Friday, December 11, 2015

What to do when you can't game?

I’ve had a series of sad life events this year and I just got hit with another very sad one right before Thanksgiving. As I result I’ve either been too busy, too exhausted emotionally, or just too unmotivated to take the time to post. Tom over at and a Brace of Pistols, has been having trouble collecting and posting his thoughts. His post on Gamer ADHD inspired me to write a bit  Here are four things I do when I can't game the way I might like.

[1] If I'm not in the mood long term or feeling burnt out, I switch to a different campaign or game system. Often this means returning to an existing campaign. I've switched between Call of Cthulhu (CoC) and whatever other campaign I happen to be running off and on, every couple of years or so since the mid 1980s. That gives me a chance to run a different style of game for a while so I have a chance to let my inspiration and enthusiasm for the other campaign(s) return. CoC may not work for you since you already have the weird and awful in Witch Hunter, but maybe something else you like could fill the same role.

Incidentally, because I run year’s long games and to switch campaigns when I need a change, I tend not to end campaigns. So in a certain sense, every campaign I’ve ever run is still ongoing. And I come back to many of those campaigns multiple times over the years. With the recent changes at Chaosium I’ve even toyed with the idea of looking at the new Runequest version and running a Gloranthan campaign. Since two of my current players are ran in the Griffon Mountain campaign back in the 1980s. I could go back to that campaign.

[2] If I'm feeling not in the mood but not totally burnt out and I want to stay with the same campaign, then I find some inspiring material to read or watch. Something that has the right feel for the campaign I'm running. Space Opera, especially expanded universe stuff, or WWII movies are good for Star Wars. Long before any official prequel stuff came out, my mental model was that the Rebellion was kind of like WWII (obviously the Alliance are the Allies and the Imperials are Nazis) and the Clone Wars were kind of like WWI.

So find some stuff that works for Witchhunter. Brotherhood of the Wolf, Captain Kronos, Last of the Mohicans (I like the Michael Mann version best), or The Mission are movies I might pick for inspiration.

[3] If I am inspired to create but unable to run due to no players, then I create stuff for the game.
  • This may be new NPCs (one reason I have hundreds of them in H+I).
  • It might be maps or locations.
  • It might be new monsters.
  • Often it is possible adventures. I have a big file of possible adventures.
  • Some are keyed to particular PCs as something that the player might like or that fits the PC's Boons, Flaws, or Background.
  • Some are keyed to a location - so I might create possible adventures for a new place in my world. Like if you have done stuff in some town, say Frankfurt, maybe you detail some stuff for another location like Aachen.
  • Some are just stuff that sounds interesting. Lots of Adventures and Adventure seeds never get used. Which is kind of sad, but I like creating stuff and one never knows when pulling something out may be useful.

[4] Run stuff without your players. I recommend the Gamemaster Emulator - I use it for when I don't have any players available. Create a character of your own and use the GME to run something for your PC. Or use it to resolve in greater detail something that the NPCs are up to. Bonus you get some world in motion to provide rumors and such for the PCs when you and your players can get together.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry to hear you're having a rough holiday season, Mr. Hat. The time of year makes everything sting that much worse. Knock on wood, this may be the first year in a couple where tragedy isn't staring my family in the face on one end or another, so I definitely know where you are coming from. Just hang on, keep your head down, and hang on tight to your friends and loved ones. Like all storms, this too shall pass.

    Your suggestions are great. What's frustrating about my strain of gamer ADHD is I have a laundry list of exciting ideas for projects, NPCs and other goodies (Witch Hunter's Guide to Cairo, the Lords Salt, the Lost City of...well, I don't want to give too much away; you never know who might be reading these), but I'm being distracted by other stuff in most inconvenient ways. It's as though my creativity is being consumed by the "escapist" part of my hobby. Ah well, it feels good to stretch my legs on the Pistols blog, so maybe once the Yuletide is behind us I'll be ready to dive into those bigger projects. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to reading more stuff on Honor, and Intrigue, next year. Good luck and God Speed, my friend.