This coming Sunday is episode two of my seven-episode run of Firefly. Like the pilot episode before it, I am going in with little more than a few ideas and then just putting my faith in my improv skills, the players' collective imagination, and the rulebook to do the rest. It turned out really well last time, and I am confident that it'll be good this time, too...
Earlier this year/late last year, I was in a very different place. I wanted to have meticulously-detailed games. I wanted to do vast amounts of prep and make this big production out of role-playing games. My repeated attempts to get a D&D campaign off the ground. My plans for Numenera. My Warhammer fantasy game. I wanted to kick it up a notch, and not do what I felt was half-assing a game. In attempting to do so, however, I think those games were more half-assed than ever. My heart just wasn't in the details. I just like to build off of the energy of the moment and create a story. I know many people don't have a problem with that at all. In fact, there are many indie RPGs out there that are banking on it. But I wanted to go in a different direction. I wanted to have a deep, sophisticated, detailed gaming experience, within the context of a fantastic story.
What happened? Where did it go wrong? I have my theories, of course. My main theory is I got caught up in the hype of new and popular RPGs. I wanted D&D to work because, well, it's D&D, the premier brand, the big show in the hobby. I didn't want to play it because I wanted to play it; I wanted to play it because everyone else wanted to play it. That was kind of the case with Numenera, too; it came out and made such a big splash, I had to dive into it, again not because I wanted to but because I was trying to follow a trend. Warhammer, I think, was the exception that proved the rule; though I do love that system and will probably go back to it when I feel like doing fantasy again, I pushed it before I was actually ready to run it, and so it fizzled.
This makes me a little sad. I would love to be the kind of GM who has these pages and pages of notes, and knows the rules inside and out, and has been running the same campaign for years. But I'm not that guy. The most ambitious I can hope for, I think, is this seven-episode run of Firefly, which, at two episodes a month, will run about four months. And I'm not even guaranteeing I can do that!
Over 2013, there were three games I consistently got to the table: Fate Core, using my custom-made Call of Cthulhu conversion; World Gone Mad, both as a Fate Core campaign setting and in its current form as an Apocalypse World hack; and tremulus. The trend here, for anyone familiar with these games, is obvious; I lean towards more story-first systems with low prep and an open campaign setting. Firefly aptly fits this mold, as well, and so (though, again, no promises) it seems very possible that this campaign will span much longer than my prior attempts.
I'm growing tired of this whole "game of the week" thing I've been doing the past several months. I was so excited by the prospect of so many different games, I became obsessed with the question of what to play, and ignored the question of how do I play, and what game best complements my own style. I'm not sure if I'll feel this way next week, or even tomorrow, but today? I'm ready to settle down.