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View Full Version : Running the game you CAN run (Or "Gaming compromises in adult life")



Kol Korran
2017-11-22, 05:36 AM
This post is part a question, part venting. I'm not fully sure exactly what I intend to get out of this post. So pardon if it a bit... not focused.

I'm 38 years old. In the past 2.5 years, I met my wife, got married, a child, finished my doctor studies and internship and started working. Despite what else this post may say, I'm very, VERY happy with my life. However, roleplaying has suffered as a result. I am used to be a GM, but couldn't devote enough time for it, so became a player instead for awhile. It is... driving me nuts slowly... I have so many ideas I want to run, and I have quite a few disagreements with the DM, and a friend of mine said I need to DM. He may have a point there...

As I became a player, I decided to embark on an ambitious project of mine, a campaign idea I've been thinking about for years, but didn't have time to sit and plan it. I engaged in this ("Nature of The Beast" in my sig) till my kiddo was born, and then...

I barely got time to write a post on these forums, once every month or so now, let alone engage in that project...

Lately, I've started reading in my little spare time (Reading requires less concentration) various GMing forums. One of them The Angry DM. In one of those articles, about campaign/ adventure planning, he mentions "Run the games you CAN run, not those you WANT to run", meaning that real life commitments (Either yours of the groups) can make many imagined games or ideas simply not feasible. Part of being and adult.

Though I know about adult compromises, this... got to me... somewhat annoyed me... and bugs me still. The more I look at reality "int the face" as they say, I just can't seem to find the time to manage any of my ideas (Either the project or some other ideas) the way I'd like to. Due to time and effort constraints. Which is... a bummer.

I'm trying to look for/ think of/ read about possible solutions. I guess the main one will be adapting my ideas and (Current) desires to the realities of my life now. It's a bit hard to let go I guess...

Any of you had/ have similar experiences? Any advice/ words of wisdom?

Thanks in advance,
Kol. :smallsmile:
(And apologies for dropping out of updating old threads of mine)

Cozzer
2017-11-22, 06:02 AM
Weell... the thing I can say is, you will definitely feel better starting from the campaign you can run, and building up towards the one you'd want to run whenever the opportunity arises, than you would feel running a mutilated version of your dream campaign.

It's one of the worst feelings, to have had your pet project in your head for so long that you jump at the chance of turning it into reality, ignoring practical problems or assuming "I'll deal with them somehow" and then realizing that no, you can't just "deal with them somehow".

So yeah, I agree with "doing the thing you CAN do". Which doesn't mean you have to give up forever on your favorite idea. It's just that the road towards "doing the thing you WANT to do, someday" starts with "doing now the thing you CAN do now".

Frozen_Feet
2017-11-22, 06:44 AM
Only run those games you both want to AND can run.

If there's a game you want to run but can't, forget about it.

If there's a game you can run but don't want to, especially forget about it.

If there's no game you both can and want to run, forget about playing entirely and focus on something else you can and want to do.

Knaight
2017-11-22, 07:38 AM
There's generally at least some overlap between what you want to run and what you can run, and the standard way of running an RPG (D&D, heavily planned, weekly) is way more intensive than most nonstandard ways (lighter system, more improvisational, less often). Then there's more unconventional techniques - I personally have reached a point of being fed up enough with the logistics of getting a constant group together that I'm just running one shots now, at least for a while. It works surprisingly well.

Milo v3
2017-11-22, 08:40 AM
There are so many games I want to run, but because of scheduling my group only gets to play maybe one or two games a year.

Pleh
2017-11-22, 08:53 AM
I have some similar life experiences, though not to your extreme. I got my degree in 2012, then married in 2016, jumping into a new full time job in late 2015 to help cover the increased financial needs of a new family.

Again, I haven't had kids yet and my education and career aren't to your level, but similar on a smaller scale.

Basically, I just do what little bits I can. I take my dream projects, things I'm not sure I'm ever going to get to actually play with, and I work on them a little bit here and a little bit there just because I love working on them. They help keep my dreams and my DMing edge sharp and focused. And when I say, "little bit here and a little bit there," I really mean it. Sometimes I only have 15 minutes to write a single paragraph, but if that's where my Muse is spiking, best to get that one paragraph out of my head and onto paper now, let my brain take a break from holding the inspiration, and come back to review, add to it, or edit it later when it's not so pressing on my conscious.

Then when I need to snap to actually running a session, I don't use my half-baked dream projects. I start by throwing some really standard vanilla material using some randomly generated base concepts and then fleshing out some unique details to improvise a unique story. I also focus on making only just enough material to make the story engaging to the players and then mostly let them run the show. The Players already have a desire to create stories for their characters. My story only needs to be a sounding board to the ideas they already have.

That's where my newest trick has really come into play. I talk above table with my players a lot more than I used to when I had more time to make detailed plans. I ask players what kinds of encounters they even want to have (for example, one of my players is playing a Smite Evil archetype character, so he wants to have opportunities to make charitable decisions that help weaker, innocent folk, and also opportunities to smash the face in on Evil monsters). It takes half the work out of planning adventures to just take a general goal from my players and use that to define parameters for my random generators to build from. Then, once I have Random Generators throwing out Mechanical statistics that are approximately correct for the specified game experience, I just come back in to analyze the final product, make sure it looks fitting for the players, and add a few flavorful touches if it feels bland or tone it down if it feels off key somehow. I try to come up with two back up plans to any special encounters I plan (like boss battles): one back up in case the fight is going too easy that it isn't challenging and one in case it's far more harrowing than I intended. Both of these back up plans are just typical cinematic Turns of Fate that tip the scales gradually in one direction or the other. Finally, I keep things low maintenance on the Execution round. When in the live game session, I try to stick to letting the dice just fall where they may on my plans and I try to be as accommodating as I may in letting players argue a ruling.

This is the best way I've found to minimize the work involved in running a good, fun game. Start by separating the desire to make my ideal game from my desire to game, then optimizing the cost vs reward in managing either end of that scenario.

RazorChain
2017-11-22, 08:56 AM
I have 3 kids my eldest daughter is 19 and my youngest is 7. So the only thing I can tell you that things get better

For a period I only played as I had 2 small children at the same time and then I started running the games I could. The last 2 years I have run the same campaign, it was the first time in 7 years I could run the game I wanted

Frozen_Feet
2017-11-22, 09:02 AM
Convention GMing is a thing you should also consider. Once your kid is big enough, you can take them with you.

PhoenixPhyre
2017-11-22, 09:04 AM
I talk above table with my players a lot more than I used to when I had more time to make detailed plans. I ask players what kinds of encounters they even want to have (for example, one of my players is playing a Smite Evil archetype character, so he wants to have opportunities to make charitable decisions that help weaker, innocent folk, and also opportunities to smash the face in on Evil monsters). It takes half the work out of planning adventures to just take a general goal from my players and use that to define parameters for my random generators to build from.


I like (and use) this a lot. Build off what the players want to do (and ask them what they want to do!) What do they want more of? What do they want less of? And then build around that.

Darth Ultron
2017-11-22, 09:14 AM
There is no doubt about it: complicated hobbies take time and effort. And this is true of the vast majority of hobbies.

And to DM a game is really one of the Big Ones.

And it is a bit obvious that you can only Run the Game you Can Run, but there is no reason that game can't also be the game you Want to Run.

So My advice:

A lot of life is time management. There is a ton of stuff in life you really can't change, like most people can't change their work hours, for example. But there are spots you can change, and that is where you need to focus.

The ''Family Time'' is an Forever Problem, but one that is easy to fix. The ''theory'' is that a person with a family ''must'' spend as much time as possible with their family at all times. Now, if you think this, then you just need to stop and ''put the games'' on the shelf, forever. It is a choice, and a fine choice, if that is what you want.

Now, if you can take the first step, and that is agreeing that Family Time should be meaningful, not just ''we were in the same house for several hours'', you can move on. A lot of people count Family Time as simply being home all the time. I see it all the time. Joe spends the entire weekend with his family...and what do they do: nothing. They are mostly within 20 feet of each other...but don't interact anyway. And Joe ''can't'' even leave the house for even one hour, as little Billy would not even notices as he plays his video game for 75 hours straight. Yet some people count: Billy plays 75 hours of video games, Dad watches 50 hours of TV, and mom does 100 hours of cleaning ''family time''.

But if you make family time have more meaning, then you get a lot more free time. Like say you have eight hours...you can plan out four very interactive hours of family time where you DO things together....and then note that gives you 4 hours of free time.

Another trick is to Do things like chores and ''needed things'' in advance or in quick efficient ways. Don't put off things: get them done. Combine tasks. Make them simple. Like sure you might work a ten hour shift on Friday...and come home tired...and decide not to cut the grass. But then you HAVE to do it sometime on the week end...but it is often better to just suck it up...do it on Friday, and yes be ''more tired'' and get it out of the way. There are tons of books and web sites with ''life hacks'' that can really have a huge effect on your life.

So then you have to make time to run the game. And this is a choice of time. If you do eight other time taking things or hobbies....you will have to give some or all of them up. If you like to go Deep Sea Fishing for 8 hours every Sunday....you might need to change that too Fish in the River for two hours and game for six.

Now, if you have ever see a post of mine, I'm very big on not wasting time during a game. I have a busy life, and so do most of my players.....so if one player wants to be a jerk ands stop the game so they can whine and complain about how an arrow should fire from a bow....I'm simply going to tell that person to leave. That is not why I game. Yes, it is Harsh...but it is very much worth it to me, and my other good players.


And in 2017 it is easy to stay in touch...and even so easy to do ''gaming stuff'' all the time. If your stuck in a line waiting for X....get out your phone and write down some ideas. Driving is a great time for this (Hands Free, of course) and you can even get one of them Speech to Text apps. Of course old ''paper and pen'' works too....

Just my thoughts.

RazorChain
2017-11-22, 09:26 AM
Another trick is to Do things like chores and ''needed things'' in advance or in quick efficient ways. Don't put off things: get them done. Combine tasks. Make them simple. Like sure you might work a ten hour shift on Friday...and come home tired...and decide not to cut the grass. But then you HAVE to do it sometime on the week end...but it is often better to just suck it up...do it on Friday, and yes be ''more tired'' and get it out of the way. There are tons of books and web sites with ''life hacks'' that can really have a huge effect on your life.


Another thing is that you can do is to use your head while you are doing boring chores that don't require any thinking. Have a notebook or some device that you can use to jot down your brilliant ideas and come back to them later. I literally do 80% of my prep work while I'm doing other things, like walking to the store. doint the dishes, stuck in traffic etc. Luckily I am not a guy that has to write down statblocks for every npc in the campaign :D

lacco36
2017-11-22, 09:27 AM
As someone who is the only father in a group, and - incidentally - the only available GM in my RL group, it's rather difficult to run long-term, prep-heavy games. Regular scheduling? What's that...?

All my players are childless, mostly single people. I'm not. We had to come to an agreement (or stop playing RPGs and move to tabletop games). Luckily, they like playing with me - and they are great group.

We are now meeting irregularly, based on when I'm available. I give them two or three options and based on their availability we schedule a weekend (a full weekend) in a rented cottage somewhere near where I live. I provide full weekend of gaming (8+ hours of RPGs per day; yeah, my head hurts when we end) and they provide transportation and lodging. All chip in for food.

What works:



Delegating

This is a big one!

Delegate tasks you don't have to do. It will help.

Both during game and before. I love world-building. But there's just no time if I want to have some preps. So I don't do world-building for games, or I do it long before the game (piece by piece).
At the table, players help me build the world - I ask for inputs and they are usually more than glad to provide it. Some of them are rather good at this and can provide colorful locations, NPCs, hooks - anything I need. And those who are not? I don't ask them too much and if I do, I tell them to think about it for few moments or get help from other players and I return to them after few minutes. If you know your players, you know how to do it. "You turn around and notice your old rival, Akbarah. You know, the one that hates you since... well, you tell them." I have a player who can produce a story that entertains the whole table and introduces several plot hooks on such cue. He's bad with names, so I keep a list handy, but the stories he tells give me few minutes of breathing time/prep time during game. And if he says something I don't like, I can disregard it - his character is known braggart. I also have a player who's good for inspiring me for names.

You know the one about "herding gamers"...? Don't. Save your time. Pick one of your players, let them do it. You put out your available dates/times, they arrange the group. Takes a lot of work out of your shoulders.

Also: during combat I have two or three players who act as enemies. During the whole weekend we usually run several combat encounters - and in one or two cases I ask players (usually beforehand) to give me a hand. They get handed information on the opponent (pre-written on a card) and when the battle begins, they get full control of the opponent (with direct instruction to "harm but not kill"). It adds to drama and sometimes makes things rather interesting. However, this works due to me running specific RPG.

Also: when I wanted to do an expedition-style game (fantasy point/dungeoncrawl), I gave the players the overland map before (not the GM map of course!) so they could "discuss" in tavern (chatroom) which way to take. They ended up plotting their plan on the map. I used it for preps.

Make them create the map. Give them list of locations, distances, work with what they prepare. Fill in details as you see fit.

Any tasks you don't like? Or that take too much time? Delegate.



When at table, focus on good parts

I have a weekend to play. I can't afford to lose time - I need to keep players - and myself - entertained. It helps a lot, because we usually skip through the "boring" parts. However, last time we had a travel-focused expedition-style weekend game and it was fun!

Hexcrawls are wonderful idea - I love them, as idea. I would love to play one. I can't. It just does not work with my time schedule.

Pointcrawls are much better. Story-focused player-driven games? Great. What works best is enclosed environment with strong story behind, yet with player agency. They have to get meaningful choices - but it shouldn't make me prep a large map.

I used "random encounter table" for the expedition. But it was tailored to the area - and it did not contain any simple "combat encounters". Each of them was focused on being entertaining, providing interesting roleplaying opportunities, sense of wonder, to breathe life to the world. I almost derailed the expedition with one of them - because it proved to be so interesting.

Would it be bad? No, they were enjoying themselves.

In this case, I don't mind skipping through combat if they are clearly plowing through the opposition - and the players wouldn't either. "Few moments later, you are cleaning your weapons as you count the dead bodies of your opponents". If it's dramatic - let them fight. If not, push space to skip.

At one point, I let every one of them go one or two rounds against the opponent (they were weak, but there was few of them). When I saw how they fared against them, I asked for tactics rolls from the party tactician and then asked everybody to describe how they continue the fight. We went only with narration. The party wizard got into a tight spot, and nobody went back to help him? Well, he got wounded lightly. Did he like it? Nope. But he accepted it and started blasting (he held back the magic until then). They won (of course, against weak enemy) but were quite tired.

Also: if you have "level-up" mechanics, or shopping or something, the weekend gaming works great. When you come to the table, everybody should be prepared (if he's not, you just write down anything you like on his sheet - it's their choice). Shopping during adventure? Well, what are the kitchen breaks for? :smallbiggrin: I have grown so accustomed to having 2-gaming day time, that I automatically put a natural "break" for the PCs to shop or something similar between first and second gaming day.

Also: if they are new characters, let them play the opening scene before you arrive. In the car. Over the internet. Over letters. When you arrive at the location and sit at the table, the game starts - but the story should already be in motion and characters should already know what they want to do... :smallsmile:



Enclosed environment and narratives

If you have a weekend for gaming, you need to be able to close the story at the end of the weekend. There's nothing less satisfying than "Aww, we did not make it, but if you did, you would see SPOILERS!" or "We'll continue next time... in 3 months".

So do shorter stories. Make smaller maps. Make it personal, but make it so you can "end" on the last day.

Enclosed environment helps you and them - the analysis paralysis works both ways and you can provide better content this way. Make sure everybody's on board.



As little prep as possible

Choose a system where you don't have to prep as much - and you know how to prep fast. Do changes on the fly.

Don't make any prep you are not 100% sure you need. Your time is limited.

Don't prepare for X contingencies - and definitely don't prepare anything that's "filler".



Also, think of this as the one possibility for experimenting. Do fun one-shots. Try new systems, new games. Do episodic play!

If the "weekend gaming" does not suit you, then make a list of games you want to run and let your players sign up for them and find a date when you CAN play and they CAN attend. Try out new and interesting mechanics, homebrew - this is something you can do.

Make it a short one-shot. Works? Extend it for second session.

Don't make grand projects - you'll have time for that later. Keep a list of things you want to try.

And don't worry - it will get better. Good luck :smallsmile:

Demidos
2017-11-22, 11:34 AM
I've been adjusting to work, graduate school applications, and a broken arm at the same time, which leads me to feel that any time that I take out of my day to spend on DnD is somehow bad, as I should be working on my college apps or working instead. Ultimately this causes me to be so stressed that I do neither work nor have fun goofing off.

My solution has largely been to play a very freeform game. I chose an extremely simple super-hero based system, and told the players that this system would be played in an extremely loose manner, where rule of cool and storyline would take precedence over mechanics in pretty much every scene that wasnt direct combat, and sometimes even then. I then came up with several villain groups and some independent heroes, came up with 30 second backgrounds for each, and started the game. It is very easy to run as I have set it in the same world as a favorite book series among my group (Worm), and the players are often the source of their own conflict. As such, they largely run their own adventure, with my only decisions being the large scale things moving around behind the scenes, such as the occasional bank robbery and death-ritual. I've also encouraged players to do interesting things during downtime, which gives me more material to work with and makes my job even easier. Other than gaming itself, it's rare to need to spend more than a couple hours a week actually prepping the session. Everything else can be done in my head while going places.

Mark Hall
2017-11-22, 12:01 PM
I'm in a similar boat... a little bit older and a lot less bolder (40 and a MLS, not 38 and an MD)... but I, too, start thinking about the way things used to be. For about 3 sessions, we had a Castles and Crusades game going. I got to run for a while! Then people dropped out for various reasons, real life intruded, and its been months since I had anything twixt my fingers that weren't run on batteries (or electrons). I used to be able to play all day... now, I snatch 20 minutes at a time to play ME3 multiplayer, because it's what I can get.

What I'm saying, Kol, is I feel you. Wish I had a good solution, but all I got is commiseration.

RPG Factory
2017-11-22, 03:40 PM
Any of you had/ have similar experiences? Any advice/ words of wisdom?


Yeah, this is actually more common than you think. Let's face it, real life isnt easy and on saturday morning it's normal to roll a 1 and be faced with the house chores, kids care, car that needs fixing, some painting, etc etc you get picture.

I totally agree with, run the game you CAN run. However, there is no reason why you cant come up with a larger Campaign and break it down to Milestones? E.g. this next Milestone lasts 1 hour and it's to explore a section of a dungeon etc.

Yes, needs a bit of planning, but I think those that play along side you, equally with less time, might appreciate it.. ?

Mordar
2017-11-22, 03:43 PM
People seem to have covered the one-shot idea and the quick-and-easy game idea...so I'll share this one:

Some people I know had a long running "regular" game during their college years, but as time progressed, people moved away for work, developed their families, etc...but they all still really wanted to play RPGs (D&D in this case) together, and the one-shot idea wasn't nearly as appealing as a "real" campaign. Play-by-post isn't really anywhere close to the same either.

So they decided to go big. Once, maybe twice, a year they would get together for a weekend. And during that weekend they would mega-game their campaign. 12ish hours a day for three days. ALl wonderfully prepared, all on task, all "real" D&D.

It was much easier to find one weekend that works rather than 52/26/12 regular nights sprinkled through the year. No one was inclined to "miss" or be 3 hours late to a session because it was a one-time-a-year event.

And because it was one time a year, the DM could be super-prepared, with things like tactical maps, all the proper miniatures, having the rules down cold, all of that.

And in between those sessions you could have the "off camera" interactions among characters via email or forum posts. Character development, world building, all of that...still important, still handled...but done in a way that served to keep people hungry for the game.

Of course, this group had the advantage of having been together in their younger years and knowing that they were a well-fit group...but I think they nailed the transition from high school/college gaming group to adults-with-careers-and-families gaming group. Yup, makes me jealous.

- M

Psikerlord
2017-11-22, 09:44 PM
Life balance includes making time for a hobby that makes you happy/lets you recharge. You have some hard decisions to make my friend. Things are always more difficult with little kids around however, things get easier on that front as your kids get older. Roll20 etc make it a lot easier to meet up and play, you might consider that option if you havent already.

Altair_the_Vexed
2017-11-23, 05:35 AM
In my group - all adults with various serious commitments (like I often have to go safety test products and factories all over the country and neighbouring countries too) - we've lightened everyone's load by rotating the GM almost every session.

We all work within the same game setting, use the same group of characters (the GM makes an excuse for why their own character is absent for their own game), and we run an adventure intended to last just one or two sessions.
Then next time, someone else runs a new adventure in the same style. Any time new elements of the game setting are part of the adventure, these are noted down in the "Setting Manual".

This means that we've all got plenty of time to write a new adventure, we all get to play as well as GM, and no-one has all the responsibility to develop the whole game setting.
It also means that the story lines from each GM weave together into a bigger, more complex story than is likely to be created by an one GM. We all can pick up on each other's plot hooks, or leave them and pursue our own. My wife's plot line for example - a long-dead Queen returning as a lich to take over the Republic with an army of undead - has been part of the background of my adventures.

Also, by making each adventure short, the commitments for each GM and player are reduced. You can swap out a character that you're bored with if you like. You only have to deliver a short adventure each time. If your adventure suck this week, or if the players mess with the plot in an unexpected way - then that's only a one evening messed up: you can take the lessons from that session and change things for next time.

Anyway - we like it. It might work for other groups too. :smallbiggrin:

Cluedrew
2017-11-23, 08:15 AM
My group ran two shots. Which is kind of like the one shot thing except in two parts. We did character creation and the opening of the campaign one weekend and then the next weekend we would finish it off. We actually did this, in part, because we where playing a system that does short campaigns really well. It would translate to a movie better than a TV show. So if there is a second tip I could offer, consider systems that run faster than D&D. Some people don't want to switch, but I found out it helped.

Dr_Dinosaur
2017-11-24, 12:06 PM
Run less heavily planned systems or one-shots while keeping notes on ideas and games you want to run, until the kid is old enough to include in games! Then you get games doing double-duty as you having fun DMing and bonding with your child over imaginative play

dps
2017-11-24, 03:10 PM
I don't have any specific advice on how to arrange things in order to do what you really want, but I'd say that if you are trying to run the game you can run vs the game you want to run, part of the equation has to be how big the difference between the 2 is. Oddly, the enjoyment you get out of it might be inversely related to the size of the difference. If you run something relatively simple, it might not be anywhere near what you want to run, but since it would require considerably less time and effort, you might still enjoy it. OTOH, if you run something more involved, but still not what you want to do, you might find the investment of time and effort frustrating, because you're still devoting a lot of you leisure to it but it's not what you really want to be doing.

Jay R
2017-11-24, 03:40 PM
Long ago I got frustrated because I couldn't participate in most campaigns. I was too active in the SCA, and many weekends I'd be at an event.

I now play with other SCA members. Sometimes it's a couple of months between adventures, but generally, the weekends I'm not available, they aren't either.

Airk
2017-11-27, 11:05 AM
Lots of excellent suggestions in here. I'm just going to add a little something.

Ask yourself why you want to run the game you want to run. Really examine it. Especially if it's some sort of "Critical Role" Matt Mercer style prep heavy pseudo-railroad with fuptons of worldbuilding that ALL has to come straight out of your brain. Ask yourself what the advantages of that are. What's the payoff? Are you seeking this because it's been what D&D books have been telling you is some sort of platonic ideal of RPGs (D&D books are almost never correct on this sort of thing.)? What do you really WANT out of a game? How can you achieve that without spending hundreds of hours of your life for comparatively little payoff. Let's face it - your players probably don't care about 97% of the background stuff you make up for your game. It's very interesting for the minute and a half it's relevant in your game, and then it's water under the bridge. Your players are probably going to remember the time the gnome totally rolled a 20 and headbutted that one guy in the crotch. Players remember the awesome stuff they did, not the awesome stuff you made up. So who are you doing all this prep for? Is it for them? Is it for you? Who benefits?

So yeah. Hold on loosely. Work with your players. Don't invest yourself in some sort of eternal campaign with a binder full of world notes. That's for college kids with too much free time. Invest in getting the most bang from your gaming time. And only you can decide what the gunpowder is for your games.

Jay R
2017-11-27, 11:39 AM
The "do-it-all-yourself" universe is the "college-student-with-no-money-but-lots-of-time" universe.

If you now have more money than time, then it's more reasonable to buy things you'd have built yourself back in college.

Jan Mattys
2017-11-27, 12:03 PM
I'll give you some advice coming from my own experience (I'm 38 y.o. myself and facing the same problems).
These pieces of advice are personal, so take them with a grain of salt, but I think they are worth some thought.

1- Enthusiasm is the root of all fun. If you find yourself lacking time to properly prepare, or properly enjoy, your gaming/DMing sessions, just drop them. Do not drag them out of habit, do not let them become a chore. I tried to keep my rpg times alive despite the lack of energy and time, and I realised that was a mistake because it spoiled the results.

2- Try to tailor your sessions to accomodate for your (and your group's) needs. My mates and I found that we had less and less time to meet, and most of all little to no hope of setting up a proper schedule (which means: we met once a months instead of once a week, and we could never decide "It's the first sunday every month, so plan accordingly"). My reaction was to turn my next campaign into an "episode of the week" one. We played the same characters but we only had reccurent themes in the broadest sense. Each session was intended almost as a one-shot, which gave us a good way to justify anyone missing, and kept us from having the need to remember every little detail since last session. Slowly, the single episodes built some background and in due time developed into a coherent long-range story. (If you are curious, it was a campaign set in the SCP universe, and the players were fresh agents. In the beginning it was a "capture the escaped SCP" thing, then slowly developed into more interesting twists once the important NPCs got fleshed-out, but it took time). My point was never give them anything that couldn't be completed in - at most - two sessions.

3- Enjoy the idea that you will never play your big project the way you hoped you could. It will either be derailed, or dropped mid-term, or simply trampled by real life. Im not telling you this to make you sad. Im telling you this because I believe that accepting the truth is always a strenght. It'll make much easier to enjoy the first half you finally GOT to play, instead of crying over the second half you never managed to.

4- Despite point 3, never give up. Balance is always just one little step ahead, both for you and for your potential posse of players. It'll come a time when you have almost give up, and magically things fall in place all at the same time. It happened to me a couple years ago: I had lost my hope of ever playing again with any regularity, and then boom, we managed a pretty stable group again and (with some of the tricks I listed in point 2) got to play again for a full year and a half.

Hang in there :)

Jan Mattys
2017-11-27, 12:13 PM
Another thing is that you can do is to use your head while you are doing boring chores that don't require any thinking. Have a notebook or some device that you can use to jot down your brilliant ideas and come back to them later. I literally do 80% of my prep work while I'm doing other things, like walking to the store. doint the dishes, stuck in traffic etc. Luckily I am not a guy that has to write down statblocks for every npc in the campaign :D

Also, this. Oh so much this.
I planned at least two full campaigns while in the shower or while driving to work.
It's one of my best pastimes, really. Once I realised how much brainstorming I could put out in a single half-an-hour ride, I never turned on music in the car again :D

2D8HP
2017-11-27, 12:29 PM
Don't feel compelled to have a "unique" setting. In my experience, most world building is for the amusement of the DM and isn't stuff the players interact with.

To drop a metaphor, imagine that there is a snowflake creator that devotes much effort and takes great pride in making each and all of the unique and beautiful crystal patterns of every single snowflake, that work is unlikely to be appreciated by someone shovelling the snow out of the walkway to their home.

Just sketch out what the P C'S interact with, and you don't need to go deep.

Random tables and "winging it" are your friends.

Tinkerer
2017-11-27, 03:18 PM
Two thing which I have started utilizing is switching to a system which doesn't have Shonen levels of power escalation (so most systems except for D&D) and having a persistent world. RPGs which don't escalate as rapidly allow for you to not have to customize nearly as much which makes scenario generation much faster. Persistent worlds allow you to not have to generate a new town and NPCs every time one is required.

They synergize quite well since it means you aren't dealing with "high-level" and "low-level" areas as much as riskier and safer areas. The downside is it normally takes years worth of playing to have a world built up enough, however this can be alleviated somewhat by limiting the world which is available to one small area. Design one city or town and have your games be "The Adventures of Thorn Valley".

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-27, 03:41 PM
This post is part a question, part venting. I'm not fully sure exactly what I intend to get out of this post. So pardon if it a bit... not focused.

I'm 38 years old. In the past 2.5 years, I met my wife, got married, a child, finished my doctor studies and internship and started working. Despite what else this post may say, I'm very, VERY happy with my life. However, roleplaying has suffered as a result. I am used to be a GM, but couldn't devote enough time for it, so became a player instead for awhile. It is... driving me nuts slowly... I have so many ideas I want to run, and I have quite a few disagreements with the DM, and a friend of mine said I need to DM. He may have a point there...

As I became a player, I decided to embark on an ambitious project of mine, a campaign idea I've been thinking about for years, but didn't have time to sit and plan it. I engaged in this ("Nature of The Beast" in my sig) till my kiddo was born, and then...

I barely got time to write a post on these forums, once every month or so now, let alone engage in that project...

Lately, I've started reading in my little spare time (Reading requires less concentration) various GMing forums. One of them The Angry DM. In one of those articles, about campaign/ adventure planning, he mentions "Run the games you CAN run, not those you WANT to run", meaning that real life commitments (Either yours of the groups) can make many imagined games or ideas simply not feasible. Part of being and adult.

Though I know about adult compromises, this... got to me... somewhat annoyed me... and bugs me still. The more I look at reality "int the face" as they say, I just can't seem to find the time to manage any of my ideas (Either the project or some other ideas) the way I'd like to. Due to time and effort constraints. Which is... a bummer.

I'm trying to look for/ think of/ read about possible solutions. I guess the main one will be adapting my ideas and (Current) desires to the realities of my life now. It's a bit hard to let go I guess...

Any of you had/ have similar experiences? Any advice/ words of wisdom?

Thanks in advance,
Kol. :smallsmile:
(And apologies for dropping out of updating old threads of mine)

I have a ton of ideas and campaign seeds and settings I want to mess with.

However, the old gaming group that I gamed with for over a decade starting in college, have all since done some combination of the following -- moved away / married / bought a house that needs work / had kids / acquired pets / taken on demanding jobs / decided to travel a lot / etc.

So other than one session of the Planet Mercenary RPG at this most recent GenCon, I haven't gamed for years -- after gaming multiple times a week from 1992 to, what was it, 2010 I think.

Airk
2017-11-27, 04:43 PM
I have a ton of ideas and campaign seeds and settings I want to mess with.

However, the old gaming group that I gamed with for over a decade starting in college, have all since done some combination of the following -- moved away / married / bought a house that needs work / had kids / acquired pets / taken on demanding jobs / decided to travel a lot / etc.

So other than one session of the Planet Mercenary RPG at this most recent GenCon, I haven't gamed for years -- after gaming multiple times a week from 1992 to, what was it, 2010 I think.

So whatever you do, don't listen to Max for advice on how to handle this issue. ;P

Max_Killjoy
2017-11-27, 04:44 PM
So whatever you do, don't listen to Max for advice on how to handle this issue. ;P

I intended it as commiserating.

RazorChain
2017-11-27, 10:02 PM
Two thing which I have started utilizing is switching to a system which doesn't have Shonen levels of power escalation (so most systems except for D&D) and having a persistent world. RPGs which don't escalate as rapidly allow for you to not have to customize nearly as much which makes scenario generation much faster. Persistent worlds allow you to not have to generate a new town and NPCs every time one is required.

They synergize quite well since it means you aren't dealing with "high-level" and "low-level" areas as much as riskier and safer areas. The downside is it normally takes years worth of playing to have a world built up enough, however this can be alleviated somewhat by limiting the world which is available to one small area. Design one city or town and have your games be "The Adventures of Thorn Valley".

Actually this is a really good point which I haven't even thought about as I seldom play D&D and never run it. The time I've saved just having a persistent world that I've managed to run 2 years in the same campaign without introducing new villains, monsters, npc's because of power level. During these 2 years the PC's are about 50% stronger in point total and they started as competent adventurers.

Jay R
2017-11-29, 08:29 AM
This is going to sound trivial, but it isn't.

If you want more time to plan things, stop listening to music when you're alone in the car.

Tinkerer
2017-11-29, 10:05 AM
This is going to sound trivial, but it isn't.

If you want more time to plan things, stop listening to music when you're alone in the car.

Or change the way you listen to music :smalltongue: I often do some of my best RPG planning when listening to music as long as I shift my brain into that mindset.

Actually this is a good point though, pepper your RPG planning through your day. I often sprinkle in RPG planning while working on spreadsheets (because they are so very dry), jotting the results down in my notepad for 5 minutes every hour to give my eyes a break. I keep a gaming notepad in my bag almost all the time, or I use the voice recording on my phone (I never type on my phone since I'm on screens 13 hours a day, don't need any more).

RazorChain
2017-11-30, 03:10 PM
Or change the way you listen to music :smalltongue: I often do some of my best RPG planning when listening to music as long as I shift my brain into that mindset.

Actually this is a good point though, pepper your RPG planning through your day. I often sprinkle in RPG planning while working on spreadsheets (because they are so very dry), jotting the results down in my notepad for 5 minutes every hour to give my eyes a break. I keep a gaming notepad in my bag almost all the time, or I use the voice recording on my phone (I never type on my phone since I'm on screens 13 hours a day, don't need any more).


I always get reminded how lucky I am having a job that allows me to move around. From when I was in the army and my best buddy was complaining about his back and wrists because of his IT job and I just laughed him off as I reminded him that I had to lug around up to 80lbs or 35-40kg of gear and he was the one complaining. Only 20% of my workday is administrative and it's the part that I like the least as my mind is occupied :D, a lot of my workday involves driving and that time I can use to plan.

My players often comment that I've put some serious thinking into my plots, predicting their moves and the campaign in general....I'm not divulging that 2-3 hours of my day go to plotting and planning my roleplaying campaign

WarKitty
2017-12-01, 05:39 AM
One of my tricks is to have lots of random stuff to throw around. I make lists of names - if I need a new NPC, I just grab one. Civilizations have hats, often based on some either historic or fantastical civilization. I also have a rough idea of the region and climate, enough to do quick flavor. For example, a desert culture is likely to have a lot of mud-brick architecture, have extensive irrigation systems around town, and, to pick two, eat dates and sorghum. Let's make them roman based; strong sense of society, open and flexible polytheism, strong military with an idea of honor, but flexible about accepting strangers. Add a touch of a medieval guild system to make it feel like I didn't just rip things off. Boom, now I have a complete-feeling city.

Florian
2017-12-01, 06:17 AM
I spent some two hours a day commuting to and from work, so I use that for prep once or twice a week.

We play the game very simple: This is the AP, make your characters, play along, donīt leave the rails, donīt do something overcomplicated, we only have 4 hours to play, so no solo stuff, non non-essential stuff, no rules arguing.

Kol Korran
2017-12-05, 12:06 AM
First of all, thanks for the replies, whether as advice, or just sharing your own difficulties.
I'm not sure if it's funny or not, but I barely got time to sit and write this response. Thanks the kiddo who oversleeps a bit.

I have been practicing/ doing many of the suggestions for time management people suggested. I'm considered a very active and "efficient" person, but I also tend to be quite thorough and comprehensive in my endeavors, perhaps too much... (If you've read any of my logs, you'll notice they tend to be... long...). It's a struggle for me to do things differently, which may be part of the problem...

Oh, and I also plan most of the sessions in my head first. :smalltongue: I end up writing very little on paper, but... that takes time and a free mind. These days when I do have little spare time (Such as while driving), my mind is often occupied with lots of other planning (patients, planning for time with the family, going over studies, planning stuff ahead and similar) I do think of the game from time to time, but far far less than in the past...

I think the major problem though is adjusting my expectations for gaming, at least in the near future (The next few years). Some of you commented about doing one/ two shots, rotating GMs, accepting that long very involved campaigns will not work and more... I understand that, mentally... But emotionally? Heck, I think part of me is grieving a bit. :smallfrown: The game have played various roles in my life (I've written a bit about it), and in the past few years it has become a great outlet for creativity and escapist fun, but in a very... "involved" way? Adjusting to this change is hard, and I can't say I don't feel a pang of regret for it. A bit like having to say goodbye to an old friend or relationship, ans "settle" for another friend/ relationship, which you don't really know...

Anyway, I've gotta run (again), but I just wanted to thank you all. You've been both kind and helpful (I'll try to incorporate some advice I haven't been doing). So thanks!

Kol. :smallamused:

Jay R
2017-12-05, 09:42 AM
I think the major problem though is adjusting my expectations for gaming, at least in the near future (The next few years). Some of you commented about doing one/ two shots, rotating GMs, accepting that long very involved campaigns will not work and more... I understand that, mentally... But emotionally? Heck, I think part of me is grieving a bit. :smallfrown: The game have played various roles in my life (I've written a bit about it), and in the past few years it has become a great outlet for creativity and escapist fun, but in a very... "involved" way? Adjusting to this change is hard, and I can't say I don't feel a pang of regret for it. A bit like having to say goodbye to an old friend or relationship, ans "settle" for another friend/ relationship, which you don't really know...

Yes, everything that takes up time replaces time spent on something else. You let some things slide when you started gaming, and this is no different.

But that old friend will be back someday. Start looking forward to teaching the game to your child(ren) ten or fifteen years from now.

Airk
2017-12-05, 01:50 PM
I think the major problem though is adjusting my expectations for gaming, at least in the near future (The next few years). Some of you commented about doing one/ two shots, rotating GMs, accepting that long very involved campaigns will not work and more... I understand that, mentally... But emotionally? Heck, I think part of me is grieving a bit. :smallfrown:

I know that this is an emotional response, but you also have to intellectually latch onto the idea that it is WRONG. You can have AMAZING gaming experiences in one shots that will blow away many campaigns because in a campaign all that stuff is spread out over twelve sessions, whereas in a oneshot it all hits you in an hour.

Shed the idea - and berate yourself if you find yourself thinking it or feeling it - that you are somehow accepting a "lesser" form of gaming here. You might have to accept a lesser volume, but screw that, quality over quantity any day.



The game have played various roles in my life (I've written a bit about it), and in the past few years it has become a great outlet for creativity and escapist fun, but in a very... "involved" way? Adjusting to this change is hard, and I can't say I don't feel a pang of regret for it. A bit like having to say goodbye to an old friend or relationship, ans "settle" for another friend/ relationship, which you don't really know...


Again - there is a difference between "involvement" and "time commitment"; You can have one without the other.