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View Full Version : GM Burn out - how to cope and get back to play?



Altair_the_Vexed
2011-07-22, 05:11 AM
I'm washed out. Lost all my creativity and can't get up the energy to run games any more. I'm taking a break, but I want to get back in the saddle again eventually...
How do I get better?

Gabe the Bard
2011-07-22, 06:37 AM
Taking a break is a good idea. Play in someone else's game for a while. It could give you some new ideas and, eventually, motivate you to DM again.

Sipex
2011-07-22, 08:16 AM
Relax, do relaxing things (Hot baths, showers, a nice calming walk, etc). Giving your brain time to freely roam and think is great.

Also, listen to music you like, always helps me.

Pink
2011-07-22, 09:58 AM
Run a game of inspectres. Relish the look on your players faces when they roll a success and ask what happens, only to have you respond,
"You tell me what happens"

In more seriousness, take a break, read through different games, immerse yourself in tv shows and movies and books that are inspiring to write a campaign from, try a new system, let someone else DM for a bit.

Totally Guy
2011-07-22, 10:10 AM
Run a game of inspectres.

I do love that guy's games.

I'd suggest looking at games that run under different assumptions than those you are used to.

Try something with tactical miniatures combat.
Try a game with social conflict resolution systems.
Try a game that runs with no GM.
Try a game all about PVP.

There's all kinds of weird and wonderful things out there to be played.

noparlpf
2011-07-22, 10:16 AM
Try taking a break for a few weeks. Play in other peoples' games, or just take a break completely. Try some more relaxing hobbies for a little while.

valadil
2011-07-22, 11:24 AM
End your game. You're better off running a decent ending than going on hiatus for a while.

If you really want to keep playing, stop writing it yourself and run a module. It may take some research to find a module you can attach to your current plot, but once you find one you don't have to write until they finish the mod.

Aidan305
2011-07-22, 11:30 AM
End your game. You're better off running a decent ending than going on hiatus for a while.

I'll agree with this. A game on long hiatus never seems to restart in my experience. I'd suggest taking a break from GMing, and perhaps gaming in general, depending on how you feel. Let someone else have a go for six months or so if you want to keep playing.

ryzouken
2011-07-22, 11:31 AM
Depends. Why are you (did you) burning out? Sick of the system? Spending too much time developing adventures? Sick of the cast of your game? Weary of your group's politics?

I know I burned out from time to time when I ran, mostly due to the party involved. There was a large power disparity between PC's, and so it became exhausting trying to cope with the OP character. Attempts at OOC conflict resolution failed due to the group's politics, and eventually I just canned the game. It wasn't fun for anyone to see the one PC roflstomp every encounter time and time again.

In contrast, I later ran Legacy of Fire for the same group of players, and got through it start to finish with no burnout. I like to think it's because I limited the game to Pathfinder pure, no 3.5 supplements or 3rd party supplements.

Try and narrow down EXACTLY why you're losing interest in the game. Things can usually be adjusted to compensate.

Altair_the_Vexed
2011-07-22, 12:12 PM
Thanks to everyone who's posted so far - I think this might be a useful well of advice for other GMs with waning creativity.


End your game. You're better off running a decent ending than going on hiatus for a while.

If you really want to keep playing, stop writing it yourself and run a module. It may take some research to find a module you can attach to your current plot, but once you find one you don't have to write until they finish the mod.
Ending the game will involve playing out the module I've already started (and got the party deep into) - the module I started because I didn't have time to develop my own plot lines beyond a few sketched notes.

Playing through the remaining material will take months and months of play....


Depends. Why are you (did you) burning out? Sick of the system? Spending too much time developing adventures? Sick of the cast of your game? Weary of your group's politics?

....

Try and narrow down EXACTLY why you're losing interest in the game. Things can usually be adjusted to compensate.

I've been running a game at a club for about three years now.
I don't get to play in other people's games, cause there aren't any convenient / interesting games around. There are only a couple of other gamers who run games that I know nearby, and I've already tried them out - not for me. I prefer to play with friends, and no local friends seem to want to run anything.

I think what's used up my gumption is the pressure of running a regular, unending game. My current work-around is to stop running the game, stop claiming to be providing regular games, and let myself off the hook.

If I feel like writing / running more stuff, I will. But no more "I must"!

Lord Loss
2011-07-22, 12:36 PM
Play in a PbP game. They don't require as much effort as an IRL game and they're often just as fun. There's a ton to chose from - just look at this board's recruitment threads - so you're sure to find something that fits your tastes.

On a similar note, try hosting or playing in a SMBG Structured game. There's room for RP, and they require less effort than a standard RPG to host or play in.

LansXero
2011-07-22, 02:47 PM
Thanks to everyone who's posted so far - I think this might be a useful well of advice for other GMs with waning creativity.


Ending the game will involve playing out the module I've already started (and got the party deep into) - the module I started because I didn't have time to develop my own plot lines beyond a few sketched notes.

Playing through the remaining material will take months and months of play....

Why? Did you offer this very specific module? Are you at such a point in the campaign that there can not possibly be at least a partial result? If no one knows this isnt the end, they wont complain if you end it prematurely. And even if they not, a partial-achievement with a narrated epilogue is way better than a "maybe well pick up in a month, a year or never".


I think what's used up my gumption is the pressure of running a regular, unending game. My current work-around is to stop running the game, stop claiming to be providing regular games, and let myself off the hook.

If I feel like writing / running more stuff, I will. But no more "I must"!

Then thats something you should tell your group, assuming they have been good and not partially the cause of you burning out. Three years is pretty long, but no game is supposed to be unending. What convoluted module is still far from the end after three years? :O

Anderlith
2011-07-22, 05:12 PM
Watch Firefly, then Serenity. Then take a walk of at least two miles. You will suddenly feel the urge to run one random idea or another

Acanous
2011-07-22, 05:20 PM
Roll up a specialist wizard of whatever level the party is. Run the encounters in your modual against just your wizard, relishing the victories from both ends of play. It's a thought exercize. If you get to the point where the wizard always wins, write down his build, spells and tactics, and introduce him as a villain later. Practicing against something that isn't the party is a great de-stresser, I find. Also it lets you get creative with the modual.

TheThan
2011-07-22, 05:33 PM
I suggest you end your current campaign and then take a break from active Dming. Breaks help refresh your mind and sometimes just stepping back for a time will help you get that RPG craving back. You can use this time to build up a campaign world and campaign.

If youíve got writerís block, well I use movies, tv, books and video games as inspiration for most of my games. Those seem to be a good place to start. Find something you like, and start to figure out how to translate it into a rpg game. Since nostalgia tends to hit me pretty hard, I often make games based around the premise of a cartoon. Iíve done GI Joe and right now Iím doing Cadillacís and Dinosaurs. I have plans for Attack of the killer tomatoes, and transformers as well.

The two most important things to learn in creating a campaign setting are what to do, and how to do it.

claricorp
2011-07-22, 09:44 PM
If you want to keep dming you could just do a premade one, though it really depends on you and your players.

My friend dmed for awhile while juggling some heavy stuff at his job and so he went for a premade adventure(one of the pathfinder ones) and it was actually a blast and as far as I can tell all the players and the DM had a good time.

big teej
2011-07-22, 09:59 PM
I'm washed out. Lost all my creativity and can't get up the energy to run games any more. I'm taking a break, but I want to get back in the saddle again eventually...
How do I get better?

as someone who's managed to burn themselves out repeatedly.

stop DMing... until you're unburned.

start playing in someone elses game.

immerse yourself in fiction along with copious amounts of your beverage of choice (mine is sweet tea)

Altair_the_Vexed
2011-07-23, 05:48 AM
Currently, there are no other games on offer. Maybe someone will step up to fill in the gap...

As for why the game has gone on for a long time, and why there is a long time of play left in the current module: it's not important now that I've stopped running it.

Of course, I'm the sort of person who like to answer questions properly: Over the last three years of play there have been several loosely related scenarios in the same setting, gradually building hints of longer-term plot lines. It's an open-ended setting.
The current module is a wilderness quest / journey followed by an espionage / infiltration / assassination. The party still have a long way to go on their journey - so there's lots of stuff left to do. They at least have to find their way to the target, then deal with the target. It's not going to be dealt with in a couple of sessions, and the prospect of grinding through the rest of it horrifies me.

KineticDiplomat
2011-07-23, 08:50 AM
Find a simple, yet fun, game to GM or play. Something with lots of story, not too many class-build, and combat that doesn't require an intimate knoweldge of the third-expansion-of- the-second-edition-of-the-very-last-but-not-quite-really-final-errata.

Honestly, the more complex a systems combat system is, the more time a GM spends creating the firefight of the week, and the less time he spends doing the really interesting bits. Systems where mooks can be dangerous WITHOUT custom tailoring their load to defeat a dicitionary of feats, resistances, and spells make GMing more fun and less number crunching.

Just put it before the group: look, I'm burning out on System X, I can hand the module over to another GM, or I can GM system Y. Alternatively, reduce game frequency. Shifting to bi-weekly instead of weekly will take the load off, and leave the interim open for one fo your players to step up and GM.

May I reccommend Dark Heresy, by the by? Simple, lethal, and you don't need to worry about who gets a +97 magic sword. Plus, the munchkins can fry themselves by rolling a "9".

WampaX
2011-07-23, 09:26 AM
DMs are like phoenix, we inevitably burn out and then rise from the ashes. The period of dormancy varies with the situation, but it will happen. But while you wait for the spark to rekindle, try to keep to the schedule. If you cancel the game night and people stop showing up, it will be hell pulling them back together once you have your firery rebirth.

Board or Card games make a fine alternative to RPGs, still engaging the brain and with the current spate of co-operative board games, can still be used to work on or build the group dynamic. It also helps either build your collection of games, if you are just starting, or in my case, it helps validate the hall closet choked with unloved $40 boxes of awesome.

Movies or a meal out can also work. But I would say only once a month or so for this.

If you still want to hold onto the DM chair, I also support the suggestions for alternate systems. If you don't want it to turn into something regular, aim for a system with a high mortality rate, say Paranoia or Call of Cthulhu.

Finally, if you can give up the chair, almost inevitably there is someone at your table itching for a shot to DM. Getting into a game as a player helps with the burnout, it really does. If you can keep it within the group, then its much better with keeping up the schedule.

Shep
2011-07-23, 12:20 PM
I've quit DM'ing a few times (at least once forcibly). I just wasn't getting excited with any new ideas for campaigns, so I quit for a while. Actually, I quit for most of 3rd edition except for a 3 month stint. Fourth edition rolled around, I gave it another try and really liked it. Currently playing Pathfinder.

I suppose varying editions helps. The monster stats all get adjusted and it's like I'm a new player again, not knowing what to expect.

Oh yeah, before I ever DM a game I play it as a player to learn the rules. I think that helps inspire me as well.

Codenpeg
2011-07-23, 04:49 PM
Well Citizen, it sounds as though you are not happy. Worry not, Friend Computer and Paranoia will make you very, VERY happy again! Remember not being happy is treason!


Seriously if you're burnt out just recycle a movie plot for Paranoia and enjoy fragging your players.

dps
2011-07-23, 06:43 PM
In more seriousness, take a break, read through different games, immerse yourself in tv shows and movies and books that are inspiring to write a campaign from, try a new system, let someone else DM for a bit.

I have to disagree with this. If you want to take a break, then take a break. Watch TV and movies, read books, and engage in whatever other leisure activities you enjoy for their own sake, not to get inspiration for campaigning.