Send help. I’ve gone from enjoying tabletop role playing games to being absolutely head-over-heels in love with them. I’ve dug in deep and found so much passion for this strange and wonderful hobby.
I’ve played tabletop games before – probably starting around 2005 – and always enjoyed the experience. I’ve been lucky enough to be in some amazing one shots (self-contained adventures that play out in one session) like the ridiculous Author One Shots in the Call of Cthulhu system, in which everyone played as a famous writer in a survival horror setting; I once went with Dr Seuss and only spoke in rhyming couplets. I’ve also played in some longer campaigns in the magic-plus-cyberpunk Shadowrun system as well as in Elysium, a system built from scratch by some friends.
A few months ago, I joined a D&D group of strangers that I found on meetup and those Sunday afternoon games have become a wonderful part of my weekly routine. I still play in one shots from time to time, using Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition or Pathfinder.
I’ve also stepped up and taken on a massive project myself: writing and running a wholly original long-form campaign. I’m using the Elysium system that my friends built and taking their Immortal Legacy fantasy world that they created as the setting for a story that I’ve penned. This was my first time running more than a one-shot game and it has been an undertaking an a half so far. I’ve run character creation and a prologue demo battle as well as the first two sessions (of an anticipated ten sessions).
Playing and GMing (being the Game Master) are wildly different experiences. While playing is potentially immersive and can be loads of easy-going fun and hours of, essentially, improv, running a game involves a lot of juggling! Acting out the NPCs (Non Player Characters that inhabit the world), fighting as multiple enemies that challenge the players, trying to steer the party down the path of the main plot while also giving them agency to do what they want.
There is something about GMing that leaves me feeling absolutely elated. And I’ve come to realize that it’s because I’m sharing my creativity with people who are enjoying it. Writing/running a campaign subverts the traditional pathways to publication/public consumption by allowing a writer to immediately share their creation with an audience that is willing and ready to engage with that story. It is a challenge to write something with branching story lines, knowing that your players can completely change what you had planned in an instant. But it is also incredibly fulfilling to give this gift to a group of people who are excited to play along with you.
And this is a form of play that is not like anything else. It’s collaborative storytelling at its finest. Tabletop role-playing games encourage adults to use their imaginations in ways that, for years, we have been discouraged from doing. It’s a big improv game and lets people explore characters, problem-solving, and emotional investment in something that is team-oriented. Creating and running a game is exhausting, but it is also incredibly rewarding.