Monday, March 22, 2010

Confessions of an ADD GM

If I had to identify my single greatest flaw as a Game Master it would be that I have a short attention span. I am easily swept up into fits of inspiration that cause me to obsess about my latest genre or game system crush. This is great when the stars align and I'm actually planning for games that employ this genre or game system. Not so much if (as usual) I'm running something else.

This flaw has unfortunately led to the untimely demise of several of my campaigns, all of which showed so much promise. Noteworthy among these was my Cloudlands home-brew [which bore a startling similarity to the recently published and very crush-worthy Lady Blackbird]. Then there was my D20 Dragonspire game, whose discontinuation seems criminal in hindsight.

I can't be the only one who has had this problem. Like many (most?) Game Masters (DMs, Referees, Storytellers, what-have-you), I live for the act of creation. I am constantly absorbing material from books, movies, TV, music, news stories, blogs, and almost anything else. When inspiration strikes, I often feel that I have to develop it immediately. For minor ideas, I can be content filing them way for future use. If they can be incorporated into current games than I am thrilled. But if the idea is compelling enough then I often feel an irresistable urge to squeeze as much development time out of the margins of my already insanely busy schedule (much to the detriment of other projects).

My players have certainly noticed my problem. A few months ago, for example, there was a minor uproar when it seemed that our long-running Buffy game (Slaying Solomon) might end prematurely. It was only a misunderstood email, but my players naturally jumped to the conclusion that I was bored and wanted to try something new. What my players didn't realize is that I had already found a method of appeasing my feckless muse: RPG blogging and playing solo using the Mythic GME (usually with Risus).

Blogging and playing solo wth the GME helps provide an outlet for my faddish obsessions. Because the blog and the GME are always available when I need them, there is no urgency to act at this very minute to devlope incoming ideas. Knowing that I'll be writing for a real audience or using the idea in my limited solo play time really helps me to filter out ideas that were never all that great to begin with. I'm not gaining much extra time for my current games as a result of this, but I do find that I often don't need it since my creative brain is functioning much more efficiently.

Ah, but what I wouldn't give more a few more hours a day...


Brunomac said...

I always have a ton of stuff I want to do with my three chosen games of the last 2 decades - 1st ed. D&D, Champions, and Call of Cthulhu. I try to keep my GMing to those things, but it has been almost all D&D the last couple years. I'd love to do a Dune game, CoC set in Victorian London and the American old West, a KOTOR campaign, etc. etc. etc.

I got to do a couple of Mutant Future sessions so far this year (set in Met. Alpha) and would like to do more.

Knowing I have limited time and to game, I've been trying lately to pretty much keep going with the D&D campaign. I have always managed to just stick it out with a setting, and more or less see it through. Despite being sort of obsessive in some of the ways you describe.

Mike said...

I'm right there with you.

I run a game every second week, but the knowledge that there are some many games out there and so many different kinds of stories to tell is a constant torture.

Right now I'm just mopping up a brief flirtation with old school D&D (honestly, the constant grind and exploration is dull for me as a GM).

Personally, my main replacement contenders are:

Damnation Decade run with FATE

Rogue Trader

Cthulhu Invictus

Day After Ragnarok


A Crazy Space-Opera Political Game inspired by Blake 7 but run with Starblazer Adventures

Me, I'm happy if I can finish up a solid story (especially if a jumping off point offers itself up) or I get a run of 4-6 months.

Risus Monkey said...

@Brunomac: Good for you on sticking it out. I've certainly ben able to do it with some games (Buffy is one and a long-running Gurps game in the 90s was another) but I had a string relatively recent failures that prompted this post.

Would love to do CoC Gaslight or Mutant Futures... :)

@Mike: I recognize the Old School grind and I wonder how I'd do if ever got a new old school game off the ground for my current group. Your list of replacements sounds great (especially anything to do with FATE).

m.s. jackson said...

I am soooo with you on this. I have struggled and bounced around with different game systems. Honestly been forcing myself to NOT read any other system the last few weeks (despite Breenen's attempt to show me others!) I am starting to actually think of using just Risus and playing all those games I want to but cannot find the time...rather than learning a new system, just learn a new setting. Not sure how it would all play out, but I am willing to give it a shot.

Tipsy said...

@M.S. Jackson

I wish I had your dedication to one systerm.

For me, new systems are half the fun.

How long do you tend to stick to with a game?