Quite happy with the response from my last post. Well, mostly. Debate is good, and I can handle being called a dickwad from people I respect and an asshole by people I don’t.
(If you’re wondering, Jason called me an asshole.)
It’s cool. The point of the blog/upcoming podcasts is to get some new voices out there in the D&D community.
…and honestly, I thought we’d be mostly ignored. After Wednesday, Jason and I were like “oh crap – people are looking at this! That means we need to actually make it pretty!”. I guess we’re married to the name now, too.
Anyway, thanks for playing with us. I still think my greater point was missed, but that’s okay – you probably think I’m whiny.
Enough preamble, I’d like to talk about one of my key mindsets about gaming. We’ll call this the Law of Fives. As we all know, The Law of Fives is Never Wrong.
- It is nigh-impossible to find 5-6 people you actually enjoy playing with.
- If somehow you do, it’s impossible to find someone to DM for that group. If you do, that “someone” is probably you.
- Once you get rolling, someone will drop from the campaign for one reason or another.
- Eventually, one of your players will want to derail your campaign by introducing their own (or another game altogether).
- Even if you are able to keep the same group together in the same campaign, making every session just isn’t going to happen.
I can hear it now – you have a great group that’s been together for years. That’s great. I want you to realize something: What you have is very, very special.
Just like most long-time players, I can think back to a time in my youth when my friends and I would meet at a set time and explore a fantastic world that came from someone’s imagination. We saved the world, the six of us, and we did it together.
I can’t do that, now that I’m in my mid-thirties, with a family and job responsibilities. That was a wonderful time in my life, but I can’t go back – and every time I’ve tried it I’ve only gotten frustrated. We’ll have a set day/time going, then someone changes jobs and that day doesn’t work anymore. Or someone moves. We get busy with kid’s activities, church, the in-laws. Forget playing late on a work night – and the weekends are filled with the things we can’t do during the week. Sure, I can carve out the time to play – and you can carve out the time to play – but can we carve out the same block of time, consistently? Even if we could, that’s great if we’re playing a 2-player game… but can we get another 4 people to do the same? 4 people that aren’t creepy?
Maybe in middle school… not now. Even if you could, you need to play with weirdos (one day, I’ll tell the Shadowrun story) before you find that group you want to play with.
Oh, it can happen on the short-term – but if you get going, eventually someone’s going to pipe up and say “hey, I had this great idea for a campaign – would y’all like to play in it?”
…and of course you would – why wouldn’t you? But do you have twice as much free time, just because you want to play twice as many campaigns? Nope! So what happens? You either A) cut the frequency of your original campaign in half to accommodate the new one, slowing everything down B) drop the original campaign or C) don’t start a new one. If you go route B or C, you have the risk of running off that DM.
Finally, having every player there every session isn’t going to happen. Most of the players most of the time, sure – but you’ll be having to bring someone up to speed most sessions too. Either that, or reschedule. My experience has been that after a while, you wind up rescheduling more than scheduling.
This is why I dig organized play.
For all of its faults (and there are many), organized play takes care of the above problems.
For Encounters, everything’s hand-waved. Not the best solution, I’ll grant you – but how invested are in you a 90-minute session, anyway?
For LFR, it’s like watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. If you miss an episode, it’s no big deal – you can probably catch up quick. Oh sure, occasionally there will be a Q episode – but if you’ve never seen Q before, Troi will say “you mean that God-like being that harasses us?” and you get it. Sometimes there’s a complicated multi-part storyline – but that keeps things interesting.
The whole idea is that we’re all nomadic adventurers, going from place-to-place to eek out a living – so it makes sense that we’re in and out of each other’s lives. Yeah, okay – it’s not the best premise, but it works.
You have a pool of players and DMs to connect with – see who’s available on X day, and ta-da – you have a party, and a game. If someone burns out, gets busy, or just can’t make it – your entire playgroup isn’t derailed.
Is it as great as the campaign you had back in the day when you were young?
No. What possibly could be?
I will say this, though – I’ve met cool people doing LFR. AND: I’ve met more players/DMs doing organized play than I ever did by limiting myself to a small group. Getting involved in organized play has really worked for me.
There’s other benefits (and issues), too – but we’re already past the point of tl;dr. I’ll talk more about it in the future. Let’s hear your experiences.