Trying to Find My Way Back into Tabletop Role-Playing Gaming

How to Rebuild a Hobby Habit after the World Changed?

One reason why I Ran Dungeon Crawl Classics at PopiCon 2023 was to shake off the cob webs of not playing in face to face games.

In I was starting up an Eberron 📖 campaign using the Dungeons and Dragons: Fifth Edition (5E 📖) rules set. We completed one session before Covid-19 📖 restrictions. I chose not to continue that game online. I was working remote and spending a lot of time on Zoom meetings. At the time I didn’t have the energy to running Zoom games; especially 5E. The luster of that system had faded.

As the years rolled by, I played in several games online. For some I was a facilitator and for others I was a player. And then, sometime in , I experienced online game burnout.

I again could not bring myself to hop on Discord or Zoom and play a game. I had again shifted jobs, and my day to day again held many one on one meeting where we’d pair together to resolve problems.

a call went out for folks to run 5E as a fundraiser for Art House of Goshen. And I considered signing up to run. The organizers are limiting games to 5E, which is not something I’m interesting in running. I don’t like the probability curve, the lack of Game Master (GM 📖) support, it’s resource grinding conflicts, and probably some other things. I have a blog post title The Frustrations of Dungeons and Dragons 5e that keeps rattling around in my drafts, but I digress. Also, the whole Open Game License (OGL 📖) debacle soured me on anything by Wizards of the Coast (WotC 📖).

I miss running my Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC 📖) public space drop-in game. Or, perhaps more accurately, I have fond memories of what echoed like a West Marches campaign. There were a few regulars, and we went from adventure site to adventure site.

A campaign narrative emerged from these elements. And, I suppose most importantly, it didn’t feel forced. I came prepared: an adventure site for the session and a stock of potential Player Characters (PCs 📖) to hand to anyone needing a character.

As of I haven’t secured a suitable public game space; and I’m feeling that absence. I’m also feeling that I’d rather play and run a drop-in game than a “house” game.

Reflecting on House Campaign versus Public Campaign

I hold on a high pedestal the house campaign. One that has a group of players showing up each week, in which a narrative emerges, and the players experience the richness of a story that re-incorporates and expands.

And yet, perhaps, in aiming for that style of campaign, it doesn’t leave as much space for fun and whimsy; it also comes with implicit and explicit expectations. Which, unless discussed and revisited, can rot away at a standing game.

Contrast with the open table, each session you just don’t know who will be there. The stakes are different. It’s not about ensuring that everyone remains engaged from session to session, it’s saying “Let’s make the most of what we have in this evening.”

Further the open table necessitates immediate situations over back-stories. You probably shouldn’t plan on any player being there for any given session, and instead to throw characters into an evening of adventure.

In other words, a lot more Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser 📖 and a lot less most anything else on the fantasy shelves these days. In Fritz Leiber 📖’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser were short-stories. They loosely connect; but none of them (to my recollection) start right after another one finishes.

Instead there’s space for the world to breath, adjust, and separate them from their gold…thus creating the conditions in which they next seek adventure.