Thursday, September 15, 2016

Nothin' To It But To Do It

One of the reasons I got tired of writing in this blog the first time around was that I got caught up in a very common problem, not just in RPGs but in all hobbies: I started talking more about and around games than actually playing them. This is an especially difficult problem in role-playing gaming because it's so easy to do...at least, in theory.

You can't play sports all the time, so you talk about it. But all you need for a role-playing game are people. Thanks to the magic of the internet, finding at least three people to play an RPG with you is relatively easy. Any game you want to play, any time you want to play it. Live in a big, nerdy city like me (Washington D.C.), and your options increase exponentially. I run a game every Sunday. I post the game on Meetup.com on Monday, and usually have at least three players on board by Wednesday.

I get the appeal in talking over playing, though. Because even though playing an RPG seems easy, it's actually quite difficult, when you dig a little deeper. Running a game is taxing work. Either you're like me, and you spend entire weeks writing and prepping an adventure; or you wing it, requiring vast amounts of mental energy to improv a whole session on the spot. Some people seem to think that's easier. For them, maybe it is; me, not so much. Improving, for me, is like kung fu: I only use it when absolutely necessary. I'm not bad at it...I'm told I'm pretty good at it...but if I am indeed any good at it, it's because I don't do it unless I have to. Ironically, I feel like improvisational play is a little like multi-tasking, in the sense that you stay good at it by not doing it, so that when you do end up doing it, you give it the same thought and attention you would if it were prepared, rather than forming bad habits focused on making improv easier, rather than making the game better.

And then there's the whole social aspect. It can be tough, sometimes, putting on that game face and interacting with (sometimes) total strangers. I haven't always liked every person who's sat at my table. More often than not, they're not inherently bad people; I just don't click with them, or I'm not into what they're into. That's a prickly situation, and sure enough, I've rescheduled or even cancelled games when the "wrong" people RSVP. I'm not proud of that. But, as my mantra goes, Story First, and if the player isn't a good fit for the story, then I gotta do what I gotta do.

So for all these reasons, I get why so many RPG players like to just get on their chosen social media outlet and talk all this talk about games they want to run, or ideas they'd like to write up.

Unfortunately for us all, there is only one way to play a role-playing game, and that's to play a role-playing game. So whenever I find myself wanting to rant on someone's G+ post or write a new blog about some great idea I just had, I try and refocus that energy on working on adventures and getting groups together. Role-playing games as a hobby aren't just about pretending to be magical elves or exploring worlds that only exist in our minds. They're also about doing the work. Meeting the people. Putting it all together. That's the hobby.

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