Monday, February 16, 2015

Recharging the GM’s Batteries



It is someone fitting that this is my 150th blog post! 


This past weekend was supposed to be centered around an epic game of The Strange, where my players would get to explore the world of Dark Sun, AD&D 2ndEd.’s epic sword & sandal campaign setting from the 1990’s.  It's been nearly a month since the last session, and my friends were pretty excited to get back into character.  With the game being held on Valentine’s Day, I even planned to inject some Thri-Kreen romance into the session.   But by last Thursday morning I found myself afflicted with a most terrible malady:  GM Burnout.

A completely non-medical, unofficial study performed by living4crits.com during a lunch break, defined GM Burnout as a condition where “running RPG sessions could lead to unnecessary TPK’s (total party kills) due to game-master inattention to system mechanic details and/or ‘not giving a crap’ about the current cast of broken, min-maxed characters.”  

All jokes aside, GM Burnout should probably be described as the point where running an RPG session is more of a chore than a hobby.  I will be the first to admit that I run a lot of RPG sessions, and perhaps take the hobby too far at times.   While I have on occasion been quite proud, and even boastful about the amount of gaming I do, I try to stay mindful of my work-game-life balance whenever possible.  

To put this in another perspective, by last Thursday this was the schedule that my players were looking at for weekend RPG’ing:

  • Saturday 1pm – 5pm, playing The Strange at Jim’s house

But from my perspective, this was how the weekend was looking:

  • Friday 9:30pm – 11pm, finish adventure details for The Strange/Dark Sun recursion
  • Saturday 12pm – 1pm, help wife straighten up around the house and prepare snacks while organizing all play materials.
  • Saturday 1pm – 5pm, playing The Strange
  • Saturday 5pm – 6pm, wrap up adventure notes, clean up
  • Sunday 9am – 11am, write adventure summary on blog (yes this can take up to two-hours)

Please do not take this as some kind of “woe is me” sort of comparison.  I love gaming, and I love being a game-master.  I just want to point out to new gamers looking to take a seat “behind the screen” that running a campaign can be taxing on your time and energy.  Unfortunately I don’t get paid (yet) to game-master, so when my real world job became more hectic at the beginning of last week, something had to give.  


Home Remedies


For any of my players reading this, don’t worry, I’m not throwing in the towel.  I ended up spending the entire weekend relaxing and hanging with my family.  But this was also a fantastic opportunity to pull in some fresh ideas for future games, and really recharge my batteries.  Also, with my portion of Quattro con Carnage coming to its finale last week, it looks like I’ve got a full week off from GM’ing, and I may just take advantage of that time as well.  

So what did I do this past weekend?  And what do I plan on doing for the rest of this week?  

Electronic Gaming:  The downside of my crazy tabletop RPG routine is that the time has to come from somewhere.  For me, the first thing to suffer is my PC and console gaming.  For much of this past weekend I decided to buckle down and start playing Bioshock 2 again.  I finished the original Bioshock about eighteen months ago, and knocked out Bioshock Infinite this past summer.  I have a lot of games that I need to finish, and chose Bioshock 2 because the clash of mad science and technology reminds me of Numenera.  Our Tales of the Broken Mask campaign kicks into full gear again next month, and I wanted to get back into the mood.  

I also picked up Broforce last night on Steam.  I’m pretty sure that Brobocop, Bro Dredd, and Snake Broskin are going to show up in a future game of The Strange.  Or I’ll turn the whole dang thing into a Savage Worlds campaign.  Just in case, I went and purchased Strike Force 7, a GI Joe inspired Savage Worlds setting.  You’ve been warned!

Board Games:  Tonight we’re planning on a family game of Takenoko.  Even though we bought the boardgame as a Christmas gift for my kids a year ago, we still never got around to playing.  I instructed my wife and daughters, who were all home today, to learn the rules so that we could play as a family later tonight.  Looking forward to a relaxing, panda-themed evening, although I’m not sure how this is going to work its way into RPG-universe.  

Books:   The Ninth World Guidebook showed up at my house last week, so that was really cool!  The latest supplement for Monte Cook Games’ Numenera greatly expands upon the Ninth World, adding entirely new regions, peoples, creatures, and threats.  There is even a map of the supercontinent which, if you haven’t seen it, will blow your mind completely.  Most RPG sourcebooks get a quick glance through, and then they are stored on my shelf for future use; Numenera books are always given a full cover-to-cover read when they arrive.  

Cinco con Queso:  If you haven’t heard already, +Marc Plourde is going to be running our Quattro con Carnage characters through one more two-session spin using Green Ronin’s Dragon Age rules!  After GM’ing eight sessions, it will be fantastic to experience the Tannryth setting as a player, with my character standing side-by-side with the legendary PC’s who saved the world from Magrizt last week!  I’ll be playing Kaezoh, a Dwarf Warrior fighting with a sword and shield.  

Miscellaneous Goodness:  Had a great time this past weekend running, despite the sub-zero temperatures.  My wife bought me this cool head-garment-thing that covers my face while I’m running, granting me some kind of bonus to my Vigor checks.  Also, I doubled up on martial arts last week, attending an extra Aikido class this past Saturday.  Got to watch Watchmen again this weekend, and did a little binge watching of both Agent Carter and Boardwalk Empire.  This all culminated in Downton Abbey last night… which I never miss… because Bates is a friggin’ badass.  


So how do you all unwind, recuperate, and recharge between your epic RPG sessions?  Where do you turn for inspiration?