How many game groups do you have? Why does this particular group hold you hostage?

    - is your dissatisfaction solely related to the negativity of the Friday group? Is there a way to gain more positive results with those folks? Have you communicated your feelings to them? Does your dissatisfaction stem from internalized resentment based on an inability or unwillingness to express your feelings with the group?

    Answering all these questions with specifics might allow your readers to offer you more helpful comments than…well, than what we can with limited info. And answering those questions yourself might help you to chart your own way to a better experience.
    : )

  3. If I had wanted to expand on any of the things I spoke about here I probably would have and the post would've been considerably longer.

    Thing is, the elements of my current games that I am frustrated with are not new and you can easily look at numerous past posts to get to identification and analysis of what eating me. You'll even see ways to remedy the situation but many are just temporary.

    One can improve things and indeed we have over the past six years or so but you can not change the intrinsic nature of an individual. Only they can do they.

    Suffice to say it all comes down to this:

    "The majority of tabletop RPG gamers in the hobby game a certain way. I game differently. Finding people who share my general approach and viewpoint is rare."

    As to the question, "why are these players dictating terms to the GM?": 'Dictating terms' seems a bit extreme but suffice to say that is their way (or the way of one member of the group in particular). He is a grognard, set in his ways (perhaps you know the type?), and while he tries to be flexible on a great many fronts he continually picks odd hills to die on. Come to think of it a couple of the members of the group do this from time to time. I find it peculiar but we all have our chosen lines in the sand.

    Perhaps it's time once again to be a 'State of Gaming Address' to let you all know what I'm up to.

    Lastly, in case you missed it, my pride and joy lately has been my new Star Wars campaign with some friends of mine I haven't gamed with in 15+ years.

    I will give what you're asking here some additional thought. Maybe there is some angle I can find that charges me up.

    1. Yes, I recall earlier back-and-forths we've had in other comments. Just wondering if this was something new/different.

      I am definitely a groggy curmudgeon, but I respect the GM whose table I'm at. I can't remember every saying "boy I hope we don't see THIS tonight in the game." Come to think of it, I don't recall anyone else ever saying that either.

      [and I've sat through some fairly awful games while keeping my mouth shut]

      Other then one particular convention game I sat in on (that happened to have an asshole at the table), I really haven't experienced much negativity at my tables. The couple times that *do* stand out in my memory are very specific: one was my players getting mad at me for a specific danger/trap they felt was too arbitrary / not well telegraphed, and while that's pretty standard whining they DID have a point.

      The other, more downer note, was a guy complaining that treasure didn't matter (in a B/X game) since "there's really nothing to buy." He was just down on the whole concept, which I for (after all, this was a VERY experienced D&D player who knew the game he'd signed up for). However, in retrospect, I see that what he was ACTUALLY asking for was a deeper, more immersive game with better world building...which, at the time, I was unprepared to deliver.

      My point in relating these anecdotes of negativity are that the players had reasonable gripes that (since then) I've learned to USE constructively. Rather than getting down about it ('oh, they're so grumpy') I needed to reflect on what they were saying and up MY game.

      Maybe there's something about what your players are/were saying to you that you needed to hear?

      RE your rare and "different" way of gaming

      You'll have to provide some links to explanatory essays so I can remember what exactly is so strange about your style of gaming. I know you have written before about your POV/etc. being different and not-on-the-same-page as the average D&D gamer (even when you played D&D in your youth), but I'm not sure you've ever articulated exactly what you're looking for.

      To be honest, I think there are players to fit just about EVERY person's gaming needs...but it can be hard to find those players (and hard for them to find you) if you can't specifically communicate what you're looking for.