It’s that special time of year again. You know, the one where you run out of times of the year. This year was a significant improvement for me in a lot of ways. I got laid off from a horrible job, and almost immediately got a really good job. I got a gaming group together. I’ve had a lot of new, awesome experiences this year, and my gaming life is much improved. That being said, here’s what I plan to do this year.
Playing With My Boy!!!!!
My son is old enough to play board games now, and many of his Christmas presents this year are ones his parents get to play with him. I couldn’t be happier. I’m going to enjoy this for as many years as I can, this one included. With any luck, I won’t ever have to stop!!!!
It also doesn’t hurt that this is going to get my wife playing some games too. I’m certainly not going to pass that up. I always loved playing board games as a family when I was a kid. I suspect I will like it now also.
More Small Systems
Phil and Dave have been encouraging me to try out some non-D&D RPG systems for some time now, and this fall I got to do just that at DC Gameday. I tried out Microscope, Fiasco, and a couple variants on the Cortex+ system. 4e and I have had some issues for a while, so it was pretty reinvigorating to see some other approaches to both roleplay and combat.
This year, I have a hitlist of games to try, in no particular order:
- Lady Blackbird
- Pathfinder (I just wanna see if it really does feel like 3.75, because I loved 3.5 so)
- Dresden Files RPG
- Don’t Rest Your Head
- LOTS OF OTHERS
Prep Prep Preppity Prep Prep
I had more than a couple days this year where I asked the group if board games would be OK instead of D&D. Sometimes it was just that I was fried and didn’t feel like anybody was going to have a good time if I ran the game, but there was a lot of procrastination in the guise of “writer’s block” that found me the morning of game night (game morning?) without the vaguest idea of what to run the party through.
I realize it’s probably not a good idea to plan the story out too far in advance (as the players frequently have other ideas), but having some combat encounters prepared might not hurt. Having NPC’s with basic talking points, motivations, and other important info written down for when one of my players manages to catch me off guard is another place I intend to do some work. I’ve also seen some excellent suggestions from our readers on coming up with a battle plan for monsters so as to make better use of their powers, which will hopefully ease my “the players kill everything I throw at them with ease” problem.
Get More Experience Behind The DM Screen
I’ve had the good fortune to run a fairly regular game every other week for almost a year now, but I still frequently feel like a complete novice. Admittedly, I have a group packed to the brim with wildly creative players with an uncanny knack for finding something that causes me to rethink everything on the fly. I love playing with them this much, but I do occasionally feel like I’m DMing in 10x gravity. We’ve all been together long enough that they know how I run the game, and I am starting to get a sense for what form the Destructor will take (even if I can’t stop it). My players endured a lot of my strange experiments and indulgences over the past year. This year, I want to take these experiences and start making adventures that are fun for them to play and fun for me to run.
I’d also like to try my hand at running some convention games this year. I’ve been in karate since I was a teenager, and in my mind this feels like a tournament: nothing shows you where you need work the most like putting yourself in a situation where you need to use your skills against complete strangers. Hopefully, this time, failure doesn’t equal a boot to the head. There’s also that bit where I get to meet and have fun with new people and support the conventions I love to attend each year. Admittedly, I am pretty nervous about running con games. However, I think back to some of the really terrible ones I’ve had over the years, and I’m pretty sure I can’t possibly be that bad. I hope.
Surround Myself With Inspiration
One of the worst feelings as a blogger or a DM is to scan your internal database for ideas and find none. Usually all it takes is just to see a cool idea I can build upon or to talk to someone and I can go from there, but getting that initial spark going is painful sometimes.
Simply put, I’m going to read a ton of books. I’m going to catch up on all the movies and TV shows that I’ve been “meaning to get to”. I’m going to try to get more involved in the RPG bloggers’ community, and throw my hand into creating and building cool things. If it’s anything like writing, there’s a great deal of inertia involved. I’d like to move forward, and always have some ideas in the chamber.
Ultimately, I do have an ulterior motive behind wanting to do most of the above — I want to be able to relax and have fun behind the screen. I want to be able to sell my NPCs and hook my players into my story. I want to run combat and not worry about if I’m screwing something up. I want everybody at the table, including me, to be excited about what’s going on.
I’ve noticed it’s hard to do any of these things when you’re self-conscious about everything you’re doing.I want to settle into this role so this sort of thing can live in the back of my mind instead of the front.
Remember The Point
It is awful easy to get embroiled in trying new games and organizing things and learning other things, completely forgetting why you do any of this. I want, this year, to remember why I play with others — I want to spend time with them. I want to bond with them and share awesome experiences with them. I want to have fun with them. This goes for my son, my wife, my gaming group, my Internets friends from the Bloggerlands — everyone.
This realization was one of the best parts of this year for me.
Hope everybody has a safe and happy new year, and I’ll see you all when the calendar looks different.