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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

In my life, Role playing games were spared from near extinction.

OR: How my hobby was saved.
OR: Dr. Peabody and How I  learned to Relax and Love the internet.

This is my 100th blog post!
(FIRE-WORKS-&-METAL!)


Roll for ... something...

I’m not sure if this is a mile stone or simply a distance marker, but in the light of my well known inability to focus on any one thing for more than a few days, one hundred posts is significant.

We make trade-offs every day. One way or another we balance our time between family, work, hobbies, sleep, and any number of other things.

Online gaming has saved my RPG hobby. I write this with zero sarcasm or exaggeration.

Let me explain. If it were not for the online role playing I don’t think that I would have maintained the RPG hobby these past few years. It’s not that I don’t enjoy role playing games, I have and I do.  
The issue is one of time, as we all get older and busier the days when we could all gather around the table because fewer and less often. Recently when we would manage to get together there began to be a very real drift towards board games over RPG’s.

Why?  With board games we don’t need the overhead of a campaign, or the frequency of play that it takes to get all the players invested in a a story or even to remember what’s going on from game to game. 



It seemed more and more we were playing board games,  Blood Bowl, and Dread Ball, and even our home brew table top death-fest affectionately known as “Blocks.” I was thinking the campaign role playing experience was a thing of the past, and honestly even I wasn't lamenting it. (I really like Dread Ball season 1 & 2, I was happy with that.)

These guys will F yo Couch.

Then we found Roll20
(The reason I mention roll20 is because we had tried some other online services and frankly they were not as intuitive. This is not an add for the site; it just happens to be what we are currently using.)

Through online gaming we started playing Role playing games again, and even more amazing we were playing at night, on weekdays. (Gasp!) We all started talking RPG’s again, we started suggesting RPG’s again. Significantly for me I started writing RPG’s again, started this blog. Online gaming re-booted my hobby.

Now we play three nights a week, with three different games. We have a Numenera night, a night that rotates between Ad&D 4th ed and our home brew (Phase~Abandon,) and a 2nd ed AD&D game on most Saturdays. Sometimes we even play short off schedule games for play testing or just for kicks.

Sounds great right so where are the trade offs?

While I credit online gaming for keeping me “in the game.” I also think those games are limited in a lot of ways.

First off is attention. I have the WHOLE internet behind my character sheet when I play online. If I said I never drifted, particularly during some of those long 4th edition combats, I would be lying. I do it and even without them saying so I know the other guys do sometimes as well.  It’s another level of distraction.



In my view, there is no replacement for being able to make eye contact with the group from a crossed the table, when you want to get a point a crossed. There is immediacy to gaming with a group that is irreplaceable, chemistry by having the whole group in a room. 
 In our last 2nded game the party fought a Rhemoraz in a mountain pass. The monster was, to say the least beyond them; on top of that they were fighting in front of a huge gate crossed a high mountain pass while it was being attacked by an orc war band.  
I knew they would come up with something, it was supposed to be a tough combat. While I ran the encounter I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out how to bring the big battle tension when all they had to work with is my voice over Skype. At the table I could gesture, make expressions there would be certain energy, a certain connection. I can’t seem to get to that point where I feel 100% comfortable GM’ing over the computer, it feels like I’m always short shilling the game.

 Run Willhelm RUN!


Lastly, it’s almost too easy to get a game, strange right? Look how the argument comes full circle.
We have been going along at a pretty good clip of three nights a week for a while now, and sometimes it puts me on the edge of burn out.  I have to skip games sometimes, for a variety of reasons. I have something to do around the house, my wife and I go out to dinner, I’m tired, whatever. Each time I hate it, I don’t like skipping out on something someone else has been working on, but it’s unavoidable.

I have entertained the idea of getting on G+ and joining the Roll20 RPG community and trying to get a few games of things that our group does not normally play, but really do I have time for another game? No. Just that I am entertaining the idea means the possibility of me overextending myself is very real.

I thank online role-playing game services for seemingly out of nowhere, saving my hobby. I also thank G+ for opening me up to several very smart very talented people and communities of similar people, who are willing to talk games and game design above the Facebook level. (Yeah I admit, shots fired. Facebook has become an intellectual wasteland, and if you are an exception I apologize for the generalization.)

Shame.. no fingers..

Even with the limitations of the online form I just don't see any other way our group could have maintained role playing games as a hobby without the convenience of the internet and the gaming services available.

Last bit:
Because this is my 100th post I'm going to openly stroke my own ego for a second and re-share some of my favorite posts from the beginning of this blog, in case you missed them.



Here are some other blogs I have found inspiring, enlightening and entertaining. Read them they are better than this one.
(All of these and many others are in my blog roll,check that out  as well)

  • Dyvers: Always entertaining. Always interesting. On top of that Charles has been nice enough to comment here a few times. 
  • Game Knight Reviews: These guys have re-shared me a bunch of times when I least expected it, and I very much appreciate it.
  • Playing D&D with Porn Stars: It's more than just a snappy name. This  Blog is written with one of the most unique voices in the  blog-o-dome. One of those blogs when you read it you  say "Damn I wish my game was that game!"
  • Mike Evans: DIY games ... Fuck Yeah , he is writing a campaign setting called Hubris which is looking Fantastic and I don't think he would give a flying squirrel shit if I thought other wise. All joking aside Mike's stuff is very very cool, and I for one would be happy (read: frightened) to have a Gm with his imagination.
  • The Tao OF D&D: Here lies some excellent writing. I enjoy this blog thoroughly even if I don't always agree with the points made.


And so many more.. any one who has read or commented or re-shared, or told me I am stupid, all of the past 100 posts has been a lot of fun



Hey thank you for reading !
Lets hope for 100 more posts.

Please leave questions and comments as you see fit!