How to restart? (Again)
Hard to believe it's been nearly 8 months since I last posted, but here we are. COVID year two and still hanging in there. Family is good, nobody has gotten sick, thank the lucky stars.
Me? Ehh. I wish I could say that I'm doing well, but it's day to day. This whole thing is going to leave scars and have lasting effects on many of us, I imagine. I'm no exception. I've have very little motivation to do much of anything, to be honest. I did reignite an interest in whitetail deer hunting. But, this isn't the blog for that, huh?
So what about my many year campaign - Etinerra?
Behold the smoking pit of failure.
I've kept the play-by-post (on Discord) alive, barely. Very, very slow going. I'm really glad it's still there, that single thread. Grateful to my players who have put up with the stops and starts.
The rest of it? A screeching halt and then silence. I've kept in touch with the players, but as time goes on, I'm sure the connections fade. That makes me sad and I wish I could say that I had a great plan of how to restart the campaign... but I don't.
I feel locked.
At the point that COVID (and my existential stress, then piled on by political stress) hit, I had wargames, three active campaigns and a lot of plates spinning. All that came crashing down.
Now I look at the thing and I feel dread. How do I pick this back up? How do I do justice to the contributions and fantastic play by my players?
Rather than be excited, I'm stressed by the thought of failure.
So... how do I restart? That's the knot I'm wrestling to untie.
What would you do?
Having been through something similar, not just with gaming groups but also other projects I had going (bands, discussion groups, etc.), I don't have any clear or obvious solution to this.ReplyDelete
The only thing that has helped me is to just try to be easy on myself, set realistic goals, and just take things one day/one small step at a time. It's impossible to revive a long dormant campaign ex nihilo, but it is very achievable to reach out to everyone involved and just see how everyone is doing. And then a week later, reach out again and ask if folks would like to pick it back up. And then a week later review your campaign notes. And then a week later... Small things add up (I learn this lesson over and over again--including from your post about starting a campaign with only three hexes!).
That's exactly what I'm hoping to do, find small moves that get me there. Thank you!Delete
I went to the internet, which is obviously easier for RPGs than Wargames. The only advice is start small, specifically I'd go with just video chat for the first session. Let people roll their own dice and report them, the works. Then think about what your missing and slowly experiment with more stuff. All prep takes a tiny bit longer to digitize, so take it easy.ReplyDelete
As for how to pick back up in general? I'd start from scratch, run a few sessions completely separate from everything else to get back into playing. This could be another world, a random backwater, or maybe something kind of out there, like starting with a jail break three levels underground. Warm up before You run.
Blaine, you said "another world" and it came to me... run a module! Something that gets my juices going, but isn't all on my shoulders. THANK YOU! That was an awesome suggestion.Delete
I'm sorry to hear that, Michael. As you know, you're always welcome to "guest star" in my House of Worms EPT campaign, which is about to celebrate its six-year anniversary next month.ReplyDelete
Thank you James. I have enjoyed my guest appearances as Tekar (who came from Chirine's GaryCon Tekumel game!) and when I get the chance in the future, I'll jump in. Friday midday is just hard with work and all.Delete
Good to see you posting again.ReplyDelete
It sounds like you're putting a lot of unnecessary pressure on yourself. Failure? Hey, we're all doing this stuff for the fun of it. There's no expectation of perfection.
"There are many ways of moving forward, but only one way of standing still".
Declare a hiatus and go play in someone else's campaign. Bring another DM in (or several DM's) who can run a section of your campaign while you play in it.ReplyDelete
I've discovered that for me, I'm a great one shot player, but it's hard for me to get into campaign play as a player. Maybe in a non-D&D game... that's a thought.Delete
Nobody wants to DM in my world! I asked! :D
Good to hear from you again, Mike!ReplyDelete
Take your time, the bad times will pass, and the shadows of the mind are not eternal. I know how hard that feels, but it's true.
I am pretty sure you have had campaigns stop before, and didn't you get going again? Be kind and easy on yourself.
I can't say I have a solution, but I bet you can get started again. Play some sessions in other people's games. James run a god show for example, I know that. Find another online game and play a one-off. Then you can start up your own ones again. Play a session with your wife again, maybe? Play another one-off session with some player from your old campaigns. Start small and maybe that sparks it?
If my experience is worth anything, I think you will find both the enthusiasm and the energy coming back if you start small.
I'm not a very good campaign player, but I am looking to run a module to help get the juices going again! Small moves. Thank you :)Delete
Start by reminding yourself that all your responses are completely normal reactions to very real sources of stress. It's okay to pull back into yourself at times like this, it's a natural defense mechanism.ReplyDelete
Do not feel obligated by your past games. If you're up to resuming any of them, great, but if not that's okay. Don't let them become a millstone around your neck. Gaming is supposed to help relieve stress, not contribute to it. Be honest about that with your players too, so they know where you're coming from. Chances are that they're sympathetic.
Thank you. It's not so much an obligation... well, maybe it is, but not that I feel like I have to, but because it's unfinished business and I want to see what's over the next ridge. It's like telling Tolkein to not write anymore after Two Towers. (OK, I'm not Tolkein, but hopefully that makes sense... it's that inner drive that is fighting against some serious roadblocks)Delete
Life takes precedence, so just reach out and see where folks are interested in re-engaging in play, as your time and availability come back.
I had two new Greyhawk campaigns running this time last year, but we put the second one on hold in the fall, based on player availability. It's a natural ebb and flow, so just flow with it, where you can. When you're ready, you'll find the players who are willing to engage again, and then dig in!
Hi Michael. Here's Cynric from the play-by-post game. There's a lot of good advices in the comments people posted before I post this one. As much as everybody in the play-by-post game came back when you asked if we wanted to go on with the campaign, I'm sure the players in your other games will do the same when you'll ask. Take it one step at a time, and I'm pretty sure it will work out good.ReplyDelete
I'm trying and thank you so much for sticking with it during the slow time!Delete
I'm not sure what the answer is, but I know I'll be reading and watch when you restart. And if you restart again, I'll be glad and still reading.ReplyDelete
Like others are saying, start with smaller goals, and take it one step at a time. Remember, this is supposed to be fun.ReplyDelete
I miss the fun! I hope that these small steps get me over the hump.Delete