Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Last Two Years (My Gaming History, Part 5)

After eight years of living in a very small town, first gaming with friends I could coerce into gaming with me and then later shifting to gaming at gaming stores, I moved again for work. This time, thankfully I was in a larger community and a college town.  I went from having a gaming store be a half-hour drive away to having one three blocks from my house.

Moreover, I also knew how to find other gamers, either by trawling gaming stores, the internet, or just my community of friends. I also knew I didn't want to spend two years waiting for gamers to fall out of the sky like I had previously.  I immediately arranged to run a game at the local gaming store and put up a notice on Meetup, which is a great tool for finding other gamers in your area.  That was my short-term goal.

Long term, I knew I'd be making other friends that I could try to game with me.  I had gotten over my aversion to letting the public know what I did as a hobby years before.  I think in this world where a lot of people play video games and go to superhero movies and enjoy TV shows like Lost you can get away with saying you're a gamer.

If I have had any mis-steps along the way, it was assuming that Fourth Edition D&D was still the gaming standard.  There's still a lot I like about the game, especially its ease when building adventures, but I had a lot of people say that they would game with me if I was doing Pathfinder instead.  I still think that game requires a ton of work, though (and why I think Paizo, as primarily an adventure publisher, is so successful).

After about four months of gaming at the gaming store, I knew who in the campaign I liked and would let into my house, and so I made the shift.  I had a pretty set lay-out: game every two weeks, cancelling sessions as rarely as possible.  Dinner and socializing at 6:00 PM, gaming at 7:00 PM, finishing up between 10:30 and 11:00 PM.  My campaign layout in many ways resembled an MMORPG format: I'd set up a handful of short quests (each five to six encounters long) from which the players could choose to follow, thus having at least a sense of agency while at the same time allowing for flexibility as people missed gaming sessions.  Urban location helped with this as well.  In the end I had about two or three people from the gaming store supplemented with three friends of mine from outside the hobby, plus my son who was now old enough to play.  That meant I could count on at least four people each session, but not have too many that the game became unwieldy.

One of the other players has a campaign that he is running at his own home, but it is on a night I can't play.  Sometimes he takes over the game for a few months just to give me a break (that might be happening soon). That I've been able to run a single campaign for two years straight might just be a first for my entire gaming career, and is a testimony to my finally figuring out what works in this phase of my life.  I won't deny that having a sizable gaming blogosphere to draw from has helped a lot, and I appreciate the feedback I get from my own readers.

I hope you've found my own history interesting, maybe even inspiring, or at least entertaining.  Despite staggering these posts over several days, I've actually written most of them at one sitting, in a rare bit of free time.  It was good to reflect on all the lessons learned, especially as I consider drawing my two-year D&D campaign to a close.  I'm sure I'll be writing more about that later.

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